/ Which new MTB?

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cousin nick on 06 Jan 2013
Currently have a modified 1998 GT Zaskar hardtail, but thinking of changing to something newer with disks and probably 29" wheels.

Me: 50y.o., 75kg, 5'11".
Mostly ride XC around the SW (mixture of forestry tracks, bridlepaths, singletrack) plus more gnarly stuff on Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor.
I like the idea of a carbon hardtail, but can't decide whether to go for full suss as a concession to age!

I love the Zaskar - climbs like a goat and is fast on cleaner ground. However the fairly aggressive XC race style of the Zaskar puts body weight forward, which makes it (or rather me) less confident on steeper downhill.
I also ride SWMBO's Cinder Cone, which although a bit small for me, is the reverse of the Zaskar - great on the downhill singletrack, but becomes very light on the frontwheel during steep climbs.

Does that mean I need an 'All Mountain' rather than XC bike?

Only just started looking. LBS is a Spesh dealer and I like the Stumpjumper comp carbon 29" but also the Epic and Camber full-sussers (in alloy). Obviously open to other brands (Santa Cruz Tallboy alloy?)

Budget: well, interest rates are bu99er all at the moment so my savings are earning very little and I might as well have some fun with them. Therefore I'm inclined to spend up to £3k.

neuromancer - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to cousin nick:

Sounds like the cinder cone just didn't fit you very well. It's not a techy xc bike, but a classic cheap xc beater. You can use any bike more or less for everything; think of them though more like appropriate rubber climbing shoes rather than using crampons for sandstone (if that makes sense).

It doesn't sound like you're doing that warrants an "All Mountain" bike; i.e. a 150-160mm bike built with 180mm discs, a burlyish wheelset and possibly 36mm stanchioned forks. Also, if you haven't done anything that warrants that kind of thing by now, it might be a bit hairy to jump into it (i.e. Trans Provenceish stuff, or at bare minimum the harder trailcentre blackruns).

I would go for a higher partspec (especially wheels and suspension) over a carbon fibre frame.

A camber would suit you fine, as would a Fuel (Trek), an Anthem (Giant), or any number of smaller manufacturer's bikes. Stick to no more than 140mm (26in wheels) or no more than 120mm (29in wheels). I would personally choose a 26er to ride trail centre black runs and very technical singletrack in wales and scotland, and a 29er to do long xc days and some singletrack trail (but not lots of tight turns, berms, rock gardens roots and drops) - like the South Downs way or the like.

I don't think you need to spend £3k, but if you must buy new focus on Warranty (1st), Wheelset and forks (2nd), Does it have a Remote-Drop Seatpost (Even 2nd) and finally Groupset (3rd).
mikehike on 06 Jan 2013
Horse on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to cousin nick:

Do a custom build of something like a Cotic Soul with a good quality fork up front.
cousin nick on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to neuromancer:

Thanks for the comments so far.
Yeah, I reckoned I didn't really need an all mountain bike. Its partly tyhat they look sooo sexy in the shop!
Yes, the cinder cone is too small, but even so, apart from ripping downhill on singletrack, it just doesn't make me get the hammer down like the Zaskar does (probably due to ride position - the Zaskar is almost like a roadie). I suspect it would be the same with a well fitted Cinder cone. BTW I'm not getting rid of the Zaskar - its worth sod all other than the sum of its (well used) components and I still love to thrash it!
Therefore, I suspect that a lightish (carbon?)XC HT 29er is probably best.
To my mind frame (geometry, stiffness) is critical, as is a well dialled quality fork. Groupset, while nice, is essentially temporary until it wears out and can then be upgraded as necesary (personally for instance, I don't think XTR is worth the additional cost over XT, but thats just me, others may disagree).
Its just - in the background, full suss is there, tempting, but as has been said, do I really need it? Probably not - I just need to be a better rider (unlikely at 50!). Plus, I'd have to haul the extra full suss weight around the rest of the time.
Although I like the idea of building a bike, reality is, I don't have the time, and, what time I do have, I'd rather be riding (or climbing, or paddling) so cop out is to buy off the shelf. Theres also plenty deals out there at the moment on 2012 bikes.
I guess the answer is to do plenty test rides and see what tickles.
Keep suggestions coming tho'.
neuromancer - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to cousin nick:

Buy an on-one c456 custom build from or build one yourself from frame.

I recommend a Reverb, XT, a Revelation RCT3, decent wheels and nice wide bars.
balmybaldwin - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to cousin nick:

What ever you do, ride as many bikes as you can on test rides. This may cost you a bit (my local spesh dealer charged £50 a go), but normally if you end up buying they take the money off again, and even if they don't it is well worth it in the long run.

Spread your net far and wide in terms of makes, and don't place too much confidence in magazine reviews - e.g. I've never seen a "this bike is awful" review, but there are definitely some awful bikes out there.

It sounds very much to me like your style of riding tedns to teh XC end, and as such 140mm travel is probably the most you'll want, and probably will only need 120mm (you would be amazed at what a good 120mm XC bike can cope with - I rode most of the Snowdon ranger track on mine, but then you already know this to an extent if you are riding a hardtail)

At 5'11" you are on the borderline for 29rs vs 26rs, and I would stongly advise trying to test both sizes back to back (preferably by the same manufacturer and similar spec) some people like them, others don't. From my experience of testing Specialized epics back to back, there were obvious differences - the 29r was quicker on straights, good over uneven surfaces, and seemed to roll over obstacles much easier, however it was slower to react, required more precision entering corners(less ability to correct your line mid way through a corner if you got it wrong), and slower on twisty stuff. It also suffered from being heavier, slower to accelerate and a higher centre of gravity. Overall I went for a 26" machine as it felt like more fun, and I wasn't in it for pure pace. (I would still like one at some point, but alongside my 26r for different riding).

Oh, and don't be swayed into buying a bike that has a dropper seatpost speced if it's not right for you, you can always add one later as I did.

If you act quickly you may still be able to get your self a 2012 bike at a good discount and get even more for your money

Some other bikes for you to consider (XC focussed to start, moving to more "All mountain)
Cannondale Scalpel - stupidly light (22lb for the"2"), but more of a soft tail than full sus
Specialized Epic 26" (not sure they still do these as 26) short travel but capable xc machine. Brain takes a while to get used to.
Lapierre X-Flow (what I bought in the end - lightening quick up hill for full sus, but plenty of control on steep and technical stuff the carbon frames come in about 25lb - not the easiest to find though)
Cube AMS 110 - looked great in the shop, good spec for the money, but it just didn't ride right for me.
Specialized Stumpjumper - It's been around for a while for a reason, very nice bike, but for me a little too much bounce
Mondraker Foxy - Good traction, not too much pedal bob and feels like its built to last, but a bit too heavy for the money
Lapierre Zesty - riot of a machine, but a little too much pedal bob when climbing for my liking
Whyte 146s - Amazingly confidence inspiring on the rough stuff despite being only 140mm - my friend complains about his front end being light when climbing and it does bob a fair bit even with propedal on
Orange 5 - A lot of people swear by these, but it didn't grab me, just felt a bit agricultural, and a little heavy for the money, undoubtedly a capable machine though, and you wouldn't be afraid of crashing it.

Hope this helps... here's the thread when I asked for advice back in August too:
sdavies141 - on 12 Jan 2013
In reply to cousin nick: Having ridden a lot of bikes and owned loads too, the best frame by far has been the Lapierre zesty I currently ride, it is superb!
Dave Kerr - on 12 Jan 2013
In reply to Sambo:

I love my Zesty too but I don't think it's the tool of choice for the riding the OP describes.
Mikkel - on 12 Jan 2013
In reply to cousin nick:

I have just got a Camber as a warranty replacement on a XC FSR
Really nice bike, i will get Specialized again just for their amazing warranty service.

Geoboy - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to cousin nick: Have you splashed out yet Nick? Quite an exciting post - i love hearing that someone is planning to go big and get a (potentially) no expense spared AM bike!

Great timing as there's been a surge of all mountain/enduro bikes hitting the scene in the last few years. It's quite remarkable how well these bikes can climb and descend!

Definitely try a few out if you can. The Lapierres are beautiful designs, I'm sure the Mondraker AM frames are superb and you couldn't go wrong with an Orange Five! Then there's Specialized which definitely get's my vote hands down.

Are you buying new?
I would seriously consider going second hand if you're confident. Or take an experienced bike buying friend along with you? Having said that I'm sure there are some great deals going for new bikes... Lapierre private sale on CRC right now isn't there?

I suppose my view is slightly bias because I've only ever bought bikes second hand. But you can just get so much for your money, especially if you have cash, are flexible and happy to bide your time. I can assure you that if you wait and follow the right forums (Southern Downhill for example, now called Ride On, or something), you'll get a spanking new stumpy carbon going cheap because some muppet, who got it on finance last week has decided it's 'not for them' after a spin around a Surrey hill.

I sold up my beloved Intense family (Socom and Tazer) a couple of years ago to go with one do it all enduro bike (no longer had the space/time to keep and ride both). Since chopping and changing I finally got the perfect AM bike, an Enduro carbon. I picked mine up second hand for £2k. It was hardly ridden & spec'd to absolute hell (full carbon/x0 sram, reverb.. probably £5k to build new). Plus the rear triangle is under warranty despite new ownership.

My vote for you would be a Spec Stumpjumper fsr. Hunt around and try a few out if you can though.
Happy buying and let us know what you go for!
Tom Hutton - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to cousin nick: Ghost every time - best bikes I've ridden...

Geoboy - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to Tom Hutton: Why? Compared to what? Just out of interest
Not a very common bike on the hill, unless I just haven't noticed them. But then I suppose they aren't very distinctive compared to other well known frames.
MHutch - on 22 Jan 2013
In reply to Tom Hutton:

Some very cheap Ghosts in the CRC sale.
cousin nick on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Geoboy:

No, not bought anything yet. Thanks for the suggestions though. I'm in no rush, so have plenty time for demos and test rides, plus a couple mates are getting new bikes soon (one is a Stumpjumper 29er) so I'll no doubt get a go on theirs.
rmt on 30 Jan 2013 - whois?
In reply to cousin nick:
I'd recommend demoing a Scott Genius 730 which should be about the price you specify. I've ridden a Scott Spark for years with 100mm of travel and have absolutely loved it, but am starting to ride a little more aggressively and wanted a bit more travel. I demoed a Genius 740 (has 650b wheels) and loved it. So much more relaxed than my XC bike, but still climbs surprisingly well. I'm treating myself and keeping the Spark, but adding a Genius 720 to my collection.
Dave Todd - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to cousin nick:

Always worth a little browse around the Canyon site (if you don't mind an internet-only purchase). Given your OP, one of this range might be worth a look;

Although lots of other models available...
cousin nick on 31 Jan 2013
In reply to Dave Todd:

I was looking at the Canyon website the other day, particularly the Grand Canyon AL 29er. As ever, I need to see/try one.
I think I'm probably erring towards a hardtail 29er since full suss is probably not essntial for the majority of my riding and I'll be glad of their lower weight (in my price range).
Still no firm decisions.
I'm up in the Lakes mid Feb and will look out for suitable bikes to demo.

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