Ideal Tahoe bikes?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Ideal Tahoe bikes?

    I've been riding my Yeti SB4.5 for the last week in Tahoe, hitting trails like TRT, Glass Mountain, Upper and Lower Big Chief, etc, and have come to the conclusion that the SB4.5 is a bit undergunned for the chunk up here. Home is Marin, where the SB4.5 is ideal, but not so much in Tahoe. I'll be making regular trips to Tahoe and Sedona, so I'm thinking what would be better for trips, and want to get some opinions from Tahoe regulars.

    Initial thoughts would be something with around 130mm-145mm rear travel to handle the chunk, but still climbs well like an SB130, Ripmo, Switchblade, Offering, etc.. I'm set on 29ers- had a Pivot Mach 5.5 but wasn't into the smaller wheels. What do you guys think?

  2. #2
    Hella Olde
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    I'd say 160/160 coil, but it's a very subjective question.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by mlloyd007 View Post
    I've been riding my Yeti SB4.5 for the last week in Tahoe, hitting trails like TRT, Glass Mountain, Upper and Lower Big Chief, etc, and have come to the conclusion that the SB4.5 is a bit undergunned for the chunk up here. Home is Marin, where the SB4.5 is ideal, but not so much in Tahoe. I'll be making regular trips to Tahoe and Sedona, so I'm thinking what would be better for trips, and want to get some opinions from Tahoe regulars.

    Initial thoughts would be something with around 130mm-145mm rear travel to handle the chunk, but still climbs well like an SB130, Ripmo, Switchblade, Offering, etc.. I'm set on 29ers- had a Pivot Mach 5.5 but wasn't into the smaller wheels. What do you guys think?
    I agree with your take on riding in the area and your direction.

    Bad bikes are hard to find these days. I've been kicking around on a alum GG Smash since last year – it slots right into the category you're pondering, and it works super well around here as my only bike. Fifty-plus mile/8+ hour rides, no issue. Obviously kills the DHs, but great climber and all-day pedaler. US made if that matters; the others will all be imported.

    Hard to go too far wrong if you get something pretty new.

  4. #4
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    TRT and South Lake area, I'd say something 140mm F/R and 29er would be the standard utility. Can't go wrong, really...

  5. #5
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    You'll probably find that the SB4.5 will suit you better in Sedona. Mostly XC riding, not too chunky there.

    Also most of Tahoe's trails aren't too chunky, you may benefit from larger tires more than more suspension
    Last edited by Brah; 08-10-2019 at 04:52 PM.
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  6. #6
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    Offering or Ripmo. Both are great options. I have an Offering and I think the geometry is perfect. I wouldn't get too much more aggressive than that. Climbing at altitude is real and there aren't very many truly steep trails in Tahoe, like you'd find at UCSC, etc.

  7. #7
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    I guess it depends on what you're used to; I wouldn't need or want anything more than 120mm for anything other than bike park riding in Tahoe.

    Now, I haven't ridden everything, but I've ridden stuff like Armstrong, the TRT in both rirections, Van Sickle, Marlette Lake, Incline-Flume, Star Lake, Mr. Toad's, and most of the trails north of Kings Beach and Tahoe City (Brockway, Kings Beach Superloop, etc). Never ridden south of Tahoe City and west of 50/SLT, i.e., anything on the west shore.

    Don't need or want a big, slow bike for XC trails. If I was doing a weekend of Northstar AND backcountry riding, that would be a reason to bring the bigger bike.
    Death from Below.

  8. #8
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    I've been playing around with the suspension and tire set up on my SB130. I think by varying those two factors I can have a great MidPen/UC bike (where I ride 90% of the time) and a great Tahoe/chunky terrain bike all in one package.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by SikeMo View Post
    Offering or Ripmo. Both are great options. I have an Offering and I think the geometry is perfect. I wouldn't get too much more aggressive than that. Climbing at altitude is real and there aren't very many truly steep trails in Tahoe, like you'd find at UCSC, etc.
    You might be riding the wrong trails on Tahoe... :-)

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by sfmtber View Post
    You might be riding the wrong trails on Tahoe... :-)
    I don't ride Martis or send large gaps. I still think Toad's, Corral, XMas Valley, Jellystone Park, etc can all very well be ridden on those two bikes.

  11. #11
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    Interestingly enough, I have come to the same conclusion as the OP, i.e. when riding the chunkier trails in Tahoe (or other parts), my current 130mm 29er feels undergunned. Well, maybe not undergunned but certainly, it would be nice to smooth out the trail when the speeds get higher. Played around with getting a Kona Process 27.5 or Bronson V3 as a 2nd bike or upgrading to the Megatower but after honestly assessing majority of my riding, I settled on the new Hightower with a 160mm fork. We'll see how it goes! Love the way the Bronson and Megatower ride so hoping Hightower with a 160mm fork is somewhere in the middle of those two.

  12. #12
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    Short list would be:

    Yeti SB130; climbs amazing, more than decently capable on the way down.

    New Hightower; improved leverage rate curve over last model, pedals great, very capable down.

    Revel Rascal; haven't thrown a leg over one but Canfield suspension is claimed to be the best pedaling linkage and very capable going down.

    The new carbon Guerilla Gravity can be customized for any need with a chainstay and shock swap.

    _MK

    "The things you get fired for when you’re young are the same things you get Lifetime Achievements for when you’re old."

  13. #13
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    In contrast to the "all anybody needs is 120mm" person I'd say that bike geometry and suspension damping is so damned good these days there's little reason not to be a wee bit over-forked and over-shocked. Partially for comfort (the rocks up here can give you a beating on a long ride) and partially for those times when ambition exceeds talent. If you're willing to pay for the latest and greatest (which you clearly are since you're already riding a nice Yeti) then you can get the capable suspension while sacrificing very little in the climbing department. Go for 150mm 29er with a 150 or 160 fork.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by nilswalk View Post
    In contrast to the "all anybody needs is 120mm" person I'd say that bike geometry and suspension damping is so damned good these days there's little reason not to be a wee bit over-forked and over-shocked. Partially for comfort (the rocks up here can give you a beating on a long ride) and partially for those times when ambition exceeds talent. If you're willing to pay for the latest and greatest (which you clearly are since you're already riding a nice Yeti) then you can get the capable suspension while sacrificing very little in the climbing department. Go for 150mm 29er with a 150 or 160 fork.
    Agreed. I spent the earlier part of summer riding Jellystone, Big Chief, and some of the Tahoe Donner off-the-map trails on a Pivot Mach 429 Trail with 116mm of suspension. Even with the 140 fork I run on it, my back was absolutely killing me by the end of the rides from the high speed chatter and harsh bottom outs. Even though this bike is fine for 95% of the Bay Area riding I do, it still convinced me to go out and buy a bigger bike for Tahoe/Downie trips. So I'm picking up a new Kona Process 153 Cr 29 this weekend tricked out with a bunch of carbon bits to help out on the big high altitude climbs. Can't wait to get it out there!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr Gigi View Post
    So I'm picking up a new Kona Process 153 Cr 29 this weekend tricked out with a bunch of carbon bits to help out on the big high altitude climbs. Can't wait to get it out there!
    That new Process looks sweet.

  16. #16
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    I can still hear my father saying, "Its a poor carpenter that blames their tools for their workmanship"

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brah View Post
    You'll probably find that the SB4.5 will suit you better in Sedona. Not too chunky there...

    Also most of Tahoe's trails aren't too chunky, you may benefit from larger tires more than more suspension
    Agree 100% on Tahoe and tire size. Ride a 29er with 120/140 rear and 130/140 front with 2.5-2.6 tire with the appropriate casing.

  18. #18
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    RipMo is the perfect Tahoe bike IMHO, love it, ride it everyday in Tahoe




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  19. #19
    wretch
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    Always been on 160/160 and 29 for as long as possible. Slog up the climbs, rip down. The new bigger bikes as mentioned climb very well. However, just switched to 140/140 and loved it. Set that same bike up 150/140 and in x-low and it's absolutely dialed. (33lb's, cushcore, dh c

    I like to say that 90-95% of my rides (and actual riding) benefit from the shorter travel yet aggressive geo. Recently going to 150 up front helps take the edge of long descents like Downieville or Martis shuttles.

  20. #20
    NedwannaB
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    Quote Originally Posted by TahoeBC View Post
    RipMo is the perfect Tahoe bike IMHO, love it, ride it everyday in Tahoe




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    Cool pixels Tbc.
    Wait whuuut, who did he tell you that!?!?....

  21. #21
    NedwannaB
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schril View Post
    Agree 100% on Tahoe and tire size. Ride a 29er with 120/140 rear and 130/140 front with 2.5-2.6 tire with the appropriate casing.
    120r/140f low setting 29er. Will know more next week how it fares up there. Wont know how 2.5/6 tires work til the 2.3s it came with wear out.😎
    Wait whuuut, who did he tell you that!?!?....

  22. #22
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    And if you’re wondering about an SB130 mullet.

    https://bikeco.com/sb130-mullet-geometry/

  23. #23
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    I'm actually reducing my go big direction (sort of - see bottom). I have a newish geometry 160/170 bike and though it's so stable, comfortable over extended chatter and has definitely saved my bacon when over my skill level, it's still a piggy on lots of elevation days (like Skeggs or in Tahoe there are plenty of multi 1000ft routes plus throw in the elevation if you actually live at/near sea level.). I guess this doesn't matter if you have super-human lung and legs or simply don't care (which is another totally valid reason), but I demo'd an Evil Offering a few months back on a regular route of mine and I just used so much less energy. Far more than I was expecting. Then demo'd a SB130 which was another level and now am a day or two away from ordering once I settle wheel choice. (though LR because of slightly extra cush for Tahoe trails.) Not every trail in Tahoe beats to the bones and I'd like to ride further and/or end day w/ more energy. A suspension size choice can depend a lot on how you ride too - I don't fly in the air much so I'm thinking (hoping?) 137mm will suffice for a lot of my Tahoe trips. I am going to keep my bigger one though for Northstar, shuttle runs and known above my pay grade trails.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr Gigi View Post
    So I'm picking up a new Kona Process 153 Cr 29 this weekend tricked out with a bunch of carbon bits to help out on the big high altitude climbs. Can't wait to get it out there!
    I bet a great bike. Practically every employee at The BackCountry in Truckee owns one or is planning to as their personal bike.

  25. #25
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    150mm/150mm with 27.5 2.6” tires has been great for me for Armstrong, Corral, Toads, Coal Creek, TRT, Flume, Chimney Beach, and Tyrolean.

  26. #26
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    Looks like I have the issue solved- picked up a basically new SB5.5 frame for a killer price, so I'll be rocking 160/140 as soon as I can get a new fork and all the parts swapped over. Can't wait to hit Upper Big Chief with the new rig!

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