A Different "Which Bike" Thread; 4" Travel vs 5" Travel- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    A Different "Which Bike" Thread; 4" Travel vs 5" Travel

    I've been riding and racing 29er hardtails for many years, but a recent back injury (and advancing age!) have made me consider a full suspension 29er for next season. In checking out the FS market it seems that most manufacturers are making 5" travel bikes that are close in weight and efficiency to their 4" travel offerings.

    My question is, if most things are the same or similar (build kit, suspension design etc.) what are the pros & cons of a 4" bike vs a 5" bike? Is the weight difference usually huge? How about the XC vs "trail" geometry?

    I do mostly long rides and endurance races (with maybe a few XC races) in the southeast.
    The standing eight count & three knockdown rules are in effect on this trail.

    http://compvelo.com/content/

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    For me, geometry is the bigger deal. I'd say I'd have four major questions.

    Does 120 mm put the bike over the hump into "unwieldy monster" territory if it's a 29er? I think for pedaly racing, I'd rather have 29" wheels than a bit more suspension.

    Does the taller fork make it hard for me to put the handle bars at "my" height?

    IME, any given brand typically goes slacker with more travel. Does that mean it takes me more focus to maintain a good line on uphill singletrack? Five hours in, that gets harder...

    Do I have more fun and carry more speed descending? That's the promise, but it seems like it doesn't always play out.
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    I agree with the above. Head Tube Angle is the thing I noticed most on a bike -- more than wheel size or suspension travel. Once the HTA gets slacker than 69 degrees, I find my front wheel starts popping up on climbs. That's no bueno on the steep, techy climbs.

    Seems like a lot of brands are making full-on XC racers with 4" of travel and 69 degree HTA so you should have lots of choices.

    I used to ride a Yeti ASR-5 (5" travel, 68 deg HTA) exclusively, but switch to a SS hardtail in 2015 and ride that 95% of the time. On Saturday, i took the ASR-5 out for a couple of hours and realized I'd completely forgotten how fun a full suspension bike is. Faster? Easier? More Comfortable? I have no idea. More fun? Absolutely.

    I'm seriously considering a full suspension XC bike as my next ride to compliment my SS race bike. Probably a Yeti ASR-C.

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    Over the years, for endurance racing, I've slowly switched from 29er HT to 4" sus at both ends, to 4" rear/5" front, and now to 5" at both ends.

    I agree that geo can have an impact, but for me, nothing has been a better endurance racing bike than the Fuel EX 29er with 5" (120 mm) at both ends (Turner Czar with 100/120 a pretty close second). With the Reaktiv rear shock, I don't feel like I give up ANYTHING to a 100 mm bike while climbing, and I gain everywhere else, in terms of speed and, even more so, in terms of late-race fatigue.

    What bikes are you considering?
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    Quote Originally Posted by kosmo View Post

    What bikes are you considering?
    You nailed it.Top Fuel or Fuel EX. It looks like the EX would be about 3-4 lbs heavier, but I actually thought about getting the EXwith the lighter XC wheels that come on the Top Fuel. That would make a pretty good dent in the weight difference.
    The standing eight count & three knockdown rules are in effect on this trail.

    http://compvelo.com/content/

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    Quote Originally Posted by xray_ed View Post
    You nailed it.Top Fuel or Fuel EX. It looks like the EX would be about 3-4 lbs heavier, but I actually thought about getting the EXwith the lighter XC wheels that come on the Top Fuel. That would make a pretty good dent in the weight difference.
    I think -- and please correct me if I'm remembering incorrectly from August, when the bikes were announced -- that the Fuel EX frame/shock weighs 4 or 5 ounces more than the Top Fuel, for any given size.

    When you add that to the slightly heavier fork on the FEX, I think you're looking at more like one pound more than the TF, all else equal.

    At my size (6'2" and 195) I was advised that the FEX frame was a better bet for me. That, plus my personal aversion to any 32 mm fork, plus a preference for Fox suspension over RS, sealed the deal.

    Now if only winter would take a breather, I could actually try the bike out!
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    Quote Originally Posted by xray_ed View Post
    My question is, if most things are the same or similar (build kit, suspension design etc.) what are the pros & cons of a 4" bike vs a 5" bike? Is the weight difference usually huge? How about the XC vs "trail" geometry?

    I do mostly long rides and endurance races (with maybe a few XC races) in the southeast.
    Well it seems most people agree you give up little riding a good 120mm bike compared to a 100mm bike in an endurance situation, especially for the average racer.

    All things equal the frames of 120mm bikes aren't much heavier perhaps .5-1lb at the most and some like the yeti asr-c are on par with the 100mm race bikes. Often times the built bikes may be slightly heavier because they will use a beefier fork (fox 34 vs 32) or tires on the stock build.

    Geo is just something you'll have to ride to see, demo as much as possible, the newer "trail" geometry shouldn't hold you back unless you are xc racing machine looking to squeeze every second out of a lap. the new generation of 120mm bikes climb great up steep climbs and can handle tight switchbacks no problem.

    My question is what kind of terrain on you riding on? southeast like pisgah or southeast like Florida? If you're riding buffed out single track i would say ride a 100mm race bike. If you are riding more rough terrain or want a more versatile bike ride a 120mm bike.

    I race in the alps so I ride an Ibis ripley with 120mm of travel. I've ridden most bikes in the category expect the asr-c. I've come to the conclusion that you can't go wrong with any of the dw-link bikes(429 sl, ibis ripley, turner czar) and the fuel 29er(with RE:aktiv shock). People also love the tallboy but i'm not a fan.

    I went out and rode a new trek fuel ex9 for week since kosmo raved about it so much. It wasn't any faster or slower than the other bikes in the category, they all just ride slightly different. Go out and demo them all, they all have a different feeling.

    read up: http://forums.mtbr.com/endurance-xc-...ns-989422.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by dfishdesign View Post
    If you're riding buffed out single track i would say ride a 100mm race bike. If you are riding more rough terrain or want a more versatile bike ride a 120mm bike.
    We all like discussing the living daylights out of bike related stuff -- or we wouldn't be on this site -- but I'd say these two sentences perfectly sum up my thoughts.

    I'd only add that if you can't decide between 100 and 120, ride a 100 mm bike with a 120 mm fork.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kosmo View Post
    We all like discussing the living daylights out of bike related stuff -- or we wouldn't be on this site -- but I'd say these two sentences perfectly sum up my thoughts.

    I'd only add that if you can't decide between 100 and 120, ride a 100 mm bike with a 120 mm fork.
    well, i just got my 116mm travel with a 130mm fork bike. wasn't intended to be my race bike but we'll see in about a month (trip to AZ and UT) if it's competent, overkill or something in between.

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