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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I returned to mountain bikes after 25yrs at the beginning of 2019. My first mtb since then is a Trek Stache 5 which has been a blast. I'm value oriented and have been looking for new old stock of bikes in my size. It feels like MTB tech reached a point where many FS bike designs wouldn't disappoint. With that stated, I'm realizing that budget builds of a bike model get little press and virtually no video reviews.

What I want to know is how can I interpret a top of range bike's review (same front and rear triangle materials) to figure out how a budget build of the same model bike might perform? Say if a top build has a Super Deluxe rear and a Pike RCT3 fork while a budget build has a X-Fusion O2 Pro RL rear shock and a a X-Fusion McQueen fork, how what is likely to be consistent in the bike's performance. What of a bikes design is likely to show up without regard to the suspension components. I often read of a bike's rear suspension being progressive. What I don't understand is how this quality is expressed across build levels. I concede that at higher build levels brake performance, shifting feel, and rotational mass all likely improve which contribute to the bike's overall performance. I think those variables can be readily comprehended. I can understand what I'm getting between an NX vs GX vs Deore drivetrain, or M315 vs SLX vs XT brakes, and to some extent wheelset materials, widths, and stiffness. The suspension side is still an enigma and I won't have the budget to rent a bunch of bikes.

I am not trying to over think all of this. But buying a left over 2017 Stache 5 with 10spd 1x, a small 10-36 cassette and lower level brakes showed me that a great bike design is a blast even if it doesn't have top spec. Consequently, I wonder whether this principle of excellent design carries over to frame suspension design. I am curious whether the large survey style annual mtb reviews are stretching and splitting hairs to differentiate and segment the market. I look forward to any feedback.
 

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It feels like MTB tech reached a point where many FS bike designs wouldn't disappoint. With that stated, I'm realizing that budget builds of a bike model get little press and virtually no video reviews.

What I want to know is how can I interpret a top of range bike's review (same front and rear triangle materials) to figure out how a budget build of the same model bike might perform?
You can expect it to be a little heavier, a little more flexy, maybe less tunable, but otherwise still pretty good. (these are gross generalizations and it would help immensely if we were specifically speaking about product A vs product B.)

I am not trying to over think all of this.
liar.

But buying a left over 2017 Stache 5 with 10spd 1x, a small 10-36 cassette and lower level brakes showed me that a great bike design is a blast even if it doesn't have top spec. Consequently, I wonder whether this principle of excellent design carries over to frame suspension design. I am curious whether the large survey style annual mtb reviews are stretching and splitting hairs to differentiate and segment the market. I look forward to any feedback.
You're asking a variety of questions. The frame design, aka suspension platform in this case, doesn't change. A pedal efficient XC bike will still be a good climber with less expensive suspension bits. Likewise a big hit gravity bike will still be great at descending.

Honestly one of the best resources available is right here on MTBR. You'll find a variety of experiences and opinions here that you can't read in a magazine. I say get specific about your question, and the products your comparing, and just ask here. Lots of good info to be shared, and occasionally some really bad info too. ;)

You're asking very general and vague questions which are hard to answer sometimes. Sometimes it's best to just ask what is better for me (then give a detailed description of where/how you ride, your preferences, your budget, etc.) and compare A to B. Or single out two components and compare.

Really though there's more information available to you than ever before. Do some searching and reading and you'll find the answers you're looking for.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
You can expect it to be a little heavier, a little more flexy, maybe less tunable, but otherwise still pretty good. (these are gross generalizations and it would help immensely if we were specifically speaking about product A vs product B.)



liar.



You're asking a variety of questions. The frame design, aka suspension platform in this case, doesn't change. A pedal efficient XC bike will still be a good climber with less expensive suspension bits. Likewise a big hit gravity bike will still be great at descending.

Honestly one of the best resources available is right here on MTBR. You'll find a variety of experiences and opinions here that you can't read in a magazine. I say get specific about your question, and the products your comparing, and just ask here. Lots of good info to be shared, and occasionally some really bad info too. ;)

You're asking very general and vague questions which are hard to answer sometimes. Sometimes it's best to just ask what is better for me (then give a detailed description of where/how you ride, your preferences, your budget, etc.) and compare A to B. Or single out two components and compare.

Really though there's more information available to you than ever before. Do some searching and reading and you'll find the answers you're looking for.
This is the feedback I was hoping to find. Thanks for taking some time to respond. I hadn't considered the frame design as a suspension platform. I think that helps put things into perspective.

I'm looking at 2017-2018 trail bikes and have found a couple of new Norco bikes, 1) 2018 Optic A3 and 2) 2017 Torrent FS+ A7.1. The Optic top builds C1 and A1 reviews are easy to find. I'm not finding as much feedback on the base A3 build which comes with a Recon Gold RL and a Monarch R, but I'll do some more research on mtbr. The Torrent FS+ A1 build comes with a DVO Diamond up front and Topaz (OEM model)in the rear. I'm finding nearly nothing on mtbr about the full suspension Torrent. The Optic seems like a great 27.5 130mm/120mm trail bike that would work well here in N. TX and Central TX at Spider Mountain. The Torrent FS+ give a 27.5+ tire option, a 140mm/130mm DVO suspension and solid 1x11 GX drive train. I think I would be fine with either. The Optic is $500 off 2018 retail. The Torrent is $1,400 off 2017 retail.

Also on my radar is a 2018 Range A3, 170mm/160mm, Yari and Deluxe RL. Way more travel than I need, but at $1,000 of retail, hard to not take a look.

I'll do some more research on MTBR, but if you had any additional thoughts or advice, it's always welcomed.
 

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I'm looking at 2017-2018 trail bikes and have found a couple of new Norco bikes, 1) 2018 Optic A3 and 2) 2017 Torrent FS+ A7.1. The Optic top builds C1 and A1 reviews are easy to find. I'm not finding as much feedback on the base A3 build which comes with a Recon Gold RL and a Monarch R, but I'll do some more research on mtbr. The Torrent FS+ A1 build comes with a DVO Diamond up front and Topaz (OEM model)in the rear. I'm finding nearly nothing on mtbr about the full suspension Torrent. The Optic seems like a great 27.5 130mm/120mm trail bike that would work well here in N. TX and Central TX at Spider Mountain. The Torrent FS+ give a 27.5+ tire option, a 140mm/130mm DVO suspension and solid 1x11 GX drive train. I think I would be fine with either. The Optic is $500 off 2018 retail. The Torrent is $1,400 off 2017 retail.
I don't have a lot of personal experience with the DVO stuff, but I think it's generally pretty well received. I'll let someone else fill in the blanks there.

Also on my radar is a 2018 Range A3, 170mm/160mm, Yari and Deluxe RL. Way more travel than I need, but at $1,000 of retail, hard to not take a look.
Be careful here. A good deal on the wrong bike is not a good deal for you, it's just the wrong bike. Don't fall in love with a sale price tag, there's lots of good bikes out there.
 

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I'd highly recommend you demo bikes. Looking them up online doesn't really translate to real world feel. You won't be doing yourself any favors getting a great deal on a bike that you don't like it doesn't work well for the type of riding you do.

Even if the bikes you can demo aren't the same you can still compare geometry and that might help you decide. The Norco seams to be behind the times geometry wise. Might also want to look for gently used or demo bikes.
 

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Mountain bike reviews are notoriously terrible.

I think the best thing to do is find user level reviews (like posts here on the forum) for the specific component. See how riders feel about a fork, since the fork is going to work the same regardless of the bike its on. Same with shocks. Or drivetrain. Or any component on the bike thats not the frame itself.

For frames, the base model rides 100% identically to the top of the line model for the same material (aluminum and carbon). So many reviews will bash a bike for being harsh, but its not the bike, its the parts bolted on to it. You can replace those parts if you want.
 

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Ah, Norco. That makes it easy. Their suspension designs have nice simple leverage curves so you don't need fancy or specially tuned shocks to make up for suspension weirdness. Suspension performance across the range is fairly consistent, yes it gets better and more tunable as you go up the range but the general characteristics are fairly similar. You're not going to have the base model wallowing around and making you hate life and the next model up being totally awesome like you can with some other brands' frames that have wonky leverage curves & kinematics.

Further notes, the Torrent is essentially a heavier duty plus size version of the Optic. Tires are bigger and it's a heavier & bigger feeling bike overall, but the suspension works pretty much the same. Personally I prefer the Optic, but it should be noted that I just don't get along with +size tire bikes. As for the Range, I own the 2015 carbon model. It makes a great trail bike if you can get the weight down to 31 lbs or so, but that gets pretty expensive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Ah, Norco. That makes it easy. Their suspension designs have nice simple leverage curves so you don't need fancy or specially tuned shocks to make up for suspension weirdness. Suspension performance across the range is fairly consistent, yes it gets better and more tunable as you go up the range but the general characteristics are fairly similar. You're not going to have the base model wallowing around and making you hate life and the next model up being totally awesome like you can with some other brands' frames that have wonky leverage curves & kinematics.

Further notes, the Torrent is essentially a heavier duty plus size version of the Optic. Tires are bigger and it's a heavier & bigger feeling bike overall, but the suspension works pretty much the same. Personally I prefer the Optic, but it should be noted that I just don't get along with +size tire bikes. As for the Range, I own the 2015 carbon model. It makes a great trail bike if you can get the weight down to 31 lbs or so, but that gets pretty expensive.
Thanks for the feedback. This is a big help. Your Torrent description is what I needed. I am OK with +tires, but at least I can always go down from 2.8". The 2019 Fluid FS seems attractive, but too early in the model year. My hang up on the base Optic 7.3 is the RS Recon. I feel like I would want an upgrade if only because of the weight savings. I have found a 2018 Sight A3. Do you find the Optic bikes ride higher and to be playful. That would be a preference and may mean I look past the Torrent FS 7.1 if the weight is an issue.

Thx again!
 

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I got back into riding last fall after a 10 year layoff...and prior to that I had a very mediocre mongoose bike. And i only rode to take in some local singletrack that was off limits to motorized, never loved it, hated climbing. I jumped in with both feet and bought a YT Jeffys 27.5 AL last fall, solely based on reviews and geometry I figured I'd like (more comfortable standing and descending like on my dirt bikes). I got the bike and immediately bought another seat and taller Renthal bars and went and rode it. First thing that hit me was "holy sh!t...this thing climbs!". The modern bikes just put the power down. I rarely use the lockout switches unless I'm in a really long smoother climb. Even then I'm not sure how much it's really helping.

So I bought the lowest priced new Jeffsy that YT offered and have since upgraded the shock to a super deluxe RC3 $250 used and MRP Ribbon Coil up front $450 used. Other notable upgrades would be the 2.6 DHF/Aggressor combo. There are lots of used suspension components to be had if you're not hell bent on getting them tomorrow. I'm watching for a coil shock now to compliment the Ribbon. My buddy spent more than twice as much on his Gorilla Gravity Smash, but out of the box I feel like he literally got everything that I'm now pining for. Suspension is on par between the bikes now, mine is super plush. But his i9 wheels, drivetrain and brakes far exceed what I have. Not to mention he got the bars, seat, very good dropper, pedals that don't suck, better tires, etc. But unless I test ride his bike I don't notice those things on my bike...but his stuff is nicer and more precise. NOW THAT I KNOW what I like, it will be a lot easier to test ride different bikes and evaluate in the future. But I honestly don't see me ever buying a built bike again, unless it was from a company like GG where you can order exactly what you want and not waste money/parts on "stock" universal offerings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I got back into riding last fall after a 10 year layoff...and prior to that I had a very mediocre mongoose bike. And i only rode to take in some local singletrack that was off limits to motorized, never loved it, hated climbing. I jumped in with both feet and bought a YT Jeffys 27.5 AL last fall, solely based on reviews and geometry I figured I'd like (more comfortable standing and descending like on my dirt bikes). I got the bike and immediately bought another seat and taller Renthal bars and went and rode it. First thing that hit me was "holy sh!t...this thing climbs!". The modern bikes just put the power down. I rarely use the lockout switches unless I'm in a really long smoother climb. Even then I'm not sure how much it's really helping.

So I bought the lowest priced new Jeffsy that YT offered and have since upgraded the shock to a super deluxe RC3 $250 used and MRP Ribbon Coil up front $450 used. Other notable upgrades would be the 2.6 DHF/Aggressor combo. There are lots of used suspension components to be had if you're not hell bent on getting them tomorrow. I'm watching for a coil shock now to compliment the Ribbon. My buddy spent more than twice as much on his Gorilla Gravity Smash, but out of the box I feel like he literally got everything that I'm now pining for. Suspension is on par between the bikes now, mine is super plush. But his i9 wheels, drivetrain and brakes far exceed what I have. Not to mention he got the bars, seat, very good dropper, pedals that don't suck, better tires, etc. But unless I test ride his bike I don't notice those things on my bike...but his stuff is nicer and more precise. NOW THAT I KNOW what I like, it will be a lot easier to test ride different bikes and evaluate in the future. But I honestly don't see me ever buying a built bike again, unless it was from a company like GG where you can order exactly what you want and not waste money/parts on "stock" universal offerings.
Escrowdog, thanks for the reply. My brother picked up a YT Jeffsy 29 AL Comp during the last year during the Black Friday sale. He loves it. He'd been pining for a FS after four long years on a new to him(used) 2012 Santa Cruz High Ball. He's had a blast and tackling more challenging trails and features with the confidence.

I see your point of view on buy vs build. Especially if you have skills turning an allen key. I built my wife a road bike from a frameset two years ago and it was the best education. Now she has a mid-spec titanium Lynskey sitting all nice and shiny in the garage, collecting dust. :)

Unfortunately, the learning curve appears much steeper on FS bikes. That's the premise of my question. Aerius, in his comment above, addressed my concern whether the Norco bikes I'm considering performed significantly different with base level RS Monarch or Deluxe rear shox as well as the feel of a RS Recon vs a Revelation or even a Sektor. So many more variables in the mtb game. Like you, I like a good deal and can be patient. Else, I'd just take a trade in lost and go to my LBS and buy an entry level Fuel/Remedy/5010/Bronson. I can be patient. There's always a deal somewhere. I really enjoy learning more and riding more. I've managed about 20-25 rides since January. I'm feeling pretty good about that as my goal is to avg 2 rides a week. My only push now is that I have a more capable bike at a reasonable cost to ride my brother on more challenging trails and features. Thx again for the input. It all helps.
 

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the base A3 build which comes with a Recon Gold RL and a Monarch R, ...
The Torrent FS+ A1 build comes with a DVO Diamond up front and Topaz (OEM model)in the rear.
2018 Range A3, 170mm/160mm, Yari and Deluxe RL.
Since we are on the suspension sub forum, let’s focus on these first. If you’re not going to swap out the fork, or do any mod to them, DVO hands down. If you’re willing to spend extra money on fork or mod, Yari can be made really good by changing the damper. Check the “Super Yari?” thread. I have a Recon, a Fox34 with stock fit4, and a a Mattoc. Fox34 certainly is much better than Recon, but Mattoc outperforms stock Fox 34 easily.

For a new fork, Mattoc likely gives you most bang for the buck.

For suspension frame comparison, linkage design is a good place to check if you like to geek out.
Norco Optic 29" 2017 - Linkage Design

Like others said, fit is the absolute first priority. Please also keep budget for a dropper post if the bike doesn’t come with one.
 

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NO NOT cheap out on suspension!. Its the thing that make your bike an awesome ride, and average ride or a **** ride.

Higher spec gives you more development more adjustment and better performance. It can be day and night the difference suspension makes on the same bike. Even the difference between low and high spec in the same fork/shock.

Right now i am trying to tune lyric rc, and debonair rc3. Even though these are high spec fork/shock combo they are not as adjustable with only rebound and basic compression dampening compared to my fox 36 factory and x2 which has high and low speed compression and rebound adjustment. On the fox i have been able to tune the ride to exactly my desire and style. on the rockshox i cant get to the same level..... now if i had the top end rockshox i would be on a level playing feild.
 

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NO NOT cheap out on suspension!. Its the thing that make your bike an awesome ride, and average ride or a **** ride.

Higher spec gives you more development more adjustment and better performance. It can be day and night the difference suspension makes on the same bike. Even the difference between low and high spec in the same fork/shock.

Right now i am trying to tune lyric rc, and debonair rc3. Even though these are high spec fork/shock combo they are not as adjustable with only rebound and basic compression dampening compared to my fox 36 factory and x2 which has high and low speed compression and rebound adjustment. On the fox i have been able to tune the ride to exactly my desire and style. on the rockshox i cant get to the same level..... now if i had the top end rockshox i would be on a level playing feild.
Price is only loosely connected to performance. You've got to look at what you're getting for the money.

For example with your Lyrik RC above, the RCT3 doesn't help performance. It gives you a pedal and lockout mode that no-one seems to use.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
So with a bit more reading, it would appear that the DVO that comes as OEM spec on bikes is not the same as aftermarket for the Diamond shock. The OEM shock is called a Diamond D2. From what I can tell, it appears the OEM rear shock is the same Topaz3Air as sold aftermarket. If I'm wrong, please correct me.

A feature of the Diamond D2 fork is the D2 damper that is not as adjustable as the Diamond D1 fork. Can any one explains to me materially how the Diamond D1 differs from the D2 and whether I'll experience an of the difference?

Also, it appears that the OTT adjustment on the Diamond D2 is limited to four clicks of adjustment versus a much wider range of adjustment on the D1.

It may be that the DVO OEM D2 forkset up is still much more adjustable than the adjustable than most, but not the full feature set as the D1 forks.

Any help is appreciated. I think I'm leaning toward the Torrent FS A1 and part of the attraction is the DVO suspension upgrade. The close second is the Sight A3 w/a Revelation RC. I've seen a few threads where folks moved from the Revelation to the Pike and question the difference in performance, but acknowledged the weight penalty for the Revelation RC.

Thoughts?
 

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I bought a 2017 Specialized Enduro E29 Comp new. Bottom of the line E29. So cheapest suspension up to the task. That bike was fantastic to me, amazing. Tons of fun, lots of miles, beat it to hell. I finally decided to upgrade it, but looking at the money I needed to invest I opted to replace it with the next newest model year (minor updates), but went top of the line with the suspension going with Ohlins coil.

The suspension is amazing. If I was on a tighter budget would I try to stretch resources to get this suspension again versus the cheaper option? No. The Yari was amazing too. I beat the **** out of that fork and it served me well. It helped me set some amazing downhill times. Am I faster on the Ohlins? Yep. Am I A LOT faster? Nope. Looking at a "well maintained" (it's an enduro trail, it isn't groomed, but is maintained) bike park trail I shaved off 40 seconds on a 4 minute segment, if you compare times in the same month, to assume similar trail conditions. If you just go based on my best times, I'm only 8 seconds faster. So somewhere between 3% and 15% faster with the better suspension. That puts me 3rd out of 2500+ people who have Strava'd that trail, if you want a rough idea of my experience.

If you are on a bottom spec, high quality bike, you'll be fine not over analyzing how important the suspension is. I would say if you really care, buy the cheaper one and use the saved money to buy the aftermarket suspension you want with tuning.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Got feedback from DVO, the Diamond D1 comes on the 2017 Norco Torrent FS model. So not the OEM Diamond D2. I was wrong in this conclusion.

Sidewalk, that's great insight and analysis on how you improved and the incremental cost to squeeze out that last bit of performance. I have no racing aspirations, just self improvement. I think a base Sight C3 or the top Torrent FS A7.1 is plenty bike for my trail riding.
 
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