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Hey all,

Just working through replacing my current bike (Camber Expert) with a new ride - I am after something a bit quicker uphill and on the flat.

Riding here in NZ is mainly XC, even ndurance XC/all day with some trail over rocks/roots. I do a few races each year. Climbing and speed on the flat is where I am after my gains.

Have narrowed down new bike to 2 options:

New 2020 Epic Evo - GX 12 spd, 120mm Fox 34 SC Perf - have ridden on a couple of my local routes; liked how it rode - much more snappy and responsive than the Camber, but yes wasn’t as plush over bumps and down technical sections. Noticed the brain ‘clunk’ a little bit I think I’m ok with it.
Happy with what I think it can do and opportunity to lose some weight from it. Local dealer is really great, a real gem.

Used 2018 Rocky Mountain Element C90 XCO - XTR11 spd + 100mm 32 SC Factory - only ridden around the car park. Was very light (10.4kg - circa 1.5kg less than Epic) and in great order, very well maintained - seller is National XC champion and ranked reasonably highly internationally in XC.
Thinking the 32 SC fork may be a little short for some of my ‘general’ riding and being a couple of years old no warranty on this bike.

I would probably look to buy a 34 fork and keep the 32 for flat XC races.

It is however about 1/2 - 2/3 the price of the new Epic.

What would you lot do in my circumstances - new or used?
 

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Elitest thrill junkie
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I wouldn't ever buy a specialized epic with a brain, it's a band-aid fix that often goes wrong. A good modern shock with a lockout, especially a remote lock out, is a better solution. You can turn the lockout on for the smooth climbs and flats, turn it off for the gnarly sections. Some XC races are so rough that I rarely use it, while in some it's a critical piece of equipment for me to be competitive (dirt crit). At lower levels of competition, like cat 2 and 3, a lockout/brain is a lot less important, as in it won't be a deciding difference for anything. That will be more up to your fitness. The Epic is a lot better, now that it is essentially a seatstay pivot bike and has a much better anti-squat profile as a result, but at these low-travel amounts the type of suspension doesn't make as much of a difference, lockouts and low travel/light weight equalize a lot here. The RM has a very good efficiency profile as well. I am fine with 11 speed on my race rig, 12 speed is heavier and I don't need those gears on such light and snappy rig. If the RM is well maintained as you say, I don't see the Epic being a great value for 2x the cost. I know plenty of guys that race those RMs and they do well.
 

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If you are just riding and not racing, I would recommend you buy a trail bike instead of an XC bike. They are so much more enjoyable to ride. That last two degrees of head angle is a lot. It will probably have shorter chainstays as well. If the choices were limited to the two bikes mentioned, I would buy the used bike. Maybe most of us are buying "too much" bike but I've never been going down a gnarly section of trail while tired, made a poor line choice and said to myself "I wish this bike was 5 pounds lighter and had twitchier steering." Granted the newest XC bikes have way more capability and stability than old ones, but the point still stands--most of us are best on a trail machine.
 

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Elitest thrill junkie
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If you are just riding and not racing, I would recommend you buy a trail bike instead of an XC bike. They are so much more enjoyable to ride. That last two degrees of head angle is a lot. It will probably have shorter chainstays as well. If the choices were limited to the two bikes mentioned, I would buy the used bike. Maybe most of us are buying "too much" bike but I've never been going down a gnarly section of trail while tired, made a poor line choice and said to myself "I wish this bike was 5 pounds lighter and had twitchier steering." Granted the newest XC bikes have way more capability and stability than old ones, but the point still stands--most of us are best on a trail machine.
I saw this:

I would probably look to buy a 34 fork and keep the 32 for flat XC races
And assumed that he was going to use it for racing and XC riding. A bike like these is excellent for this use. I do the same thing, switch out for a 32 SC for most of my XC races, except the longer (100 mile) stuff, and the 34 SC stays on for most training and recreational riding on the same bike. In some places, a bike like this is also all you need in terms of travel, put a dropper on it and it'll do everything within hundreds of miles. In other cases, yes a trial bike is the right bike for most people, but again, he did say XC racing and nothing goes like an XC racing bike IME.
 

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Riding here in NZ is mainly XC, even ndurance XC/all day with some trail over rocks/roots. I do a few races each year. Climbing and speed on the flat is where I am after my gains.
Since this is what you want don't get trail bike. You already have one in the Camber. Get a race bike. I have a 2018 epic and love it. I put a 100mm Fox 32 SC fork on it and use it for XC racing, Endurance racing and general trail riding. It can do most anything I ask of it. The Epic frame can be build very light. Mine is built to 10.0 kg without a dropper post. It is about 10.2 with a dropper. I am running XX1 1spd drivetrain and Next SL carbon cranks with DTSwiss XMC 1200 wheelset. The Rocky Mtn is top notch build with XTR. I did not cross shop the element when I got my epic but it seems like good race bike. Personally I like how the brain works on the epic, but at the price I would look closely at the Element.
 

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The element and an option to use a 34 fork for non-race rides seems like the best bet here. I've owned a few Elements in my day and always keep coming back to them for blending XC race with trail capabilities.
I don't race anymore, which is why I don't have one at the moment, I now ride an efficient trail bike, but if i had your choices, I'd go with the element for sure (or new Norco Revolver)
 
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