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I realize the two bikes in the subject line are very different animals, but here me out.

It's been 9 years since I've purchased a new bike. I'm looking for a fast full suspension trail bike and had pretty much decided on a Cannondale RZ120 last summer until discovering the whole 29er scene. After reading all the reviews, pros / cons, etc. I went out and test rode a few 29er hardtails and full suspension bikes, albeit in parking lots only. I discovered that 29ers handled much differently across the various manufacturers. While I haven't actually ridden one, I've pretty much decided I wanted a Jet 9 with a moderate build for my next bike. I'm making an assumption that I'll like the handling of the Jet based on reviews, geometry comparisons, and my experience with other 29ers. It wouldn't be easy for me to test ride a Jet as no LBSs near me carry them in stock.

However, as of yesterday, my local Cannondale dealer has a great deal on a leftover RZ120 3..........$800 off of retail. Now I'm trying to decide if the Jet is really worth the extra $650 over the RZ. I'm questioning whether or not my infatuation with the big wheels is justified. Thoughts?
 

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I have a 2010 Specialized Stumpjumper Expert 29er hardtail now. My previous bike was a Cannondale Rize 130. The stumpjumper is much faster, more comfortable, easier to climb with, and handles technical climbs much better than the rize could. I know I'm comparing a hardtail to a full-suspension, but I would take the 29er any day. I will probably not ever go back to a 26" mountain bike. If I were in your shoes, I would take the Jet9 without a doubt. Now granted, what would be best for you has multiple factors such as what you are comfortable with, terrain, etc... I was actually looking into getting a Rip9 to compliment my hardtail for days when I just want to play around on the trails rather than go as hard/fast as I can. My local terrain is central Texas roots/rocks. Yours may be drastically different, which will alter your decision. Just my 2 cents since I came from a similar bike to what I have now. Good luck on getting your next bike.

-Clinton
 

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If you like the Jet 9, and the way it rides, I would strongly recommend that you also demo a RIP before putting your hard earned money down. I ended up getting both. How rough and rocky are the single track and chunk out in New Hampshire? A 120mm rear end bike would come in nice if it's rough, compared to an 80mm rear end, which is better on smaller stuff thats more smooth.

It's your money, spend it wisely. Don't settle for what your bike shop has in stock and is blowing out, get what you really want. Ask questions around here, and you'll end up with a build that will keep you happy for a long time.
 

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The first factor for me would be fit and feel of the bike. If you like one over the other, then it makes your choice easy. If they are similar I'd go with whatever build is going to have better equipment. I would venture a guess that the Niner is going to have better parts because it's $650 more than the RZ.

What kind of trails do you ride?
 

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TwoHeadsBrewing said:
The first factor for me would be fit and feel of the bike. If you like one over the other, then it makes your choice easy. If they are similar I'd go with whatever build is going to have better equipment. I would venture a guess that the Niner is going to have better parts because it's $650 more than the RZ.

What kind of trails do you ride?
While I agree about the fit and feel of the bike, I don't necessarily agree with the second part. Parts spec is important, but the bigger decisions are 26 v. 29; trail vs. "race" bike. I say "race" because that is what the Jet really is, but it is very versatile and can make an acceptable short travel trail bike.

Upgrade parts as you go, but figure out whether 29er is the way for you to go. If it is, nothing else will satisfy. Finally, don't count out the cheaper bikes. The Jet9 is awesome, but there are a lot of VERY good bikes that can be had for less. Spearfish, Rumblefish, Voodoo, Camber, etc.
 

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I was debating between the those two exact bikes last fall. I ended up choosing the Jet9 and haven't thought about an RZ since. The Jet is a great handling bike for me. Of course it is not as nimble as a 26er but I love the way it maintains momentum and rails corners.
 

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i rode cannondale since i started riding in 1998 nothing else! i had them all... i was going to pick up a rize about 2 years ago when my dealer recommended i test ride a niner jet 9 first generation. guess what i walked with? a jet 9, i now ride a niner wfo9, go 29er its better! i dont understand why the big c doesnt have a 29er dual suspension in there line up?
 

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There was a whole bike shootout in MB Action magazine. You can actually see how the bike stood up in competition within the same class. I will tell you ahead of time that it came in last place. I know the $650 pricetag might be hefty, but its probably well worth it. The Jet9 is a race bike, pure and simple. The RZ120 is a trail bike with 120mm suspension, the Niner Jet9 is 80/100 which because of the 29" wheel will feel like more suspension...closer to the 120mm.

From a customer service perspective, I can only comment my negative experinence with Cannondale with a warranty problem. From what I heard, Niner has stellar customer service. I don't want to be bias on this subject because if I had a choice of a Flash 29 or a Niner A9C, I would go with the Flash, even with the bad customer service w/ them..but I would have to think about it before pulling the trigger.

I feel like you are getting a more sophisticated suspension that will pedal better and give you a lot more smiles in the long run, but in the end, you have to get the bike that fits you, and your budget. I don't want to steer you away from a 26" even in the 29er forums, but simply put, the RZ120 is purely outclassed by the Jet9, there is no comparison...its not even worth comparing. I would also say look at some of the other rigs out there. Giant's AnthemX29 has been getting a lot of raves too! There is also the Salsa Spearfish..but I think the Anthem has the edge in that battle..but thats up to preference. There is also the HiFi, the Stumpjumper, Titus Rockstar bikes are on clearance..which gives great bang for the buck right now. I would really look at the AnthemX29 and the Niner Jet9 and really get a comparison there...maybe if you can get some trail time, or even a pump track..or even some grass with some roots...
 

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This type of decision can come down to so many factors. Like your riding style, terrain, weight, and expectations.

I ride a Rize 140 and love it. It took me a while to get a good base suspension setting. But, I just love it now. The 26" wheels are great and versatile, I can either put on really light weight wheels/tires for excellent climbing and slower speed trail rides or put on big beefy rubber with wide rims for downhill type attempts (and still climb, somewhat). I have thought about getting a 29er and every time I get on the 26er Rize I think I need a 29er as a second bike. Because, I don't think it will be as versatile (as I said above). But, it could be. The 26" Rize is just such a smooth ride.

So, I think if you are looking for a versatile bike the 26" full suspension RZ120 would likely be the better option. But, I really like the full suspension for comfort aswell as the added performance compared to a 26" hard tail. For longer rides the suspension keeps my lower body fresher..... actually sometimes I think I am out on my road bike.

(Note: I purchased a RZ120 for my kid and found the X Fusion rear shock had way too much compression damping for proper movement)..... not sure how many could be affected by this, especially since X-Fusion told me it was "normal".
 
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