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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all. I’m new to this forum and this is my first post.

I’m in the market for a new full suspension mountain bike. I first started researching a couple of months ago.

My budget at the time was like $3,000. I was looking at the Trek Fuel EX 5. And then I figured if I was already spending that much I might as well spend a little more for the 7. And then I figured if I was spending that much I might as well get the 8. Then I was like, well, for like another $500 I can get the 9.7 and a carbon frame.…etc. etc. etc.

So now I’ve basically upped my budget to around what I think I will get for my dirt bike when it sells, $5,500-$6000.

Here is the riding I plan on doing: I live in Sacramento, CA and the local trails are mostly flat or rolling single-track out at Folsom lake. Day trips to nearby Auburn or Placerville areas can bring a little more variety in terms of elevation changes, and my wife’s Godfather lives in Truckee who’s house backs up to the Donner Lake Rim trail, and other bike trails are within riding distance in the Tahoe Donner subdivision he lives in. Also bike parks at Boreal and Northstar are both 15 minutes away and Lake Tahoe and all the trails in the area are also easily accessible.

I can only have 1 bike, so I’m thinking something versatile and “all-mountain” or “trail bike” or whatever we are calling it these days.

As for experience, I’m 47 years old and been riding bikes all my life. Did some BMX as a kid, a little motorcycle road and off road endurance racing in my 20s and 30s, and now ride a dirt bike (which I’m selling to get the mnt bike, I have a road bike and a 15 year old hard tail mnt bike, both Treks.

I’ve narrowed it down to 4 bikes:

1. SC Hightower carbon S build
2. SC Bronson carbon S build
3. Niner Rip 9 RDO (4 star build)
4. Trek Fuel EX 9.8

As we all know it’s pretty difficult to find any of these and test ride, let alone finding them all in 1 place to compare. The SC bikes I will have to order and the wait is the wait. The Niner I can buy from a certain internet company that has my size in stock, and my local Trek dealer has 2 Fuel EX 9.8s.

I’m leaning towards the Trek simply because it‘s comes with carbon wheels and bars and is $500 less than the Santa Cruz bikes and only $200 more than the Niner. My fear, if there is one, is that I’m dropping 5+ grad on a Trek. I‘ve owned nothing but Trek bicycles for 15 years and spending that much coin on a brand that my neighbor’s 6 year old kid is also riding kinda irks me. Juvenile, I know.

Any thoughts on the above bikes would be greatly appreciated. I have come to the conclusion that I want more travel to have the stability going faster downhill even if I have to suffer a little more on the climbs. And I apologize for my ignorance on all of this in advance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
XT Fuel 9.8 has good spec at 29 lbs.
For your primary terrain and budget I'd look at a Scott Spark and Spec Epic Evo at ~25 lbs.
Very capable and fun.
A new Top Fuel is coming and works with a 130 fork.
XT Fuel 9.8 has good spec at 29 lbs.
For your primary terrain and budget I'd look at a Scott Spark and Spec Epic Evo at ~25 lbs.
Very capable and fun.
A new Top Fuel is coming and works with a 130 fork.
Thanks for the tips. I won't buy a Specialized for personal reasons, but I appreciate the feedback. I went to the Scott website and looked at their Sparks. In my price range ($5k-$6k) I only see the 910 and 920, and in an XL frame (I'm 6'2, 200) they weigh in at 27 and 28lbs, respectively. I'm admittedly unfamiliar with Scott; is there a certain model Spark I should be looking for to find the 25lb bike? The wheels and bars on the Scott are also aluminum, vs. carbon on the Trek. My local dealer has the Trek in stock as well so it's also a matter of convenience as I'd have to hunt down a Scott that's my size and in stock.
 

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My local dealer has the Trek in stock as well so it's also a matter of convenience as I'd have to hunt down a Scott that's my size and in stock.
In all honesty, availability has moved a good bit higher on shopping priority lists in the past year and a half or so. Fit still trumps all, but availability is probably #2.

I'm incredibly glad that I'm not shopping right now because of the availability issues. It's not a clear answer for you, but I would honestly restructure my list based on what's actually available. Broaden my search a bit to include direct-to-consumer bikes. That should give you some different items to add to your decision matrix.

Also, I wouldn't necessarily rule anything out just because it has aluminum bars/wheels instead of carbon. Just because it's carbon doesn't necessarily mean it's better. My current bike has alu bars and rims and they've been outstanding. I'd totally buy them again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
In all honesty, availability has moved a good bit higher on shopping priority lists in the past year and a half or so. Fit still trumps all, but availability is probably #2.

I'm incredibly glad that I'm not shopping right now because of the availability issues. It's not a clear answer for you, but I would honestly restructure my list based on what's actually available. Broaden my search a bit to include direct-to-consumer bikes. That should give you some different items to add to your decision matrix.

Also, I wouldn't necessarily rule anything out just because it has aluminum bars/wheels instead of carbon. Just because it's carbon doesn't necessarily mean it's better. My current bike has alu bars and rims and they've been outstanding. I'd totally buy them again.
Thanks, Harold. I hear what you're saying about carbon vs. aluminum. The point I was making is the Trek is $5,500 with carbon bars and rims where the Scott is $6,000 with aluminum (the 910 anyway). Both Santa Cruz bikes I'm considering both have aluminum bars and rims as well. It's just that with the Trek, those would be 2 less things to need to upgrade down the road if I wanted to go the carbon route. The Niner also comes with aluminum bars and wheels.

Availability does seem to be steering me in certain directions. The Transition Sentinel is also in the cards as another dealer up in Truckee is getting a couple in next month.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Is there a specific reason you favor carbon components and frame? You could broaden your options if you considered other materials as well.
Hi Dan. I find that carbon framed bikes are more readily available than aluminum. It looks like most aluminum bikes are less expensive than carbon, thus sell faster. I don't actually have the cash in hand yet to buy until I sell my dirt bike. I've seen bikes in the $3000 and under range basically fly out the door. I was actually in Mike's Bike's up in Folsom last month when they rolled a new Trek Fuel EX 8 out on the floor and it was purchased while I was still there checking out Niners (which they have also since sold out of).

I also want a bike I can "grow" into and will last me for a long, long time. I don't want to buy an aluminum frame now and be bummed in 2 years when I realize I should have gotten a carbon bike but it's too late to upgrade cause my kids need the new Nintendo Switch for Christmas. I'm basically hedging my bets by shopping for a carbon frame. The carbon components are just a reason to get the Trek, as it's $500 less than the SC bikes with aluminum bits. Which I'm fine with if I go that route. I'm just looking at a pretty Nice bike in the Trek with carbon bits vs. 2 kick-ass bikes in the SC store with aluminum bits. I'm basically looking for someone to talk me out of the Trek.
 

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Hi all. I'm new to this forum and this is my first post.

I'm in the market for a new full suspension mountain bike. I first started researching a couple of months ago.

My budget at the time was like $3,000. I was looking at the Trek Fuel EX 5. And then I figured if I was already spending that much I might as well spend a little more for the 7. And then I figured if I was spending that much I might as well get the 8. Then I was like, well, for like another $500 I can get the 9.7 and a carbon frame.…etc. etc. etc.

So now I've basically upped my budget to around what I think I will get for my dirt bike when it sells, $5,500-$6000.

Here is the riding I plan on doing: I live in Sacramento, CA and the local trails are mostly flat or rolling single-track out at Folsom lake. Day trips to nearby Auburn or Placerville areas can bring a little more variety in terms of elevation changes, and my wife's Godfather lives in Truckee who's house backs up to the Donner Lake Rim trail, and other bike trails are within riding distance in the Tahoe Donner subdivision he lives in. Also bike parks at Boreal and Northstar are both 15 minutes away and Lake Tahoe and all the trails in the area are also easily accessible.

I can only have 1 bike, so I'm thinking something versatile and "all-mountain" or "trail bike" or whatever we are calling it these days.

As for experience, I'm 47 years old and been riding bikes all my life. Did some BMX as a kid, a little motorcycle road and off road endurance racing in my 20s and 30s, and now ride a dirt bike (which I'm selling to get the mnt bike, I have a road bike and a 15 year old hard tail mnt bike, both Treks.

I've narrowed it down to 4 bikes:

1. SC Hightower carbon S build
2. SC Bronson carbon S build
3. Niner Rip 9 RDO (4 star build)
4. Trek Fuel EX 9.8

As we all know it's pretty difficult to find any of these and test ride, let alone finding them all in 1 place to compare. The SC bikes I will have to order and the wait is the wait. The Niner I can buy from a certain internet company that has my size in stock, and my local Trek dealer has 2 Fuel EX 9.8s.

I'm leaning towards the Trek simply because it's comes with carbon wheels and bars and is $500 less than the Santa Cruz bikes and only $200 more than the Niner. My fear, if there is one, is that I'm dropping 5+ grad on a Trek. I've owned nothing but Trek bicycles for 15 years and spending that much coin on a brand that my neighbor's 6 year old kid is also riding kinda irks me. Juvenile, I know.

Any thoughts on the above bikes would be greatly appreciated. I have come to the conclusion that I want more travel to have the stability going faster downhill even if I have to suffer a little more on the climbs. And I apologize for my ignorance on all of this in advance.
All of those bikes are nice, can't really go wrong with any of them.

How tall are you? Do you prefer 29 or 27.5 (or mullet) bikes?

For trail systems that are mostly flat with some climbs and some descending but nothing really extreme, I've had good experiences with a SC 5010. The newer models have more travel than the model I used to have but it's just enough bike for most trail riding except for the really gnarly stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
All of those bikes are nice, can't really go wrong with any of them.

How tall are you? Do you prefer 29 or 27.5 (or mullet) bikes?

For trail systems that are mostly flat with some climbs and some descending but nothing really extreme, I've had good experiences with a SC 5010. The newer models have more travel than the model I used to have but it's just enough bike for most trail riding except for the really gnarly stuff.
Thanks. I'm 6'2", 200lbs. I was thinking that since I'd be riding it a bit (prob more than 50%) up in the Lake Tahoe area hills will be something to deal with. Not much flat stuff up there. 29" wheels over 27.5", never risen a mullet before but have heard a lot of good things about the Bronson.
 

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Thanks. I'm 6'2", 200lbs. I was thinking that since I'd be riding it a bit (prob more than 50%) up in the Lake Tahoe area hills will be something to deal with. Not much flat stuff up there.
We're about the same age but I'm 6'8 and 290 pounds. It's really about what you want out of the bike and with some people, they don't like to "over bike" which means get a bike that's capable of doing stuff they may never do or use all that travel and deal with the additional weight. I'm of the other kind of person where I prefer to have a longer travel suspension bike and don't mind if I'm the last one to make it up the climbs because I'm only focused on going down. I ride a Megatower and I chose comfort over sheer performance for my choice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
You can also get a Ripmo AF Deore build, and have enough money left to shop for carbon wheels. A local bike shop could cut a deal for you, or just sell the original wheels as new.
I imagine I could get a lot of aluminum framed bikes and have enough for carbon wheels, but the problem with that is finding an aluminum framed bike that's still for sale and in my size. The money is not really the issue. As I said earlier I don't want to wake up 2 years from now and regret not buying the carbon frame when I could, and then not being able to pull the trigger on the big purchase. The big purchase has to happen now. I can upgrade bits as I go, but probably not an aluminum frame to carbon. My point with the Trek's carbon wheels is that it's already less expensive than the 2 Santa Cruz bikes on the list, and sitting down in the shop whereas the SC bikes would need to be ordered and built and will take weeks if not months. And I can wait, I'd just need a justification for my own piece of mind why I spent $500 more on the SC bike and got aluminum wheels and bars. Again, not a big deal but just a gnawing in my brain.
 

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I imagine I could get a lot of aluminum framed bikes and have enough for carbon wheels, but the problem with that is finding an aluminum framed bike that's still for sale and in my size. The money is not really the issue. As I said earlier I don't want to wake up 2 years from now and regret not buying the carbon frame when I could, and then not being able to pull the trigger on the big purchase. The big purchase has to happen now. I can upgrade bits as I go, but probably not an aluminum frame to carbon. My point with the Trek's carbon wheels is that it's already less expensive than the 2 Santa Cruz bikes on the list, and sitting down in the shop whereas the SC bikes would need to be ordered and built and will take weeks if not months. And I can wait, I'd just need a justification for my own piece of mind why I spent $500 more on the SC bike and got aluminum wheels and bars. Again, not a big deal but just a gnawing in my brain.
You seem to be stuck on the extra carbon bits on the Trek and you missed my point earlier. Not all carbon is created equally. It might be harder to tell, but you can get many, many different grades of carbon. Depends on the fibers themselves, the resins, how many layers, the orientation of the layers of carbon, etc. Not only does this affect the strength of the part, but it also affects the ride quality. Sometimes a great deal. I've had carbon parts in the past that were so stiff that they provided a pretty **** ride quality. And this includes both name brand carbon bits, OEM carbon bits, and direct to consumer china carbon stuff. IME, quality aluminum is often better than a lot of carbon stuff, especially less expensive carbon stuff. And it's often cheaper. You often have to pay out the nose for carbon that's both stronger AND offers a better ride quality. That stuff is out there, but it's very much at the very high end.

So again, don't get stuck on the Trek. Part of their objective of putting more carbon bits on it is marketing, to get the attention of folks who are attracted to the idea that "moar carbon = moar betterer".

Now, if it's the bike that's most available, it fits you, and you like it, then just buy it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
You seem to be stuck on the extra carbon bits on the Trek and you missed my point earlier. Not all carbon is created equally. It might be harder to tell, but you can get many, many different grades of carbon. Depends on the fibers themselves, the resins, how many layers, the orientation of the layers of carbon, etc. Not only does this affect the strength of the part, but it also affects the ride quality. Sometimes a great deal. I've had carbon parts in the past that were so stiff that they provided a pretty **** ride quality. And this includes both name brand carbon bits, OEM carbon bits, and direct to consumer china carbon stuff. IME, quality aluminum is often better than a lot of carbon stuff, especially less expensive carbon stuff. And it's often cheaper. You often have to pay out the nose for carbon that's both stronger AND offers a better ride quality. That stuff is out there, but it's very much at the very high end.

So again, don't get stuck on the Trek. Part of their objective of putting more carbon bits on it is marketing, to get the attention of folks who are attracted to the idea that "moar carbon = moar betterer".

Now, if it's the bike that's most available, it fits you, and you like it, then just buy it.
Thanks, Harold, that's what I needed to hear!
 

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Go on YouTube and search the models you’re looking at and see if anyone has done comparisons. Between that, and shopping local stores to find the one I felt will support me best (and vice versa), I went with Santa Cruz. My local shop/owner is top notch and gave me major warm fuzzies vs the other stores. In all the reviews I saw the Hightower when grouped with other comparable bikes usually won out due to it doing so many things so well. That plus an incredible local SC dealer and their incredible warranty sold me on the brand/store.

Don’t get overly hung up on the carbon wheels. I’d rather have the best frame/platform to build on.
 

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Im 6'3" 230 and have the Giant Trance 29 2. Its aluminum and perfect for everything but large drops. Travel is 130/115 and handles everything well. I bought mine used as a demo and saved $1500 off retail. Ive upgraded brakes to Guide Rs and installed Industry 9 Hydra hubs laced to DT Swiss 511 hoops. I hope you don't plan on crashing because that will kill a carbon frame faster than time.... Aluminum is more durable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I hope you don't plan on crashing because that will kill a carbon frame faster than time.... Aluminum is more durable.
Thanks…but does anyone plan to crash? And as I understand it, time alone does nothing to kill a carbon frame. But even still, all 3 bike manufacturers I listed have lifetime warranties on their frames just in case I go too big…
 
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