June 10, 2020 at 18:50 #423819
I live in Dallas, but I typically ride in various locations across Arkansas, Texas, and sometimes in Colorado.
I’ve had my Specialized Epic EVO for about nine months now, and I really love it for cross country style trails. It climbs ridiculously well. The pedal efficiency is about as good as it gets. And it’s super fast. My only problem? It’s not stable at higher speeds on descents, and it doesn’t like being pushed through more technical trails. So it’ll eat up anything with a solid blue difficulty rating, but it’s not a fan of anything more than that.
So I can choose to either replace it with a more capable (but still edgy) short travel trail bike, or I can supplement it with a more well-rounded second bike. I’ve done some research on it, and I feel like my options are as follows. A Santa Cruz Tallboy can replace, or a Specialized Stumpjumper (or SC Hightower) can supplement. What do y’all think is the best way to go?
June 11, 2020 at 18:25 #424701
Three things make a bike descend better – wider taller more aggressive tires, slacker more progressive geometry, and longer travel. However, doing those things also makes a bike heavier and less fun on the climbs and the flats.
In the end, I think it’s best to pick a bike that’s most suitable to where you ride 90% of the time. You should seldom find yourself over-biked or under-biked for the places you ride most. You can’t go wrong with a good all-around modern Trailbike with about 130mm rear travel, 29×2.4-2.6 aggressive Trail tires(not Enduro tires or XC tires), and progressive geometry (about a 66 degree head angle and a 76 degree seat angle). The Commencal Meta TR and the Trek Fuel EX are two bikes that come to mind. With a light-weight fast-rolling 2.4 tire like the Maxxis Rekon, these bikes can be almost XC. But, with a burly aggressive 2.6 tire like the Maxxis Minion, these bikes can be All-Mountain.
June 11, 2020 at 19:22 #424725
P.S. Put some Gravel tires on your old Epic. I have a full-sus Epic and have used 700×43 and 700×50 Panaracer Gravel King SK tires on that bike. An XC bike with light-weight fast-rolling Gravel tires makes an excellent “All-Surface” bike. It’s very fast on pavement and gravel but still very capable on singletrack. I now ride my XC-Gravelbike almost as much as I ride my Mountainbike. My XC-Gravelbike with my regular Mountainbike makes a perfect two bike stable.
June 11, 2020 at 19:33 #424735
Oh man, that’s a really good idea. My other bike I typically reach for is a Specialized Diverge with 38mm tires. I like that well enough for a mixture of gravel and pavement, but it would be smart to put wider tires on the Roval wheels when the gravel gets chunkier.
Thanks for the additional suggestions. The 140/130 suspension pairing (+/-10) is what I’ve been looking at. Both the bikes I’ve been looking at fall within that range, and I’m trying to be really careful not to overbike myself with the newest addition.
June 12, 2020 at 12:54 #425001
June 12, 2020 at 14:56 #425032
Bike Nerd makes a great point … what percentage of the time is your Epic EVO ideal? Also, how important is it for you to be really fast on your local trails?
If the Epic is great for most of your riding and you really like being fast, then getting a second bike makes sense. If the trail bike will mostly be used when you travel, I would consider renting a few different bikes before making another purchase.
If the Epic is sketchy on some of your local trails and fun is more important than speed, then switching to a more capable trail bike may be a better way to go.
I am a big fan of dw-link bikes so I second Bike Nerd’s recommendation on the Ibis Ripley (or Pivot Trail 429). I primarily ride along the Front Range of Colorado and have more fun on a 27.5 Mojo. However, if I lived in Dallas and traveled to Colorado a few times a year, those two bikes would be at the top of my list when looking for a do it all trail bike.
Also, my son lives just north of Dallas and I will be visiting in a couple of weeks. Where is the best place to ride?
June 12, 2020 at 15:34 #425040
the Epic has been ideal most of the time, because I try to only take it on trails that I know it’s built for. There in Denver, it’s done really well on Green Mountain and Centennial Cone. I actually tried a Stumpjumper on Green Mountain some time ago, and I really didn’t like it – the pedal bobbing drove me crazy. I think they’ve changed the geometry since then, but I know there’s going to be some efficiency loss with the new version.
In Dallas, I mostly ride over at Cedar Hill State Park. But a lot of people really enjoy the trails over on the north side of Grapevine Lake, so I would check that out as well.
June 12, 2020 at 15:52 #425045
The Epic tends to be fairly predictable in handling when I’m pushing it uphill, or when I’m descending on more gentle slopes with or without roots and rocks. Where it gets sketchy is on steeper slopes where rocks and roots are present. That steeper head tube angle wants to pitch me forward, and I can re-distribute weight to maintain stability. As far as taking the hit itself, I don’t know whether it’s the 120mm fork running out of stroke, or if its because the tire’s tucked further in under the bike that forces the tire to absorb the hit (maybe a combination of both), but it can be a little jolting. The rear suspension having the brain inertia valve, the compression gets delayed, and I know I run out of the 100mm travel quickly.
So in Northwest Arkansas, it’s completely at home in Hobbs State Park. But where our home is going to be, right next to the Back 40 trail system (and the evolving Little Sugar trail system), it’s a little less mellow. And I’m looking to do the Womble and LOViT at some point in the fall, so I don’t want to be under-biked on a 40 and 60 mile ride.
June 13, 2020 at 16:33 #425372
XC bikes descend poorly mostly because of the tires and the geometry and not because of the amount of travel they have. XC geometry puts your center of gravity so far over the front wheel that the bike endos easily. XC tires have so little tread, the bike has poor cornering and especially poor braking traction. Once that front tire starts to skid, you’re going down. In addition, XC tires are so flimsy and easily torn it tends to make a rider more cautious. More travel makes it easier to go over rough surfaces faster but does not make a bike a more capable descender.
If I kept everything the same but gave your Epic 150mm of travel, it would still descend like crap but would go over big bumps more easily. However, if I took your Epic Evo and changed nothing but gave it progressive geometry and aggressive 29×2.6 tires it would descend well. In fact, I would like to buy capable short-travel descender built like that – 100mm travel, light-weight, progressive geo, and 29×2.6 tires.
If you want more control when descending look for progressive geo and aggressive wider tires. If you want to go over big bumps faster look for more travel.
June 13, 2020 at 18:03 #425394
I agree with just about everything in the first paragraph! I had an Epic World Cup before the EVO, and it was very aggressively forward. Tires were made for speed, not for durability. On the EVO, however, Spesh upped their game and put GRID protection on both tires.
the Fox 34 Step Cast has room for a 2.6” tire, so I may end up swapping that in place of the 2.3” that’s on there right now. Good idea.
I agree on the geometry comment as well. That’s one of the reasons I’m looking at the Tallboy, Ripley, etc. the Stumpjumper would just have a little more travel, be a little heavier, and slightly less progressive on the geometry.
June 14, 2020 at 11:38 #425674
It’s likely that the rims on your Evo are too narrow for 2.6 tires. The narrowest reasonable rim for a 2.6 tire is i25mm but for the best performance, an i30-35 rim would be best. I’m guessing your bike has i23 rims. A 2.4 is probably the widest tire you would want to use with that rim.
Put a set of aggressive 2.4 tires on your Evo, push the seat all the way back, put on the shortest stem you can get comfortable with, a set of wide riser bars, and your bike will descend better. However, it still won’t descend as well as a bike with progressive geometry.
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