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Got a buddy out of Charlotte, NC doing research now on new 29ers. He's narrowed it down to the Santa Cruz Tall Boy Carbon, and two Treks, the Remedy 9.8 (in carbon) and the Fuel 9. This will be his second mountain bike, and it's a big jump from what he has now (a Trek hardtail). Day to day riding will be in Charlotte at Sherman Branch, the Whitewater Center, etc., and his weekend jaunts will be to Pisgah and DuPont. Height is 6' 1", and weight is 195 if it matters!

In put is welcome, guys and gals!
 

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I demo'ed the Fuel and Remedy 29" and the Tallboy LT, not the shorter travel Tallboy. I narrowed my choice down to the TBLTc. I'm 5'11, 205 lbs and ride in the northeast on predominately rocky, rooty trails with short climbs and drops. I do not let my wheels leave the ground if I can help it so the ability for a bike to "jump" is not a concern.

Between the Fuel and Remedy, which I rode back to back on the type of trail I described, I preferred the Remedy because it rolled over things better than the Fuel. I also demoed the 27.5" versions of these bikes and liked the bigger wheels better.

Next, I spent a day comparing the Pivot 429 and the SC TBLTa, not the TBc your friend was interested in. In the end, the TBLT was a better fit for what I was looking for. On one hand, I felt comfortable riding smoother XC trails while it had the reserve to tackle more technical riding. Since I find most rides a combination of both, I liked that.

There was nothing wrong with the Pivot but the travel was about the same as the 26" FS I am replacing so I wanted to go bigger if I was spending $5k. To me, it was pretty much a toss up between the DW link of the Pivot and the VPP on the SC. I could live happily with either. Honestly, the Trek rode very well too. Their approach to rear suspension was different but no worse to me.

Next week I'm going to a Santa Cruz demo day in Pennsylvania where I will once again take the TBLT out and also try the 27.5" Bronson and 5010 just to be sure before I make a purchase in June. The park the demo is being held in is supposed to be pretty technical.

Not having ridden the shorter travel Tallboy, I can not comment directly on how it compares to the Fuel and Remedy but, at least travel wise, it is the same as the Pivot.

I hope this helps. In the end, with the kind of money being spent, actually riding the three bikes is more important than anything I can say since I am only repeating my experience and the type of rider, age, etc. is going to vary greatly with each individual.
 

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Your friend could start to find out what he likes by hitting some demos. Especially any on his home trails.
He's making a big move and spending a good chunk. Recalibration is ahead. Two similarly placed bikes would be the 9.8 and a Following.
Both have video reviews on the 15 Bible of Bikes for some info.
 

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I tested the Trek Fuel 8 27.5, Remedy 9.8 27.5", and ended up purchasing the Remedy 9.8 29". If your friend tests out the Treks make sure he tries the shock set up for his weight and in Climb mode. The Re:Activ shock is an amazing thing.

Bike Magazine's Bible of Bike Tests test:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjWMuSgRfaw
 

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I have lots of time on both the Fuel and Remedy 9.8 (not sure why your friend is considering Remedy 9.8 but Fuel 9?). Nothing on the Santa Cruz.

My two cents: If you ride a lot of chunk, go Remedy. If you ride more smoothish stuff, go Fuel. A Pike 120 on the Fuel splits the difference nicely.

The Remedy just flows over everything, while still pedaling really well. The Fuel has a bit more "snap".

Not exactly surprising stuff, I know, but first hand, real world observations.
 

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I went through the same choice late last year, early this year... Really I got it narrowed down to the Fuel EX, Scott Genius and Tallboy or Tallboy LT. Finally ordered the LTc and it's been outstanding. I will say the reactive and even the basic DRCV Fox shocks on the back are awesome on the Treks, but neither the Remedy or Fuel blew me away with fun. They were great bikes well balanced and tons of grip, you can't go wrong, but for me there was something missing... The Santa Cruz Tallboy and LT just had a more fun factor to me.
 
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