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OK, I've finally given in and am moving from my hardtail to full suspension. Now that I'm 33 years old I am looking for something easier on my back during long rides. That said, I do not want to sacrifice a lot of weight for more comfort. However, I am willing to sacrifice some weight if I can climb and descend faster. I've narrowed it down to three top contenders - Blur, Truth, and Epic. I am a big guy, 6'3" 195 lbs, and do cross country training and racing. I am NOT into big drops or jumps, but I do like to climb fast and want to descend faster than I can on my hardtail. Additionally, I like logging in long mileage rides. Suggestions? I have always been satisfied with Specialized (how can you go wrong?), but have heard good things about the Ellsworth Truth, and the Santa Cruz Blur has gotten good pub lately too (and it's $500 cheaper). What are yor impressions of any or all of the frames/bikes I am interested in? Thanks.
 

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bonkin' clyde
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Blur!!!

Man start from the Blur. My namesake...it is a [email protected] bike, hands down...The Truth is really good too, but I'd hate to do too much to it man its expensive...the Epic is actually a very close second but very expensive as well, besides, I've heard (and read) mixed feelings about the Brain shock stuff. But for good XC, plus light DH, the blur is perfect...its very upgradable, and if you put a 5th element in back and Fox up front, man you've got the best backpain releiver that FS can offer. If you're heavy, I've heard PUSHing your suspension will really make a difference.
 

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none of the above?!

Let it be known that I currently ride a blur. That said I would reccomend a turner burner or the new flux when it comes out, or a titus racer x-100. I was duped in by the blur hype. Many people coming from the world of hardtails are afraid of active suspension, don't be. Once you learn how to ride it you will be much faster up and down. A lot of people don't understand the huge advantage of suspension while climbing moderately rough ground. A suspension bike allows the rider to remain seated spinning away in the saddle, pulling away from his hardtail mounted cohorts while they are bouncing in and out of the saddle trying to keep on line and hooked up. The problem with the blur is two-fold: first, the higher the chain tension the less active the suspension becomes-this is great for sprinting, but not good at all for steep singletrack climbing, essentially the suspension locks out right when you put the power down to get through a rough patch and you feel this through the pedals. Second, the blurs suspension wants to extend under braking this is scary and annoying.
A properly designed four-bar horst link bike's suspension is neutral to drivetrain forces and braking forces, therefore the suspension works full-time smoothing out the trail. The epic is an active bike design except that the brain locks out the shock itself most of the time, especially on steep climbs when the brain cylinder is angled back. If you are solely a hardcore racer then the epic maybe ok for you.
The truth is a horst bike sort-of, but since they were sued by specialised they have changed the design and now it brake jacks and is not as smooth as titus and turner. Truths are also notorious for problems, like breaking. Modern shock technology will take care of unwanted suspension movement on these bikes so do not worry too much about that. Read all you can on the manufacturers forums to get more info and then test ride everything. Make sure you hit bumps under power uphill and go down a steep hill and grab a handful of rear brake to see what the suspension does.
 

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barrows said:
Let it be known that I currently ride a blur. That said I would reccomend a turner burner or the new flux when it comes out, or a titus racer x-100. I was duped in by the blur hype. Many people coming from the world of hardtails are afraid of active suspension, don't be. Once you learn how to ride it you will be much faster up and down. A lot of people don't understand the huge advantage of suspension while climbing moderately rough ground. A suspension bike allows the rider to remain seated spinning away in the saddle, pulling away from his hardtail mounted cohorts while they are bouncing in and out of the saddle trying to keep on line and hooked up. The problem with the blur is two-fold: first, the higher the chain tension the less active the suspension becomes-this is great for sprinting, but not good at all for steep singletrack climbing, essentially the suspension locks out right when you put the power down to get through a rough patch and you feel this through the pedals. Second, the blurs suspension wants to extend under braking this is scary and annoying.
A properly designed four-bar horst link bike's suspension is neutral to drivetrain forces and braking forces, therefore the suspension works full-time smoothing out the trail. The epic is an active bike design except that the brain locks out the shock itself most of the time, especially on steep climbs when the brain cylinder is angled back. If you are solely a hardcore racer then the epic maybe ok for you.
The truth is a horst bike sort-of, but since they were sued by specialised they have changed the design and now it brake jacks and is not as smooth as titus and turner. Truths are also notorious for problems, like breaking. Modern shock technology will take care of unwanted suspension movement on these bikes so do not worry too much about that. Read all you can on the manufacturers forums to get more info and then test ride everything. Make sure you hit bumps under power uphill and go down a steep hill and grab a handful of rear brake to see what the suspension does.
Hmmm...sounds like your review was taken from some other mags that doesn't really tell the true performance of the above mentioned bikes...
 

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I had the same set of choices at the beginning of this year; Spider XVP, Truth or Epic. I chose the Epic. 2004 S-Works Epic (frame only), in fact. I put a Fox F80X on the front and I'll tell you flat out that after riding and racing it for 5 months, I do not believe that there is a better cross country setup available.

Most people misunderstand the way the Epic suspension behaves. They assume that the ride would be very harsh and uncomfortable. Once the shocks pass their break-in periods, there is NO transition from hardtail to FS felt by the rider. If you have the sensitivity set properly, no bump is too small and there is no feeling of "impact-then-open" suspension. The ride on smooth ground feels so fast, efficient and powerful. Once you hit anything rough, the ride magically turns into something very plush and stays fully open until you're back on smooth ground. You glide over roots and rocks without noticing.

- Jeremy -
 

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Step back from the edge while you still can....

I experimented with full suspension in my late forties. Stepped over the edge and purchased my very own full suspension in my early fifties.

All I can say after four years of ownership is that $2000 was a heck of a lot of money to learn that hardtails are soooooo much more responsive and lighter than full suspension bikes.

But that's me and I don't seem to have the "back" problems every thinks I should have because I'm an old [email protected] All the suspension I need is in my 80 mm fork, steel frame, tires, saddle and legs (especially the legs).

You have been warned!
:)
 

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I'm partial & I'll say Blur - Especially the latest version with the new RP3 Fox rear shock & an improved rear swingarm. - The $2850.00 package bike is tough to beat when you look at what you're getting.
I'd buy an Aniversary Stumpy before I'd buy a bike that "Thinks" for me.
I'd never buy an Ellsworth due to company practices.

I work p/t in a shop and predominantly sell Santa Cruz's, we're bringing back SBI soon we stopped selling Ellsworth.

Look at the new 05' line too from Trek - Value & the best warranty going...... Man it's a great time to be getting into duallies - SO much good stuff out there......
 

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You also might want to consider a Stumpjumper FSR Expert. Great bike for the money. The Triad rear shock set on pro-pedal makes pedal bob pretty much a non-issue and you can lock it out if you want. For less than the additional cost of a Blur or Truth you could build up a killer set of light King/Mavic wheels and replace a few other stock Specialized parts (bar, stem, seatpost) with lighter ones and come out with very light plush bike with all the advantages of 4-bar linkage suspension.

If you want to look at Turner Burners, Supergo has the frames for $950, a smokin deal.

barrows said:
Let it be known that I currently ride a blur. That said I would reccomend a turner burner or the new flux when it comes out, or a titus racer x-100. I was duped in by the blur hype. Many people coming from the world of hardtails are afraid of active suspension, don't be. Once you learn how to ride it you will be much faster up and down. A lot of people don't understand the huge advantage of suspension while climbing moderately rough ground. A suspension bike allows the rider to remain seated spinning away in the saddle, pulling away from his hardtail mounted cohorts while they are bouncing in and out of the saddle trying to keep on line and hooked up. The problem with the blur is two-fold: first, the higher the chain tension the less active the suspension becomes-this is great for sprinting, but not good at all for steep singletrack climbing, essentially the suspension locks out right when you put the power down to get through a rough patch and you feel this through the pedals. Second, the blurs suspension wants to extend under braking this is scary and annoying.
A properly designed four-bar horst link bike's suspension is neutral to drivetrain forces and braking forces, therefore the suspension works full-time smoothing out the trail. The epic is an active bike design except that the brain locks out the shock itself most of the time, especially on steep climbs when the brain cylinder is angled back. If you are solely a hardcore racer then the epic maybe ok for you.
The truth is a horst bike sort-of, but since they were sued by specialised they have changed the design and now it brake jacks and is not as smooth as titus and turner. Truths are also notorious for problems, like breaking. Modern shock technology will take care of unwanted suspension movement on these bikes so do not worry too much about that. Read all you can on the manufacturers forums to get more info and then test ride everything. Make sure you hit bumps under power uphill and go down a steep hill and grab a handful of rear brake to see what the suspension does.
 

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Consider the intended use - other alternatives exist

Dirt Pilot said:
OK, I've finally given in and am moving from my hardtail to full suspension. Now that I'm 33 years old I am looking for something easier on my back during long rides. That said, I do not want to sacrifice a lot of weight for more comfort. However, I am willing to sacrifice some weight if I can climb and descend faster. I've narrowed it down to three top contenders - Blur, Truth, and Epic. I am a big guy, 6'3" 195 lbs, and do cross country training and racing. I am NOT into big drops or jumps, but I do like to climb fast and want to descend faster than I can on my hardtail. Additionally, I like logging in long mileage rides. Suggestions? I have always been satisfied with Specialized (how can you go wrong?), but have heard good things about the Ellsworth Truth, and the Santa Cruz Blur has gotten good pub lately too (and it's $500 cheaper). What are yor impressions of any or all of the frames/bikes I am interested in? Thanks.
Remember your intended use of the bike and what types of terrain you will be riding/racing. I'm in my early 40's and genrally lean toward high intensity rides versus much of any cruising or jumping. I almost got sucked into the full suspension thing because of my low back seeing all the hybe in MBA and other magazines.....finding myself wanting to have the next best thing. After trying out a 2004 Specialzed Epic and SC Blur I reflected on my advice in my first sentence above........so I took a $50 gamble (and only 200 gram weight penalty) and bought a Rockshox suspension seat post for my 19 lb hardtail......in my situation I now truely believe I made the right decision. But again - let your riding style, terrain, and other desires dictate (maintenance is another) - just be careful of what you see in those glossy magazines - often times that's not where and how I ride......
 

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In a different way, that is what I was saying.

I did let myself get sucked in and was never happy with the results. I felt the trade-offs I made for a full suspension bike were not worth the penalties. One area that I find/found especially distracting was the constant movement of the rear-end of the bike.

I am just not comfortable with this and, besides owning an I-Drive, I have ridden on dirt Blurs, Giant NRS, VT & AC, Specialized FSR, Santa Cruz Heckler and Superlights, the Instense VPP offerings and the Specialized Epic not to mention some older designs long gone. I've tied air shocks and coil shocks and platform shocks but no full suspension bike I have ever ridden eliminates the nagging feeling I get that the rear of the bike is doing its own thing and is not totally in my control.

I still have my FS but it gets ridden less and less these days. I'd kind of like to break the frame so I have an excuse to get another hardtail to put the parts on. Weird, I admit, or maybe just honest. I'm not at the point of taking the bike apart since it can be used as a loaner.

As a cross country rider (an old one as I've already admitted) who loves to climb and is not afraid of technical trails, I still find the light weight and "tossability" of an XC hardtail the best way to go (for me - you make your own choice).

It is important that with all the hype for FS you hear the other side of the story too than make a decision on what you like the best. What you like the best may not work the best but I sure as hell ride because I like it.

Peace
REV
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks guys!

All,

Thanks for your replies and insight. Truly an open debate on a great topic. Obviously much research to be done still. I will be sure to look at the alternatives - Stumpy FSR, Turner Burner, and Titus racex-100. I'm not ready to make a purchase yet, and have the luxury of time because I can still ride my lightweight hardtail. More than likely I will just by a frame and build it from there. Over the years I've accumulated enough parts for two bikes anyway. Thanks again!
 

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to each his own

Rev Bubba said:
I did let myself get sucked in and was never happy with the results. I felt the trade-offs I made for a full suspension bike were not worth the penalties. One area that I find/found especially distracting was the constant movement of the rear-end of the bike.

I am just not comfortable with this and, besides owning an I-Drive, I have ridden on dirt Blurs, Giant NRS, VT & AC, Specialized FSR, Santa Cruz Heckler and Superlights, the Instense VPP offerings and the Specialized Epic not to mention some older designs long gone. I've tied air shocks and coil shocks and platform shocks but no full suspension bike I have ever ridden eliminates the nagging feeling I get that the rear of the bike is doing its own thing and is not totally in my control.

I still have my FS but it gets ridden less and less these days. I'd kind of like to break the frame so I have an excuse to get another hardtail to put the parts on. Weird, I admit, or maybe just honest. I'm not at the point of taking the bike apart since it can be used as a loaner.

As a cross country rider (an old one as I've already admitted) who loves to climb and is not afraid of technical trails, I still find the light weight and "tossability" of an XC hardtail the best way to go (for me - you make your own choice).

It is important that with all the hype for FS you hear the other side of the story too than make a decision on what you like the best. What you like the best may not work the best but I sure as hell ride because I like it.

Peace
REV
Hey Rev,

I will respect your position as best I can. but... It sound as though you may not have spent enough time on a F/S bike to learn how to ride one. For me it took about half a season of riding it as my only bike before I was able to take full advantage of the additional speed available both up and down with full suspension. Now I am a full convert and will never go back. Every once in a while I take out my steel Kona HOT custom H/T and I cannot believe that anyone rides them anymore. The F/S bikes do require different riding techniques to get the most out of them. I once heard of the giant team doing tests of H/T vs F/S by comparing lap times and average heart rates for the same rider on the same course. The results were that the F/S times were lower AND at a lower average HR, eventhough the rider "felt" like the H/T laps were faster! This feeling may be what you are experiencing. IMO this feeling is the same as what happens when you drive a very nice car fast. Something like a BMW at 90 MPH "feels" slower than a Hyundai at 60.

to each his own though...it is always better to ride a bike than not, be it H/T, F/S, SS, or road
 

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test ride

Bullit_cn said:
Hmmm...sounds like your review was taken from some other mags that doesn't really tell the true performance of the above mentioned bikes...
Actually I own a blur, and I have test ridden all of the mentioned bikes: epic, truth, burner except the racer-x. On that one I admit to believing what others have said.
 

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Blur

I appreciate that you ride a Blur (me too), but the rear suspension does not extend when braking - it clearly has a bit of squat if anything. This may compromise braking traction over a slippery and rough trail compared to a Burner, but otherwise actually is a good trait because it enhances stability. I've tested the braking the braking of my Blur vs. my FSR and the Blur is better.

Anyway, my advice to anybody in the market for a bike is to test ride all your options and decide for yourself. And the Racer-X should certainly be added to the list of Burner, Truth and Blur.

barrows said:
Let it be known that I currently ride a blur. That said I would reccomend a turner burner or the new flux when it comes out, or a titus racer x-100. I was duped in by the blur hype. Many people coming from the world of hardtails are afraid of active suspension, don't be. Once you learn how to ride it you will be much faster up and down. A lot of people don't understand the huge advantage of suspension while climbing moderately rough ground. A suspension bike allows the rider to remain seated spinning away in the saddle, pulling away from his hardtail mounted cohorts while they are bouncing in and out of the saddle trying to keep on line and hooked up. The problem with the blur is two-fold: first, the higher the chain tension the less active the suspension becomes-this is great for sprinting, but not good at all for steep singletrack climbing, essentially the suspension locks out right when you put the power down to get through a rough patch and you feel this through the pedals. Second, the blurs suspension wants to extend under braking this is scary and annoying.
A properly designed four-bar horst link bike's suspension is neutral to drivetrain forces and braking forces, therefore the suspension works full-time smoothing out the trail. The epic is an active bike design except that the brain locks out the shock itself most of the time, especially on steep climbs when the brain cylinder is angled back. If you are solely a hardcore racer then the epic maybe ok for you.
The truth is a horst bike sort-of, but since they were sued by specialised they have changed the design and now it brake jacks and is not as smooth as titus and turner. Truths are also notorious for problems, like breaking. Modern shock technology will take care of unwanted suspension movement on these bikes so do not worry too much about that. Read all you can on the manufacturers forums to get more info and then test ride everything. Make sure you hit bumps under power uphill and go down a steep hill and grab a handful of rear brake to see what the suspension does.
 

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I'm with Motivated here.........The Blur does not Brake-Jack AND anyone with a decent spin will tell you there is NO feedback or stall felt through the pedals when climbing on a properly dialed setup.
 

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I don't ride a blur, but have test rode a couple. Frankly, I thought they felt great in and out of the saddle. The big problem I had with them was fit, the toptubes are to short for me.

As others have suggested, I would look at the Turner Burner and Titus Racer X 100/Hammerhead instead of the Ellsworth. Both are cheaper, arguably better bikes, and do not have the very high bottom bracket of the Truth. Also, as others have suggested, the Specialized stumpjumper may fit your needs better than the epic. I have also ridden an epic (extended off road ride on a demo model) and it is a nice bike, the lockout in the rear was tranparent, but lacked the climbing advantages that a fully active non-locked out FSR provide.
 

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I'd like to throw in one more vote for the Blur.. I'm 6'2" about 195 and ride a large with a 120mm stem. I find it very comfortable and I LOVE the ride.

I started out on FS about 1 1/2 yrs ago so I didn't have the "coming from HT and getting used to FS" condition some of you had. I tried a HT with a sus-post with an 80mm (being generous) fork and I didn't like it. When I stand up I don't want the seat to come up with me. Defeats the purpose of standing up (you don't get the same ass to seat clearance you would with a normal post). When you hit bumps, your seat height and leg extension constantly changes and I found that awkward. Also, the seat height rising made getting behind the saddle more difficult when decending. No thanks..
 

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I have owned 2 Epic Sworks. I can't imagine a better XC race bike. NO interaction btw pedaling and the rear shock. Not, only a little, or can be compensated for, but NONE. You must, however test ride one on the trail. You will feel the responsiveness and lateral rigidity of a hardtail but you will float magically above the bumps, yet will still feel connected to the trail. The faster you go, the better it feels. I assure you, it is active when climbing and you have no brake jack or clattering going down. I once had a Sugar and it often felt like a flexy hardtail braking for dh corners.

You should also consider reliability. My first Epic is still going strong after almost 2 years of racing. Bearings are still good, shock has never needed to be rebuilt. My 04 has the adjustble stock which makes trailriding much easier by turning the rear into a plush FSR that still locks out when needed. Too many forget that the Epic is not just good because it has an automatic lockout, its because whatever forces come from the rider are isolated from the suspension. I can't determine a transition from locked to unlocked. Now, on the Fox 80x, it is a pronounced feeling--not on my Epic.

That said, I would think the Intense Spider would be the better XC race bike than the Blur. It might be a better trailbike than the Epic. I doubt it is a better race bike. IMHO, the Blur is heavy. BTW, my Epic weighs a little less than 23 lbs (lg) with no stupid light componets. Frame = 5.6 lbs. (the same as my old Sugar)

You really should try all of these bikes in your size, set up for your weight and riding style on real trails. That might be difficult. Hope I helped.
 

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Four years is quite a long time to me.

I don't think I claimed to be faster on a hardtail (although I have had some satisfactory race results). I did say I had more fun on a hardtail or something like that.

I would much rather have a light and responsive bike that lets me know what is going on than one that "masks" the feeling of the trail. Rebound and bobbing, even in small amounts, take away from the quality of "MY" ride. It is, after all, my ride that matters to me. I'm not trying to convert anyone.

At 55 I definitely qualify as "not young" but I don't buy into the back hurts because you are over (pick a number) idea. I did a six hour ride at Jim Thorpe last week over classic eastern rocks and roots and felt no pain for my efforts. I ride up to 5 days a week on some pretty technical trails and if the rain holds off, I'll put in 3 hours on dirt tonight. From what I read, I'm a classic candidate for a full suspension bike but do just fine without it. No, make that I do better because my rides on full suspension are not filled with the pure joy I get from my hardtail.

I never rode BMX but I get the feeling that what I experience on my hardtail is similiar to the fun of riding a BMX.

Like you said, to each his own but don't accuse me of not giving it the time. Every one of FS bikes I listed had been ridden for multiple hour tryouts on dirt, not in a parking lot. I know what I'm talking about but more than anything, I have identifed what I like and am not afraid to go against the grain.
 
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