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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey gang,

Trying to get back into mountain biking after a 25 year (!) hiatus... I've been riding road bikes the past few years but a recent purchase of an Ibis Hakka has gotten me re-interested in mountain bikes and dirt. I'm in Southern California/Los Angeles area so we have super steep climbs on some rocky, sandy, loose stuff. I'd like to stick with 27.5 or 27.5+, as all of my old mountain bikes were 26...

Sort of leaning towards a hard tail (would like to keep it simple) but I keep getting mixed messages from different bike shops on whether I should go full suspension. I'm in my 40's, weigh 155 lbs and don't plan on flying down the descents... I'd rather have something that climbs well. I'd probably be riding in the Verdugos and the San Gabriels... I don't really have time to go up to Big Bear or Mammoth.

I was looking at the Santa Cruz Chameleon 27.5, the Salsa Timberjack, the Ibis DV9 (seems to be more of an XC bike?), or just go all out and get a Santa Cruz 5010. So many other options too I guess... I'm also wondering how much fork I'd need... Thinking between 130 and 150? Also, is weight a huge factor on the dirt (I know it is on the road)? Anyway, any help would be greatly appreciated, as my roadie friends have no clue about the dirt world!
 

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I demoed the 27.5+ Chameleon and Kona Honzo carbon 29er, was interested in the Timberjack and couldn't find one to try. Ended up with a DV9 which I got the day before the price jumped $350 back in early July. I took a chance with Comp Cyclist and was very happy with the process. Absolutely loving the bike and for my skill level and 69yr age it's all the bike I need. I've had a 5010 for a few years, great bike, but realized I was overbiked for my needs. Will sell the 5010 when the time is ripe. Stock DV9 NX with upgraded Shimano 11/46 cassette and KS dropper. Just picked up a Yeti carbon riser bar but haven't had a chance to install.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I demoed the 27.5+ Chameleon and Kona Honzo carbon 29er, was interested in the Timberjack and couldn't find one to try. Ended up with a DV9 which I got the day before the price jumped $350 back in early July. I took a chance with Comp Cyclist and was very happy with the process. Absolutely loving the bike and for my skill level and 69yr age it's all the bike I need. I've had a 5010 for a few years, great bike, but realized I was overbiked for my needs. Will sell the 5010 when the time is ripe. Stock DV9 NX with upgraded Shimano 11/46 cassette and KS dropper. Just picked up a Yeti carbon riser bar but haven't had a chance to install.
Thanks! Do you feel that the 120mm of travel is enough?
 

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Hey gang,

Trying to get back into mountain biking after a 25 year (!) hiatus... I've been riding road bikes the past few years but a recent purchase of an Ibis Hakka has gotten me re-interested in mountain bikes and dirt. I'm in Southern California/Los Angeles area so we have super steep climbs on some rocky, sandy, loose stuff. I'd like to stick with 27.5 or 27.5+, as all of my old mountain bikes were 26...

Sort of leaning towards a hard tail (would like to keep it simple) but I keep getting mixed messages from different bike shops on whether I should go full suspension. I'm in my 40's, weigh 155 lbs and don't plan on flying down the descents... I'd rather have something that climbs well. I'd probably be riding in the Verdugos and the San Gabriels... I don't really have time to go up to Big Bear or Mammoth.

I was looking at the Santa Cruz Chameleon 27.5, the Salsa Timberjack, the Ibis DV9 (seems to be more of an XC bike?), or just go all out and get a Santa Cruz 5010. So many other options too I guess... I'm also wondering how much fork I'd need... Thinking between 130 and 150? Also, is weight a huge factor on the dirt (I know it is on the road)? Anyway, any help would be greatly appreciated, as my roadie friends have no clue about the dirt world!
Re 26/29... what difference does it make what wheel size you used 25 years ago?

Weight is A factor in the dirt, but it's a compromise between weight-technical competence-cost. Keep weight in mind, but 2lbs isn't necessarily a bad thing for the total experience.

It sounds like you're interested in easy terrain. Do you think that will hold true long-term? How many hours do you think you'll be out on a long-ish ride?

The timberjack and DV9 are very very similar bikes. Basically the same. The chameleon is a bit more capable, but still an XC bike. The 5010 is a totally different bike, and not just because of the suspension-ness.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Re 26/29... what difference does it make what wheel size you used 25 years ago?

Weight is A factor in the dirt, but it's a compromise between weight-technical competence-cost. Keep weight in mind, but 2lbs isn't necessarily a bad thing for the total experience.

It sounds like you're interested in easy terrain. Do you think that will hold true long-term? How many hours do you think you'll be out on a long-ish ride?

The timberjack and DV9 are very very similar bikes. Basically the same. The chameleon is a bit more capable, but still an XC bike. The 5010 is a totally different bike, and not just because of the suspension-ness.
As to wheel size, I was thinking I'm used to a smaller wheel so a jump up to 27.5 wouldn't be as great... but who knows. Don't think I'd like the feel of being higher up on a bik, but again... who knows.

Yeah, most of my rides won't be over 2-3 hours... Would the weight of the Chameleon outweigh its benefits? Seems the DV9 is much lighter...
 

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I picked a Timberjack budget model mainly for the versatility to do regular bike things now (racks and bags and trailer hitch and mixed surface commuting and RV camping) but in the future it’s suitable to upgrade. I traded in a full suspension bike that wasn’t good for any of that, but way better to ride. If I were buying a bike for Mountain Biking as a drive-to-trailhead activity, full suspension for sure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks! That's the feeling I keep getting... I'll probably ride to the trailhead most of the time (about 8 miles on asphalt) though. I guess it boils down to the whole hardtail vs. full suspension thing and it appears that that is a hot-button topic in the dirt world!
 

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For my age and skill level 120 is just fine. I'm not a hard charger and a 1 or 2 ft jump or 3ft drop is my max. I never used all the 130m travel with my 5010 and haven't come close with the 120 on my DV9. So far I really like the feel of the Fox Rhythm stock fork. The 2.6 29er tires are also the sweet spot for me. The 27.5+ on the Chameleon felt a bit sluggish for me but that was only on a street test ride. If I had gone with the Chameleon I would have gone 29er with an upgrade to 2.5 or 2.6 if they would fit.
Our daughters partner did just get a carbon Chameleon 29er and we'll likely be riding together this weekend so I'm looking forward to trading off for a bit to get a real world test ride.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks! Would be interested to have your thoughts once you've ridden both. I'm definitely not going to be doing any big jumps so the travel isn't a huge deal I guess. Just wondering if the full sun will just be more comfortable over a couple hours...

For my age and skill level 120 is just fine. I'm not a hard charger and a 1 or 2 ft jump or 3ft drop is my max. I never used all the 130m travel with my 5010 and haven't come close with the 120 on my DV9. So far I really like the feel of the Fox Rhythm stock fork. The 2.6 29er tires are also the sweet spot for me. The 27.5+ on the Chameleon felt a bit sluggish for me but that was only on a street test ride. If I had gone with the Chameleon I would have gone 29er with an upgrade to 2.5 or 2.6 if they would fit.
Our daughters partner did just get a carbon Chameleon 29er and we'll likely be riding together this weekend so I'm looking forward to trading off for a bit to get a real world test ride.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
For my age and skill level 120 is just fine. I'm not a hard charger and a 1 or 2 ft jump or 3ft drop is my max. I never used all the 130m travel with my 5010 and haven't come close with the 120 on my DV9. So far I really like the feel of the Fox Rhythm stock fork. The 2.6 29er tires are also the sweet spot for me. The 27.5+ on the Chameleon felt a bit sluggish for me but that was only on a street test ride. If I had gone with the Chameleon I would have gone 29er with an upgrade to 2.5 or 2.6 if they would fit.
Our daughters partner did just get a carbon Chameleon 29er and we'll likely be riding together this weekend so I'm looking forward to trading off for a bit to get a real world test ride.
Hi... did you ever get to ride the Chameleon? Thoughts on how it compares to the DV9? Thx!
 

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Hi... did you ever get to ride the Chameleon? Thoughts on how it compares to the DV9? Thx!
I didn't get to ride it. It looks like a great bike though. My stepson's first mountain bike and he's having a blast. Still loving my DV9. Put some narrower carbon bars, 740m, with 10mm more rise and I feel really dialed in.....for a 69 yr old recreational rider. The price has gone up substantially since I got mine, $2550 plus shipping from Competive, and Ibis site is now showing over $2700 but now with 12sp eagle. It's still a few hundred less than the similar spec'd carbon Chameleon. I'll be seeing our stepson tomorrow nite and will see if I can cajol him into trying his bike.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
OK, so I've decided I'm going to get a hardtail. Which of these would you choose?

1. 2019 Santa Cruz Chameleon R+ build for $1800
2. 2019 Ibis DV9 NX build for $2100
3. 2020 Specialized Fuse Expert 29 for $2100

As far as I can tell, here are the pluses and minuses....the Chameleon has crappy SRAM hubs but has a dropper and good fork. The DV9 has good components but no dropper. The Fuse has good components but a so-so fork but I like the naked aluminum look.... I think the deal on the Chameleon is the best but I still can't decide. Any help would be appreciated. I forgot to mention that I am in an area with really steep climbing on fairly loose, sandy and dry conditions... Thx!
 

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All three look like fine bikes. Are you able to test all three? Still sold on my DV9. My NX build came with dropper, 29x2.6, and weighs 3#less than the Chameleon albeit that SC has +tires and wheels and is aluminum. My son in law is loving his carbon Chameleon. No experience with the Fuse.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks, latif! I rode the Chameleon and the Fuse in the lot and they felt pretty darn similar... the Chameleon obviously had fatter tires so it felt a bit more comfy. The DV9 is pretty much a special order everywhere so can't ride it... The Chameleon is a closeout so the price is 30% off, which is making it hard to resist.

All three look like fine bikes. Are you able to test all three? Still sold on my DV9. My NX build came with dropper, 29x2.6, and weighs 3#less than the Chameleon albeit that SC has +tires and wheels and is aluminum. My son in law is loving his carbon Chameleon. No experience with the Fuse.
 

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The Chameleon R+ build at that price sounds like a great deal. I test rode one but for me the bigger tires felt sluggish. The 29X2.6 on my Ibis has worked great for me so far. The Chameleon does have the option with the adjustable dropouts to change to 29er down the road. Good luck!
 

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To complicate matters, the bike shop is also offering 30% off a 2019 Santa Cruz 5010 C S build... Now I have to decide whether I should go full suspension...
5010, hand down. If you think you are going to be into riding single-track that is anything other than flat and featureless, FS is way more fun. I have a rad hardtail and a rad short-travel 29er, and I pick the FS bike every time I ride.

I had taken a couple years off of riding. When I got back into it, I got a hardtail. Within two seasons I also got a FS. So, you could be saving money by starting with FS.

I'm not saying hardtails aren't fun. They are. Just not nearly as fun as FS. Spend the money, somebody on the internet gave you permission.

Oh, and a dropper is required. I'd rather have a hardtail with a dropper than an FS with a rigid post. Really, get a dropper. I didn't believe it until I had one.
 
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