Eastern PA Bike Choice - What is too much travel, what is too slack? Bike recs?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Eastern PA Bike Choice - What is too much travel, what is too slack? Bike recs?

    Hi Everybody, first post. Please go easy on me.

    I've been borrowing a 2011 s-works Epic 29er FS with 100MM front and rear and a 70.5 degree head tube angle. I've been all over and still going... So far Marsh Creek, White Clay/Middle Run, Harmony Hill, Sawmill, Bear Creek, and Brandywine. Tomorrow I am checking out the Wiss. Hope to get to Nockamixon and French Creek soon too, but still working on improving my cardio base and recovery from blood donation. It's worth noting that I grew up riding bikes and got into BMX pretty good too, I am very comfortable on the MTB in technical sections even though I am new. Still mastering some of the techniques, but comfortable and far from a complete noob. I can't borrow this bike forever and have been researching bikes for a few months now. I will mostly be riding for fun and an easy way to stay in shape, I will not be racing. That said, obviously most of these places are XC focused with a lot of up and down.

    Since I can only afford one bike, I've been led that maybe I shouldn't go with 100mm travel. I personally don't have any problems with it and thought it did just fine in Bear Creek but I don't have a good comparison. Since I'm being led for more that brings me to 120mm. The options here aren't crazy plentiful, but there are some. However, the head tube angle at 120mm starts to go from 68.5-70.5 down to 66.5 on some bikes. On top of that, I'm trying to avoid proprietary parts and keeping costs and maintenance down.

    Is 66.5 too slack? Is 130mm front/rear too much travel for these trails?

    In no particular order some bikes I've spent a good time comparing are in the $4,000 range such as the 2021 Trek Top Fuel 9.7, 2021 Specialized Epic Evo, 2020 Canyon Lux CF SL 6.0, 2021 Intense Sniper Trail, Scott Spark 920. But then I'm intrigued by something like the YT Izzo Pro at 130mm and 66.5 HT angle but worry it's too much travel and too slack for climbing and the riding around here. It also seems 34mm stanchions are better than 32 for an only bike? Of course then there's the trying to get the right size over the internet problem since I can't find any demos and the used market is dry, I'm willing to try though. I ride a Large epic but most of the bike sizing questionnaires put me squarely in a medium at 5' 10.5" including the Epic Evo.

    First and foremost I like to get a good value out of my purchases. If buying new this is very important. I'd hate to wait until winter to try and find a good used/new deal. As far as components I like the GX or SLX, and want to stick to Fox Per. Elite or Rockshox Sid. My Uncle really doesn't like the consumer direct brands and is pushing me to stick with something local, but I'm not sure if I agree, especially since I'm so value focused. The Epic Evo seems like good components but a 66.5" head tube angle, whereas the Top Fuel 9.7 doesn't really seem to have great components but a better geometry. I really could use some help and advice. I'll be checking on if anybody has any questions to help point me in the right direction I should be able to answer them fairly quickly. 32 and Male if it matters.

  2. #2
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    I would not get to hung up on geometry. I have demoed many bikes at festivals and have found in recent years all the modern mountain bikes are good. I would focus on what frame material Suspension and components you can get for your dollar. Any ďtrailĒ bike will serve you well riding where you are. I live in South East PA and ride some of the same places. I have a Lynsey pro 29 hardtail and recently got a Foes Mixer Trail 150r 160f travel. Both are fun in different ways riding the same places.
    Try as many bikes that you can and buy one that feels fun and comfortable to you.

  3. #3
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    Thanks a lot for your input. Ended up going with the YT Izzo Pro Race. Hope I like it. Perhaps down the line I'll also get a more XC focused bike (and a gravel bike). heh.

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    Congrats on the new bike. Post pics of it!

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    Thanks. Went to the Wiss Tuesday it was great. In response to the news I bought the Izzo my uncle took me to French Creek today and let me ride his fuel ex 9.9 which he considers is very similar to the Izzo. It's an amazing bike but compared to the epic it's an absolute slog. I canceled my Izzo order after riding the two back to back. I think I'm gonna stick closer to the cross country category. I've ridden just about everything around here now and the only thing I can't do with a dated geometry 100mm FS xc bikes is blast through rocks or pickup crazy speed downhill. Back to the drawing board. Wish I had a good baseline comparison between xc bikes, hard to find much on the web. This forum seems dead, I guess everything moved to facebook which I don't use. Guess I'll get out there and try to demo some more bikes 
    Last edited by EasternPaMTBr; 4 Days Ago at 06:34 PM.

  6. #6
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    Donít think so hard. No bike does it all. You say one bike but it never works like that if you get serious. Pick something you are comfortable with on the trails you will ride the most. Run it into the ground. By the time you learn technique and get conditioning youíll have it wore out and know better which direction you want to go.
    Honestly. Quality hardtail first. Suspension just lets you get away with bad habits.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the feedback. I didn't like the fuel ex that much and all the trails local to West Chester are pretty damn smooth. Even Wiss and french Creek were doable in 100 although 130 had some slight advantages that I noticed. I'm gonna wait for a used bike. Luckily I have one to ride from now because I haven't seen anything for a reasonable price in a while. Hopefully this winter.

  8. #8
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    Donít write off the IZZO just yet, first Iíd disagree the Fuel EX is like it, plus the Pro Race is 2lbs lighter...a Ripley is more the comparison. Next sure, an XC bike can handle most around here, I rode a Zaskar 29 routinely at Brandywine, Harmony Hill and a couple times at Wiss, until the chainstay snapped from fatigue, but the Jeffsy I replaced it with took my riding skill to the next level and was 500% more awesome as my daily ride. Now I ride a Stache while I wait 4 months for the IZZO and expect it will have climbing efficiency, rough trail agility, and launch capability to make the most of our local terrain while inspiring confidence.

    I suppose you did say you feel more XC than gravity junkie. To make the most of the latter, a modern geo Trail bike is best and if you plan on a Gravel bike, that can be your XC machine. If you havenít already, check out the MTBR IZZO thread. This just in, IZZO shocks are now specíd as Push to Lock...

    Here is the start PBís Field Test to include 4 XC and 5 DC bikes...
    https://m.pinkbike.com/news/welcome-...e-edition.html
    Last edited by Undescended; 3 Days Ago at 04:48 AM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Undescended View Post
    Donít write off the IZZO just yet, first Iíd disagree the Fuel EX is like it, plus the Pro Race is 2lbs lighter...a Ripley is more the comparison. Next sure, an XC bike can handle most around here, I rode a Zaskar 29 routinely at Brandywine, Harmony Hill and a couple times at Wiss, until the chainstay snapped from fatigue, but the Jeffsy I replaced it with took my riding skill to the next level and was 500% more awesome as my daily ride. Now I ride a Stache while I wait 4 months for the IZZO and expect it will have climbing efficiency, rough trail agility, and launch capability to make the most of our local terrain while inspiring confidence.

    I suppose you did say you feel more XC than gravity junkie. To make the most of the latter, a modern geo Trail bike is best and if you plan on a Gravel bike, that can be your XC machine. If you havenít already, check out the MTBR IZZO thread. This just in, IZZO shocks are now specíd as Push to Lock...


    Here is the start PBís Field Test to include 4 XC and 5 DC bikes...
    https://m.pinkbike.com/news/welcome-...e-edition.html

    Hey man, I really appreciate the feedback. I dug deeper and see the 2019 top fuel 9.9 axs I rode is 130/130 and I believe is actually lighter than the Izzo by at least a lb. The geo is fairly the same (ignore the image I posted I accidentally compared geo to a 2021 where they went to 140/130 with 36mm stanchions instead of 34 and I can't delete it). That's a really good point about the gravel bike. I could hit most of the easier trails with the gravel bike and use this. I do like the downhill of the fuel but I just can't get over the pedaling efficiency of the oldass 2011 s works epic 29er I'm riding. This bike is 10 years newer I wish I could test ride one. I've been following the youtube video releases from pinkbike and am checking out the izzo thread. Thanks for both tips. Man. This is such a tough decision. My uncle is an xc racer and it's his bike I'm riding but he also has the fuel and he keeps pushing me towards XC and I gotta say since I've been doing 14+ miles for 9 rides now it's really hard to see myself on a fuel but does the izzo bridge the gap enough or do I need to go with something like a 2021 top fuel or an epic evo which is closer to XC. It just sucks because there seems to be little value when looking at modern geo XC bikes compared to the izzo and I could have the izzo in two weeks. But I'm really not in a crazy rush I just want to have a bike that's MINE. Going to check out a few additional places in the next few weeks like Nockamixon, Belmont, Fair Hill, Birdsboro, and Green Lane. I guess that will give me more data points on top of the places I've already been like French Creek, Harmony Hill, Sawmill, Marsh Creek, Brandywine, Valley Forge, Wiss, and Bear Creek.

    I want to pull the trigger again so badly. Amazing people are happy on a Jeffsy around here. Do you try to hit more enduro trails?

    I've never used lockout, wonder if single lockout is enough for what I like or I'd be fiending foor dual locckout.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by EasternPaMTBr View Post
    ...
    I want to pull the trigger again so badly. Amazing people are happy on a Jeffsy around here. Do you try to hit more enduro trails?
    ...
    As odd as it seems, out of 10 or so YTís Iíve seen in the area, I had the only Jeffsy, all others were Capras...go figure... Yes, I normally seek the rocky tech sections then easier climbs back to the top...

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