Mountain Bike Reviews Forum banner
1 - 20 of 20 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
341 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am looking for a light free ride bike that can be used for AM riding. I have a Heckler, but want something with a little more travel. Something between my Heckler and my DH bike. A 7" Nomad would be nice if they made one. I know the VP Free and Bullit are good down hill, but how do they pedal. Which one would be better on the climbs? I know it is kind of an apple v orange question. Any input would be great.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
126 Posts
If you're trying to keep it relatively light, the Bullit is considerably lighter than a VP Free, I think around 3 lbs (someone insert the correct difference). I have owned a Bullit and I think they climb incredibly well, esp. for a 7" travel bike. the Bullit jumps great too. Its biggest caveat is that the suspension stiffens up when braking, but I don't think that's a huge problem for a freeride bike. The suspension stiffens some when climbing too, esp. in the granny ring, but I think this is a plus for a 7" travel bike. Pedal bob should not be an issue with a decent shock.
I can't say much about the VP, no real riding experience on one. I wish SC made a 7" travel Nomad also.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
341 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
3 pounds is a lot for a bike that I will ride up hill. The Bullit might be the way to go. It is kind of like a burly Heckler. I just like the idea of a 7" VPP bike that can pedal up hill. I know the Uzzi is a 7" VPP, but $2,400 for a frame is almost a whole Bullit.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
264 Posts
VP Free Works, but Heavy

I own a VP Free and it weighs close to 40 lbs. While it is a great pedaling bike, it takes some effort to get it moving. It's one of the original builds and I'm running a Marzocchi 666, Singletrack rims, Panaracer 2.4 Firepro tires, XT gears, and Avid Juicy 7 brakes; so its not a hugely stout set-up. I added a Brake Therapy floating brake, which helped for the times I'm running through the pumice at Mammoth Mountain.

I've got no qualms about riding it cross country or uphill (Whistler, Mammoth, and Anderson Truck Trail in San Diego), but my Ellsworth ID (30 lbs) is a bit easier. I don't think I'd recommend the Ellsworth as a freeride bike though, as it is a bit too lightly built.

I love the VP Free when it gets into its freeride element.

I haven't ridden a Bullet, so I can't compare.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,731 Posts
I've owned both bikes: 04 Bullit, 06 VP Free which I still have. Here's my take: Bullit is a great bike with all around Geo. In spite of it's burly persona, the bullit is very much a long travel all mountain bike that can handle pretty much anything. I know people think of the Bullit as a heavy duty freeride bike, which it can handle heavy freeride, but with it's steep head angle, it's really an all mountain bike in my mind. The nomad has a 67 HA with a 160 fork compared to the Bullit's 67.5 HA with a 180 fork. That tells you something. I loved my bullit but it wasn't slack enough for me, enter the VP Free. Great bike! Slacker head angle and more travel make the free more capable on the steeps, at high speed, and in the chop. Don't get me wrong, the bullit is a bad ass bike, but if you want a free ride bike that can handle the super gnar, the VP Free is a better rig. It all boils down to personal preferance really. You can't go wrong with either bike, but in my opinion, the free is more capable when pointed down; the bullit climbs better because of the steeper HA I think, but VPP keeps the rear wheel planted better so pretty close there. Not trying to sell you anything, but my size M free frame is on ebay right now with a real low start bid. Only reason I'm selling is I need a size S not M. For some reason, santa cruz made the free in odd sizes? Size me is 17.5 with a 23TT compared to their normal 17 with 22.5 or 22.8TT for size M.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,731 Posts
Oh one more thing. I want to address the weight differances bettween bullit and free. Very little differance in frame weight, so it all comes down to build really. One reall cool thing about the free is you can run an 8.5x2.5 shock which will slacken it out a degree and lower the bb a bit and reduce the travel to 180mm. If you put an air shock of this size on a free the frame weight is pretty darn light. Couple this set up with a 36 float, or other air 160 fork and you could have a free in the low 30's easy. This is a popular modification, there's plenty of info on mtbr about this. I tried this set up minus the 160 fork, I ran a totem. It was WAY too slack for all around riding and I don't think you would like it at all coming off a heckler, but with a 160 fork?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
410 Posts
I had a 04' Medium free that was built DH with heavy 888 triple, heavy wheels 2.5 dh tires etc. It weighed 41lbs and was great going down but heavy to pedal. Now I have a 06' large built with short shock and 36float, still has dh wheels and brakes but weighs 36lbs (with GD not pictured) and pedals great up and down and has plenty of travel for anything in norcal. Finding that bigger isn't always better when it comes to mountain bikes. Go Free!:thumbsup: Good deals out there.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
341 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I like the short shock idea, but I want to run a Totem fork. What do you think the head angle would be with the VP Free-short shocked-Totem fork. I think a Bullit with a Totem is 67.5.
Just for fun I have used my DH bike on my local xc trails and the head angle (64.5) was not too bad. Of course at 44lbs and a single ring I pushed up the hills.
I forgot to mention that I plan on doing a couple of Sport class DH races with whatever bike I get, and I plan on selling my DH bike to help play for the new bike.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,731 Posts
DANG! Thats one good looking bike! So you don't have a short shocked bullit but a short shocked free. I see. I was going to ask what you though about short shocking a bullit, but I see that was a typo. I thought about short shocking my old bullit, but don't think it's a real option because it runs a 8.5 stock; next step down is too small and would proably cause the rear wheel to hit the seat tube? Works perfect with the free though! I never tried my shorty free with a 160 though. Looks like it would rip! I loved my shorty free with a 180, but size M is too big; I may in the future buy a size S Free and set it up like yours.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,731 Posts
I short shocked my free with a 180 totem and I would say it's too slack for all around riding. Just my presonal take on it; might not feel too slack for you? I would say stick with the stock 8.75 shock on a free if you want to run a 180 unless you want to REALY bias it towards DH.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
410 Posts
I agree with slimat99 if your going to run a 180 Totem stay with the stock 8.75 shock. My free with the 36 turns like my 08' Nomad did but anything longer and It would've felt to DH. I'm really impressed how the 36 handles everything I used to run with the bigger fork, Sure it may not get me out of a bind at the resorts on certain trails if I pick the wrong line but I think it's making me a better rider because of it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,731 Posts
I agree with the improving your skills with the 160 fork vs a 180. If you dial your lines, there's nothing a 36 or Lyrik can't handle really. Cool thing about a short shocked vp free with a 160 is it will be one pound lighter than a bullit with a 180 assuming everything else between the two bikes is the same, and your geo will be close. Actually I would think the shorty free would be slacker and a more capable DH rig in spite of the shorter fork. Travel in the back would be the same between a stock bullit and shorty free: 180mm. Then you can argrue vpp vs single piv. I personall like both, but do feel vpp performs better on the ups and downs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,427 Posts
That sir

scfreak said:
I had a 04' Medium free that was built DH with heavy 888 triple, heavy wheels 2.5 dh tires etc. It weighed 41lbs and was great going down but heavy to pedal. Now I have a 06' large built with short shock and 36float, still has dh wheels and brakes but weighs 36lbs (with GD not pictured) and pedals great up and down and has plenty of travel for anything in norcal. Finding that bigger isn't always better when it comes to mountain bikes. Go Free!:thumbsup: Good deals out there.
Is probably the best looking vp-free i've ever seen. :thumbsup:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
341 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I agree with the idea of using a 160mm to improve your skills, but I have a Heckler with a 160mm fork for that. I plan on using the new bike on my local trails and on the local DH course. I really want a Totem over a 160mm fork because I have a Boxxer on my DH bike and I bottom it out on the DH trails and I don't think a smaller fork is a good idea.
Thanks for all of the great input. I am leaning towards the Bullit, mostly because it souds like it would ride like a big Heckler.
But keep the info coming, I am not buying the bike till March.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
47 Posts
Wrench Monkey said:
A 7" Nomad would be nice if they made one.
Nomads are 6.5" and I doubt you'd ever notice the .5 inches. For reference I've owned all 3 bikes you mention in your original post. In my opinion, the Nomad, when spec'd properly can absolutely hang with the Bullit in the freeride department. Most people build them as AM so that's what they're known best for but with a coil shock, big fork, and sturdy wheels you can totally send it on a Nomad. The coil shock is really key - stay away from the air shocks on that frame if you're going to freeride with it. Santa Cruz actually used to offer the Nomad with their freeride build kit. Depending on what you plan of doing as far as freeriding, the Nomad is also a better jumper than the VP Free because it has shorter stays and a tighter geometry. Check this out...

http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=153695

For huge hucks and just plain going fast, the Free is awesome. It also has a HUGE margin of error when you're learning. But you need an aggressive riding style to get the most out of it. The short shock is an interesting idea but I have no personal experience with it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
82 Posts
Dibs said:
Nomads are 6.5" and I doubt you'd ever notice the .5 inches. For reference I've owned all 3 bikes you mention in your original post. In my opinion, the Nomad, when spec'd properly can absolutely hang with the Bullit in the freeride department. Most people build them as AM so that's what they're known best for but with a coil shock, big fork, and sturdy wheels you can totally send it on a Nomad. The coil shock is really key - stay away from the air shocks on that frame if you're going to freeride with it. Santa Cruz actually used to offer the Nomad with their freeride build kit. Depending on what you plan of doing as far as freeriding, the Nomad is also a better jumper than the VP Free because it has shorter stays and a tighter geometry. Check this out...

http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=153695

For huge hucks and just plain going fast, the Free is awesome. It also has a HUGE margin of error when you're learning. But you need an aggressive riding style to get the most out of it. The short shock is an interesting idea but I have no personal experience with it.
Even at 6.3" the MK II can handle way more than 90% of the riders out there will ever throw at it. A big fork up front and a coil in the back, tough wheels and it is waaay into "freeride lite :rolleyes: " territiory.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
274 Posts
Nomad Margins

Dibs said:
Nomads are 6.5" and I doubt you'd ever notice the .5 inches. For reference I've owned all 3 bikes you mention in your original post. In my opinion, the Nomad, when spec'd properly can absolutely hang with the Bullit in the freeride department. Most people build them as AM so that's what they're known best for but with a coil shock, big fork, and sturdy wheels you can totally send it on a Nomad. The coil shock is really key - stay away from the air shocks on that frame if you're going to freeride with it. Santa Cruz actually used to offer the Nomad with their freeride build kit. Depending on what you plan of doing as far as freeriding, the Nomad is also a better jumper than the VP Free because it has shorter stays and a tighter geometry. Check this out...

http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=153695

For huge hucks and just plain going fast, the Free is awesome. It also has a HUGE margin of error when you're learning. But you need an aggressive riding style to get the most out of it. The short shock is an interesting idea but I have no personal experience with it.
Dibs - How is the margin for error while learning to free ride on a Nomad if it is spec'd for freeriding? (ie. coil rear and say 180mm single crown fork?)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
47 Posts
drew502 said:
Dibs - How is the margin for error while learning to free ride on a Nomad if it is spec'd for freeriding? (ie. coil rear and say 180mm single crown fork?)
I can't really speak from experience because I was already "in to it" when I got the Nomad. On jumps and drops with transitions it was awesome because of the lighter weight and compactness compared to the VP Free. If that's what you're doing it may actually be easier because the Free requires more speed and a more aggressive approach because of the long travel (e.g. really loading into the face of a jump). For bigger stuff and tough or flat landings the Free smoothed out a lot if you just sort of hung on so you didn't need any technique at all - just land on the wheels and you'd be fine. On my first "big" drop on the Free (about 7 feet) I swear I shut my eyes and waited for impact and I was totally fine. You can't really do that on a Nomad.

The toughest thing for me was mentally letting go with the Nomad. I knew it was smaller and lighter than the VP Free and that sometimes got in the way of riding it better. But to be clear, it handled some pretty aggressive riding just fine. If you're familiar with Diablo Freeride Park in NJ, the Nomad is capable of hitting everything there with no problem. Just make sure you stick the transitions.
 
1 - 20 of 20 Posts
Top