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HT plus LT dually, or do it all FS bike?


By joots - Posted on 16 March 2015

NB: Originally posted elsewhere on the Global Riders Network and appears via syndication.

Hi all, I'm after opinions to help work through a new bike choice.

I'm thinking about getting a new bike later in the year and I'm having trouble deciding what way to go. Mostly the choice centres around how much travel to get, so I'm not after advice on what bike model/brand is better.

I've only been riding for about 6 months, on a Specialized Crave (29er, HT), but I've improved a lot since then and I want to dip my toe into the waters of FS. Probably the MAIN reason is because I get sick of getting bounced around on the HT. I already know that I can still go faster on my Crave. I can get around glenrock's noticeboard super-loop in under 32 mins, and I reckon the bike could take me sub 27. I'd prefer not to end up with a bike that will slow me down.

I do most of my riding at Glenrock and Fernleigh track (my long distance training go-to; I don't have a road bike so use the Crave), with a smattering of Killingworth, Medowie, and will get to Awaba one day.

I started out looking at Stumpy EVO's, then found the Remedy. Then I started to wonder if I really need that big a bike for the riding I do. Basically my current options boil down to this:

Keep the Crave for XC riding, racing, occasional marathon; get a Remedy 9 29 for more fun/aggresive riding, occasional local enduro.
or
Sell the Crave and get a Fuel EX 9.8 29 for all of the above (maybe later get a road or TT bike for long distance training haha if I can get that through the approvals process Sticking out tongue ).

I know, I know! I need to test ride. I've already test ridden a stumpy evo and had fun on it, but I do love how I can stand and hammer the HT up a hill or on a sprint, so I need to test ride the Fuel and see how it feels under power. And I don't want to be bottoming out all the time, wishing I had more travel, but I'm not sure if that's a realistic concern - anyone own a Fuel and can talk on this?.

Once you jump on a fs bike, chances are you will want to sell your crave so keep that in mind.

Next question is do you want to finish marathons or finish marathons well?

The remedy will do a marathon without much fuss and 140mm isn't overkill for a trail bike nowerdays. If you like riding aggressively i.e.popping off rocks and hitting drops the more travel and slacker geometry of the remedy will speak for itself. But you trade off some climbing abillity for the extra downhill abillity.

If you want to do laps against the stopwatch the fuel will defiantly be quicker.

From the sounds of it you will want the fuel. I haven't ridden one but i had a ride of a stumpy fsr yesterday and was verrrrry impressed how it climbed. Also for xc riding bottoming out travel shouldn't be a concern especially if you set it up correct.

Hope this helped.

Jono

The difference between a hardtail and a 120mm dually us huge, to a remedy it's even bigger.

Keep the crave coz everyone needs 2 bikes, and get the fuel. The more travel you get the worse the bike pedals

Riding a dually in Glenrock would be about as much fun as riding a dually on the road, there really aren't any points in there that a dually would help with lap times. If the bike was lighter that would help but I think a dually would make Glenrock boring beyond belief but that is just my opinion.

For the purpose of full disclosure, I'm barely a weekend hack, but having had my 26" Scott Scale hard tail for over 3 years now (my first ever MTB and first bike for over 20 years) and having read a hell of a lot of bike reviews since then, I reckon I know what I'd be looking at next. That assumes I continue with the fire roads, mildly technical single track and occasional minor obstacle that makes up most of my current mileage.

I've not read a bad word about the bikes you mention above and the Trek Fuel EX has always received great reviews (of the many I have read) in any wheel size. However, If you are not looking to vary your riding greatly and your main motivation to get a new bike is to make life a little easier on your backside then maybe a
- Trek Superfly FS,
- Scott Spark,
- Specialised Epic or Camber (I don't know the Spez models that well),
or equivalent in whatever brand you prefer is the way to go. Add some rear compliance, but maintain a fairly high degree of focus on speed on your current trails.

Another option would be to keep the Crave and convert it slightly for part-time road use and make the new bike a longer travel dually if you want to get a bit more adventurous. Then you do have (mostly) the best of both worlds. You have a road and XC capable bike in the Crave and a more serious trail bike with whatever new machine you purchase. Gives you a bit more flexibility than buying a proper roadie and you are only disadvantaged if you decide you want to start wearing lycra on a regular basis and taking the road rides more seriously. Not a bad interim solution though.

Third option is to look at the components on the Crave and see if you can build in some more compliance with a new seat post, saddle, baggier and/or tubeless tyres (for slightly lower pressures), etc. Also consider your riding style and position on the bike.

I'm 100kgs, 43 years old and have only just started to emerge from an extreme lack of fitness and physical conditioning in the last 12 months as I've made more of an effort to improve both on and off the bike. I'm generally satisfied with my hard tail and I certainly believe it will make me a better rider by attempting to master it before moving on to something more sophisticated. The only time I start to wish for something softer is when my legs get really tired, turn to spaghetti and my backside starts bearing too much weight. I have spent a lot of time considering my position on the bike to achieve what I believe is a reasonable fore/aft balance for the kind of riding I do.

Going back to my first paragraph where I said I know what I'd buy if I did buy another MTB.... I'm a fan of Scott bikes so:
- it would almost certainly be a Spark if I was replacing the Scale, or
- it would almost certainly be a Genius if a +1 and keeping the Scale.
The reason I would buy something like a Spark is to go faster than I could on my hard tail taking into account the extra climbing traction - in less than smooth terrain - and more fluid movement over that same imperfect terrain offered by having some compliance in the rear. In the two bike scenario I would happily continue to ride the Scale and the Genius would give a big, cack-handed rider like me the ability to try some 'larger' terrain with less risk of breaking man or machine.

The Spark does cop a bit of flack in some quarters for Scott's reliance on the Twinlock suspension system rather than clever engineering to give you a decent rear end for climbing, sprinting and descending. Nonetheless, any such purchase would be as a reward to myself for getting properly fit and strong on the hard tail.

As your reward for reading this far you should know that the current (Feb/March/April) edition of Mountain Biking Australia has a review of both the Fuel EX 9.8 27.5 and the Scott Spark 730 (27.5). Current (Feb/March) Australian Mountain Bike magazine has a review of the Trek Remedy 9 29er among other trail bikes.

Hope this helps.

I cant recommend the fuel highly enough. I have had my ex9 29er since July and have risen faster and further than ever before. not sure of the trails you mention because I'm on the west coast but I have found it a great all round trail bike, depending on how gnarly you are planning to get the remedy would be a good choice too but even then with a shorter stem and wide bars switch the shock to descend and the fuel becomes a whole lot more playful and versatile and will tackle anything I can throw at it. Each weekend I cant wait for the next weekend So I can get back out on it. That's my 2c anyway.

About a month ago I went from a Superfly HT to a Fuel Ex 9 (both 29ers). I am stoked and wish I got a FS bike earlier.
I love riding it. It is just so smooth and I feel so much better after a ride. I looked into the Remedy as well but chose the Fuel because the riding I do is not "full on". I don't know your trails but I mainly ride Manly Dam.
I don't think you really get much selling a 2nd hand bike and think it's always good to have a 2nd bike. If you were doing a long marathon type race you could use the HT (although I think I'd stay on the FS just because I love it).
My HT is now my commuter bike (with slicks on it).
For speed - the HT feels faster around the Dam but funnily enough the FS is faster and I am not as smashed after a ride.
Good luck.

To the OP, you mentioned the super loop at glenrock, out of the top 15 times, I know 10 of the riders/bikes and there are 3 or 4 hardtails and 6 or 7 duallies . All the duallies are 100mm or 110.

Duallies are fun, hardtails are work - when riding buddies who ride better than me are on hardtails, I am slowed down when it goes downhill when following , really obvious on shaft. I wouldn't think 120mm versus 100mm would make a difference untill you are getting towards the 26 minute mark on that loop.

It sounds like you are more inclined towards XC and don't plan to start jumping at Red Hill any time soon. If that's the case I would go for a XC purpose machine. I have no knowledge of trek. The times I have tested one of their bikes I have found them fairly heavy but it might be I just tested the cheap ones. If I were you I would try testing either a Giant Anthem or a Scott Spark, both very light with sufficient travel even if you want to do more trail riding.

I'm very happy with my 9.7 fuel 29er. It's a shame they don't sell the 9.7 anymore. Might be worth trying to find one from last year on bike exchange, or shop with 2014 stock as they are better value then the 9.8

But also look at the spesh epic. I rode a epic wc and it is a very fast bike.

You will be best keeping an eye out for a specialized demo day so you can ride all different travel bikes plus take your own and really compare them. Find out how much travel you really need.

I am probably not really qualified to reply to anything in this thread, but...

I bought my first MTB 3 years ago, an Epic Expert 29er. I now have an S-works Epic, and I ride Glenrock most days. So I am pretty much a numpty when it comes to mtbing (I'm just a dumbarse roadie who rides offroad), but I have a great bike, and I seem to do alright in Glenrock. So I guess I am saying that the OP might want to consider an Epic. Keep the Crave by all means, they are good bikes (I would like a HT myself), but the full suspension of an Epic is not much of a handicap as far as I can tell.

I actually like the idea of the twinlock setup, I don't understand why you can't option it on most FS bikes, since they almost always have some variation of CTD front and back. I can't speak from experience but it seems like if you wanted to quickly switch modes on the fly it would be dangerous and awkward to have to reach back and down to the moving parts while negotiating the trail. I don't think that the damper modes on the rear shock or fork would be useful without the remote. I'd never lock the crave out if it didn't have a remote.

And thanks for the pointer to the reviews. I don't actually have a subscription to AMB mag but I managed to find a pdf of the article online.

**Edit: Obviously I need to play in this forum more. I thought when I clicked reply on a post that it would reply directly to it, like on facebook, or at least add a quote. This was aimed at Hackasaurus' post.

Thanks for all the thoughts. Reading through it has helped me think about what I want out of my bike/s, which is the problem really - I've not been riding very long and I'm not 100% sure about what's really going to give me the most enjoyment in the medium term.

I enjoy going down as much as going up. I like challenging myself to do new lines, trickier tech, bigger jumps, faster turns, just as much as I like to try to increase my endurance and pace over long distance. I just like riding ha Laughing out loud

I've not even considered a FS XC race bike like an Epic or Superfly FS. I think that's probably because I don't want my bike to be my limit if I'm deciding that I want to try something bigger. My hardtail will probably take me most or all of the way that I can go in terms of endurance riding. The only thing that I don't like about my bike, as far as bike design goes, is the frickin' steep head angle (71.5deg). Makes it twitchy in corners and it's easy to go over the top on techy descents.

I don't think that I can do the range of riding that I want without having more than one bike. Remedy then. The risk of not wanting to ride one of the bikes is just something I'll have to deal with.

I wonder if this resolution will last the time until I'm ready to buy the actual bike. And I still need to actually ride it first.

I appreciate all the advice, model/brand-wise, for other bikes, but I'm pretty sold on the two I mentioned, at least until I get a test ride in.

Jake, I've definitely noticed that XC race FS bikes are competitive with hard tails (confirmed by pharmaboy), although on my benchmark loop (the superloop) HT's seem to have the edge. Probably somewhere like killingworth with trails that are a bit rougher would probably see the FS bikes edge out the HT's.

I got a 9 29 and I think it's a great ride that you can do anything on. It's not light so if you are a mad XC racer probably not the bike for you but you can ride it in a xc race if you want. It climbs fine maybe not super quick but I think that's more my problem then the bike. Downhill it confidence inspiring and it handles really well. Jumps an drops are no problem and the frame is nice and strong. Mine's a 2014 so it's 2x10 XT which I think is better than a XX1 for general riding but maybe I'm just not fit enough. I don't regret my choice and will definitely stay with enduro or all-mountain bikes for flexibility.

Joots, weight is really the deciding factor, a hard tail should get you anywhere, the soft tails are really well marketed and it's really a ploy to get us all to buy into at a fair bit o coin! If you are doing serious downhill stuff look into a duely, if you chasing faster Xc times, a hard tails always gonna climb more efficiently, it's the climbs that count, best place to overtake, saps big watts too, most guys take the downhills slowly in the races as it's not the best place to take a tumble...

Investigate a set of wider tyres and run them at lower pressures, that will aid in better grip in the tights and offer a bit more comfort for the rear end, there are always ways to lighten your ride as well, carbon upgrades on wheels, stems, bars, seat posts etc make a huge difference when climbing. I am a firm advocate of the sram 1x11 drive train, no front derailleur, shifter, only one front ring and you don't need to think About gears etc, it helps when you've done 80kms and fatigues set in.

Anything heavier than 8 kgs is a waste of time and slows you down.

I agree with the comments about lower pressures making hardtails much more tolerable. It was a bit of a revelation one day when I took my HT around Manly Dam without checking pressures and it felt *really* good. No pinging off rocks and hucking the drops didn't shake my teeth loose. I've since been running 20psi front and 25psi rear on all my XC bikes. I run tubeless.

So I'd recommend trying tubeless and experimenting with low pressures.

I disagree with duallies being a marketing ploy though. Rear suspension gives you much better control over rough trails, and the longer the ride the better they get. The little bit you give up in climbing efficiency you more than get back in fatigue savings as you have to hover off the saddle much less.

Swap bikes with some riding mates for a bit and see what you think. You'll get some useful feedback about your own bike setup too.

Finally, I'm a bit surprised you're going OTB so often on a 29er. The bigger wheels give you a similar safety margin to a much slacker head angle and I've only been OTB once on mine - on a climb, would you believe!.

It might be wise to book into a skills clinic before bad habits become too entrenched. I could give advice on what things to do but there are right and wrong ways to go about them and it's better that you learn the right way from the beginning.

And finally finally, a light weight weenie bike helps a bit, but in no way does it make up for a poorly performing engine. Save your money and lose the couple of kg from yourself instead. You'll feel a lot more energetic Smiling

Well said hawkeye

The engine makes the difference if speed round a circuit is what you want. Weight is way over estimated in the difference it makes

The other thing not pointed out is the increased grip you get with a dually when climbing gravelly trails - I ride lots of that stuff where standing on a hardtail doesn't provide enough grip and the rider has to get off while the seated guys on duallys can just keep going.

Ndoep, definitely agree about climbs being the best place to make time, you spend a lot more of the ride on a climb compared to a descent (assuming you're on a circuit) so that's where there are big gains to be made. I've seen many pros (even in the EWS) state the same - smash climbs and flats, take no risks on descents.

I'll definitely keep the impact of tyre choice on ride quality in mind when I'm up for a new set. Currently run tubes at 28-30 psi, 2.1 wide. Not game to go lower for fear of pinch flats. I do like my granny gear on this bike though, since I like to grind long steep climbs on it.

Weight though... Not an issue exept at the extremes: very heavy bikes, very long races, elite competition. A mate of mine can outpace most HT's and XC duallies on his long travel bike, to a point.

For myself, losing weight is not an option, since I'm a lightweight for my height already, but for almost every amateur I reckon that's a much better way to get weight down, and bigger numbers too! And it lowers your centre of gravity!

To be fair, the times I've beem OTB on this bike have been generally rider error. Hitting a pothole, a log that caught my chainring, hitting a big diagonal root. I've had a couple of cases where I've been dragging both brakes down a technical descent and got bound up on a rock/root and gone over. Yea that's bad technique but I think a slacker bike would have saved me from it. I've learned the lesson though Smiling

But it's definitely a twitchy bike because of the head angle. Not as confidence inspiring downhill as it could be and you can get into trouble easily with minor adjustments through corners. At the same time it's quite nimble.

you need to practice getting your weight down and back over the back tyre?

This will often result in the saddle being up near your solar plexus, and by getting weight off the front tyre allows it to roll over the obstacle.

On the infrequent occasions where I've gotten too far out of shape and it's not going to end well, I've been able to contain the situation by going the next step and basically exiting off the back of the bike. Not pretty, and sometimes places the bike at risk, but better than having to be carried out.

Or get a dropper post and hit everything in the attack position, the way God intended bikes to be ridden Eye-wink

Still working on that. I've just recently started riding everything with the saddle at full height. I used to have it dropped by about 30mm from ideal to keep it out of the way, but as I get better I have found I can ride most things fine with it up, minus the occasional knee pain from when it was too low. I'm still getting used to shifting my weight forward and backward at the right times though.

27.2 mm droppers don't seem all that common either.

I was sorta joking with that, my bike's reach is too short for me and in the attack position my arms aren't all that far off 90deg to the ground so if you do get hung up on a rock it wants to spit you OTB. Most hardtails are pretty poorly deigned as people think they need to be shorter than a dually for some reason but it means you have to move your body weight around a lot to make them work, long reach, low BB and a slack HA is the go.

A guy I ride with has ditched both his duallies and moved to a hardtail and he is a lot quicker round Grock than the other bikes, I thought he would have gone the other way.

KS and someone else do 27.2mm posts, mine is 31.6 and with an alloy post it was painful, I had to swap to a flexy carbon Syntace post, 27.2 is much more forgiving.

If fun and improving your skills and fitness are your desires, then try two totally different styles of bike. I've got a couple of fully rigid steel singlespeeds and a Fuel 9.7 with some upgrades. All are 29ers but that's where the similarity ends.

The SSes force me to pick clean lines and maintain momentum, not to mention put me right into the hurt box on climbs. I am NOT a climber, btw, so this keeps me honest.

When I jump on the dually after a stint on the SS it's a revelation. Every time. I pretty much go faster, everywhere. Pick clean lines or just straight line sh*t and it's still a magic carpet compared to the rigids! Win!

You won't go wrong with a Fuel for a do it all bike, either. I've done everything from gravity enduro to Mont, Fling, long rides on it and it's great.

Here's what I ended up getting - a Spesh Enduro Elite 29er. Got it for a 'steal' during their 25% off sale late last year. So stoked!

enduro

I kept the HT and have even been on it since then Laughing out loud

I was going to get the remedy but just couldn't get comfy on it, fit-wise, then tried on of these and it was instantly comfortable.

If anyone's interested (I know I was while doing my own research) the bike weighs about 14.8 kg stock with Saint pedals, XL frame.

Nice purchase. Reading your initial post I think you've made the rightish decision regarding a longer travel bike... Though this beast has loads of travel. I test rode one of these around Ourimbah and the confidence it inspires pointing south is awesome. The payoff on climbing and general flat riding was noticeable though as I was nearly 3 mins quicker on the Stumpy I tested.

Again, keeping your brief in mind the right choice. The FS race XC bikes are fast but not overly comfortable and limit your progression. I have an Epic (she's 7 yrs old now Sad) and wish I got a longer travel bike as my riding style really doesn't suit the XC domain... I'm crap at climbing hills, always have been and always will be, and have just had another brain shock rebuilt after too much hard hitting...

Nice bike, great spec and awesome discount... Happy riding Eye-wink

It is a lot of travel! I haven't used all of it yet, but I was prepared to wear a bit of extra softness for the sake of good fit. And it's a bike I've really liked for a long time as well. Plus, I figure since I'm experimenting a bit with jumps and terrain, the extra travel would add a bit of extra security Sticking out tongue

It didn't seem to cost anything weight-wise either, which is a bonus. As far as I could tell a similar sized Remedy was about the same weight. The hardest thing I've found is missing those extra couple of gear ratios at the bottom end, going to the 1x, but my legs are gradually getting used to it Eye-wink

Hey, sounds like you need a new bike haha Laughing out loud

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