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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am looking for some advice and suggestions on a new bike, which I have narrowed down to the Top Fuel 9.8 or the Anthem X Advanced SL 1.

I was into XC racing when I was younger, but layed off the racing because of school and other commitments. I still continued to ride quite frequently. My current bike is an aluminum Specialized Stumpjumper HT, and my previous bike was also a hardtail (GT Zaskar).

I just got back into racing this past summer and realized how much I love it. So I'm in the market for a new bike, but want to step it up to one of the newer carbon full-suspension machines. These are looking good since they both are good for XC racing, but can also perform as "light-duty" trailbikes.

Both bikes are very close in price and spec'd with very similar components (mostly XT, Fox RP23 in the rear and Fox up front, both have 3.9" travel front and rear, etc). Although there are some differences I've noticed such as a tapered headset/steerer spec'd with the newer FIT damper in the Fox fork on the Anthem X, while the 9.8 uses an F-series with the standard 1-1/8" steerer.

Here is the issue: obviously the suspension designs are different, and therefore will perform differently. I have not test ridden the Anthem X Advanced since none of the shops around here have had it in stock yet. From speaking with the guys at the shops, it seems like most of them will not have any in stock since it will be a order-in bike for the most part due to the price. So how can I compare the two bikes if I can't test it?
I have basically sat on the 9.8 at a bike show. However, there was no room to ride it enough to get a good feel for it, not to mention the shock wasn't setup at all. So again, havent really tested it, and most shops in the area won't stock this bike.

So here is where I need some advice. I'm looking for the one with better suspension characteristics for XC racing (no bob on climbs or out-of-saddle sprints, snappier acceleration, better overall feel, etc)
Has anyone ridden both of these bikes and can help me make a decision?? Is one suspension design superior to the other?? Any advice, suggestions, or opinions appreciated.

http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes/mountain_full_suspension/top_fuel/topfuel98/

http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-US/bikes/model/anthem.x.advanced.sl.1/3895/36665/

Both are so sexy.
 

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Take a trip, man....

I've purchased a lot of bikes. One mistake I made when I first starting buying bikes is purchasing based on bling and specs.

What I do now is what I'm suggesting for you:

Identify a couple of mountain biking destinations. Call a couple shops out there and ask them if they carry the bikes you're looking at. When you find a destination with the bikes, book a trip and go ride both of them. You get a win-win: You get to choose absolutely the right bike for you and you get to test the bikes on epic singletrack.

It sounds expensive. I don't think it is. My last bike purchase was 4 years ago after riding a demo around Fruita/Junction/Moab for a couple days. I have no desire for a new bike. No wanderlust whatsoever.
 

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Test ride the lower end versions. I would guess the geometry is the same, and the suspension is going to work the same. You can at least see if you like the fit, and test out the suspension designs, to some degree. Maybe one will stand out to you.

I would be shocked to find a carbon demo bike, for the masses to go bashing around on, but what do I know.

You might get a good response in the Racing forum, too.

I have an Ax2, but I can not compare the two.
 

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d365 said:
Test ride the lower end versions. I would guess the geometry is the same, and the suspension is going to work the same. You can at least see if you like the fit, and test out the suspension designs, to some degree. Maybe one will stand out to you.

I would be shocked to find a carbon demo bike, for the masses to go bashing around on, but what do I know.

You might get a good response in the Racing forum, too.

I have an Ax2, but I can not compare the two.
I am not sure about the geo, but after riding an Anthem X3 and and Anthem X1 both 2010 models they handle and feel very different. I would try and find the model your looking for but if you can not get the closest model to it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Ken in KC said:
I've purchased a lot of bikes. One mistake I made when I first starting buying bikes is purchasing based on bling and specs.

What I do now is what I'm suggesting for you:

Identify a couple of mountain biking destinations. Call a couple shops out there and ask them if they carry the bikes you're looking at. When you find a destination with the bikes, book a trip and go ride both of them. You get a win-win: You get to choose absolutely the right bike for you and you get to test the bikes on epic singletrack.

It sounds expensive. I don't think it is. My last bike purchase was 4 years ago after riding a demo around Fruita/Junction/Moab for a couple days. I have no desire for a new bike. No wanderlust whatsoever.
So I'm from Ontario and called 4 bike shops in Michigan who carry either Giant or Trek thinking I can do something like you mentioned, but within one days' driving distance. I get the same reply from all of them: if they have one in stock you can test it in the lot only. They all said pretty much the same thing: no shop is going to let people trail test higher-end carbon fiber demo bikes in this price range.
 

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Head farther away....

bagz007 said:
So I'm from Ontario and called 4 bike shops in Michigan who carry either Giant or Trek thinking I can do something like you mentioned, but within one days' driving distance. I get the same reply from all of them: if they have one in stock you can test it in the lot only. They all said pretty much the same thing: no shop is going to let people trail test higher-end carbon fiber demo bikes in this price range.
Think festivals and epic destinations. Pedro's fest, demo days, Moab, Big Bear, etc. There are lots of opportunities to ride the bikes on trails. You just have to find the right shop/festival, etc.

Contact sales at Trek and Giant. Tell them that you want to buy their bike but want to test ride it on trails first. Ask them where some demo days will be where you can do that.
 

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No one else has said it, so I will. I think they are both
great bikes and you can't go wrong either way. If it is to
much of a pain to get a test ride then there isn't much
you can do. If it was me, I would get the the one you
like best, or the one you can get the best deal on. Its
a win win, they are both great bikes.

Best, John
 

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What has you locked on those 2 possibilities ? Have you considered any other brands ? The big companies make great bikes but the dealers tend to cater more to the under $1,500 buyer as that makes up the majority of their sales. Maybe seek out a dealer that caters more to the higher end clientele and see what they have. You might find another brand that meets all your wishes.
 

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Great advice in each response.
I'd like to add that I've ridden both in noncarbon models.......I just bought an Anthem from the shop I usually do biz with. You can't go wrong with either. Had my shop also sold Trek, I would have labored and agonized over the decision b/c both are THAT good.
If you can only ride one and you like IT, buy it.
 

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Do your best to find out if Trek or Giant will have a demo day in your area.. I decided on my current 2010 Trek EX Fuel 9.8 after a long trail ride the bike totally amazed me on how well it scurried up hills, descending the bike ate up everything.. I was instantly a faster rider. Specialized, Gary Fisher bikes didn't care for them.. A test ride in a parking lot will not give you that absolute yes or no deciding factor that only comes with actually being in the trails hitting ride over’s, attacking hills or technical navigation. Have Patience wait for the opportunity to demo ..
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Another contender: Blur XC Carbon

92gli said:
What has you locked on those 2 possibilities ? Have you considered any other brands ? The big companies make great bikes but the dealers tend to cater more to the under $1,500 buyer as that makes up the majority of their sales. Maybe seek out a dealer that caters more to the higher end clientele and see what they have. You might find another brand that meets all your wishes.
I'm locked on these two since I'm looking for something XC race orientated, but also versatile enough to do some all-day trail riding without fusing my vertebrae. After much debate, I have decided to go with a carbon/composite frame as well. And I know Trek and Giant put alot of R&D into their bikes, and have pretty solid frame warranties.

And yes, I have heard alot of positive things about the Santa Cruz Blur XC carbon, so that might also be a possibilty as it falls into my price range. Although the 69.5 degree head tube angle seems like it would be less "racier" than the other two bikes. But I guess I shouldn't go solely by numbers, just ride it and see. But then the same issue arises, trail testing a costly carbon bike is not something shops around here are too fond of.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Stardust said:
Do your best to find out if Trek or Giant will have a demo day in your area.. I decided on my current 2010 Trek EX Fuel 9.8 after a long trail ride the bike totally amazed me on how well it scurried up hills, descending the bike ate up everything.. I was instantly a faster rider. Specialized, Gary Fisher bikes didn't care for them.. A test ride in a parking lot will not give you that absolute yes or no deciding factor that only comes with actually being in the trails hitting ride over's, attacking hills or technical navigation. Have Patience wait for the opportunity to demo ..
I've checked to see if there will be any demo day events, and nothing around here really. I live in Canada, and we generally have a 30% mark-up on anything bike related. So that $4500 bike in the US sells here for something closer to $5900. And dont forget the 14% sales tax on top of that. Thats why I'm guessing there arent nearly as many factory demo oppurtunities here since product costs are way high, which makes buying demand lower, which in turn makes it un-appealing for companies to do these demos here. Needless to say I rarely purchase anything bike related over here, especially when time comes for a new bike.

On the bright side, I live just across the border from Detroit, Michigan. So I will see if there are any demo events around.

But honestly, I have little patience for demos and would like to just pick something up from a local shop in Michigan. That's why I'm asking everyone for their experiences/opinions with these models specifically.
 

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If you want to go with carbon you should give
the Yeti ASR-Carbon a good look. It is a wonderful
bike, and I can't think of a bad thing to say about
it. It is light, fast, and strong.

Best, John
 
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