Best type of bike for eastern MA?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Best type of bike for eastern MA?

    Looking for a little help from the locals! I'm in the market for my first new mtn bike since 2006 and the options are a little overwhelming. My current bike is a 2006 Gary Fisher hardtail 26er that was mid-level when I bought it and is way outdated now. I've mostly been riding on the road the last few years but when I do ride off road the bike is definitely the limiting factor.

    I live on the south shore so most of my riding will be in Wompatuck, Duxbury, and Blue Hills but I definitely plan to hit the Fells, Cutler, HP, etc. as much as possible. Mostly for fun with friends but I'll do an occasional Xterra tri or local race too. My family has a vacation place in the Adirondacks in upstate NY so I plan to ride up there a few times a year as well. There are a couple parks and lift-serviced spots within driving distance, plus a ton of trails in the area. But the majority of riding will be eastern MA.

    I'm mostly looking at FS 29er trail bikes like the Intense Primer, YT Jeffsy, SC Tallboy and Norco Sight. Am I in the right ballpark? These seem like the most versatile bikes but there are so many options out there it's hard to narrow it down. Should I be looking more XC? More enduro? What do you guys think?

  2. #2
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    The new Tallboy is sweet. I've ridden one around a bit and was impressed at how the bike felt underneath me. I've owned full sussys over the years but at the end of the day I'm a hardtail guy for everything NE. I don't ride lifts or shuttle, but where I live and ride it doesn't get much more challenging in all of New England.

    To each his or her own. Again that Tallboy felt about perfect. Not too slack long or low, just right......

  3. #3
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    For most general woodsy shenanigans I think an efficient 120 or 140mm 29 bike is perfect around here. Season to taste with your riding style, of course.

  4. #4
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    If I was going to get a do-it-all bike for Eastern MA, I would start with a 29er with boost spacing so that I could add on 27.5+ wheels down the road. Use the 29er set for longer rides/xc/ rolling terrain, and beefy set of 27.5+ for downhill/all mountain/backcountry/sandy riding. I would also aim toward a 120mm setup... But that's because I don't huck anything bigger than 2' drops and don't weigh more than 180lbs. The Tallboy would be a good fit. Some other ones you didn't mention: Pivot Switchblade/429, Scott Spark, Rocky Mountain Element/Thunderbolt, Giant Trance/Anthem.

    Where in upstate NY is your vacation place located? There's some decent and varied riding options up there.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the suggestions. Our place is in North River a few minutes away from Gore Mountain. Gore has a trail park and summer lift service for downhill. I've heard there are good trails in the Whiteface area as well which is about an hour drive from us. Have you ridden much up there?

  6. #6
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    I visit the Sacandaga area every summer and have done some riding at Oak Mountain, as well as some backcountry stuff up there. Lots of possibilities.

    Oak was pretty quiet a few years back when I visited. My friend and I basically had the place to ourselves. The trails were challenging and fun.

    I did a fatbike ride with a buddy near Wilcox Lake area one time.
    There are tons of these backcountry options up there,
    and I've got a frew routes scouted near Speculator and around Benson that I'm still trying to find the occasion to ride.
    Here's the writeup from the Wilcox Lake area ride:
    Nor'Easter Backcountry: Fat Biking and Finding Humility in the Adirondack Backcountry (July 2016)

    That loop incorporates a small section of the trails from this annual ride: https://theadirondacktrailride.com/ The maps from previous years may give you some good ideas for bc/gravel rides.

    I haven't ridden much of the stuff near Wilmington, but was able to check out Hardy Road, which was great, and a little bit of Mt. Pisgah Trails in Saranac Lake, which was small but fun.

  7. #7
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    TATR has been on my list for a couple years now. I am more than intrigued.

  8. #8
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    I just got a 27.5+ hardtail. My first ride with it up at Landlocked on Sunday was a friggin' blast. The plus size tires gripped on the climbs and handle roots and rocks with no problem. I had a lower budget (I think) than you so I knew a decent full suspension was out of the question.

    This bike will be just for trails, though. I have a downhill rig for the bike park.
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  9. #9
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    140mm/120mm FS travel 29er bike - Love mine for Blue Hills and Wompatuck

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoingNowhere View Post
    I just got a 27.5+ hardtail. My first ride with it up at Landlocked on Sunday was a friggin' blast. The plus size tires gripped on the climbs and handle roots and rocks with no problem. I had a lower budget (I think) than you so I knew a decent full suspension was out of the question.

    This bike will be just for trails, though. I have a downhill rig for the bike park.
    Yer only part way there with the plus tire setup. You want more grip and capability? Go full fat.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by semper_citius View Post
    Looking for a little help from the locals! I'm in the market for my first new mtn bike since 2006 and the options are a little overwhelming. My current bike is a 2006 Gary Fisher hardtail 26er that was mid-level when I bought it and is way outdated now. I've mostly been riding on the road the last few years but when I do ride off road the bike is definitely the limiting factor.

    I live on the south shore so most of my riding will be in Wompatuck, Duxbury, and Blue Hills but I definitely plan to hit the Fells, Cutler, HP, etc. as much as possible. Mostly for fun with friends but I'll do an occasional Xterra tri or local race too. My family has a vacation place in the Adirondacks in upstate NY so I plan to ride up there a few times a year as well. There are a couple parks and lift-serviced spots within driving distance, plus a ton of trails in the area. But the majority of riding will be eastern MA.

    I'm mostly looking at FS 29er trail bikes like the Intense Primer, YT Jeffsy, SC Tallboy and Norco Sight. Am I in the right ballpark? These seem like the most versatile bikes but there are so many options out there it's hard to narrow it down. Should I be looking more XC? More enduro? What do you guys think?
    Recently got back into riding and mainly Wompatuck and Blue Hills. I went Tallboy and loved it until I got my Fat bike around New Year's. It could still be a novelty but I'm enjoying it even without snow.

    I guess best of both worlds have FS 29er for speed but the Fattie is a blast for just messing around. Added front suspension which is a must.

    One bike all year is choose my Canyon Dude. If I were serious about distance Tallboy.
    2017 Santa Cruz Tallboy C 29er
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  12. #12
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    I was riding full fat year round on a coupla different fatties for 2-3 years Full rigid. Plenty of comfort in the tires for me for even the most techy stuff with a rigid fork, well full rigid on skinny tires never bothered me anywhere either so....but fat just made everything too easy and I got kinda bored honestly. Been riding 29ers since 2003 so 15 years and man what a great wheel size for all kinds of bikes. Was out riding super chunky boney stuff on my Spesh Epic Carbon hardtail this afternoon and man bikes have become soooooooo good. Can't go wrong really.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by HacksawReynolds View Post
    Yer only part way there with the plus tire setup. You want more grip and capability? Go full fat.
    I can only imagine the grip. Going from 2.35 or even 2.5 on my DH bike to 2.8 on my new bike has been unreal. I was smiling just riding around my condo complex before I even hit the trail.
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  14. #14
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    Last edited by 127.0.0.1; 03-29-2018 at 03:59 AM.
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  15. #15
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    I'm finding that my Growler fat bike with a Mastodon suspension fork and dropper post is the most versatile bike in my fleet. Carbon wheels keep it light enough to keep up with the crowd and the rest is so forgiving on rocks and roots. The dropper makes gnarly downhills rideable and fun. I can also swap wheels to 27.5+ or 29+.

  16. #16
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    I would agree with all posts about about 120-140 FS 29er to cover all bases for NE trails. I personally have the new tallboy and it super versatile. I have ridden 30+ miles mixed terrain rides and done a few lift runs and it has handled it all well. Adding a 130 fork and a 27.5+ wheel set gives you even more versatility out of the same frame.

    That being said if your idea of fun is mobbing technical terrain then the longer travel 29ers that have been coming out give up very little in terms of efficiency while adding that extra confidence when things get more gnarly. I have the new Hightower LT as my second bike for lift serve and enduro days and it is also a really great bike that can still be fun on local trails.

    It really comes down to what you think your riding priorities are.

  17. #17
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    Thanks for all the replies and feedback. I ended up pulling the trigger on a YT Jeffsy 29er which was delivered today. Can't wait to get home and unpack it. The obvious drawback is that I wasn't able to test ride it, but I felt the value was impossible to overlook compared to the other bikes I rode or looked at (Fuel EX, Stumpjumper, Tallboy). I'm coming from an 11 year old hardtail so any of these bikes would be a major upgrade.

  18. #18
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    Congrats...NEW BIKE DAY! I'm sure it will be an upgrade. I've been on FS 26 and 27.5 for years riding NE trails. Mostly CT but some MA, ME, NH, VT, NY too. Newest Kona is just awesome. Today there are so many great options with what's available. I've always done mail order bikes/parts and do my own wrenching. Typically it takes a few rides to tweak and find best setup...especially with FS dialing in fork/shock.
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  19. #19
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    Interesting thread. I was about to post the same question. I am looking to upgrade from my current 26" wheeled Santa Cruz Blur LT to something with bigger wheels. My preferred riding locations are places I can ride to from my house in Needham. These include Cutler Park (there are a few fun stretches in there), Needham Town Forest ( some crazy tight and twisty rocky stuff ), Caryl/Noanet/Hale and an assortment of other sanctioned and less sanctioned trails in the area. I may also put my bike on the rack and drive to the Vietnam Trails or Blue Hills. If I were to go to a place for lift served riding I would probably rent a bike for the adventure. It seems like this is a decent option so I feel like I don't need to cover that. Recently, I rode and liked a number of the Santa Cruz bikes. In particular, I find myself torn between the Tallboy 29 and the 5010. The Tallboy 29 felt the most natural and I like the potential flexibility of setting it up as a 27.5+ but the folks at the shop where pushing the the 5010 as the way to go. This might be based on their preferences. Also, I am 6'2" and will typically ride an XL bike from most manufacturers. I am not totally sold on the Santa Cruz bikes but am sold on the notion of not buying anything I can't test / demo ride first and SC seems to make that easy. Love to hear the group's views.

  20. #20
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    Tallboy 29 is your bike.

  21. #21
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    Check out Landry's closeouts. The have some 2018 29er/27.5+ bikes like the Stumpjumper for a heavy discount.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by briank View Post
    Check out Landry's closeouts. The have some 2018 29er/27.5+ bikes like the Stumpjumper for a heavy discount.
    I did stop in and noticed the old stumpjumpers were pretty heavily discounted. It seems as though everyone loves the new Stumpy geometry which is said to be different from the 2018's that are being discounted. If I could ride the stumpy on trails to test it out i might be up for one but am a bit leery of buying a bike without a proper test ride. Even discounted, these bikes are still $2.5K minimum. Its a lot unless you love it.

  23. #23
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    I picked up a 27.5 for $2140 on tax free weekend. Hell of a deal for a 150mm/150mm well equipped bike.
    The head angle is slack enough for me, not sure I'd want any more. Flip-chip on the 2019 might be nice to play with geometry, but certainly not worth the extra $860 to me.

  24. #24
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    Rode a 19' stumpy 29. Was just kinda ok. Geo felt cramped for a large. My Epic hardtail large feels way better/natural. Lots of pedal induced bob on it too and it was set up for a heavier rider. The Tallboy 29 large felt perfect right out of the box and pedals really well.

  25. #25
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    OK, i think I am pretty much sold on the Santa Cruz Tallboy. It just seems to fit well.
    Next question(s);
    If I had extra money to spend, am I better off spending it on carbon wheels and upgraded drive train components? or on upgrading from the AL frame to the entry level Carbon? Save the cash and spend it later on replacements as things start to wear out.
    29" wheels or 27.5 with plus sized tires? How do I go about deciding this?
    Some background.
    I am 175#, 6' 2", 56 years old and would be buying the bike in an XL. Most of my riding will be in the Needham Town Forest, Caryl Park, Noanet Woodlands, Hale Reservation and other sanctioned and unsanctioned trails. In addition to Mountain Biking, I run, road bike and train for my other hobby kiteboarding.
    I tend to not be particularly hard on my gear. My current bike is a 2008 Santa Cruz Blur LT. I have done standard bearing and shock maintenance, replaced the tires, the chain twice, the rear derailleur, derailleur hanger ( my second chain came apart like a zipper). It is still in fine shape but the new rides with the bigger wheels are just so nice on the terrain I typically ride.

  26. #26
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    Rode a Tallboy CC 27.5+ for two races - Landmine Classic (25 mile) and Freetown 50 (35 mile) here are my thoughts (from a racing perspective) since its given back to the LBS.

    - Love the 27.5+ tires for New England riding. It crushed the boney stuff at Wompatuck and floated over the loose at Freetown. But for XC racing, would still go to 29 wheels. The 2.8s are pretty slow on fireroad/gravel and lost tons of time. If I wast racing would run those 27.5+ all day long. The ARC40 wheels took a beating and were perfect.

    - The 110mm rear was very stiff for climbs, excellent pedaling bike. Tons of PRs on all the climbs. But downside was anything high speed chunk/chatter the bike felt it was out of its league. Had to be very choice on lines. Pedal strikes were insane on this bike too, even with the shock with extra pressure.

    - Front of the bike was awesome. You can definitely feel the difference with the plus size tires just eating up the corners. 130mm of travel was fine for this setup. Carbon big improvement over aluminum frame on the damping and stiffness. My body wasnt beat up after either race.

    -Sold on Eagle (even though I never went 50T). Amazing drivetrain, so mechanical and crisp. Next bike will have X01 Eagle groupset.

    Overall I did podium both races on that Tallboy its pretty close in being perfect. Having just a bit more rear travel would give some confidence on descents. At the end of the day, my (broken) Niner Rip 9 with 140/125 travel is my choice.


  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldcolonial View Post
    OK, i think I am pretty much sold on the Santa Cruz Tallboy. It just seems to fit well.
    Next question(s);
    If I had extra money to spend, am I better off spending it on carbon wheels and upgraded drive train components? or on upgrading from the AL frame to the entry level Carbon? Save the cash and spend it later on replacements as things start to wear out.
    29" wheels or 27.5 with plus sized tires? How do I go about deciding this?
    Some background.
    I am 175#, 6' 2", 56 years old and would be buying the bike in an XL. Most of my riding will be in the Needham Town Forest, Caryl Park, Noanet Woodlands, Hale Reservation and other sanctioned and unsanctioned trails. In addition to Mountain Biking, I run, road bike and train for my other hobby kiteboarding.
    I tend to not be particularly hard on my gear. My current bike is a 2008 Santa Cruz Blur LT. I have done standard bearing and shock maintenance, replaced the tires, the chain twice, the rear derailleur, derailleur hanger ( my second chain came apart like a zipper). It is still in fine shape but the new rides with the bigger wheels are just so nice on the terrain I typically ride.
    I personally would spend the money on the carbon frame if you plan to stay with this bike for awhile. You can always add upgraded drivetrain and wheels but upgrading frame it a much bigger endeavor.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by WATERBOOY View Post
    I personally would spend the money on the carbon frame if you plan to stay with this bike for awhile. You can always add upgraded drivetrain and wheels but upgrading frame it a much bigger endeavor.
    In spirit of offering a different perspective, the weight penalty of AL is offset by lower cost and improved durability (generally speaking). The durability benefit is moot with a lifetime warrantee. I would save the money on the frame and invest in a nice set of wheels where the weight savings has the biggest impact.

    Waterboy's point on how long you intend to ride this bike is an important consideration. I don't think that you can really go wrong either way.

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  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by semper_citius View Post
    My current bike is a 2006 Gary Fisher hardtail 26er that was mid-level when I bought it and is way outdated now. I've mostly been riding on the road the last few years but when I do ride off road the bike is definitely the limiting factor.
    If you still have the old bike, consider installing a set of Schwalbe Big Apple 60-559 (26 x 2.35) p/n 11100299 balloon touring tires for a rugged street bike.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by WATERBOOY View Post
    I personally would spend the money on the carbon frame if you plan to stay with this bike for awhile. You can always add upgraded drivetrain and wheels but upgrading frame it a much bigger endeavor.
    I would agree with this except swap frame for wheel. Lighter wheel especially in a plus bike is huge. I would take an aluminum frame with carbon wheels over a carbon frame with aluminum wheels all day long.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain_America1976 View Post
    I would agree with this except swap frame for wheel. Lighter wheel especially in a plus bike is huge. I would take an aluminum frame with carbon wheels over a carbon frame with aluminum wheels all day long.
    Interesting, never thought about it that way. The rotating mass I'm guessing right? I know what deals to watch out for in the future then for upgrading, was looking at carbon frames, will be on the look out for carbon wheel deals now then for my 27.5
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  32. #32
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    29er plus hardtail.. Anywhere in Mass. 😉

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by haymaker View Post
    Interesting, never thought about it that way. The rotating mass I'm guessing right? I know what deals to watch out for in the future then for upgrading, was looking at carbon frames, will be on the look out for carbon wheel deals now then for my 27.5
    Exactly. The wheel is lighter, but also so much stiffer then any aluminum option. Power transfer is much better. There are a few Chinese manufacturers that make a solid carbon rim. You could order rim, and get them built locally. Another option is some wheel builders will make custom wheels with their rims. In my opinion Light Bicycle and Nextie are the two best Chinese manufacturers out there. I have used https://www.speedgearbike.com/ in the past. His wheels are great.

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