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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Rider:
6-3
Male
Age 57
235 lbs
34" inseam (XL frames only!)
Health: good, strong, one knee 80%, other knee 90%
Three seasons MTB experience, pavement riding since childhood (one long break), about .5 million miles motorcycling (highly advanced street rider).

Trail:
Bonneville Shoreline Trail, No. Utah: rocky, rutted, last time I could glance at speedo 35+ mph… considering full face and body armor this season (already wearing motocross knee/shin protection...paranoid from injuries)

Bikes owned in descending sequence, all 3x9 gears:

Frame on deck: 2010 STEEL Raleigh "XXIX Pro" 29 HT, $450 frame only (see proposed build below)
Current bike: 2009 Fuji Tahoe SL, 29 HT aluminum, $1600
2008 Specialized Epic Expert Carbon, 26 XC, FS race, $4200 MSRP
2007 Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp, 26 XC, $2500 MSRP

Comments: love MTB riding more than motorcycling…first bike/SJ FSR was good, overall the Epic was only a lateral move, never considering 26 again after owning/riding the Fuji 29 HT.

Current issues:
Far and away the Fuji provides the greatest speed and overall most enjoyable riding experience. The increased speed uncovers the next weak link: the Fuji gets rough and tiring transmitting jolts from rocks of every conceivable size and shape on my trail. (I learned to love the wind while sitting on the tailgate of my dad's station wagon, holding on for dear life to the roof rack at 100+ mph.)

I bought the Raleigh steel frame for perceived comfort increase. Proposed Raleigh build:
2009 steel HT "XXIX Pro" 29 (looks killer BTW, just a few tasteful decals)
SRAM X-9 2x10
WTB tubeless 9er, just released early 2011 http://www.wtb.com/products/wheels/wheelsets/speed29/ only about $400/set.

This week Mark Wimmer, who races Leadville 100, suggested the best overall bike is the Santa Cruz Tallboy FS carbon 9er, but I can't swing even the lowest cost build of $3600. (Mark races a Salsa 9er HT, but its a premium build down to about 22 lbs, plus his racing needs differ from my barely-amateur needs.)

QUESTION: Rather than the Raleigh build described above, should I consider a used FS 9er? Important: prefer used bike cost not exceed the estimated value of Raleigh frame + build (about $2200). Makes/models?

Must be XL size only; a short list of your top picks is highly appreciated. Reading many reviews did not help answer the primary puzzle: FS vs. steel HT?

If not, I'll just build the Raleigh and consider the Tallboy later if/when funds allow.

Your riding experience on the suggested bike is appreciated.

TIA!
 

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(I learned to love the wind while sitting on the tailgate of my dad's station wagon, holding on for dear life to the roof rack, at 100+ mph.)
Love this line! LOL.....
I am kinda in the same boat as you... Albeiat younger (37) . Although never tried a 29"er on the trail, am dieing to do so. Want to dispach my 26"er HT in favor of a bigger wheel Steel Frame bike as I'm 6'4" and XL frames are a must also. Let me know your progress!
 

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If you're aleady considering using armor I think you may be better off stepping up to a FS bike. Riding rocky rutted terrain on a hardtail sounds dangerous to me, a Tallboy is certainly going to cheaper than a hospital stay!
 

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If comfort at high speeds is your top concern, I'd go with a FS. I own a Niner RIP 9 and a Surly Karate Monkey. Both are a blast but the RIP 9 is much better for bombing down hills. Flying downhill on the KM is more jarring and you get the HT bucking bronco effect.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
mefistofeles said:
If you're aleady considering using armor I think you may be better off stepping up to a FS bike. Riding rocky rutted terrain on a hardtail sounds dangerous to me, a Tallboy is certainly going to cheaper than a hospital stay!
Oooops! Why didn't that occur to a firefighter with 28 years experience? Maybe the HT will help keep my speeds from only further increasing with the FS.

My interest in the armor is associated with my age, I'm used to wearing armor riding motorcycles, and prior injuries.

I'm suddenly leaning hard toward the Raleigh build, especially after learning just minutes ago it's high material quality: Reynolds #853 front triangle, #4130 rear. It's a hidden gem...Raleigh sold only about 50 frames. Complete bikes were $4k MSRP, SRAM XX 2x10. Steel is timeless. FS will have greater service cost, shorter longevity, and depreciate faster.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
bank5 said:
If comfort at high speeds is your top concern, I'd go with a FS. I own a Niner RIP 9 and a Surly Karate Monkey. Both are a blast but the RIP 9 is much better for bombing down hills. Flying downhill on the KM is more jarring and you get the HT bucking bronco effect.
"Bucking" and "jolts", yes. Besides downhill, even on fast level sections, the rocks get tiring. It's obvious, but if the entire trail was moderately smooth I'd never consider FS.
 

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I would consider an investment in a set of Pro Tec elbow and knee pads. I can't tell you how many times my Pro Tec pads have saved me from injury. The Pro Tec's are a little bulkier than the 661's but I think they're worth it.

I use a Met Parachute helmet,it's a light full face with construction similar to that of most xc and mountain bike helmets. It's not as durable as a regular downhill helmet such as Giro Remedy but it's light enough that you can breathe easily.

I also use a fox chest protector and an Alpine Stars bionic lower back protector.
 
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