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In your situation, i wouldn’t change the drivetrain. As you say you’re running a 28t chainring with an 11-42 cassette, which gives you exactly the same easiest gear as a 32t chainring and Sram eagle 10-50 cassette which is how most brand new bikes come. If you want to try something different, perhaps try an oval chainring. I’ve never tried one myself but I’ve heard a lot of people say they help with power transfer and it makes pedalling easier.
My recommendation would definitely be to upgrade the wheelset. Reducing the rotational mass of your bike (wheels and tyres) will make climbing feel so much better. Perhaps have a look at something like Stan’s No Tubes Arch MK3 or Hunt Wheels Trail Wide. Experimenting with different tires is good also.
It looks like your bike already has a dropper post so no need to buy one.
As for suspension tune, watch some videos on YouTube etc and have a play yourself. Another option is ask at your local bike shop to see if you can rent a ‘Shockwiz’ for the day. It’s a device that can help you dial in your suspension settings.November 18, 2018 at 13:29 in reply to: Interchangable lens Perscription Glasses Recommendations #251328
Have a look at the Oakley Half Jacket glasses. I think they have a few other interchangeable lens glasses as well so have a browse on their website. Link for the half jackets
I had a pair of interchangeable lens Oakleys a little while back and they were really good.
At the moment I have glasses with transitions lenses which work better if you’re going from sun to shade throughout your ride.
I would also recommend buying a complete bike.
Bike manufacturers get better deals from the components manufacturers as they buy in bulk, meaning you get much more for your money with a complete bike.
I’d only see a custom build to make sense for someone who is very particular about what they want on their bike and is willing to pay a premium to get it.
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.