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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I hope this is the right place to post ... I thought about the All Mountain, XC, or 29er forums but was afraid the responses might be biased. Anyway, here's my situation.

I've got one of those questions that doesn't have a single right answer. I'm hoping the experts here can at least share their experiences and help me make a decision.

Back when life was simpler I had a few mountain bikes: XC, single speed, and free ride / all mountain. Life was good. I rode all the time and picked the best bike for each ride. Then I got married, got a more demanding job, bought a house, and we had a kid. All my mountain bikes were sold to fund other stuff. Boo. Well, things seem to be back in order and I'm finally in a position to purchase a mountain bike and hit the trails once again. The only catch is that I'm limited to one mountain bike. All that leads me to my question: what TYPE of bike do I get?

I spend most of my time riding in Southern California, although I've taken trips to Mammoth and Tahoe (I've done the Flume trail multiple times). It looks like I'll get to ride around Las Vegas and Southern Utah later this year and Colorado next spring / summer. Overall, I'm much more XC / trail oriented than anything else. I don't huck off cliffs and I don't race. If it matters, I'm 6'0" and currently weigh about 155 pounds.

The key is that I'm limited to one bike. I know there's no such thing as a bike that can do it all perfectly. I'm just hoping to get a bike that can do multiple things well. I really liked my old Rocky Mountain ETS-X ... 3.5, 4, or 4.5 inches of rear travel with an adjustable Talas fork. I could lock out the suspension and ride rigid or I could get about 4.5 inches of travel on both ends with a number of other choices in between. Of course the technology and options have changed pretty significantly over the past few years, and now there are more choices than ever. After doing some research, here are the options I've identified:

* 29" Hardtail that can be run SS or geared (Niner SIR9, Soul Cycles Dillinger, or similar)
* 29" Hardtail (probably carbon ... Specialized Stumpjumper 29 HT, or even a China import)
* 29" XC Full Suspension (Specialized Epic or Stumpjumper 29, Santa Cruz Tallboy, or similar)
* 26" XC Full Suspension (Specialized Epic or Stumpjumper 26, Rocky Mountain Element, Santa Cruz Blur or Blur LT, Turner 5 Spot, Yeti 575, or similar)


Of course there are many more choices in each category. The bikes I listed are just ideas off the top of my head that I know I can get from a local shop. I'm definitely open to other ideas / brands when I get to that point. At the end of the day the biggest question is which TYPE of bike makes the most sense and will provide me with the best overall experience. I just can't commit to a decision ... I can make a good argument for any of the options on the list and I can also argue against any of those options as a single bike. I have an idea of what bike I want, but I think that "selection" is based on price alone. I'd rather get some insight and pick the right bike, not the least expensive option.

For those of you who've been in a similar position, what would you recommend? Is there anything I'm missing? What would you get?

Thanks in advance for any help you can give me. I can't wait to finally settle this argument with myself and get back on the trails.

Brian
 

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Bicycling.com Best Bike of 2011...

When I had to replace my Rocky Mountain Thin Air I decided to try 29" FS bikes. The ideas behind the larger wheels made a lot of sense to me. As for the full suspension, it helps smooth out the trail a bunch, which, if you've not ridden for a while will make you faster more quickly (and hurt less, too.)

In the end I went with a size L Tallboy SPX (I am 6', 175 lbs) and have been enjoying it 2 to 3 times a week out on the local trails. I went tubeless using the standard wheel set to lower tire pressures and give pinch flat and thorn protection. There's a number of climbs I am cleaning now that had always seemed to stop me cold on the HT 26'r. I added a KS 900R adjustable seat post that give me more confidence to let the bike rip on the descents. To me it's got the capability to handle some of the bike tourism I want to do, too, (BC XC and trails, US Southwest etc.)

Revisiting the SC web site I found this link:
Bicycling Magazine Editors' Choice Mountain Bike Reviews | XC 29" Full Suspension

and their call on best overall bike of 2011...

Bicycling Magazine Editors' Choice Mountain Bike Reviews | Best of the Best

Make sure you get out on a test ride to ensure the fit and ride work for you... For me it was instant love.
 

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not too expensive, but this is what I have. seems to handle everything very very well. I trails, uphill, downhill, very rocky rooty trails, streets, and minor jumps not more than 2 ft off the ground. havent had a single problem yet and it has 400 miles easy. people that ride with me are surprised how nimble it is for a 29er too. and if your get a comp like me, you may have money for another bike lol
 

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if you are only limited to one bike (man, what a shame), I'd get something that you'd enjoy for the majority of your riding. if you hit the resort trails, you can always rent. unless that's the majority of your riding, of course.

I technically have two mtb's, but really only ride one of them on the trails. the other I use as a commuter and am replacing it with a purpose-built commuter right now.

the one mtb I have is a 26" 4" travel FS (Stumpjumper FSR). I have it build a little bit heavier so it's more of a trail bike and less like a race bike. I'm not one to go big on jumps or anything even when they're present and this bike has even gone with me on some ski resort lift-accessed trails at Brian Head, UT. when it comes time to replace it, I'd prefer to replace it with something similar. MAYBE if I find myself in a situation where I had a bit more extra cash and terrain that warranted it, I could replace it with a good all-rounder HT and an AM trail bike.

but this bike has served me well for many years as my only trail bike.
 

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pedal on

I was in the exact same boat as you a year ago. Took five years off for a demanding job, marriage, kids etc. Finally decided it was time to get back on the bike. Did a bunch of research and ended up with a 29er HT.

I've been a HT fan for a couple of decades. Tried FS a couple of times and got tired of working/ having rear shocks rebuilt. I suspect rear shocks have improved in the ten years since I've tried one. Rear suspension designs as well.

I also found I could build a so so FS or a rather nice HT. Seeing how I can only afford one mtn bike to build/maint. I opted for a steel 29er HT.

Do as much research and test ride as many bikes as possible. Don't settle on a bike because its a bargain or on sale. Get the bike YOU want. Even if it cost a little more in the long run. Try to repilcate the bike you enjoyed and had the most fun on before you left the sport. Only being able to have more modern technology. (Mine was a Fat Chance I rode for 12 years).

Don't forget to budget safty and repair items such as pump, CO2, multitool, helmet, comfy shorts, gloves, shoes, hydration pack etc...

I only get a couple of rides per week on dirt at the moment. I ride it on the road 2-3 times per week to log more miles, get the cardio and legs in shape. Even cruising around town I have a smile from ear to ear. You see life in an entirely different perspective when on two wheels. Welcome back to cycling. Enjoy the ride. :thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks

Thanks to everyone who posted - I appreciate all the input. I apologize for the long initial post ... I wanted to provide as much info as possible so people didn't turn around and have to ask me a ton of questions.

The good news is that I saved all my pumps, CO2, pedals, shoes, etc. There was no real money to be made selling the little stuff, so the only thing I need now is a bike, and possibly a shock pump.

I've test ridden a few bikes, but I have to admit that parking lot rides haven't provided a ton of value. Hitting a local trail seems like a better way to truly get a feel for some of these bikes. I'm heading to another local shop tomorrow to ask about extended / trail demos. Hopefully that goes well.

Thank you all again. I'll be sure to update the thread as my selection process makes some progress.
 

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29er HT

I'm in the process of building up a steel HT 29er, shooting for under $1k. After I rode a buddies on the trail, I had to have one. Like someone else mentioned, a HT can generally be built up or bought with a much nicer component spec than a full squish for the same price. If price wasn't an issue, I think a Niner Jet 9 Carbon would be my go-to all-around bike.
 
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