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Sorry if this seems like a repost of similar earlier questions, but I'm still undecided...

Wanting to build up a new 5-6" travel bike to replace my 4" travel Air/Air Kona. I'm big, but right with finesse and don't break my current (lightweight) built bike. My local trails are NOT freeride or DH. Mostly XC with some milder stunts, jumps, drops thrown in. No huge elevation gain/loss, but lots of steep up/down. I just want to be able to step up my riding to include some jumps/drops/etc. Anything over 2-3' makes me question my current bike's ability to handle it. Whatever the new bike is should be able to handle 4-5 footers occaisionally but also still crank out a 20 mile XC ride with efficiency.

I'm pretty well sold on the idea of VPP or similar technology. My current bike is a 20" frame size, with 24" top tube, 72.6 deg seat, 69.1 deg headtube, and 13.2" bb height. I've studies the geomtry of the bikes, and the Santa Cruz looks pretty laid back. The Giant Reign X looks comparable, but the Reign looks more trailbike-ish, and the Intense bikes seem similarly trailbike-ish, more like my current Kona.

I LIKE the current geometry - this thing feels dialed. So while I lust after the Nomad's curves, I worry about it's laid-back geo. Leaning more toward a BLT, Intense, or Giant.

I also LIKE the air shocks at both ends of my current bike. I will consider coils only if I can't find an air option to work at my weight (~270 lbs). Longer travel=good, mushy travel=bad.

I'd like to have a 20 mm thru-axle or maxle.

So of these options: Santa Cruz Blur LT, Nomad, Intense 5.5, 6.6, or Giant Reign, what do you all think will suit me best?

And how about shock/fork recommendations. I'm open to all possibilities.
 

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270 lbs. - Wow, makes me feel stupid for spending an extra $100 to save an ounce on a part. Anywho, you give a lot of great info but are you trying to go bigger and faster than you do now? I just had an Intense 5.5 that was built up pretty tough. I absolutely loved this bike and it sounds like you and I ride the same type of stuff. I had it set up with a 10mm rear axle, a 6" Manitou Firefly plus 20mm up front, and a fox rp3 in the rear. I would say the 5.5 built up like this could take the abuse from just about any rider. That said I weigh in at 190 with gear. Since you didn't blow up you Kona you might get away with a 5.5 or BLT.

With your weight I think you should step up to a 6.6 or Nomad. It might be a bit of overkill but they are only a pound or so heavier than the BLT or 5.5. I haven't ridden a Nomad but from what I read hear the 6.6 leans a little more toward XC and the Nomad leans more toward freeride.

All the bikes you listed are incredible bikes and I'm sure you'll be happy with any of them. You'll mostly get biased opinions on why one is better than the other. That said, Santa Cruz sucks and Intense is better than everybody.
 

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I'm about 205 and have lots of issues with my 5.5, I wouln't get another one. I don't think the VPP suspension works all that good for bigger guys. I'd look into a turner 5 spot, RFX or an ellsworth moment, I think they'll be way more durable for someone your size, and they still pedal just as well.
 

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I just went through the same thing last week. I'm 250#, ride some XC, some small jumps, not really DH. I go to a mountain and ride lifts once and a while. So I wanted somthing similar to what you want. Be able to go to Whistler or similar and have fun but be able to ride all day without a DH bike.

I was looking at the same bikes as well. I was ready to get a Blur LT. Then I heard the pivots creak like crazy (noy sure if it's true, heard it, read it, no firsthand experience). Then I know someone that can get me an Intense 5.5 for a fair price. So I'm ready to get the 5.5, then I started looking at the 6.6. It's less than 1 pound heavier and sounds better for me.

Long story short, I got the 6.6 with an evolver ISX6 and a Marzocchi 66SL 1. It will climb, bomb down steep singletrack, and take an occasional jump at a bikepark. Great company, awesome bikes. I always liked them.

I'd recommend the 6.6 or the Nomad. (I don't like the Nomad's top tube). Santa Cruz makes some nice bikes as well. These are my 2 favorite bike companies.

I'd stay away from Ellsworth. Nice bikes if you are 140#, NOT if you ar 270#. I broke 3 of them and I'm done with Ellsworth.

Good luck. I can't wait for mine.
 

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The BLT is the only bike among those you listed that I have not ridden. I would scratch the 5.5 off the list immediately. It is very xc-ish riding, tall and nervous feeling, and generally not that pleasant overall. The 6.6 is so much more stable and plush, there is hardly a comparison possible. The 6.6 is a very capable bike and can be built under 30# with careful parts selection (read as: throw money at it). It is not mushy in my experience, but it is plush. One of the best bikes I have tried. The Reign is also excellent, and I would put it on par with the 6.6 in terms of ride quality. It may be a little softer under power, but that could be attributed to shock setup. It can be had a LOT cheaper than a 6.6, so if you are on a budget, I would jump at one of those. The Nomad is a lot slacker riding given the same fork as the 6.6 or Reign in my experience. It sill pedals great and is a very plush bike, but I just do not care for the geometry as much for climbing. It is very stable and fun on the flats and downhills though. With an adjstable travel fork and a somewhat longer stem, it is a viable alternative. I would get the 6.6 if you have the coin, or the Reign if you are trying to stay cheap.

At your weight, the leverage ratio of the linkage is going to be an issue. All things being equal, find out what the ratio of each bike is, and go with the lowest one. Definitely stay below 2.8:1 if you can.
 

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Lots of good choices

While I cannot even begin to address the difference in our weight, I am 170lbs. I can add to the discussion on the bikes, I have ridden them all, but the Reign X. In order of long travel XC to nearly DH, I would list them like this: BLT, 5.5, Reign, 6.6, Reign X, and Nomad. I would look on the burlier side just for durability issues. I wouldn't let weight be the first object on the list. That said, I think you can build a really sturdy Reign or Nomad in around the 36lb range and not have to worry about durability. I wouldn't look at a BLT or a 5.5 for you. For many of the same reasons listed above. The Reign is the place to start. I personally own a Reign. I really do feel like it fits right between the 5.5 and 6.6. Weight and geometry are right in the middle. Now as far as price goes, the Giant is a better bargain. The 6.6 is the beginning of the DH oriented line-up. The Reign X is on the DH side of things as well. The Nomad is a sweet bike, but I wouldn't want to pedal it around my local singletrack. I could probably say the same thing for the Reign X, but I am going by the number alone. In conclusion: I would look at the Reign and the 6.6. The Reign being the more XC of the two. If I had the $ to own a 6.6, I would have bought one in a second. The quality is first rate and the bikes are simply beautiful. But I look for the bargains and I got a whole '05 Reign (WW), a used '06 TALAS36RC2, and a new set of Crossmax SX wheels for the price of a 6.6 Frame. I can live with the difference. ;)

SIDE NOTE
Don't forget wheels. A stiff wheel will make a big difference in your riding. They also can make a bike feel like a tank. I recently shead a pound and a half off of my bike by changing the wheels/tires and boy did it make a difference on the climbs. Plus, I didn't sacrifice anything on the descents. It is a balancing act for this, too light and you will blow them up, too heavy and you will hate to climb. Think about some DH Mavics like 729's or 823's on the rim choice with a high quality hub. Never under estimate the wheel choice in building a bike up.
 

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Right now I'd choose from these bikes with the dual lower link pivot design...Nomad, Intense 6.6, Reign, or IH 6point6. I've ridden lots of different suspension designs, and I think the dual lower link produces magic in a long travel trail bike. The wheelpaths in the 4 bikes I just mentioned make riding a bigger hit bike on the trails a lot easier than most people think. I have a 34 pound Nomad and a 33 pound Bullit with almost identical components. The Nomad seems to drop 4 pounds as soon as you start pedaling. Going downhill, uphill, or flat, the Nomad gets up and goes. When you hit rock gardens, ledges, and pitchups, these dual link bikes display a real quality of maintaining momentum without feeling harsh IMO. No, I can't recite an engineering principal as to why this accomplishes this, but most people who have spent any time on these dual link main pivot designs can attest to it. It's one reason you hear so many people trying to turn their VP Frees into trail bikes. The suspension design allows that heavier, longer travel bike to almost achieve trail bike performance.
 

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At your weight and what you are looking for I'd definitely go 6.6 or Nomad. The Reign is nice and "looks" cheaper in theory but with a 6.6 or Nomad you could build the bike so that it fits your budget while selection components that will support your weight. With the Reign, you might pay a few hundred less up front but endup changing several components short term...

Now as far as the ride well I'm riding a Nomad and can tell you it will fit the bill for what you are looking for. I've never tried or seen the 6.6 but I was considering it big time and it took me at least 2 months or reading and playing with a geometry Excell worksheet before deciding on the Nomad. I think they are both excellent but the geometry of the Nomad was better suited for what I was looking for. What surprised me the most is how good it is for climbing.

By the way, tscheezy mentioned leverage ratio, that is one thing I like of the Nomad.
 

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options

dirtdogg said:
someone your size might want to consider a 7point. They are built like tanks but pedal really well. Also the levareage ratio on 7points is more favorable for heavy riders.
the 7 point series is from iron horse, and they run the dw-link, a successful multi-link, as well. i've heard about some bearing reliability problems w/ the nomad, but i'm sure SC is working on that. the 6.6 would be next on the list, as quality control on Intense is reputed to be A-1 (not the steak sauce, either). the giant is a good choice too, but the difference would be: a really great bike for a little less, or a supreme bike for the bucks? your a$$ on it, your call, dude.
 

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6.6 is a great bike as I'm sure the Nomad is. I went with a 6.6 because I didn't want the slacker head tube angle the Nomad has and I think the Nomad is ugly. As far as wanting air shocks, with the 6.6 and a DHX air I run 195 psi in the main chamber and I am 165 lbs with gear. At 270 lbs you would easily exceed the pressure the shock can hold and probably still not have enough. Go coil. Most folks seem to feel that a DHX coil feels better than the air anyway (especially if you PUSH it). Perhaps the Manitou ISX6 can run lower pressures-G-Ryders bike sounds sweet.

Like others have said, if you want to do drops at your weight I wouldn't even consider a BLT/5.5 type bike.

Consider that my bike at 32 lbs is about 20% of my body weight. For you, at 270 lbs a 32 lb bike is 12%. My point being that you can build a slightly heavier/stronger bike and it would still be "light" for your body weight and shouldn't crumble.

I will defer to FoShizzle on how to build a really heavy bike (you can see his RFX on the Turner board).
 

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bridog said:
So of these options: Santa Cruz Blur LT, Nomad, Intense 5.5, 6.6, or Giant Reign, what do you all think will suit me best?
I was in the same boat as you last summer, looking at many of the same options. And I'm the same bodyweight, so I'll share some of my thought process. At first, I was looking at a bunch of bikes: Turner 5 Pack, Supermoto, Ventana X-5, 6.6, Nomad, Heckler...to be used for techy XC riding and mild FR antics, like you described...mostly small drops/jumps.

I was leaning towards 6" bikes from the start because I wanted additional travel for some of the rougher stuff and I wanted slacker geometry (particularly HTA) than the 69.5* that my Kona HT has.

I was unable to get a test ride on a Nomad, and it ended up getting dropped from my list. One of reasons was this statement from the Santa Cruz website:
"VPP bikes use a patented link configuration and axle path to apply some of the pulling force from the chain to counteract that motion caused by pedaling."​
The fact that chain tension is used to "stabilize" the suspension in some way made me nervous, and I was never able to find out if a rider my size would have problems either with the suspension or chain breakage due to the additional torque generated by a heavier/stronger rider.

The other thing is, if you're looking to run a Nomad with an air shock, at 270lbs you may be out of luck. According to the Nomad set-up webpage (which only goes up to 240lbs) at 270lbs a DHX Air will need 300psi to get proper sag. Not sure how well it'll function running at it's capacity like that. A coil shock will probably work, according to the chart a ~700lb spring will be needed.

I eliminated the Intense 6.6 and Giant Reign due to their high leverage ratio. I did demo a 2007 Reign XO with a DHX air rear shock, you can read my little ride report here. A short summary - it didn't play well with my weight.

I demo'd a Supermoto, which may be a little bit more bike than you're looking for, but I loved it. My review is here.

I also threw a leg over two different Specialized Enduro's, a 2004 base model (which I did not like at all) and a 2006 Expert model (which I did).

I ended up picking up a used 2002 RFX with 5" travel, which I'm still building up. As far a suspension performance and frame stoutness, I think this bike is gonna work out real well for me.

I'd suggestion that you try out as many bikes as you can, actually throwing a leg over some of these bikes really opened my eyes to what was going to work for a guy my size and what wasn't. I also realized that what worked for 230lb clydes will not necessarily work for 270lb clydes. There's a 40lb difference there, which is like a 160lb rider making recommendations to a 200lb rider. Things may not be end up being the same in terms of performance or component reliability. Just my opinion, of course.

bridog said:
And how about shock/fork recommendations. I'm open to all possibilities.
I've got a 2006 Mazocchi 66SL that I'm gonna run. It's got low pressure air chambers, which I liked (although I haven't had any problems with my "high-pressure" all-air RS Reba - other than it flexing like a wet noodle beneath me). Plus, the 66 was on closeout for (less than) the cost of a RS Pike. I've yet to ride it, so I can't comment on its performance.

I'm also going to get the Vanilla RC that's on my RFX tuned by Push Industries. They can custom valve it for your weight, and if there's anyone that needs a custom valved shock because of their weight it's us 270lb guys. ;)

I hope my post was helpful. If you haven't already, you may want to check out the clydesdale forum, you can find some "big-guy specific" help there. Good luck.
 

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BanzaiRider said:
At your weight and what you are looking for I'd definitely go 6.6 or Nomad. The Reign is nice and "looks" cheaper in theory but with a 6.6 or Nomad you could build the bike so that it fits your budget while selection components that will support your weight. With the Reign, you might pay a few hundred less up front but endup changing several components short term
Not necessarily true. I weighed 270 lbs without gear when I built up my Reign and it rode just fine. I am a very aggressive rider and I my only complaint was with the crappy Manitou Swinger 3-Way. I replaced it with a Fox Float and now it's awesome. I am down to 240 lbs now and don't deel a difference in the ride from when I was heavier. My shock set-up is different because I weigh less, but that is all.

Bridog won't have to worry about the Swinger, because the new Reigns come with Fox's. Giant also beefed up the bearings on the new models as well. They can take abuse too. I know a guy who rides his at the Southridge races.

I only have personal experience with the Reign, but, based on friends who ride the other bikes mentioned, concur with the above comments on the 5.5--too nervous, 6.6--awesome for your purposes, BLT--good bike, I have a 240+lb friend who rides his really hard and loves it, Nomad--nice bike but not as good a climber as the others, Reign--Beefy, solid, climbs superbly and descends like an animal, very underrated bike.
 

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DSDuke said:
Reign--Beefy, solid, climbs superbly and descends like an animal, very underrated bike.
I agree. Doesn't have the cachet of a boutique brand, but it blows me away every time I ride it. My Reign is built to be ridden hard at 35 lbs. and I can say that it can handle a lot more than people think. The Reign X is just a bit burlier with a similar chassis. Either way, I think the Reign is a hard deal to beat depending on what your budget is. I'd personally buy a 6.6 or a Nomad if I didn't prefer to use that money on my annual bike park pass and several summer bike trips.

Cheers,
EBX
 

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bigpedaler said:
...i've heard about some bearing reliability problems w/ the nomad, but i'm sure SC is working on that...

...the 6.6 would be next on the list, as quality control on Intense is reputed to be A-1...
SC now offers a lifetime warranty on all bearings (that is to say, free replacements for the life of the frame- some people report pivot lifespans of under 6 months, so that's good).

Intense has had a some pretty gnarly alignment issues reported around here.

Take home message: none are perfect, but most aren't total dogs either.
 

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BanzaiRider said:
At your weight and what you are looking for I'd definitely go 6.6 or Nomad. The Reign is nice and "looks" cheaper in theory but with a 6.6 or Nomad you could build the bike so that it fits your budget while selection components that will support your weight. With the Reign, you might pay a few hundred less up front but endup changing several components short term...

Now as far as the ride well I'm riding a Nomad and can tell you it will fit the bill for what you are looking for. I've never tried or seen the 6.6 but I was considering it big time and it took me at least 2 months or reading and playing with a geometry Excell worksheet before deciding on the Nomad. I think they are both excellent but the geometry of the Nomad was better suited for what I was looking for. What surprised me the most is how good it is for climbing.

By the way, tscheezy mentioned leverage ratio, that is one thing I like of the Nomad.
bzzzt - no, the price difference is way more than "a few hundred" bux.
 

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I would look at the Intense 6.6. The geometry seems to be right where you want it. It can take the abuse you are going to throw at it, but still pedal up the hill nicely. Some have questioned the wheelpath of the VPP technology. I've found out that if you're in the right gear, VPP will help you pedal over rocky sections. You just don't want to, say, be in your 5th gear pedaling when you should be in your 3rd gear. I purchased 2 VPP bikes, before I had any affiliation to any bike company, and I'm a firm believer that this suspension design has benefits.

PCinSC has a good idea, too, in recommending you check out the clydesdale forum.
 
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