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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm looking to get my first 29er this spring and need some input. My budget is around $1000 - $1200 CAD, I can't really stretch the budget much from there. I'm 170 lbs and don't ride that aggressively, I've never broken a bike part from abuse. I have no plans to make any upgrades to the bike I'm buying other than comfort stuff if needed like, grips, seat, or stem. So would really like to avoid any bikes with questionable components.

My first choice was the Airborne Seeker:
Airborne Bicycles. Seeker
I live close to the US border so I could have it shipped to a border town and go pick it up, problem is by the time I figure exchange, duty and taxes it would be over $1300, but it does have the best fork of any of the bikes I am considering.

Next on my list is the Ghost SE2970 for $1200:
Ghost SE 2970 Bicycle (Unisex) - Mountain Equipment Co-op. Free Shipping Available
The Ghost has the best drive train of any of the bikes I've looked at.

I did look at the Kona Kahuna for $1150:
KONA BIKES | 2014 BIKES | RACE LIGHT | KAHUNA
Nice geometry, decent drive train, but the thing that tuned me off was the generic hubs. Disappointing on a bike like this and not easy to replace down the road.

One LBS not too far from me has a 2013 Norco Nitro 9.2 for around $1000 in my size (MED):
Nitro 9 « Race XC « Mountain « Norco Bicycles 2013 Archives
It's got a better fork than some of the others and is discounted off it's original price of over $1300.

I'm hoping to get out and ride some of these bikes next weekend but wanted some input on these and if there are other bikes in the price range I should be looking at. One of the things I don't know a lot about is wheel sets, there are too many companies with too many lines for me to be able to tell good wheels from mediocre wheels when reading a bikes specs.

Jason
 

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Hard to say, really depends on who has what on sale. You can even get a Reba for $500 new, $200-300 used. I've got nothing against the Airborne as everyone here recommends them, but it sounds like it'd be a logistical challenge for you.

I like the geometry on the Ghost and the drivetrain and brakes are fairly upgrade-proof. Nothing wrong with the Norco either. The wheels on all are going to be average.
If I was picking I'd say the Ghost, and plan on gettting a nice tubeless wheel set one day and maybe a fork if a deal pops up. I know you said you didn't plan on upgrades but it kinda happens! ;)

All that said, go throw a leg over a couple and see what hits you. Maybe one will jump out with the love. Good luck!
 

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the kona is not bad , i agree i don't understand why those hubs are on the bike . They have no business being on the bike . I have a 2013 kuhuna dl and I'm replacing them as soon as i can . Any of those bikes are ok , choose the one that fit you best . Happy riding
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I've pretty much eliminated the Seeker, if I lived in the US the lower price and nicer fork would be a fair trade off for not being able to test ride it, but at the $1300 it would take for me to get it to Canada I think I'd rather buy something local.

I found a couple 2013's on sale to add to my list. The shops are further away but if they are worth the trip I'll check them out. I'm hoping to get out and ride some bikes this weekend.

2013 Cannondale Trail SL 29er 2 for $1099
TRAIL SL 29ER 2 - Trail SL 29er - Hardtail 29er - Mountain - Bikes - 2013
It's got a Recon Silver fork

2013 Specialized Rockhopper Pro for $1099
Specialized Bicycle Components
It's got a 2x10 drivetrain with an SLX derailleur but has a XC30 coil fork.

Are either of these two worth going out of my way to look at?

Thanks,

Jason
 

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Couldn't find a ton of info on the Norco or it's geometry, but one review calls it very race oriented. The Ghost has a slacker head angle that I myself would prefer.

So, it's the Ghost with a much nicer drivetrain and slightly better brakes, but a lesser fork.
Or the Norco gets the nod for the fork, but you should ride it a little and see how it feels.

The Rockhopper or C'Dale are similar enough that it's probably not worth running around for. If the Specialized were a little closer, it might be worth a sniff, the SLX shadow+ is nice. Or you could spend $50 and upgrade the Norco's RD to X7.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Yesterday I went out and rode a bunch of bikes, here's my quick take on each.

2013 Giant Talon 0

Wasn't on my original list but a local shop recommended it. I actually liked the way the bike road other than the fact it was really tough to pick the front end up when approaching obstacles. But it had seen some serious demo use and the price didn't reflect that. I'm pretty sure I rode this exact same bike over a year ago.


2014 Kona Kahuna

Rode great but the fit just wasn't right for me.


2013 and 2014 Cannondale Trail SL 29er 2

Nice bike but I was in between sizes and the medium that I was leaning towards was only available in a 2014 model that was over my budget.


2014 Ghost SE2970

Great bike, a definite must ride for anyone shopping in this price range. The slacker head angle is a trade off, the turn in is noticeably slower than some of the other bikes but would probably be more stable on descents or real rough terrain. There were a couple of issues with the particular bike I rode that were due to sloppy assembly that were disappointing.

2013 Norco Nitro 17"

This bike had been on sale for a while and I had emailed the shop about it a couple of times about it, this ride was the first time I had sat on it. Not long after I got on it I realizes it was too small, the seat post was way up out of the frame and the front end felt awkward.

2013 Norco Nitro 18 1/2"

I called around and found another shop that had an 18 1/2" Nitro on clearance. I was further out of my way but I figured I'd go check it out. This Nitro felt great, the fit was really good and the bike felt quick. The one thing I really liked about the Norco is that I was able to get the front end up when approaching obstacles, not as easy as on a 26" bike but easier than any of the other 29er's I rode. The X5 drive train shifted great, no complaints there. The Avid Elixir 1 brakes may not be quite as smooth as the Shimanos on some of the other bikes but still worked great. This is the bike I ended up taking home. I swapped on my favorite grips and adjusted the brake and shifter positions. I may do a seat swap at some point and the stock pedals are crap. I know I had said that I wasn't planning to make any upgrades but since I did save a bit compared to the other bikes I may change to a 2x10 drive train down the road.

Jason
 
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