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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I've read lots of "which bike" threads, but I have some specific questions I'd like advice on...

I've completed two XTERRA off-road triathlons so far. I've been happy with my results, but I'm looking at how I can improve, and (along with working on my fitness and other skills) I'm thinking that maybe my bike is holding me back. Both XTERRAs have featured bumpy terrain - roots or rocks - where I've watched other riders sail past and that have left me feeling battered coming off the bike. I've been riding a Specialized Stumpjumper HT (which has been great for other races that haven't been so rough).

So, I'm thinking "new bike time!" - probably a FS race bike, or maybe a 29er HT (I'm 5' 11", I'd probably be OK with a 29er). After some research I'm leaning towards a Santa Cruz Blur XC (one of the last of the aluminium models, I can't afford the new carbon model right now) or a Yeti ASR. This is mostly due to price and availability.

Now the questions:
I'm told the Blur "isn't a true race bike". How so?
I can get a really good deal on a 2007 Blur, or a decent deal on a 2008. Any significant differences between the two model years?
How rough ARE most XTERRAs? If I plan to continue racing, should I simply try to avoid rocky and rooty courses, and stick with my current bike?

Thanks in advance...
 

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mutaullyassuredsuffering
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Bikes

Here is my opinion on the bikes you mention...

I have tried to race 26" HT's. I can ride them all day long, but do not race well on them. Like your comment, I get passed on flat rough stuff when the FS crowd is pedaling from their saddles, and I'm standing up trying not to get bloody kidneys.

I ran ASR's for 4 years (ASR-SL, ASR-SLc, and ASR-C) and just switched to one of the new Carbon Blur's. I also have a 29" HT. Obviously, I cannot comment on the alum Blur's stiffness, but the suspension designs really dictate the uses for these bikes.

The ASR is more suited for long climbs and descents. On smooth and moderate terrain it will outclimb just about any other FS bike. It really excels accelerating out of corners as well. The single pivot relies on good damping from the RP23. It will not bob when set up right, but is also not incredibly active. The small bump compliance gets hurt by the compression damping and makes it feel like a HT on certain terrain. On really rough climbs, the sus will stiffen. On rough flat/false flat/ or rolling terrain the rear end hops around....basically, It is not the best design out there for pedaling in the rough but it does get the job done better than a HT for sure! Once the hill turns down and you can pop that RP23 open it flies, but it won't pedal well at all until you flip that lever back over.

My Blur is simply more active. It requires more care in my pedaling style to ensure efficiency, especially on smooth climbs. Once I realized this, I fly on the bike and only lose energy when I get sloppy. Compared to the ASR, the Blur is incredible when staying seated and hammering over rough terrain. It also climbs rough steep hills with challenging traction really well. The rear end soaks stuff up yet maintains efficiency and traction. It descends every bit as well as the ASR.

Overall, I'd pick the Blur if your terrain is pretty rough and requires alot of suspension while pedaling. (The Anthem would be my other pick for that terrain...I love that bike as well). If you are climbing alot of fireroad, and railing tight, fast corners and then accelerating out 'em the ASR is king.

On the 29'er question, I find my Niner HT to be equally fast except in 2 situations... First, I cannot climb as fast on the bike. I'm not talking rolling climbs where momentum is key, I'm referring to 20 min, 10+% grinds (I am running ZTRRace 29"wheels as well). Secondly, it is great over small rocks/roots/holes, yet is still a HT when going down gnarly descents with big rocks, small drops, etc. It will roll over the stuff faster than 26" wheels but it still does beat me up if the terrain is harsh enough.
 

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Conventional wisdom for Xterra is full sus. Your arms start fatigued and you want to save your legs for the run, so a steady, smoother bike is prized over a snappier, quicker one. Kind of like how more people choose full sus for marathon racing. Also, Xterra courses tend to be pretty gnarly, it's just the nature of Xterra course designers to get all macho.

HT 29er is another option. Or softail 29er, i.e. Salsa Dos Niner, which in all likelihood will be the bike that I choose when I plunk down for a new bike (to be raced in Xterras and XC races, as well as for pleasure) later this year.
 

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I'll be riding a Niner Air 9 for my Xterra bike. I've only done 4 Xterras but I have to disagree that Xterra courses are more gnarly. The Xterra courses I have done don't even compare to the more technical mtn bike race courses around where I am. I also think in general Xterra racers aren't as good of bike handlers. In my opinion the full suspension isn't necessary because every downhill is a logjam and the climbs are where time is made. The HT 29er gives you the climbing benefit of a hardtail, you still get beat up on the downhill just not as bad.

Sorry, cant comment on any of the bikes you mentioned, haven't ridden them.
 

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The Missing
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Hardtail all the way I started with an Enduro than rode an Epic for a few years. Then went to a Carbon S works Hardtail and now am on a Titanium hardtail. I have been racing Xterra's for five years now and have raced on many different courses across many state lines. Hard tail all the way.

Either stick with your current bike or get some nice race tires and wheels and become a faster runner if you wanna place better. Have fun most of all I love Xterra's.

Joey G.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hey, thanks everyone for the excellent replies. Much useful information. In particular thanks used2Bhard for the detail on the differences in bike handling between the Yeti and the Blur... now I'll have to buy both!! :thumbsup:

numchuks said:
I've only done 4 Xterras but I have to disagree that Xterra courses are more gnarly. The Xterra courses I have done don't even compare to the more technical mtn bike race courses around where I am. I also think in general Xterra racers aren't as good of bike handlers..
I haven't found the courses particularly gnarly. The first one, I pre-rode only a portion of the course, and based on that swapped out for skinnier racing tires, running a higher pressure. Unfortunately the course turned a lot rootier further out and I got bounced around. More recently I completed the Trimax XTERRA (PA), which is basically a big rock garden for the first few miles, but the whole course is almost dead straight the entire way and requires little handling skill.

Based on my enormous sample size of two races, I'd agree that courses aren't super technical. Whether XTERRA racers aren't amazing bike handlers - probably true of the 'general population', you also have to focus on swimming and running, so that takes away from time spent on the MTB improving skills - but I'd also say the better XTERRA racers are also very good riders.

pernfilman said:
Hardtail all the way I started with an Enduro than rode an Epic for a few years. Then went to a Carbon S works Hardtail and now am on a Titanium hardtail. I have been racing Xterra's for five years now and have raced on many different courses across many state lines. Hard tail all the way.

Either stick with your current bike or get some nice race tires and wheels and become a faster runner if you wanna place better. Have fun most of all I love Xterra's.
Interesting difference of opinion! That's a sweet ride, and my dream bike is the S-Works Epic but it just isn't in my budget. I will keep my HT and use it for races that warrant. But you don't find any courses where you wish you were on a FS? What region do you race in? (I'm in the North-East, I can imagine there's more of the rocky-rooty stuff up here.)

Thanks again all.
 

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The Missing
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frozen_kiwi said:
Hey, thanks everyone for the excellent replies. Much useful information. In particular thanks used2Bhard for the detail on the differences in bike handling between the Yeti and the Blur... now I'll have to buy both!! :thumbsup:

I haven't found the courses particularly gnarly. The first one, I pre-rode only a portion of the course, and based on that swapped out for skinnier racing tires, running a higher pressure. Unfortunately the course turned a lot rootier further out and I got bounced around. More recently I completed the Trimax XTERRA (PA), which is basically a big rock garden for the first few miles, but the whole course is almost dead straight the entire way and requires little handling skill.

Based on my enormous sample size of two races, I'd agree that courses aren't super technical. Whether XTERRA racers aren't amazing bike handlers - probably true of the 'general population', you also have to focus on swimming and running, so that takes away from time spent on the MTB improving skills - but I'd also say the better XTERRA racers are also very good riders.

Interesting difference of opinion! That's a sweet ride, and my dream bike is the S-Works Epic but it just isn't in my budget. I will keep my HT and use it for races that warrant. But you don't find any courses where you wish you were on a FS? What region do you race in? (I'm in the North-East, I can imagine there's more of the rocky-rooty stuff up here.)

Thanks again all.
In terms of skill level, as in any sport across the board towards the top it gets better, I have raced with guys crush everything and everyone on the bike sections, and thats where the running comes in later on in the show.

For me the hardtail makes you a better rider and forces you to take better lines etc we all know what it takes. I raced three six hour races last winter on my hardtail Litespeed and had no complaints no premature fatigue etc. But I love hardtails others may not like the ride.

Even when the course is throwing the worst at me with roots and rocks and dropoffs etc I still would not want to be on any other bike than on my hardtail. I race in Texas so far this season I have done Xterra Red River in Oklahoma, Xterra Gator Terra In Louisiana, Xterra Midwest Cup in Michigan and the Xterra Southwest Cup in Arkansas. I have two more races here in Texas next month then Xterra Worlds in Oct.

Have fun out there, hope you find the bike you are looking for I myself have never looked back once I got away from suspension and went to hard tail. But we all like different things.
 

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I believe the majority of pros use full suspension. And you see more pure XC racers using full. There is a growing body of evidence that full sus is more efficient, despite the weight penalty (which is down to under two pounds afaik).

On the other hand, rear suspension is no substitute for skill. If people truly are "sailing past" you on the course, it sounds like you could use some work. Check out Mastering Mountain Bike Skills for some pointers.

And whoever said the Blur XC isn't a "true" racing bike has his head up his arse.
 

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I volunteered at the Xterra race here. Out of the top 20-30 racers, they were almost all on Sworks Epics. I also saw 3-4 or the all carbon Yetis with the integrated post and maybe one or two other bikes.It was crazy to see that many people on only 3 different bikes and so many Epics. Very few hardtails were run in the upper levels. I don't do Xterra events and do not race much. I recently picked up a Titus racer X 08' closeout, and am very pleased. It is a very fast bike that is comfortable. If you have a good bike now and are happy with your components, a frame may not be a bad idea if you find a deal. In my riding experience full suspension bikes are faster, offer more control, and reduce fatigue when riding a regular mix of trails. And I used to be a die hard ht guy.
 
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