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For you folks with the Gnarvana, or even better those that have ridden the Gnarvana and the Smash; is the Gnarvana so big that it just trucks over everything and erases bad line choice and other mistakes? I am looking at both as my next all-around bike, and I believe my normal riding is steep/chunky enough to justify either of them, but I don't want one so big and capable that it will make me stop me from progressing as a rider if that makes sense.

I would be coming off of a 2018 AL Megatrail for comparison

Any thoughts are appreciated, and congrats to you that have gotten this bike!
 

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Formerly PaintPeelinPbody
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Having ridden 120 and 165mm bikes, the bigger bike will certain inspire more confidence and help to smooth out the roughest of trails. However, this just allows for you to focus on the skills and moves you might normally avoid due to already being beat up on a smaller travel bike. My local trails in Northern Arizona arent really super rock, either, but back in the Northeast I think the extra travel would be nice when its near constant babyheads. If you come from a BMX/DJ background the Gnarvana is going to feel like a truck, but trucks are nice when the terrain is rugged.

Personally, having owned a Smash, now a Pistola, if I my daily ride was more “winch up, plummet down”, Id have a Gnarvana. Instead, 90% of my time is spent on more XC/TR trails (aside from downhills that are still legit), and the Pistola holds its own on the big mountain stuff, so Im in no hurry to upgrade.
 

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Thanks PH that is very helpful. I am very fortunate to live in a location in the PNW where nearly all of my rides are of the “winch up, plummet down” type that you mentioned. Climbs are dedicated climbing single track or semi-horrible to fully-horrible fire roads, and my preferred descents are rooty, rocky, and steep.

Another thing I was wondering about was running the Gnarvana with a 160mm fork. It would steepen/lower things slightly but I was thinking a 160mm fox36/lyrik would be lighter and I am not sure I need the newer large forks like the 38/Zeb (I am only 160lbs). It would also make changing to a Smash less work as I could leave the fork alone.
 

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I agree with less is more, esp when you compare two bikes with similar geometry.

However, I have found short travel bikes get overwhelmed on repeated big hits and I think there is a handling difference depending on the amount of travel and how the bike uses it’s travel.

Riding the Pistola as a 29er I felt undergunned on jump trails, whereas the Shred running 29” in Trail Mode felt more capable in similar scenarios. I’m not sure if this is due to the leverage ratio, both bikes were set up as 130mm travel, Pistola in Plush, SD in Trail.

When riding a bigger bike like the Megstrail, I definitely felt like the bike was more capable, could straightline scary stuff, bulldoze through chunder, but I lost some fine control and it wasn’t as capable in slow tight tech.

I prefer short chainstays and I never felt like they were a disadvantage, never felt like my control was lessened; if anything I had more control and greater agility.

So if I was looking at a longer travel 29er, I’d get the Smash. Consider some mild over shocking, increasing fork travel, or even running a tall lower cup.
 

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Thanks PH that is very helpful. I am very fortunate to live in a location in the PNW where nearly all of my rides are of the “winch up, plummet down” type that you mentioned. Climbs are dedicated climbing single track or semi-horrible to fully-horrible fire roads, and my preferred descents are rooty, rocky, and steep.

Another thing I was wondering about was running the Gnarvana with a 160mm fork. It would steepen/lower things slightly but I was thinking a 160mm fox36/lyrik would be lighter and I am not sure I need the newer large forks like the 38/Zeb (I am only 160lbs). It would also make changing to a Smash less work as I could leave the fork alone.
You can run a tall lower cup to compensate for less fork travel, but reducing the fork and running a short lower cup is going to cause pedal strike issues.

So to be clear, the only thing that is different between each GG bike is the seat stays, which position the wheel differently relative to the bb. Front triangle is the same. So think about how moving the wheel up/down and forward/back will change the bike. The longer chainstay is typically a work around to gain clearance from the seat tube when increasing travel.

You can also run a Megatrail as a 29er or mullet, I’ve done this, the bb is high but you can tweak the geo in a variety of ways to bring it down. I posted some impressions on the Megatrail thread.

I’d look at a Gnarvana if I was running downhill/park, DC fork kinda stuff, for PNW riding like BC, I’d get a Smash or Megatrail.

Where do you ride?
 

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Hey Ben,

Thanks for the detailed feedback, I was hoping you might wander by this thread as you seem to be the resident mad scientist when it comes to taking full advantage of the GG modular platform :)

I live in and ride mostly around Western Washington, I have included a couple of sample links (not my videos) of the trail types I favor which are definitely not the lift-served buffed out and smooth jump line kind.

Regarding the Smash, I had already asked GG about over-shocking it with a 62.5 stroke shock and they said it *should* be ok with a 2.4" tire which is what I run. That would be good for about 150mm travel and I would definitely want to run a 160mm fork on it. I think between the Smash and Gnarvana I guess my main decision point is the chainstay length, if I am prioritizing stability and traction I don't want to get the Smash only to immediately want the Gnarvana stays.

These are all about 15 min drive from my house, I am spoiled :)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ba0US90Tdpk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xme_qkZKEF4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ze01li-4C9E
 

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That mostly looks like tight tech to me. I'd definitely go for a Smash there as I'd be able to gain/hold more speed through the corners and it doesn't look super rocky. I'm getting a Smash and plan on running the shock at 62.5 stroke as well, but will also probably pick up some Gnarvana stays for trips with lots of wide open chunk where I can't use my DH bike as I'd still need to pedal (Teton Pass etc).
 

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I'm getting a Smash and plan on running the shock at 62.5 stroke as well, but will also probably pick up some Gnarvana stays for trips with lots of wide open chunk where I can't use my DH bike as I'd still need to pedal (Teton Pass etc).
Are you running a coil shock by chance? I have the SD Coil, and it looks like that and the Fox DHX2 could feasibly have an easy way to adjust the stroke if someone made a kind of spacer that snapped onto the shaft under the bottom out bumper but I cannot find such a thing. Not having to take the shock apart to change travel or have multiple shocks between the bikes would obviously be nice. I realize that other coil variants and air shocks are a completely different ballgame in this regard though.

Thank you for your feedback!
 

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Are you running a coil shock by chance? I have the SD Coil, and it looks like that and the Fox DHX2 could feasibly have an easy way to adjust the stroke if someone made a kind of spacer that snapped onto the shaft under the bottom out bumper but I cannot find such a thing. Not having to take the shock apart to change travel or have multiple shocks between the bikes would obviously be nice. I realize that other coil variants and air shocks are a completely different ballgame in this regard though.

Thank you for your feedback!
I ordered it with a DHX2. I recently learned that you can easily change stroke on the 2021 version. There's spacers that you can add/remove under a cap at the end of the body. The spacers are pairs that split down the middle so you don't need to tear the shock apart at all to change them. On the 230 shock you can go between 60, 62.5 and 65.

 

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battle stag commander
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I don't want to get the Smash only to immediately want the Gnarvana stays.
You are doomed for certain, no matter the descision. The "other choice" gremlins will haunt you for all eternity. Bwahahaha!!:devil:

Every time I ride my megatrail, i still wonder if it can be better. I also bought a GTI in 2016 and immediately wondered if I should have bought an R as I was driving it off the lot.

Which is the best long travel 29 option- an overstroked smash, and understroked megatrail 29, a gnarvana?

I think the answer is "yes." my $.02 would be to go for whatever frame you think might have the best geo for you and tinker from there. Since the Granvana has a more rearward "tilted" front triangle, It does have relatively shorter top tube and reach compared to the smash, though overall it is a "bigger" bike. For me, being a bit more stretched and higher on the size 3 frame with the mega works well so I started from there and am still tinkering.
 

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You are doomed for certain, no matter the descision. The "other choice" gremlins will haunt you for all eternity. Bwahahaha!!:devil:
Reading this is like my soul laid bare! :D I don't know what the cause but I have never had this level of obsession or analysis paralysis over any of my other hobbies!
 

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Formerly PaintPeelinPbody
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It's far easier to add some pressure to the rear shock (if air) than it is get an added 15mm of travel out of the Smash.

As Ben mentioned, you could utilize the 15mm lower cup with the fork at 150mm and 230x57.5 shock if you were really worried about being over-biked.

Having owned the Smash, it felt very Trail-Bike compared to my 160/170 Commencal Meta AM.

The Pistola at 130/150 is so close to the Smash that I would never consider upgrading "just" for an added 15mm of rear travel. The Gnarvana, however, would be worth it, IMO.

The only downside of the Gnarvana is it's added chainstay length. Personally, even the Trail Pistol with its short chainstays feels pretty big. A product of both the wheelsize and chainstay length. Again, the "winch and plummet" terrain would really favor the longer chainstays. Banshee's new Titan and Prime both have chain-stays in the 450ish range, and they are smaller travel than the Gnarvana. Even the 115mm Phantom has 445mm chainstays!

I think Chainstay length and Rider Height can also influence one another. A taller rider (6'+) might love 454 chainstays and a shorter rider might love 415mm chainstays.

In theory, you could run the Gnarvana as a 275x2.8 setup with 15mm lower cup and 180mm fork to raise the BB (which is actually decently high relative to the rest of the lineup).

Finally, if you got the Gnarvana and decided "whoa this is too much bike" it's gonna be easy-peasy to sell the Gnarvana chainstays (and keep/shorten the fork/shock) than it would be the Smash chainstays.
 

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Just to add to your indecision options, you could also run a MegaSmash mullet.

I drew it up, and played around with numbers for different shock strokes. It should turn out something like this:
60mm shock: trail mode = 143mm, gravity mode = 152mm
62.5mm shock: trail mode = 149mm, gravity mode = 159mm
65mm shock: trail mode = 155mm, gravity mode = 165mm

On all of those:
150mm fork: trail mode = 64.2 HT, 76.2 ST. gravity mode = 63.7 HT, 75.7 ST
160mm fork: trail mode = 63.8 HT, 75.9 ST. gravity mode = 63.3 HT, 75.4 ST

I want to convert my Smash this winter to try this, haven't decided on which. Kinda leaning towards the 62.5 / 160 option, with most of my riding in Trail.
 

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Hey, I know those trails!

I used to live in Wenatchee, so I've ridden Tiger and I know about the new place. Never rode Predator, but loved riding Off The Grid.

So for going big and fast at Tiger, I'd ride a Smash or Megatral, the only reason I'd upgrade to a Gnarvana in your neck of the woods is if I was riding Stevens Pass a bunch, even then I'd fret over the climbing prowess of those long stays. I could ride a Shred at Tiger, maybe a Pistola too.

I've always ridden short stays other than my brief flirtation with the Foes Mutz, I don't think short stays cause instability but I do believe they help with agility.

I'm mostly riding a Shred Dogg now, 130mm out back, Trust Message up front, it's a great trail bike and quite capable, and I'd happilly ride it at Tiger on everything, but at Stevens I would get worked. If I was to get one bike for everything and I was at Stevens a few times a month, I'd get a Smash or a MT.

It looks like you enjoy earning your turns, so maybe the high Cascades is a thing you do, something like Angels Staircase … for sure that's a Smash or MT kind of ride, SHred or Pistola too.

But hey, some folks don't mind long chainstays, so there's that.

Not to sound critical, but in those three videos your linked, I don't really see how having 165mm vs 145mm will change much since you didn't take big enough hits use all of your travel.

But then I'm in the less more camp right now ;)

Hey Ben,

Thanks for the detailed feedback, I was hoping you might wander by this thread as you seem to be the resident mad scientist when it comes to taking full advantage of the GG modular platform :)

I live in and ride mostly around Western Washington, I have included a couple of sample links (not my videos) of the trail types I favor which are definitely not the lift-served buffed out and smooth jump line kind.

Regarding the Smash, I had already asked GG about over-shocking it with a 62.5 stroke shock and they said it *should* be ok with a 2.4" tire which is what I run. That would be good for about 150mm travel and I would definitely want to run a 160mm fork on it. I think between the Smash and Gnarvana I guess my main decision point is the chainstay length, if I am prioritizing stability and traction I don't want to get the Smash only to immediately want the Gnarvana stays.

These are all about 15 min drive from my house, I am spoiled :)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ba0US90Tdpk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xme_qkZKEF4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ze01li-4C9E
 

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Hey, I know those trails!
...
Not to sound critical, but in those three videos your linked, I don't really see how having 165mm vs 145mm will change much since you didn't take big enough hits use all of your travel.

But then I'm in the less more camp right now ;)
You are 100% right Ben, and sorry if I didn't make it more clear before but the amount of travel isn't really a decision point for me for moving to a new bike or between the Smash or Gnarvana, it is more a matter of wanting more traction and stability and that feeling of "being in the middle of the bike" that reviewers talk about on these bikes with the longer stays. Perhaps I get those things just moving from a 27.5 to a 29er and I shouldn't obsess so much over chainstay and overall bike length.

I have ridden all of the local trails on an AL Shred in trail mode, sure some of them were a little more work but as you indicate it is certainly doable with less travel. For what it is worth the newer natural-type trails around here are a lot different than OTG. If you ever get the chance to come around this way definitely let me know and I would happy to give a tour :thumbsup:

I run my MT at 170F/150R (trail mode) all the time now and I really only upped the fork to 170 to get a bit more BB clearance. Though I use it all up at times, it is more than fine and I really don't see needing more travel. Something in me just wants to experiment with the longer stays of the Gnarvana; I was even thinking of a Gnarvana with a 160mm fork and possibly down-stroking the shock to 62.5 might make it slightly more tame; 160F/150R Gnarvana maybe?
 

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I ordered it with a DHX2. I recently learned that you can easily change stroke on the 2021 version. There's spacers that you can add/remove under a cap at the end of the body. The spacers are pairs that split down the middle so you don't need to tear the shock apart at all to change them. On the 230 shock you can go between 60, 62.5 and 65.
That looks like a pretty beefy spacer setup. I was thinking to have someone 3D print me a spacer like that for my SuperDeluxe coil would snap onto the shaft similar to how the Fox DPX2 volume spacers work; but maybe that is a bad idea.
 

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Just to add to your indecision options, you could also run a MegaSmash mullet.
A buddy of mine is considering a MegaSmash I will definitely send him the numbers you provided as they will probably help his decision some, thank you Andeh.

I am not sure I would want to start with a mullet setup, maybe it would be something I could come back to try out after riding a true 29er for a bit.
 

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battle stag commander
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That looks like a pretty beefy spacer setup. I was thinking to have someone 3D print me a spacer like that for my SuperDeluxe coil would snap onto the shaft similar to how the Fox DPX2 volume spacers work; but maybe that is a bad idea.
I think if the fox engineers thought they could adjust stroke without a full teardown then I assume they would. Save the poor soul with the 3d printer the work and just get a dhx2, sweet shock anyways.
 

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Formerly PaintPeelinPbody
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Aside from potentially reaching bottom out more quickly due to the lack of progression in earlier part of the stroke, there isn't really any reason why adding spacers to a coil shock is a bad thing. For a long time, that was pretty much the only way to control stroke of coil shocks.

The reason Fox did it is because they finally realized people were doing that, and with a wide range of stroke options on 230mm shocks, they wanted to make it easier for OEMs.

Push even has different sized bumpers for different strokes.

Maybe you could change the depth of the IFP to assist at bottom out or something, but I wouldn't be too worried about it.

I absolutely despise this idea that we should constantly go get new parts because of incremental changes that really make very little difference. Consumerism at its worst.

On an air shock, yea, different story, kinda. Although people get by ok. I pulled the stroke spacer out of my 210x50 shock to get 130mm out of my Pistol. Haven't died yet, and I was doing some nice sized drops 3'-4' in my neighborhood.

This is part of the reason I advocate for the longer travel bike, so long as you can shorten the stroke of the shock. It's easier to make a longer travel bike shorter travel with small changes than it is to make a shorter travel bike have the tire clearances necessary to get much more travel.
 

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Hey Ben,

Thanks for the detailed feedback, I was hoping you might wander by this thread as you seem to be the resident mad scientist when it comes to taking full advantage of the GG modular platform :)

I live in and ride mostly around Western Washington, I have included a couple of sample links (not my videos) of the trail types I favor which are definitely not the lift-served buffed out and smooth jump line kind.

Regarding the Smash, I had already asked GG about over-shocking it with a 62.5 stroke shock and they said it *should* be ok with a 2.4" tire which is what I run. That would be good for about 150mm travel and I would definitely want to run a 160mm fork on it. I think between the Smash and Gnarvana I guess my main decision point is the chainstay length, if I am prioritizing stability and traction I don't want to get the Smash only to immediately want the Gnarvana stays.

These are all about 15 min drive from my house, I am spoiled :)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ba0US90Tdpk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xme_qkZKEF4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ze01li-4C9E
Hey, I'm just a bit farther away at 30 min., but that's my kind of riding right there. I love our steep tech.
 
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