September 14, 2017 at 3:22 pm #225101
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.
September 15, 2017 at 8:18 am #225162
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.
Just some things to consider.
September 15, 2017 at 9:12 am #225164
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
September 15, 2017 at 9:43 am #225166
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.
September 17, 2017 at 4:28 am #225235
Thank you. Appreciate the advice and options.
Last questions ????
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.
September 19, 2017 at 7:10 pm #225304
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.
November 25, 2017 at 1:01 am #229445
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.
November 11, 2018 at 9:41 am #250946
Wanted to contradict Aaron Chamberlain, most of what he said is false. The Epic has the most winning track record in XC history. That should speak volumes about the Epic’s reliability and capability.
Furthemore, the Brain 2.0 is not “all new”, it’s an evolution of 15 years of Brain suspensions. It has double the service internal of any competitors’, 200 hours. It is easy to service.
And you can replace both front and rear Brains with conventional shocks.
Finally, for 2018, the Epic is more stable on downhills and easier for non-experts to ride. It’s really the best of all worlds, in a top-tier bike.
If you can afford it, the Epic is the best.
November 11, 2018 at 9:44 pm #250949
The Top Fuel and the Epic are intended to be XC race bikes. If your not totally into XC racing, I wouldn’t buy either one but would instead buy a good solid Trailbike. You might want to consider the Trek Fuel EX or the Specialized Stumpjumper which are both excellent Trailbikes. I favor the Stumpjumper because it has more travel and comes with 2.6in tires but is designed for upto 2.8in tires. Most trail riders prefer the slacker geometry, longer travel and wider, more aggressive tires that come on Trailbikes.
November 12, 2018 at 1:59 pm #250970
I agree with Plusbike Nerd, I’d only buy a dedicated XC bike it i was going to race XC.
I would look more towards something like a Trek Fuel EX, Specialized Stumpjumper ST or Giant Trance 29 to give you a bike in the 120mm travel range. These bikes will pedal nearly as well as the XC bikes previously mentioned (in fact in most situations you probably wouldn’t even notice much difference) but they allow clearance for wider tyres and will give you so much more confidence on the descents.
To throw another curveball in there, you could also look at so called ‘downcountry’ bikes. These are basically XC bikes with longer forks and slacker angles to make them a bit more capable when descending. I’m not sure what sort of availability there is in South Africa, but perhaps have a look at the Specialized Epic Evo, Yeti SB100, Pivot Mach 429 SL etc.
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