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  1. #1
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    Best Tool for the Job

    Hey Guys/Gals,
    I need your help! I have been looking for a new ride and been trying to figure out how much suspension and what wheel size (26er vs 29er) to get. I Love to ride Borderlands, Foxboro, Wompatuck, Wrentham, Vietnam, Upton, Pine hills and Trail of tears and need a bike that can handle the technical sections of borderlands but excel at the uphill climbs of TOT etc.. Anyone that rides these trails any advice on what you ride and how it handles the terrain would be appreciated. I know its about the motor/rider not just the bike but I think our section of the country asks a bit more from the bikes we ride. Thanks,

    Dave

  2. #2
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    Hi Dave.... I think it's a tough question to answer without knowing your budget. Also, will this be your only bike? Do you plan on racing at all? Are you more into noodling around on the techy stuff or cardio/go fast? Short rides (< 3hrs) or longer rides ( > 3hrs)? Drops or no drops? What are you currently riding and what do you like/ not like about it? Answering these questions will be more informative and indicative of what is the right type of bike for you.....more so than the places you ride.

  3. #3
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    Hey JSumner,
    Hopefully this will be my only bike No plans on racing but would like a bike that is fast enough to race if I choose to in the future. I live for the Techy stuff and want a bike that excels at it. My rides last anywhere from 2-5 hours long depending on where I ride. I take some small drops under 3ft but I am a clydesdale ( 6ft 2in, 225lbs) and need a bike that can handle my weight. Currently I am riding a tricked up Hardtail (GF G2 geometry, fox float140, Chris King hubs, Sram x9 1x9 w/ a E13 bashguard, and thompson seatpost,stem, and eggbeaters). I have had Trek, Cannondale, and Ninerbikes SIR9 hardtails and am looking to upgrade to a full suspension bike. No budget in mind, I am willing to send alot to hopefully get the best. Been Looking at Ibis Mojo SLR, Ellsworth Epiphany, Santa Cruz Tallboy 29er, Rumblefish... Truthfully I want a bike that will help me be a better rider through the hairy stuff but my favorite part of my ride is getting up hills or technical sections that no one else I ride with can. Any help would be appreciated!

  4. #4
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    I am thinking 29er because of your size, front and rear suspension for those five hour rides, and something in the all mountain family to complement you desired riding. How about the Kona Satori, Transition bandit, Norco Shinobi, or maybe the Banshee spitfire. Just my 2 cents, looking forward to the pictures.

  5. #5
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    As Jeff c mentioned, I think a 29 FS is a good way to go. I'm 75% a 29er hardtail guy (MCR9) but have experience with 2 FS 29ers and a ton of hardtail and FS 26ers. I had a Rumblefish and I now have a RIP9 as a second ride to my MCR hardtail. The Rumblefish was amazing in the tech but had such an active suspension that it really felt like a dog in anything but the tech. The RIP9 however is probably the most amazing bike I've ever ridden and certainly ever owned. It's active and plush through the tech ups/downs but accelerates and pedals pretty damn close to my hardtail on the smooth stuff. Since most of our New England trails alternate between singletrack and fireroad I find it to be the perfect do it all bike for our area.....I'm actually considering racing the RIP at the New Hampshire 100 mile this year. On the flip side of that there's just something about the 29er hardtail that makes me take that on most rides no matter the terrain....... anyways that's my 2 cents

  6. #6
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    I would tend to disagree with the others in this thread. I ride with about 20 guys mostly between Lynn, Vietnam, and Bruce & Tom's and none of us ride a 29er due to how technical these trails are. I would be less concerned about what you are dropping than what you are climbing. In my subjective opinion you are going to want a bike that is much more maneuverable through the technical sections in New England if that's what you like to do. If you lived on the West Coast I would say a 29er for sure. Several of the guys in the group I ride with are your size and they steer clear of 29ers. If you are sticking to the tamer stuff in a lot of the areas you mentioned then go for it but I'd still want something a bit more agile. As with Jsumner13, it's just my $.02

  7. #7
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    A 29er is the only way to go in the tech IMHO. May I suggest on the Specialized FS 29ers? The Camber and the Stumpjumper look very sweet.

  8. #8
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    I appreciate all of your opinions very much! Tfleko what is it your friends ride that are my size? Jsummer how is your rip9 handle vs your mcr?

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    FWIW, I have a friend who rides many of those places, a lot. He just upgraded from a Titus Switchblade to a Niner RIP and he loves his new bike. He says he was never as fast in technical sections as on the 29ner, his riding buddies are now contemplating a switch, too.

    OTOH, we rode Mt Pisgah quite hard recently any my 650b trail hardtail was very capable of keeping up with him.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by dje562189 View Post
    I appreciate all of your opinions very much! Tfleko what is it your friends ride that are my size? Jsummer how is your rip9 handle vs your mcr?
    Both bikes have nearly identical ETT lengths and I have them set up about the same (80mm stems, saddle even w/ bars) so weaving through tight singletrack, speed of steering feels similar on both bikes. The RIP is just more of a point and shoot bike and obviously is much more capable through the tech with a lot less rider input ....kind of feels like the MCR with 120mm of travel front and rear. I think similar setups on both bikes make it easier to bounce back and fourth.

    Like I said before, choose a bike that fits the type of riding you do. tlefko brings up a good point and I agree with him, if the primary type of terrain you ride is like Lynn, Vietnam and Bruce & Tom's, a 6in travel 26er is probably the best choice for you because I'm guessing his group has a lot of riders with FF helmets and shin/knee pads that hit some of drops and sketchies I'd never dream of doing On the other hand, pedaling one of those 30-35lb rigs around TOT or on a 40 mile, 5hr epic is probably not going to be the best/ most efficient tool for the job.

    Please take my opinion with a grain of salt though because if I could only have 1 bike it would absolutely be a hardtail 29er for the type of riding that I do that consists of trail riding, racing and endurance racing all over New England.....so there is bias in that regard.

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    Hi Dave,
    I'm a Clyde- 6'4", 235... I just started riding an XL Stumpy EVO 29er.... love it so far. For a frame of reference, my idea of a fun trail is Woronoco at Pawtuckaway State Park in NH. I've already cleared techy (for me) bits on this bike I'd not made on my old 26in Stumpy FSR in the past 5yrs. I demo'd both the Trek Rumblefish & the Niner RIP 9 prior to pulling the trigger on this... they didn't do it for me- possibly they were not set up properly for me, as neither felt "fun." The EVO just feels like it fits me.

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    I agree with tlefko, if your looking for a bike to ride mostly NE tech. a 26 wheel all mountain bike is the way to go.
    Quicker, flickier and while it won't roll over stuff as easy as a 29r, it is easier to get the front end up and maneuver tight rocky rooty sections.
    Demo some rides, see what you like. Biking is very subjective so what works for me may not work for you.
    Lynn Woods:yikes:
    JRA cycles

  13. #13
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    The Problem I have is that there aren't a whole lot of bike shops that can keep these high end bikes on tap and then riding it in the parking lot is a whole lot different than on technical terrain. I love reading reviews on MTBR but anyone that's laid down a huge lump of cash on a ride obviously loves that bike. I see alot of pros and cons of going to a 29er and have ridden one before but not on technical terrain mostly XC stuff. That stumpy Evo looks pretty sweet C-woj, do you think it felt better to you because you came from a 26er stumpy? and does it climb better than your 26er?

    What do you ride Scars and Tears? The Yeti ASR-5 looks pretty sweet as well, do you ride a Yeti?

    Thanks guys for all your thoughts, I am looking for your Biases!

  14. #14
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    Go to JRA Cycles in Medford. They'll probably have some things you can demo. They have a lot of really high end bikes from Pivot, Ibis, Cannondale, Rocky Mountain, Yeti, Niner and others that I can't remember...

  15. #15
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    Hi. It climbs better for me... the longer wheel base means it is easy for me to keep the front wheel down. Regarding Stumpy bias... who knows? I did get trail time on the other 2 bikes I mentioned, not just parking lot. Niner- Even after seat adjustments, I always seemed too far back & the front end would get light, even on moderate climbs. Other than that, the Niner felt solid/beefy, but not nearly as plush as the EVO. The Rumble just felt too mushy, but I think a lot of that was the suspension not being setup for my weight. Down side for my EVO... I miss the easier granny gear sometimes, but not as often as I thought. If I get lighter, I won't miss my Granny as much.

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    I ride a Yeti ASR 7. For me its perfect for Lynn, G-spot, Bruce and Toms, Highland. And it does just fine in the Fells, Willowdale, Harold Parker, etc.
    In a perfect world I would add a ASR 5 to the mix for more trail/xc riding. But for me my ASR 7 rules.
    You want a nice blend of both, check out the Yeti SB66, awesome bike!!!
    Lynn Woods:yikes:
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  17. #17
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    I love my RIP9, best all around bike I've ever ridden.

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    IBIS Mojo HD 140 with 650B wheels for the win. IBIS has approved the use of 650B wheels on the 140 HD. You can use them on the 160 also but have to shim the shock a little bit which is easy. What's great about the Mojo HD is you can use 26" or 650B wheels and 140 or 160 mm travel options and the thing climbs like a goat.

    If you don't want carbon fiber Ventana has the new 650B Zeus just about ready (you can order now) and you can customize it also to your liking. Love the specs on the Zeus and with a New England friendly BB height. Watch that BB height on many 29'r bikes for serious techy riding. Should look like their new El Ciclon frame I think. Zeus | Ventana Mountain Bikes USA

    650B really does hit a sweet spot and you won't want to return to 26" wheels. I also ride most of those spots you mentioned on my converted 650B Prophet. I also have a new leftover 2011 Jamis Dakar B2 650 I'm just starting to set up. Can't wait, should be a big improvement over the Prophet.

    If you don't follow the 650B thing LOTS of new bikes, tires, rims and forks are headed our way besies what's available now. Fox, RS, DT Swiss, Schwalbe, Pacenti and more.
    2016 Trek Remedy 8 29er
    2013 Banshee Spitfire V2 650b SOLD

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by skidad View Post
    650B really does hit a sweet spot and you won't want to return to 26" wheels.
    Haven't I heard this before? You know, a few years ago when the 29er thing was really gathering steam?

    I took an informal mental tally of the best tech riders I know, and nearly all of them are still on 26" wheels. Climbing is up to rider skill and fitness as always and the bike is nearly irrelevant. Descending if you line up a bike like the RIP9 with a new school 26" wheel all mountain bike, it can't compare. 66-67 degree head angle vs the RIP's 69-70, 160mm rear travel to the RIP's 120mm, 180mm fork travel vs the RIP and industry max of 140mm (Dorado's excluded), and all at basically the same overall weight except the 26" wheel bike will have lighter wheels and tires at a given durability level.

    All that being said the 29er could be the right bike for you. The combination of big wheel stability with more XC angles makes them much easier to ride for someone just starting to develop their cornering technique. If you don't leave the ground then you won't blow any landings and realize you're falling from the sky on essentially an XC bike. And if you're gentle on wheels you can run a setup without much greater weight and not smash them. Just don't rule out any wheel size because it's not the "new thing" or it's not what your friends ride. Take the time to test ride and learn about different bikes and make an educated decision.

  20. #20
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    Take a look at the Cannondale Jekyll. 150mm at both ends, a super stiff and efficient linkage system, and great geometry for the techy terrain we have around here (Cannondale does much of the testing in New England). As a bonus it has a switch on the bars that drops the travel down to 90mm and steepens the geometry for better climbing/sprinting. I demoed a carbon one at the Vermont Mountain Bike Festival last year and it was super nice. Felt like an xc racer on the climbs and bottomless on the descents. They may have demos at Providence bike but you can also rent one at Highland. They also make a trail/FR bike called the Claymore.

    decline magazine

  21. #21
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    Some good stuff here....curious as to what the OP is thinking or leaning towards.

    I think for New England everything will be a compromise to some degree and if you can only have one bike you need to really be honest about your want's vs. needs vs. ability. Ideally we have one of each or more

    My usual bike is a Cannondale Prophet fully 650B converted with lots of other tweaks to make it dialed for me and our terrain. For the majority of the riding I do (no racing) it's far better than 26" wheels it originally came with. That being said I was a bit frustrated with how it climbed techy stuff without careful body position, smooth pedal strokes, lots of momentum etc. Stuff some guys were clearing on a group ride had me really frustrated that I couldn't and I kind of just chalked it up to my lack of ability or mtn. bike experience (little over 3 years now but over 30+ years on off road dirt bikes). I wouldn't use my age (54) as any kind of excuse. So then...I had the opportunity to test ride a 2012 Specialized FSR Stumpjumper 29'r for 3 solid days. 135mm travel F/B, 2 x 10 etc. WOW is all I could say. Stuff I had difficulty with before was almost childs play and I was clearing things I never could with the Prophet. Eye opening to say the least. Rock gardens that would be very tricky with 26" wheels, easier yet with my 650B wheels became just a point and shoot with the 29'r. Kind of like cheating and a big comfy ride. Truly amazing really and if I bought one I would get the EVO version that has 140mm up front and a tad slacker HA. Still I know a 29'r is not going to be my one and only bike but it did give me pause to think about a bikes climbing ability and all the techy stuff we have here in New England so I started this thread in the AM forum. Lots of strong opinions and downright nasty internet bashing if you care to read through it.

    http://forums.mtbr.com/all-mountain/...-a-761846.html

    So I'm going to have to disagree with this statement somewhat.

    I took an informal mental tally of the best tech riders I know, and nearly all of them are still on 26" wheels. Climbing is up to rider skill and fitness as always and the bike is nearly irrelevant
    I believe a bike can have a huge difference on techy type climbing for both your average joe rider or a seasoned vet. Maybe not so much on your basic long grinding climbs (I found the 29'r no improvement here) but my 29'r test experiment more or less confirms that a bike (could be 26, 650B or 29) can have a great impact on what you can accomplish, (and that I'm really better than I thought) get up and over. I've learned to work even harder now with the Prophet but hopefully my new Jamis Dakar 650B2 with it's improved suspension design and longer chain stay length will get me closer or match what the Specialized 29'r can do more easily or what I can't even do on my Prophet. On the flip side the Spec. felt big overall, HA a bit steep, BB to low (pedal hits), front end harder to get up and over big logs and I don't think I'd feel comfortable ever hucking myself off of anything.

    JMO (yes, I admit only 3+ years mtn. biking) but for me after riding a 26", 650B, and 29'r bikes I wouldn't want a 26" bike for my all purpose every day ride. My Prophet WILL probably return to 26" wheels for a practice jumping and skills training bike and at some point down the road I would also like own a 29'r. Right now I'm really happy with the 650B size for all around use. Fact is you can get most of the benefits of 650B just using the front wheel (any Fox fork clears and quite a few others) replacing the 26". Haven't read one report of someone not liking the change.
    2016 Trek Remedy 8 29er
    2013 Banshee Spitfire V2 650b SOLD

  22. #22
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    OK I will chime in with my 29er experience. Right off the bat I will admit that it is limited. I demoed a nice full suspension GT Sensor last year at a NEMBA event. Took it on a loop that had a techy descent and a long climb. Right away I noticed that it rolled over rocks/roots a little better but not mind blowing like the 29er fanboys would have you believe. Not nearly enough to make up for the tall feeling and slower acceleration and turning. I felt like I couldn't really lean into turns and throw it around and quick turns required some planning ahead. As for climbing I didn't notice any difference at all. But then I'm a pretty good techy climber on my stock '95 Prophet. If I were a xc racer I would definately go with a 29er because once it gets going it should be faster and in a race its all about speed. But since I don't race my rides are all about having fun so I'm sticking with 26" tires and 6" of travel.

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    Thank you all for the input. I ended up going over the JRA cycles to see what they thought and I think that I need to demo the bikes. For me I am leaning towards an Ibis SLR or HD 140 but am considering also a 29er Pivot Mach 429, Santa Cruz Tallboy, or the Spech stumpy 29 evo. Of the bikes I have tried before I like the light feeling of whipping around a 26 inch wheel and like that if I hit a tough section going uphill and loose momentum I can still save the climb with the 26er, something I couldnt do with the 29er when I lost momentum I was done (although it was tougher to loose momentum). As far as suspension design I think form the research I have done the DW link is the best followed by ICT, VPP and 4 Bar. I dont like the feeling of pedal bob on a FS and it is the reason I have always stuck with a HT. Hopefully the demo I will be doing will clear up the favorite.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by dje562189 View Post
    Thank you all for the input. I ended up going over the JRA cycles to see what they thought and I think that I need to demo the bikes. For me I am leaning towards an Ibis SLR or HD 140 but am considering also a 29er Pivot Mach 429, Santa Cruz Tallboy, or the Spech stumpy 29 evo. Of the bikes I have tried before I like the light feeling of whipping around a 26 inch wheel and like that if I hit a tough section going uphill and loose momentum I can still save the climb with the 26er, something I couldnt do with the 29er when I lost momentum I was done (although it was tougher to loose momentum). As far as suspension design I think form the research I have done the DW link is the best followed by ICT, VPP and 4 Bar. I dont like the feeling of pedal bob on a FS and it is the reason I have always stuck with a HT. Hopefully the demo I will be doing will clear up the favorite.
    I LOVE JRA! Girlfriend just got a Pivot Mach 5.7 there. She loves that bike. Whatever you do, don't by that Cannondale Carbon Flash 29er. I want the one that's there.

  25. #25
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    My rides last anywhere from 2-5 hours long depending on where I ride. I take some small drops under 3ft but I am a clydesdale ( 6ft 2in, 225lbs) and need a bike that can handle my weight
    I think with your size the Mojo HD could be the wiser decision especially for New England than the SLR. It's a bit burlier, slightly higher BB to avoid pedal hits, slacker initial HA without resorting to an Angleset type head set, and the ability to change it to 160mm of travel which is pretty neat if you want to turn it into a downhill bomber for a weekend. Actually with a 7.875 x 2.25" stroke shock (which they don't list or sell) you can split the difference and get a tad over 150mm travel. I'll admit I really lusted for the HD 140 bike but the price tag was to much (oh, and the fact that the HD can do 650B rear wheel and the SLR can't would have sealed the deal for me). The BB92 on the SLR I personally don't care for and some say a PIA. Your call on that.

    I really liked that 2012 Stumpy FSR 29'r test bike ALLOT but I wasn't ready to drink the 29'r cool-aid just yet. I actually went and priced out the EVO version at Milford Bikes (good mtn. bike shop) and it was very tempting but I just couldn't say no to the deal I got on the Jamis 650B2 that comes with XO everything. If the Jamis doesn't float my boat I'll strip all the parts, sell the frame and suck it up and get an HD 140.

    If you're willing to try something different and it's a fantastic bike and great deal the Tomac Snyper 140 is worth a look. Woody's Cyclery in Middleton MA can get you a 2012 frame with a custom tuned Tomac Fox Kashima Coat RP23 shock for $1,200. That's a sweet deal. Efficient climber and descender with almost zero pedal bob (Tomac also hates this). 2012 frames have an ISCG mount not mentioned on his web site. Problem is you won't find one to demo but the reviews are very good. I wanted the Snyper but 650B wont fit

    2016 Trek Remedy 8 29er
    2013 Banshee Spitfire V2 650b SOLD

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