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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am switching to 29er :). I have 3-4K budget and considering the following options

Niner Air 9 Carbon
Niner Air RDO
Santa Cruz Hardball
Intense Hard Eddie
Scott Scale 910

All bikes with XT build kit and either Fox 32 float 100 or Rockshox SID XX

I am 5'10" 225 lbs, ride trails in Santa cruz mountains or Lake Tahoe.

Please comment on the frame/geometry/stiffness....
Intense is going to be the most expensive and the Scott the cheapest of these options.

I am probably buy the bike prebuilt from a dealer and not going to build it myself (will be more expensive :-( )
 

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I've ridden the Scott Scale 910 and it is a great bike. Although, I'm sure I would like, and maybe choose either then Niner Air 9 RDO X01 (but with XT brakes) or Santa Cruz Highball C, Fox Fork, with either a XX1/X01 or XT 2x10 setup.

All nice bikes. Look around for some bike Demo events, you might get a chance to ride a few of those before you make your decision.
 

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Demo days are coming up so trail experience is an important input.
I have time on the Niners and the geo is not my choice. The Scott has 68.5mm chainstay tire clearance and is too tight for many 2.25 tires and a wide rim I want to ride.
Add the Trek SF 9.8 with XT to your list. Totally new with very good compliance and quick geo. After a lot of demoing that was my order. It's coming soon.

The 940 is aluminum with different rear clearance. 910 is carbon.
 

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I'm just about your size and I ride a Scale 940! Awesome bike! I put a 40mm stem and some high rise bars on and the fit is great! I run 2.25 Rocket Rons on Flow EX rims with no problem. As soon as I pay it off il be upgrading to the 900sl frame. I've ridden different bikes but none felt as good as my Scale does. I had a Trek a Mamba and it felt like you were drivin a train into corners but the Scale carves right through them! I have nothing but great things to say about my scale and would recommend one to anybody looking for an Awesome bike! The XT components are great the only thing I didn't like were the rims but unless you plan on spending a ton of $ most bikes are gonna have cheaper rims.
 

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I have a hard eddie from intense. Decend great for a hardtail. I heard the highball is the same as well.

Believe it or not, this is one of the few 29er hard tail that i took dirt jumping. It fair better than another 29hardtail i had.
 

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What rim are you planning?
 

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Good to know I will be at the BF to try the Niner and would test the Trek as well.



I called several other shops in the area and they didn't have it, but not this shop. Thank you.
I can vouch for the Trek, amazing bike. Definitely check it out. However, you can't really go wrong with whatever you choose to be honest. You listed some of my favorite bikes in the OP.
 

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I'm just about your size and I ride a Scale 940! Awesome bike! I put a 40mm stem and some high rise bars on and the fit is great! I run 2.25 Rocket Rons on Flow EX rims with no problem. As soon as I pay it off il be upgrading to the 900sl frame. I've ridden different bikes but none felt as good as my Scale does. I had a Trek a Mamba and it felt like you were drivin a train into corners but the Scale carves right through them! I have nothing but great things to say about my scale and would recommend one to anybody looking for an Awesome bike! The XT components are great the only thing I didn't like were the rims but unless you plan on spending a ton of $ most bikes are gonna have cheaper rims.
Does not compute.

Instead of shelling out the cash for a 900 SL frame, perhaps a frame more suited to your desires might be in order.

40mm stems, high rise bars and Flow EXs are normally not really something most people would associate with a super light, very high end carbon frame.
 

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Does not compute.

Instead of shelling out the cash for a 900 SL frame, perhaps a frame more suited to your desires might be in order.

40mm stems, high rise bars and Flow EXs are normally not really something most people would associate with a super light, very high end carbon frame.

What do you mean? I mean I'm kinda new but the 900 and 940 are the same just different materials. I love the 940 but on my journey to riding again it's taken a beating. I figured after another 6 month to a year I'd be a lot smoother so I'd like to try to go with something lighter rather than something I don't have to worry about tearin up. That's why I went with the Flows their tough. When i swapped to the 900 I'd more than likely have my CK hubs laced to some NOX hoops. What does a 40mm stem or high rise bars have to do with a Carbon or aluminum frame? They're Renthal Carbon bars and Dou stem I'm sure theirs plenty of people that run them in Carbon frames. I'm not sayin it to be a smart ass just wondering what your thinkin that I don't know? From what I've heard Carbon is just as strong as aluminum just lighter. I like to ride fast flowing trails and hittin dirt jumps so the lighter I can get the better off il be. And I like the black on black lol! It will look awesome with all my blue parts!
 

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The Niners are coming with Stan's Arch EX rims which are good enough.
Santa Cruz with WTB Frequency Team i19 TCS - have no idea how good are these, same for the Intense coming with Novatec Flow Trail.
I just re-read the original post. I thought you were going with a custom build.
 

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From what I've heard Carbon is just as strong as aluminum just lighter. I like to ride fast flowing trails and hittin dirt jumps so the lighter I can get the better off il be. And I like the black on black lol! It will look awesome with all my blue parts!
The Scott Scale carbon frame is available separately for about $1152. But keep in mind the chainstay tire clearance is tight on the carbon frames. Less than on the aluminum and rubbing matters with carbon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
The last weekend I tested several bikes at the Santa Cruz Bike Festival:

Niner Air 9 RDO
Diamondback Overdrive Carbon
Cannondale F29
Pivot Les

Unfortunately no Giant, Trek or Santa Cruz to try. All of them were with X01 drive train. All but the Niner were with Fox Float 32 100mm. The Niner was with RockShox Sid XX. All but the Pivot were with Avid brakes. The Pivot was with XT brakes.
How did I test it with each of the bikes I rode between 15 - 45 minuts in the trails and roads near by the park. Lots of climbing and few descents.
This was the first time I am trying both 29er and X01 drive train.
Impressions:
Avid brakes are crap compared to XT, sorry but this is how I feel it. If it was just one bike I would assume it is the setup/tune, but no..
Forks - Fox has very nice feel, very plush and smooth, SID did better with the lock out during climbing but was felt bumpier during the descents (it had higher air pressure though)
Drive train - good concept, changed gear quickly even under pressure. When I was pedaling on the asphalt though in 32/11 gear ratio I could feel that the chain does not goes very smooth in the crank teeth. The same on the other extreme 32/38...Cranks were not as stiff as I remember Race face on my previous bike.
Frames and geometry - this was the main test that I wanted to do. Surprisingly I felt most comfortable on the descents on the Diamondback, followed by the Cannondale and the Niner which felt quite the same the Pivot was sort of flexy overall so I didn't felt it well in general, maybe I needed more time to get used to it. The Niner rear triangle was surprisingly soft compared to the Diamondback, probably the fact that the Diamondback was 142x12 and Niner was QR contributed to that fact. The Niner had a very very wide handle bar that was very weird to me. I liked the way the Niner frame was made with all the protections, the paint quality, etc most out of all the bikes. The top tube of the DB was sort of weird in terms of geometry, what I am used from the ALU frames is that the top tube profile is tall at the front - i.e. being taller than wider, but this was the opposite, quite unexpected. Cannondale was looked well made but out of my price range.
The DB didn't have internal cable routing which for this price range I would expect.
Geometry wise the DB and the Niner are quite the same with the difference that DB have almost 1 inch longer rear triangle while the Niner have this almost 1 inch at the front of the cranks.

Overall I am leaning toward the Niner but not the RDO frame, just the plain Air 9 Carbon which is heavier and stiffer in theory, unfortunately I was not able to try this setup.
Still looking forward to try the Trek which I found in a local shop.

Comments are appreciated.

Cheers
 

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petershioda, sounds like you should do a custom build:

Niner Air 9 Carbon Frame
Fox Float 32 Fork
XT Drivetrain
Shimano XT/XTR Brakes

Or, with the exception of the fork being a Rockshox SID, you could just buy the Niner Air 9 Carbon 3 Star XT complete build. Also in your price range.

Some comments on your observations:
1) Remember, these are demo bikes and may be in need of some maintenance so things like shifting or braking may not be optimal, those demo bikes take a beating and the mechanics do not have a lot of time to keep them in top condition. I know that's their job but on all the demo rides I've done, I find at least a couple bikes that are not working as well as they should.

2) I really like my XX1 drivetrain, for the trails I ride I find the ratios are a good match for the trails I ride and I really like the simplicity of not having a front derailleur. My chain has no issues with big/small or small/big (crossing the chain). Maybe you felt a worn out chain on the demo bike. Also surprised you think XX0/XX1 cranks are not stiff, to me they are beastly stiff compared to an XT/XTR cranks I've ridden. Maybe something like a RaceFace Evolve or even the Next crank would be better but I've not ridden them.

3) Yes, I have yet to ride any Avid brake (even the new Avid Trails) that are better than my XT brakes. Shimano has made an awesome brake for the MTB crowd.

4) I have 12x142 thru axles on both my FS and Hardtail bikes, however, I would say the wheels themselves are what you feel as having flex, not so much the axle.

5) I agree with you on the ultra wide bars (and short stem), I'm a XC rider and ride lots of narrow single track, too many trees for me to use bars that are much wider than 680mm. For me, 680mm is a good width. Also, if the stem is less than 70mm, it makes the steering a bit too quick and twitchy for my taste.

6) Internal cabling is nice but I would recommend getting the bike you feel most comfortable on, that's the bike you are going to like riding the most. Diamondback makes a good product, I've not demo'd any of their products but that company seems to offer a lot of value for what you pay.
 
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