Which of the two is the better choice more capable XC bike and can handle if needed more technical trail sections and would be more fun to ride. Does anyone have experience with both them.
I’m faced with the choice of the new 2018 Specialized Epic Expert GX Eagle with upgraded Roval Control SL wheels or the new 2018 Trek Top Fuel 9.8 GX Eagle with upgraded Rapid Drive 108 hub. Is the Specialized Brain worth the committed maintenance expense? All advice is appreciated.
Well, they’re both very racy bikes with the corresponding racy geometry. If you’re looking for something more well-rounded, these aren’t the bikes you should be looking at. If you want something to race and to ride trail, the Fuel EX or the Camber would be much better options. And there are tons of other 29ers out there in the 120mm travel range that are as good or better.
The Trek is slightly slacker than the Spec, so it’s probably a little more confident in steep or techy sections. But that’s relative. Race bikes like this command your attention the entire ride. They both have very similar spec, I’d give a slight edge to the Trek. The Spec can fit two water bottles inside the front triangle, which is awesome for endurance racing. Personally, I think the Spec is the better looking of the two.
I haven’t ridden the latest version of the Brain, but the old versions didn’t do it for me. It’s also the first year Spec is using the new Brain system, and I’d be wary of being an early adopter. Spec also has a tendency to move to new designs quickly and not support old designs for more than a couple years.
Thank you for the valued advice and insights. Can I ask which other 29ers would you recommend. I was considering the Tallboy except it would be without the carbon rims as the bikes base cost compared to the Trek and Soecialized is much higher. Is that a better option? The other bike I considered is the Scott Spark 900 Ultimate or lower model. South Africa does not have as bigger variety and the online options don’t ship here. On the other hand maybe I’m missing an obvious choice in the big brands that is available here. Much appreciated. Darryl
Ah, I see. You’ll definitely get more bike for your money from Specialized or Trek compared to Santa Cruz. The Tallboy is more trail bike than XC, along the lines of the Camber and the Fuel EX. If you have a Giant dealer, maybe check out the Anthem.
Other good options, if you have access: Norco Sight, Rocky Mountain Element, Kona Hei Hei, Ibis Ripley.
Of course, having a bike your local dealer is familiar with is a good thing.
You spot on I should be going for a 29er with 120mm. The Anthem is available but only in the 29er in 100mm or is it still worth considering. Is Scott Spark a good option in 120mm? Or should I relook at the Tallboy? The other bikes you mentioned are either not available or not well supported here.
Another thing to consider is that the Epic is an all new design whereas the Top Fuel is going on its third year with the same geometry. May or may not matter to you. As for the Top Fuel, some people who have reviewed have said it descends well for an XC bike and a guy on youtube even raced it in an enduro. I demoed a Giant Anthem Advanced and have ridden the Top Fuel on the same trail. The Anthem felt more twitchy descending despite having a 68 degree hta.
Living in Australia i am worried about the support i would have if i had a problem with a bike. I assume it would be the same for you in South Africa. For this reason i would skip the “exotic” Santa Cruz, Ibis, Kona type bikes and stick with the big 3. If South Africa is anything like Australia (i think it is) you want a bike that pedals well because of the vast distances you will probably end up riding. Maybe you could try a Trance? I have seen people race XC (non competitive) on them.