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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I’m getting into MTB’n again after years off & its obvious to me that I need a new bike. My old Stumpy just doesn’t cut it anymore. Too uncomfortable, harsh, twitchy, etc.

Over the last week my closest LBS had brought in some Niners for demo. First rode a Jet 9 RDO. 120 mm travel front & rear, large frame as XL wasn’t available, much more comfortable than my Stumpy, rolled over everything so smoothly, etc. Trail I was on was fairly easy, fairly flat terrain with rolling hills, and didn’t really get to push the suspension too hard. Overall nice ride though probably a touch small for my 6’3 240lb frame.

Today I got to ride a Rip 9 RDO. 150 mm fork, 140 mm shock, XL frame, 3 star build. Much better fit over the Jet. Ride this time was much more technical, which I’m crazy rusty at, very rocky in sections, tight single tracks, out n back type ride. 5 miles of climbing then when tired of climbing ya turn around and head downhill. I’m way out of practice, but damn this thing soaked up the rock gardens nicely, climbed well, etc.

So, now that I’ve ridden these bikes I’m more convinced than ever that I need a new ride. Problem is that the two demos I did were on vastly different trails and not sure how the Jet 9 would do in the rocky stuff compared to the Rip 9. For someone my size would I be better off going with a bike designed to be more of an XC full squish with 120mm of travel or more of a trail bike with 140/150mm? A lot of the trails I ride are rocky and technical. With my size, and after my demo on the Rip, I’m wondering if this type of bike would be a better for me than a shorter travel bike.
 

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WillWorkForTrail
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How much travel you need to ride a given trail will be somewhat dependent on how fast you plan to go. At some point, as you slow down, it will become easier to pick your way through more technical stuff on a the shorter travel bike than the long travel one, but if you maintain speed and plow through the whole thing, the longer travel will be better. Also, demo a lot more bikes. Maybe the niner stuff will be what you like, maybe you'll find something you like better. I've got a couple of friends who really like their niners, but I prefer other stuff. Don't limit your options just yet if you're coming off an older bike.
 

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Like Cotharyus says, riding style will dictate a LOT.

Where I live, most of the trails can be ridden on just about anything. You can show up on a rigid singlespeed, or a long travel FS. The only sorts of bikes that are generally out of the question are downhill bikes because of the lack of practical shuttles. There are a couple that are possible, but they're so impractical (takes nearly as long to ride the climb as to drive it) that not a lot of people actually shuttle them.

So the real question is how you want to ride.

I tend to be a bit more of a finesse rider than a "plow through it" sort of rider, and I don't tend to get as much air. That leads me to underbike more often than not.
 

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Definitely demo more bikes before you buy if you can. That's just a good idea regardless of how much you ride I think.

These days, bikes that have good pedaling suspension designs don't really give up much efficiency between 120-140 travel bikes, so going for the bigger bike isn't a negative. Try out Santa Cruz, Yeti, Pivot, Ibis, etc. Try riding their 120 and 140ish bikes back to back and see if you like one a lot better. The nice part about the extra travel is that you have a bit more safety cushion and lets you ride a little more comfortably.

Now if you think you prefer the XC flat courses, then maybe the shorter travel is the way to go. Personally, I like the idea of the new 120mm bikes, but every time I think about where I would ride it over my 140 bike, I realize it would sit on the wall. Trails around me are all natural and pretty rocky, so that affects my decision. If you live somewhere with a lof of smoother trails, you may lean the other way.
 

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How much travel you need to ride a given trail will be somewhat dependent on how fast you plan to go. At some point, as you slow down, it will become easier to pick your way through more technical stuff on a the shorter travel bike than the long travel one, but if you maintain speed and plow through the whole thing, the longer travel will be better...
Sums it up nicely. I'll add an associated factor is geometry. Longer, lower, slacker geos also favor plow over rather than pick through, and longer travel bikes are generally longer/lower/slacker for this reason, but there is some variation. Maintaining speed through tech stuff is difficult to impossible climbing and way easier when descending, so longer travel longer/lower/slacker bikes essentially favor descending over climbing.
 

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A lot of it is simply which do you prefer. Like previously mentioned, on most trails you'll see people riding all sorts of bikes from hardtails to enduro bikes. So even beyond the question if capability, there's the question of simple preference. In fact that's generally the primary consideration.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for all in input! I definitely need to demo more bikes & I actually have the Rip 9 for two more days as the shop is closed on Sundays & Mondays. To answer some of questions listed...
I live & ride around the Reno NV area.
Trails around here, with only a few exceptions, are typically very rocky. Lots of climbing no matter where you want to go around Reno and Lake Tahoe. Tahoe can be smoother as Reno trails are almost all very rocky & technical. Tahoe’s Marlette Flume trail is nearly smooth compared to Reno’s Peavine Mtn that’s got several little rock gardens on every trail. Lots of climbing and no shuttling to the top type stuff.
I’m not the fastest rider around, no where near. But I do like some speed and it’s not unusual for me to get scolded by the wife for doing something too risky.
I am getting older too, I’ll be 56 in October and don’t like crashing. The older I get the more crashing hurts. Especially in the rocks. So I’d rather work on picking decent lines than blasting over everything.
 

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I have a 120 Jet 9. I ride it everywhere. Up in Tahoe Southern Utah, Moab and all over Arizona. I bumped the fork travel up to 140mm from 130mm. It’s a great do all bike

That being said. If you don’t have any plans to do any type of racing or endurance type stuff

I’d go Rip all day . The Rip climbs great. I like to do some 50 mile rides and races. So I opted for the Jet. I’d I wasn’t doing them. I’d ride the Rip.
 

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I'm with fiveo. For a doitall bike on often rocky terrain, I think it's hard to beat a 130-150 trail bike (I say trail as I wouldn't go for the most radical geo when you're getting to the top of that range as some of the 150 bikes can be pretty descending focused). Modern trail bikes are pretty darn good climbers and give you a little bit more margin of error. If you're not racing, they seem the best of both worlds in what you give up vs. what you get for owning only one bike.
 

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high pivot witchcraft
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I had a 160/160 27.5 bike I used for trail riding. I found it sloppy on the climbs and flats.

My current 150/130 29er is a good balance for me, given the terrain I ride.

Obviously, different bikes will yield different results but I have rented and demoed lots of bikes as well, and my experience so far has been pretty consistent.

There are so many factors involved, as many have stated above. Another one I would add to the list is how much abuse your body can take. How much are you willing to take? While longer travel may dumb down some of the terrain for the purists, it may allow you to ride longer and more often.

As everyone has said, demo like crazy. Every single opportunity you get.
 

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I demoed a lot of bikes and ended up buying a 160/150 bike. If more "trail" oriented bikes pedal better, I guess I can't notice anyway. If it takes me another 2 minutes to climb, the descent is well worth it. I had thought it'd feel sluggish because I wouldn't have the balls to really use the bigger bike, but I was so wrong. Given that many of the boutique bikes have over 100% antisquat in all of the climbing gears, if I gave anything up, I can't tell. Maybe on flowier terrain, a 140/130ish bike would feel more flickable, but if so, the difference is so minute at this point that it no longer matters. I have demoed a ton of bikes and ended up buying one that was somewhat different from many of the trail bikes I demoed. So far I'm very happy, but I suppose we'll all have that question in the back of our mind as to whether we're on the wrong bike on any given day. I wouldn't own any kind of suspended bike that didn't have at least a 140mm fork though, so perhaps I'm the wrong person to ask. Apparently I like rocks more than others, or that's just what I ride.
 

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I was in the same boat a few months ago; old old bike and wanting to upgrade for some added comfort. I ended up going short travel (130/115 front/rear) and have some small regrets. My initial complaints that made me go short travel was I have lots of techy climbs and flat rides in my daily ride zone. I want my climbs to be as easy as possible because I can generally handle a lot going downhill on my hardtail. My thoughts were any rear shock would only help. Well it did and it didn't.

I have been feeling like I wish I had more squish in the rear overall for rocky descents. I personally like drops and jumps and I'm easily maxing out the rear shock. My bike was easily outgunned in the bike parks I visited. I had fun but I know something with more travel would have been tremendously better. Eventually I am going to buy another bike with at least 140mm rear travel, but if I had to pick a one I would lean towards more travel.

Also...the 27.5 vrs 29 is definitely a big deal if you are coming from 26. I felt super uncomfortable on the 29 even though its supposed "smooth out the trail" and "go faster." Make sure you go nuts with demos. I wish I had tried more bikes. I dig my bike a lot, but it's not "the one."
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Don’t mind dumbing down some terrain at all as I’m not a purist. Longer rides and more often is definitely something I have on my list while being somewhat comfortable and not killing my body.
 

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Some great advice here, trail bikes today are pretty amazing...seems like it would hard to get a bad one other than maybe some of the extreme longer lower slacker models that are focused on screaming the fun downhill part of the rides and going up on less tech trails. I like going up and down the trails so some were just not for me.... wasn't that they only took longer to climb on but they were just not fun navigating up rocky rooty trails with tight switchbacks

Really just wanted to say be careful with the extreme trail models some really lean more to enduro race bikes and watch those reach and especially stack numbers... Im also 6'3 (being more leg than torso doesn't help) but I found on several 120-140mm trail bikes the stack was so low once I set my saddle height it towered 4 inches above my grips like a time trials bike :eek: doable at speed but slow/moderate speed tech sections felt sketchy and long rides were less than pleasant. Couple were close with a riser bar and would have been better with another 10mm of fork steerer but manufacturers cut the steerers off short for some reason $$

So many great bikes hardly worth mentioning one make and model but I after trying some more "aggressive" low BB raked out fork models I found the Intense Primer and have been thrilled, a little roomier than my old Spec EVO Camber, little slacker HTA, little steeper seat tube angle, similar wheel base but shorter chain stays so it turns much "smaller" than it is, lighter, more travel. They have a new model Primer due out very soon that I assume will have more travel more aggressive geo as that seems to be the current trend but if this model works for you they have some deals going, I got another $250 off code and a free set of E13 carbon wheels on the way in addition to the stock wheels that came with the build.
 

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The biggest difference between those two bikes is the geo, not the travel. The jet 9 geo is a bit outdated, while the rip 9 has more modern capable geo. If you tried a true modern geo short travel bike like the new Trance advanced 29, or new Ripley it wouldn't feel that much less capable than the Rip 9. I bet $10 Niner updates the jet 9 soon.

So once you're comparing apples to apples, I'd ask do you only care about the downs? or do you also look at your strava times for complete loops, climbs, etc? I built up a 140/150 modern geo bike for down here in So cal. It doesn't flinch on rocky terrain but isn't that efficient. If I had to do it all over again I'd go a little shorter travel because I care about overall efficiency and can give up a little on the dh.
 

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If you're riding purely for fun, go the RIP 9 for sure. Much more versatile if you end up travelling. It will be good for lift/shuttle days at bike parks, and the way lockouts etc work now days it will be fine on flatter trails.
 
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