Pivot LES vs. Giant XTC- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Pivot LES vs. Giant XTC

    Hello All,

    I am narrowing down my choices on a race frame for (hopefully) next year. It looks like it's down to the Giant XTC and the Pivot LES. The prospect of a quiver killer gives me a boner. I like that they can both be run 29 or 27.5+ and with or without gears. The LES is probably my frontrunner right now with what looks to be a slightly lighter frame and no goofy seatpost wedge.

    Are there any other significant advantages to either frame and/or company (notwithstanding geometry differences)?

    Are there any other frames I should consider in a similar style?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by ohmygato View Post

    Are there any other significant advantages to either frame and/or company (notwithstanding geometry differences)?
    Giant has a lifetime frame warranty. That said, I might be inclined to go with the LES just because of that stupid seat post wedge. They caused a lot of problems at first, but apparently word is getting around that the secret to the wedge is to grease the crap out of it.

  3. #3
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    lets not forget how much better the colors are on the LES

  4. #4
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    I just bought an XTC. Here are my initial observations:

    I had considered the Les briefly, until I really thought about the money. I do think a standard seatpost clamp is nicer and I prefer swinging dropouts over sliding.

    As far as the XTC goes:

    I test rode one. It was nice. The frame is stiff. The back end is meaty.... not much compliance to be had. I hat the finicky adjustment screws for alignment sake, but I do like the ability to choose my chainstay length and wheelbase within this range. The frame is obviously very nice quality. I don't have any need for the ISCG tabs and I'm sure they add weight. The cable routing seems fine, but Giant's rubber plugs are cheap and don't keep the cables off the frame long-term. The wedge is annoying, but fine. Carbon paste on the post and grease on the wedge surfaces kept it solid from the start. It was bone dry when I built the bike up. I love the tire clearance. I can't run anything more than a 34T chainring, but that's okay for me. I think I would prefer if the head angle was about a degree slacker, but that's strictly personal preference. The Giant warranty is nice but I don't anticipate breaking this frame in a way that isn't my fault and wouldn't be covered anyway. I got the complete 29er 1 version in red/black. The paint scheme is okay, but kind of gimmicky in the normal Giant way...not understated or classy looking.

    After my experience so far, If I had unlimited funds...Pivot all the way. But all signs point towards the Giant being an excellent frame and bike for a long time.

  5. #5
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    Great comments guys and very helpful - thank you.

    Aaron - follow up question to your statement: "I hat the finicky adjustment screws for alignment sake, but I do like the ability to choose my chainstay length and wheelbase within this range." I assume you are referring to the adjustment screws that tension the chain, pulling one side of the axle. Is that correct? If so, what don't you like about them as opposed to the LES setup? It sounds like it is harder to get the wheel aligned with them. Correct?

    Another question: Pivot states the LES should not be run with a tire bigger than 27.5+/2.8". Would you consider the 2.8" limit to severely cut down on build/ride style limitations, especially for something intended to be a "quiver killer"?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ohmygato View Post
    Great comments guys and very helpful - thank you.

    Aaron - follow up question to your statement: "I hat the finicky adjustment screws for alignment sake, but I do like the ability to choose my chainstay length and wheelbase within this range." I assume you are referring to the adjustment screws that tension the chain, pulling one side of the axle. Is that correct? If so, what don't you like about them as opposed to the LES setup? It sounds like it is harder to get the wheel aligned with them. Correct?

    Another question: Pivot states the LES should not be run with a tire bigger than 27.5+/2.8". Would you consider the 2.8" limit to severely cut down on build/ride style limitations, especially for something intended to be a "quiver killer"?
    The screws are totally hidden and there are no visual reference points so you're basically left with putting them all the way in and counting turns of the allen wrench. Even with this method, I struggle to get it perfect. There is just a lot of room for lateral inconsistencies with this setup. I haven't found a fool-proof way to do it quickly yet. I suppose the rockers might not be perfect either but the experience I have with other rockers that place the alignment bolts at the back/exposed makes me think it would be better. Giant also uses very tiny bolts to do this and I fear that even with my Silca wrenches that are good quality and being careful, these bolts will not last long at all before they are wasted...and replacements will still be the same tiny size so probably won't last any longer.

    If I'm not mistaken, I think Giant abides by the 2.8" restriction in the rear as well. Although, I don't see it. There's no way a 3.0 wouldn't fit in there. I can't speak for the Pivot on that one. I wouldn't let a 2.8" "restriction" sway me away from a bike like this.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by a a r o n View Post
    The screws are totally hidden and there are no visual reference points so you're basically left with putting them all the way in and counting turns of the allen wrench. Even with this method, I struggle to get it perfect. There is just a lot of room for lateral inconsistencies with this setup.
    Okay I think I follow you but I guess I never knew there was a better way. I have the same issue with the tugs on my Lurcher but I just eyeball the spacing between the tire and the frame to see if it is aligned. I figure my wheel is probably off by .5 mm, the frame is probably off by 1 mm, so the stackup error is going to prevent me from getting the alignment perfect down to a gnat's ass if I had the alignment screws totally spot on.

  8. #8
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    I was considering both but could not get a demo ride on the new Giant and went with a used Carbon Les. Could not be more happy with the bike. Geometry is fantastic and mine is build up very light with carbon wheels

    heard a few complaints about the Giant wheel tensioner and seat post clamp being a pain in the butt. For $2400 brand new with warranty it still seems like a great deal.

    I used to ride a Giant XTC advanced 27.5. Great bike but for me 29" wheels are the only way to go.

    I'm back to my tried and true SS set up with 29" wheels, 2.2 tires on F and Back and light, strong parts. My Les has incredible acceleration and I am running it 34x19 I thought the gearing would be too hard but with a light bike I feel that your leg's last longer and you can ride stronger. The frame on the LES is an absolute work of art.
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    Quote Originally Posted by newking View Post
    I was considering both but could not get a demo ride on the new Giant and went with a used Carbon Les. Could not be more happy with the bike. Geometry is fantastic and mine is build up very light with carbon wheels

    heard a few complaints about the Giant wheel tensioner and seat post clamp being a pain in the butt. For $2400 brand new with warranty it still seems like a great deal.

    I used to ride a Giant XTC advanced 27.5. Great bike but for me 29" wheels are the only way to go.

    I'm back to my tried and true SS set up with 29" wheels, 2.2 tires on F and Back and light, strong parts. My Les has incredible acceleration and I am running it 34x19 I thought the gearing would be too hard but with a light bike I feel that your leg's last longer and you can ride stronger. The frame on the LES is an absolute work of art.
    Yeah that is a sweet ride for sure. I have been drooling over them for the past few days.

    Is that an older model frame and if so does it still have the boost spacing? Can you fit a 27.5+ wheel/tire in the frame and fork?

    I came to find out that you can't run 27.5+ on the new Fox 32 Step Cast forks which is a bit of a bummer so maybe that puts me into a Fox 34 or RockShox Reba build which is of course significantly heavier. That now has me on the fence as to whether I want to stick with the pure thoroughbred racing 29er or stick with my original 29/27.5+ quiver killer concept.

  10. #10
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    Mine is a 2015 Frame Carbon. If you check E bay and Pinkbike you will see a bunch of LES bikes for sale. Some are geared some SS. A used LES will run you about the same as a new Giant.

    some of the newer bikes like Giant and Santa Cruz Chameleon allow you to run different wheels sizes, B+ tires and swap between SS and geared. At the end of the day I just wanted a 29" singlespeed with light tires and wheels so that I could ride it fast if I wanted to or just go out and have fun.

    I tired B+ and nothing wrong with it but it's going to be heavier and have more rolling resistance. There are a lot of people that swear by a bike like the Trek 29"+ Stache for SS,

    I think the concept of the new bikes is great but then you have to get into having spare wheel set, changing out tires etc.

    For me 29" singlespeed with 2.2 or 2.35 tires is the way to go for my riding and trails.

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    Quote Originally Posted by newking View Post
    I think the concept of the new bikes is great but then you have to get into having spare wheel set, changing out tires etc.

    For me 29" singlespeed with 2.2 or 2.35 tires is the way to go for my riding and trails.
    Yeah this is exactly where I'm at in my decision process right now. I spent 2 hours on the damn internet last night looking over boost spacing, which forks can run 27.5+, etc., since apparently I've been living in a cave for the past 10 years on my On One Lurcher rigid.

    Now I come to find out that my supposed "quiver killer" may not be the greatest idea since to do it you have to use a minimum 3.5 lb. fork and that would then start to get closer to a "trail" bike or whatever.

    When it comes down to it I'm probably about 70% single speed cross country racer, 20% roadie, and 10% interested in dabbling in + tires since the one time I rode them they felt like trash. My biggest asset as a cross country rider is my climbing and my biggest deficiency is my technical descending.

    I did a race yesterday that had a couple of fairly lengthy bumpy and technical descents and it was absolutely crushing. I was begging for one of them newfangled shock absorpters. But still for my racing that type of trail comprises maybe 5% of all the trail that I will race on.

    So maybe the quiver killer is a pipe dream. Maybe I just get a Pivot LES with a Fox 32 front boinger and also buy (or rent) a grandpa bike for when I want to go batshit crazy and give myself a head injury descending some POS rocky trail that I shouldn't be on in the first place because my descending sucks anyway.

  12. #12
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    I recently built up a '17 Les in 27.5+ It replaced a '15 i had that developed a crack in the bb shell. Pivot replaced it very quickly under warranty.

    It's built up with the Fox 34 Fit set at 120. This fork rides like butter. The majority of my riding is on a rigid 29er, SS. Having a back up bike with suspension fork is a nice change!
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    Quote Originally Posted by azjonboy View Post
    I recently built up a '17 Les in 27.5+ It replaced a '15 i had that developed a crack in the bb shell. Pivot replaced it very quickly under warranty.

    It's built up with the Fox 34 Fit set at 120. This fork rides like butter. The majority of my riding is on a rigid 29er, SS. Having a back up bike with suspension fork is a nice change!
    Yeah that is the exact build I am considering right now. I am still kinda interested in the Giant for the sake of lifetime warranty and local support through my LBS but I am leaning towards the Pivot and would probably end up dropping some serious cash for it.

    What do you currently use for a rigid SS? Do you think the geometry with the 120 fork works pretty well or would that frame be better with 100? Did you buy your '15 new or used? I assume new since you were able to warranty it. Do you think you would ever race your Pivot with suspension?

    I've heard really good things about both the Fox Fit 120 and the Step Cast 100 but I assume coming from rigid for the past several years anything is going to feel better than riding on a couple of plastic pegs.

  14. #14
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    My SS is a Blacksheep with a Faith fork. Very nimble ride.

    My last Les had a 100mm Reba on it with 46mm offset. I prefer the handling of the 120 with 51mm offset. Pivot specs a 100 Fox step cast for the Les if you're a pure racer wannabe.

    Don't race much anymore. Prefer longer endurance stuff when I have the time.
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    I ended up buying a new XTC Advanced 27.5+ 2 on a great deal at my LBS. Hopefully this is not too blasphemous for the SS forum as my main intention is to build it down to a ~20 lb. SS 29er, but I am extremely impressed with this bike. I went with the 27.5+ 2 build because it has the most components that I prefer out of the many different builds especially including the fork and the wheel set. The only things I really don't like about it are the dropper post which I have never learned how to use effectively anyway and the hideous green paint job. The frame is pretty outstanding and should be a great platform for the cross-functional racing/trail bike I want it to be.

    On her maiden voyage today I made multiple PRs on descents and my times on the climbs were only about 2-4% worse than on my SS 29ers so for my intended purpose I am very happy with it.

    Considering how satisfied I am, I may never know how it compares to a LES. It was such a close match to my Lurcher geometry, it was on sale at an LBS that I really like working with, the build was spot on for my purposes, and the frame has a lifetime warranty. It felt stupid to pass it up when I had the chance.

  16. #16
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    The Pivot Les SS setup is just better than anything ever made. Bike is so simple to work on, adjust chain tension, etc. I worked a little on the Giant and it's just not the same. The small adjustment screw is hard to turn because of dirt/sand and it's just clunky compared to the Pivot setup. The Giant is an amazing bike and gorgeous but the Pivot is the BEST carbon hardtail on the market and it's SS dropouts make it even better.
    “People fear death even more than pain. It's strange that they fear death. Life hurts a lot more than death." JM

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    ^^^ what he said ^^^


    Quote Originally Posted by Pauldotcom View Post
    The Pivot Les SS setup is just better than anything ever made. Bike is so simple to work on, adjust chain tension, etc. I worked a little on the Giant and it's just not the same. The small adjustment screw is hard to turn because of dirt/sand and it's just clunky compared to the Pivot setup. The Giant is an amazing bike and gorgeous but the Pivot is the BEST carbon hardtail on the market and it's SS dropouts make it even better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pauldotcom View Post
    The Pivot Les SS setup is just better than anything ever made. Bike is so simple to work on, adjust chain tension, etc. I worked a little on the Giant and it's just not the same. The small adjustment screw is hard to turn because of dirt/sand and it's just clunky compared to the Pivot setup. The Giant is an amazing bike and gorgeous but the Pivot is the BEST carbon hardtail on the market and it's SS dropouts make it even better.
    I believe you, but in my case I had to ask myself if it was worth 2X the Giant frame and a compromise in my preferred geometry. I searched for days for a similar dropout system but in the end the Giant won the big SS carboner battle in my eyes.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by ohmygato View Post
    Is that an older model frame and if so does it still have the boost spacing? Can you fit a 27.5+ wheel/tire in the frame and fork?
    I have the older model Les. Love it! I've tried some 2.8 tires back there. The best fit was a WTB Trailblazer...but it is not close to 2.8. Finally settled on a Rekon 2.6 in the back and very happy with that and a Nobby Nic 2.8 in front (with a non-boost Revelation fork).

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    Giant XTC

    Quote Originally Posted by ohmygato View Post
    I believe you, but in my case I had to ask myself if it was worth 2X the Giant frame and a compromise in my preferred geometry. I searched for days for a similar dropout system but in the end the Giant won the big SS carboner battle in my eyes.
    I got to spend a couple of hours Sunday on the Giant XTC SS with the plus tires. It was my first long ride on the larger tires, and I have mixed feelings. Not sure of the geometry, but I did appreciate the 120mm reba on the front (helped the really bad shoulder). I did some testing--I noticed if I locked out the fork and rode for a while that the bike felt a little lazy, but when I ran the fork open, it sharpened up quite a bit, guess it sagged into more my familiar geometry range. I thought I would hate the big tires on the climbs and love them on the descents, but it turned out to be the opposite! I thought it climbed very well, and very controllable when the ground got loose and chunky. I didn't like it as much on the descents as I didn't feel I could do the lines with precision like my regular 29er wheels. I was advised to add some air to them (I had burped them pretty hard landing poorly from an unexpected jump), and that did seem to help out a lot. I feel like I could ride that combination of bike for a much longer distance. I am interested in it, but I need to clear out some aging bike crap before I do anything new. I would get rid of the dropper post; although weird, I didn't have any trouble with the wedge in getting the post to be secure. I think at $2,450 or whatever is a really great deal. I thought the wheels felt very stiff (was it from the boost?), and maybe that is why it felt like it squirted up the climbs better than my current old steel rig. I tested it at DirtFest at Raystown Lake. I would have loved to try it on the jagged lunar surface in WV I was on two weeks earlier though!

  21. #21
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    Is the +2 the geared bike without the sliding dropouts? What are you going to do to convert it to Singlespeed run a tensioner?

    for $2400 new with carbon frame and lifetime warranty you can't go wrong!

    Quote Originally Posted by ohmygato View Post
    I ended up buying a new XTC Advanced 27.5+ 2 on a great deal at my LBS. Hopefully this is not too blasphemous for the SS forum as my main intention is to build it down to a ~20 lb. SS 29er, but I am extremely impressed with this bike. I went with the 27.5+ 2 build because it has the most components that I prefer out of the many different builds especially including the fork and the wheel set. The only things I really don't like about it are the dropper post which I have never learned how to use effectively anyway and the hideous green paint job. The frame is pretty outstanding and should be a great platform for the cross-functional racing/trail bike I want it to be.

    On her maiden voyage today I made multiple PRs on descents and my times on the climbs were only about 2-4% worse than on my SS 29ers so for my intended purpose I am very happy with it.

    Considering how satisfied I am, I may never know how it compares to a LES. It was such a close match to my Lurcher geometry, it was on sale at an LBS that I really like working with, the build was spot on for my purposes, and the frame has a lifetime warranty. It felt stupid to pass it up when I had the chance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by slohr View Post
    I did some testing--I noticed if I locked out the fork and rode for a while that the bike felt a little lazy, but when I ran the fork open, it sharpened up quite a bit, guess it sagged into more my familiar geometry range. I thought I would hate the big tires on the climbs and love them on the descents, but it turned out to be the opposite! I thought it climbed very well, and very controllable when the ground got loose and chunky. I didn't like it as much on the descents as I didn't feel I could do the lines with precision like my regular 29er wheels. I was advised to add some air to them (I had burped them pretty hard landing poorly from an unexpected jump), and that did seem to help out a lot.
    I have found that the plus tires are a bit counterintuitive as well in some cases. On rough climbing sections they do great. I can kinda just throw the bike into a rooty/rocky climb and it will eat up the bumps. It wears me out relative to 29er wheels though on steady smooth climbs. And sometimes when descending I have accidentally caught the sides of the wide tires on the trail and it will throw me off a bit. It also doesn't seem to steer as precisely as my 29er rigid. But on the flip side when I'm going down some rooty mess it feels like I'm riding my sofa compared to my rigid 29er.

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    Quote Originally Posted by newking View Post
    Is the +2 the geared bike without the sliding dropouts? What are you going to do to convert it to Singlespeed run a tensioner?

    for $2400 new with carbon frame and lifetime warranty you can't go wrong!
    It's geared with sliders. They all have sliders as far as I know.

    One thing I considered is waiting to see if the generic Chinese/Taiwanese frames catch up with the trend that you see with Giant and Pivot with the sliders. My thinking is that there will soon be a much larger market than just single speeders who want horizontal dropouts due to more manufacturers developing the 29er/27.5+ swappable frames. It's a great design concept for me because with a 2nd wheel set I now have the capability to ride a lot more places that I wasn't comfortable at with my rigid SS 29er.

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    I have an XTC+ and love it. If you find an older triple crank and put the ring on the outside, you can run up to a 37T ring. As I run single speed 99% of the time, I have no clue how it would effect shifting as your moving the ring much further outwards. One thing to consider (unless Pivot has reduced its pricing) the complete bike for the XTC+ is more palatable then just the frame of the Les.

  25. #25
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    I seen a guy on the plus forum has his setup 29+. I'm gonna try this out with a rigid fork. I'm thinking 2.8 in the rear and 3.0 in the front.

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    Without question it's an great bike with an excellent price tag; much less than the Pivot. But.. If price isn't part of the equation you'd be fooling yourself.
    “People fear death even more than pain. It's strange that they fear death. Life hurts a lot more than death." JM

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    How is the sizing on the XTC? The reach numbers are really short when looking at the geo chart. 423mm for a Large. But it is the same for the LES. 451mm for a Stache carbon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pauldotcom View Post
    Without question it's an great bike with an excellent price tag; much less than the Pivot. But.. If price isn't part of the equation you'd be fooling yourself.
    To be thorough, the two other main factors for me were the geometry differences (XTC is better for me personally) and the LES is about a half pound lighter I believe. I really wanted to be in the market for the LES but the geo differences were key.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    How is the sizing on the XTC? The reach numbers are really short when looking at the geo chart. 423mm for a Large. But it is the same for the LES. 451mm for a Stache carbon.
    My understanding is that you are correct; TT length is relatively short and reach is even shorter. LES is very similar in terms of TT length and reach. This tends to work well for me. The biggest differences are in the head tube and seat tube angles where the LES is a bit slacker and the standover height where I believe the XTC is almost 2" more than the LES.

    I have seen a few reviews of the XTC where those geo differences are noted as complaints (especially the standover) because it is a bit old school. It happens to work well for me as I will almost always size down to a L from XL to get the shorter TT/reach and that means a higher standover is a good thing.

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    They are identical.
    “People fear death even more than pain. It's strange that they fear death. Life hurts a lot more than death." JM

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    “People fear death even more than pain. It's strange that they fear death. Life hurts a lot more than death." JM

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    Quote Originally Posted by ohmygato View Post
    Maybe I just get a Pivot LES with a Fox 32 front boinger and also buy (or rent) a grandpa bike for when I want to go batshit crazy and give myself a head injury descending some POS rocky trail that I shouldn't be on in the first place because my descending sucks anyway.
    OMG this is totally me!

    Thinking to go LES so I can XC (Which is 95% of my riding) and also SS when the mood takes using a fibonacci kit.

    Will rent or buy a proper boinger for bigger stuff in future, but with boost wheels so i've got spares.

    Does the LES rear wheel use the same axle standard when running SS or geared or are we into two wheel territory? (29er)

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    Quote Originally Posted by revmatt View Post
    Does the LES rear wheel use the same axle standard when running SS or geared or are we into two wheel territory? (29er)
    Yeah it's the same boost axle. Same for the XTC. You just run a regular hub and use a spacer kit to get your chainline correct for single speeding.

    My setup is now the Giant XTC with two wheelsets, one 27.5+ and one 29. The 29 is more general purpose and racing with Light Bicycle rims and DT Swiss 240 hubs. I have a good amount of miles on the 27.5+ wheels too and they are fun. Either wheelset can be run as single speed.

    I think now that I have it all set up I am not going to hunt for a good dual boinger as I would hardly ever ride it in favor of my XC, gravel, or road bike. Plus I am too old to be getting radical.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ohmygato View Post
    Yeah it's the same boost axle. Same for the XTC. You just run a regular hub and use a spacer kit to get your chainline correct for single speeding.

    Either wheelset can be run as single speed.
    I think i'll skip the 27.5 to begin with and stick with a good set of 29er wheels if I can use them to SS as well. I think i'm right in saying that I'd need boost 148x12/110 x fork wheels.

    I like the DT hubs, good to work on for home mechanics.

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    Quote Originally Posted by revmatt View Post
    I think i'll skip the 27.5 to begin with and stick with a good set of 29er wheels if I can use them to SS as well. I think i'm right in saying that I'd need boost 148x12/110 x fork wheels.

    I like the DT hubs, good to work on for home mechanics.
    If I understand you that is correct on the spacing and I agree you can get by with skipping the 27.5+ wheels. I actually got the 27.5+ first because I wanted most of the components off the +2 build and I could add a swanky lightweight 29" wheelset later. The only things I have scrapped off that build so far are the cranks, handlebars, and stem. I am even still using the dropper post which I hated at first, although I'll probably put the carboner post on it soon.

    I think the other logical way to do it (definitely the way I would go with the LES) is to build it up from scratch.

    The other thing to watch out for in case you're not familiar with the current fork standards is that a lot of "XC" forks are not 27.5+ compatible, although I think a lot of people have figured out how to squeeze some larger tires in there. So if you have to buy a fork too, you should spend some time researching which ones fit. This is something not even a lot of the shops knew when I was shopping. The most obvious one is that the Fox 32 Stepcast is not 27.5+ compatible while the RockShox Reba and SID are.

    I have been very happy with the DT hubs so far. I recommend the higher tooth engagement ring thingy internal to the hub (forgot what that is called) for faster pedaling response.

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