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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey folks,

History:
I last bought a MTB in '06 ('07 Stumpy FSR), and I'm ready for a new one. I want a 29er, FS, trail bike. Lively on muddy, techy climbs (frequently climbing over roots while turning uphill); stable DH; capable, but I'm no bike-park kind of guy, and I don't race. I'm in OK shape and have OK skills, but I'm not an MTB god or anything. I'd been thinking $4500ish.

So I rode and ruled out offerings from Specialized (Stumpy), Trek (Fuel EX 9.7), and Giant (Anthem). My local shops have a limited and odd assortment, and I won't buy a bike I can't ride first, so what I've come down to now is this:

1) '18 SC Hightower C S-build, discounted 15% to $4,100.

2) [the bike I shouldn't have tried] '18 Pivot Trail 429 Pro XT/XTR build with piggy-back shock upgrade = $5,800.

3) I'm interested in a Norco Sight Carbon, but nobody within 3 hours of me has one....

Dilemma: I like the SC, and was about to pull the trigger, but then I went and rode that damn Pivot. I sort of felt that I liked it more, but it's hard to tell, because I'm not able to demo either out on a trail. So I'm stuck with just cruising city streets and hopping curbs to get the feel.

I need help talking myself into spending less and getting the SC, or figuring out if it's worth it to spend a lot more on the Pivot...or something else that I haven't thought of...
 

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I can tell you this: if you get the bike you like less, you'll always want the one you didn't buy.

If you buy the Pivot, every once in a while you'll think: I coulda got some upgrades with all that $$$$, but you'll never think: I wish I had that other bike I didn't like as much b/c it was cheaper.
 

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id get he Hightower. i demoed it in Santa Cruz, its sweet. lifetime frame warranty, free pivot bearings for life, threaded bottom bracket, things awesome
 

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Hightower but the wheelset uses Dt 370 hubs and a 27mm rim. I'd negotiate to swap those for 'NEW Reserve 37 rim' wheelset with Dt 350 hubs with ratchets not pawls.
 

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What is the Hightower suspension spec? I checked competitive Cyclist, which is SC and Pivot dealer, and some Hightower models have Revelation fork, meh. Pivot XT model may have a Fox 36?

Why not buy one of these or another brand from online like CC?

Sent from my moto x4 using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
What is the Hightower suspension spec? I checked competitive Cyclist, which is SC and Pivot dealer, and some Hightower models have Revelation fork, meh. Pivot XT model may have a Fox 36?

Why not buy one of these or another brand from online like CC?

Sent from my moto x4 using Tapatalk
Thanks for the replies so far!

This HT has (forks) Fox Performance 36 vs Factory 34 on the Pivot and (shocks) Float and DPSX2, respectively. Both pretty solid, though of course the Factory is nicer — not sure how much difference that makes in the real world.

I’ve thought of upgrading the wheelset on the HT if I go that route.
 

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Try your best to do an on trail demo to know for sure. It probably comes down to your local terrain but for climbing tech as you described I loved the trail429 compared to the HT. I only did a short demo on the HT and had the 429 for a day and a half so I could have judged it too quickly. The 429 just gets up and goes when you hit the pedals. The HT will be more plush downhill but I wasn't complaining too much on the downhills on the 429. I would like a Santa Cruz but just didn't love the and wasn't a fan of the standard HT.

You do have to ask yourself ff you will be happy with the 11-46 Shimano drive train on Pivot though, or will you want to upgrade it because the HT S build has the Sram Eagle. Disclaimer: I ordered the 429 ProXT build you rode after a demo with the Race GX build and will probably end up switching out the cassette for a bit before upgrading the whole drive train later. My main reason for going with the ProXT build was for the dt swiss 350 hubs and dpx2 shock upgrade. I'm frankly not good enough of a rider to feel a difference between the factory and performance shocks if there is even a real difference other than more adjustments.
 

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Buy the one you want more.

My last bike I spent around $4000 originally and wasn't fully happy and put another $4000 into it. Now I have a very expensive bike that is good but not great.

This time I ordered a $9000 fully loaded Ibis Ripmo and I won't need to upgrade anything and when I get it in the next week or two all I need to do is ride and have fun. No trips to the parts counter wondering what I could buy to make it better.
 

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I really love my pivot. I wouldn't buy another one because they don't offer frames anymore and my wheels are not super-boost, but none of those appear to be an issue for you. Their bikes are very stiff laterally and make a lot out of the rear suspension, even when there isn't that much. Overall very nice bikes and well thought out. If I was buying a whole bike new, I wouldn't hesitate to get one. It's definitely a "keeper", in the sense that it'll run great season after season. I can't say the same for some of the mass-produced bikes out there.

I'm just passing 2 years of owning this thing and I got it for XC racing and it's delivered in spades. One of those situations where it has delivered on what I bought it for and I can't fault it at all. I kinda wanted a Turner Czar, but that was another grand and a half for the frame. The only advantage with that frame is the more open front triangle. I definitely think I made the right choice this far down the road, rather than buy the more expensive frame, as good as the Czars are.
 

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high pivot witchcraft
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I would suggest you try to demo a Sight. I spent 2 weeks demoing bikes. I put money down on what I thought was my dream bike. While I was waiting for it to arrive, the LBS gave me a Sight rental for free to use. I cancelled my order the day after I rode the Sight, and got a C1 29er instead. I knew within minutes of riding the rental that the Sight was the one for me.

It may or may not be the one for you. It was a real darkhorse matched against the heavyweights and for me, it knocked them straight the f out. In fact, I didn’t even want to ride it. It was heavier than the other bikes, and not spec’ed nearly as nicely. I reluctantly took it out because my daughter was hounding me to go for a ride. And then it happened. Boom. I told my daughter “I made a big mistake here”. I went home after that first ride and all I could think about all night was how unbelievably fun that bike was to ride. I had a smile on my face the entire time.

The Fox Factory 36 and DPX2 are magical. I swapped the Reverb for a Transfer, and the E*13 wheelset and tires for a We Are One Insider/DT240 wheelset with a DHF/DHR2 combo.

I am blown away every ride by how well it seems to do every single thing. I can straight line it through the gnar, or take things slower, searching for and popping it off every natural kicker in sight. It corners like it’s on rails and climbing, it feels like there is an engine in it. The only negative I can say about it is that I love climbing with the shock in trail mode, and descending with it wide open. A remote would be the ultimate but I suppose I will get used to slowing down and flicking the switch manually, on the fly.

Edit: the rental I had was the C3. It is squarely within your budget. The C3 is an awesome bike. Bang for the buck, it blows the C1 away. I would be stoked riding that bike right out of the box, stock. You could swap the brakes I suppose, but even that is completely unnecessary. And yeah - a HT and a new Stumpy Expert were among the bikes I demoed.
 

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Here is my feedback based on owning bikes from both brands and demo'ing both the HT and new Trail 429:

Both are top tier bikes with performance capabilities way beyond what most riders will ever fully use.

SC wins on warranty hands down.

IMHO, the $1700 price difference is insane. You could upgrade the SC to carbon wheels and still be money ahead vs the Pivot. You can get GX spec Yeti SB 4.5 for $600 less than the Pivot.

Although improved from the old model, for some riders, the Pivot still has some goofy and limited sizing. For example: At 6'-2.5" I could never get properly fit on a XL Pivot (their largest frame) but a XL SC was perfect and if I needed more, they offer an XXL. My wife ran into the same issue for smaller Pivots. Fit is everything so if one of these bikes won't fit you properly, then nothing else matters.

Super Boost? C'mon Man...

The SRAM brakes on the SC would need to go. Please refer to the Brake section in this forum.

I wound up buying a Tallboy because it has better overall handling and for me it outperforms the HT and 429 when climbing.

With all of that said, when spending this much money on a bike, there is really no substitute for taking your time to weight options and doing proper test rides on the trails you normally ride. Look for demo or rentals in your area.
 

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For background info, I own a Trail429. I have ridden the regular HT multiple times as friends own them. I also have a Yeti SB5 which is a fantastic trail bike for some comparison. I purchased the T429 for more mellow or XC trails.

The HT is a bigger bike for sure. 140/150 front and 135 in the rear. For non-technical climbing I don't think there is much of a different between the VPP on the SC and DW link on the Pivot. So, I would say they climb the same there. For technical climbing the DW definitely wins around here. It has just enough give to maintain traction, where the VPP seems stiffer initially, but leads to more pedal strikes. I would give the edge to the Pivot for overall climbing, but if you do mostly less technical climbs, it's a draw.

The Pivot really surprised me on the down hills. Rear end is plush, but uses it's travel better than the SC. I'd say the rear end suspension is a draw. The HT wins with the longer fork though and slightly slacker HA. Maybe an overforked T429 would be equivalent, but not the stock.

Agility definitely goes to the Pivot. That bike is super stiff. I used to scoff when people said they could really feel a huge difference between one high quality brand and another in a full suspension bike, but I totally get it. With the short stays and decent reach on the Pivot, you can really drive this bike with your hips when cornering and twisty singletrack is very easy to get through.

It depends on what you want out of the bike, but the Pivot works great for me. It gives up just a bit on the chunky downs, but I think it makes it up in most other areas. I had been planning to put a 140 fork on it to make it more capable, but I'm finding that it rides so well that it's not a priority and might never happen.

If the Pivot sings to you more, I can say that you won't be disappointed.
 

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I rode an original Mach 429 for 7 years and loved it. Figured I'd just upgrade to the newest one when the time came, but when I demo'd it, and the Switchblade, it was "just OK".

After doing a bunch of reading and research, decided the Hightower would be a good option and demo'd it and was lucky enough to get to use both wheelsets (27.5 and 29) and I was sold.

Then I demo'd a Transition Smuggler and, well, nothing else mattered after that. I really wanted the dual wheel size capability, but decided the tradeoff for the performance of the Smuggler was worth it.

Then Ibis came out with the Ripmo - Smuggler geo with more travel. And dual wheel size capability. But, for the same spec, it was $1100 more. And our local shop only had a M to demo, not a large.

I bought the carbon Smuggler and, for what you describe (great climbing, stable DH), it's an amazing bike. It makes me look better... and it makes me a better rider. That is, it's so good, it lets me push myself harder and into more things. Like you, I'm no MTB god... just an old guy trying to get better and learn new things. I am completely happy with this bike and can unconditionally recommend this bike for anyone... and especially for people like you describe yourself.
 

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Then I demo'd a Transition Smuggler and, well, nothing else mattered after that. I really wanted the dual wheel size capability, but decided the tradeoff for the performance of the Smuggler was worth it.
Smuggler looks like a cool bike for sure. You say it's a great climber. Is that with the shock in Open? Everything around me is singletrack with ups and downs all mixed together, so flipping a shock mode isn't really an option unfortunately.

And how do you feel about the steep seat angle? I got to spend some time on a Ripmo and as a group we all felt it was really cramped with the SA so high. And that was on a size bigger than I normally ride. I'd be interested in a Transition for the future if it pedals well in open and doesn't feel cramped like the Ripmo.
 

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high pivot witchcraft
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Re my comments above about flipping the shock switch on my Sight...

I rode today with the switch in open mode the entire ride. Up, down and everything in between. Yup. Awesome. As it says on the Linkage Design blog site:

Norco Sight Carbon 2018 - Linkage Design

"As you can see in the table excel and graphs the above new Norco Sight have a system with a faultless pedaling efficiency, thanks to percentages Anti-squat about 100%...unlike what happened in the previous model...truth is that there is nothing to criticize..."

No need to flip the shock switch if you don't care to.

See also:


I echo everything those guys said about that bike. There is nothing it doesn't kick ass at. Nothing I have found yet anyway.

To the extent it matters, I was left with the impression that it was the Norco Sight, the Orbea Rallon, the Ibis Mojo HD4 and the Kona Process CR/DL that came out on top in the 2018 Bible of Bike tests. A summary of the Editors' Picks is as follows:

Travis Engel - Process CR/DL 27.5.
Nicole Formosa - Ibis Mojo HD4
Ryan Palmer - Orbea Rallon (Norco Sight 29 - Honourable Mention)
Mike Ferrentino - Orbea Rallon
Jonathon Weber - Norco Sight 29 and 27.5 (Santa Cruz Nomad also mentioned)
Kristin Butcher - Spot Mayhem and Ibis Mojo HD4
Lacy Kemp - Norco Sight 27.5 ("clear winner"); Honourable mention to the Ibis Mojo HD4
Will Ritchie - Evil Following MB (close runner up - Kona Process CR/DL 27.5)

All that said, best to demo everything you can get your hands on. If you are able to demo the bikes all together in a short period of time, it will become apparent which one is the right one FOR YOU (as opposed to any of us, or any of the Bible of Bike editors).

IMG_9445.jpg
 

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Smuggler looks like a cool bike for sure. You say it's a great climber. Is that with the shock in Open? Everything around me is singletrack with ups and downs all mixed together, so flipping a shock mode isn't really an option unfortunately.

And how do you feel about the steep seat angle? I got to spend some time on a Ripmo and as a group we all felt it was really cramped with the SA so high. And that was on a size bigger than I normally ride. I'd be interested in a Transition for the future if it pedals well in open and doesn't feel cramped like the Ripmo.
The steep seat angle helps with the climbing; helps a lot, in fact, and seated, on the trail, it's also great. Steep climbing switchbacks, for example, are a non-event. May as well be a straight trail! Downhill, well, you're standing 99% of the time, anyway, so it doesn't matter much there. And it's so stable and ready to go, you just naturally push it.

I always keep the shock and fork open when climbing on the trail. When climbing gravel roads, I sometimes put it in the "trail" position (middle), but it doesn't need it. I was worried that it was "just" a 4-bar system (Horst link), but whatever they've done with the SBG and "GiddyUp 2.0", it climbs very, very well.

I'm just shy of 6' and ride a Large and while it feels a bit shorter than my old 429 (with a 120mm stem!), it's not cramped at all.

The only complaints are the tight fit of the rear tire, so not much room for anything bigger and, for some, the Fox 34 fork. But for '19, they're putting the Fox 36 on it, so that one's gone.

Like I said, I can unconditionally and whole-heartedly recommend this bike!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
mtnbkrmike - I found a dealer nearly 200 miles away that told me they had a Sight Carbon 7.4, lowest-spec. So I drove out there, and it turns out it was a brand-new 2016 model. They've marked it down to $2300 from $3800 original retail. The parts spec was not at all what I'd want (it had a meh Revelation RL fork, 2x Deore drivetrain, and god-awful Acera brakes; here's a link to the Archive specs, https://www.norco.com/bike-archives/2016/sight-c74/ ). It was also a 650B, and I'm leaning hard toward a 29er. That said, I rode the thing anyway, and was surprised. They had a ridiculous hill behind the shop and the thing practically danced up (and then nearly killed me with fright coming down because the brakes were....not). So that particular one wouldn't be for me, but it still confirmed a lot of what you say of your Sight.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks again, everyone, for your thoughts.

All things considered, I'm leaning pretty strongly on the Hightower, especially given the discount the dealer is willing to take. I also really like the shop and it would be a perk to have a relationship with them. I'm going back today to see if I can persuade them to let me take it for a demo on some trails near the shop.

Question about the SRAM Guide R brakes: really that bad? Should I ask for an XT or XTR swap/upgrade?

I think that, if I do go for the HT, I'll hold off on a wheel upgrade for just long enough to impress my wife with how frugal I am, and then sneak a new set on sometime later ;)
 
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