Switch from XC bike to Downcountry bike- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Switch from XC bike to Downcountry bike

    Has anyone made the switch from a XC racing bike (Epic, Scalpel, Blur) to a so-called downcountry type bike (Epic EVO, Spur) for endurance racing/training and if so what do you think about the tradeoffs?

    My Blur was stolen right after this year's ORAMM and I'm now reluctantly bike shopping. I'm a middle of the pack guy, pretty competent downhill, not so fast uphill. Getting older (50) so I think the comfort of the more relaxed bike might be the ticket - I'm more concerned about having fun than being as fast as absolutely possible.

    I live in eastern NC so most of the time I'm riding on flat, tight, slow trails - definitely not too rowdy! Get out to Pisgah a few times a year and do maybe two or three endurance races a year.

    I'd love to hear feedback from anyone who made a similar switch.

  2. #2
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    I haven't done the switch, but I'm stuck between the two for my next bike, too. I currently ride a pair of hardtails--an "old-school" steep and twitchy, and a newer AM-type (although not nearly as long/slack as some of the new stuff). Both are fun in different ways. I love the telepathic handling of the old bike on tight trails; the other is much more fun going down (and not bad on the climb, either). I also do a few races per year, and I'll be 50 soon enough.

    If racing is more important, I'd go for the bike that addresses your weakest area (so it would be XC for the climb). If fun is your priority--as you say--what's more fun? My problem is that I find both types of bike to be fun! But, overall, when it's a long race or an epic ride, my body is starting to appreciate something a little more forgiving, and a face full of dirt doesn't really help the race time. So I'm liking the idea of a DC bike with two sets of wheels/tires (and full suspension!).

    But...if I had regular access to tight, flat, slow trails, I'd sure be tempted to stick with some traditional XC geo...

    This guy has been comparing a Spur to a Niner XC bike, and been trying to decide which to keep:
    https://www.youtube.com/c/ClintGibbs/videos

    You might also want to check out the Pinkbike field test of XC/DC bikes.

    I'm intrigued by the Spur, although if you decide you want one, better start looking. I'm curious to know how this turns out for you. Good luck!

  3. #3
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    If you liked the Blur, you could also buy the frame by itself and build it to be a little more capable. I did that and built it with a Fox Step Cast 120-34, XT trail brakes, and so on because I wanted a fun race bike to handle what we have in Colorado.

  4. #4
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    This is epically splitting hairs. What's the difference between a 120mm "downcountry" bike and a "trailbike" for endurance events? What's the difference between putting some wider tires, a dropper and 20mm more fork travel on your XC race bike? For most people and situations, a 100mm XC race bike is just too "racey", it won't handle big bumps, isn't fun to just "sit on" for the downhills, and in general is fairly limiting. But there are exceptions, some areas are so flat and smooth that this works pretty well. Things start to change around 115-120mm of travel IMO and you significantly increase the ability of the bike to handle varied situations, the reason: suspension travel. Suspension quality trumps travel IME, but assuming the same quality, things get much better for all-around riding when you approach 120mm, on either the front or the rear. For my endurance events, it makes a lot of difference to go to the 120mm fork and my bigger tires. That suspension compliance is nice at mile 80 and it's easier to make mistakes when you get that exhausted, so some "buffer" is nice. Don't want too much weight though for riding 50-100 miles or even more. Personally, I don't feel I need more rear suspension for this, but I do recognize having a bit more forgiving bike and ride for the longer endurance events. But why "downcountry"? Why not just a trail-bike like a Ibis Ripley? Or are we now just calling that "downcountry" too? Or why not just put a big longer fork on the XC bike to slightly slacken it out? I'm not convinced the downcountry thing is anything more than marketing, since they are selling the exact same frames for "XC racing" at this time. I think the idea of a short-travel ripper could be decent, but I'd want an inline coil shock for quality of travel, which requires the linkage be designed for such a shock, rather than air-shock leverage, and then the carbon layup/weight of the frame should not be the same as the XC race rig, it should be heavier for more strength, as in the XC racing bike shouldn't be trucking around more than necessary and the downcountry shouldn't be as fragile as the XC racing purpose bike.

    I'm not sure if the name of the riding style/bike category is important, but a bike with around 120mm of travel on both ends should fit the bill pretty well. Even little tweaks like a 10mm crown-spacer on a Fox 120 stepcast can give you a little slacker bike without going to the weight of the 130mm travel forks (much heavier). The fastest racers will be on XC race rigs, a little heavier than short-track races, but not as "long travel" as some of the less-fast racers. The riding over long distance takes a toll, so some added cush is often a nice thing for most of us that aren't 20-something XC racers
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  5. #5
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    Just read the Spur review--definitely strays a little too far from what I'd want. Yes, the terminology is all over. I did find 120/120 (Salsa Horesethief) was good for the longer "BC XC" races I run in...BC. It did put me a little too far back for the steep climbs here--and some are really steep. Of course, the 414mm chainstays on my hardtail create the same kind of problem. Haha.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the replies so far.

    Jayem's post makes me think I muddied the waters by throwing the "downcountry" word out there. I should have just said "should I buy an Epic/Scapel or an Epic EVO/Scapel SE" to keep things simple.

    Don't think I would ever go with more travel or trail-oriented geo than that. While the races I occasionally run get into some big terrain, where I live things are basically flat - a 30 second climb is a "big climb" and what passes for descending is similarly paltry.

  7. #7
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    I'm inclined to think that since you're asking the question, something a little more cushy is the right call.

    Where I live in SW British Columbia, it's long climbs and long descents, so you get plenty of time in either direction to think about the bike you wish you'd bought!

  8. #8
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    While this thread has drifted a bit towards "down country" bikes. What constitutes too much of a trail bike to qualify as a long distance XC racer? Has the new Tallboy4 gone too trail for you folks to consider a "raceable"?

    I have a Tallboy3 with a 130mm fork on it and it works great for me to do the occasional XC race (short & long). The last couple of weeks, it has developed a ton of creaking in various spots. The frame does have 6600 miles on it and I am fearing of what to replace it with. Blur or Tallboy4?

    Cheers,
    Mike

  9. #9
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    The new geometry Epic and Scalpel are a pretty big change from prior generations. The geometry is more progressive than trail bikes from a few years back. I think you'd find that either is quite capable for the riding a lot of us do. As others mentioned, Pinkbike is doing a review of a lot of these bikes currently, and the reviews may help you.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mbcracken View Post
    While this thread has drifted a bit towards "down country" bikes. What constitutes too much of a trail bike to qualify as a long distance XC racer? Has the new Tallboy4 gone too trail for you folks to consider a "raceable"?

    I have a Tallboy3 with a 130mm fork on it and it works great for me to do the occasional XC race (short & long). The last couple of weeks, it has developed a ton of creaking in various spots. The frame does have 6600 miles on it and I am fearing of what to replace it with. Blur or Tallboy4?

    Cheers,
    Mike
    TB4 has certainly moved towards being a bit burlier. Doesn't SC provide bearings for life? Or is something else creaking?

  11. #11
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    After about 10 years off of racing, I started to get back into racing a couple years ago, with the goal of hitting 100k races hard this year (my first year in the 50+ age group). I was planning to get a race bike (Supercaliber), but with almost all of my planned races being canceled and the need to trail more at home (bought a kicker indoor trainer), I held off getting a race bike. The local mtb race series has been able to run races, so I have been doing the shorter cross country races on my 2019 Trek Fuel EX. This bike is pretty similar to the new Top Fuel. I do have the bike built up with race components, so it only a pound heavier than what the 2020 Top Fuel would be.

    Racing 50+ expert, most of those I am racing against are on 100mm race bikes. But I really haven't felt like my bigger travel bike has held me back any. Actually, getting the Kicker Trainer was far more beneficial than a slightly lighter bike. And on a couple of the more technical trails the extra travel was very beneficial.

    Having raced a bike that would be more in the Down Country category, I would say that if you can only afford 1 bike, you are best off to get the Down Country bike. It will allow you to race and ride/train on the same bike. You will have a bike that can handle more technical trails and will be comfortable for long training rides. And it will also do just fine when racing.

    The issue with only having a race specific bike is that you will be putting a lot of wear and tear on it in training, and you may be under biked if you enjoy more technical riding.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by indytrekracer View Post
    The issue with only having a race specific bike is that you will be putting a lot of wear and tear on it in training, and you may be under biked if you enjoy more technical riding.
    Really, this about nails it. Get a DC bike, but maybe not one too "trail" oriented (see PB reviews going on now). Save a fresh, light set of wheels for race day.

    If the rear end feels a bit too squishy for your racing tastes, throw a bigger VR in the rear shock, and head for the podium!
    Whining is not a strategy.

  13. #13
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    I expect the Epic Evo will be getting lots of love in the Pinkbike review. But the bikes that intrigue me more are the Hei Hei and the Spot RyveóI found the Pinkbike reviews of both to be useful. Based on the OPís home terrain, the Spot might be a good fitóalthough no dealer network.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by GSPChilliwack View Post
    TB4 has certainly moved towards being a bit burlier. Doesn't SC provide bearings for life? Or is something else creaking?
    Something else is creaking. I replace the bearings at least once a year I ride the bike through our wet winters here.

    Cheers,
    Mike

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by GSPChilliwack View Post
    I expect the Epic Evo will be getting lots of love in the Pinkbike review. But the bikes that intrigue me more are the Hei Hei and the Spot RyveóI found the Pinkbike reviews of both to be useful. Based on the OPís home terrain, the Spot might be a good fitóalthough no dealer network.
    Yes, good call, the Ryve has caught my attention and looks like a nice compromise on the XC/DC continuum. Strikes against: only one bottle mount inside the frame; press-fit BB; wheel spec at my price point (sadly have to say no to the 6 star build).

  16. #16
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    The PinkBike test has been interesting for me. I am looking to replace my TallBoy 2, which is much like the canyon lux in the test (just a bit shorter reach). I'm more interested in endurance, so the DC bikes are more appealing.

    For my riding, the Cannondale Scalpel SE looks the most interesting (so far). The Spur is too down hill focused for me, I don't have access to very fast, jumpy flow trails.
    I was interested in the NS Synonym, but am now thinking it is too slack and long for my riding.

    I'm not sure I want a Cannondale, but I do think for endurance racing, big days out, marathons etc, that middle of the road bike looks better than the more aggressive bikes to me.

  17. #17
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    One quick note is that wheels and tires make a huge difference. One bike with two wheelsets can be very versatile. I have a set of Bontrager XXX wheels with race tires and a set of Line 30 with enduro tires. The bike is able to handle ruff and rugged trails with the more aggressive tires/wheel set and yet come race day through down with the cross country bikes.

    Unless you are racing Cat 1, and especially if you only have one bike. Get the Down Country style bike and a set of race wheels.

  18. #18
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    Great discussion. I am looking to move off my hardtail (2018 Fuse Comp Carbon) that I run in both 27.5+ and 29 mode. I do a few races a year ranging from 30 miles to 12hour solo, but feel hammered from the hardtail when all is said and done.

    I am looking at the Epic EVO or maybe even the Stumpjumper ST as my next bike, and I am a 1 bike guy. As a mid packer also closing in on 50, I don't need a dedicated XC racer but something that will keep me feeling better for longer.

    I can attest to having two wheel sets, and in my case, two sizes for a completely different experience on the same bike. I am sure that same feeling will result with a set of race wheels on a DC bike.
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  19. #19
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    I was racing last night (or at least I had paid to suffer), there are a lot of Norco Revolvers around here. I know three people on them--two 120/120, and one 100/100. They love those bikes.

  20. #20
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    I have raced a ton of endurance stuff on everything from rigid SS to 130 trail bikes. I recently sold my Tallboy 3 to move to an Ibis ripley v4 for endurance and stage racing. I dont have it yet, but it seems to fit my criteria for the racing and riding that I do. I live in Northern Califonia so Tahoe, Downieville, Santa Cruz, and racing in Az, Ut and Nv are in most years plans. I find that good lightweight wheels with appropriate tires will make the most difference. Don't sweat it too much, most modern bikes are great, and if you build it right and it fits well, and you train, you should be able to meet most of your goals.

  21. #21
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    I'm in a similar position. My 2017 Top Fuel was stolen recently, and thinking about replacing it with a 120mm bike like the new top fuel, epic evo, blur tr, or sniper T. I did quite a few 5+ hr rides on it, and while I felt surprisingly good towards the end on most, i was actually most fatigued trying to hang on to the bike going downhill deeper into those efforts.

    I'm mostly worried about navigating tight uphill switchbacks. I like to be able to clear those sections and often felt like anything longer or more slack would make that impossible compared to my old top fuel.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by oab1 View Post
    I'm mostly worried about navigating tight uphill switchbacks. I like to be able to clear those sections and often felt like anything longer or more slack would make that impossible compared to my old top fuel.
    I frequently ride the same switchback-laden trails on both my Top Fuel and Fuel EX.

    I think you'd adjust to the FEX in about half a ride.
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  23. #23
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    Does that mean you prefer the FEX to the 2020 Top Fuel? I'm talking about going from 2017 TF to 2020 TF.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by oab1 View Post
    Does that mean you prefer the FEX to the 2020 Top Fuel? I'm talking about going from 2017 TF to 2020 TF.
    Nope. Depends on the ride (and mood) of the day, honestly.

    The TF is so quick and snappy and firm, while the FEX is just flat out smooth.

    Of course, the TF lets you "feel" a lot more of what's under you when you're on chunky trails, but it really isn't much if any slower on the long downhills.

    And the FEX feels a bit softer going up, but surprisingly, on all my regular long single track climbs, it's within a minute of the TF.

    If I was racing anymore, I'd certainly choose the TF. If not, and limited to one bike, FEX all the way.
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  25. #25
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    This is a great thread. A lot of useful information for me.

    Iíve just gotten back into mountain biking after many years away and have been riding a hard tail 2019 Specialized Fuse Comp (27.5+) and ride eastern S.C. with a lot of sand, roots, and short, steep climbs and drops. One of the local legends recommended I take a look at the Trek Top Fuel. He thinks the lockout is an awesome feature. I ride five miles each way on pavement to get to my local trail.

    Can any of you give some feedback on the lockout feature? Is it necessary? Do other bikes have it? Can you lock out your suspension without the lever?


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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by celswick View Post
    This is a great thread. A lot of useful information for me.

    Iíve just gotten back into mountain biking after many years away and have been riding a hard tail 2019 Specialized Fuse Comp (27.5+) and ride eastern S.C. with a lot of sand, roots, and short, steep climbs and drops. One of the local legends recommended I take a look at the Trek Top Fuel. He thinks the lockout is an awesome feature. I ride five miles each way on pavement to get to my local trail.

    Can any of you give some feedback on the lockout feature? Is it necessary? Do other bikes have it? Can you lock out your suspension without the lever?


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    I've got a Giant Anthem Advanced pro 1 that has the dual lockout on it. I didn't think i would ever use it but ended up using it a lot, especially for the roads to get to the trail. It pedals so well that i don't use that much on the trails (michigan).

  27. #27
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    Iíll chime in too. I switched from a race HT 29er in 2018 to a The Rocky Mountain Element 999. I loved that bike. Now I am upgrading to the Epic Evo (it arrives in December). I have raced short track and endurance events on the 120mm front fork Element with great results. I find I am faster downhill and what I lose, if any, going up hill, it is made up on the descents. I also did a hybrid brake system of XTR race levers and XTR trail calipers. It is weight weenie but it allows for fast entry into corners. Again, I find I am faster in this setup compared to a pure XC bike. My vote is DC. It is really nice!!

  28. #28
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    Remote lockout is something I've gone back and forward on. I ride to trails, and link up smaller off road with road or gravel sections. My main events are in Europe, so lots of fire road up and more tech down.

    My bike didn't have them on, and I decided that I wanted that years ago so ended up with DT Swiss suspension with their ODL system. I have really liked it, although rarely use the lock, just open and drive. I don't think a lock is really necessary for my riding.
    The problem is any new suspension seems to be open or lock. I also don't like the Fox push to lock, and RockShox is open/lock.
    I suppose suspension and shock design has moved on that you only need open and lock, and the PinkBike test seems to point that way, but I'm not convinced/worried I'll end up with something I'm not happy with.
    A solution seems to be the Scott Spark system, but I like to buy and keep my bike, and am worried about long term ownership of those.

  29. #29
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    I made the switch due to warranty. 2018 TF to 2020 TOp fuel.

    Itís fantastic. No trade-offs for me and only benefits. I didnít need any help descending, Iím a heavy Cat 1 racer and I go down hill quickly.

    I was highly surprised at the more stupid stuff I get away with in extremely rocky climbs (which is what our trails are) The slacker front end and geometry Tends to wheelie a little more on demand than my previous bike and will go op and over things without getting hung up in the front and sending your bladder into the stem. Since our climbs are riddled with these sections and 1-2 foot rock ledges you loft over, its greatly improved climbing. Again, not expected. I was worried about the climbing sacrifice.

    There was no weight trade-off because the frame was only 100 grams heavier. This was easily offset by a couple of small component changes. Now I am investing in the rest of the bits and the 2020 top fuel will be lighter than my regular top fuel ever was. 23.0 lbs with.

    Iíve ridden my former top fuel all over the HHH of Sedona as well as later on an intense primer pro. Obviously I can roll more of the super steep stuff on the primer that I never did on the 18 TF. The new head angle and geo definitely gives more confidence and I was extremely comfortable all over Sedona on it. I rode all of the same things albeit with a little more pucker factor the first time riding them again, but itís insane how much better these bikes are. I was definitely a doubter.

    If you are just ride mild trails, you may not see drastic difference and may just end up with. A cushier bike which deflects roots better and steers a little slower.



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  30. #30
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    I'm trying to find a 2020 Top Fuel to demo. Just wish it had two bottle cage mounts, that is pushing me away at the moment.

    Ended up taking out a a Supercaliber instead yesterday since that is what they had in my size. I didn't expect to like it, but I did. Not only very fast uphill, but actually more confident going down compared to my last gen TF as well. Maybe it was the shorter stem and wider bars? In any case, I don't feel like it gave up anything to the 100mm top fuel, surprised i didn't miss the rear travel more. Not sure how it would feel on a ride longer than 1.5hrs though.

    Going to try out an Epic Evo tomorrow, and hopefully a Sniper / Sniper T at some point after that to round out my list of potentials.

  31. #31
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    OP back ... appreciate all the input. Distilling the advice as best I can it sounds like most folks would support a move away from a XC race bike and that's the direction I'm headed. On the cusp of going with an Epic EVO.

  32. #32
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    Just got done with a ride on a epic evo (the pro model). I usually ride a Large (im 6'1'') but was on an XL and it felt right. Don't think I would want any shorter reach, though it does come with a very short stem. Looked to be about 35mm. It climbed fantastic in trail mode, throwing the lever to the closed position on the shock didn't seem necessary. Sat high in its travel and still had good small bump compliance.

    Descending was very good as well through chunky stuff, I was able to run a rougher line than i have otherwise with no problems, and it was all in all much more comfortable at the same time. I attribute that to the front shock, I don't think I got the rear working too well yet, felt like it was rebounding way too fast.

    I felt the stack was pretty high, even though that will probably be better on longer days. Also felt like maybe the tires weren't quite as good as the XR2's I usually run. It had Ground Control / Fast Trak combo in 2.3. Rear tire clearance was very little, I felt like i might have heard it rub the stays a few times cornering, and it wasnt that hard to deflect it that much by hand at least. Thought that was a bit odd.

    Definitely a lot i like about this bike. No brain, equal climbing ability to my former XC bikes, better descender, and more comfortable at the same time... but I am having mixed feelings about how lively it felt. I didn't feel like the handling was as sharp as the Supercaliber, for example, on the more flowy or tight downhill sections. Going to try to see if any of the 120mm bikes might capture some of that agility a little better. A very good bike in any case, and still a contender for me at the moment.

  33. #33
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    So a bit OT here, but... related:

    What do you guys think about the super-steep HTAís of Ďmoderní bikes for long days in the saddle?

    I am worried I will never be able to get my saddle back far enough. I am pretty religious about setting-up my seating position on all my bikes exactly matching my road bike, on-which I was professionally fitted. Dropper posts have made this doable on the MTB! I used to have to have my MTB saddle back several cm and a fraction lower for off-road/descent stability. Now a modern bike is going to force me far forward of my road saddle position? Iím Worried about my knee position being so far forward of the pedal spindle, loss of power/and or knee injury or other biomechanical issues.

    For some perspective, Iím short at 5í7Ē, but I have a long torso and short legs. My old hardtail was a custom build with a slacker than normal 72į STA and extra long top-tube (way before it was cool) to accommodate this. So maybe this is a bigger concern for me than the average joe.


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  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by FJSnoozer View Post
    I made the switch due to warranty. 2018 TF to 2020 TOp fuel.

    Itís fantastic. No trade-offs for me and only benefits. I didnít need any help descending, Iím a heavy Cat 1 racer and I go down hill quickly.

    I was highly surprised at the more stupid stuff I get away with in extremely rocky climbs (which is what our trails are) The slacker front end and geometry Tends to wheelie a little more on demand than my previous bike and will go op and over things without getting hung up in the front and sending your bladder into the stem. Since our climbs are riddled with these sections and 1-2 foot rock ledges you loft over, its greatly improved climbing. Again, not expected. I was worried about the climbing sacrifice.

    There was no weight trade-off because the frame was only 100 grams heavier. This was easily offset by a couple of small component changes. Now I am investing in the rest of the bits and the 2020 top fuel will be lighter than my regular top fuel ever was. 23.0 lbs with.

    Iíve ridden my former top fuel all over the HHH of Sedona as well as later on an intense primer pro. Obviously I can roll more of the super steep stuff on the primer that I never did on the 18 TF. The new head angle and geo definitely gives more confidence and I was extremely comfortable all over Sedona on it. I rode all of the same things albeit with a little more pucker factor the first time riding them again, but itís insane how much better these bikes are. I was definitely a doubter.

    If you are just ride mild trails, you may not see drastic difference and may just end up with. A cushier bike which deflects roots better and steers a little slower.



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    How do you find your bike flat fast sections? That is where I have struggled as I move away from a traditional XC bike.
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  35. #35
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    I switched from an Epic (w/Brain) to an Epic EVO and couldn't be any happier. I've upgraded parts and wheels to lighten it up because I plan on using it for XC and some endurance racing. Mine (medium) is down to 23lbs and rides great. Thought I might miss the Brain but I rarely ever reach for the lock-outs even on smooth climbs.

  36. #36
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    I am in the same boat. Where I live, there are no long climbs, pedally trails. I can see steep STA for climbing, not that great for flatlands.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    How do you find your bike flat fast sections? That is where I have struggled as I move away from a traditional XC bike.
    Itís fantastic. I Have a green belt TT where I try my best to match Grotts and McElveveen. Itís pretty flat with lots of rock gardens. I was able to PR the other day.

    With Covid having closed a our closest trail systems, the wife and I also spend lot of time riding the road to get to other trail systems and itís great there too. I also run the suspension fully open at all times.




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  38. #38
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    Currently Riding Rocky Mountain Element

    I am currently riding a custom build Rocky Mountain Element 23.25#
    Sid RLC 120mm set at 68.5į / 74į have about 450 miles on the build after coming from 19.5# Focus Raven Max Hardtail. I Race Sport Clydesdales and i'm just as fast or faster on the Rocky on my Midwest (Mostly Minneapolis) Loops.

    https://www.bikes.com/en/bikes/element/2021?tid=71

    Same Geometry as this 2021 I am running in the Ride 3 setting with 531mm Crown to axle measurement

    I work in the bike industry and have rode Parking lot only at work 2021 Large Epic Evo Pro and its a sweet bike.

    The other bike that interest me is the Reval Ranger

    https://www.revelbikes.com/our-bikes/ranger/

  39. #39
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    I've been searching for years for the one bike to do it all. I raced the Trance 29er in XC and enduro for a full year, and thought it was a pretty good all-rounder: https://mtbphd.com/2019/07/03/2019-g...g-term-review/

    The climbing feel is different with slacker headtube angles, but this won't require higher power output unless the slacker bike is heavier.

    But who knows, maybe you can save time/energy on the descents?
    MTB scientist guy @ mtbphd.com
    Inventor & founder of BrakeAce

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoverbike View Post
    Iíll chime in too. I switched from a race HT 29er in 2018 to a The Rocky Mountain Element 999. I loved that bike. Now I am upgrading to the Epic Evo (it arrives in December). I have raced short track and endurance events on the 120mm front fork Element with great results. I find I am faster downhill and what I lose, if any, going up hill, it is made up on the descents. I also did a hybrid brake system of XTR race levers and XTR trail calipers. It is weight weenie but it allows for fast entry into corners. Again, I find I am faster in this setup compared to a pure XC bike. My vote is DC. It is really nice!!
    I would be interested to hear a comparison between the Element and the Epic Evo once you get it, especially how it pedals with the shocks open.
    I have a Element (built from a t.o frameset) that I love for really long rides when it is technical, I think it is a really good climber and easy to handle on the technical parts when I get tired.

    I also have a Specialized Epic HT (2020 model), and when going from that to the Element I can miss the instant power that you get from a lightweight bike (9.5kg vs 11kg for the Element), mentally the Element can feel slower during races although in the long run I am sure it is actually faster for me.

  41. #41
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    Iím kind of new to all the new technology and geometry, but the Epic Evo seems pretty awesome. It looks like there is a new entry-level Epic Evo.


    https://www.specialized.com/us/en/epic-evo/p/187470




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    Looking good.

    It's nice to see you can use a 30mm seatpost

    I was really interested in the Epic, last year, but I wanted to upgrade later to an AXS seatpost, which doesn't exist in 27mm. So I picked an Orbea Oiz instead.

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by celswick View Post
    Iím kind of new to all the new technology and geometry, but the Epic Evo seems pretty awesome. It looks like there is a new entry-level Epic Evo.


    https://www.specialized.com/us/en/epic-evo/p/187470




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    If thatís a carbon frame, thatís a hell of a foundation to build a rocket out of. If rather start there than with a higher end Evo because their builds are very odd and they make huge margin on the parts they skip on.


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  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by evildos View Post
    Looking good.

    It's nice to see you can use a 30mm seatpost

    I was really interested in the Epic, last year, but I wanted to upgrade later to an AXS seatpost, which doesn't exist in 27mm. So I picked an Orbea Oiz instead.
    The epic FSR has been 30.9 for 2 generations now. I think you got a beautiful bike anyway!


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  45. #45
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    I have almost exclusively raced rigid SS in the past, but will be doing a couple races in the next month or so on my 140/120 bike (6 hour then a 50 miler). I started shopping around for a hardtail I could race on, but being a mid-pack guy its really hard to justify. Couple that with the fact that XC bikes are just generally not very fun to ride where I live, and I just decided to give the trail bike a go this season.

    We will see how it works out. I may change my mind next season but I don't anticipate doing any better or worse than I have in the past.

  46. #46
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    Switch from XC bike to Downcountry bike

    I just went to the Specialized site for my daily drool and they just upped the prices:



    https://www.specialized.com/us/en/epic-evo/p/187470

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  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by indytrekracer View Post
    After about 10 years off of racing, I started to get back into racing a couple years ago, with the goal of hitting 100k races hard this year (my first year in the 50+ age group). I was planning to get a race bike (Supercaliber), but with almost all of my planned races being canceled and the need to trail more at home (bought a kicker indoor trainer), I held off getting a race bike. The local mtb race series has been able to run races, so I have been doing the shorter cross country races on my 2019 Trek Fuel EX. This bike is pretty similar to the new Top Fuel. I do have the bike built up with race components, so it only a pound heavier than what the 2020 Top Fuel would be.

    Racing 50+ expert, most of those I am racing against are on 100mm race bikes. But I really haven't felt like my bigger travel bike has held me back any. Actually, getting the Kicker Trainer was far more beneficial than a slightly lighter bike. And on a couple of the more technical trails the extra travel was very beneficial.

    Having raced a bike that would be more in the Down Country category, I would say that if you can only afford 1 bike, you are best off to get the Down Country bike. It will allow you to race and ride/train on the same bike. You will have a bike that can handle more technical trails and will be comfortable for long training rides. And it will also do just fine when racing.

    The issue with only having a race specific bike is that you will be putting a lot of wear and tear on it in training, and you may be under biked if you enjoy more technical riding.
    I'll second this - even if your bike is not 'optimized' for racing, I think having something you ride often and more versatile is the best call.

    If anything, get a race set race wheels/tires and call it good...

  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by FishMan473 View Post
    So a bit OT here, but... related:

    What do you guys think about the super-steep HTAís of Ďmoderní bikes for long days in the saddle?

    I am worried I will never be able to get my saddle back far enough. I am pretty religious about setting-up my seating position on all my bikes exactly matching my road bike, on-which I was professionally fitted. Dropper posts have made this doable on the MTB! I used to have to have my MTB saddle back several cm and a fraction lower for off-road/descent stability. Now a modern bike is going to force me far forward of my road saddle position? Iím Worried about my knee position being so far forward of the pedal spindle, loss of power/and or knee injury or other biomechanical issues.

    For some perspective, Iím short at 5í7Ē, but I have a long torso and short legs. My old hardtail was a custom build with a slacker than normal 72į STA and extra long top-tube (way before it was cool) to accommodate this. So maybe this is a bigger concern for me than the average joe.


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    My personal opinion is road fit and mtb fit should be different depending on where you race most often since some (not all) MTB racing has steeper and more sustained climbs that most (not all) road racing. Jack the front of your road bike up a few degrees to replicate a std climb on a MTB and see how it effects your saddle position.....aka it pushes it back quite significantly. So if you wanna aim for KOPS (I don't worry about it), you'd really need to adjust your MTB setup away from your road setup.

    I'm fairly tall @ 6-4, I had a custom MTB built back when they typically used 'road' geometry fit, works well on flat ground but I really struggle on the steep / tech climbs.

    So for me, the steep STA's have been a massive help, folks with shorter legs, it's probably not as much of an advantage.

    For long flat rides, like on gravel or pavement, the steep STA's suck but love it for all the MTBs rides I do.

  49. #49
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    Please delete

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by oab1 View Post
    Just got done with a ride on a epic evo (the pro model). I usually ride a Large (im 6'1'') but was on an XL and it felt right. Don't think I would want any shorter reach, though it does come with a very short stem. Looked to be about 35mm. It climbed fantastic in trail mode, throwing the lever to the closed position on the shock didn't seem necessary. Sat high in its travel and still had good small bump compliance.

    Descending was very good as well through chunky stuff, I was able to run a rougher line than i have otherwise with no problems, and it was all in all much more comfortable at the same time. I attribute that to the front shock, I don't think I got the rear working too well yet, felt like it was rebounding way too fast.

    I felt the stack was pretty high, even though that will probably be better on longer days. Also felt like maybe the tires weren't quite as good as the XR2's I usually run. It had Ground Control / Fast Trak combo in 2.3. Rear tire clearance was very little, I felt like i might have heard it rub the stays a few times cornering, and it wasnt that hard to deflect it that much by hand at least. Thought that was a bit odd.

    Definitely a lot i like about this bike. No brain, equal climbing ability to my former XC bikes, better descender, and more comfortable at the same time... but I am having mixed feelings about how lively it felt. I didn't feel like the handling was as sharp as the Supercaliber, for example, on the more flowy or tight downhill sections. Going to try to see if any of the 120mm bikes might capture some of that agility a little better. A very good bike in any case, and still a contender for me at the moment.
    Have you picked yet? What have you tried so far? I tried a Yeti SB115 and a Pivot Switchblade, yesterday. Everyone raves about how great the Switchblade is. Not for me at this point, felt too heavy and sluggish. I liked the sb115 but no iscg 5 tab to mount a bash guard. I think any bike I buy needs frame protection of some sort to keep from taking chunks out of my bb area on big rocks, especially And logs. What do you folks do?
    Is the Pivot trail 429 too heavy and sluggish feeling compared to the sb115?
    Also pedal strikes are a pet peeve, I hate too low bikes that pedal strikes or you have to put midget crankset on.
    I ride in the midatlantic where it is totally different from all the YouTube reviews which are either at ski resorts out west, or Moab, Arizona, kalifornia, with fast more groomed wide open environment.
    I am trying to figure out the best bike for my area, and something quick, light, responsive, and efficient, that does not jack hammer my back.
    I ride a xl 2016 trek remedy 9.8 29r now.
    I am 6ft and 3/4 about 165 with no gear.
    Thank you.

  51. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bayonne View Post
    Has anyone made the switch from a XC racing bike (Epic, Scalpel, Blur) to a so-called downcountry type bike (Epic EVO, Spur) for endurance racing/training and if so what do you think about the tradeoffs?

    My Blur was stolen right after this year's ORAMM and I'm now reluctantly bike shopping. I'm a middle of the pack guy, pretty competent downhill, not so fast uphill. Getting older (50) so I think the comfort of the more relaxed bike might be the ticket - I'm more concerned about having fun than being as fast as absolutely possible.

    I live in eastern NC so most of the time I'm riding on flat, tight, slow trails - definitely not too rowdy! Get out to Pisgah a few times a year and do maybe two or three endurance races a year.

    I'd love to hear feedback from anyone who made a similar switch.
    I havenít made the switch but I am evaluating the options. Iíve tried a few and it really depends on what you want to do with it.
    For the versatility then the DC bike is an obvious choice for the guy or gal who can only place resources into one bike. If you have the means for two then an XC bike and trial bike of 130 to 140mm front travel with 120-140mm Rear is ideal.

    The newest gen SC bikes fitted with SID Ultimate and SID rear shock is the ideal choice for the one bike to do it all. Of the bunch the revel ranger has my eye.
    You donít lose much in terms of pedaling performance : in fact I found that a few extra psi in the rear shock and the bike feels very racy and ready for XCo season.
    Of if you opt for the scalpel SE or Epic Evo then you basically have a more capable xco bike.
    Those three would be my choices
    Scalpel SE
    Epic Evo
    Revel ranger
    All with RS Sid ultimate 35mm 120 fork and Sid rear shock

  52. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brad View Post
    I havenít made the switch but I am evaluating the options. Iíve tried a few and it really depends on what you want to do with it.
    For the versatility then the DC bike is an obvious choice for the guy or gal who can only place resources into one bike. If you have the means for two then an XC bike and trial bike of 130 to 140mm front travel with 120-140mm Rear is ideal.

    The newest gen SC bikes fitted with SID Ultimate and SID rear shock is the ideal choice for the one bike to do it all. Of the bunch the revel ranger has my eye.
    You donít lose much in terms of pedaling performance : in fact I found that a few extra psi in the rear shock and the bike feels very racy and ready for XCo season.
    Of if you opt for the scalpel SE or Epic Evo then you basically have a more capable xco bike.
    Those three would be my choices
    Scalpel SE
    Epic Evo
    Revel ranger
    All with RS Sid ultimate 35mm 120 fork and Sid rear shock
    Why Rock Shox? Easier to rebuild and get parts? More durable? More adjustable? Better off the top? Better bottom out resistance? Better mid stroke support?

  53. #53
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    Where I am yes to all of the above

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    Any of you have the Fezzari Signal Peak?
    Any of you try it.
    Crap? Great? Too much pedal bob?

  55. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbikerva1 View Post
    Any of you have the Fezzari Signal Peak?
    Any of you try it.
    Crap? Great? Too much pedal bob?
    Iíd never heard of until you mentioned it, but after watching the review from BIKE magazine, I want one.

    Seems like a great bike and a great way to do direct to consumer sizing, etc.


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