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I am in the market for a new bike after riding my Santa Cruz Superlight (SL) for four years. I want the best climbing bike that I can get because that's how I spend most of my time while riding. The Superlight is a very good climbing bike, but it is sketchy in the rocks. So the new bike has to climb as good or better than the SL, and it should handle the rough stuff better.

The bikes on my list include: Turner Burner & Five Spot, Blur, Marin Wolf Ridge, Specialized Enduro, Intense 5,5 or Tracer (I found a new one). I am 5'9" and I weigh about 175. I am considering a coil rear end (not on the Blur of course).

Currently, I am in the process of doing a lot of test rides this summer. I am heading up to Tahoe for a ride on a Five Spot in the next few weeks.

The off the rack bikes like Giant are so ugly, that they are not on my list. There are a couple of Specialize models in grey and black that I could live with, and the Santa Cruz can be bought polished, which would enable removal of all decals.

Thanks for your help.
 

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Well out of the list you have I havent tried any of those bikes. I do have a 5 Spot on order though and just from the reports I read and the listed reveiws I dont think it will be a bad choice. I have heard things that are negitive about the 5.5, there are lots of happy Blur riders out there but for me I dont want to be limited to a 100mm fork, and a air shock, plus there are a few reports of linkage brackage. I have ridden a Yeti 575, the ride is super smooth and climbs great. The reason I mentioned the 575 is a freind just got one and his last ride was a SC SL, he got a med frame, and is about your size. He loves the way it climbs, but you are still limited to a air shock.
If you have the money, I think a 5 Spot will be hard to beat.
 

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Maverick ML7

zkampyman said:
I am in the market for a new bike after riding my Santa Cruz Superlight (SL) for four years. I want the best climbing bike that I can get because that's how I spend most of my time while riding. The Superlight is a very good climbing bike, but it is sketchy in the rocks. So the new bike has to climb as good or better than the SL, and it should handle the rough stuff better.

The bikes on my list include: Turner Burner & Five Spot, Blur, Marin Wolf Ridge, Specialized Enduro, Intense 5,5 or Tracer (I found a new one). I am 5'9" and I weigh about 175. I am considering a coil rear end (not on the Blur of course).

Currently, I am in the process of doing a lot of test rides this summer. I am heading up to Tahoe for a ride on a Five Spot in the next few weeks.

The off the rack bikes like Giant are so ugly, that they are not on my list. There are a couple of Specialize models in grey and black that I could live with, and the Santa Cruz can be bought polished, which would enable removal of all decals.

Thanks for your help.
You may want to consider the Maverick ML7. I to love to climb and so far no complaints going up hill.
I'm 5'7" at 150lbs and running a small sized frame
 

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Spider XVP

zkampyman said:
I am in the market for a new bike after riding my Santa Cruz Superlight (SL) for four years. I want the best climbing bike that I can get because that's how I spend most of my time while riding. The Superlight is a very good climbing bike, but it is sketchy in the rocks. So the new bike has to climb as good or better than the SL, and it should handle the rough stuff better.

The bikes on my list include: Turner Burner & Five Spot, Blur, Marin Wolf Ridge, Specialized Enduro, Intense 5,5 or Tracer (I found a new one). I am 5'9" and I weigh about 175. I am considering a coil rear end (not on the Blur of course).

Currently, I am in the process of doing a lot of test rides this summer. I am heading up to Tahoe for a ride on a Five Spot in the next few weeks.

The off the rack bikes like Giant are so ugly, that they are not on my list. There are a couple of Specialize models in grey and black that I could live with, and the Santa Cruz can be bought polished, which would enable removal of all decals.

Thanks for your help.
How about an Intense Spider XVP? I have found them to be the best climbers and you can get out of the saddle and crank! You'll want that little sprint ability in some of the uphills you're doing, right? I've ridden everyone of those frames and there's been only one frame that has proven to be the best climber and that's the Spider XVP. You'll get the same feeling in the 5.5. That sprint feeling is pretty groovy I think and the price is right too.

D.
 

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zkampyman said:
I am in the market for a new bike after riding my Santa Cruz Superlight (SL) for four years. I want the best climbing bike that I can get because that's how I spend most of my time while riding. The Superlight is a very good climbing bike, but it is sketchy in the rocks. So the new bike has to climb as good or better than the SL, and it should handle the rough stuff better.

The bikes on my list include: Turner Burner & Five Spot, Blur, Marin Wolf Ridge, Specialized Enduro, Intense 5,5 or Tracer (I found a new one). I am 5'9" and I weigh about 175. I am considering a coil rear end (not on the Blur of course).

Currently, I am in the process of doing a lot of test rides this summer. I am heading up to Tahoe for a ride on a Five Spot in the next few weeks.

The off the rack bikes like Giant are so ugly, that they are not on my list. There are a couple of Specialize models in grey and black that I could live with, and the Santa Cruz can be bought polished, which would enable removal of all decals.

Thanks for your help.
The only problem with bikes with travel longer than 4 inches for climbing is the added weight of the frame needed to hold up to added stresses of long travel. And it's tempting to put much heavier big wheels on the longer travel bikes to better use the longer travel.

I talked with a guy on a 5-Spot who previously had a Tracer and he said the Spot was a more confidence inspiring bike in the rough but it was slower climbing and not as quick or easy to handle in the tight switchback singletrack trails we have.

If you aren't in a hurry to climb, some of the more advanced 4 - 6 inch adjustable travel bikes with platform suspension or damping would be the way to go. I'm most impressed with the Marin Wolf Ridge (4- 6 inch) or Titus Switchblade (5.5) for efficient pedaling and plush suspension, and adjustable geometry using an adjustable travel fork to steepen the frame angles for climbing efficiency. The 5-Spot (or the Moment, a near clone of the 5-Spot) would be a top choice too with an adjustable travel fork. An Iron Horse Hollowpoint is also an exceptionally efficient pedaling and plush and a well balanced handling design.

The VPPs are much smoother feeling in rough terrain than a Superlight and very similar quick acceleration response, but the VPP's do have more pedal stalling chain tension effects than the others when slower climbing in rocks. You should test ride a Blur and do some climbing with it in rougher terrain and compare to some of the others on the list. All the VPP's have very well balanced handling too.

I've been on a Tracer for almost 3 years after 2 years on a Superlight, and the Tracer feels so much smoother and handles as good as it gets for 4-inch travel. But I've been spoiled by a few rides on longer more plush travel efficient pedaling designs, particularly the Wolf Ridge, So I think I'd buy a bike now with 4 - 6 inch travel with and adjustable travel fork (Minute 1, coil). And maybe have two wheelsets, a light weight climbing set and a bigger wheel set for more heavy duty desert and bike-park use. I'd add a Brake Therapy floating rear brake system on the Wolf Ridge to maintain the subtle better rear braking I've become accustomed to with the Tracer, or throw down for the long travel Switchblade-Talas. And replace the dead feeling Talas fork with a Minute-1. But the adjustable handling Tracer does everything I need really well so I'll probably wait a year or two before getting longer travel XC.

You are doing the best thing by test riding many top designs first.

-ray
 

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I was in the same boat...

I looked for about 3mos. and finally decided on the Intense 5.5. I was riding a Trek STP400 soft tail. It was an amazing climber but took alot of intense concentration when decending. The Intense only looses a small amount to the Trek in the climbs and descents that had me grabbing brakes and skidding out of control, are nothing but a huge bundle of cushioned momentum. The 5 inches of travel really smooths out most of the rough stuff and I actually find myself taking the harder lines instead of searching for the smoothest way down. One of my main goals was to keep close to the same climbing performance and still gain confidence for going down. So far I am very happy. I rode a 5-Spot, a Santa Cruz Heckler, looked at the Blur, I also rode the Specialized Enduro and Stumpjumper. The Stumpjumper was pretty darn nice but I had my head pretty set on 5 inches of travel. I am only 2weeks into 5.5 ownership but so far I am very happy. Take your time and one will rise to the top. Of the bikes you are looking at I don't think you can make too bad of a choice.

Craig
the Gorge
 

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well i just got a RM slayer, and i have yet to get it to bob sitting down, but if you like to stand up and hammer it will bob a little. but on the other hand the slayer makes up for any down sides climbing going down. also, even though mines almost 30 lbs it handles and rides like a much smaller lighter bike (i have the 20.5 size)
 

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coil rear shock...

"The bikes on my list include: Turner Burner & Five Spot, Blur, Marin Wolf Ridge, Specialized Enduro, Intense 5,5 or Tracer (I found a new one). I am 5'9" and I weigh about 175. I am considering a coil rear end (not on the Blur of course)."

Are you saying the Marin and Intense 5.5 can take a coil rear shock?

I know both Turner's, the Enduro and Tracer can handle a coil rear but I though the Marin was air shock only due to the falling rate. Not really sure about the Intense.

I'm in a similar boat as you. I need something that can climb loose, rocky terrain but prefer a coil rear for multiple reasons.

I'm leaning towards the Burner w/4" rockers due to the geometry and the un-interupted seat tube. But I have no practical experience to make such a recommendation.
 

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the best climbing bike for YOU will depend on how you climb, what technique you use, what pedaling style you use, whether you stand or sit on most climbs. try to find opinions from people who climb most like you, and you'll have better luck.

I really like my Ventana X-5, but I'm a very steady cadence pedaler who climbs with a light touch on the pedals. Some folks complain about the Ventana design giving lots of feedback on the pedals while climbing. I don't notice it at all.
 

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zkampyman said:
I am in the market for a new bike after riding my Santa Cruz Superlight (SL) for four years. I want the best climbing bike that I can get because that's how I spend most of my time while riding. The Superlight is a very good climbing bike, but it is sketchy in the rocks. So the new bike has to climb as good or better than the SL, and it should handle the rough stuff better.

The bikes on my list include: Turner Burner & Five Spot, Blur, Marin Wolf Ridge, Specialized Enduro, Intense 5,5 or Tracer (I found a new one). I am 5'9" and I weigh about 175. I am considering a coil rear end (not on the Blur of course).

Currently, I am in the process of doing a lot of test rides this summer. I am heading up to Tahoe for a ride on a Five Spot in the next few weeks.

The off the rack bikes like Giant are so ugly, that they are not on my list. There are a couple of Specialize models in grey and black that I could live with, and the Santa Cruz can be bought polished, which would enable removal of all decals.

Thanks for your help.
I have the 02' Marin Attack Trail, which is the same frame as the Wolf Ridge, and an 03 Banshee Chaparral. They both have a Romic rear shock, but the Chaparral climbs MUCH, MUCH better in the 6" travel than the Marin set at 4" even though the Chaparral weighs a good 5-6 lbs. heavier. Don't know much about the 04 Marin lineup though. The suspension design is completely different. They switched to a multilink design.

Duc
 

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Titus?

Have you considered the Titus Switchblade or Racer X-100? Both are excellent climbers and should handle rough stuff better than the SL. Out of your list, I would get the Intense 5.5 or Turner 5 spot.
 

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Went from Racer-X to 5-spot

To be honest there is no way a 30lb bike is faster uphill than a 23lb bike, simple physics. But if the climb is technical with steps and loose stuff, those wide tires and supple coil sprung suspension will give you more traction, and riding is faster than walking!
The Turner is great at seated technical climbing and descending, but I wouldnt classify it as a "fast" climber.
I would let the kind of terrain you ride the most factor into the equation, if you dont have problems cleaning the climbs on your current rides I would consider one of the lighter air shocked XC bikes, Burner, Blur, Racer-X 100, Tracer etc. If you want to be able to clean those nasty tech. sections and haul a*rse through them coming down, then coil sprung bikes like the 5-spot, el-chamuco etc would be a great choice.
 

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I've got a Burner

and it is a good climbing bike. I'm only average in that department and it does more to make me better than I would have suspected. You can get the supergo deal for 950 plus another 150 or so for the 4" rockers. I can say that at the price you will never regret the Burner.
 

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Agreed...

gonzostrike said:
the best climbing bike for YOU will depend on how you climb, what technique you use, what pedaling style you use, whether you stand or sit on most climbs. try to find opinions from people who climb most like you, and you'll have better luck.

I really like my Ventana X-5, but I'm a very steady cadence pedaler who climbs with a light touch on the pedals. Some folks complain about the Ventana design giving lots of feedback on the pedals while climbing. I don't notice it at all.
Very well said. My recent chronology of general use bikes (ie, not my big hit bike) starts with a S-works FSR, Tracer, and now X-5. Since "best climbing" is indeed relative, I also think of best climbing in terms of what terrain you are talking about climbing in addition to the factors gonzostrike points out. For example, for long fire-road climbs, my S-works was the best....for singletrack climbs up to moderate technical difficulty, the Tracer wins.....but for technical and real steep and especially rutty climbs, the X-5 is far superior. My decision on new bike had a lot to do with how it would climb real steep technical / rutty stuff and I could not find a better climber than the X-5. The X-5 climbs everything well as far as I am concerned but for me, the advantage on the tough stuff (which gives me the most joy when clearing :D ) leaned me towards the X-5. I love the bike and I considered every bike out there (though I cant honestly say I had the chance to ride them all).

Bottom line at the end of the day, in my opinion, is that if you get in really good shape you will climb well on anything. I have friends who could pass me up hill on a tricycle. Golf clubs have supposedly evolved over the years but average scores have not changed much.........
 

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FoShizzle said:
For example, for long fire-road climbs, my S-works was the best....for singletrack climbs up to moderate technical difficulty, the Tracer wins.....but for technical and real steep and especially rutty climbs, the X-5 is far superior. My decision on new bike had a lot to do with how it would climb real steep technical / rutty stuff and I could not find a better climber than the X-5. The X-5 climbs everything well as far as I am concerned but for me, the advantage on the tough stuff (which gives me the most joy when clearing :D ) leaned me towards the X-5. I love the bike and I considered every bike out there (though I cant honestly say I had the chance to ride them all).
kinda helps to know where your rear wheel is when it's choppy & rough, eh? that's my favorite part of riding the X-5 -- the surefooted rear lets me pick tight lines that required more guesswork with prior FS rigs. the only bike I've ridden that is as good while feeling a bit more progressive is my Banshee Scream w/ Fox Vanilla RC ProPedal
 

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Flying Wombat said:
But if the climb is technical with steps and loose stuff, those wide tires and supple coil sprung suspension will give you more traction, and riding is faster than walking!
I can definately walk faster uphill than riding, and frequently do!! I suck at climbing and usually just run it up the hill as it takes a shitload less energy -for me - haha!!

as far as the best bike....just keep on riding demo's till you find one YOU like.
 

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New ride

Unless you race go with the 5 Spot. It's better than my old 99 Truth and 03 Blur except on pavement because it's the only one that stays in contact with the ground on rough terrain. I would stay away from interupted seat tube designs because they are inherintly weak designs. Allmost every frame I've seen break was an interupted seat tube style, including 3 of the 4 I've broken, the other one that I broke and the vast magority of the non interupted frames that I've seen break were mono frames. Foes, Mt cycle, Intense etc. On top of the interupted frame weakness is the fact that seat tube clearence can be tight, especially if you run a resevior shock. I've seen several damaged seat posts and more importantly damaged shocks.
 

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Do check out the Maverick ML7, w/ fork too

That's what I have, and after riding a half dozen FS XC setups over the past several years, it's by far the best climber, especially technical ugly climbs. Not the best downhiller but definately the best climber. If you can save elsewhere to get the Maverick fork, do that too.

Just my two cents.
 
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