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what would it be for endurance racing. I'm in the very beginning stages of research and want to hear people's opinions. My biggest confusion is it seems every manufacturer has at least two models that could potentially fit the bill. So what would be your choice. If it helps at all, I'm looking at things like Laramie Enduro, Ultra, 24 of Steamboat, etc.

Here's a small list I'm researching:

Santa Cruz -> Superlight or Blur?
Rocky Mountain -> Element or ETSX
Titus -> RacerX or Moto-Lite
Yeti -> ASR-SL or 575
Turner -> Flux or 5?
Ventana -> Salty or X5?
Specialized -> Epic or Stumpy?
Kona -> ??
Giant -> ??

Trek and GF have some options as well but the geometry is pretty off on those for me.

I've test ridden the ETSX, Moto-Lite and ASR-SL. I'm in love with the ASR-SL but not the price. Moto-Lite is intriguing but you could tell it had been demo'd by lots of folks by the time I got to it ... it was a little rattly ... the ride itself was smooth though. According to the rep., I was the first to ever ride that particular ETSX and it rocked ... a little long for me though .. probably could try another size.

Any personal experiences to share with any of these would be helpful as well. FWIW, my $300 Schwinn hardtail is getting by pretty well. But if I'm going to leap to FS, I want to do it right so it lasts a few years. Fit will be the first priority but I want to narrow the list of potential test rides if possible.

Thanks,

-j
 

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That is quite a list. do your self a favor and narrow it down to 2 or 3 before you get too confused. I have owned a Kona Kikupu, Specialized Epic and Yeti ASR. The kikupu didnt fell right to me, but that was a personal thing, its still a great bike.

The ASR was an incredible bike, I loved the way it rode. Problem is, they are expensive and, to be that light, the tubing is very thin in spots. Mine dented pretty easily and I had to get rid of it because the downtube took too many hits from jumping rocks. It got to the point where I felt that the next impact would cause the frame to fail.

The epic with the Brain rocks, and I have it mated to a Fox F80X. on the long rides it is great to basically have a rigid bike that hammers.

I still have the Epic, but am building a litespeed Sewanee right now. It only has 60mm rear wheel travel and is billed as a race xc/endurance bike. I plan on keeping them both.

Whatever you do, I recommend you narrow your list. If you are like me, you will get confused about the bikes. Also, that many choices will take you longer to the final decision
 

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Keep it simple

Are you racing solo?
How much support do you have at the races?
And how much do you want to spend on keeping it running?

I race solo and have no supoort, so for me the decission was easy, a single pivot. Everything can be fixed by me, bearing can be replaced at the race and when conditions are not so good (think 24 hour of old pueblo) I can tear it down, clean it and put it back together. There are other rides that may do better during the race, but I like to keep things simple and plan for things to go wrong and be able to keep riding. BTW, using this plan I have never DNF'd a 24 hr event.
 

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I was on the same search a couple of months back. I've got a buddy on a Epic and though I was going the same way. I'm a big guy, so the '04 S-Works Enduro ( big boy Epic) was the bike for me. They are out of production now - If I snapped the frame I'd go to whatever I could get with the brain. I'm really happy with the rear suspension performance. :D
 

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endure26 said:
Titus Racer X 29er
Asylum
Moots MootoX
Ventana El Capitan
Salsa Dos Niner
I seccond that, anything with 29" hoops is a good place to start. The fisher 292 and 293 are not as bad as you think, really, and the price is right too. I bought one and my yeti sat on the wall for a whole season before I sold it off.

e
 

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A differing view...

I'll stick my neck out and voice an opinion that is certainly not the party line. I think for distance racing you want the most comfortable bike you can find - and for long rides that means the most efficient bike, and that means a custom "rigid" (or "firm") bike. A quality custom Ti frame made to fit _you_ is going to be comfortable, particularly if you make an effort to be fit yourself. And it probably won't cost anymore than any of the bikes on your list.

So why a fully firm bike? Endurance races are so often done at something like 80% of full speed, and most of the time at that speed suspension is just so much dead weight and energy absorbing flex. Why use a bike that has a bunch of stuff on it that is useless over most of the course? In contrast, riding at 100% on a shorter NORBA-style course is exactly a situation where dealing with a less efficient, heavier bike could well mean you can go faster - blasting through rock gardens and down creek beds at those higher speeds is more important than highly efficient energy transmission or light weight. That's right, I'm suggesting that short course racing is where full suspension belongs and long epic endurance racing is where a fully firm bike makes sense. Yup, this is an idea contrary to the prevailing wisdom.

I practice what I preach, although I'll be piloting a front suspended tandem at the Laramie Enduro again this year...
 

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Harmonius Wrench
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Don't forget- it doubles as a Road Rocket!

KERKOVEJ said:
I have been on a Giant NRS Air for the last 4 years. Works great for the enduro races. Its firm when it needs to be, and plush when the trails get rough. The durability is out of this world! Never-ever had a problem. Throw on a FOX fork, and you have an awesome setup for loooooooong hours in the saddle.
CHECK OUT THE NRS AIR HERE!
Jeff often takes his NRS out with the local roadie group ride, as well! :cool:
 

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j-dawg said:
what would it be for endurance racing. I'm in the very beginning stages of research and want to hear people's opinions. My biggest confusion is it seems every manufacturer has at least two models that could potentially fit the bill. So what would be your choice. If it helps at all, I'm looking at things like Laramie Enduro, Ultra, 24 of Steamboat, etc.

Here's a small list I'm researching:

Santa Cruz -> Superlight or Blur?
Just a quick note: In June, Santa Cruz will be splitting up the Blur into 2 versions (not including the already available 4X), the XC and the Long Travel (LT). The XC will retain the 4.5" rear travel but it's weight will be down to 5 pounds even! I race mostly regular XC and am not really an endurance racer (I only do 2~3 a year), but I would think that a nice plush Blur that weighs even less would be pretty sweet for your purposes! I race a Superlight right now, but I will be upgarding to the BXC as soon as it comes out... Good luck.
 

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I vote for any efficiency-oriented FS racing design; Epic, Spider, Blur XC, NRS. Anything that will save energy over the course of the race while making the rough spots comfortable. Bikes that combine both a mechanical platform (FSR, 4-Bar, VPP) with a shock platform (Brain, 5th Element, Fox RP3) tend to perform the best.

Single Pivot (Superlight), Flex Pivot (Yeti) or Seat Stay Pivot (Yeti, Element) bikes that rely solely on a SPV shock as a platform don't ride all that well, in my opinion. They take single, hard hits pretty well but they kinda suck in rock gardens or extended rough spots.

Personally, I ride an 04 S-Works Epic with a Fox F80X. I feel that it's the most efficient combo while also being the most comfortable. It sounds contradictory, but when you truly understand how the brains work in tandem with your tire pressure, you'll agree.


- Jeremy -
 

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Trans-Iowa as an example...

Guitar Ted said:
Jeff often takes his NRS out with the local roadie group ride, as well! :cool:
Based on the reports from Trans-Iowa, it seems that race serves as a good example of my premise -- over-equipping a bike with suspension for an endurance race is the wrong choice. We've all dropped in with some roadies while riding our fat tire bikes at one time or another, but can you seriously think it's the right tool for the job? Likewise, picking suspension for a 300 mile dirt road race makes zero sense and fat tires (passive suspension) make hardly any more sense. Move on to a 100 K or 100 mile mountain bike race and fat tires become important but active suspension, and particularly full-suspension, remains a highly questionable equipment choice in my mind.

(Note, while I'll pretend to know something about hard and long one-day efforts, I know nothing about the type of epics that Curiak and others go in for...)
 

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Harmonius Wrench
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Suspension- yes and no

Trans Iowa, at least THIS years version, could be seen from two viewpoints, and both are valid. Let me explain. One, it was finished by nine people, and most of those on fully rigid bicycles, which would lend credence to your posistion. But consider that it came at a cost to those bodies on those bikes. For a more "graphic" illustration check out the link on Jeff Kerkove's blogsite of Jim Cochran's race report. www.jeffkerkove.blogspot.com It's about Friday's entry, I believe.
Two: Some finishers were aboard suspended mounts, which aided the riders in terms of physical comfort, and yes, at the expense of "some" efficiancy. These riders quite probably will recover more quickly than a rider such as J. Cochran, who as of Friday was still suffering from some effects of the pounding that 304 miles gave him, albeit on "smoother" gravel roads.

So, which would you rather have? I believe it is a question of physical comfort/ protection vs. efficiancy/ performance. How you balance the two in relationship to each other is the trick. What will work for each "body" on each particular course? How will you control your bike at the speeds you plan to ride? Does suspension give you an advantage? I say yes- sometimes. No, I wouldn't ride a road group ride with ANY sort of suspension. I wouldn't ride down Vail Mountain without it. I think if you are not a particularily "durable" body build, than suspension may be appropriate for you as an endurance rider. It would definitely keep YOUR body from being the bump absorbing component on the ride, and very well may allow YOU to finish the event. Then, on the other hand, you may not need such amenities, and still finish strongly.

It's a personal choice that depends on lots of factors, not just how efficient one is, or wishes to be. Suspension or not, both points "could" be valid, or correct, even in the same race venue. As for NEXT years Trans Iowa, well let's just say a fully rigid cross bike may not be such an advantage as it was this year. ;)
 

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Guitar Ted said:
So, which would you rather have? I believe it is a question of physical comfort/ protection vs. efficiancy/ performance.
I'm certainly speaking from the point of performance and from the opinion that efficiency is comfort.

Guitar Ted said:
Does suspension give you an advantage? I say yes- sometimes. No, I wouldn't ride a road group ride with ANY sort of suspension. I wouldn't ride down Vail Mountain without it.
I've ridden down Vail Mountain without suspension. The World X-C Championship was won by a guy (Djernes?) riding down Vail Mountain on a rigid bike a decade or so ago while everyone else was using suspension forks. Who would of thunk? Then again, last weekend I did Porcupine Rim on my non-suspended bike (undoubtedly the only such to do it that way that day), but it sure wasn't ideal.

I don't think I made my point very well before, so I'll try again. Most endurance races by nature of the speeds maintained and the type of terrain utilized allows racers to use an unsuspended bike, and it will be the ideal machine for 90% or greater of the terrain. My premise is that efficiency is comfort, and I'd rather be at maximum comfort for 90% of the ride than 10% of the ride.

Also, I like the idea of a race where the choice of bike is not so clear -- it adds to the allure of the race.
 

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If I hurt, I'm not efficient

PeT said:
I'm certainly speaking from the point of performance and from the opinion that efficiency is comfort..........................................................................................................My premise is that efficiency is comfort, and I'd rather be at maximum comfort for 90% of the ride than 10% of the ride.

Also, I like the idea of a race where the choice of bike is not so clear -- it adds to the allure of the race.
I understand what you are saying, however I would disagree with the "terms" used in conjunction with each other. I had a Klien Attitude hard tail, circa '92, that had to be the most "efficient" at putting my effort to the ground than any other bike I've ever ridden. But to say that that bike was "comfortable", well that would be quite a stretch. My opinion is that it was the single most brutal bike I've ever thrown a leg over. I definitely was not comfortable on that bike. I NEVER would choose it, or anything like it, for an endurance event. I would be so fatigued from having to be the shock absorbing element of the TOTAL package, that I probably wouldn't finish the event.

If an individual is riding a bicycle that is efficient at absorbing some of the trail input, while also being highly efficient at putting the effort of "the motor" down to the ground, THEN you could say that efficiancy and comfort are married into a high performance package suited for an endurance event, at any speed. If the "motor" is happy, and chassis is not wasting an overly excessive amount of energy, then we have a good combination. It's that "combination" of these elements that will vary from rider to rider, and course to course. Sometimes fully rigid will be the answer, sometimes fully suspended.

I think you would agree that the human "motor" can ill afford ANY loss of efficiancy. I would offer that efficiancy is lost, (at least in terms of power output to the ground) when the rider is busy dealing with trail inputs, especially when the rider is being a shock absorbing element of the total package. The less the rider has to deal with that, ( in other words, the more COMFORTABLE he is) the more efficient he will be at putting his effort to the ground

I also enjoy courses that don't "dictate" what bicycle to bring to the party. That is one of my goals as a course designer for Trans Iowa. Perhaps you would join us for next years edition?
 

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Guitar Ted said:
My opinion is that it was the single most brutal bike I've ever thrown a leg over. I definitely was not comfortable on that bike. I NEVER would choose it, or anything like it, for an endurance event.
There's lots of reasons for bikes to be uncomfortable, poor fit being the most common but least often recognized. My argument has always been predicated on a well designed, good fitting bike. And for the price of a fancy suspension model you can get a custom steel or even Ti frame.

Guitar Ted said:
If an individual is riding a bicycle that is efficient at absorbing some of the trail input, while also being highly efficient at putting the effort of "the motor" down to the ground, THEN you could say that efficiancy and comfort are married into a high performance package suited for an endurance event, at any speed.
I guess we're disagreeing on how much trail chatter a non-suspended bike can absorb. If I'm not trying to bomb down something like Porcupine rim (and I haven't found that sort of terrain in the endurance races I've done, and it sure doesn't exist in Iowa), then I contend a non-suspended bike absords enough and is consequently the most efficient. Likewise, we probably differ on our opinions on the amount of suspension the human body can provide. Since I've included twice weekly visits to the weight room year around, I've concluded it can provide quite a bit. I've found that I'd rather provide that suspension with my body when needed then biopace down the road on a heavier bike all of the time.

I have a friend who is quite an accomplished endurance racer (a sub 8 hour ride at Leadville -- not many of those around!) who informed me that he was trading in his litespeed hardtail for a full-suspension to save on the wear and tear of the long events. He has been my nemesis in racing for a few years now, but I finally took him last summer at the Durango 100, the race that convinced him to go full suspension. It was also the race that convinced me I'd made the right choice to go without suspension. Same data, different conclusions, but I'm betting I've got his number in our common races from now on...

Guitar Ted said:
I also enjoy courses that don't "dictate" what bicycle to bring to the party. That is one of my goals as a course designer for Trans Iowa. Perhaps you would join us for next years edition?
As a native Minnesotan from the southwest corner of the state (almost Iowa!), it would be a blast to do that ride. But I don't see myself being able to break loose from work in April to do it. Also, it's just the end of ski season where I'm at, so I never have the bicycle legs for that sort of distance in April, or even May. But know that area of the country, I also understand why you don't run the race in July or August...
 

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suspension seatpost

With this debate raging between HT and FS, why hasn't anyone mentioned a suspension seatpost. I started racing with one about 7 years ago and I'll NEVER go back to a rigid seatpost for my hardtail racer. Takes the kind of hits that beat you up, doesn't effect pedaling efficiency, only weights ~150g more then a standard seatpost, and a lot less then a FS bike. Win, win, win.
 

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FS for solo efforts

If you are planning on racing solo, I can't emphasize enough the benifits of full suspension. Sure the trans Iowa was a course in which rigid seemed to be the way to go ( I definately would have ridden FS if I had done that race). Most courses will beat you up pretty bad in the course of a 24 hour event regardless of what your ride is. Why not have the added benifit of full suspension. With the recent advances in suspension inefficiency is not really an issue. Weight is still somewhat of an issue, but you can very easily get a full suspension bike sub 24 pounds if you want it. I've done races all over the western US and Canada and I can not think of a single course that I would want to ride a hard tail on. Some races that come to mind that a hard tail would be just wrong for are Montezumas Revenge, 2002 and 2003 World Solo Championships in Canada (with the 04 course changes maybe a hardtail, but I'd still run a full). I would recommend a 3 inch rear travel bike. For the front- that is up to you, I ride a FOX F100X in the front and love it, others prefer an 80 up front. My current bike (DEAN ACE 3.0) is superefficient with the RP3 in the rear. I watch the rear while climbing and it does not move unless I hit a rock and even then it is probably only 10-15% of the travel, just enough to take the edge off.

Just my opinion

Jim
 
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