April 6, 2015 at 09:34 #127005
Looking for some boots-on-the-ground rider input for a new bike.
My riding is out-the-door high country in the summer and fall (Steamboat area), road trips to the desert (Vernal, Fruita, Moab), and some summer road trips (CT segments, The Crest, and hopefully CB). Intermediate to intermediate+ to moderate advanced is what I enjoy. The point here, varied terrain. Greg, John, this is what you guys know best.
The goal, a versatile new bike. The problem, too much information out there. The question, is this getting like the ski industry, too many options but everything new is pretty darn good?!
#1, 29er will be the choice (at 6’4", it is a requirement). #2, I think 120mm upfront is all I need (been riding a 2011 Rumblefish with a 120 Reba, does the job).
Clarity — is there a suspension system(s) that truly stands out;, or, do they all do the job? For example, all I know is the Rumblefish design, but the "new" version of the ‘Fish is a 29er Fuel with the floater. Yeti, switch tech, yeah the story sounds great, but what is the true difference? Niner, the CV has been a staple, difference maker? Pivot?
You get where I am going with this? Every company has a story, but for the versatile bike are all of these within the 5% "get it done range", and does it/should it come down to which bike feels the best when you sit in the cockpit? Or, is the Fork really where the priority stands?
Carbon (frame vs wheels) — main frame only carbon, saves a pound and a half, worth it? (lose the Boulder chips habit!) Full carbon, pricey bike. Rear stiffness a big value? Wheels set, now is THIS where the money should go? Can’t recall the bike, but I did see a spec of aluminum frame with carbon wheels, this may actually make sense on the $$$ to performance transfer!
1x — I know this answer for me, no way. Did anyone catch the recent MB Action write up about the new XTR front derailleur, stating it is so good that they are reconsidering the 1x…? What a load of crap and back-tracking to make everyone in the industry happy. The 1x for anyone who rides where I do is no good, for climbing and forest service road return reasons.
Also, if you think I missed something important to consider, please do tell…
April 7, 2015 at 07:44 #127006
There’s a lot in that post–it reminds me of when I bought my first bike way back in 2000 and there were nowhere near the choices we have now. Even then I suffered from paralysis by analysis. Having been through the bike buying routine four times now and having ridden, demoed, and reviewed countless others, the most useful thing I think I can say is to use all that tech talk only as an intro or teaser–all useful input to your decision comes from riding and not reading.
Physique, physiology, attitude and riding style are all completely unique to the individual, so there’s not a whole lot someone, especially someone who doesn’t know you and your style well, can say that will guarantee the best outcome. What I can say definitively is that no one bike is best for everyone, regardless of price or marketing.
More directly to your post, there is no one suspension system which is best for everyone. Most modern suspensions are excellent and none are bad. Even the basic single pivot has been refined over the years to the point it holds up well against far more complex and expensive designs. Even within a suspension type, execution may lead to significantly different results. For instance, Santa Cruz and Intense both use the VPP (virtual pivot point) suspension. The SC Bronson and Intense Tracer are both 27.5" wheeled, 6" travel bikes with the same suspension and similar geometry, so they should ride about the same, but they feel very different to me. I have ridden Horst Link bikes I love and Horst Link bikes I can’t stand. There are two many variables to pick a suspension that rules them all, let alone a bike.
My personal favorite I’ve ridden is the Yeti Switch. I haven’t yet tried the Yeti Switch Infinity which is supposedly even better. But that doesn’t mean it will be anyone else’s preference, even someone who rides like I do. I’ve also broken a couple Yeti’s, so I’m leery of buying another, no matter how perfect the suspension is for me. There’s always a ton of tradeoffs — suspension, weight, geometry, price to name a few.
It sounds like you’re riding preference is much like my own but maybe slightly more trail/cross country and slightly less all-mountain/enduro . For that riding, it sounds like a 5" travel trail bike is the best option. If you decide you want to ride more gnar, than a 6" all mountain bike is more the ticket. The good news is that bikes in most categories have becomen more versatile" today’s trail bikes can really handle some all-mountain gnar and today’s all mountain bikes are suitable for long cross country days in the saddle. I think your last statement is spot on — lot’s of options and most of them are pretty darn good.
Is price range a big concern for you? Do you have any feelings about mass produced vs boutique bikes?
Here’s some which are really getting rave reviews and/or I have ridden myself and like very much:
Ibis Mojo HD
Pivot Mach 429
Rocky Mountain Instinct
Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt
Santa Cruz 5010
Ibis Mojo HDR
Intense Tracer 275
Pivot Mach 6c
Santa Cruz Bronson
Santa Cruz Nomad
Geometry varies widely among the above. Santa Cruz and Pivot tend to run short in the top tube and Yeti long with the others being more neutral. Of course that can partially compensated for by saddle placement on the rails and changing stem length, but that will also affect handling.
I tend to be allergic to Trek, Specialized, Giant and Cannondale, but thy also all make great bikes across all riding styles so don’t discount them either.
Bottom line–get out and ride as many as you can, and across as many conditions possible. Find a demo day if you can–they can be both enlightening as well as tons o’ fun.
As for carbon–I think it’s well worth it if it fits your pocketbook. The combination of light weight and stiffness is noticeable. Wheels are indeed the best upgrade possible. Some will take a great wheelset before spending the extra $$ on carbon which is understandable. But if you start out with a great carbon frame, you can always upgrade the wheels later.
April 7, 2015 at 09:37 #127007
Thanks John —
I appreciate the macro perspective from your reply, reinforces some of my thoughts. You are accurate on my riding preferences, I’d say, even though defining trail types has never been too clear (different topic). But, if I could select one trail (and it’s a trail we both know) to demo all of these bikes to make a buying decision, I would make it Oil Well Flats…the 2014 lollipop loop. For what I enjoy and what is important to select a bike, that ride just about has it all!
Specific to frame suspension, the simplicity of some of the designs is a good point. I do not have a race day mechanic! So, knowing that you can throw a lot at your bike and have it stay together with minimal maintenance is a huge plus — and something the Rumblefish has provided, especially once I dumped the crappy Elixir brakes (in favor of XT) and flimsy Bontrager Duster wheel set (in favor of Flow/HopePro). The Clydes had reviewed this bike well, which was important because many of the "reviewers" tend to be under 6 foot guys and under 175 pounds; while I ride an XL frame, weigh in at 205 lbs loaded up and am putting more absolute force into the bike components.
With all of this said, the Pivot Mach 429 has been on my radar (although it may only be offered with a 1x?). And, the next purchase will probably be carbon. I do not break out in hives around the big boy bike makers (equal opportunity), but will stay clear of Specialized. I also don’t require a boutique badge only to be different, in fact I would prefer a bike with no badging.
I do wish MB Action would be more true to calling it like it is, versus being rather spineless about calling out the true pros/cons of the bikes. As they have access to everything! It reminds me back when I was big into boating (Michigan days) and Boating Magazine would write the fluff reviews. MB Action will call out a product only after there is a new solution to market; for example, did they ever tell you what a piece of crap the Elixir brakes were? Nope, not until the Guide came out, then they touched on how the Elixir was not so great. Same with their recent flip-flop on the 1x / 2x. Anyway…
Thanks for the feedback.
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