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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Shopping for a new 29er: 135-150mm travel. So many good ones out there. I've done quite a bit of research, thrown a leg over all five of them (except the Smash). I have done a full day, three ride demo on the Fezzari and a two or three day multiple ride test on the Fugitive ( but not LT). I'm sure it's been done but would like to hear comparisons, pros/cons, opinions, first hand impressions etc.

I'm looking for a bike that adds some overall downhill capability to my 27.5 Endorphin without giving up much in the smoother, up/down riding I do on a daily basis. Durability, customer support, and brand identity/part-of-a-family feeling are important to me.

Here are my top four (or five) contenders in no particular order:

Ibis Ripmo

Knolly Fugitive LT

Evil Offering

Fezzari La Sal Peak

Guerilla Gravity Smash (Just added this one)

Santa Cruz High Tower (2020): This one just dropped about the time I started this thread and it ticks all my requirements so have to add it
 

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Well, you haven't ridden the Smash or the Fugitive LT, so I'd eliminate those at least until you ride them. Then I'd just pick the one that rides the best. The other stuff is too subjective. They're good companies and all are durable. I don't know what part-of-a-family means, but you must have your own sense of that.

My son has a Ripmo and I've ridden it. Great bike, obviously and I do like their take on DW link.
 

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Well, you haven't ridden the Smash or the Fugitive LT, so I'd eliminate those at least until you ride them.
I'd think the Fugitive LT would be a pretty safe bet even without riding it, given the time KRob has spent on other Knollys including the regular Fugitive. Durability, customer support and the brand stoke/family thing are all first-rate there too.

The Knolly would be heavier, but probably also cheaper with an equivalent build than the carbon bikes. Are you looking at an off-the-shelf kit or building it up from a frame?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Well, you haven't ridden the Smash or the Fugitive LT, so I'd eliminate those at least until you ride them. Then I'd just pick the one that rides the best. The other stuff is too subjective. They're good companies and all are durable. I don't know what part-of-a-family means, but you must have your own sense of that.

My son has a Ripmo and I've ridden it. Great bike, obviously and I do like their take on DW link.
I have done a spin around the trailhead ride on the LT but, yeah, I do need to get some significant time on the Fugitive LT and have opportunities where I could do that. I'm a Knolly guy and if they already had a carbon Fugitive LT out or the newer longer travel 29er out I probably wouldn't be here asking about options.

I'm a little concerned about the weight of the Fugitive but until I ride it for an extended test I can't say if that's going to be a deal breaker. I love the close knit Knolly family. Love the sense of belonging to a group of like minded owners. Love that it's a small company with passionate attention to detail and building the strongest, longest lasting bikes on the planet.

Having said all that, I'm very intrigued with this new crop of mid-long travel carbon 29ers that are flooding the market.

Yes, the Ripmo does check all the boxes and I also like their take on the DW link.
 

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I have done a spin around the trailhead ride of the LT but, yeah, I do need to get some significant time on the Fugitive LT and have opportunities where I could do that. I'm a Knolly guy and if they already had a carbon Fugitive LT out or the newer longer travel 29er out I probably wouldn't be here asking about options.

I'm a little concerned about the weight of the Fugitive but until I ride it for an extended test I can't say if that's going to be a deal breaker. I love the close knit Knolly family. Love the sense of belonging to a group of like minded owners. Love that it's a small company with passionate attention to detail and building the strongest, longest lasting bikes on the planet.

Having said all that, I'm very intrigued with this new crop of mid-long travel carbon 29ers that are flooding the market.

Yes, the Ripmo does check all the boxes and I also like their take on the DW link.
I was also concerned about the weight of the Fugitive LT but I have to say my that I don't notice the 34.26 GX build at all. Bike climbs and decision awesome . The think climbs 10x better than my Carbon Warden.
 

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The GG Smash has blown me away. I was asked by a friend recently on the trail how I am liking it and my answer was "I can't think of a bike I'd rather be riding."

Climbs very well for its DH capability. I've cranked all day alpine climbs without a second thought while still ripping the descents. Durable, amazing GG customer support and owner's group. Made in the US at a reasonable price.

Easy to mount a couple water bottles and a frame bag. I haven't worn a pack/hip bag when riding the Smash even on long 6hrs summer rides. I love that.

Best handling bike I've owned and best suspension of all the various bikes I've tried. I rarely think about the Smash when I am on the trail. It's just always doing what it's supposed to and I can enjoy the shred.

When it came to ordering the GF a new bike it really wasn't a question she wanted her own Smash. She'll have a carbon Smash shortly. :thumbsup:

FWIW - I ordered a Smash sight unseen and figured if I didn't love it I would sell it at the end of the summer. I'm super glad I did. GG has an extensive list of owners that'll let you demo their bikes. Give them a call and I wouldn't be surprised if you can throw a leg over one not too far from where you live.

The PB Smash review is pretty bang on based on my experience.

https://www.pinkbike.com/news/review-guerrilla-gravity-smash.html

The new carbon bikes are very similar to the 2018 metal models. Changes are incremental to refine the ride.
 

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I'm riding a metal GG Smash as well. I also live in the PNW and enjoy long climbs and multi-thousand foot descent on narrow ribbons of tacky brown loam through lush rain forests. I also regularly enjoy 3-4' drops at places like Oregon's Blackrock, Alsea Falls and Washington's Tiger Mtn.

I'm a happy camper aboard my very capable Smash.

I'd describe my suspension as plush (11.6 shock, 160mm PUSH-coiled Pike fork) and handling as confidence inspiring. A friend has a Knolly and I recognize the passion and family loyalty there -- if you get a Guerrilla Gravity bike you'll discover a similar dynamic. GG's customer service rocks and their bikes are regarded. Rightly so.

If I couldn't have a GG Smash, the Ripmo would be right up there on my alternate list. Your list is a good one.
=sParty
 

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I was between the Offering and the Ripmo but at my height 5'9" and right between a m/l and I always struggled with Ibis sizing with the mediums feeling a little small and didn't want the longer wheelbase for my type of riding with the large. I went with an Offering and it's a blast to ride and no regrets but if the Ibis sizing would have worked out better for me there was just so many more positives with the Rip as I'm sure you already know. Let's see bigger tire clearance, better dropper length, able to run a smaller chain ring, lighter frame weight, a little cheaper, and a longer warranty. As well as a great company to buy from although so far Evil has been great and like I said just a blast to ride, love the Delta suspension.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I'd think the Fugitive LT would be a pretty safe bet even without riding it, given the time KRob has spent on other Knollys including the regular Fugitive. Durability, customer support and the brand stoke/family thing are all first-rate there too.

The Knolly would be heavier, but probably also cheaper with an equivalent build than the carbon bikes. Are you looking at an off-the-shelf kit or building it up from a frame?
For sure. The Knolly will stay on the list and honestly is the standard by which all the rest will be judged in my book. My concern with the Fugitive LT is the weight. I rode the regular Fugitive all over Hurricane/St. George last year at the Knollyfest with a fairly light all air (DPX2 shock, 34 Float) build and didn't notice the weight at all. In fact just picking it up it felt to be about the same weight as my Endorphin which is 30 lbs. But this year at the Knollyfest everyone had LT's built heavy duty with coil shocks etc and while I didn't ride one, they felt hefty lifting them up into the truck and onto the racks... like 35 lbs. That's gotta kill some of the liveliness and playfulness I love about the Endorphin.
 

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Value wise the Fezzari has got to be hard to beat and the #'s are very progressive. Given you did a big ride on it and it made your list...care to share your thoughts?

Generally speaking these new 29'ers are awesome. Smooth, rough, DH, they do everything well. I'd echo vicb's thoughts in that I can't think of another bike I'd rather own except I'm on a Rallon. All these bikes are good but personality I'd lean toward the lighter weight for big back country days.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I was between the Offering and the Ripmo but at my height 5'9" and right between a m/l and I always struggled with Ibis sizing with the mediums feeling a little small and didn't want the longer wheelbase for my type of riding with the large. I went with an Offering and it's a blast to ride and no regrets but if the Ibis sizing would have worked out better for me there was just so many more positives with the Rip as I'm sure you already know. Let's see bigger tire clearance, better dropper length, able to run a smaller chain ring, lighter frame weight, a little cheaper, and a longer warranty. As well as a great company to buy from although so far Evil has been great and like I said just a blast to ride, love the Delta suspension.
That's about my only reservation with the Ripmo. The size large is a little more conservatively sized than some of the others. The size large felt pretty good just spinning around parking lot at the shop, but I can't help but think I might like the more stretched out geo of the others.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
Is the new Hightower going to make the list?
I just saw the blurb about the new HT. Haven't really looked into it yet. I have ridden the HTLT and it is a nice bike for sure. Probably the only reason I don't have it on the list is because its geo is a little dated and it's from a bigger company.... although I know customer service is excellent from Santa Cruz and if I were to go with a bigger company it would be SC or Pivot.... not likely Giant or Trek or Specialized. I have no complaints at all with my 5010 ownership experience.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Value wise the Fezzari has got to be hard to beat and the #'s are very progressive. Given you did a big ride on it and it made your list...care to share your thoughts?
I really liked the Fezzari. Pedaled incredibly well. Almost magical the way it handles techy, ledgy climbs. Great descender but not a plow bike by any stretch. More playful and active. The size L fit me perfect..... and like you said the price is almost impossible to beat. I haven't heard anything bad about Fezzari as far as durability and customer support but something about the price makes me wonder if it will withstand 4-5 years of constant 5-6 day per week rides in rough terrain with very spotty maintenance (I'm terrible) like my Knolly does. Ha ha.
 

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My concern with the Fugitive LT is the weight. I rode the regular Fugitive all over Hurricane/St. George last year at the Knollyfest with a fairly light all air (DPX2 shock, 34 Float) build and didn't notice the weight at all. In fact just picking it up it felt to be about the same weight as my Endorphin which is 30 lbs. But this year at the Knollyfest everyone had LT's built heavy duty with coil shocks etc and while I didn't ride one, they felt hefty lifting them up into the truck and onto the racks... like 35 lbs. That's gotta kill some of the liveliness and playfulness I love about the Endorphin.
As much as I don't like to sound like a weight weenie, that's exactly how I feel too. The DPX2 and a fork like the MRP Ribbon Air would be a good in-between with the Fugitive LT. All other things being equal there's still going to be a bit of a weight increase over the Endo with the bigger wheels and slightly heavier frame, but perhaps not enough to be of any concern on the trail?

Even though Santa Cruz may seem like a "big" brand compared to Knolly or Evil, it's pretty hard to look past the new Hightower IMO if you're shopping in this category [with a suitable budget!].
 

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Delay gratification and ride lots of stuff. YMMV, but I found most bikes are really good these days. I ended up loving one - a Trek - I would not have considered in the past. After that an extended trip in CO with some bike renting let me check out even more brands and models. It all proved what's really most important - your bike engine. It was also really great to learn just now much you get diminishing returns as you spend.

Even though I went for a bike with less travel than my last one, I'm not going to say that's what others should do. Go rent bikes and go to bike demos. Have fun.
 

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Well, with your list I don't think you're going to go wrong. I was all hot and bothered for the new Yeti SB130 and took it out on a demo. It was the most comfortably climbing LT bike I've ever ridden for sure but it was kind of underwhelming for me going DH from a "fun factor" angle so I demo'd the Ripmo that the shop had in stock. While the Yeti was more comfortable, the Ripmo climbed even faster when the terrain got steeper....and it was so much more FUN going down. I was setting personal PR's up and down on the Ripmo...and now have one coming on Friday. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)


The GG Smash has blown me away. I was asked by a friend recently on the trail how I am liking it and my answer was "I can't think of a bike I'd rather be riding."
Thanks for your impressions on the Smash, Vik. I've been following your Smash thread over on the GG forum and value your input. That's one of the reasons it's on my list. Gotta call Matt at GG and arrange a demo. Looking at the sizing recommendation guide on their site, it looks like I'm a pretty solid Size 3. Not sure if I'd feel more comfortable with a longer 50mm stem in the Short mode or a 40mm stem in the Long mode but it's cool you can make those adjustments. Plus I love the modular frame concept where you can mix and match things to create a totally different bike. The very reasonable pricing for carbon that is American made is enticing as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Is the new Hightower going to make the list?
Even though Santa Cruz may seem like a "big" brand compared to Knolly or Evil, it's pretty hard to look past the new Hightower IMO if you're shopping in this category [with a suitable budget!].
It's on the list now. Just read the first ride reviews from Bike and MTBR. Seems to tick all the boxes and has all the needed updates I was looking for.

https://www.bikemag.com/gear/mountain-bikes/first-ride-santa-cruz-hightower/

https://reviews.mtbr.com/2020-santa-cruz-hightower-review-price-weight-details
 
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