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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm as green as it gets, don't even have my 29er yet. I have been doing a reasonable amount of research and going with a LBS it seems I have narrowed down to X Caliber 8 or 9. The main difference I notice is the fork, both Rockshox XC32...9 has single air and the 8 has coil. The next major difference appears to me that 8 has SRAM drive train and 9 has Shimano parts. It seems that logically the 9 set up is better based on price point and beings its the top model in the line, however, as a noob will I notice the difference in forks or drive train? Is much of this preference? The price difference is $200-$250. Would appreciate any and all responses.

Most of my riding will be on flat trails with light to moderate climbs. Im looking for a bike that doesnt need any major upgrading, other than a tubeless set up and maybe seat and peddles. By end of summer I will move on to more progressive trails.
 

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R.I.P. DogFriend
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The solo air fork (vs coil), 10 speed drivetrain (vs 9 speed), the 22/30/40 crankset (vs 22/32/44), upgraded brakes, no centerlock hubs, and 11-36 cassette (vs 11-34) are enough reasons to justify the $200-$250 price increase IMHO. The ability to tune the air spring without buying additional coil springs (if it's necessary) makes it easier to get the most from the fork. As for the 22/30/40 crankset, I think this an excellent chainring combo for 29" wheels and the wider range 11-36 cassette is a bonus to that crankset.

If you can afford it, and you know you like riding, it's a good idea to get as much bike as you can afford up front rather than going down the path of 'upgraditis'.
 

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The reality is they will probably both suit you just fine but if you can afford the 9 than yes, I would say its worth it. Like Jeff said those are all worthwhile upgrades and not just going from x5 to x7. A lot of people are into 1x drivetrains right now and the 9 is set up ideally to do that conversion at no cost.

I dont know if you will notice the difference in forks on a test ride but the air is likely a little bit lighter and more easily customizable. Personally I really prefer the shimano drivetrain because you can use your index finger and pull down to upshift as opposed to an extended thumb push on sram (you can still do the thumb push on a shimano, it goes both ways)
 

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Fat-tired Roadie
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+1 to get the '9'. Being able to tune a suspension fork appropriately for your weight will be a huge improvement. They sometimes actually make the ride worse if you can't do that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Really appreciate the replies and opinions. @Jeff The $200 difference is far from a deal breaker. The drive train and the wheels are what I truly know the least about. @Hankscorpio(great handle lol) I don't think the fork, as you said, would be all that noticeable to me. And I want to ride more than anything, not tinker, at least not for some time. So seems like the 9 is the obvious choice. Again, tubeless seems like the only upgrade I'm definitely going to do.
 

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Trek makes some tubeless strips that are designed to work with some of their rims. Not sure if those rims are actually designed for tubeless conversion. If they are, then the Trek (Bontrager) kits are an excellent way to do it. They are very high quality and work great. If not, you might still be able to convert to tubeless using either a Stans kit, or the 'ghetto tubeless' method. The ghetto tubeless method can be anywhere from very reliable to 'less than reliable' depending on how it's done and whether or not your rims have a design the lends itself well to doing it successfully. More than likely, someone has already done it or at least tried to do it.
 

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I've been riding the X-Cal 8 for about two months now. Tubeless with stock rims using the Trek road-bike strips and Stans (via LBS conversion. The bike has been great - much better climbing than my old (OLD) 26.
I'm 225 lbs and the stock forks w/coils have been fine for me so far. Save the $200-300 and buy a really helmet, some gloves, etc.
 

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Yes, the AT 850's that came stock with the Xcal 8. LBS snapped in inexpensive road strips into track in wheel, dosed with Stans and filled em up. Been riding about a month (10+ rides) and no air leaks or loss. No burps or issues.
I did, however, upgrade the tires from the stock Bonny 29-2 in 29x2.20 to the Bonny XR3 Team Issue in 29x2.30.
LBS told me the stock 29-2 were NOT capable of tubeless - sidewall to thin/weak, I believe.
[EDIT] - coming from an older 26" w/ entry level bonny tires, this tubeless 29 bonny setup w about 30 lbs front/rear (I'm 225 lbs) lets me climb like a goat. Downhills are plenty fast and I really don't feel much drag coasting. Seems counterintuitive, but the lower air pressure really does allow for a free roll on rougher surfaces and not increased resistance, as I would have mistakenly thought.
 

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Starting at 30psi sure to my size. Bike tech was pretty stoked about the Bonny road strips fitting many of the none mtb wheels perfectly. Charged less than$10, maybe $5 for strip, $5 for Stan's or so and then new tire.
 

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I would go with the 9 as well, hate to burst one of the peeps who replied bubble but coil springs forks sucks. End of point and hard truth. You only have preload adjustment on the coil forks, at least with air forks you also have rebound and dampening adjustments as well.

Don't skimp on the bike, if you do you will only be going down the upgrade road 3-6 months later. I bought 5 mountain bikes (spent $5300) in slowly moving up the nicer bike platform before I just jumped in and bought a really nice ride recently. now I know not all people can do this, but on that bike the frames are all the same across the line. the only difference is the equipment.
 

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I would agree with TJ that air forks are better than coil, but coil is what I have and coil is what I ride. The OP is a brand new rider so they are not comparing their tricked-out buddy's bike to theirs and purchasing from that experience, they need a starting point and my suggestion was the X8 was a good starting point for me and it is working will.
I'm not on a constant chase to have the best bike on the trail, I'm just looking for the next great ride.
 
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