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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am looking to buy my first full suspension bike. I have been riding a specialized hardrock sport since 2007 and it is about time for an upgrade. I ride in western virginia and west virginia. So I am looking for something with a decent amount of travel for decents, but won't be a pain on climbs. So far I have been looking at:

Giant Trance 27.5 3 - Trance 27.5 3 (2014) - Bikes | Giant Bicycles | United States

Kona Precept DL - KONA BIKES | 2014 BIKES | TRAIL DS | PRECEPT DL

Trek Fuel Ex 7 - Trek Bicycle

I want to get some thoughts on these bikes and/or suggestions on others I should consider. I am looking to keep the price in the mid 2000's. Thanks
 

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From the three you have listed I like the Giant the most. It has almost the same parts specs as the other bikes, but it also has the Maestro suspension which is getting great reviews, as well as the bike it self has some really good reviews.
I would also suggest the Speacilized Camber. It too is getting great reviews, but the travel is only at 110mm.

Specialized Bicycle Components
 

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It really comes down to suspension design. The Trek will probably be the plushest (and has the best rear shock out of the three), the Kona looks like a single pivot design (Plush, however probably not the best pedaler). The Giant has the most travel, and will probably pedal the best. As far as value, I would pick the trek because it has the same custom rear shock on all their bikes (your getting the same shock as a high end model). The Kona is the cheapest, but it also has good specs. The Giant is good value, if you don't mind getting a lot of Giant-branded components. Finally, the wheelsize is something to consider. There is a pretty big difference between a 29er and a 27.5 bike. They are all good bikes, I would just consider (in order of importance) Wheelsize, Suspension design, and Cost. Hope this helped!
(I have ridden the trance and a Trek, so I know how they ride).
 

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I would recommend the Santa Cruz Heckler. It is a single pivot design so it will suffer a bit in the climbing department(It does climb but requires a pedal platform), but it will be easy to maintain as it has one set of pivots. It is a proven frame design seeing as how i believe this year is the 18th year for the heckler, also there has been 7 generations of the heckler frame. The other place that the heckler will suffer is under braking as the rear suspension will squat under braking(brake jack). The Heckler really excels at descending, and is confidence inspiring. The heckler starts at $2500
Heckler | Santa Cruz Bicycles
Here is a review for the heckler
2014 Santa Cruz Heckler | Blister Gear Review ? Skis, Snowboards, Mountain Bikes, Climbing - The most honest and in-depth reviews of outdoor sports equipment on the planet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you for all the responses. I have been doing a fair amount of research on the heckler, I am impressed with the reviews. Now I just have to find a local bike shop that carries santa cruz mountain bikes, so I can test ride it.
Max-Moab - Is there a big difference in the quality and performance of giant branded part vs trek branded parts?
 

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I would recommend the Santa Cruz Heckler. It is a single pivot design so it will suffer a bit in the climbing department(It does climb but requires a pedal platform), but it will be easy to maintain as it has one set of pivots. It is a proven frame design seeing as how i believe this year is the 18th year for the heckler, also there has been 7 generations of the heckler frame. The other place that the heckler will suffer is under braking as the rear suspension will squat under braking(brake jack). The Heckler really excels at descending, and is confidence inspiring. The heckler starts at $2500
Heckler | Santa Cruz Bicycles
Here is a review for the heckler
2014 Santa Cruz Heckler | Blister Gear Review ? Skis, Snowboards, Mountain Bikes, Climbing - The most honest and in-depth reviews of outdoor sports equipment on the planet.
This is not really accurate. The original heckler is NOT being produced, so it's not 17 years old. It's also a flexier design due to the rear-swingarm mast that acts like a lever on the main pivot and shock. As far as suspension and bike traits, it's far from optimal. It's usually been a good value, but if the OP can afford a better performing bike, he should get it, and the ones he mentioned are better in the frame/suspension department. In the 15 or so years that bike manufacturers have been seriously producing FS designs, pivots have gotten much better and do not require any "constant maintenance".
 

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This is not really accurate. The original heckler is NOT being produced, so it's not 17 years old.
I am not sure what you are getting at here. This is no different then what car manufacturers do. It is the same general concept as the original bike but has evolved over the years so it is 18 years old, just like how the Corvette is over 60 years old, and the mustang will turn 50 this year.
 

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It is hard to compare them because Giant makes more components than Trek. Since Trek has the same custom shock across all its price points in a certain model, it is obviously a benefit to have the same rear shock as the top end Treks. Giant makes good stuff also, their wheels in particular are solid and reliable (They have DT Swiss internals).
If you plan on upgrading a lot of things, keep in mind that you wouldn't have to upgrade the shock on the Trek (its really good, and they use a proprietary shock length so you wouldn't have a choice anyways).
If you went with the Trek, your first "Upgrade" (it wont cost much) should be to convert it to a 2x10 (just take off the large chainring (Nobody needs a 3X10 drivetrain), and replace it with a bash guard).

As far as making serious upgrades, my order of priority would be:

1: DROPPER POST! definitely the MOST important upgrade. It makes such a huge difference.

2: Depending upon how much you weigh, upgrade to SLX brakes (or XT) and Icetech Rotors.

3: If you still have money to burn, get a better fork. Maybe a Float 34 or even a Pike. Also, the Trance frame is designed to take up to a 160 fork, so you could go with that or a 150 fork to make it more aggressive.


Hope that Helped!
 

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The Trance 27.5 feels a lot like the Reign that it replaced. I really liked that bike a lot. Great value, and an excellent bike. I am not too big a fan of Trek's custom rear shock. It's a fine shock, but if you ever wanted to upgrade or had to get replacement parts, you would have no option other than to go through Trek. That'll cost a lot. I love having standard parts that, if they fail, I can replace quickly at my LBS. But even if the Trek had a standard shock, I'd pick the Giant. I beat the crap out of my Reign for years and it held up to everything well. Climbed well, descended well.
 
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