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doesn't matter what I recommend, at all.

go find what bikes are keeping professional racers in the game...go get those bikes
Unless your racing yourself it doesn't really matter how fast the bikes are. For example, Salsa makes great bikes but you never see their bikes winning world cups.
 

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My opinion on brands:

Santa Cruz focuses a lot on long-lasting MTBs. They're the type you buy and then sort of shut yourself off from magazines, forums, and other media/news sources that get you to try the latest and greatest incremental performance tweaks. They generally are reluctant to sell bad mountain bikes, having a relatively high standard as mtb enthusiasts.

Yeti is known to try and perfect the ultimate "trail bike". They're racy. One ride on one and it'll give you that "dating a supermodel" feel. Pricey, and deserving of spoiling (given quality love, care, and other attention). Under a normal rider, prob not really that much faster than another brand, but the bike by itself will get a lot of envious looks, with the rider seen as a lucky bastard.

There's a theme here, that if you don't split your attention across dozens of different disciplines, giving more of that attention to a few select products, you get a more refined product.

Ibis has sort of a compliant and lively feel like Specialized, but a bit more of a solid premium feel with more focus on the MTB realm.

Pivot is similar, with a premium stiff and solid Trek hard-charging precise ride feel.

Niner has a sort of a more premium/solid Giant-like plush easy-rider feel. They're not as highly regarded as SC, Yeti, Ibis, and Pivot since they've sold crappy entry-level bikes like Trek, Spec, and Giant do that no self-respecting MTBer would be satisfied riding serious mtb on (like me). The existence of a high-end range doesn't matter when ignorant types seeking recommendation are likely to go with a lower-cost option and such crap exists with the brand's name on it...

This is a common theme, where brands can't be recommended since there's some crap in their line-up that only an ignorant beginner would be stoked on. For example, Marin has a few hot picks for BMXer-turned-MTBer. Their hot models are simple, good value, compact and balanced geo that's jump-friendly. Discerning MTB enthusiasts hate to say it, but would advise staying away from certain models in their line-up. Since they hate to say it, they'd sometimes avoid bad-mouthing by not suggesting the brand in the first place, or being vague by saying some bikes from Marin can be good, or not entirely bad... some might even hate the brand judging, and say there's not a bad bike out there, comparing to very low standards like decades-old bikes. When you're comparing what is the best choice now, for a certain amount of money, the difference between best choice and mediocre choice is enough that research pays off.

Since there's no real bad picks from SC, Yeti, Ibis, etc. they're easy to recommend as brands (can't go wrong with ___). You'd have to be willing to read thick posts full of nitty-gritty to judge by other brands. Just not wise to judge by brand anyways. Spec as a brand has a lot to dislike, but even some of the most picky MTBers would not mind riding some of their top MTB picks (e.g. Stumpy Evo, Enduro), liking some of the unique features like SWAT.
Santa Cruz bikes have always seemed far too overpriced to me but I've never actually ridden one. Did they really feel that much better and last that much longer?
 

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Unless your racing yourself it doesn't really matter how fast the bikes are. For example, Salsa makes great bikes but you never see their bikes winning world cups.
Bikes do not win races
Riders win races

a salsa with the right rider would win a world cup
and lots of other brands ditto
 

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Trail Rider
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Santa Cruz bikes have always seemed far too overpriced to me but I've never actually ridden one. Did they really feel that much better and last that much longer?
Built brickhouse strong, but with that comes a little bit of extra weight. Durability is really more dependent on an owner's diligence when it comes to bike maintenance.

Previous bike - large '20 Hightower 2 CC frame 7.25#
That's with shock, seatclamp. No thru axle

'21 S4 Stumpy 5.69 #
with shock, seatclamp, thru axle, swat cover w/bottle cage

I think I could break both frames with the right crash

I think I could get similar lifetime use out of both frames
helps that I'm a bike mechanic with the ultimate set of tools
1927540




The full build HT2 came in at 32.5 #. Climbed like a pig, but great on the downs. Their bikes have a "stout" feel.

SJ 28 # Climbs like an XC bike, descends like a 140/130mm bike. Very capable, more trail feedback, but very agile

I almost got a Blur before I bought the Stumpy.
 

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Self Appointed Judge&Jury
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That’s the way I always felt about the Scott brand, too. I rarely bump into anyone that has one out here... and whenever I do, they’re typically a mountain biker second. Not knocking the Scott brand or anything, just relating my personal experience.
=sParty
Scott was sold at sporting good stores years ago. To me that’s just a tad better than a department store bike. I know they’ve gotten better over the years but have they really entered the “high end” marketplace? I don’t think so.
 

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Built brickhouse strong, but with that comes a little bit of extra weight. Durability is really more dependent on an owner's diligence when it comes to bike maintenance.

Previous bike - large '20 Hightower 2 CC frame 7.25#
That's with shock, seatclamp. No thru axle

'21 S4 Stumpy 5.69 #
with shock, seatclamp, thru axle, swat cover w/bottle cage

I think I could break both frames with the right crash

I think I could get similar lifetime use out of both frames
helps that I'm a bike mechanic with the ultimate set of tools
View attachment 1927540



The full build HT2 came in at 32.5 #. Climbed like a pig, but great on the downs. Their bikes have a "stout" feel.

SJ 28 # Climbs like an XC bike, descends like a 140/130mm bike. Very capable, more trail feedback, but very agile

I almost got a Blur before I bought the Stumpy.
The only bike that I've had for more than a few years is a 1999 Trek 6500 with the frame built in the USA. It's been demoted to a back up bike for a few years now and many of the components have been replaced but the frame is still fine after many years of heavy use. I guess it's hard to go wrong with a built in the USA aluminum hardtail though.
 

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always licking the glass
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That’s silly

and none of my employees post on bike forums
it’s one of the few things I have rules about

I post under my name only
You post under the name “bikesdirect” just like I post under “stripes.” Pretty sure they aren’t our names.
 

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Bikesdirect
Website looks ok but in these unprecedented times ALL websites need to have an "In Stock" feature to allow people to see what's available now, not in 2 yrs.

EDIT: I was able to find a few in-stock options. Sure makes life easier
 

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Self Appointed Judge&Jury
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Website looks ok but in these unprecedented times ALL websites need to have an "In Stock" feature to allow people to see what's available now, not in 2 yrs.

EDIT: I was able to find a few in-stock options. Sure makes life easier
That's how they suck you in by not having a feature telling you quickly what’s in stock and what’s not.
 

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That's how they suck you in by not having a feature telling you quickly what’s in stock and what’s not.
Well I was able to kind of find that feature on "bikesdirect" however he doesn;t carry what I'm after.

As for the websites that don't have an "In-Stock" button, I merely glance and leave once I find out as it's not worth my time.
Also, If they did actually have bikes available, they'd make it known.
 

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Santa Cruz Hightower C XXL
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If I had to have the perfect bike right now, I couldn't get it. 'OUT OF STOCK'. Then again I ride an XXL frame which really narrows my options. Fortunately, I have the perfect bike...for me. Love my SC HT C.
 
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