That’s exactly what I’m thinking. The only thing I’m struggling with is price. A light, full suspension XC bike is pricey. A friend has a carbon 2011 trek Fuel in good shape he wants to sell cheap but the 26″ wheels aren’t what I want. Retail on the 2019 Top Fuel is almost $10K. Still trying to figure it out.
Most of our local trails are super rooty and rocky. Never thought about covering them up to make it easier. I will say there some that run parallel on the trail that I hit regularly that have come pretty close to crashing me many, many times. The roots in that pic don’t look like a problem.
I’m two years and a handful of 35-45 miles races into my gravel bike experience. In better than half the races so far I would have loved a mountain bike with a little suspension. I think. Some of these races have been more rock covered roads than gravel with nasty ruts and mud. Last race I was really slowing down to navigate a lot of the rougher sections trying not to break my bike, or myself. 2/3 of the way in I ended up riding with a guy on a 29″ hardtail on a rocky, muddy road section. All I was thinking was “as soon as we hit the next section of pavement you are toast my friend.” We came out of the woods, hit pavement and it was downhill for about a 1/2 mile. I got into the drops thinking I would be blowing past this guy and we ended up coasting side by-side all the way to the bottom. This 29’er had probably 2.2’s or 2.3’s and was rolling downhill on pavement just as fast as me in the drops on my gravel bike with 700C-40mm gravel tires. I guarantee he was faster and comfortable than me in the rougher sections. It just didn’t seem like he was paying much of a penalty for riding the mountain bike on the stuff the gravel bike should have been better at. I’m seriously thinking about ditching the gravel bike and switching to a 27.5 or 29″ mountain bike for gravel races.