I am looking at upgrading to my first full suspension mountain bike. My current bike is a 2013 Trek Stache 7 and I love the way that the bike fits me. I have learned over the years that I like a longer cockpit.
I have been comparing the dimensions of the Stache to full suspension bikes and I am nervous that despite the slack geometry of current bikes, to match the cockpit length of my current Stache that I have to go to a bike that is geared more to downhill than I am looking for. I had the opportunity to ride a Trek Fuel EX 8 for a couple days and felt that the cockpit on it was shorter than what I want.
I am looking at a trail bike, and I’ve got it narrowed down (I think) to a Santa Cruz 5010, a Transition Scout, or a Rocky Mountain Pipeline. All of these would be the alloy versions, as I am trying to keep the price below $3,500.
I guess I am looking for some opinions on these bikes as well as feedback on messing with the handling if I put on a longer stem after buying one.
Most of the riding I do is pretty flat and on rocky/rooty terrain.
I’ll throw in my experience. There are a lot of really good bikes out there, but I do have the 2018 Santa Cruz 5010 Carbon R and can attest its an awesome bike. Its not particularly light (my 2015 Giant Anthem Advanced is actually lighter), but the 5010 feels really solid and confident underneath. Your terrain sounds similar to mine in Minnesota, and I can say that the 5010 has plenty of suspension. In fact, any more would probably be a waste. From a fit perspective, I’m 6 foot tall with relatively shorter legs and longer torso, and have the Large and therefore don’t at all feel cramped in the cockpit.
So while I won’t definitely say its better than the other bikes you mention (since I’m not familiar with them), what I can say is that I am 100% satisfied with my 5010 and I can’t image you’d be disappointed.
A lot of people will say you can have too much suspension, or anything over a certain amount is a waste. Unless you are racing, I do not subscribe to that theory. For having fun, unless you are riding only very beginner single track, or are never riding anything rougher than flat two track, suspension up to 160mm or 170mm is not a waste to me. If the trail doesn’t require that much suspension, or you want to ride mello one day, you can add air to stiffen the suspension, but if the trail is technical enough to use more suspension and you don’t have it, not much you can do.
Santa Cruz makes great bikes. When I bought my new bike a year ago, I only considered a few bikes and of the ones I demo’d the Santa Cruz Bronson was my second favorite, Giant Trance first, and Salsa Redpoint third. I didn’t end up buying any of them, but I would have been happy with any of the three.
I found a great clearance deal on an Evil Insurgent, so took a chance based on reviews, and ended up liking it better than any bike I had ever ridden.
While I have not ridden the Scout or the Pipeline, I demo’ed the 5010 for 2 days at Kingdom Trails (lots of variety) a couple of months ago. I came away very impressed with the bike was seriously considering pulling the trigger (until Evil came out with the Offering). FWIW, I never felt a lack of travel – but this is coming from someone that would make due in some sketchy situations with my 100mm travel XC rig.
I want to second what Alvin said. Too much suspension is not a problem. Especially if you’re gonna travel to places with rougher terrain. My local shop talked me out of 150 mm front, 140 mm rear saying “you don’t want too much bike” and I regret it.
Demo every bike you look at if you can. If you’re spending $3000+ you deserve to at least be able to take it for a spin around a parking lot, if not on a trail ride.
I think the best bikes have 29×2.6 or 29×2.8 tires, on i30-35mm rims, 1x 500% wide range drivetrains (Eagle GX 10×50), 5 to 6in of travel. Trek Full Stache, Specialized Stumpjumper, Scott Genius are a few that come to mind. Which all come in your price range.
Rocky Mountain has some killer alloy trail bike options under $3,500 right now. The Thunderbolt, Instinct, and Altitude all have new aluminum models for around $3,400 with Fox suspension and Shimano 1×11 drivetrains.