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Hello everyone! Been lurking for the last few months as I am buying my first new bike in over 20 years. I have been riding a 17.5" voodoo hoodoo for way to long. I have raced a little bit and am considering doing a little racing this fall. My dilemma is choosing between the 100mm verse 120mm of rear travel. I am 5'8" and 140lbs. I fit in both size charts for small and medium. Tested a medium 429 29er and it felt like a boat. Tried a small at the next demo and both bikes felt much better. Small allows me to body the bike easier. In the medium I felt like couldn't muscle the bike efficiently.

At first I rode the 429 trail and it was awesome. I felt like I was pretty convinced it would work well for me but it was love love love at first ride. For a comparison I asked for an XC bike and they gave me the new Mach 4 SL. Hot damn! I had much more of a love feeling mostly attributed to the weight difference. This bike was insanely responsive and gave me a more detailed ride then the 429. I did a 3ft drop accidentally and though I was gonna be effed but landed it (smashed my nuts) and rode away. This was the only moment I felt like the 429 would have been much better suited. Everything else I came up against the Mach 4 SL was simply faster or as fast as the 429. I felt like the 429 felt duller. I don't feel like I came close to reaching the end of the travel at an single point even when jumping a bit. The reach and shock settings were basically the same but I felt like the Mach Trail SL responded much better to my body input. It seemed to be quite comfy as well.

Do you think the fact that I am a light for my height makes the 429 a touch to much bike for me on the XC? The Mach 4 felt so much lighter but descended great for me. I was not on some blistering trail but it was a mix of really bike chunky rocks, smooth dirt, and looser small rocks. I am pretty sure I bottomed out the bike on the biggest drops.

Also, I am turning 40. Will my body ultimately thank me for a more forgiving bike or will I get gassed with the heavier/slightly less efficient climbing capabilities of the 429.

All signs say I should be on the Mach 4 SL but people keep pushing me towards the 429 saying it can do more. I will be hitting some ski resorts and the White Mountains of NH where my family lives. Mainly riding PA/NJ.

Thanks for reading all of this!
 

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I think given what you have been on that it will be hard to adjust after a ride or so as the geo is so different-----if you can go ride again ----both are super bikes---the 4 should be lighter and more race oriented and the 429 should be more capable---both should climb great compared to other brands. In the end buy what you like---take all advice for what it is worth which tends to be not much-
 

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If you liked the 4Sl for 90% of your riding and felt it didn't give up too much it's probably the better choice for you. Both are great bikes, but consider what you will be getting for the majority of your day-to-day and don't worry about those 10% "what-if" scenarios.
Worse case you can always rent a bike if you need more travel or take a trip out to a steeper/chunkier trail centre.
 

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Elitest thrill junkie
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I have 429SL, I’m about to go ride it, I wouldn’t own it as my “one bike” though, just not enough travel and capability for varied trails. 120mm is a sweet spot for 29ers. I XC race though so the shorter travel bike is good for that.
 
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