Trail or XC hardtail?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Trail or XC hardtail?

    If you had to pick a bike for both fun/training and racing would you go pure XC build or one of the many new "trail" 120mm+ options out there?

    I am very competitive but specced out the same we're only talking a 1-2 lb difference, which isn't much of a trade off at all if these longer travel bikes are as much fun as people say.. ? And for the 1-3 gravel races a year this would be used on I don't have any problem locking the fork out and making it work..

    Thinking Santa Cruz Chameleon vs Spec Chisel (which admittedly are pretty similar) so feel free to take this thread as radical in either direction as you want..

  2. #2
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    I love my Chameleon with a 120 Pike. Ive raced it for XC, Endurance 8hr, a Gravel Race and CX. This is all SS, but could easily be a geared bike. I use it race my local xc races and a few weeknight cx races and did Grinduro a few weeks ago on it. Its a versatile platform and I dont see or feel its what would hold me back from a result. Overall very fun to ride and train on. I come from a XC background and this is my first foray into modern geo hardtail relm. I wouldnt go back to a xc geo hardtail.

  3. #3
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    Do you have a Kona Dealer? I'm guessing your budget is around $2000. The Kona Honzo AL has a msrp of $1300. That would leave you with money to upgrade the fork to a pike or fox 34 factory. That would give you a bike with great geometry and a fantastic performing fork for around $2000. A lot of bike selection depends on your local trails and where you plan on taking it to. If there are trails you would want to ride and train on with a trail bike I would get a light trail bike.

  4. #4
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    I think there is a Kona dealer near me, hadn't looked toward the honzo yet, I'll take a look at it though, thanks! Budget is actually pretty loose at the moment I would much rather have a frame that is simple/rugged/cheap and have a great set of parts around it than the other way around. Plan is to go with to a fox factory fork, XT group/brakes, good saddle/bar/stem/grips with whatever frame....

    In the past whenever I've bought a stock bike I've ended up replacing everything on it, want to cut to the chase a bit this time.

  5. #5
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    Endurance? Not even a question that the long distance comfort will pay out in the end of an endurance event.

  6. #6
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    I Really love my chameleon. I donít think Iíd go back from 27.5+. Went for a nice ride with some buddies yesterday and it was pretty crazy how much easier climbing rough and rooty singletrack with the wider tires. They may have a little more rolling resistance in the straights but Iím not going for any world championships and I live how they float over everything on the downhill sections. Only thing I would maybe upgrade is the brakes Iím not crazy about the levels but the frame and the geometry is perfect, love it. Also if you get the + model you can swap between 27.5+ and 29 and it comes with a 130mm fork instead of the 120mm on the 29er

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by slowdownthehill View Post
    I think there is a Kona dealer near me, hadn't looked toward the honzo yet, I'll take a look at it though, thanks! Budget is actually pretty loose at the moment I would much rather have a frame that is simple/rugged/cheap and have a great set of parts around it than the other way around. Plan is to go with to a fox factory fork, XT group/brakes, good saddle/bar/stem/grips with whatever frame....

    In the past whenever I've bought a stock bike I've ended up replacing everything on it, want to cut to the chase a bit this time.
    This is what I did, carbon wheels, enve bar, xtr brakes, Pike on the Chameleon frame.

  8. #8
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    I split the difference. Trek Procaliber with a 110 mm Fox 34 Stepcast fork. Just right, IMO.
    Whining is not a strategy.

  9. #9
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    Kosmo you are soooooo old school. You are the MAN. I do respect that but.....Try a modern hardtail with way less than the Procalibers 69 degree head angles and you may consider retiring your squishy. They are amazing.
    Test ride a modern hardtail 27.5 plus or 29er with 2.6 or more with the new geo --slack HA, steap seat tubes and short chainstays and you may have a bike that handles like your KTM 200.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by wallydog View Post
    Kosmo you are soooooo old school. You are the MAN. I do respect that but.....Try a modern hardtail with way less than the Procalibers 69 degree head angles and you may consider retiring your squishy. They are amazing.
    Test ride a modern hardtail 27.5 plus or 29er with 2.6 or more with the new geo --slack HA, steap seat tubes and short chainstays and you may have a bike that handles like your KTM 200.
    I hear you, and in my heart, I kind of wanted a 27.5 plus HT, but no regrets.

    Also, I suspect the extra 10 mm of travel I added, plus the 34SC's greater A-C dimension (compared to the relatively worthless stock 32SC) puts me somewhere in the 68 degree ballpark.

    Plus, the Procaliber with 38c gravel tires is the best rough gravel bike in The Gorge!
    Whining is not a strategy.

  11. #11
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    Oops, I've just got myself a 2012 Anthem with a 72 deg HA.

    Worked well in the XC race today, first time since 2014 that I've raced with gears...

  12. #12
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    If youíre looking for a 1 arrow for your quiver and donít have a trail bike, I would give a strong consideration for a modern XC full sus. Something with 100/100 or 120/100 with a head tube of 69 degrees or less. Having riden a hardtail last year and a full sus this year I canít believe the difference. It will save you on endurance events but still allow you to rip it on all mountain trails. Not to mention if youíre a bit older like me (42) itís much easier on the body. With lockout you wonít be sacrificing much on your gravel races other than a 2-3 lb penalty (mine is 23.5 lbs). Plus any weight penalty on endurance events you likely mitigate with less body fatigue.
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  13. #13
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    Why not split the difference between XC and Trail and go with a Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt, with the Ride9 setup it will open up a whole different world of adjustments for you.
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  14. #14
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    I'd go for a trail hardtail and 2 wheel/tyre sets. One for fun trails prioritizing traction and durability and one for the races, light and fast rolling.

    After getting my current trail/aggro ht I don't see any reason to go back to the twitchy handling that traditional XC geo is famous for. Turns out the new school geo is great on the climbs too. Wheels and tyres are what matters most in acceleration anyway, so I think this would be a fine way to have both aspects of riding without resorting to a second bike.

    Train/ride for fun on the heavy set, race on the light/fast one. On the race course you'll still have a familiar handling bike, just faster!

  15. #15
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    Agreed with the trail hardtail and switching wheels and tires as needed. Nothing changes a bikes character more than tire size and tread design. Chameleon style bike is a prime example. You can run faster skinny 29ers for speed days and change to a 2.8 or bigger 27.5 plus for fun days. I do all my riding in the fun category though. Sure liking the plus size stuff.
    I am watching how that new carbon framed HT Ibis DV9 tests out. That could be the winner for the trail/xc hardtail currently in the light weight category. Supposedly takes a 2.6 tire.

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