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Thread: Looking at buying a new bike, suggestions?

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Default Looking at buying a new bike, suggestions?

    I'm looking to upgrade my entry level FS 26" XC bike for some bigger hoops and better components. I do mostly XC riding, minimal drops, no racing. I'm looking for a short travel trail bike, under $3K. Here's what I'm looking at, suggestions?

    • Santa Cruz Tallboy '12 - Tested it, seemed like a great bike. Really like the ride, very confidence inspiring.

    • Spec Camber Comp '12 - Tested. Similar ride to the Tallboy. Bit lighter, maybe more responsive. Currently have a Spec and it's been a great bike.

    • Cannondale Scalpel 29er 3 - Haven't tested (can't)

    • Rocky Mountain Element 930 - Haven't tested (can't)

    I tested a Trek Fuel, which I didn't particularly care for.

    I'm not sure if I really want to test other brands too much. I know Giant and a few others make great bikes, but I don't live near a shop that sells them.

    Would love to hear if people have these bikes, how they like them, and what was the deciding factor.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    More info can be helpful... how tall are you? If under 6 ft I'd say look at the 650B options coming to market pretty heavily. Not that someone under 6ft cant ride 29er (I do) but I'm finding a slightly longer travel (120-140 instead of 80-100) are more "comfortable" and the 650b's handles the bumps as well but doesn't feel as long.
    when you say "XC" are you fast and flowy trails or normal New England rocky/hilly trails (borderline All Mtn)

    Here's my take.. all the bikes you listed are nice,.. down right good-great. But, I found with the bigger box names you pay more and get ,well, less.
    KHS, Giant, Felt.. and other smaller companies are usually better equipped (bolt on parts) bikes for the same or less $$

    My biggest gripe with the big names is the crappy wheels they all give stock. Example, friend just got a really nice ($3500) bike.. frame/suspension is down right awesome,.. but drive train and brakes are mediocre at best and the wheels are down right cheapo borderline junk.

    now on the other hand, testing a bike is VERY important if you aren't like me and like playing with the mechanic of a bike to dial it in.

    I could go on for hours LOL but of the 4 you've listed they are all good bikes and my choices are just about in the order you have them listed (thou maybe move the Rocky up above the C-dale)
    Last edited by thomllama; August 12th, 2013 at 07:31 AM.
    Always wear a Helmet and Glasses when riding!!

    Southeastern CT NEMBA with trial locations, trail reports, and list of local events...
    www.sectnemba.org
    SECT NEMBA on Facebook..
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  3. #3
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    Thanks for the .02. I'm 5'9", so not exactly tall. I've had a hard time finding much support for 650B in the area (north of Boston). Everything that the shops have with that wheel size are more aggressive trail bikes than I'm interested in. I've been really impressed with the 29er bikes that I've tried, especially giving that I don't feel like the handling isn't something that I could get used to. It's different than my 26" bike, but not unmanageable.

    Give then choice, I would pick fast and flowy. Of course, I have to deal with what the trails are like in the area, so rock gardens and roots.

    I agree that testing is important, so it's a drag when shops can't help you figure out a way to test a bike. So I'm really leaning towards the bikes that I can test.

    Pretty sure that I'm going with the Tallboy, based on the ride, the positive vibes that I've heard about the bike and SC's reputation for building really tough bikes.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by TshirtFiend View Post
    Thanks for the .02. I'm 5'9", so not exactly tall. I've had a hard time finding much support for 650B in the area (north of Boston). Everything that the shops have with that wheel size are more aggressive trail bikes than I'm interested in. I've been really impressed with the 29er bikes that I've tried, especially giving that I don't feel like the handling isn't something that I could get used to. It's different than my 26" bike, but not unmanageable.

    Give then choice, I would pick fast and flowy. Of course, I have to deal with what the trails are like in the area, so rock gardens and roots.

    I agree that testing is important, so it's a drag when shops can't help you figure out a way to test a bike. So I'm really leaning towards the bikes that I can test.

    Pretty sure that I'm going with the Tallboy, based on the ride, the positive vibes that I've heard about the bike and SC's reputation for building really tough bikes.
    ya.. same size as me.. I like my 29er a LOT (voodoo canzo 29er) and pretty much all the 29er's I've tried within reason I like over 26 in general,.. but the 650B is a sweet size.. I find the 29er to be kinda long in comparison.

    there are a few 650B "XC" style out (KHS has a nice round up) and a few more are coming this yr. This is the one I'm looking at... http://khsbicycles.com/bikes/2013-kh...sixfifty-3500/
    My big problem with the 29er's is the steep head tubes and high stand over on a long frame.. each is a minor thing but all three add up

    Hey, we are having the Bluff Point Adventure series and there will be some C-dale demos if ya at least want to try.. there may be some Scott demos also, but haven't heard from them in a while so wouldn't count on the Scott's..
    Always wear a Helmet and Glasses when riding!!

    Southeastern CT NEMBA with trial locations, trail reports, and list of local events...
    www.sectnemba.org
    SECT NEMBA on Facebook..
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/585044744912146/

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by thomllama View Post
    there are a few 650B "XC" style out (KHS has a nice round up) and a few more are coming this yr. This is the one I'm looking at... http://khsbicycles.com/bikes/2013-kh...sixfifty-3500/
    My big problem with the 29er's is the steep head tubes and high stand over on a long frame.. each is a minor thing but all three add up
    To be honest, I find that I like bikes with steep HTAs anyway. I might be in the minority—and I'm sure that it depends on the bike—but the bikes that I've tried that have more relaxed HTAs felt sluggish compared to what I ride now. Stand-over is something that I hear you about though.

    I'm really not sure about 27.5 bikes. I tested a Jamis Dakar XCT and it didn't feel like a big enough difference from 26" to me. Again, I'm sure it depends on the bike, and I've read a really great review of the 3500. Boston doesn't have any serious KHS dealers, which is a bit of a problem.

    I can't make the the MBAS, but thanks for the heads up.

    @homegrown: I'm just north of Boston.

  6. #6
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    Not sure if you have been to JRA in Medford, you might be able to take out a Scalpel and/or the Rocky for a day of riding. They do have a fleet of demo bikes and I know they sell both of those, just not sure if they have demo's of these two. I love my 29er! I have a Kona Satori, bought from JRA. It's probably a bit of pig for what you a looking for, but there are the Kona Hei Hei bikes that are lighter, and start at 2K with what looks like a decent brake/drive train combo. From what I remember when checking out reviews, they compared the Tallboy and the Satori stating they were similar bikes. I never tested the Tallboy so no I don't know for sure. Mine has 130mm of travel front and rear and weighs in at just over 30 pounds. Good luck on your search!
    Kona Satori

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mondis View Post
    Not sure if you have been to JRA in Medford…
    I went to JRA. I would love to buy from them, but they have a policy of not letting bikes on the trail. They have the Scalpel and Rocky listed above. I just can't sink that much money into a bike without riding it the way that it would be intended to ride. I asked, and they don't have any of the bikes in the demo fleet. Really just Pivot and Ibis, which are out of my price range. I looked at the Hei Hei, and I think that I'd have a better part spec on the bikes that I've narrowed it down to. I appreciate the thoughts though, and I really wish that I could try some of the bikes that JRA has.

  8. #8
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    I wouldn't buy without riding either! Totally agree there. Fortunately for me the Satori was in the demo fleet when I was looking and I also took out a Rocky Mountain and an Ibis Mojo 26er just for comparison. That was 2 years ago though, I guess their fleet has gotten smaller. I'm sure you'll be happy with whatever you get. Good luck

    Quote Originally Posted by TshirtFiend View Post
    I went to JRA. I would love to buy from them, but they have a policy of not letting bikes on the trail. They have the Scalpel and Rocky listed above. I just can't sink that much money into a bike without riding it the way that it would be intended to ride. I asked, and they don't have any of the bikes in the demo fleet. Really just Pivot and Ibis, which are out of my price range. I looked at the Hei Hei, and I think that I'd have a better part spec on the bikes that I've narrowed it down to. I appreciate the thoughts though, and I really wish that I could try some of the bikes that JRA has.
    Kona Satori

  9. #9
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    Nov 2009
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    I just purchased a Trance 27.5 to replace my trance 29er and do not regret it at all. i have a 67 degree HA and its an amazing difference.Where are you located?

  10. #10
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    Don't be scared off or worried about the 650b wheel size as these are pretty much gonna replace the 26" size going forward. About the only holdout now is Specialized. Plenty of good tires, rims, and forks now available and plenty of new bikes available and in the pipeline. Ride a 650b bike for awhile then get back on the 26" bike and you'll really appreciate the difference with 650b. I've have a converted 2008 Cannondale Prophet to full 650b, had a 2011 Jamis Dakar B2 650b, and now a Banshee Spitfire V2 650b I'm building. Love the wheel size. The Jamis (130mm F/B and 69 degree HA) was excellent but I wanted a bit more travel and slacker head angle so I got the new Banshee. If you're interested in a Jamis I have a dealer who will really work with you on price. PM me.

    I'd also have a look at the new 2014 Trek Remedy 650b bikes. 140mm travel F/B and you can set the head angle to either 67.5 or 68.2 degrees with a flip chip in the linkage. 68.2 degrees is really plenty steep for an all around trail bike and 140mm travel hits the sweet spot IMO

    Did you look at the 2014 Trek Fuel EX and Remedy 29'ers? Really nice if you want to go the 29'er route but the SC TB is very nice also and quite popular. I know of a very slightly used 2013 TBcarbon that's available that I think is the right size for you (he's going 650b and wants it gone)

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