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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all, I'm looking to buy a new bike. I ride both up and down Northern Colorado trails that are rocky, loose, and mostly dry. I don't catch air much unless it's an easy jump or I'm wrecking :D. I'm getting back into riding after taking a few (too many) years off and I have back issues so I'm looking for something to soak up the rough stuff better than my hardtail (old school GT Zaskar LE, 26" wheels). I've been demoing a few bikes recently trying to find something that fits my riding style and trails. Here's what I've demo'd so far.

Cannondale Habit 5 29er:
Pros) Big wheels were forgiving when I picked a less-than-stellar lines. Suspension was very supple, smoothed out the trails nicely and seemed to get better and better the faster I went. Was very quiet (no rattles), looked nice (nice paintjob, frame design, no flashy colors). Descended really well/confidence inspiring. Shimano brakes were predictable. Nice price at $2600.
Cons) very sluggish up hills, pedal bob was pretty bad on both open and trail shock settings. Turning at speed was somewhat difficult (probably because of wheel size). Hated the seat tube angle... made dropping the seat awkward having to squat forward on it. Low BB, lots of pedal strikes.

Cannondale Jekyll 4 29er:
Pros) Descending in a straight line was great, very quiet. Climbed really well especially in Hustle mode - didn't have to touch the lever on the shock unless it was super steep and I only moved it to the trail (middle pos) once. Cockpit felt nice, no pedal strikes!
Cons) Felt heavy and overall too long for tight switchbacks. Was super sketchy going into high speed turns like it didn't want to lay over - as a result, I flew off the trail a few times in spots I would haul ass down on my hardtail. Wasn't very supple on smaller stuff - felt the trail a lot more. The color. High BB made it difficult getting on the bike - had to drop the seat post to get on/off easier. $4K is over what I want to spend.

Rocky Mountain Pipeline A30 27.5 (in Ride-9 position 5):
Pros) Felt pretty light and climbed well with the shock in trail mode. Supple suspension put it between the Habit and the Jekyll for small bump sensitivity. Pretty easy to manual. Handled switchbacks really well and turning at speed was pretty good. Lots of traction. Frame design is pretty cool. Cost at $2700. Most aspects put it right between the Habit and Jekyll except handling which I thought the Pipeline did better.
Cons) The pedal strikes were infuriating and frequent - I haven't hit my pedals so much in the last two years of riding as I did on that one ride. Didn't feel as good descending at speed on rutted single track compared to the Habit maybe because the wide tires liked to wander and climb the sides. The color isn't bad, but isn't that good either.

Based on these three demos, I believe this is my wish list:
1) 27.5 wheels - the rollover of 29" wheels is nice, but I'm just not compatible with the gyro effect when turning at speed.
2) 2.5" wide tires seems to be my sweet spot for the trails around here.
3) Higher bottom bracket. Pedal strikes are annoying but the Jeykll's BB is a bit too high making getting on and off the bike awkward.
4) <=30 lbs seems to be fine for me, anything heavier and I really felt the gravity.

I'm looking at either Cannondale or Rocky Mtn because that's what this particular bike shop sells and they've been super cool with all the demos so I'd like to support them. Based on my wish list and comparing the geometry online to what I've demo'd so far, I believe either the Cannondale Trigger or the Rocky Mountain Altitude might match up to my preferences. Before I spend more coin on another demo, do you all think I'm going in the right direction? Any thoughts on either of these two bikes, bonus if you have experience on trails around Northern CO.
 

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Of those bikes, the only one I've ridden was the Trigger and I liked it when I demo'ed on Maxwell / Shoreline. FWIW, I am mostly a XC guy, I only own hardtails, I like old school geometry and higher bottom brackets, and I hate pedal strikes. Most of my riding is in Horsetooth and Bobcat, with regular day trips around the area and to Utah. I have found that I have become familiar with every bike I have ever purchased after only a few rides, so I usually try to avoid analysis paralysis. Do Joe and Eric credit you a portion of the demo fee toward purchase?

Edit to add:
You might try posting this in the Colorado forum for more specific answers in our area. If you are on facebook, you could also get more local specific answers in the Front Range Mountain Biking, NoCo Mountain Bikers, or Overland Mountain Biking Association groups.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the suggestion on the Colorado Forum. Yeah, they'll credit the demo fees (I think up to three) toward the purchase.

I've ridden them all on Maxwell/Foothills/Shoreline to do an apples to apples comparison. But those trails are pretty groomed, so it was good to ride on others that are rougher, like Hewlett's and Reservoir Ridge which is probably at the rough end of what I enjoy riding. I was leaning towards the pumpkin colored Pipeline till I rode Hewlett's and that's where the low BBs was a big issue and made that ride really frustrating.

Yeah, you could say analysis paralysis:
 

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Thanks for the suggestion on the Colorado Forum. Yeah, they'll credit the demo fees (I think up to three) toward the purchase.

I've ridden them all on Maxwell/Foothills/Shoreline to do an apples to apples comparison. But those trails are pretty groomed, so it was good to ride on others that are rougher, like Hewlett's and Reservoir Ridge which is probably at the rough end of what I enjoy riding. I was leaning towards the pumpkin colored Pipeline till I rode Hewlett's and that's where the low BBs was a big issue and made that ride really frustrating.

Yeah, you could say analysis paralysis:
Were you getting pedal strikes in the Hewlett water crossings, or on the upper loop? In recent years it seems like the water crossings have become challenging on bikes with just about any BB height. Maybe you could offset the lower BB with a shorter crank?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Were you getting pedal strikes in the Hewlett water crossings, or on the upper loop? In recent years it seems like the water crossings have become challenging on bikes with just about any BB height. Maybe you could offset the lower BB with a shorter crank?
No, actually didn't have any strikes in the crossings. I ride through most of them except that gnarly one with the big rocks surrounding it on both sides that I tore my knee up on back in the early 2000s. I ride the lollypop clockwise so I can enjoy that speedy single track on the north side and ride down that rocky/loose scramble that comes at the end of it. The switchbacks going to the left at the fork was where I was hitting the pedals on stuff I normally don't even have to think about pedal placement. The Pipeline had a chain guide that was annoying as it prevented ratcheting the pedals back (the thing would act like a derailer on the cassette shifting to a higher gear) so that added to the drama. I really enjoyed the Pipeline for most everything else.

Bicycle tire Tire Bicycle wheel Bicycle frame Wheel


The Ride9 geometry chip was in the neutral setting, looks like the steep setting would only raise it 1CM. The frame is exactly the same as the Instinct 29er model, just has a shorter headset cup to correct the geo... makes me think they initially designed it for the 29" wheels as the reviews I've read since riding it all say pedal strikes are an issue with the Pipeline and not with the Instinct. The Altitude specs say it rides higher, so maybe it's the ticket. I might try to demo that one this weekend, but Rocky's paint schemes (in the alloy versions) kinda suck, in my opinion. Their carbon models look really nice though, just too expensive.
 

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If you're going with a 27.5" bike, the first one I'll always recommend is the Ibis Mojo 3. Run it with 2.6" tires, and you'll love it. It's efficient enough for climbing the trails just about anywhere, and it's such a fun, playful bike on the descents.

Of course, this obviously requires you to buy used or from another shop, so take the recommendation FWIW.
 
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