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  1. #1
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    Joker or Bullit or ...

    Looking for a longer travel "play" bike that can hit the ski lifts (NorthStar/Big Bear) and still climb with a reasonable weight. Something I can pedal up Noble Canyon fireroad and up 89 to Mr. Toads. My current ride is a Titus Switchblade built up with a 5" Fox coil fork and weighing in around 29#. Assuming a DH wheelset for the lifts and a lighter wheelset for the trails, I'm shooting for 33#-34# range for the new ride with the lighter wheelset.

    My riding weight is 160#. I'm not hard on my ride... rare 4' to flat and the rocks at North Star/Noble/Toads.

    Other stuff:
    price $1600 or less.
    no interrupted seatpost issues.
    run a Z150 SL 6".

    So far I've been contemplating the following:

    '04 Joker (7" Romic coil):
    pros - 17" fits good (23.3" tt). weight is good. '04 redesign looks a lot stronger in the swing arm than the '03. low bb.
    cons - +$300 price. Don't know much about Romic TT. Can it be adjusted to help pedaling like the 5th element?

    Bullit(5th coil):
    pros - proven winner. 5th element very adjustable. pedals good. reasonable price.
    cons - weight is up there with coil 5th. Med sizing a bit short in TT. More beef than I need.

    Yeti ASX (5th coil):
    pros - 5th element. reasonable price.
    cons - getting pretty heavy. not sure about the sizing. hasn't been around like the Bullit. More beef than I need.

    Comments? Are my choices over kill? Figure I'll continue to ride the SB so I'm leaning more DH than Trail for new bike, i.e. Bullit rather than Heckler. But that may change...

  2. #2
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    yeti ASX

    I have an O4 ASX size small(17.5) $1800.
    BSG

  3. #3
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    Joker is nice but spendy.

    Bullit is a good buy. It is sweet for the rocks and drops plus double jumps of Big Bear. Not over kill at all. Go with a 7inch fork and two wheelsets with a light weight build. It will be too much fork for heavy climbing days but won't let you down when the going gets rough.
    Yeah I gotta question. You got any excuses tonight Roy ? -Antonio Tarver

    There is room for it all, just ride what you like to on what you like to...that's freeriding. -rbn14



  4. #4
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    My joker ROCKS!!! I love it to death!! It is a very smooth bike on the downhills and jumps very well! Mine probably weighs 35 to 40 punds and i can pedal it uphill very well. I rode a bullit and wasnt very easy to pedal uphill than my joker! I think the Joker is a very good bike for everything!

  5. #5
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    Ellsworth? Are you kidding? DO NOT buy this bike.

    If you're concerned with pedaling, don't get a single pivot bike, regardless of what shock is on it.

  6. #6
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    I think new shock tech gave single pivots new life.

    Quote Originally Posted by singletrack
    Ellsworth? Are you kidding? DO NOT buy this bike.

    If you're concerned with pedaling, don't get a single pivot bike, regardless of what shock is on it.
    I kinda disagree with you on the single pivot generalization. The stable platform shocks really did give a strong degree of efficiency to big single pivots. I started big hit single pivot (Bullit) riding in '99, and yes, it was definitely a little mushy--especially on a harder climb or pitch-up. The longer travel they got, the mushier they got. When the 5th and Manitou came out with their stable platforms, it made all the difference. These types of bikes are very efficient now in the pedaling department. If there's one more negative issue to consider on single pivot vs. quality linkage bikes, it's the increased harshness you get under hard braking in rough terrain. While not hard to live with, it is a real factor. That said, good single pivot bikes are usually lighter, and therefore better candidates for all-around riding in a big hit package. I have 2 FSRs and 2 Bullits. There are definitely pros and cons with both types of bikes, but to throw out all single pivots from consideration may be a little harsh.

  7. #7
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    4feet to flat....and your looking at 7inch travel bikes. Thats seems like a lot of overkill. Are you going to be doing enough DH to even out the penalty? I keep hearing bad things about the Jokers, even the 04's...I might consider them, but probably not buy one due to frame breakage. I was at a XC race, and saw with my own eyes, a Truth break in two places. The race wasnt very tech, but all that was holding the bike together was the shock linkage. Pretty bad. The AS-X is great, but is heavy, and seems like overkill. If I were you, id get a Heckler, they can handle a lot of abuse, and wouldnt be overkill, also pedal very well. For 1600 on a frame, its kinda limited, but if you want one for what you do, and 4 footers, I think the 5inches that the Heckler has would be perfect. The 5th can be set up very well, and seem bottomless. Hm....look for a 02' Yeti AS-X on ebay or something, and you could save money for a better build. The 02' would be good because it has adjustable travel, 4,5,6...and im sure you could find a stableplatform shock for it. It is also lighter than some of the stuff mentioned. Basically, you not really sure what you want to do, and getting a bike thats overkill could be a bad thing. If you decide you want out of DHing, you could always just do a few adjustments and use the Heckler or 02' AS-X for any kind of riding.

    In regards to the "do NOT buy a single-pivot bike"....that was the most idiotic thing I have EVER read on these forums. It was worse than VIA riding the Kona instead of the Devinci...

  8. #8
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    Romic helps!!!

    I have a romic on my bike and it pedals uphill just fine! And it is super smooth!

  9. #9
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    Probably right...

    [QUOTE=DJrider04]4feet to flat....and your looking at 7inch travel bikes. Thats seems like a lot of overkill. Are you going to be doing enough DH to even out the penalty? I keep hearing bad things about the Jokers, even the 04's...I might consider them, but probably not buy one due to frame breakage. I was at a XC race, and saw with my own eyes, a Truth break in two places. The race wasnt very tech, but all that was holding the bike together was the shock linkage. Pretty bad. The AS-X is great, but is heavy, and seems like overkill. If I were you, id get a Heckler, they can handle a lot of abuse, and wouldnt be overkill, also pedal very well. For 1600 on a frame, its kinda limited, but if you want one for what you do, and 4 footers, I think the 5inches that the Heckler has would be perfect. The 5th can be set up very well, and seem bottomless. Hm....look for a 02' Yeti AS-X on ebay or something, and you could save money for a better build. The 02' would be good because it has adjustable travel, 4,5,6...and im sure you could find a stableplatform shock for it. It is also lighter than some of the stuff mentioned. Basically, you not really sure what you want to do, and getting a bike thats overkill could be a bad thing. If you decide you want out of DHing, you could always just do a few adjustments and use the Heckler or 02' AS-X for any kind of riding.

    If I only had a single bike I think it would be the Heckler, but since I've got the Switchblade for trail riding I was think that having 7" of travel would be fun to play around with but the Heckler still might be the better call...

  10. #10
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    I think an ASX with a 6in sherman breakout would be pretty sweet for everything you wanna do, it'll still have the funness as a big travel play bike, still be rugged enough for DH, and since the forks travel can be adjusted and it'll have a 5th rear shock it should pedal nicely as well. Cons will be it'll be on the heavier side (you already know that tho) and it'll be alittle pricey, but you'll get used to the weight, which still wont be bad. You probably dont need a 7in bike for the common 4ft to flat but it sure is fun to ride around, no shame in that, i'll probably never tap the potential my scream has in the freeride department but ridin around and hittin the common 6ft is a hell of a time Good luck with your decision.

  11. #11
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    you should also look at the single pivot Specialized BigHit model, it fits right in with the genre your looking at.

  12. #12
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    Yeah, but have your Switchblade setup for more xc riding, and build the Heckler burlier. I was soo close to buying a switchblade....such sweet rides. I just didnt know if you were going to be keeping the Switchblade or not. If you really want to keep it for heavy trailriding, go for a Yeti or Bullit. If you just wanted to build up a toy bike, there couldnt be better. I was going for a Yeti or Bullit aswell, and ended up going with the Bullit. Similar build, avid mechs instead of lowend Hayes, and was what...$600 cheaper. Plus the Yeti was green, and the Bullit was Rootbeer

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by DJrider04
    4feet to flat....and your looking at 7inch travel bikes. Thats seems like a lot of overkill.
    Especially since drops are such a hugely accurate reflection of skill and all. I mean, if he only does 4 ft to flat, how the hell is he ever going to be able to efficiently brag on the internet?!

    I think all of us have been on trails fully fit for a DH bike that don't contain a single sizeable drop on them. Drops don't really mean anything other than how willing you are to just do it.

  14. #14
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    He asked for my opinion, I gave it. Did I say anything about skill, no. He just asked if it was overkill, and I gave him my opinion. To tell you the truth, I dont like drops, and you dont really need a whole lotta skill, just balls. Street and DH is what I like. Im sorry if my opinion was too bland for you. I also race XC on my DH rig. Describing what he was doing, it would be overkill, you cant deny it. He may be willing, but was asking if it was overkill. I would much rather have a XC bike to race on, but I dont, and im willing to do XC races on my DH rig. If he is willing to trail ride on a DH rig, so be it....but it doesnt mean its not overkill.

  15. #15
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    Nah I was just giving you a hard time, but actually, he is saying for riding at northstar. Having been to northstar I know that a 7 inch bike is definately not overkill for the place, even though it is doable on less. That place is crazy rocky, a 7 inch bike would be great.

  16. #16
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    I think the Joker is an awesome buy! It's single pivot so it pedals well, and if you have like a marzocchi z150, or the new 66, with Rhyno Lite rims, it'd be really light for the xc type stuff, and really strong for the light DH and smaller drops. I'd seriously do with the joker 'cause you can do so much with it. Have you seen that guy who rocks the dirt jumps on his joker?
    Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

  17. #17
    Jm.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbManiak
    I think the Joker is an awesome buy! It's single pivot so it pedals well, and if you have like a marzocchi z150, it'd be really light for the xc type stuff,
    We already knew that there were such things as stupid questions, but this proves without a doubt that there are such things as stupid people too.
    I know in my heart that Ellsworth bikes are more durable by as much as double. AND they are all lighter...Tony Ellsworth

  18. #18
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    HAHA! You're so mean Jm.
    Tony
    is making a comeback.

    Turns out that five years of not mountain biking, really makes one strive to get back to it.

  19. #19
    Jm.
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    It's worth seeing again.

    Quote Originally Posted by mtbManiak
    It's single pivot so it pedals well,

    and if you have like a marzocchi z150, it'd be really light
    Attached Images Attached Images
    I know in my heart that Ellsworth bikes are more durable by as much as double. AND they are all lighter...Tony Ellsworth

  20. #20
    I wanna talk to Samson!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jm.
    It's worth seeing again.
    that picture gets better and better each time.
    JackNugz

    Quote Originally Posted by zedro
    no, but they are shinier....it's like the fututre, where everything is really really shiny.....but still really just the same ol'crap

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jm.
    We already knew that there were such things as stupid questions, but this proves without a doubt that there are such things as stupid people too.

    You mixed around my words to make it sound really stupid... sure the z-150 is heavy, I know that, but the joker with that kind of setup still wouldn't be too heavy, like 35#... not the best xc setup for sure, but you could still pedal it and do the dh stuff the same day...
    Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

  22. #22
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    Tony Ellsworth's business practices are abhorrent, first off - so don't support the guy. Second, considering the absurd number of Ellsworths (and Jokers in particular) that have failed catastrophically, for me it doesn't matter if this year's has a beefed up swingarm or whatever. You have to look at the track record here, and the track record flat out blows.

    Maybe in a couple years when there hasn't been another one that's snapped at BOTH the downtube and top tube (the only bike I've ever seen to do that, BTW), or there haven't been a dozen broken swingarms posted in this forum alone...

    The owner will probably still be a douchebag, though. Avoid the Jokers. Avoid Ellsworth in general. The guy accidentally came up with a good suspension design (his explanation of it is pure B.S. - he's no engineer, he just made a bike and found out after the fact that it worked well) - but his frames are crap.
    Last edited by binary visions; 07-05-2004 at 07:47 AM.

  23. #23
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    here's the lowdown

    Quote Originally Posted by rprice
    Looking for a longer travel "play" bike that can hit the ski lifts (NorthStar/Big Bear) and still climb with a reasonable weight. Something I can pedal up Noble Canyon fireroad and up 89 to Mr. Toads. My current ride is a Titus Switchblade built up with a 5" Fox coil fork and weighing in around 29#. Assuming a DH wheelset for the lifts and a lighter wheelset for the trails, I'm shooting for 33#-34# range for the new ride with the lighter wheelset.

    My riding weight is 160#. I'm not hard on my ride... rare 4' to flat and the rocks at North Star/Noble/Toads.

    Other stuff:
    price $1600 or less.
    no interrupted seatpost issues.
    run a Z150 SL 6".

    Comments? Are my choices over kill? Figure I'll continue to ride the SB so I'm leaning more DH than Trail for new bike, i.e. Bullit rather than Heckler. But that may change...
    You don't need a bigger bike for what you've listed. If you can't ride your SB through that stuff, you need more riding time, not a new bike! What's more fun than more riding and getting better at riding skills? Well, a new bike is, so I understand your question!

    Seriously, your self-description does NOT call for a bigger bike, but maybe a twist on what you already have.

    The Switchblade is a long-travel XC bike. Its angles are XC, its steering quickness is XC, etc. I know that 3 years ago the SB was considered by some MTB mags to be a "freeride" bike if you put coil/oil at each end, but the angles just are NOT there. Long-travel XC is a weird concept. Titus saw a little niche and filled it. The true competition for the SB is the Ellsworth Id, and nothing else really.

    Long-travel XC is more an image than a working design. It's for XC-oriented riders that think their travel amount is limiting their riding experience. In other words, it's a bandaid. It's not even sutures or staples.

    On to your mentioned bikes...

    Of those you listed, I'd choose none. What you really need is a true trail bike with more descending and high-speed stability.

    The absolutely best choice for what you're talking about is simple -- Ventana El Chamuco. Build it up to about 32-35 lbs with midweight wheels & tires (for example, Mavic XM321 rims and nice hubs such as this Hadley hubset-based offer at Universal Cycles -- http://www.universalcycles.com/shopp...ls.php?id=1960) and you've got lots of fun in store while still retaining the climbing abilities that make you enjoy the SB on trail.

    You won't find better trail manners or frame quality at the same price. Ventanas have exacting quality standards, and their rear assembly's lateral stiffness is legendary. You won't have that vague "where's my rear wheel going?" feeling like you do with the SC Bullit or Specialized FSR designs, both of which have greater lateral flex in the rear assembly.

    You can build an El Chamuco for the same as or less than a SC Bullit or Heckler, and have a MUCH better bike.

    For really good information on building an El Chamuco, contact the guys at Go-Ride.com, and especially the owner, Scott Crabill. Scott rides an El Chamuco for his trail bike and would happily give you reasons why it's such a great choice for what you're seeking. Scott's very knowledgeable and will help you understand what makes the El C such a great choice.

    FYI -- in 2001, I was riding an Ellsworth Isis 4" travel frame and broke it. I was only doing 4' drops with occasional up to 5 or 6 feet. Nothing big. I'm about your size, 5'10" and 165 lbs soaking wet. My background is XC with lots of moto and BMX experience as a kid. I looked at replacing the Isis with a Joker, but the Isis frame's design is the same as the Joker's for all practical purposes. Since the Isis broke so easily, I ditched the Joker idea. I'd already ridden friends' Titus Switchblade and a Specialized Enduro Pro FSR bikes for extended trail rides, so I was familiar with FSR designs in the 4"-6" category. Many friends were riding Bullits and loving them, so I decided to get one.

    In 2002 I got a SC Bullit. I rode it until about 6 weeks ago, when I replaced the Bullit with a Banshee Scream. Basically, I found that the Bullit's biggest weakness is its flexy rear assembly and its lack of expertise at one particular type of riding. It's not burly enough to be a full-on FR or DH rig. It's too heavy to be a good trail bike. It's too flexy in the rear to ride precise lines without some vagueness. After riding a friend's Banshee Scream, I was hooked.

    Of course, it helped that I also have a Ventana X-5 for my long high-alpine technical XC/FR trail rides. The Ventana 4-bar linkage is somewhat similar to the Banshee linkage, both provide excellent lateral stability at the rear wheel.

    I won't ride another single pivot bike unless it's a Ventana. Sherwood Gibson's a demanding designer and won't tolerate lateral or torsional flex at the rear wheel. And precise rear wheel tracking is what makes riding techie lines so fun... you pick and start your line, the bike doesn't mess with it.

    Long-winded way around, but the short message is that Ventana's El Chamuco is the MOST phenomenal deal for what you're seeking. Get one. You will NOT be sorry, I promise.
    Last edited by gonzostrike; 07-05-2004 at 08:24 AM. Reason: additional thoughts

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by rprice
    Looking for a longer travel "play" bike that can hit the ski lifts (NorthStar/Big Bear) and still climb with a reasonable weight. Something I can pedal up Noble Canyon fireroad and up 89 to Mr. Toads. My current ride is a Titus Switchblade built up with a 5" Fox coil fork and weighing in around 29#. Assuming a DH wheelset for the lifts and a lighter wheelset for the trails, I'm shooting for 33#-34# range for the new ride with the lighter wheelset.

    My riding weight is 160#. I'm not hard on my ride... rare 4' to flat and the rocks at North Star/Noble/Toads.

    ...
    I ride the exact same terrain and was looking for the same thing pretty much as you 2 yrs. ago. Almost got the bullit, wanted the ASX but it wasn't out yet and ended up w/ the cannondale gemini/Romic/sherman breakout. w/ the right tires (the new Kenda Blue Groove 2.35 is good in our terrain) it's damn light (around 33?) but stiff and rips it up on Toads (and I ride uphill singletrack for 3,500 vertical feet no problem). frame is around 8 lbs, i.e. less than the bullit or the ASX. For the riding you do, you should consider a 1.5 headtube frame--the 7 inch Breakout Plus is pretty much ideal for the riding you describe, and is much lighter--yet stiffer fwd/back--than the Z150. The Joker comes in that 1.5 HT size, but I"m not a big Ellsworth fan. The ASX is actually a well-proven design now--there are a lot of them out there. If you want to run a normal HT, consider the Ventana El CHamuco--has the same intelligent double triangle front frame as the Gemini (light, stiff, strong, and uninterrupted seat tube) BUT has a swing link for a better shock rate.

    The Intense VP FR bike isn't out yet, but from what i've heard, w/ the 7 inch Breakout it rules. Out of your price range tho.

    if you ride N Star hard, 7 inches Fr/Rear is not overkill, and trust me you'll dig it on the rocky singletrack in tahoe / downieville / mammoth areas. With any of the above bikes and a sherman 6 inch or 7 inch fork (or the new Magura 6 inch fork--the Ronin I think?--w/ the 1.5 inch HT) and the right build, you can get down to that weight but still have reasonably strong wheels. Use Easton CFiber bars, a thomson post, a seat that's not overkill. I'm converting my Hayes to 8 inch Hope rotor on the front and 7 inch Hope rotor on the rear to save a little weight but still have good performance.

    I have a couple of different crankset setups but mostly i use some FSA afterburner cranks and a RF freeride BB w/ a triple ring and the Heim chain guide. If you're really serious about doing long backcountry rides, this setup works well. Avoid super heavy cranks since you're not planning big drops.

    To answer your question about Romic--the pedalling threshhold damping force is adjustable on it, and works pretty well. The romic is lighter than comparable coil shocks, even more so if you get a Ti spring at some point. The manitou 4 way and 6 way (and the 5th element) are much more user-adjustable.

    THe Astrix Huckster appears very well engineered. Good price too for that engineering.

    EDIT to add: i just read that report on the new Marzocchi 66 long travel SC fork. The copious use of steel in the Z150 was why it was strong but heavy and a little flexy; i assume the 66 is using 35 mm aluminum stanchions. the 66 sounds lighter than the z150 was. anyway, this new marzocchi fork could be good for the all around bike you're getting.
    Last edited by npm1964; 07-05-2004 at 09:26 AM. Reason: update

  25. #25
    Jm.
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    Quote Originally Posted by npm1964
    The romic is lighter than comparable coil shocks,
    No, it's not.
    I know in my heart that Ellsworth bikes are more durable by as much as double. AND they are all lighter...Tony Ellsworth

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jm.
    No, it's not.
    the romic was lighter than the Fox RC it replaced on my bike. piggyback reservoir, all else being equal, adds weight.

    post some actual weights for shocks that are set up for a given frame type and rider weight. i.e. to account for the various spring stiffnesses necessary.

    every notice how trail bikes like the turner 5 spot almost always seem to specify the Romic shock for the coil option? shops have told me this was partly because of the lower weight.

    maybe they were full of sh*t? possible.

  27. #27
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    A buddy of mine broke his Titus Locomoto 2 years back. Bought a Bullit finally. Rode it for a year and a half till Yet hooked him up w/ a Yeti ASX. He sold the Bullit and rode the Yeti for about 6 months till it broke this April in Moab. He's thinking about the Bullit again.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by npm1964
    the romic was lighter than the Fox RC it replaced on my bike. piggyback reservoir, all else being equal, adds weight.

    post some actual weights for shocks that are set up for a given frame type and rider weight. i.e. to account for the various spring stiffnesses necessary.

    every notice how trail bikes like the turner 5 spot almost always seem to specify the Romic shock for the coil option? shops have told me this was partly because of the lower weight.

    maybe they were full of sh*t? possible.
    the romic shock pedals way better than a fox, that's why it's the coil of choice on a turner or ellsworth.

    the romic shock also has a much bigger diameter than a fox, that's why it ends up being much heavier. (in other words the spring weighs a lot more) 100-200g usually for a similer-stroke shock with a similer spring.

    I've had both.
    I know in my heart that Ellsworth bikes are more durable by as much as double. AND they are all lighter...Tony Ellsworth

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by npm1964
    the romic was lighter than the Fox RC it replaced on my bike. piggyback reservoir, all else being equal, adds weight.

    maybe they were full of sh*t? possible.
    i think so (full of it that is). The Fox RC is alot smaller than the Romic, both for the shaft and body. The piggy back is pretty small, and the Romic has an 'internal piggyback', or twin-tube design, meaning the shock body is essentially double-walled. Also the Romic coils are massive compared to the Vanillas because of the larger damper body.

    Turners would use the Romics because of the quality of their travel. You'll notice their race bikes that have VanillaRCs have Push internals.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by zedro
    i think so (full of it that is). The Fox RC is alot smaller than the Romic, both for the shaft and body. The piggy back is pretty small, and the Romic has an 'internal piggyback', or twin-tube design, meaning the shock body is essentially double-walled. Also the Romic coils are massive compared to the Vanillas because of the larger damper body.

    Turners would use the Romics because of the quality of their travel. You'll notice their race bikes that have VanillaRCs have Push internals.
    yeah i know all about the quality of the travel difference between stock fox and romic. btw i have a Push'ed fox on another bike of mine--i really like the rebound stroke damping on loose rock descents.

    anyone know how the weight of a manitou swinger coil compares to the romic?

    i care more about shock performance than shock weight, but was just curious.

  31. #31
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    new ProPedal Vanilla RC performs well...

    my Scream has the new ProPedal Vanilla RC and honestly, I like it better than the Progressive 5th E that was on my Bullit... same elimination of initial action, but better trail feel and better bottom-out resistance with less fudging and fooling around on the adjustments.

    starting to think about getting one as backup for my X-5's Romic.

  32. #32
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    Hey, Gonzo...weight on that El Chamuco?

    Quote Originally Posted by gonzostrike
    You don't need a bigger bike for what you've listed. If you can't ride your SB through that stuff, you need more riding time, not a new bike! What's more fun than more riding and getting better at riding skills? Well, a new bike is, so I understand your question!

    Seriously, your self-description does NOT call for a bigger bike, but maybe a twist on what you already have.

    The Switchblade is a long-travel XC bike. Its angles are XC, its steering quickness is XC, etc. I know that 3 years ago the SB was considered by some MTB mags to be a "freeride" bike if you put coil/oil at each end, but the angles just are NOT there. Long-travel XC is a weird concept. Titus saw a little niche and filled it. The true competition for the SB is the Ellsworth Id, and nothing else really.

    Long-travel XC is more an image than a working design. It's for XC-oriented riders that think their travel amount is limiting their riding experience. In other words, it's a bandaid. It's not even sutures or staples.

    On to your mentioned bikes...

    Of those you listed, I'd choose none. What you really need is a true trail bike with more descending and high-speed stability.

    The absolutely best choice for what you're talking about is simple -- Ventana El Chamuco. Build it up to about 32-35 lbs with midweight wheels & tires (for example, Mavic XM321 rims and nice hubs such as this Hadley hubset-based offer at Universal Cycles -- http://www.universalcycles.com/shopp...ls.php?id=1960) and you've got lots of fun in store while still retaining the climbing abilities that make you enjoy the SB on trail.

    You won't find better trail manners or frame quality at the same price. Ventanas have exacting quality standards, and their rear assembly's lateral stiffness is legendary. You won't have that vague "where's my rear wheel going?" feeling like you do with the SC Bullit or Specialized FSR designs, both of which have greater lateral flex in the rear assembly.

    You can build an El Chamuco for the same as or less than a SC Bullit or Heckler, and have a MUCH better bike.

    For really good information on building an El Chamuco, contact the guys at Go-Ride.com, and especially the owner, Scott Crabill. Scott rides an El Chamuco for his trail bike and would happily give you reasons why it's such a great choice for what you're seeking. Scott's very knowledgeable and will help you understand what makes the El C such a great choice.

    FYI -- in 2001, I was riding an Ellsworth Isis 4" travel frame and broke it. I was only doing 4' drops with occasional up to 5 or 6 feet. Nothing big. I'm about your size, 5'10" and 165 lbs soaking wet. My background is XC with lots of moto and BMX experience as a kid. I looked at replacing the Isis with a Joker, but the Isis frame's design is the same as the Joker's for all practical purposes. Since the Isis broke so easily, I ditched the Joker idea. I'd already ridden friends' Titus Switchblade and a Specialized Enduro Pro FSR bikes for extended trail rides, so I was familiar with FSR designs in the 4"-6" category. Many friends were riding Bullits and loving them, so I decided to get one.

    In 2002 I got a SC Bullit. I rode it until about 6 weeks ago, when I replaced the Bullit with a Banshee Scream. Basically, I found that the Bullit's biggest weakness is its flexy rear assembly and its lack of expertise at one particular type of riding. It's not burly enough to be a full-on FR or DH rig. It's too heavy to be a good trail bike. It's too flexy in the rear to ride precise lines without some vagueness. After riding a friend's Banshee Scream, I was hooked.

    Of course, it helped that I also have a Ventana X-5 for my long high-alpine technical XC/FR trail rides. The Ventana 4-bar linkage is somewhat similar to the Banshee linkage, both provide excellent lateral stability at the rear wheel.

    I won't ride another single pivot bike unless it's a Ventana. Sherwood Gibson's a demanding designer and won't tolerate lateral or torsional flex at the rear wheel. And precise rear wheel tracking is what makes riding techie lines so fun... you pick and start your line, the bike doesn't mess with it.

    Long-winded way around, but the short message is that Ventana's El Chamuco is the MOST phenomenal deal for what you're seeking. Get one. You will NOT be sorry, I promise.
    I've never heard or seen one of these until just looking at their site. Do you know the actual frame/shock weight, as I didn't see it on the site? It is a nice looking setup. I see where they're getting their swingarm lateral rigidity with the 2 bearing interface on each side and that unusual looking link. It looks a little heavy though, so I was curious about that. I'm one who thinks that Bullits can indeed make a very decent all-around bike, but I'm not one who thinks they are the holy grail. I just think the Bullit is a very versatile frame because you can flip all kinds of generically sized shocks (7.875 & 8.5) on them with all kinds of forks, wheels, and components to get all kinds of setups suitable to a wide variety of uses. For its weight I think the Bullit has a fairly laterally strong rear swingarm interface. I preface that with a head-to-head comparison with anything else that easily gets 7" of rear travel. Frames that you have to compare to all seem to get heavier to achieve a high degree of lateral rigidity. That said I'm always eager to see a better design that gives you the most for the least. That is what the Bullit seems to do fairly well at. I would really like to know about the weight of that El Chamuco. Additionally I noticed the EC had a slacker head angle than the Bruja which looks to be a burlier setup even though both had a 6" rear travel. I also wonder how an EC would work with a stable platform rear shock such as a 5th, Manitou, or such. The Bullit pictured here weighs an honest 32 pounds and works extremely well. On a recent trip to Moab, I flipped the 7" travel coil 5th into the frame and adjusted the shuttle to maintain proper geometry. The shuttle is another versatile element of the Bullit. It really allows you more flexibility in setup with just a wrench and allen tool. The fork is a Z150FR SL.
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    Hate to agree ...

    Quote Originally Posted by gonzostrike
    You don't need a bigger bike for what you've listed. If you can't ride your SB through that stuff, you need more riding time, not a new bike! What's more fun than more riding and getting better at riding skills? Well, a new bike is, so I understand your question!

    ...

    Long-winded way around, but the short message is that Ventana's El Chamuco is the MOST phenomenal deal for what you're seeking. Get one. You will NOT be sorry, I promise.
    I hate to agree with you bozostrike, but I think you might be on to something. The El Chamuco is an exceptional deal and the guys at Go-Ride.com are very cool. Then again I might not be worthy enough to own a Ventana. Do you think you can get me a wavier since you are so much more accomplished than me?

    Just having fun with you... Actually the El Chamuco just replaced the Joker on my list. I read Tony's post on another forum and don't want any part of that situation...

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    another vote for the ventana. They make some incredible bikes, and chamuco's are priced great.

    The joker's have a couple of cool features, like the optional 1.5" headtube, and 5" travel setting (do you need a seperate shock for this?), but they have a sh!tty track record, and sh!tty cs.

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    TNC, call Go-Ride for more details. They aren't going to give you a bogus frame weight number.

    Ventana build quality, suspension design and rear assembly lateral stiffness are what make the El Chamuco superior to a Bullit. The fact that there's 1" less travel really is irrelevant, because as you know, an additional 1" of travel can be negligible if the lesser-travel frame has better quality travel. I'd rather have 6" of no-flex rear travel than 7" of somewhat flexy rear travel.

    What most folks don't know about the El Chamuco and Pantera are that those two frames are the present refinements of the original Isis/Joker designs. Sherwood Gibson helped created the "Aeon" venture that originally sold the Isis and Joker. When his business relationship with Tony Ellsworth soured, Tony kept the "Aeon" stuff and rebadged it as Ellsworth.

    So, the El Chamuco is a more refined and vastly improved version of the Joker. If you ever rode an Isis or Joker and liked the ride but were scared by the Ellsworth warranty issues and frame breakage problems, you have nothing to fear now. You can have the best value in 6" singlepivot from Sherwood Gibson in the El Chamuco. It's that simple.

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    I'm willing to bet...

    ...the bullit is plusher and has the more 'quality' travel.
    I would categorize the EC suspension like a heckler with 6" of travel, not a bullit with 6" of travel simply due to the longer swingarm length of the bullit along with its higher foward pivot, ie more rearward wheelpath which contributes to a plusher feel.

    -Sp


    Quote Originally Posted by gonzostrike
    The fact that there's 1" less travel really is irrelevant, because as you know, an additional 1" of travel can be negligible if the lesser-travel frame has better quality travel. I'd rather have 6" of no-flex rear travel than 7" of somewhat flexy rear travel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by npm1964
    For the riding you do, you should consider a 1.5 headtube frame--the 7 inch Breakout Plus is pretty much ideal for the riding you describe, and is much lighter--yet stiffer fwd/back--than the Z150.

    EDIT to add: i just read that report on the new Marzocchi 66 long travel SC fork. The copious use of steel in the Z150 was why it was strong but heavy and a little flexy; i assume the 66 is using 35 mm aluminum stanchions. the 66 sounds lighter than the z150 was. anyway, this new marzocchi fork could be good for the all around bike you're getting.
    you really think the z150 is flexy? i doubt you have any idea about the fork, yet alone how it compares to the 04 sherman breakout plus spv. i not only ride the z150 my roommate has the 04 asx with the sherman. i ride both forks bro and if anything the manitou feels like it has more flex fore/aft (imo due to the basic inch less stanchion/slider overlap). but really i can not tell any difference. the only reason there is no z150 for 04 is the 66 makes it impossible to sell. its not because the fork has any issues because it quite simply is the best single crown built to date. i have been on mine since october and it still feels stiff, brand new and ultra plush. the damping is more progressive than spv manitous but the manitou spv does work wonders for brake dive. heavy steel hardware is the bomb imo and i wont trust big drops and gaps to just any old single crown. the bushings on my dj3 are worn and im thinking about getting another z150 (for my dj ht) once the 66's come out and everyone acts like their z150's are not enough fork and gives them away.

    also as far as weight yes the z150 is a bit heavier than the breakout but i cant tell the difference on the bikes. the valving of the marz fork cancels out its weight in freeride conditions.

    your generalization that steel flexes has no real basis in reality. if that were true then fork manufacturers would be getting sued for broken steel steerers. steel frames flex but they are engineered too. steel stanchions and steerers are not designed the same way. steel is real and i have hucked the z150 big and dirt jumped it and it LAUGHS back. all other single crowns i have owned (alum stanchions) flex sooo bad fore/aft i ruin the bushings and/or cryofit in about 4-6 months. and i never dropped those forks at all or dhed them like i do to the z150. so by your logic my z150 would be creaky and cryobeat by now. its like butter, yet my dj3 (2003) creaks like its gonna explode after about the same amount of riding.
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    My 2 Cents on the Joker

    The Joker is a nice bike. I have an 02 and the fit and the ride are great for me. I bought it used and it is my first suspension bike. Yes I have broken the frame once, but Ellsworth customer service has been exceptional to me (I know this may not be the case for everyone). They replace the swingarm with a redesigned one no charge. The bottom bracket height is taller than published and the head angle is slacker than published. This has not been bad for me. Some of my buddies ride bullits, I like them a lot, but not enough gain to ditch the Joker. My next bike, however, will be a linkage bike. Looking real seriously at the astrix huckster. Good luck on your choice.
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    if I were able to buy a trail bike right now, it would be really hard to talk me out of a banshee chaparral

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    a word about climbing potentials………

    All the above are good obervations but the one thing that most ignore is the climbing aspects of the bikes. I have a bullit with a Z150FR SL on it and it climbs as well if not better than my Türner XCE. I can haul my butt up almost anything, the 5th Element does a good job a cancelling the high pivot traits and the swing arm placement allows the rear to track the bumps reasonably well. It is really nice on long fire roads and is good to very good on short or long technical trials type climbs. I cleaned all of supermoto in Flag last weekend with it, in wet conditions to boot. FWIW I am in the 230lbs range and it seems flex free (relative to my weight) and solid.

    It (the bullit) is real economical allowing you to spend what you save over a Joker on stuff like wheels, etc. Just 2¢.
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  41. #41
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    Get a grip on reality buddy. Ellsworth rocks.

    Quote Originally Posted by singletrack
    Ellsworth? Are you kidding? DO NOT buy this bike.

    If you're concerned with pedaling, don't get a single pivot bike, regardless of what shock is on it.
    I have a new 04 Joker 7" and it pedals excellent for a long travel bike. There is very little bob on climbs. If you remain seated it pedals like a xc bike. Dont listen to the moron that says dont get a single pivot. Whats with the statement about "dont get an Ellsworth as well"? I am more than happy with the way my bike performs. I weigh 215lbs and the bike begs for more after a rough ride. The life time warranty is a bonus as well. The new Jokers have been redesigned and have a stronger swingarm and pivot point. With the Joker you can also bolt on a 5" shock if you want more of a xc feel. The option of a 1.5" head tube or a standard is another nice touch. Joker = versatility. I have the 7" Romic on mine and I still use it on xc trails. The Romic is the easiest shock to adjust out there and it can be adjusted for pedaling. You really dont need a 5" shock on the Joker because it pedals so well. Having tried out just about every design out there I highly recommend the Joker as a all around aggressive type bike. The bullit is a nice ride but the Joker is better on the climbs and for all around use. Unfortunately, I am considering selling my Joker to go back to school. I may be able to hook you up with a good deal if I go to school. [email protected]. Another bike that falls into your category is the Canondale Gemini. It is a SINGLE PIVOT that performs as a do everything bike as well.

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    Not for hills.

    Quote Originally Posted by zedro
    you should also look at the single pivot Specialized BigHit model, it fits right in with the genre your looking at.
    The big hits are sweet bikes for drops and DH runs but are not as trail worthy as a ASX, Joker, Bullit, Gemini. They are not good climbers.

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by ronny
    I have a new 04 Joker 7" and it pedals excellent for a long travel bike. There is very little bob on climbs. If you remain seated it pedals like a xc bike.
    This is because of the shock, not the bike. Furthermore, the joker is way too slack, it's too slack with a 5" fork, which makes it way too slack with a 7" fork. Yes, I've ridden it.

    The life time warranty is a bonus as well. The new Jokers have been redesigned and have a stronger swingarm and pivot point.
    Yeah, just keep thinking that, untill one day down the road when you have to warrenty your bike and he tells you that "oh, we redesigned that bike and it is no longer in production, so we'll sell you an 06 joker rear end for the great deal of $600". Ellsworths warrenty is a farce, it has been proven to be a farce, and you're only kidding yourself if you think aluminum bikes are going to last through 10 years of hard riding...

    The Romic is the easiest shock to adjust out there and it can be adjusted for pedaling. You really dont need a 5" shock on the Joker because it pedals so well. .
    Wow, the romic must be the only shock that can be adjusted for pedaling, excluding avalanche, manitou, progressive, fox, and Push....
    I know in my heart that Ellsworth bikes are more durable by as much as double. AND they are all lighter...Tony Ellsworth

  44. #44
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    Crap????

    Quote Originally Posted by binary visions
    Tony Ellsworth's business practices are abhorrent, first off - so don't support the guy. Second, considering the absurd number of Ellsworths (and Jokers in particular) that have failed catastrophically, for me it doesn't matter if this year's has a beefed up swingarm or whatever. You have to look at the track record here, and the track record flat out blows.

    Maybe in a couple years when there hasn't been another one that's snapped at BOTH the downtube and top tube (the only bike I've ever seen to do that, BTW), or there haven't been a dozen broken swingarms posted in this forum alone...

    The owner will probably still be a douchebag, though. Avoid the Jokers. Avoid Ellsworth in general. The guy accidentally came up with a good suspension design (his explanation of it is pure B.S. - he's no engineer, he just made a bike and found out after the fact that it worked well) - but his frames are crap.
    I must have got a rare Joker frame then because mine works just fine. I weigh 215lbs at least and have dropped mine and there is no signs of stress at all. The frames are not crap. I use mine for everything and after every ride I come back with a grin on. The Joker just happens to be one of the most versatile bikes on the Planet. Look at all of the 03/04 reviews on this site. If they are so shitty why do all of the owners rave about them? Yes the earlier models of the Joker were defective but the new models are awesome. If you look into any bike manufacturer you will find problems with bikes. Look at Santa Cruz for example. I have talked to many owners of these bikes that have been dicked around after breaking frames, swingarms, etc. Does SC even have a warranty anymore? Specialized has had recalls and so has Cannondale. This is what I mean because there is stories about many bike companies like this. You talk about the Ellsworth Truth? WTF is that! Buddy is looking for a aggressive bike not a 22lb xc bike. Sure if I drop my Joker 15 ft to flat it will probably break eventually. If you do that in the first place you are an idiot anyways because it voids any warranty. The bottom line is dont make blanket statements that are not true. Do you have the new Joker? I highly doubt it. Let the guy make his own decisions without retarded comments.

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by ronny
    Look at all of the 03/04 reviews on this site. If they are so shitty why do all of the owners rave about them? .
    ahahahahaha!

    You do know that Tony Ellsworth's employees were "caught" making bogus reviews on this website right? Not only that, negative reviews would "dissapear"....
    I know in my heart that Ellsworth bikes are more durable by as much as double. AND they are all lighter...Tony Ellsworth

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    Joker.

    Well, I dont work for Ellsworth and I like my 04 Joker just fine. For the record I bought mine from my LBS as a demo bike and the employees of the shop were riding it hard before I got it and it is still going strong.Since when do aggressive trailbikes/FR not have slack head angles? Many of the new rides coming out have similar angles. It translates to better handling coming down which is what it is all about. I ride mine up hills all the time with no complaints. The Joker climbs better than all of the other long travel bikes I have ridden. The only ones that compare are the Gemini and Yeti ASX. This is my experience. If all the reviews on MTB review are fake then why are they still up there? You would think that the people managing this site would have deleted the 03/04 Joker reviews if they were fake. HMMMMMMMMM? I have talked to many people with Ellsworth bikes who have had nothing but good things to say when dealing with warranties. Of course there is going to be horror stories sometimes. There is lots of guys riding around with swingarm replacements on older Jokers and they got them for free. For your last truly retarded statement about riding my bike for 10yrs. First of all there is very few people that ride the same bike for 10yrs and even fewer that would ride a Freeride bike for 10yrs. How ****ing stupid are you. For real though. OMG.

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by ronny
    First of all there is very few people that ride the same bike for 10yrs and even fewer that would ride a Freeride bike for 10yrs. How ****ing stupid are you. For real though. OMG.
    So you are saying that the 10 year warrenty is worthless? Why did you bring it up then?
    I know in my heart that Ellsworth bikes are more durable by as much as double. AND they are all lighter...Tony Ellsworth

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    I broke my '99 bullit front triangle. it has/had a 1yr warranty. I got a 2004 triangle for $200 for crash replacement. I'm back on the trail for $200. Ellsworth Truth owners had to basically buy a new bike cuz they were "redesigned" and no longer *underwarranty* The 04 bullit is redesigned also, for more strength just like the Truth. Still cost me only $200.

    -Sp

    Quote Originally Posted by ronny
    Look at Santa Cruz for example. I have talked to many owners of these bikes that have been dicked around after breaking frames, swingarms, etc. Does SC even have a warranty anymore?

  49. #49
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    Hey,
    You've got plenty of choices there, and they're all equal in my mind, and I own a Joker. Lots of my friends ride Bullits, and I recommended it to another because of the $$$. All bikes break, I don't care what you own..just be cautious on how you set it up and ride it, like dropping 5' with 4".... go figure. I have a 6" sherman and use the Romic, Sun Singletracks w/ King/Marzocchi hubs, full XT and Hayes, Thomson and FSA and weighs 36 pounds, so its fairly decent for a "freeride" bike, but I like to consider it an All-Mountain (I since lost about a pound and a half by switching to WTB tires). The bike pedals great and I'm used to riding 4 bar suspensions (old Dare and Azonic Saber). 7" bike overkill? I don't think so. I ride it everywhere here in Vegas (Bootleg, Cowboy, Cottonwood) and XC it with my buddies who ride Blurs and singlespeeds. The Yeti, Santa Cruz, and Joker are all great and can be built up the same. Consider price. If you like the 5th Element, it can fit on a Joker, but is not an option, or find a Fox Vanilla RC and send it to www.pushindustries.com, they'll hook it right up. Look for a 8.5 x 2.5 shock. Shop around, I got my frame kit for $1800 (frame, fork, bars, stem, headset).

    And warranties... Depends on who you get on what day when you send in your bike if it does break, and sometimes who you know. Same thing, horror stories with every bike mfg., just depends on who you are. I own a VW, others hate them becuase they are cheap. My two have been perfect. So it depends..

    Good luck.
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    2002 I got a SC BullitI found that the Bullit's biggest weakness is its flexy rear assembly and its lack of expertise at one particular type of riding.. 
    Oh, thats a good one. U jus needed more bike riding skill obviously. The Bullit rips up and tracks as straight as you want it to, asuming u have the skill level of course. U also talk about lack of expertise at one particular type of riding? Umm, this is all around bike meant to do everything well. It whoops up hardcore everything, unless you like to own 3 or 4 bikes for each of your different riding styles since u gotta have bikes that will win gold medals in everything, not that the rider matters at all or anything .

  51. #51
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    If someone can justify why the Joker retails for 1599 over the bullits retail of 1099, and why that bike is better for my 500 smackers then I will believe. 500 simoleans buys a pimpin' fork to put on a bullit vs what you could get for the joker with the same top end budget. I'm just sayin' makes me wonder.

    It's aluminium, it's a single pivot, it has a history of fractures, and the company is kinda crummy. Is that worth an extra 500 clams to ya? well is it punk?
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  52. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by TerrorOnWheels
    Oh, thats a good one. U jus needed more bike riding skill obviously. The Bullit rips up and tracks as straight as you want it to, asuming u have the skill level of course. .

    That's what you think untill you try a Foes.
    I know in my heart that Ellsworth bikes are more durable by as much as double. AND they are all lighter...Tony Ellsworth

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    Quote Originally Posted by TerrorOnWheels
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    2002 I got a SC BullitI found that the Bullit's biggest weakness is its flexy rear assembly and its lack of expertise at one particular type of riding.. 
    Oh, thats a good one. U jus needed more bike riding skill obviously. The Bullit rips up and tracks as straight as you want it to, asuming u have the skill level of course. U also talk about lack of expertise at one particular type of riding? Umm, this is all around bike meant to do everything well. It whoops up hardcore everything, unless you like to own 3 or 4 bikes for each of your different riding styles since u gotta have bikes that will win gold medals in everything, not that the rider matters at all or anything .
    dude gonzostrike actually is totally correct that the bullit's liability is it's flexy rearend. its a nice entry level freeride bike but its an outdated design that has been eclipsed by many frames. anyone who has really tried to push a bullit (that i know) actually have said harsher things about the flex and tracking of the bike. i have a friend who had a bullit and now rides a scream and he kills on the scream. dont talk smack about other's skill here unless you have some serious skill or bike knowledge to back it up. there are some really top notch riders here and they do not throw out the 'you need more skill' bs. i think its time for you to be told to STFU. i think the beginners forum or the santa cruz forum or pinkbike is more your pace, bullit boy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dream4est
    dude gonzostrike actually is totally correct that the bullit's liability is it's flexy rearend. its a nice entry level freeride bike but its an outdated design that has been eclipsed by many frames. anyone who has really tried to push a bullit (that i know) actually have said harsher things about the flex and tracking of the bike. i have a friend who had a bullit and now rides a scream and he kills on the scream. dont talk smack about other's skill here unless you have some serious skill or bike knowledge to back it up. there are some really top notch riders here and they do not throw out the 'you need more skill' bs. i think its time for you to be told to STFU. i think the beginners forum or the santa cruz forum or pinkbike is more your pace, bullit boy.
    Hmm...maybe they fixed that for 03' because my Bullit has NO flex whatsoever.

    I'm not just throwing that out because I own a Bullit either. I'm a grinder and my past bikes had way too much FLEX (NRS, FSR) which is half the reason I bought a single pivot Bullit. Regarding tracking - no, it doesn't track like a XC bike, but with a single crown fork and lowered shuttle it has no problems ripping through the single zags. Skill is beside the point....at this point.

    btw: One person's opinion does not always reflect that of the majority. And furthermore, the Bullit is a proven design that only increases in efficiency with newer shock technology. As far as entry level - umm, I don't think so for close to $3k.

    Cheers
    MF

  55. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by MRfire
    Hmm...maybe they fixed that for 03' because my Bullit has NO flex whatsoever.

    I'm not just throwing that out because I own a Bullit either. I'm a grinder and my past bikes had way too much FLEX (NRS, FSR) which is half the reason I bought a single pivot Bullit. Regarding tracking - no, it doesn't track like a XC bike, but with a single crown fork and lowered shuttle it has no problems ripping through the single zags. Skill is beside the point....at this point.

    btw: One person's opinion does not always reflect that of the majority. And furthermore, the Bullit is a proven design that only increases in efficiency with newer shock technology. As far as entry level - umm, I don't think so for close to $3k.

    Cheers
    MF
    try riding that bullit and then tesing some other 6-7" rigs. i did when i bought my 01 kona stab (comparing directly to the 02 bullit, joker and intense uzzislx), then again when the "new" bullit's came out.. lets just say the intense/kona rear ends were flawless and stiff compared to the joker/bullit's. broken swingarms ended the super 8 production run and the only reason the bullit is not dead is people buy zillions of em. the new yeti asx is sooo much stiffer by comparision (yet i can still move the swingarm physically). the standard of single pivot quality is the foes bikes. period.
    Divide Bike Bags

  56. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by MRfire
    Hmm...maybe they fixed that for 03' because my Bullit has NO flex whatsoever.
    No, it's a losing battle with those kinds of designs. The two parallel swingarm members are easily flexed because they are sitting up on a supporting member. Yes, it's a beefy bike. Yes, it is a strong bike. It is not the stiffest bike ever, nor is it even close. They can make the tubes twice as big, and they still wouldn't be the stiffest bike ever, because of the single pivot design that they are using. There is literally nothing to prevent flex at the most critical point in that design, which is where the rear shock bolts to the swingarm. This is why the Yeti AS-X, 575, Foes bikes, and others, have siffening-linkages at this point. If these companies were interested in making a more affordable bike that is not as stiff, they would have something that is closer to the bullit, but thankfully they are not. Look at a bullit compared to a foes for a minute;

    The foes has large-diameter tubes for stiffness. The foes has much shorter tubes(notice they end right past the wheel) which means more stiffness. The bottom bracket area is asymetrically built so that it only requires a 68mm BB, again stiffer than a longer one. The main pivot is huge. The main pivot and BB are one-piece CNCed affair. The rear end is fully triangulated from the pivot-meaning that it is not sitting on a "mast" like the bullits, so you get a lot more reinforcement with the foes setup. And if all this wasn't enough, there is a scissor link that attaches to the main frame to provide even more stiffness. To put it simply, it's way stiffer than a bullit will ever be. It makes my big burly DH bike seem way too flexy. This is what you get when you buy a foes, and this is why it costs more than a bullit. The two bikes aren't for the same purpose or anything, but you could easily draw these same exact parallelisms with the foes fly or the inferno. To put it simply, bullits are quite a bit more flexy than some of the other bikes that are out there these days.

    A single pivot bike, or an FSR type bike, is not inherently stiffer than the other, the deciding factor is the build. You can easily make a single pivot bike flexy, and you can easily make a multi-pivot bike flexy. You can make an FSR real stiff by using either bushings like turner does, multiple bearings in the pivots, or a bearing that allows for tortional rigidity, these things start to cost a lot of money though. The same with the single pivots, you can use swing links, shorten the members of the rear triangle, and build them stiff, but again, it takes more engineering and costs money. The actual stiffness is much more dependant on the actual design of the bike, not the suspension style, although it can be quite difficult to make FSRs stiff because the rear wheel is "floating" on a member that is not connected to the mainframe, but even still, through the use of bushings or correctly designed bearings, these can be extremely stiff and durable...
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    I know in my heart that Ellsworth bikes are more durable by as much as double. AND they are all lighter...Tony Ellsworth

  57. #57
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    ???

    Quote Originally Posted by gonzostrike
    You don't need a bigger bike for what you've listed. If you can't ride your SB through that stuff, you need more riding time, not a new bike! What's more fun than more riding and getting better at riding skills? Well, a new bike is, so I understand your question!

    Seriously, your self-description does NOT call for a bigger bike, but maybe a twist on what you already have.

    The Switchblade is a long-travel XC bike. Its angles are XC, its steering quickness is XC, etc. I know that 3 years ago the SB was considered by some MTB mags to be a "freeride" bike if you put coil/oil at each end, but the angles just are NOT there. Long-travel XC is a weird concept. Titus saw a little niche and filled it. The true competition for the SB is the Ellsworth Id, and nothing else really.

    Long-travel XC is more an image than a working design. It's for XC-oriented riders that think their travel amount is limiting their riding experience. In other words, it's a bandaid. It's not even sutures or staples.

    On to your mentioned bikes...

    Of those you listed, I'd choose none. What you really need is a true trail bike with more descending and high-speed stability.

    The absolutely best choice for what you're talking about is simple -- Ventana El Chamuco. Build it up to about 32-35 lbs with midweight wheels & tires (for example, Mavic XM321 rims and nice hubs such as this Hadley hubset-based offer at Universal Cycles -- http://www.universalcycles.com/shopp...ls.php?id=1960) and you've got lots of fun in store while still retaining the climbing abilities that make you enjoy the SB on trail.

    You won't find better trail manners or frame quality at the same price. Ventanas have exacting quality standards, and their rear assembly's lateral stiffness is legendary. You won't have that vague "where's my rear wheel going?" feeling like you do with the SC Bullit or Specialized FSR designs, both of which have greater lateral flex in the rear assembly.

    You can build an El Chamuco for the same as or less than a SC Bullit or Heckler, and have a MUCH better bike.

    For really good information on building an El Chamuco, contact the guys at Go-Ride.com, and especially the owner, Scott Crabill. Scott rides an El Chamuco for his trail bike and would happily give you reasons why it's such a great choice for what you're seeking. Scott's very knowledgeable and will help you understand what makes the El C such a great choice.

    FYI -- in 2001, I was riding an Ellsworth Isis 4" travel frame and broke it. I was only doing 4' drops with occasional up to 5 or 6 feet. Nothing big. I'm about your size, 5'10" and 165 lbs soaking wet. My background is XC with lots of moto and BMX experience as a kid. I looked at replacing the Isis with a Joker, but the Isis frame's design is the same as the Joker's for all practical purposes. Since the Isis broke so easily, I ditched the Joker idea. I'd already ridden friends' Titus Switchblade and a Specialized Enduro Pro FSR bikes for extended trail rides, so I was familiar with FSR designs in the 4"-6" category. Many friends were riding Bullits and loving them, so I decided to get one.

    In 2002 I got a SC Bullit. I rode it until about 6 weeks ago, when I replaced the Bullit with a Banshee Scream. Basically, I found that the Bullit's biggest weakness is its flexy rear assembly and its lack of expertise at one particular type of riding. It's not burly enough to be a full-on FR or DH rig. It's too heavy to be a good trail bike. It's too flexy in the rear to ride precise lines without some vagueness. After riding a friend's Banshee Scream, I was hooked.

    Of course, it helped that I also have a Ventana X-5 for my long high-alpine technical XC/FR trail rides. The Ventana 4-bar linkage is somewhat similar to the Banshee linkage, both provide excellent lateral stability at the rear wheel.

    I won't ride another single pivot bike unless it's a Ventana. Sherwood Gibson's a demanding designer and won't tolerate lateral or torsional flex at the rear wheel. And precise rear wheel tracking is what makes riding techie lines so fun... you pick and start your line, the bike doesn't mess with it.

    Long-winded way around, but the short message is that Ventana's El Chamuco is the MOST phenomenal deal for what you're seeking. Get one. You will NOT be sorry, I promise.
    A Bullit is not burly enough to be a FR/DH rig? Smoke another bowl.

  58. #58
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    Over priced.

    Yeah for sure the Joker is over priced compared to the bullit but the Joker is a better all around bike. I tried the old SC and it is a great bike for FR and the odd DH run but I found the Joker to be a better performer as a do everything bike. The Joker pedals better and you have the option of running a 5" or 7" shock or a 1.5" head tube or the standard size. The Joker can truly be ridden as a xc/trail bike even if it is built up. The paint is anodized and is very scratch resistant. SC is notorious for crappy paint jobs and peeling stickers. Not that paint makes a bike perform better. Lots of options for the Joker. I also find my Joker to be very stiff and the whole flex thing is a non issue for me. The Joker is like having both a Heckler and a Bullit. You get the best of both bikes in one package. It comes down to rider preference. I havent broke my frame or swingarm yet either. I have seen lots of broken swingarms and cracked shock mounts on hecklers and bullits also. All bikes break bottom line.

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    Good job! Anyone looking for a Foes FXR CHEAP???

    The Foes FXR's are extremely stiff frames and very well constructed. This all comes at a price though.Close to $2000. I have a large 2003 Foes FXR with Ti Curnutt and extra steal spring I'm selling really cheap. $800 shipped in the lower 48 states if you know of anyone in the market for one of these. Just inspected by Foes and the Curnutt was rebuilt to new specs.




    Quote Originally Posted by Jm.
    No, it's a losing battle with those kinds of designs. The two parallel swingarm members are easily flexed because they are sitting up on a supporting member. Yes, it's a beefy bike. Yes, it is a strong bike. It is not the stiffest bike ever, nor is it even close. They can make the tubes twice as big, and they still wouldn't be the stiffest bike ever, because of the single pivot design that they are using. There is literally nothing to prevent flex at the most critical point in that design, which is where the rear shock bolts to the swingarm. This is why the Yeti AS-X, 575, Foes bikes, and others, have siffening-linkages at this point. If these companies were interested in making a more affordable bike that is not as stiff, they would have something that is closer to the bullit, but thankfully they are not. Look at a bullit compared to a foes for a minute;

    The foes has large-diameter tubes for stiffness. The foes has much shorter tubes(notice they end right past the wheel) which means more stiffness. The bottom bracket area is asymetrically built so that it only requires a 68mm BB, again stiffer than a longer one. The main pivot is huge. The main pivot and BB are one-piece CNCed affair. The rear end is fully triangulated from the pivot-meaning that it is not sitting on a "mast" like the bullits, so you get a lot more reinforcement with the foes setup. And if all this wasn't enough, there is a scissor link that attaches to the main frame to provide even more stiffness. To put it simply, it's way stiffer than a bullit will ever be. It makes my big burly DH bike seem way too flexy. This is what you get when you buy a foes, and this is why it costs more than a bullit. The two bikes aren't for the same purpose or anything, but you could easily draw these same exact parallelisms with the foes fly or the inferno. To put it simply, bullits are quite a bit more flexy than some of the other bikes that are out there these days.

    A single pivot bike, or an FSR type bike, is not inherently stiffer than the other, the deciding factor is the build. You can easily make a single pivot bike flexy, and you can easily make a multi-pivot bike flexy. You can make an FSR real stiff by using either bushings like turner does, multiple bearings in the pivots, or a bearing that allows for tortional rigidity, these things start to cost a lot of money though. The same with the single pivots, you can use swing links, shorten the members of the rear triangle, and build them stiff, but again, it takes more engineering and costs money. The actual stiffness is much more dependant on the actual design of the bike, not the suspension style, although it can be quite difficult to make FSRs stiff because the rear wheel is "floating" on a member that is not connected to the mainframe, but even still, through the use of bushings or correctly designed bearings, these can be extremely stiff and durable...

  60. #60
    Jm.
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    Got mine with a choice of a romic or fox vanilla RL for 1400 brand new from a shop. You can definitely get an FXR for a lot less than $2000, but with the curnutt shock the price IS pretty close to $2000...
    I know in my heart that Ellsworth bikes are more durable by as much as double. AND they are all lighter...Tony Ellsworth

  61. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by rprice
    [and use the Heckler or 02' AS-X for any kind of riding.
    If I only had a single bike I think it would be the Heckler, but since I've got the Switchblade for trail riding I was think that having 7" of travel would be fun to play around with but the Heckler still might be the better call...
    Nah... if the SW isn't cutting it for you DH you need a long travel frame. I have a Bullit with the new 6" Shermin with SPV evolve. It is a perfect bike for FR and DH... well with SC forks it is not the greatest at high speed DH but I keep it reasonable. I have a friend who twisted the Heckler because he really needed the Bullit. Again if the SW ain't cutting it another 5" bike ain't gonna cut it.

  62. #62
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    FXR with Curnutt

    Yes, that sounds about right. Once you add the Curnutt and Ti Spring the price jumps up to $1895. I also have an extra steal spring, Thomson seat post and Salsa QR which puts it over $2000 easily. I'm open to offers and trades too!



    Quote Originally Posted by Jm.
    Got mine with a choice of a romic or fox vanilla RL for 1400 brand new from a shop. You can definitely get an FXR for a lot less than $2000, but with the curnutt shock the price IS pretty close to $2000...

  63. #63
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    Gemini is Tight!!!

    Hey npm1964:

    I just got a used 03' Gemini 1000 for the very same reason rprice is looking to buy another bike. I wanted a burlier bike that could do all/go anywhere. I just posted a question in the Cannondale forums on how to shave some weight. I love that bike -- We went to Big Bear and man that thing is phat!!!! It was handling drops like nothing -- I didn't do anything really big, but 4ft drops were butter. It's just set up though for DH and I mostly do the local stuff like Whiting, Aliso, Luge, Old Camp, etc and you there's plenty of climbing.

    Hey give me some advice on shaving weight -- 33 lbs would be cool. I also have a Sherman fork and Romic rear shock.

    Now I gotta sell my 01' Intense Uzzi SLX -- sweet bike, but a little too much for me. The Gemini is more comfortable for my riding style.

    Peace,
    Moe


    Quote Originally Posted by npm1964
    I ride the exact same terrain and was looking for the same thing pretty much as you 2 yrs. ago. Almost got the bullit, wanted the ASX but it wasn't out yet and ended up w/ the cannondale gemini/Romic/sherman breakout. w/ the right tires (the new Kenda Blue Groove 2.35 is good in our terrain) it's damn light (around 33?) but stiff and rips it up on Toads (and I ride uphill singletrack for 3,500 vertical feet no problem). frame is around 8 lbs, i.e. less than the bullit or the ASX. For the riding you do, you should consider a 1.5 headtube frame--the 7 inch Breakout Plus is pretty much ideal for the riding you describe, and is much lighter--yet stiffer fwd/back--than the Z150. The Joker comes in that 1.5 HT size, but I"m not a big Ellsworth fan. The ASX is actually a well-proven design now--there are a lot of them out there. If you want to run a normal HT, consider the Ventana El CHamuco--has the same intelligent double triangle front frame as the Gemini (light, stiff, strong, and uninterrupted seat tube) BUT has a swing link for a better shock rate.

    The Intense VP FR bike isn't out yet, but from what i've heard, w/ the 7 inch Breakout it rules. Out of your price range tho.

    if you ride N Star hard, 7 inches Fr/Rear is not overkill, and trust me you'll dig it on the rocky singletrack in tahoe / downieville / mammoth areas. With any of the above bikes and a sherman 6 inch or 7 inch fork (or the new Magura 6 inch fork--the Ronin I think?--w/ the 1.5 inch HT) and the right build, you can get down to that weight but still have reasonably strong wheels. Use Easton CFiber bars, a thomson post, a seat that's not overkill. I'm converting my Hayes to 8 inch Hope rotor on the front and 7 inch Hope rotor on the rear to save a little weight but still have good performance.

    I have a couple of different crankset setups but mostly i use some FSA afterburner cranks and a RF freeride BB w/ a triple ring and the Heim chain guide. If you're really serious about doing long backcountry rides, this setup works well. Avoid super heavy cranks since you're not planning big drops.

    To answer your question about Romic--the pedalling threshhold damping force is adjustable on it, and works pretty well. The romic is lighter than comparable coil shocks, even more so if you get a Ti spring at some point. The manitou 4 way and 6 way (and the 5th element) are much more user-adjustable.

    THe Astrix Huckster appears very well engineered. Good price too for that engineering.

    EDIT to add: i just read that report on the new Marzocchi 66 long travel SC fork. The copious use of steel in the Z150 was why it was strong but heavy and a little flexy; i assume the 66 is using 35 mm aluminum stanchions. the 66 sounds lighter than the z150 was. anyway, this new marzocchi fork could be good for the all around bike you're getting.

  64. #64
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    I was looking for the same thing.

    I was looking for the same thing -- my Sugar wasn't cutting it -- even with me upgrading to Manitou Comp 120 and Romic rear, it still wasn't enough. Yes skill does come into play, but having a setup that can handle it without worrying as much about your lines is really cool. I'm going over a lot more stuff now that the Sugar couldn't handle.

    I ended up getting a Gemini 1000 and it is SWEET!!!! I'm not knocking any bikes, but the Bullit was a little too heavy and I've never been on an ASX (though I hear good things about it). I also have an Intense Uzzi SLX, but that thing is a beast -- that's why I'm selling it -- just gonna keep the Gemini.

    Here's a bike that might fit your niche:
    Cannondale Prophet -- it's supposed to be somewhere between a DH and XC. This review of it seems positive:
    http://www.singletrackworld.com/arti...Print&sid=1406

    But vouching for the Gemini, I have no complaints -- the weight you just have to get used to, but it's not so overburdening like some bikes that are just so heavy.

    Good luck.

    Moe



    Quote Originally Posted by rprice
    Looking for a longer travel "play" bike that can hit the ski lifts (NorthStar/Big Bear) and still climb with a reasonable weight. Something I can pedal up Noble Canyon fireroad and up 89 to Mr. Toads. My current ride is a Titus Switchblade built up with a 5" Fox coil fork and weighing in around 29#. Assuming a DH wheelset for the lifts and a lighter wheelset for the trails, I'm shooting for 33#-34# range for the new ride with the lighter wheelset.

    My riding weight is 160#. I'm not hard on my ride... rare 4' to flat and the rocks at North Star/Noble/Toads.

    Other stuff:
    price $1600 or less.
    no interrupted seatpost issues.
    run a Z150 SL 6".

    So far I've been contemplating the following:

    '04 Joker (7" Romic coil):
    pros - 17" fits good (23.3" tt). weight is good. '04 redesign looks a lot stronger in the swing arm than the '03. low bb.
    cons - +$300 price. Don't know much about Romic TT. Can it be adjusted to help pedaling like the 5th element?

    Bullit(5th coil):
    pros - proven winner. 5th element very adjustable. pedals good. reasonable price.
    cons - weight is up there with coil 5th. Med sizing a bit short in TT. More beef than I need.

    Yeti ASX (5th coil):
    pros - 5th element. reasonable price.
    cons - getting pretty heavy. not sure about the sizing. hasn't been around like the Bullit. More beef than I need.

    Comments? Are my choices over kill? Figure I'll continue to ride the SB so I'm leaning more DH than Trail for new bike, i.e. Bullit rather than Heckler. But that may change...

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    33lbs

    Good to hear you are happy with your decision. The Gemini is a perfect example of how price does not always dictate performance. The Gemini is probably the best bike for the buck around. I think lowering your bikes weight to 33lbs is a bit unrealistic. It can be done but big hit performance will be compromised.

    The Gemini is already light for a long travel bike. Getting a tubeless set-up and getting smaller tires will shed a pound or two for sure. Lighter enduro type rims and a xc crank like the xt hollow tech will shed more weight. The old yellow type DEE MAX rims are lighter than most DH&FR rims and even some enduro rims but are very pricy. Dont get the new Dee Max if you are looking for high strength to weight ratio because they have less spokes and a lot of guys are toasting them.

    Adding xc components to lower weight will hurt your bikes performance for DH & FR. If you are a light weight rider or are super smooth you may be able to get away with lighter components on your Gemini. The best bet would to go tubeless and see how that helps.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by ronny; 08-24-2004 at 04:32 PM.

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