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I am 6’ tall, 265 lbs and am brand new to mountain biking. I’d like to get into it but don’t want to spend over 1300 for the bike. I’ve looked at both of these and tested both and they both feel good. The Salsa is 1099 and Fuse is 1250. Both are in stock at my local shop and I want to make a purchase today. What do you recommend for a new guy wanting to get started?
 

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Always in the wrong gear
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Ride them both. Buy the one that fits you better.

From a component standpoint, the Fuze has a better fork, but the cranks and wheels are not as nice as the TJ.
The Fuze has Tektro brakes that work well (my wife rides a 2015 Fuze with the same brakes) but they are hard to work on, and not as ‘nice’ as Shimano brakes, which the TJ has.


The drivetrains are similar, and both have basic alloy cockpits with the exact same dropper post.


Both are good choices, choose the one you think looks cooler.


Edit: I originally said I’d recommend the TimberJack, but I was looking at the build page from REI, not Salsa....Salsa claims the Deore-level TJ has a 141QR rear hub. It sucks. It’s a pain. Don’t do it.

Either get the Specialized (Specialized claims a true 148 through-axle)
OR
talk your shop down to 1300 for the SLX level TJ, MSRP 1399. For $50 more than the Fuze you’d get a way nicer fork, better brakes, a nicer 11-speed drivetrain, and a true through-axle rear hub.





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Titanium Junkie
Why Cycles S7, Specialized Levo
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I rode both, I’d say Fuse. It’s more of a real “trail mountain bike” while Salsa kind of panders to that whole bikepacking crowd. If that’s your thing then get the Salsa.
 

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I had a Salsa TJ and in 2017 they both had the same geo but if I were to choose now, i would go for the Fuse. The TJ is a great bike just wished it was slacker, definitely a great climber.

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Timberjack will accept 29+ wheels which has been a great upgrade. BB height is now conducive to riding rocky, rooty central PA terrain. Can't comment on the Fuse, but the TJ, other than weight, is about perfect for me.
 

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I just bought a TJ as my second bike. You know that thing that you feel about just buying something and seeing something better in the next day?

Not the case here. I looked at that Fuse with 24 spokes on the front and 28 on the back, remembered my 270 lb/6.4" and said "Nope. No way".

But yes, 141QR rear hub really sucks.

So, honestly I think the best to start is to spend a bit more for the Salsa SLX, with thru axle front and back. For heavy people, I suggest skipping QR, and also skipping low-count spokes of the Fuse.

Have you also considered the REI brand, Coop? They have a clearance of a very decently spec'd bike for a very good price.
 

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Always in the wrong gear
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Timberjack will accept 29+ wheels which has been a great upgrade. BB height is now conducive to riding rocky, rooty central PA terrain. Can't comment on the Fuse, but the TJ, other than weight, is about perfect for me.
FWIW, on a whim I tried to jam my 29" i30 wheel with a 29x2.8 Terrene McFly in the frame of my wife's Fuze. It fit with room to spare. Probably wouldn't try much over 2.8, but for a 27.5+ bike, it has room for some big 29" tires.

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Was just in the same boat as you. I rode the Timberjack, Karate Monkey and the Fuse 27.5+. The Timberjack had the SRAM Eagle drivechain which I wanted, but the bike just didn't feel that great to me as far as geometry, I bought this bike as a trail bike for days I wanted something different than my SC Tallboy. I also bought knowing that I was going to replace things (6'1 300lbs). So far everything on the bike has held up, minus the Tektro **** brakes, they're awful for anyone with any mass or who actually want to stop a bike quickly. I did order box components drivetrain and found a set of Stans Baron take offs on ebay for $480 so I'm upgrading those soon, but just because I wanted to and had some extra cash on hand. I've enjoyed riding the crap out of my Fuse, I'd probably enjoy the TJ too but it just didn't feel that great to me personally.
 
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