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OK , here goes. So about 2 years ago my trusty Giant Trance got stolen (may she rest in peace). It had been a good bike and as soon as I was done being appropriately mad I saw the silver lining that was *gasp* TIME FOR AN UPGRADE! After much shop visiting , forum lurking , demo rides and just trying to make up my damn mind I finally settled on a Transition Scout GX. I've put in a nice amount of miles on it and its been a pretty solid performer and was a pretty big step up from the old Trance. However , 2 things got me thinking.

#1 : Someone I ride with just got a new Stumpjumper (don't remember exactly which variant) and I got the chance to swing a leg over it for a few miles of single track. I came away fairly impressed with how well it handled but especially how well it climbed , even considering the drivetrain differences (Scout has a 50t vs 46 on the stumpy).

#2 : I've finally decided I'm ready to take the plunge / drink the cool aid and go carbon. I'm in a job situation thats rewarding financally but is highly challenging and taxing emotionally , to which I have turned to exercise and being outdoors as therapy. So the extra cost of carbon is something I'm starting to view as an investment and not a cost.

All of that being said , I've narrowed my new bike browsing down to 3 bikes. I'm looking at Specialized Stumpjumper ST Expert 27.5 , Santa Cruz 5010 (carbon S build) , and the Salsa Rustler GX. If you've got insight or expirence in any or a combination of those 3 bikes , lets hear it. What say you MTBR?! And much thanks ahead of time!
 

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They are all awesome and you can't go wrong, really. If you can demo, that's the best way to decide, but I know that isn't always possible. So here's some more info.

Santa Cruz warranty dept is amazing so that's a factor.

I've ridden the stumpy and the 5010 and they both pedal well. Stumpy is a bit better going down and 5010 a bit better going up.

Other than that, I'd probably decide based on price and components.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
 

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I've got a 2019 Expert Stumpy ST29. I have played around on a SC Tallboy and a Jet9 RDO but haven't ridden the other bikes you mentioned. Came off a built up 2013 Camber. I was expecting the Stumpy to descend better and it does-with a lot more confidence. Any of the bike you mentioned will probably do that though. The technical climbing is what surprised me. Right off the bat, I was climbing better. I do know a guy that switched from a 5010 to a Stumpy for it's climbing ability.
 

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I've ridden the V2 5010 and the newest Stumpjumper. Out of those two, the 5010 was my favorite. In fact, I think the V2 5010 is my favorite full suspension bike I've ever ridden, but I also really enjoyed the Pivot Switchblade. The Stumpjumper I'd lump into a large category in the middle compared to all of the bikes I've ridden. I could probably have a blast on either one just about anywhere. In fact, I'd ride either one on the rowdiest terrain I have the balls to ride, and while the 5010 (which had 27.5x2.5 tires) was much snappier to me, both are quality bikes.

I have ridden newer 29ers and my once-hatred for them was probably overblown, even though I'm a smaller rider, but I get the vibe that when riding them, I just tend to prefer the shorter tires, perhaps because fewer compromises are necessary for me to fit on them.
 
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