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Big Damn Hero
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all, for the last several years I've been riding/racing my marathons on an Epic Marathon. That bike is getting pretty old and tired and I'm looking for something new. Just curious what everyone's riding for these longs races and what some of the pros and cons are of those bikes.

I'm pretty open to suggestions as I don't really have a big list of 'must haves' but here are the high-level "wants" I have right now.

- 100mm or 120mm travel front and rear
- two bottle cage mounts inside frame triangle (are their other options?)
- don't need slack geometry (no big descents here in TX)

Bikes I'm strongly considering...
- Specialized Epic (maybe Evo?)
- Orbea Oiz
- Cannondale Scalpel
- Rocky Mountain Element

Peripheral options...
- Canyon Lux
- Salsa Spearfish
- Kona Hei Hei
 

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Last two years I have been on a Giant Anthem w/ 100mm front/rear

This coming year I will be on an Epic Evo w/ 110 rear and 120 front. Hits all the right notes for me: two bottles, light, more travel, adjustable geo, no proprietary brain to deal with, threaded BB, seatpost diameter compatible with wider range of droppers (Anthem was 27.2, which really limited options)
 

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I race all over Texas and hit pretty much every sanctioned and non sanctioned event. Enchilada Buffet, Dragon Slayer... And some Arkansas marathon races. I was on a 120 forked 17 Top Fuel.

I would get the lightest most modern geometry bike you can get your hands on and rip it.

Sounds like you may be a specialized guy. just get the evo and go crazy on the parts. Especially since it’s supposed to be lighter than the regular epic. You may not be able to get the full bike, but can you get the frame for a build up?

Saying you don’t need slacked out geometry for Texas because it doesn’t have “big descents” is a misnomer. The geometry of my 2020 top fuel is absolutely fantastic (I thought it would be unnecessary). What I did not expect was how much BETTER it was at climbing tech. That is something Texas has tons of whether you ride it frequently or not, there are races that do.

From you post I gather you aren’t from Central Texas or at least aren’t riding the tougher trails as much where.

Did I need the bike for descending quickly? Probably not, with plenty of top tens on downhills in Texas XC races already. But boy is the pucker factor reduced, which is what most people need to lay off the brakes, go faster, and let that HR recover.

You are right Regarding Texas Marathon Series, outside of the Comanche and a few at flat rock, there isn’t any descending at all. With that said, I would expect this bike to be much better suited for climbing Comanche and rock sections at the top of FRR. I’ve already done 3 races on it with pleasant results and the Enchilada Buffet.


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Big Damn Hero
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for your feedback and insights FJSnoozer. Most of my riding is done east of Austin as I live north of Houston, but I still get out to the hill country fairly regularly. I was out at Comfort last week and will be there again next week before they shut down the trails for Nov/Dec. I've raced the Palo Duro, Comfort and Camp Eagle marathons before... that's the extent of "chunky" XC/marathon races I've done. But I love them! :) I don't consider Rocky Hill, Warda, Cameron Park, etc to be too technically challenging as I've raced those on my singlespeed hardtail and done just fine.

I'll still stand by my comment of Texas not having 'big descents' but that's compared to places I've ridden in Utah, Colorado and Arizona. But you're right, there are some challenging descents here in TX for sure. When I rode Comfort last week I was on my hardtail, needless to say I didn't set any downhill PRs that day. Oddly enough I did set two uphill PRs.

That being said, most of my riding will be on 'tamer' trails that are all about corner speed, quick direction changes and pedaling efficiency. So for my needs I think a tamer geometry setup would be more beneficial, but I could be wrong?
 

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Thanks for your feedback and insights FJSnoozer. Most of my riding is done east of Austin as I live north of Houston, but I still get out to the hill country fairly regularly. I was out at Comfort last week and will be there again next week before they shut down the trails for Nov/Dec. I've raced the Palo Duro, Comfort and Camp Eagle marathons before... that's the extent of "chunky" XC/marathon races I've done. But I love them! :) I don't consider Rocky Hill, Warda, Cameron Park, etc to be too technically challenging as I've raced those on my singlespeed hardtail and done just fine.

I'll still stand by my comment of Texas not having 'big descents' but that's compared to places I've ridden in Utah, Colorado and Arizona. But you're right, there are some challenging descents here in TX for sure. When I rode Comfort last week I was on my hardtail, needless to say I didn't set any downhill PRs that day. Oddly enough I did set two uphill PRs.

That being said, most of my riding will be on 'tamer' trails that are all about corner speed, quick direction changes and pedaling efficiency. So for my needs I think a tamer geometry setup would be more beneficial, but I could be wrong?
Yeah, anything east of 35 is pretty tame and basically rigid SS territory. Although the rocky hill Pro short course is a blast. I also raced it on my HT. I even think I would be faster at Palo duro in a hardtail, but when you aren’t near podium, I’d rather have more fun for 4 hours vs going a hair faster. This year I’ll still take the Top fuel. I raced the HT at Fredericksburg last year.

For twisty cornering, people just assume you will some how be slower without slacked out bike.

Just like with a long term rental it only takes a few good rides to completely get used to the geometry of a new bike. For what it’s worth, I have been able to take down lots of KOMs and a few top tens in flat super twisty stuff such as the highly contested loops at Walnut Creek. While my power is up, so I won’t credit the bike, it definitely isn’t holding me back or a compromise at all. It’s all gains once you get two weeks of riding in the new chassis.

Where you will really see improvement is not getting hung up on some of the rooty sections where you might stuff the fork. You should be able to hold more momentum.

Also, I would expect PRs on the hardtail at FRR. It’s a pretty buff Singletrack in general on climbs. If you aren’t setting the world on fire with your downhilling, you are likely to see gains with a better bike.


And lastly, while we don’t have “long descents” we have lots of nasty and steep descents sounds like you just don’t ride them. I ride Sedona a lot I can tell you that it was amazing being able to ride the stupid steep stuff on Triple H on the new Whip. I rode stuff I had only attempted before on a 2020 primer.

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Hi all, for the last several years I've been riding/racing my marathons on an Epic Marathon. That bike is getting pretty old and tired and I'm looking for something new. Just curious what everyone's riding for these longs races and what some of the pros and cons are of those bikes.

I'm pretty open to suggestions as I don't really have a big list of 'must haves' but here are the high-level "wants" I have right now.

- 100mm or 120mm travel front and rear
- two bottle cage mounts inside frame triangle (are their other options?)
- don't need slack geometry (no big descents here in TX)

Bikes I'm strongly considering...
- Specialized Epic (maybe Evo?)
- Orbea Oiz
- Cannondale Scalpel
- Rocky Mountain Element

Peripheral options...
- Canyon Lux
- Salsa Spearfish
- Kona Hei Hei
I don't have experience with all the bikes but did own a Scalpel a couple years back and really liked it for racing, light, efficient and handled really well...based on the geo numbers I think it's only gotten better. BUT, Cannondales are not always the easiest to live with....

With that said, I think the Oiz is the bike to have now. I'd probably opt for the 120/120 or "TR" version if you want a bike that is a bit more versatile...and of course, use the "MyO" to get a rad custom paint job.

*Edit - to answer your question, I was on a older V3 Tallboy (which was much more XC'ish than the current ones) with a dropper up until recently....this is PNW, lots of ups and downs. Great setup overall for longer and/or technical races but not optimal for your conditions, but never felt like it held me back significantly even on the rare flowy & flat course.

Currently on a new Banshee Phantom which is certain not a traditional XC bike @ 130/115, and a hefty alum frame, but is more versatile, I do have it fully built out with carbon wheels and current XTR. Probably won't race it - but who knows, maybe I will, but with racing cancelled I haven't had to think about it. It does allow for hitting some of the bigger stuff in Moab, Whistler and locally a bit more comfortably. I bet on a flatter course I wouldn't really be effected by the couple pounds heavier it is....
 

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I've been really happy with my Trek Top Fuel. It does everything really well, and is super light. I've put that bike through the ringer from 24 hour racing on really rocky courses (Frog Hollow in Utah), the Breck Epic, big high country rides in Colorado. It's still rocking.
 

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Big Damn Hero
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I've been really happy with my Trek Top Fuel. It does everything really well, and is super light. I've put that bike through the ringer from 24 hour racing on really rocky courses (Frog Hollow in Utah), the Breck Epic, big high country rides in Colorado. It's still rocking.
Do you run into issues with not being able to carry two bottles? My Epic is older (2013) so it only has one bottle cage mount so I have to carry a second bottle in my back pocket... which I'd rather not have to keep doing. That's the only reason I haven't really considered the Top Fuel as all the reviews I've read and feedback I've received from owners is great.
 

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Look if you're in the market for a new bike its going to be the new fangled longer lower slacker variety.

The big decisions are:
1) What brands do I want to support and have service agents close by.
2) is the fork and rear shock from the same manufacturer?
3) 120F/120R (XCM and rear travel range from 100 to 120) or 100F/100R XCO (where R is =or>100mm
4) how important is the bikes color? Red is faster

In the XCO category:
I scratch the TREK Super Caliber from the get go. For rides longer than 40miles its a tiring bike unles you're riding on gravel most of the time.
Cannondale Scalpel is probably the best balanced between XCO get up and go, frame stiffness, climbing traction and comfort.
At the same level the Pivot Mach 4SL is maybe a little more stable on the descents and a match for the Scalpel everywhere else. It my favourite bike in this category actually but its not well serviced in my location.
Then the Specialized Epic is another superb option. I don't like the Brain which sperb when new but degrades in performance with age. Great climber and singletrack ripper.
The Pivots Live valve mount can be repurposed to mount a water bottle with someaftermarket hardware and the Scalpel and Epic both take two bottles in the main frame.
Next up is the Pyga Stage. Superb bike, also accomodates two bottles in the main frame but isat home with 100, 120, 130mm travel fork. They have a new bike coming, the Mabu but a year later we're still waiting.
Orbea's OIZ is nother superb bike but service from Orbea can be somewhat slow...
Also takes two bottles in the main frame.

so my ranking in this category:
1) scalpel
2) Pivot Mach4SL
3) Specialized Epic
4)Orbea Oiz
5) Pyga Stage

In the 120mm or "downcountry" category there is a lot of choice:
For racing
The scalpel SE and Epic Evo are probably top of the list.
Trek's Top Fuel is a good contender if a little weighty compared to the EPic and Scalpel. The suspension also doesn't feel as lively but it has oodles of traction.
Orbea makes a Trail version of the Oiz with a 120mm fork and 110mm rear travel. it feels only slightly less spritely than its shorter travel brother.

Then we have the Dc bikes.
Yeti SB100,/SB115
revel Ranger
Transition Spur
Pivot Trail 429
YT IZZO

Of these the Yeti, Revel and transition are probably your best best as they all climb very well. The others are more trail bikes. Only the Revel fits 2 bottle cages.
The Pivot feels the most racy but its built like a tank and that comes through on the scales. THe Transition is a whole lot of fun, a very versatile bike.
my ranking:

1) revel Ranger
2) Yeti SB 100/115
3) Transition Spur


I haven't mentioned the Canyon LUX and Scott Spark because bikes are likely to be replaced in 2021. Of the two I'd opt for the Canyon. Its a great bike if you can handle the fast steering ( I can) but that can become tiring in Marathon races.
The Spark, well I just don't like it. The three position It bobs like a crack whore on Friday night in the open position and then the mid position feels harsh. I'm 70kg and ride a medium and couldn't find a happy set up on the test bike.

My verdict is if you want a racy bike then the Cannondale Scalpel SE
If you want a more fun option the Revel Ranger
 

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Look if you're in the market for a new bike its going to be the new fangled longer lower slacker variety.

The big decisions are:
1) What brands do I want to support and have service agents close by.
2) is the fork and rear shock from the same manufacturer?
3) 120F/120R (XCM and rear travel range from 100 to 120) or 100F/100R XCO (where R is =or>100mm
4) how important is the bikes color? Red is faster

In the XCO category:
I scratch the TREK Super Caliber from the get go. For rides longer than 40miles its a tiring bike unles you're riding on gravel most of the time.
Cannondale Scalpel is probably the best balanced between XCO get up and go, frame stiffness, climbing traction and comfort.
At the same level the Pivot Mach 4SL is maybe a little more stable on the descents and a match for the Scalpel everywhere else. It my favourite bike in this category actually but its not well serviced in my location.
Then the Specialized Epic is another superb option. I don't like the Brain which sperb when new but degrades in performance with age. Great climber and singletrack ripper.
The Pivots Live valve mount can be repurposed to mount a water bottle with someaftermarket hardware and the Scalpel and Epic both take two bottles in the main frame.
Next up is the Pyga Stage. Superb bike, also accomodates two bottles in the main frame but isat home with 100, 120, 130mm travel fork. They have a new bike coming, the Mabu but a year later we're still waiting.
Orbea's OIZ is nother superb bike but service from Orbea can be somewhat slow...
Also takes two bottles in the main frame.

so my ranking in this category:
1) scalpel
2) Pivot Mach4SL
3) Specialized Epic
4)Orbea Oiz
5) Pyga Stage

In the 120mm or "downcountry" category there is a lot of choice:
For racing
The scalpel SE and Epic Evo are probably top of the list.
Trek's Top Fuel is a good contender if a little weighty compared to the EPic and Scalpel. The suspension also doesn't feel as lively but it has oodles of traction.
Orbea makes a Trail version of the Oiz with a 120mm fork and 110mm rear travel. it feels only slightly less spritely than its shorter travel brother.

Then we have the Dc bikes.
Yeti SB100,/SB115
revel Ranger
Transition Spur
Pivot Trail 429
YT IZZO

Of these the Yeti, Revel and transition are probably your best best as they all climb very well. The others are more trail bikes. Only the Revel fits 2 bottle cages.
The Pivot feels the most racy but its built like a tank and that comes through on the scales. THe Transition is a whole lot of fun, a very versatile bike.
my ranking:

1) revel Ranger
2) Yeti SB 100/115
3) Transition Spur


I haven't mentioned the Canyon LUX and Scott Spark because bikes are likely to be replaced in 2021. Of the two I'd opt for the Canyon. Its a great bike if you can handle the fast steering ( I can) but that can become tiring in Marathon races.
The Spark, well I just don't like it. The three position It bobs like a crack whore on Friday night in the open position and then the mid position feels harsh. I'm 70kg and ride a medium and couldn't find a happy set up on the test bike.

My verdict is if you want a racy bike then the Cannondale Scalpel SE
If you want a more fun option the Revel Ranger
Good post! I really like the Ranger and the Spur, but I think if you are going to consider those as "DC"/XC bikes another option is something like the Ibis Ripley....it's the same weight, it's a good pedalling platform, sim geometry and sim price.

I ended up with a Banshee Phantom which is in-line with the other DC bikes geo wise but does weigh a bit more, about 1.5 lbs +/-.....but what a wicked ride, love it for general trail riding....

I had a Scalpel a couple years back and it was a really fast bike.
 

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Only reason I didn’t include Ripley is due to it only fitting one bottle and in the smaller sizes than isn’t going to be bigger than a 500ml.
 

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Coming off a 2019 top fuel 9.9......ordered a 2021 s works epic frame and fork......supposed to arrive in “early November “.......I’m a hair nervous as a buddies Sid burped up a metric crap ton of oil sitting in his living room the other night......we’ll see
 

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Hi all, for the last several years I've been riding/racing my marathons on an Epic Marathon. That bike is getting pretty old and tired and I'm looking for something new. Just curious what everyone's riding for these longs races and what some of the pros and cons are of those bikes.

I'm pretty open to suggestions as I don't really have a big list of 'must haves' but here are the high-level "wants" I have right now.

- 100mm or 120mm travel front and rear
- two bottle cage mounts inside frame triangle (are their other options?)
- don't need slack geometry (no big descents here in TX)

Bikes I'm strongly considering...
- Specialized Epic (maybe Evo?)
- Orbea Oiz
- Cannondale Scalpel
- Rocky Mountain Element

Peripheral options...
- Canyon Lux
- Salsa Spearfish
- Kona Hei Hei
I had a similar debate last year. I had been riding a pivot 429sl for the previous 2 seasons and loved that bike. I really like DW link bikes, but as I was getting more modern geo trail bikes to ride for fun, the pivot felt more and more dated. I never felt like I could rip that bike on the descent but it was a very capable climber so I kept riding it. I could fit a bottle in the frame and one under the town tube. I have slowly drifted away from using 2 bottles to using really small hydration packs for long endurance races so fitting 2 bottles wasn't paramount. I ended up buying a 2019 Kona Hei Hei CR/DL and have been really happy with it so far. Having a 120mm fork with 34mm stanchions gives better confidence in descending as well as the updated geometry. I also swapped from racing a rigid post to dropper and really like that as well.

It doesn't climb quite as well as my pivot did, but I think over the course of an endurance race I will be faster and less fatigued as I feel that I can descend more confidently and recover a little more on the descents rather than just holding on for dear life. I haven't had a chance to race it yet as I bought it last fall and everything has been canceled in 2020, but I am liking it so far.

I also just bought an Ibis ripley v4 and really like that bike as well. I would not consider racing it as I have it setup more of a light trail bike. I would not consider it for a dedicated endurance race bike, though.
 

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Just curious what are the weak points for the Intense Sniper T?
Why is do I not see it here? Thank you.
I ride anything from the rocky Appalachian mountains to the Atlantic coast.
So rocks, roots, loose over hard, sand, loam, tight singletrack, double track,etc.
 

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The Intense Sniper Trail is nice and started a trend, along with Mondraker. I have my eye on the following bikes (currently race a Tallboy 3 CC, upsized which is basically the equivalent of these)

• Norco Revolver
• Mondraker F-Podium
• Specialized Epic

All of these have 100 and 120mm variants. All of them have around 500mm reach in their largest size, a head angle around 67.5, and a steeper seat tube.

Need to make sure all support 2.4 WT tires front and rear, I'm getting rub in the back with 30mm int. rims and 2.4s on the old Tallboy...

XC bikes are really getting great these days, good riddance to old-school long stemmed bikes. Much respect for the industry leader, Specialized, realizing it fairly early and adopting the Mondraker Forward Geometry.
 

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The Intense Sniper Trail is nice and started a trend, along with Mondraker. I have my eye on the following bikes (currently race a Tallboy 3 CC, upsized which is basically the equivalent of these)

• Norco Revolver
• Mondraker F-Podium
• Specialized Epic

All of these have 100 and 120mm variants. All of them have around 500mm reach in their largest size, a head angle around 67.5, and a steeper seat tube.

Need to make sure all support 2.4 WT tires front and rear, I'm getting rub in the back with 30mm int. rims and 2.4s on the old Tallboy...

XC bikes are really getting great these days, good riddance to old-school long stemmed bikes. Much respect for the industry leader, Specialized, realizing it fairly early and adopting the Mondraker Forward Geometry.
Specialized has made some pretty good bikes, though I am generally not a fan. I can't think of the last time I *really* wanted a specialized, maybe like a rockhopper in 1998 or something. That's just personal preference, though. I like to see mountain bikes rely on good suspension design that works (DW Link) vs. using a gimmick like brain or lockouts (Specialized, Scott, etc.). Those are just crutches for poor suspension; expensive crutches at that.
 

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No comments on the Revolver or F-Podium though? The Norco and the Mondraker are very much "hipster approved" whereas Specialized may not be. They might occupy different marketing groups but to me it's a bunch of similar angles and carbon tubes ;)

I think Scott and Specialized suspension systems are focused upon race day performance and may not be as durable as a Pivot or Santa Cruz, but that's your call. I prefer my Santa Cruz for its lifetime warranty, but I can still respect the bold move that Specialized made with the new Epic--they very well could have buried their head in the sand on long, low, and slack but they didn't. Come to think of it, they pushed the World Cup towards 29ers as well.
 

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No comments on the Revolver or F-Podium though? The Norco and the Mondraker are very much "hipster approved" whereas Specialized may not be. They might occupy different marketing groups but to me it's a bunch of similar angles and carbon tubes ;)

I think Scott and Specialized suspension systems are focused upon race day performance and may not be as durable as a Pivot or Santa Cruz, but that's your call. I prefer my Santa Cruz for its lifetime warranty, but I can still respect the bold move that Specialized made with the new Epic--they very well could have buried their head in the sand on long, low, and slack but they didn't. Come to think of it, they pushed the World Cup towards 29ers as well.
Admittedly I have an anti-specialized, Trek, Giant bias. I don't know why. Specialized bikes just seem pretty vanilla to me. They make solid bikes that seem to cater to the 50+ crowd. I could be (and usually am) wrong, but that is just what it seems to me. Whenever I am in the market for a new bike I have not once though to myself, "Dude, that Specialized _______ looks so awesome." I can't speak to Mondraker as I have never ridden one, but my experience is that most European bike brands are similar to european ski brands: they are focused on racing. It took Mavic YEARS to finally start making nice 29er hoops/wheels. When I think of European bikes I don't think 'fun' I think serious. I don't know why.

My main point is this, I would rather have a full suspension bike that is active all the time and has a great pedaling platform. When I am 60 miles into a race I don't want to be dealing with lockouts, honestly. Plus, unless you are putting out world cup watts or racing up fireroads, locking out your rear suspension is inhibiting your ability to use the bike for all it is worth. I have many climbs on my local trails that I have a hard time cleaning on my hardtails because they simply do not have the traction of a good, active rear suspension. I think scott, specialized, norco, etc. all fall in that category where they recognize that and simply add in a crutch like a brain or lockout in place of better engineering.

That is just my personal experience and opinion, there are a lot of faster dudes than me that disagree. Haha.
 

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Big Damn Hero
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
For me, one of the primary reasons I haven't considered bikes like Norco, Revel, Mondraker, Intense, etc... is because I have zero experience with them and don't know anyone who has one. To be honest, I'm not sure I've actually ever seen one of those in person either at a race or group ride. Maybe the crew I generally ride with is just big brand biased. :) That being said, I have reached out to Revel with some questions about the Ranger though, that bike has really piqued my interests.

My Epic is a 2013 and has a sh!t ton of miles on it and honestly it's been fantastic, gimmicky suspension and all. The big challenge with it has been the service intervals and cost due to the Brain. That's why if I get another Epic it will almost assuredly be the EVO so I can avoid the brain.

Right now though, I'm about 90% sold on the Oiz TR. That seems to tick all the boxes for me and the lifetime frame warranty is important to me. I've had to leverage that warranty on my Alma before and it was crazy easy to get a replacement frame.
 

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For me, one of the primary reasons I haven't considered bikes like Norco, Revel, Mondraker, Intense, etc... is because I have zero experience with them and don't know anyone who has one. To be honest, I'm not sure I've actually ever seen one of those in person either at a race or group ride. Maybe the crew I generally ride with is just big brand biased. :) That being said, I have reached out to Revel with some questions about the Ranger though, that bike has really piqued my interests.

My Epic is a 2013 and has a sh!t ton of miles on it and honestly it's been fantastic, gimmicky suspension and all. The big challenge with it has been the service intervals and cost due to the Brain. That's why if I get another Epic it will almost assuredly be the EVO so I can avoid the brain.

Right now though, I'm about 90% sold on the Oiz TR. That seems to tick all the boxes for me and the lifetime frame warranty is important to me. I've had to leverage that warranty on my Alma before and it was crazy easy to get a replacement frame.
You're not gonna like this but the Orbea Oiz TR has very regressive geometry. The new Epic and Epic EVO are very different bikes from your 2013--that would be a much better option.

If you want something to last for the next 6-10 years, check out the Santa Cruz Blur (lifetime warranty). Not as progressive as the Norco or Mondraker, but better geometry than the old-school Oiz. I'm sure your riding buddies have heard of it... I'd put a 120mm fork on it and go.
 
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