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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Now that I know my riding preferences I'm thinking a 29er hardtail might be best for me theoretically but my experience is limited to my 26" FS Diamondback Sortie 1 which I have been riding for two years now. I ride mostly single track trails and my biggest weakness is climbing steeper hills, especially while dodging pedal high rocks. I don't ride technically challenging terrain. Going downhill is easy for me where I ride. Here are the reasons I think a 29er hardtail might be my best choice.

*A lighter and stiffer hard tail might help me get up hills better and since going downhill isn't a problem for me.... However, maybe I'm not strong enough to appreciate a stiffer bike.
*I am way past my prime and not going to become an aggressive rider.
*I ride over a lot of soft dirt and loose rock and gravel but most of the time I ride on decent quality packed dirt.
*I never jump anything or drop off anything bigger than a curb.
*It seems to me a carbon hardtail would be comfy enough, especially since my hybrid without suspension is tolerable.
*Everywhere I ride is ridden at least occasionally by people on cyclocross bikes.
*For the last couple of months I have been riding an old hybrid with no suspension. With it I don't miss the suspension and I think the bigger tires ride over rocks and gravel better even though the tires are narrow.

Concerns:
-Since hardtails are popular for racing and I am relatively slow and weak, maybe I shouldn't get one.
-Maybe a 27.5 would be better.
-I do ride on switchbacks occasionally. At first they were real challenging for me on my 26" bike but they are not a problem for me now. New sticky tires downhill switchbacks much easier.

A bike I am considering is the Giant XTC Composite 29er: XtC Composite 29er 1 (2014) | Giant Bicycles | United States

I'd appreciate any feedback.
Thanks,
 

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Long Live the Gorn!
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Hardtail?... 29er Done. Look no further on wheel size for you.

XTC 1 Nice Bike There are probably some others in that range but that is a nice all around bike. Scott make some Hardtails nice in that same range.
But you get a lot for your money with Giant.

There are tons of threads on 29er hardtails in this forum I would go look at a few but more importantly get out and ride a few.
 

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If you've been riding a hybrid for the last little while and find it suits your needs, then definitely a 29er HT will work for you. Other materials to look at besides carbon are Steel and Ti, both will add some compliance to the ride. Make sure you get one that has ample clearance outback to fit a decent size 2.4" tyre, just in case you step up the terrain you ride on as it will add some cush. Also nice wide rims, 28mm> will help those tyres with stability and allow the use of lower pressures. Take a look as said at all the treads in here on HTs, especially take a look at the Surly Karate Monkey thread, very versatile bike, can be configured so many ways.
 

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29er is a good choice for less technical trails and it will be a bit more bump compliant for your body and give a smoother rolling feel.
As LyNx stated, a wider tire aired down less will provide better cushion. Just remember a wider tire will need to be aired up more when ridden on the road or you'll pedal your ass off and feel like your towing a small utility trailer behind you..lol
Definitely a hardtail for your riding style. FS bikes are harder climbers and pricey. You can take that cost and put it into better components!

Also, If your worried about the hardness of a hardtail on your body, I would look into a cushioned seat post. It will give you some absorption yet allow you to climb easier on the hills where as you'll be wasting energy pedaling uphill with a FS bike. The seat posts are pricey and I haven't used one but my uncle loves his. They are cheaper option than a FS bike that's for sure.
 

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+1 to what the other guys said.

I'm a similar rider, and I'm on a 29er hardtail. If I had to replace it, then I would buy another 29er hardtail.

I don't even look at FS bikes... too complicated, too expensive, too maintenance intensive.
 

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The geo of the XTC, with a 71.5 ht angle was twitchy on downhills when I test rode one. You should demo that bike as part of your decision process.
Check a Trek Superfly 9.6. It has exceptional compliance and is all new.
 

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Id go with a 29er chinese carbon HT frame. They run about $400 and are super light. As Ive gotten better Ive found that most trails here (lots of rocks) still are fine on a hard tail
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for your excellent replies.
It looks unanimous that a 29er HT would be a good choice for me.
I like the suspension seat post concept. Hopefully I won't need it and the extra weight but it is an excellent option.
There are too many geometry factors to consider so I have to try before I buy. I wish demo's were more available. I found a couple of HT 29er nearby that I can rent for a day. That will be educational.
I think I am to chicken and too lazy to buy a Chinese frame and build a bike myself.

Should I avoid a race oriented XC bike because of the stiffer BB or is there no disadvantage of a stiffer BB?
The chain stay of the XTC is 17.3" long. Is that long enough for wider tires? I doubt if I will be wanting wider tires because the 29er tires are already so much better than what I have been using on my 26" and on my hybrid. I don't mind walking over the real gnarly sections.
 

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I wouldn't go with a Chinese carbon frame ever. Check out some of the crash pics.
The XTC is a great bike, my dad has one, its very stiff and handles well, he went with some wider handle bars and loves the bike now. if you want something a little slacker, check out the Pivot LES 29. Definitely pricier though. Another option you may want to look at is the Specialized Stumpjumper Comp Carbon. It runs 2500 at my lbs (2700 retail).

If you are also interested in a steel bike, check out the niner sir 9 or vassago verhauen. The Verhauen will be my next bike.
 

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Should I avoid a race oriented XC bike because of the stiffer BB or is there no disadvantage of a stiffer BB?
The chain stay of the XTC is 17.3" long. Is that long enough for wider tires? I doubt if I will be wanting wider tires because the 29er tires are already so much better than what I have been using on my 26" and on my hybrid. I don't mind walking over the real gnarly sections.
A race oriented XC bike can have a steep head tube angle like 71 degrees and a stiff frame for efficiency in pedaling instead of more compliance for comfort and longer distance riding without getting beat up. A suspension post is not that useful because a hard tail is ridden standing up over bumps.
The length of the chain stays mostly affects how responsive and quick the steering is. 435mm/17.1" is a sweet spot when paired with a 68-69 ht angle and 51mm fork offset.
Wider on the front helps more to keep your bike from washing out in turns. 2.25 or so is a good rear width. You always want more traction, but not at the expense of rolling speed.

Demo or rent a Trek Superfly, preferably a carbon 9.6-9.8 for very good compliance and handling. You won't need to walk it over gnarl, that's where this bike is most fun.
 

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Crash pics don't mean anything, I have friends that use chinese frames over years with no damage even after some nasty falls. Its not like some big brand name like specialized is impossible to break just as easily. i ride the XTC 1 like above and I love it.
Good luck with whatever you choose!
 

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Look at a carbon seatpost instead of a suspension one. It will still give some flex/comfort without the added weight.
 

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Just because something is used for racing doesn't meant you shouldn't buy it. For a hardtail, 29er is what you should buy. If you are set on the Giant, go for it, you'll love it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I been reading up on hardtails and the bikes recommended here. So far I am still leaning toward a Giant XTC. The nervousness of the Giant XTC might actually be better for me. I believe a turny bike helps in dodging stuff going uphill, especially as slow as I go. Since riding uphill is my weakness and downhill is not a problem, maybe I should be willing to trade some downhill performance (twitchiness) for uphill performance.

Building a bike with a Hong Fu frame intrigues me. I could do it. I have the time and skills but I can also afford to buy whatever bike I want. The last straw for that concept might be resale value. I think it would be much harder to sell a built up bike than a name brand. I don't foresee wanting to sell it soon but "things change" (**** happens).
 

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I been reading up on hardtails and the bikes recommended here. So far I am still leaning toward a Giant XTC. The nervousness of the Giant XTC might actually be better for me. I believe a turny bike helps in dodging stuff going uphill, especially as slow as I go. Since riding uphill is my weakness and downhill is not a problem, maybe I should be willing to trade some downhill performance (twitchiness) for uphill performance.

Building a bike with a Hong Fu frame intrigues me. I could do it. I have the time and skills but I can also afford to buy whatever bike I want. The last straw for that concept might be resale value. I think it would be much harder to sell a built up bike than a name brand. I don't foresee wanting to sell it soon but "things change" (**** happens).
Both Giant and Trek run good size Factory Demo programs. The XTC and the Superfly 9.8 will be available to ride.
Demo and then you will have the info you need. I went both days and got 5 hours on the 9.8(different sizes) before going for it. The SF 9.8 turns intuitively.
Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I had given up on the Superfly for two reasons. I couldn't find much info about the geometry and it looks like there are no demo's scheduled for California or even the west coast. Just now I rechecked to find that Trek's west coast demo van was stolen three days ago. Later it was found on fire with all thirty bikes missing. That is horrible. I hope they find the culprits.
I wonder if Fox News will report they are not sure if Giant or Specialized had anything to do with it. :) This last sentence is a joke but the rest is unfortunately true. Here is a link to the story. Trek demo trailer stolen in California, found empty and on fire | Bicycle Retailer and Industry News
 

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The geo is new but a development of the 9.9 SL Apollo Project bike from 2013. That was the first collaborative effort with the engineering group responsible for Trek's carbon road bikes. Road feel and compliance are important in selling those.
But this new model has 10mm shorter chain stays and 5mm more bb drop. You feel full frame compliance from the rear of the bike going over bumps with feel kinda like a well valved shock. I had 5 hours of my home trail demo last September. The 51mm offset quickens the steering more than other 435mm bikes and it is faster than Trek's traditional solid ride. It is actually more bike than you need for your current terrain. There are some fun trails out there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I found the geometry chart for the Superfly. Trek includes many more details than Giant does. The SF 9.8 has great components but is more than I wanted to spend. The 9.6 has sram components. I've heard they aren't as strong as Shimano and I am a big fan of Shimano. I'm going to try to find a way to try a 9.8 and an XTC. I suspect I'll love both of them and it will be a tough decision.
Trek does a better job on their website and that influences me. If a company can't do a good job on their website I question their quality in general.
 
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