Best bike for Pisgah trails- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Best bike for Pisgah trails

    I am in the market for a new bike. I mostly ride the trails around Pisgah and would like to do the occasional bike park like Bailey or sugar mountain. I'm looking at the 2017 Santa Cruz Bronson c or the 2017 Santa Cruz nomad c. Which would be the best all around bike?

  2. #2
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    Just based on what you stated, I would think the Bronson is the better choice. My opinion is that the Nomad would be too much bike for pedaling uphill in Pisgah, but would be the better bike for Bailey's. I think if you were only thinking Pisgah, I might even suggest the Hightower, but that wouldn't be very capable for the bike parks, compared to the other 2 SC models.

    I am looking at buying a new bike next year for mostly Pisgah type riding, but bike parks are not something I am drawn towards at 52 years old. I currently ride a 2011 Trek Rumblefish, with 110mm R/120mm F, and definitely want more travel, or better use of the travel I have. I was thinking the EVIL Following for the low end of the travel, or maybe a SC Hightower or Intense Primer, or Possibly something from Yeti. I am pretty set on a 29er myself, but I think you probably sound like 27.5 is your best bet.
    2019 Yeti SB150
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  3. #3
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    Yea I wish I could afford a trail bike and a downhill bike but I'm trying to find the best all around bike for my needs. I've ridden the Bronson and nomad around the parking lot at the bike shop and like the way the Bronson felt but hard to tell based on that. I know the hub has a Bronson available for demo but not a nomad, which tells me the nomad is probably too much bike for most of Pisgah trails. Just don't want the nomad to feel cumbersome and boring on the average trail ride.

  4. #4
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    What are you riding now?

    My vote would be for the Bronson, since you mostly ride trails around Pisgah... and sometimes go to the bike park. The Bronson will do alright at the Bike park, and be a perfect bike for all around Pisgah riding. Definitely demo one from the Hub.

  5. #5
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    I currently just have a hard tail 29er.

  6. #6
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    I'd try a demo and see for yourself how the Bronson feels out there. I think you'd be happier with the Bronson.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the replys! I will be demoing a Bronson this weekend. Since I can't demo a nomad I was wondering if anyone has experience with a nomad trail riding in Pisgah or experience with a Bronson at a bike park?

  8. #8
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    You can also put a 160mm fork on the Bronson (Pike can be extended by replacing the airspring), which slackens it and gives it a bit more travel up front. IMO most of the Santa Cruz bikes benefit from an added 10mm over what they ship with, those I've ridden anyway. It helped both my v1 Bronson and v2 5010 feel a bit better on the descents without a lot of sacrifice in climbing.

    I rode my v1 Bronson at Beech a few times. It was a year and a half ago or so, I was relatively new to riding so it was mostly on the green and blue trails, but I felt like it did fine. I saw more experienced/skilled riders on 150mm bikes clearing the double blacks fine. There was nothing about the bike that I felt was holding me back, but I was not riding anything as steep as Bailey or Sugar, both of which are supposedly much steeper and gnarlier, or really doing a lot of large jumps/drops.

    I will say that riding a shorter travel bike there was a bit more difficult to manage with the braking bumps, which had grown fairly large by the end of that season. On the greens and intermediates, that was the only thing I felt like I could have used more suspension travel on. TBH though, out there, line choice can avoid a lot of them (they are very frequently on the wrong line).

    Have you been to either of those parks before? If not, you might want to ride them on a rental and make sure it is something you want to do regularly before buying a bike based around the idea that you will want to ride there. I have taken riders to bike parks before that didn't really enjoy it, they prefer the more normal trail riding experience and a few others found riding at the park, even Beech, a bit intimidating because of how steep it is. I guess that my point is that it's not for everyone, you might find you don't like it as much and it's not worth buying a bike specifically around something you are going to do a few times a year.

  9. #9
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    My opinion on the best bike for you is worth exactly what you paid for it.

    That said, I rented a Bronson for a week out west and it's a sweet ride. It will be a fine pisgah bike and can land 3-4 foot drops without bottoming out. As a 29er fan boy, I found the steering to be too quick/ front wheel too easily deflected for me to want to jump ship to 27.5, but otherwise a really nice bike.

  10. #10
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    Best bike for Pisgah?

    The kind with two wheels haha. I ride a hardtail and 6.5" AM bike and both are super fun in different ways. There isnt a "Pisgah bike" cause all bikes are Pisgah bikes...

    It sounds like you are more concerned with going down fast than climbing fast given your two options. Both would be fine for what you want to do but you may find yourself "under-biked" at Beech, Snowshoe, etc. with a Bronson.

    If I wanted to ride Pisgah and Bailey... and maybe some other "gravity" oriented stuff I would go Nomad over the Bronson. VPP offers a pretty efficient pedaling platform and even though the Nomad is slack, its really not that cumbersome to climb with. Add on a 42t or larger big ring on the cassette and you should be fine pedaling that up, down, and all around Pisgah.

    Im on a Norco Range with a 170mm fork and its very similar to the Nomad. I can do 25+ mile Pisgah rides no problem. Drop it in the granny and spin, spin, spin...
    On your left!

  11. #11
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    If you are riding a 29er, have you looked at a Wreckoning or Following? Depending on how much bike you want...

  12. #12
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    The new Niner Rip9 is very nice. At least I like mine!

  13. #13
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    I wouldn't want to pedal a 160mm 650B travel rig around but that's my opinion. The shorter travel options out there with current geometry are more than capable of handling light bike park days. I encourage you to try some other bikes and different wheel sizes but if you are dead set on Santa Cruz and 650B it's a solid choice.

  14. #14
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    I'm surprised but not surprised about all the Bronson fluff. I tried to love it. I rented one three different times each for multiple days. Some love it, I didn't and I was coming from a Tallboy with appreciation for SC. Demo as many bikes as you can.

    It sounds like you haven't or don't ride park much. Bailey's and Beach are ok but I don't really bother with all the great trails around here. I have become a pretty aggressive rider and appreciate a proper DH bike when riding things like Dirt Merchant , Freight Train / No Joke, or Clown Shoes. I have taken my HD3 down those sans clown shoes and survived. Point being you don't need a DH bike for Baileys or Beach unless you are just going balls to the wall and going to ride them enough to get your money out of it. I will venture to say unless you just like the free ride up you will get bored with both.

    Get a bike that is more appropriate for your day to day riding. Are you doing big drops and jumps regularly? Little in WNC that qualifies for that. I love me 150 rear/ 160 front for Pisgah. I have to say there are plenty of times I wished I had a little bit more travel but 90% of those situations are outside of WNC. So for me I'd kind of wish I had a YT capra or Nomad but when I am in a true park situation it isn't hard to justify dropping the cash for a blinged out DH bike and ride a more appropriate trail bike locally. No offense but if you are wondering if something like the Nomad is the right bike for you, then it isn't.
    Sent via my heady vibes from the heart of Pisgahstan

  15. #15
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    Best bike for Pisgah trails-13615219_1211954682202650_5085669607488348638_n.jpg

    For me, it's a singlespeed 29er. But I realize I'm a bit different.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattnmtns View Post

    It sounds like you haven't or don't ride park much. Bailey's and Beach are ok but I don't really bother with all the great trails around here.
    Just gonna add that Beech is in the process of adding a bunch of new terrain and updates on existing trails for this season. It's going to be way more worth venturing out of the forest for a park day in 2017.

    So might be +1 for the nomad. I don't mind pedalling a 160 bike in the mountains but they do make piedmont trails mighty boring. That would influence my decision more than fire road uphills. Basically, I think everyone puts to much emphasis on uphill ability of different classes of bikes when these days everything but a true DH bike will go uphill pretty well. The bigger issue is that the longer travel bikes only come alive on fast, rough sections. You give up a lot of sensation on trails outside of the mountains.

    For capability in pisgah and bike parks, I'd go nomad.

  17. #17
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    Thanks. I demoed a Bronson this weekend and loved it so I will probably be buying it. Wish I could demo a nomad but can't find one available. I haven't ridden bike parks before but would like to give it a shot, if I like it I'll probably just buy a used dh bike eventually.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jbone98 View Post
    Thanks. I demoed a Bronson this weekend and loved it so I will probably be buying it. Wish I could demo a nomad but can't find one available. I haven't ridden bike parks before but would like to give it a shot, if I like it I'll probably just buy a used dh bike eventually.
    Hightower has been working out great for me in Pisgah, great climber, light if you build it right and slack enough to bomb the climbs...Ridden at Bailey and Beech multiple times a year. For me in Pisgah it is pretty important how a ride climbs when more than half the day is spent climbing and alot of the singletrack climbing is techy. I would personally sacrifice some DH capability to ensure I could ride longer rides and not have to hike the climbs.

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  19. #19
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    I was really impressed with the climbing ability of the Bronson and I couldn't wipe the smile off my face on the descents. I felt like it was the best bike for me so I ordered one this weekend.

  20. #20
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    I think between Hightower and Bronson the big moving piece is more your typical riding position than the bike it self. If you have a very "aggressive" over the front of the bike riding style it will climb well and you're right it bombs down hill like a bike with even more travel than it has. If you have a more seated and centered style, the seat tube and head tube angle will cause pretty significant front axle lift, which for me meant it climbs like shit over technical terrain. I wound up going with the Hightower, and am pretty ecstatic about the choice.


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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlowMTBer View Post
    Just based on what you stated, I would think the Bronson is the better choice. My opinion is that the Nomad would be too much bike for pedaling uphill in Pisgah, but would be the better bike for Bailey's. I think if you were only thinking Pisgah, I might even suggest the Hightower, but that wouldn't be very capable for the bike parks, compared to the other 2 SC models.

    I am looking at buying a new bike next year for mostly Pisgah type riding, but bike parks are not something I am drawn towards at 52 years old. I currently ride a 2011 Trek Rumblefish, with 110mm R/120mm F, and definitely want more travel, or better use of the travel I have. I was thinking the EVIL Following for the low end of the travel, or maybe a SC Hightower or Intense Primer, or Possibly something from Yeti. I am pretty set on a 29er myself, but I think you probably sound like 27.5 is your best bet.
    Can confirm the Following works great in Pisgah after extended use. it's a boatload of fun and only feels a little compromised on really steep climbs. It could be a bit lighter and more efficient for a full carbon 120mm bike but it rips on the downs.

    That being said, I'm getting the itch to try something new as I am very picky with geometry and I'm looking for something with a longer TT and a bit of a steeper ST.

    I'd really like to try the Hightower, the Devenci Djano 29, the new Fuel EX, and now the new Norco Sight 29.

    That being said, I spend most of my time on my 120mm 29er HT.
    Last edited by rusty904; 01-30-2017 at 03:25 PM.

  22. #22
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    Nice Hightower!
    I've been researching my next bike. I live in Charlotte and make it to Pisgah/Brevard here and there.

    The Hightower and the 2017 Fuel EX have been top of my list to consider. A demo will help me figure it out.

    Any thoughts on the 2017 Fuel EX for Pisgah? Anyone ride one up that way?

  23. #23
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    I know the Fuel was completely redone for '17, but, I do ride a '16 EX 9 130/120 model. I made a few slight changes, big one being a large volume spacer in the rear shock due to my weight, and a burlier front tire (2.35 XR4). I also don't care for long, low and slack bikes. They may work for some, but not for me, and my Fuel runs in high geometry mode all the time. I come from a moto background, and I'm still very comfortable descending on it. I demoed some bikes, and when I rode this one I just felt at home immediately, so it's what I bought. I don't feel over biked for doing longer days at more tame trails, nor do I feel under biked at my riding level somewhere like Pisgah. It climbs like a billy goat, and still does very well going down. It doesn't descend as good as a 140 or 150 bike (rode a couple of those too, didn't care for them anywhere but pointed downhill), but again, it's never held me back. I have about 6 Pisgah trips on it now, and I don't feel that the bike has ever held me back at all. Now my technical skills on the other hand...

  24. #24
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    G-Ryder, I'm considering the same two bikes but am leaning towards the Fuel. I'm still a couple months he out from purchase. Let me know what you end up with and how you like it in The Forest.

  25. #25
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    I haven't ridden a hightower, but do own a tallboy LTC. I more recently bought a used 2016 fuel EX 9.9. Both are great bikes. I like the fuel a little more, but it's newer and setup differently. They both climb well, and I honestly don't notice that much difference on the descents. With that being said, I don't spend time fine tuning shock pressures.

    I spend most of my time in bent creek (close to home), but venture into pisgah fairly often. FWIW, I thought the fuel EX was the perfect rig for PMBAR last year.

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