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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Okay I am the classic in-between sizes guy as I can fit on a medium or a large on most bikes. I spent a great deal of time this year figuring out wither a medium or a large Intense 6.6 was going to be the bike for me. The following rambling of words is most of the thought process I went through on figuring out which size frame to go with. I have been riding a medium Intense Spider since 2003 as my cross country bike and a large 2005 Specialized Enduro Pro for a few years as my all-mountain rig so those are my main bikes for comparison. I would have to describe the riding I do with the Enduro as all-mountain stuff that has to deal with chunk, ledges and some occasional airtime up to the 3 to 4 foot range. My bikes see very little shuttle action so they have to be climbable.

The Previous All-Mountain Rig

I liked the 2005 Enduro Pro, it is a capable all-mountain bike with six inches of travel. The rear shock is a Progressive 5th Element and the front shock is a Fox 36 TALAS RC2. The bike comes with two rear shock mount carriages which allow you to vary the geometry of the bike slightly. One carriage provides a higher bottom braket and slightly steeper head angle than the other. I kept my Enduro setup with the higher bracket (14.2") and steeper head angle (69.5 degrees). The main reason for this setup was that when I first got this bike I had a hell of a time trying to steer the bike with the low bottom bracket and 68.5 degree head angle carriage installed. I was coming from a zippy race/cross country oriented Intense Spider and had not developed the skills of handling a long slack bike. The steeper head angle carriage helped with that transition and I never bothered to try the bike with the other carriage installed after learning how to steer a long, slack bike.

I enjoy the long wheel-base of the Enduro as it was quite stable at speed. At 45.5" it did take some effort to navigate tight switchbacks and body English was required on the twisty stuff. The bike is not a light one as it was somewhere around mid-to-high 30s according the wheelset and tires I was using. It is a climbable bike but it was not a bike you could hammer up the hill, it was more that you would come to an "agreement" with the bike and it would beat you down over the course of a long day of riding. Additionally, the split seat tube design also limited how much you could adjust the saddle height. For me I had to compromise on the seatpost length to allow me to get the seatpost low enough for technical riding while extended enough for climbing. The end result was that the saddle when fully extended was about half and inch lower than what I would have like for optimal climbing. When lowered all the way I was forced to have just over two inches of post still sticking out.

The Medium 6.6

The Medium 6.6 that I first rode was built up extremely lightweight with a XTR drivetrain (triple chainring) and brakes with Easton carbon bars and seat post. The wheels were Mavic Crossmax XLs with a set of Intense 2.25 System 4 cross country tires. The fork was a Manitou Nixon. The total weight on this setup was around 28-29 pounds. Needless to say this rig climbed extremely well. The term very "Spider-Like" came into my head on the first climb I hit with this bike. It was a bike you could hammer up the hill with. Once the bike turned downhill there was one thing perfectly clear, this was one extremely plush rig. However, the Nixon fork had only 145mm of travel which is a bit short as 160mm should be what you should be aiming for. The bike I had was one of the 6.6 prototype rigs that at the time of its buildup, the 160mm forks were not available. While the Nixon was super plush, between it and the wheelset, the frontend was quite a noodle when you get into the chunk. It was bad enough to cause a dip in my confidence in the chunk. I was spoiled with the Fox 36 TALAS RC2 that was on the Enduro. This setup would probably be great for a lighter rider, but that is not me. Compared to my Enduro Pro the cockpit of the Medium 6.6 felt cramped with the front wheel feeling a little too much underneath me. I felt more on top of the bike instead of down in the bike.



Okay so now it was time to change some things around. I virtually moved my entire component build off my Enduro an put them on the medium 6.6. The burly medium 6.6 now included XTR derailleurs, XT crankset with 2 rings and a bash guard. XT brakes, aluminum handlebars, 90mm 10 degree rise stem, Fox 36 TALAS RC2 fork, Spinergy Xyclone Enduro Wheelset with Kenda Kinetics 2.6 tires. I also used a laid back Thompson seatpost.

Boy what a difference this setup made. With a longer and burlier fork combined with a stiffer wheelset, this bike really came alive in the downhill chunk. This build added some weight to the rig, but it was still lighter than my Enduro. The laidback seatpost opened up the cockpit a bit but it still felt initially just slightly cramped. I quickly adapted to the feel. The need for a laidback/angled post did however limit how far I could lower the saddle, being forced to leave about four inches of post sticking out of the seat tube. (I typically have to use the bent style post vice a straight post with a setback mount) For this medium this created what I call a minimum seat height (seat tube + exposed post) of 23 inches. This was only minor concern as my Enduro used a split seat tube which also limited how far I could lower the saddle which created of a minimum seat height 22 inches.



The shorter wheelbase (by 2.2 inches) of the Medium 6.6 was quite noticeable. The 6.6 was quite spry on switchbacks and tight twisty singletrack considering the slacker geometry and travel. There was little in the way of competition with the Enduro at this point. The 6.6 thoroughly trounced the Enduro in this area. I did not expect this as my Enduro was setup with a one degree steeper head angle than the 6.6. My thinking is the major difference was wheelbase. The performance of the two bikes in the higher speed downhill stuff was different. The 6.6 was lively pretty much when you started turning the pedals. The Enduro needed a bit more speed to become lively. On the other end of the speed spectrum there is the stability aspect. You can scream downhill on both of these bikes, but the Enduro felt just a touch more stable than the medium 6.6 when you approach "ludicris" speed. I attribute this to the much longer wheelbase of the Enduro.

Decisions Decisions

At this point I had not decided wither I would get a medium or a large frame. The biggest difference between the medium and the large was the top tube and seat tube length. That additional inch in the top tube would open up the cockpit area enough so that I would not have to use a laidback/angled seatpost. Eliminating the need for a laidback post would allow for the post to be lowered all the way down into the seat tube. I had read quite a few posts where riders were concerned about the two inch longer seat tube of the large. The concern being with the ability to get behind and down on the bike when you get into the steep stuff and drops. For me this ended up not being a concern. The large frame and a straight post would allow for an effective minimum seat height of 21 inches. This was over two inches lower than the medium 6.6 and an inch lower than the Enduro. Another minor item dealing with the seatpost was that if I wanted to use a Gravity Dropper style seatpost at some point, it would have to deal with a cramped cockpit on a medium. I was not interested in using a longer stem as that would move my weight too much forward on the bike.

There is a lot to be said to the adage of use the smallest size frame that you can fit on. For me the finer points of high speed stability of the longer wheelbase and the ability to get the seat all the way down by using a straight post with the large frame won out over the medium frame.

The New Rig


So last week I got the new rig all build up and I am pretty stoked. Here are the specs.

Large 6.6 in Red Works Finish
Fox RP23 rear shock
Fox 36 TALAS RC2
XT Crankset with Raceface bashguard
XT derailuers, cassette
XTR Brakeset
Thompson Elite Seatpost
Titec Hellbent Handlebar
90mm Stem
Cane Creek Double XC Flush Headset
Intense Saddle
Spinergy Xyclone Enduro Wheelset (Normal wheelset)
Spinergy Falline Wheelset (Downhilling wheelset)
Kenda Kinetics Stick-E 2.6 tires

The rig comes in at 31.7 pounds.


I got in two rides over the weekend with the bike. On Saturday I went out to a local trail that has some flowing yet tight singletracks as well as a couple of small stunts. The bike handled really well and when I drop the TALAS fork down to the 130 travel, the bike became extremely snappy in whipping through the tight tree covered singletrack. The term "Spider-Like" came back into my head again as this setting dropped the handlebars enough that my posture was very much like how I set on my XC rig. I also used the 100 setting of the fork during some moderately steep and tight switch-backing climbs and this setup worked really well. For the pressures on the shock and fork, I'm sure I don't have them quite dialed in just yet, both being a little on the high side. My impression is that it is generally thought that you need several rides to break in the shocks and forks so I was not concerned with the small bump compliance not being optimized yet. I hit one of the features out there and caught about as much air as I would ever want to and I did not bottom the fork and just did on the RP23 shock.



Why the RP23 shock when you see so many with a DHX Air? The medium 6.6 I rode had a DHX Air and while I got it dialed, it seemed like a lot of shock (weight and complexity) for the performance you get. I had talked with some folks who prefer the RP23 (usually Pushed) over the DHX-Air so I thought I would give it a try. If I can get the small bump compliance I want as well being able to handle 3-4 foot drops with my weight, then I will be happy. Otherwise I may drop the coin for either a DHX-Coil (pushed) or a Cane Creek Double Barrel in the future.

Needless to say the first outing with bike was a success. The following day ended up being a 28 mile ride up in the San Bernardino Mountains which included some rocky and steep terrain along with some sections that allowed for the bike to let loose. Boy did the bike shine here and there were plenty of occasions where the saddle was dumped all the way. Since someone left their memory card back at home, I have no pictures. I had no problems with getting behind the bike as it at least once, I grinded my butt on the rear wheel. The bike also felt really stable at ripping speed and was every bit as stable (if not more) as my stretched out Enduro. I expect it to be more stable once I get the suspension broken in and dialed. Once again I was glad I went with the large frame with the longer wheelbase. At the end of the day I was feeling tired from the 28 miles, some rough terrain, and a sizable amount of climbing but was not feeling beat up. The 6.6 proved to be a great all-day rig. I would be extremely hard pressed to take the Enduro on this ride as I would have been creamed from the weight and overall sluggishness it has on the climbs over the course of the day.

So what it the point of all this rambling about medium versus large? Well I figure there are other folks like me that are classic in-between sizes guys who have tossed around the pros and cons of each. When the rubber hits the trail, it comes down to small preferences and trade-offs. One thing is for certain the 6.6 is one kick ass all-mountain all-day bike and I am stoked to have one the stables.

 

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Nice review Bill. Beautiful bike.

How tall are you? I'm 5'11.5" and also felt like I was between sizes a bit. I rode a medium 6.6 demo out at Noble Canyon for 4-5 hours and it felt pretty good... but it had a set back seat post and 100mm stem. I wanted a straight post and 90mm (or less) stem so ended up going with the Large also. It fits me pretty well and I think I made the right choice. I don't care for the looks of the longer seat tube and seat tube brace but it hasn't been much of an issue. There are times when I wished I could slam the seat down even further but the 3 inch drop I get from my Speedball is adequate for most situations.

Now I'm thinking about the new Tracer VP, but it comes in 23" M and 24" Large so I'm a bit torn again. Hopefully I'll get a chance to throw a leg over both of them at I-bike in September. I suspect I'll still be on a large.
 

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KRob said:
Nice review Bill. Beautiful bike.

How tall are you? I'm 5'11.5" and also felt like I was between sizes a bit. I rode a medium 6.6 demo out at Noble Canyon for 4-5 hours and it felt pretty good... but it had a set back seat post and 100mm stem. I wanted a straight post and 90mm (or less) stem so ended up going with the Large also. It fits me pretty well and I think I made the right choice. I don't care for the looks of the longer seat tube and seat tube brace but it hasn't been much of an issue. There are times when I wished I could slam the seat down even further but the 3 inch drop I get from my Speedball is adequate for most situations.

Now I'm thinking about the new Tracer VP, but it comes in 23" M and 24" Large so I'm a bit torn again. Hopefully I'll get a chance to throw a leg over both of them at I-bike in September. I suspect I'll still be on a large.
Nice rig you got there Bill, very nice, I am amazed at the weight 31.7 lbs WOW. I would contribute most of that to the light wheelset. I personally would rather have a larger bike than a smaller bike when in between sizes. Not to hijack this thread but KRob I was curious if you have had any issues with your Speedball? How long have you been using it? I recently bought a Crank Brothers Joplin w/remote that apparently Crank Brothers bought the rights to the Maverick Speedball and improved it. Check it out here http://newflavors.bicycling.com/2008/02/crank-brothers.html
 

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DIRTJUNKIE said:
Rob, I was curious if you have had any issues with your Speedball? How long have you been using it? I recently bought a Crank Brothers Joplin that apparently Crank Brothers bought the rights to the Maverick Speedball and improved it. Check it out here http://newflavors.bicycling.com/2008/02/crank-brothers.html
Hey Bill. You shoulda titled this thread "Hot New Works Red 6.6 Review!!" or something... it would get more hits. LOL. Seriously if people knew what that bike looked like they'd be clickin' on this thread like crazy. Stunning.

On the Speedball R, I love it. I've had it for 8-9 months I think. I do so much mixed riding where having the seat lower or higher at a flick of a switch is a huge advantage imo. It has worked pretty much as advertised. I had some trouble with the cable slipping in the screw under the seat which made it feel like the seatpost movement was very slow and sticky but it was just because the lever wasn't disengaging the lock completely. Fixed that, then on the next ride the little adjustment screw under the seat that sets the angle of the lever fell out which made the cable go slack. That was easily replaced. I also broke the barrel adjuster on the handlebar remote lever. Now all is good again. So, no problems with the seat post itself... a couple of kerfluffles with the remote lever/cable etc.

I knew CB had bought out (or licensed) the Speedball from Maverick but I wasn't aware of any changes or improvements they've made.

Compared to the Gravity Dropper I like the looks of the Speedball/Joplin better... and it comes in 31.6 which slides right into my 6.6 seat tube whereas the GD would require shims. I also like that I can set it at any position. Sometimes I like it just an inch or half inch down, other times two inches down, and still others I like it fully slammed. I also like that the seat returns to full height without having to preload or weight it again and that the lever is joystick style and can move in any direction. Four inches of drop would be nice... but other than that, I don't have any complaints.

Current thread tie in: You should get a Joplin or All-Mountain seat post Bill. That would be the perfect complement to your new ride.:thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
KRob said:
Nice review Bill. Beautiful bike.

How tall are you? I'm 5'11.5" and also felt like I was between sizes a bit. I rode a medium 6.6 demo out at Noble Canyon for 4-5 hours and it felt pretty good... but it had a set back seat post and 100mm stem. I wanted a straight post and 90mm (or less) stem so ended up going with the Large also. It fits me pretty well and I think I made the right choice. I don't care for the looks of the longer seat tube and seat tube brace but it hasn't been much of an issue. There are times when I wished I could slam the seat down even further but the 3 inch drop I get from my Speedball is adequate for most situations.
I'm 5' 11.5" as well but sport around an average of 200lbs without gear. Straight post and 90mm is feeling really well for me. The longer seat tube looks wise doe not bother me. Now if I could get a custom whiskey flask made to fit in that triangle then that would be killer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
KRob said:
Hey Bill. You shoulda titled this thread "Hot New Works Red 6.6 Review!!" or something... it would get more hits. LOL. Seriously if people knew what that bike looked like they'd be clickin' on this thread like crazy. Stunning.
Better? :)

KRob said:
You should get a Joplin or All-Mountain seat post Bill. That would be the perfect complement to your new ride.:thumbsup:
The Joplin is totally on my list. I ride with lots of folks who use them and I'm turning into the fiddle fart that has to stop and tweak his seat. I want one mostly to get my seat back up. I can usually get myself behind the sit even when it is fully up. Of course I have knocked the wind out of myself a couple of time from heimlick manuvering myself with the saddle.
 

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mtbbill said:
LOL. Yes.
No one wants to read a long pondering discourse on sizing questions (which is what the original title made it sound like). Your review is an excellent, informative read, with stunning pics. It's not just a comparison between 6.6 sizes but also a great bike review and comparison between the 6.6 and the Enduro. Everyone wants to read that. Nice work.

mtbbill said:
The Joplin is totally on my list. I want one mostly to get my seat back up. I can usually get myself behind the sit even when it is fully up. Of course I have knocked the wind out of myself a couple of time from heimlick manuvering myself with the saddle.
Yeah, I was like you. I never dropped my seat for anything. I never had a problem getting behind it and back up on it in any situation (I've also experienced the self administered Heimlech). But what I've found is that I use the seat adjust alot now that I have it. The one situation that you may not think of where I really like it is when you're screaming down a not-that-steep twisty trail where you want to be lower on the bike but still positioned centrally over the seat not behind it. The lower center of gravity really helps you rail the turns dual-slalom style and helps the tires bite.
 

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KRob said:
Hey Bill. You shoulda titled this thread "Hot New Works Red 6.6 Review!!" or something... it would get more hits. LOL. Seriously if people knew what that bike looked like they'd be clickin' on this thread like crazy. Stunning.

On the Speedball R, I love it. I've had it for 8-9 months I think. I do so much mixed riding where having the seat lower or higher at a flick of a switch is a huge advantage imo. It has worked pretty much as advertised. I had some trouble with the cable slipping in the screw under the seat which made it feel like the seatpost movement was very slow and sticky but it was just because the lever wasn't disengaging the lock completely. Fixed that, then on the next ride the little adjustment screw under the seat that sets the angle of the lever fell out which made the cable go slack. That was easily replaced. I also broke the barrel adjuster on the handlebar remote lever. Now all is good again. So, no problems with the seat post itself... a couple of kerfluffles with the remote lever/cable etc.

I knew CB had bought out (or licensed) the Speedball from Maverick but I wasn't aware of any changes or improvements they've made.

Compared to the Gravity Dropper I like the looks of the Speedball/Joplin better... and it comes in 31.6 which slides right into my 6.6 seat tube whereas the GD would require shims. I also like that I can set it at any position. Sometimes I like it just an inch or half inch down, other times two inches down, and still others I like it fully slammed. I also like that the seat returns to full height without having to preload or weight it again and that the lever is joystick style and can move in any direction. Four inches of drop would be nice... but other than that, I don't have any complaints.

Current thread tie in: You should get a Joplin or All-Mountain seat post Bill. That would be the perfect complement to your new ride.:thumbsup:
KRob, thank you for all of your input on the Speedball it makes me feel better knowing what problems you did have were miniscule and easily fixed. Apparently Crank Brothers after buying the rights went through twenty one prototypes of the Speedball before releasing the Joplin. I was eye balling the Speedball for some time before finally going to purchase one. Only to find out they are no longer produced. But luckily Crank brothers took it over and upped the performance [supposedly].Here is the quote from the link I provided above. Quote: The just-released Joplin adjustable seat post is Crank Brothers' interpretation of the Maverick Speedball post introduced a few years ago. Crank Brothers bought the rights to the technology and went through something like 21 revisions before finally settling on final production. Once again Bill I apologize for the high jacking.;)
 
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