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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey folks - I'm looking to get a new (or at least new to me) bike, that I can use primarily for marathon races (~50ish mile MTB), but can also take out on some daily trail riding or also get into some XC racing on occasion.

The market seems like there are a ton of great options here - Yeti SB4.5 caught my eye (although that water bottle design...), Niner Jet9, Ibis Ripley, Santa Cruz Tallboy (or maybe even Hightower), Pivot 429, maybe even Evil Following, are there any bikes in this category (thinking like 120mm front/rear) that stand out for this type of racing and general riding? Thanks!
 

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I am Walt
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Hey folks - I'm looking to get a new (or at least new to me) bike, that I can use primarily for marathon races (~50ish mile MTB), but can also take out on some daily trail riding or also get into some XC racing on occasion.

The market seems like there are a ton of great options here - Yeti SB4.5 caught my eye (although that water bottle design...), Niner Jet9, Ibis Ripley, Santa Cruz Tallboy (or maybe even Hightower), Pivot 429, maybe even Evil Following, are there any bikes in this category (thinking like 120mm front/rear) that stand out for this type of racing and general riding? Thanks!
Having just gone through this process, I decided on a Yeti SB100. Perfect for your described uses.

Also consider SC Blur TR, Pivot Mach 4 SL and Intense Sniper Trail...among others. The bikes you listed above are a bit heavy for what you want, IMO. I was shooting for 25 lbs, +/-.

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anecdotal but I had my older Large 429 Trail at 25# with basic 9.8 dropper and a normal Fox 34 @ 120mm. Really nothing special aside from the hoops. Great one quiver bike. Related, I have a few friends / teammates riding the new Trail 429 w/ SC34 and some light hoops at/around the same weight.

a good friend was very successful on his Tallboy until the introduction of the Blur which became his primary marathon bike.

My rec - don't sweat it and get the bike that fits your budget/you like/want to ride. when budget permits, pick up some lighter weight wheels/rubber and possibly fork.
 

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Hey folks - I'm looking to get a new (or at least new to me) bike, that I can use primarily for marathon races (~50ish mile MTB), but can also take out on some daily trail riding or also get into some XC racing on occasion.

The market seems like there are a ton of great options here - Yeti SB4.5 caught my eye (although that water bottle design...), Niner Jet9, Ibis Ripley, Santa Cruz Tallboy (or maybe even Hightower), Pivot 429, maybe even Evil Following, are there any bikes in this category (thinking like 120mm front/rear) that stand out for this type of racing and general riding? Thanks!
I think the bikes you listed are all good bikes, but too heavy and trail for racing with the exception of Pivot 429SL. (Trail 429 is too big). I am quite happy for 50+ mile MTB races on my 2018 Specialized Epic. Standard 100/100 configuration, but with Fox 32 SC in front. If you want a more plush bike you can look at the "trail" version of the XC race bikes. Epic Evo, Blur TR, 2020 Top Fuel, SB100. Maybe even new 2020 Pivot Mach 4. I think standard XC race bikes are so good you can race them all day long. If you want more relaxed then 120mm fork and dropper is all you need. I think most "trail bikes" are too big for XC duty. Not to say they are not fun bikes, but 3lbs of weight has big impact on mile 45 of a race if you have been dragging that around all day long.

Just my thoughts. BTW last year I got my Epic for Long distance back country XC races. I moved from a 29er HT to FS for extra cushion and light weight. So far I have been very happy with that choice. I race in short XC races, long 50-60 mile race, Multi day stage races and just finished a 24 hr solo on it. That and local fun rides.
 

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Modern FS XC bikes have geo very similar to what trail bikes were 5 years ago. My 2016 Spark (Scott’s FS XC bike) has almost identical geo to my 2013 Genius (their trail bike). I’d advise going XC and then maybe get a second beefier wheelset for “trail”. Some brands also offer a flip chip that slightly tweaks the geo between slack and XC.


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I would not want to race any event on an sb4.5 regularly. If you do 1-2 per year that don’t have much climbing, it’s OK.

I actually wanted a 4.5 (still do) and a top fuel. In the end I had to pick a bike and I picked the Top Fuel and put a 120 f34 on it. I would literally race enduro and bike parks on the 4.5.

So many bikes will work for you.

In no particular order:

Sniper Trail (if well under 200 pounds)
Blur TR
2020 Top Fuel 9.8
2019 Top Fuel with Stepcast 34 added.
Epic Evo
RM element
429SL or new 4 if you want latest and greatest Geo
Etc

^^Most people would be faster if they rode these bikes in my part of the country.

Bikes you “could race on”
Trek Fuel EX 9.8-9
IBIS Ripley
Stumpjumper ST
Tall boy (only here due to weight)
New Trance Advanced 29
Etc

Most of the companies making 120/120 bikes are just really heavy for what they are IMO, and I would much rather take a 23 pound race bike of any brand and run a stepcast 34.



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Wanna ride bikes?
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Love my Kona Hei Hei CR/DL (120/100). Great all rounder and FAST.

I also just rode the new Ibis Ripley, seriously impressive bike, super capable and fun.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks so much everyone for the great advice - I guess I was probably underrating the modern XC bike's ability to handle some burlier terrain. Not talking bike park level, or even any real drops, but mostly just hectic / messy descents. A bunch of those bikes really appeal to me (particularly the SB100, Epic, Element, Blur, Sniper, Mach 4/429SL, Top Fuel, Oiz...), time to do some more research to see what kind of deal I can snag and what build levels are out there. Pretty hard to make a decision like this with so many capable options - guess it's a great time to be racing bikes!

Thanks again for all of the advice / input.
 

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Elitest thrill junkie
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I use my 429SL, but I put a bit longer fork on it and a bit bigger tires, so 120mm up front and 2.3-ish tires. I do not go too far in this direction though, because just like any other race, rotational weight and accelerating weight add up fast, once you start putting 140mm forks and much wider rims on there, the weight balloons fast. That said, I've noticed at mile 70 on an extended downhill you need a bit more of a safety-margin for mistakes and to be able to not ride so clenched up, at least I need those things. I've seen people ride all kinds of bikes on the 100+ mile races that I do, so there are definitely more ways to do this. I really don't see a need for more than 100mm out in the rear, but wouldn't turn down 120 if it was efficient and I could lock it out. More than 120mm up front and the fork weight instantly adds another half pound, also as you raise the front end you'll have more trouble keeping it down on the steeps, again, especially 80 miles in. It's a matter of perspective too, "marathon" for me starts at more than 50 or so miles. 50 for me is just an extension of a 30 or so mile race, still done in about 4 or so hours. When I'm on the bike for more than 6 hours, it's getting more towards "marathon" to me.

IMO, the new Mach 4 SL is more "XC race" and less "marathon", even though the 429SL was pretty XC race to start with. The 4 SL has a shorter stroke shock on it than the 429 SL, the triangle is pretty small due to how they made it (for those wanting to put a bag there, still many other more open-frame bikes).
 

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Student of the Bike
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Orbea Oiz M10 TR
I came here to say this. I've been looking over this bike lately. My local shop has some demos and I've been considering taking one out for a bit. The Oil TR version seems like a nice longer legged XC bike.

Additionally, many in my neck of the woods are one Pivot 429's too.

Like has been said earlier, there are so many quality machines out there. Its hard to make a poor choice.

Later,
CJB
 

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I came here to say this. I've been looking over this bike lately. My local shop has some demos and I've been considering taking one out for a bit. The Oil TR version seems like a nice longer legged XC bike.
x3 on the Oiz M10 TR.

I spent the better part of the last 2 years mulling over what bike to get for this exact category. I wanted something race-able for marathon events but I also wanted it to be fairly trail capable. I wanted 120/120, under 25lbs with a dropper and with 2 bottle cages inside the main triangle.

With these requirements the only 2 real options are the Sniper trail or the Oiz. I've been following people complaining about the linkage problems on the Sniper for the last year straight and the 2 bottle solution inside the main triangle is not ideal. I finally pulled the trigger and got my Oiz M10 TR a few weeks ago and it's everything I was looking for. There's a few spec choices I don't love but overall it's been fantastic.

Other bikes I considered:
- SB100 X01: only 1 bottle, 100mm rear suspension, heavier than competition, overpriced by 1-2k. I live near Golden and demo'd this bike and thought it rode great but I just can't justify the Yeti tax vs the competition.
- Blur X01 TR: 1 bottle in the frame, second bottle on the underside of down tube (yuck), 100m rear travel, 110 front travel + non-factory fork, starts at $7700 (but you do get carbon wheels).
- RM Element: 2 bottles, 100mm rear travel, 120 front (34 elite). Price was competitive to Oiz M10-TR, but Oiz has better spec and IMHO much better aesthetics.
- Sniper Trail: 2 bottles (bosses for 2nd bottle added recently) but both are on downtube, 120/120, good spec, good value (frameset option). Cons - they under report the complete build weights on their website, lot of user reports of issues with linkage design. Direct sales model might be a con if you have a good LBS.
- Epic Evo: brain is polarizing, love it or hate it, can have maintenance issues. Weight could be better, rest of spec suffers in order to fit the Roval carbon wheels in.
- Trail 429: more skewed to the trail side, was heavier than the bike I was trying to replace.
- Canyon Lux: 2 bottles in triangle, 100m rear, 110 f34 front option. Traditional steep XC geometry, US spec options were much worse than the euro options IMO then prices all jumped by 1k before they even really started selling these. Supposedly tariff related.

YMMV but the only thing that could have skewed me to make a different decision would be if I could get a particularly good deal on one of the other models OR if I was going to build up from frameset. If I was going to build from frame then the Sniper might edge out the Oiz. Oiz, like many bikes now, doesn't price frame competitively at all.
 

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Thanks so much everyone for the great advice - I guess I was probably underrating the modern XC bike's ability to handle some burlier terrain. Not talking bike park level, or even any real drops, but mostly just hectic / messy descents. A bunch of those bikes really appeal to me (particularly the SB100, Epic, Element, Blur, Sniper, Mach 4/429SL, Top Fuel, Oiz...), time to do some more research to see what kind of deal I can snag and what build levels are out there. Pretty hard to make a decision like this with so many capable options - guess it's a great time to be racing bikes!

Thanks again for all of the advice / input.
I think any modern XC bike is more than enough to handle what you want to get out of it based on what you say you will ride. Your bike will NOT be your limiter. I race XCO and MTB 100s on my FS Scott Spark (100 f/r). I never felt under or over biked and I've taken it on some decently gnarly decents, 4 foot drops and gap jumps. More suspension will allow more room for error, but it's not needed and I'd recommend rather work on bike handling.

My latest adventure I filmed 1 of 8 rides in Colorado chasing guys with Enduro and all mountain bikes. I had no problem keeping up. My only alteration to my XC bike was a dropper and beefier tires:

 

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Elitest thrill junkie
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It's not so much about the travel IMO, just having an FS bike of ANY kind significantly reduces the fatigue and increases my ability to do 100 miles. One mistake I've made is pumping up my suspension to be "faster" and for a "race". On longer races, that worked against me, pounding me and not giving me the suspension relief that I really needed over that race.

Having a big triangle to fit a bag is very nice IMO. A bag can fit a bottle or two and be packed with food and supplies. I can't do super long distance with nothing on my back, but I can move a good portion of it to the bike. Other bags like seat bags, stem bags and stuff can help, but they put weight in an odd location and just centered on the frame is the best and easiest to get to while riding. On a good triangle-frame like my fat-bikes, I can get water bottles easily while riding.

I like it light, but not crazy light, comfortable bars and riding position is important. A dropper helps a lot with the long descents, as you don't have to "stand" all clenched up and stiff, also gives your back a bit more of a rest.

I'm pretty well set in the "xc" geometry for xc stuff, ridiculous slack HTAs make climbing a pain and when you barely have enough left to keep pedaling, trying to keep the front end down or power over something can be enough to send you over the edge into cramp-land. Not saying a super steep HTA is necessary, but some of the slacker ones I've seen recently would be far less optimal, from my own experience riding with varied HTAs.

I don't want "plus" tires, because they are slow, but again, a little tougher/bigger tire is nice. I find as I get more and more fatigued I make a few more mistakes and need a bit more "buffer" on my bike to make up the difference. As you get better and faster, you can probably reduce this, but like any other race I don't want to be fixing flat tires and unlike any other race, I'm probably a hell of a lot further from any civilization.
 

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Surprised no one mentioned the Fezzari Signal Peak, perhaps it's not the lightest or the most high tech suspension, but it rides well, it is not heavy, the frame is stiff, the geo is solid, it fits two bottle cages inside the frame and a third under the downtube, and the price is quite reasonable.

Mine is built up pretty basic, SC34, 150mm dropper, 29 x 2.6 Rekon/Ikon, no carbon.
 
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