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I fix choppers
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I am posting this on the Banshee, Santa Cruz, All Mountain and 27.5 forums. You can call it a "shootout" if you want, but I am not a paid professional nor will I plagiarize a certain magazine that does those. I think it was a lot of fun and decided I would share my thoughts. Enjoy!

Many, many years ago as a hardcore punk obsessed teen I viewed the North Carolina band Corrosion of Conformity as sort of my "hometown" heroes. I first heard them on the '82 "No Core" cassette compilation. They were noisy and messy like most hardcore bands of the time, but you could already begin to hear the heaviness that would define them in the coming years. The biggest thing was that they were just regular guys like the people in my little scene. This was confirmed a few years later when my hardcore band got to open for them a couple times. Our bass player had gone to high school with them so I knew them on a first name basis. Again, just regular guys who rocked.

Over the years, I saw C.O.C. many times and saw how they evolved. They still rocked, but they added much more to their sound. I loved their earliest stuff through the mid to late 80's, but basically ceased listening to them after that. Their later sound was not bad and their fan base grew, but it wasn't the same for me. Their early noisy hardcore was upgraded to a more polished metallic sound that still ranked high in the "Sabbath sweepstakes" with a notable southern rock layer. I heard some of it on and off throughout the years, but really didn't pay too much attention.

Fast forward to this weekend where I was having a beer at a bar in Asheville and the C.O.C. song "Stonebreaker" comes on. That song from the album "In the Arms of God" came out in 2005 and was the last one that had Pepper on vocals. I had bought it on iTunes a couple of years after when I was feeling nostalgic upon entering my 40's. I listened to it a few times, but it really wasn't my thing. It still rocked, but it was not that scrappy, noisy hometown hero sort of sound I had remembered. Yet, sitting there sipping a beer from a local brewery in a dive bar in Ashevegas, the song sounded pretty damn good. Maybe the added elements in their evolution weren't so bad after all.

So if you have read this far you may be wondering WTF does this have to do with mountain bikes? I am glad you asked. I happened to be up in the Asheville area to hang with friends for one of our gang's birthday and on Sunday there was a Santa Cruz bike demo at The Hub bike shop. I had been a SC fan boy for years having owned five of them between '99 and '13. I had wanted to move to a 650b rig and thought the new Nomad looked great, but being carbon only seemed way too expensive.

I viewed Santa Cruz similar to Corrosion of Conformity. They started out as a scrappy little company that rocked. Then they added carbon bikes, much higher costs and this became their focus. They still rocked, but they just weren't my thing anymore.

Meanwhile, my friends had all acquired Banshee bikes and raved about them nonstop. Long story short, I left Santa Cruz and bought a Banshee Rune V2. The Rune, at least in a size medium is nearly identical to the Nomad, the biggest difference being the bottom bracket height which is 4 millimeters taller. Everywhere else the numbers are the same or within a half a degree. In my nearly a year aboard the Rune it has exceeded all of my expectations without compare. It handles everything with aplomb from wide open bike park runs to the super technical east coast forests of my home. Nonetheless, I always wondered what a comparative spec'd Nomad would feel like next to my Rune on the same trail. This weekend, I found out.

I did a simple run leaving out of the Hub parking lot climbing up Thrift Cove and then descending lower Black Mountain. The ride takes me less than an hour and has a nice mix with a moderate to steep climb and finishes with killer descent that has recently shown up in a number of videos. I took my rig out first and then the Nomad. If you want to see my Strava times for it click here.

Here are some actual details.

Rider: me; a general late-forty-something smartass at 5'9" weighing 205 lb with gear. Exceptionally average in ability; a slow climber (but I get there); love the descents and gnar; race only for comic relief (mine and competitors), not into sessioning or shuttles; earn my turns; prefer big all day rides that emphasize the technical descending over the climbing and ride 2-4 times a week.

My bike: 2014 Banshee Rune V2 medium, Cane Creek DB Air CS, Rock Shox Pike, XO drivetrain with OneUp 42t cog, Raceface SixC cranks, Code brakes, Custom LB carbon wheels, Specialized Butcher/Purgatory tires. 32 lbs Cost approximate: $3500 or less. (I built the bike up myself with a few leftover parts I had, some eBay and Bro' deals. All the parts however were new; I shopped around and took my time. If you want to go full retail you'd pay around $5000, but retail is for schmucks and Christmas shoppers)

Nomad 3 as tested: medium frame, Monarch Debonair, Fox 36 fork, SC carbon bars, ENVE M70 wheels, XT brakes, XTR Cranks and drivetrain 11-36 cogset. Maxxis High Roller tires. 29 lbs Cost Approximate: $10,000+. (this exact kit isn't available on the SC site so I used the closest one...XX1/ENVE/Fox)

Both bikes were weighed with my Time MX6 pedals.

Fit: Yes, by now I have my Rune dialed however it took no time to have the Nomad feeling identical. Putting the two bikes next to each, they are virtually the same size in all dimensions. The SC guys were even impressed by the similarities.

Now the results!!!

Climbing: Rune for the win. This was the most surprising result of the ride. You would think with the Nomad's lower weight and "more stiff" carbon frame that it would easily dust the Rune. Wrong. The Rune out-pedaled the Nomad under torque in low gears. The Nomad tended to get hung up on rocks/roots as the suspension cycled whereas the Rune gobbles it all up, digs in and gets over debris without any fuss. This made climbing on the Rune less of a chore requiring of less body English to keep on the gas going up. There could be a number of reasons for this. The Nomad had a taller gear range so I was cranking it harder. The ENVE wheels did not have as good an engagement as my wheels. The ENVE's were built on DT 240 hubs and mine are Hadleys. The Hadleys engage instantly and the wheels are very beefy (35mm rims AM/DH lay ups built with Sapim race spokes). Crazy? Maybe, but my wheels just felt better than the ENVE's that cost four times as much. You might also think this could be due to the shock set up. I will be the first to say that Cane Creek Double Barrel shocks simply rule. However, the Monarch Debonair is no slouch and otherwise felt fine. I tried the 3 positions too and the hang ups persisted. I ended up leaving it in the full open position for the rest of the ride. Now, neither of these bikes are designed to be stellar climbing machines, but they aren't park bikes either and it's nice to have something left in the tank when you get to finally enjoy that descent, win that enduro stage or whatever. Plenty of "ifs" and "maybes" come to mind, but simply the Rune made the ascent more enjoyable (manageable).

Handling: Tie. These bikes are so similar in position and size I could almost close my eyes and not know which one I was on. The Nomad had narrower bars than the Rune and the front end felt slightly higher, but neither was really an issue. Again, my wheels felt better, stiffer and more planted than the ENVE's but the handling on both bikes leaves little to be desired.

Descending: Tie. Oh yeah, c'mon!!! This is where these rigs are a blast and both of them smoke. Pinkbike in their review of the Rune said it was the most terrain-leveling descender outside of a full blown DH rig only equaled by the Specialized Enduro. The Nomad as noted in all reviews absolutely destroys on descents as well. Both bikes take flight easily and otherwise make fast work of anything in their paths.

Esthetics: Nomad. Both bikes are sharp in their stealthy murdered out black, colorway, but the Nomad looks like sculpture. The Rune is far more industrial looking. Does this really matter? Nope. Whatever turns you on darling.

Weight: Nomad by 3 pounds. Duh. One could lighten up my bike with lighter wheels, carbon bars, etc. but it would cost a lot.

Cost: Rune. Even at full retail the Rune is half the cost of the Nomad in this build. So is 3 lbs worth $5000?

Odds and ends: I won't bore you with details about my own build kit. I like it, it works and that's that. On the Nomad though...Shimano drivetrain and brakes. I am not a fan. I have been an SRAM rider since '05 and prefer the ergonomics and the feel at the lever which delivers a noticeable clank upon shifting. Shimano shifting has always felt vague (Shimano riders say they are more "smooth") to me. The 11-36 range was okay, but I would want at least a 40t at the top. Shimano brakes always feel grabby to me; "stick in the spoke" modulation with few exceptions. The rear brake on the Nomad also kept pumping up on the descent. The Fox 36 fork felt nice and solid, but not noticeably different from the Pike. It's horses for courses though, but I would think given the cost the drivetrain/kit should be stellar. Finally, a point that many readers carry on about is the bottom bracket height difference. I am not princess by any means nor am I racer, but I could not detect any difference between the bikes coming from the this.

Please take away whatever you want from this. Both bikes are terrific and I would have no problem rocking either one of them. Santa Cruz truly put the "metal" into their carbon with the Nomad as their t-shirts used to say. It flat out rocks. I would love to see what it would ride like built with my kit and wheels and maybe I will one day. The Rune is it's scrappy cousin though and equaled the Nomad in all points on the ride. I do not fault anyone for wanting the fanciest (and most costly) bike out there. The Nomad is way up at the top. The Rune may not have the cost, but it's performance is top notch. Maybe it's more old C.O.C. than new. Both rock in different ways. I will admit to still liking their old stuff more, but I have found the new * stuff to be fun too.

* In 2011 C.O.C. came back with their three piece line up from '85 and released an album and an ep that ripped. I saw them recently in this form and they crushed. They now are touring again with their mid-90's line up with Pepper back at the helm. I am glad I got to see the old line up from back in the day, but I am sure the "new" line up will rock too.
:thumbsup: :devil:

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Tire Wheel Bicycle tire Bicycle frame Bicycle wheel rim
 

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Nice writing! Seems to me the comparison is more components than the frames.... Having just put a Hadley hub and having a 40t cog, not sure it's a fair comparison to a DT240 and 36t cog.

Anyway, it sound like you had fun on the bikes and fun with the band analogy, - in the end that all that matters.
 

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Interesting comparo.

I do think you've perhaps got a lot of bias towards your own bike. And if the Nomad owner rode your bike, I'd expect him to favor his. What's the difference between 'better' and 'familiar'?

If you were riding two bikes which were both not yours, perhaps your impressions would have been different.
 

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My intro to Corrosion of Conformity was in 94 at a motocross race. I caught a copy of Deliverance that the local radio station was throwing out between our races. As a 13 year old kid looking to rebel, it was a perfect fit. While the bike stuff was interesting, my takeaway from this was that I need to revisit CoC's music.
 
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I fix choppers
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Interesting comparo.

I do think you've perhaps got a lot of bias towards your own bike. And if the Nomad owner rode your bike, I'd expect him to favor his. What's the difference between 'better' and 'familiar'?

If you were riding two bikes which were both not yours, perhaps your impressions would have been different.
Well of course I'm biased. I'm neither a professional rider nor writer, but what's the old saying: "I don't know art, but I know what I like". (Actually, I do know art having received an Art History minor, but that's another story).

As I said in my post, there are plenty of "ifs" to imagine. Honestly if money were no object I might build a Nomad with my kit. It would be interesting to see if the pedaling issues could be negated with a Cane Creek DB Air. I'm guessing it would be at least an improvement. We all could speculate (nitpick?) endlessly.

The test that I'd really love to see would be different bikes built with an identical kit. This is highly unlikely though. So with my experience I took my bike which is built for same purpose as the Nomad and did my best to be honest on the experience in each area without thinking too much about the kit. That said, the Nomad I demoed had a top shelf kit that should leave little to be desired. It says a lot to me that despite the kit not being to my liking that the bike was still great.

Finally, speaking of biases, opinions and other internet nonsense, the bike I would love to see would be a carbon Rune. If all other factors were equal I believe the KS-link to be a superior pedaling design over the VPP. I have ridden both versions of the VPP and nearly every other suspension design out there in my 27 years of riding and the KS-link is my favorite so far.

PS: Let's not start kvetching over hardcore and punk bands because I will never get back to work.
:devil:
 

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OP, you sir are a writer. Great work with the band/bikes duality. What fun to ride a bike not your own and compare it's excellent nature to the familiar. I've done it recently between my Kona 134 and a 29er Trance. You won't knock a good bike, but it's fun to find difference.
 

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I didn't know Pepper had rejoined... I don't keep up with these things nowadays though. One of my favorite heavy bands for the past near decade is Down, for that heavy southern rock sludge! I first got turned on to C.O.C. in the mid 80's with the Animosity L.P. and Technocracy E.P. Still rocked with them some in the 90's with Deliverance and Wiseblood. But was really impressed a few years back with the self titled release as the original three piece. That c.d. kicked ass! Still a little heavy influenced, but reminiscent of the early years imho. Enjoyed this thread. We are not that different in that I'm in my late 40's now. Played in bands from the mid 80's through the mid 90's (in North Texas area). I have been riding Yeti's for the last 8-9 years but I often check out the Banshee threads etc. Have thought about an affair as I have been secretly lusting over a Prime...shhh! Thx from a kindred spirit...
 

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Fit: Yes, by now I have my Rune dialed however it took no time to have the Nomad feeling identical. Putting the two bikes next to each, they are virtually the same size in all dimensions. The SC guys were even impressed by the similarities.

View attachment 987685 View attachment 987686


Interesting they are impressed given the rune was released well before their revised nomad was...
Love my Rune havent compared with the SC but my intuition tells me id reach a similar conclusion to you. Cheers and thanks for that novel of a write up.
 

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I fix choppers
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I didn't know Pepper had rejoined... I don't keep up with these things nowadays though. One of my favorite heavy bands for the past near decade is Down, for that heavy southern rock sludge! I first got turned on to C.O.C. in the mid 80's with the Animosity L.P. and Technocracy E.P. Still rocked with them some in the 90's with Deliverance and Wiseblood. But was really impressed a few years back with the self titled release as the original three piece. That c.d. kicked ass! Still a little heavy influenced, but reminiscent of the early years imho. Enjoyed this thread. We are not that different in that I'm in my late 40's now. Played in bands from the mid 80's through the mid 90's (in North Texas area). I have been riding Yeti's for the last 8-9 years but I often check out the Banshee threads etc. Have thought about an affair as I have been secretly lusting over a Prime...shhh! Thx from a kindred spirit...
Yeah, C.O.C. did their final shows as a 3-piece at the end of last year. Pepper came back and they headed straight to Europe to tour.

The only knock I have ever heard against Banshee's since they rolled out the KS-link suspension was their weight. I have three friends who all ride Primes and they rip. Glad you enjoyed my blathering.
:thumbsup: :devil:
 

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I once thought my alloy wheels (i9 Enduro) were stiffer than my Enves, but I when I got in better shape and started pushing the wheels harder, I then realized that was all harsh feedback. The Enves showed the true characteristics of being stiffer, such as more precisely following my intended line. My Haven carbons seem to mute the ground more. My DT XRC 1350 wheel feels astounding stiff. I run the Enve over the others on my main ride, despite it being old and not having the UST profile, since it just seems to offer a better balance of everything I want in a wheel.
 

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I fix choppers
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I once thought my alloy wheels (i9 Enduro) were stiffer than my Enves, but I when I got in better shape and started pushing the wheels harder, I then realized that was all harsh feedback. The Enves showed the true characteristics of being stiffer, such as more precisely following my intended line. My Haven carbons seem to mute the ground more. My DT XRC 1350 wheel feels astounding stiff. I run the Enve over the others on my main ride, despite it being old and not having the UST profile, since it just seems to offer a better balance of everything I want in a wheel.
I have ridden bikes with Crossmax, I-9, ENVE and Atomik wheels. I am certainly no pro, but I noticed more deflection with the ENVE's on the Nomad. My wheels are comparable to the M70's, albeit a wee bit wider and the hookless bead is beefy. My wheels are also heavier. I don't expect my riding abilities to advance all that much, but at this point my wheelset has impressed the hell outta me. Hadley hubs are as solid and bulletproof as they come not to mention very loud. :devil:
 

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It looks to me like the Enve M70 are 28 spoke. If it's a total WW build with DT240 hubs and light spokes (like Sapim CX Ray) then, yes, it could be more flexy than a 32H aluminum rim with beefy spokes and hubs.

This would especially be noticeable if you weigh substantially more than the owner of that bike, and/or if the wheelset does not have proper spoke tension. Hate to think it's the latter, but the M70 can be bought as a bare rim, and the skill of the wheelbuilder is everything.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
It looks to me like the Enve M70 are 28 spoke. If it's a total WW build with DT240 hubs and light spokes (like Sapim CX Ray) then, yes, it could be more flexy than a 32H aluminum rim with beefy spokes and hubs.

This would especially be noticeable if you weigh substantially more than the owner of that bike, and/or if the wheelset does not have proper spoke tension. Hate to think it's the latter, but the M70 can be bought as a bare rim, and the skill of the wheelbuilder is everything.
I did not check the spoke count and the ENVE's were on a demo bike. My wheels are carbon LB's, Sapim Race spokes, 32h Hadley hubs and rank as one of the burliest carbon wheelsets I've seen. They are way stiffer than the alloy WTB rims I had before. The ENVE's weren't too shabby, but mine felt better. Furthermore, while loud hubs probably don't matter as far as performance goes, I like the noise. :devil:
 

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I have a soft spot for Banshees, having owned a 44lb Chaparral and the original Rune that I got as low as 35lb.
The only knock that I have had against them is that they have always been over built.
I was seriously considering a Rune V2 but it seemed very difficult to get below 30lbs and figured the cost benefit wasn't there.
That being said though, I honestly think that riding those heavier bikes made me a stronger rider. I would love to try a V2 now and compare it to my HD. I suspect that I am being too much of a "weight weenie" and would love the ride.
Plus, I could ride it with different wheel sizes and have one bike.
I am glad to read this kind of comparison from someone who has actually ridden both bikes. Some might say biased. I say, pragmatic. Good on you, Hellbelly.

Uh oh...looks like I am talking myself into a new bike purchase...who want to tell my wife?
 

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I fix choppers
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I have a soft spot for Banshees, having owned a 44lb Chaparral and the original Rune that I got as low as 35lb.
The only knock that I have had against them is that they have always been over built.
I was seriously considering a Rune V2 but it seemed very difficult to get below 30lbs and figured the cost benefit wasn't there.
That being said though, I honestly think that riding those heavier bikes made me a stronger rider. I would love to try a V2 now and compare it to my HD. I suspect that I am being too much of a "weight weenie" and would love the ride.
Plus, I could ride it with different wheel sizes and have one bike.
I am glad to read this kind of comparison from someone who has actually ridden both bikes. Some might say biased. I say, pragmatic. Good on you, Hellbelly.

Uh oh...looks like I am talking myself into a new bike purchase...who want to tell my wife?
The Rune is a versital bike and as I said it has performed stunningly in all situations I've put it in. I have to ask how much is less weight worth to anyone as a rider? If you are racing, have to have the lightest stuff, and/or have money to burn then go nuts. However, IMHO the additional weight of my bike over the SC did not detract from it's performance.

My history with Banshee goes back to 2002 when I rode with a group in BC for 10 days. One of the guides had one of the earliest Scream models out. None of us had seen anything like it. It probably weighed close to 50lbs, but was nearly indestructible. That thing was way more bike than I'd ever be able to use, but the guide put it through its paces pulling off huge drops and other ridiculous moves that were standard freeride fare at the time.

Times have changed though and Banshee's designs are are more inclusive of a variety of riders. The KS-link suspension is truly impressive and I'd recommend it to anyone to try it out.
:thumbsup: :devil:
 
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