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So I am considering options for a new ride soon. Currently on a SC Hightower in 27.5+ format. Love the bike, but as I have become a better rider , I am not liking the 27.5 2.8 tires as much, and I overall want a poppier (if that is a word), more playful bike.

I live in western Virginia so lots of uphills, rocks galore, roots, mud etc. So I want a bike with 140+ front and rear that is not a beast t pedal uphill, and really fun on a downhill. I don't do a lo of manmade trails or bikeparks. The hightower climbs very well even in 27.5 plus format so I don't want to loose that

Considering SC Bronson V3, Pivot Mach 5.5 or Mach 6 , Ibis HD4. But open to other. I am a fan of Santa Cruz with the warranty and VPP but not beholden. I have tried 29ers and they so far are not for me. I may keep the Hightower and get 29 rims perhaps though. Anyway thoughts ?
 

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I just bought the Evil Insurgent. I have ridden the Bronson, Mach 5.5, and Mach 6 as well. I would consider the 5.5 more of a trail bike. It doesn't feel as stable or slack as the others. The Insurgent for me pedals and feels like a trail bike and flies through the air like a big enduro bike. I didn't feel the same way about the Santa Cruz even though I love the 5010. The Mach 6 felt a lot like a trail bike to me as well, but the demo I got didn't get it flying high enough to completely evaluate. The Insurgent is marked down right now, I believe because they're going to redesign it or at least come out with new colors for next year. Mine is showing up today and I can't wait to hit the trails with it. I'm an intermediate level rider at best and I'm not 100% sure that I bought the right bike, but given my preference for flying through the air, I will grow into it. Good luck!
 

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It sounds like I ride the same kinda stuff regularly as you do (kinda sorta), with the exception of mud. Roots, rocks, climbing and descending techier trails maybe? Limited bike park, traditional down hill and flow stuff, but do travel to ride that a throughout the year.

I think I know what you mean by "poppier". Playful? Easy to body English? Easier to hop up and down obstacles? I went through period of several demos, borrowing, etc. last year, and I personally wouldn't consider the Mach 5.5 or 6 a playful bike compared to others. Climbing wasn't bad though. None of the Pivots felt overly playful for me. Great bikes, though. Not experienced with the Ibis.

As for bikes other than you mentioned... I thought Canyon's Spectral was more "playful" and climbs better than Pivot's selections. I bought a Whyte T-130... which climbs decently and is probably the most playful and all-round trail bike I've ridden. Consumer direct sales, though, if you're open to that. But it's a 140/130 (although it feels and handles more like 150). Sounds like you're looking for more travel. Whyte, however, does boast about their bike's water tightness. They're British, so that's important to them. It's right at home riding mud, as it is flow, bike park, and going down. Loves to get air, yet stable and controllable when it's slow and techy. Like I said, just a good all-rounder.

Based on your input, if it were me, I would first just put non plus tires on your Hightower now as is. Just to see how it feels. Yeah, you'll loose a bit of ground clearance and the rims may be a little wide, but it's just a test. It may be enough to put more playfulness into it and maybe consider 29's. I don't like the feel of plus tires either, btw. Feel too clumsy to me, and don't suit my typical riding conditions/style.
 

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I had a Hightower (in a 29er) and like you I was looking for something that felt a bit more nimble (for lack of a better term). Last year picked up the Rocky Mountain Altitude and was exactly what I wanted. A lot more playful and very agile. Super fun
 

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I would try and demo both the Bronson and 5010. On paper the 5010 doesn't completely meet your wants but you may be surprised at what it can do, and it is most definitely playful and poppy. I just picked one up Friday after several demos, including the Bronson, Mach 6, and SJ.

A year ago I was on a Fuel EX 29 with 130/130 and it just felt "big" to me, and not poppy or playful. I picked up a Blur TR thinking the FEW was overbiked and it is a fast bike but even with extending the fork to 120 it is still a XC bike at heart, stiff and tuned for speed.
 

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So I am considering options for a new ride soon. Currently on a SC Hightower in 27.5+ format. Love the bike, but as I have become a better rider , I am not liking the 27.5 2.8 tires as much, and I overall want a poppier (if that is a word), more playful bike.

I live in western Virginia so lots of uphills, rocks galore, roots, mud etc. So I want a bike with 140+ front and rear that is not a beast t pedal uphill, and really fun on a downhill. I don't do a lo of manmade trails or bikeparks. The hightower climbs very well even in 27.5 plus format so I don't want to loose that

Considering SC Bronson V3, Pivot Mach 5.5 or Mach 6 , Ibis HD4. But open to other. I am a fan of Santa Cruz with the warranty and VPP but not beholden. I have tried 29ers and they so far are not for me. I may keep the Hightower and get 29 rims perhaps though. Anyway thoughts ?
A Devinci Troy sounds like it fits in your ball park description as well. I just finjished a 2017 frame build up after reading everything i could find about bikes in this range of travel and components HA etc etc.. and it is pretty damn sweet, great climber, very playful, fun, and poppy and with a slightly longer travel fork (160MM) very capable DH as well.

good luck !
 

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I too am in the market for a similar bike. Currently on a Marin Hawk hill 27.5 120rear/130front and I love it however it’s rough on the bike park flow trails and the downhills I love to run. Looking for something thats capable of climbing aswell, I like the YT capra although I havent ridden one. Good luck with finding something you like, i’ll be following the thread
 

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I too am in the market for a similar bike. Currently on a Marin Hawk hill 27.5 120rear/130front and I love it however it's rough on the bike park flow trails and the downhills I love to run. Looking for something thats capable of climbing aswell, I like the YT capra although I havent ridden one. Good luck with finding something you like, i'll be following the thread
Knolly Endorphin is on sale. I picked up a fox34 factory and a frame for 1600 shipped on black friday sale.
 

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I know a guy that has a Mach 5.5, Mach 6, and a Firebird in his stable and he preferred the 5.5 for his enduro racing. I can't speak to that, but I am really enjoying my Mach 5.5. Even running cushcore front and back and me being fat, it climbs much better than I anticipated it would and I just point and shoot on the downhills. It corners well for a long bike and I really like it. Ive ridden a Bronson and like it and have a few minutes on a Specialized Stumpy, not enough time to really make an assessment.
 

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Another one to check out is Kona Process 134 or 153 (2nd Gen). Lots of threads here in Kona section. My 153 climbs great and is more fun in New England singletrack than any bike I've ever had. It's built like a tank and a beast of a bike (esp in XL size...34lbs?) but very maneuverable. On technical downhills it just powers through everything. I don't do much flowy park stuff but it would be awesome there...just stiffen up susp a bit and add a little pressure to tires.

A buddy rides a 2018 YT Jeffsey and it's also a great 'all mountain' type bike that climbs well and super fun on downhills. He was looking at Capra but that is less of an all mountain type bike. Both you can find on line for <$3K if you look around.
 

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I know it may be a lesser known name but the Spot Rollik 150 will do all that you are asking, and more. It’s playful, nimble, awesome on the downhills and climbs like a mountain goat! Bike is amazing and the people at Spot offer great customer service! Best of luck in your search.
 

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Another one to check out is Kona Process 134 or 153 (2nd Gen). Lots of threads here in Kona section. My 153 climbs great and is more fun in New England singletrack than any bike I've ever had. It's built like a tank and a beast of a bike (esp in XL size...34lbs?) but very maneuverable. On technical downhills it just powers through everything. I don't do much flowy park stuff but it would be awesome there...just stiffen up susp a bit and add a little pressure to tires.

A buddy rides a 2018 YT Jeffsey and it's also a great 'all mountain' type bike that climbs well and super fun on downhills. He was looking at Capra but that is less of an all mountain type bike. Both you can find on line for <$3K if you look around.
Knolly Endorphin is on sale. I picked up a fox34 factory and a frame for 1600 shipped on black friday sale.
I ended up going with a YT Jeffsy CF comp 27.5 which I think for me was a smarter move over the capra, they have a deal running right now $800 off. I still would love a capra but i'd hate to leave my new bike at home because i'm riding local trails, i'm now going to sell my Marin since the YT will replace it.
 

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The old Nomad mk3 is all what you described, a playful poppier bike. I got the 2014 frame, custom built it from scratch. Now on my fifth season with it, still as new and playful as first day. A bike like it is a keeper. I will keep mine for looong time.

Just saying, if you have the opportunity to find one used in good condition, it's a very good bike for both trail and enduro!
Bicycle frame Bicycle wheel Tire Bicycle tire Mountain bike


 

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Knolly Endorphin is on sale. I picked up a fox34 factory and a frame for 1600 shipped on black friday sale.
That's a steal for a great frame! Might not be ideal for full on gnarly enduro, but you'll always be balancing the trade-off between more travel and speed, and fun/playfulness on the more mellow trails. For me the Endorphin with a 150mm fork does hit a sweet spot in those regards, but as I get older I'm less inclined to want to bomb through rugged terrain at warp-speed.
 
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