Upgrading to a new MTB - new frame, old parts/AM/29er?

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Upgrading to a new MTB - new frame, old parts/AM/29er?

Postby goudgey » Sun Jan 29, 2012 9:55 pm

G'day All,

I'm currently riding a very old, completely stock 03 Specialized Hardrock that's certainly seen better days and I'm thinking its time to upgrade to something a little bit newer (better, lighter, faster, etc) but I'm not allowed to spend too much money, having recently bought a new roadie and I haven't got much of an idea about the advances in mountain bikes since I gave up the mud for the bitumen several years ago.

The way I see it I've got 3 options;

a) buy a new frame, fork, groupset and a few other bits and pieces from OS websites and swap across my old wheels, bars, posts, etc from the Hardrock in the hope of building up a nice steel framed long travel hard-tail. I'm thinking something like a Ragley Piglet or On-One 456 running 120-140mm fork. I think I could get this done for between $800-$1000 or thereabouts.

b) I was trolling bikeexchange.com.au and stumbled upon some 2011 run out deals on Avanti Torrent 1 and Specialized Camber Comps for around the $1600 to $1800 range. These bikes look good and have the allure of full suspension but I've never owned a full suspension bike before and the one time I've ridden one on single track I found it to be very uncomfortable and bloated compared to my hard-tail. I didn't like it much at all but I'm sure its just a matter of getting used to it. I popped into the LBS today to have a look and it looks like I've missed out on the deals so prices for 2012 stock are back up to RRP at around $2k to $2.5k. This is definitely stretching the budget. Whilst mulling it over I happened to spy in the corner of the shop a.....

c) 29er! A Specialized Carve Pro to be precise, at $2k. Also in stock was the lower specced version at $1.8k which is slightly easier on the wallet. I'd not considered a 29er before, thinking that they looked a bit funny and were likely more bike than I needed, however this thing looked fantastic and its got me thinking that a nicely specced 29 hard-tail is the better way to go. I've scoured the internet all evening and found many fine options, Giant XTC 29er, Avanti Aggressor 29er, etc as well as the Carve.

The more I think about it, the more convinced that building up a bike with a combination of new parts and old isn't the way to go and will cost me a lot in the long run, whilst I'll end up with a bike that doesn't really work well.

My dilemma is choosing between a $2k plus entry level 26 full suspension bike or a $1.5k plus mid level 29 hard-tail which will likely be better specced than the full suspension bike. Is it worth sending a little bit more for the pleasure of full suspension or with the 29 inch wheels provide me with all the fun I need.

oh, forgot to mention that I typically ride XC single track.

Thanks & sorry about the length of my post!
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by BNA » Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:10 am

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Re: Upgrading to a new MTB - new frame, old parts/AM/29er?

Postby Mulger bill » Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:10 am

29ers may not be the best choice for singletrack. I haven't tried one meself as my body is entirely the wrong shape for what 29ers I've seen.
A quick bikeexchange search came up with THIS. Ask me how I know how good this bike is :mrgreen: The price quoted is brilliant for what you get.
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Re: Upgrading to a new MTB - new frame, old parts/AM/29er?

Postby trailgumby » Mon Jan 30, 2012 7:22 am

For hardtails, 29ers rock. The things to focus on are:
1: a low front end so that your CG is low and steering response and stability are as close as possible to a 26er
2: short chainstays, again so steering response is quicker but also so that you're not trying to lift Spit Bridge to get the front end up

High bar position makes 29ers steer like the titanic and the first time I rode one on technical trails it felt like I was trying to navigate a cattle grid in 6ft clown stilts. Flipping the stem to lower the bars 50mm made a huge difference and the bike became fun to ride. Stiffer forks with a 15mm QR axle would have improved matters further, 9mm QR is just too flexy, but then I need to remember that my Lefty fork makes everything else seem like a wet noodle in comparison anyway. :P

For duallies ... it depends. For more tight and twisty technical trails, it seems a lot of folks are preferring the flickability and acceleration of 26ers. For trails with a flowing outline where there is less braking and accelerating, and those with a choppy surface, 29ers are an advantage becasue the big wheels with their lower angle of attack smooth out the bumps. You can run shorter travel on the same terrain for greater pedalling efficiency. Anthem 29er is a great bike.
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Re: Upgrading to a new MTB - new frame, old parts/AM/29er?

Postby silentbutdeadly » Mon Jan 30, 2012 9:14 am

Image

How about a Singular Hummingbird? Bloke in Melbourne does the frameset for $875 http://www.larryscustomcycles.com.au/frames.htm

This way you could run a 69er (as in the pic)...which'll be the last bike in my quiver when I get the dough and break the 26" rigid bike. 26 at the back and 29 at the front.

Building a bike will never be cheaper becasue you'll rarely make the hard nosed economic decisions about the set-up that you need to. Instead of being happy with Deore you'll spec XT but a bike maker won't make that 'mistake'. Add to that the fact that OE prices for bike parts are well lower than paying retail for a group and you are nearly nixed. That said though...if you build it then you will know it and respect it like no other.
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Re: Upgrading to a new MTB - new frame, old parts/AM/29er?

Postby goudgey » Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:41 am

Thanks for the feedback to date guys, greatly appreciated.

The more I think about it, the more I'm not sold on the idea of building my own, chiefly because I'm not confident about the compatability of existing components that I'd hope to reuse and I'm sure there will be numerous parts that'll be required that I'm not considering at this point, all leading to an increase in cost, time and ultimately frustration.

That brings us to two options. I've read a lot about 29ers and the general consensus seems to be that its the only way to go for a hard-tail but that I should stick to a 26 inch bike if going full suspension.

I'm concerned by Mulger Bill's comment about 29ers not being ideally suited to tight technical single track. Not sure if you guys are familiar with it, but I mostly ride at Fox Creek just out of Adelaide and I'd describe these trails as being techincal with tight switchbacks and a lot of elevation change. Presumably a 26inch bike will handle these conditions better than a 29er...but, just how bad will a 29er be on these types of trails?

I'm never going to be wanting to race and I'm happy to plod along at my own sedate pace on the trails so I dont need the most aggressive XC bike for my style of riding. I'm hoping that a 29er will be suitable for my purposes.
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Re: Upgrading to a new MTB - new frame, old parts/AM/29er?

Postby silentbutdeadly » Mon Jan 30, 2012 7:47 pm

The little I know of Fox Creek (or at least that area) and the little I know of 29ers (having owned one for only twelve months) makes me think that the 'right' answer would be "don't know unless you try".

That said 29ers eat up kilometres and enjoy double track like nothing else. I enjoy the local singletrack and even race it on occasion and the only times that I find the 29er is not great is on the really tight triangular corners and the work through really tightly spaced trees. The supreme caveat on this is my bike handling skills which are in a word - average. There are other blokes in the club who zip their 29ers through this stuff with ease. But they do the same on 26 bikes too. So who's right?

So part of me thinks that the argument over 26 or 29 is hollow since many [most?] of the esteemed numpties [present company included] expressing their opinions one way or the other probably don't actually have the tightly honed skills necessary to get the best out of either type - so their opinion is often based on preconceptions, personal preferences and half assed notions. My guess is that if your MTB predilections are more DH, AM or just going big then hit up a 26 for sure [at the moment]. Otherwise, the choice is an open book based on preferences, world view and your own self confidence to make and hold onto an opinion that is yours.

In other words, stop wondering and go riding.
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Re: Upgrading to a new MTB - new frame, old parts/AM/29er?

Postby trailgumby » Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:07 pm

silentbutdeadly wrote:In other words, stop wondering and go riding.

+1. At the end of the day, you need to test ride both and see what *you* think.
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Re: Upgrading to a new MTB - new frame, old parts/AM/29er?

Postby goudgey » Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:17 pm

Good points Trailgumby and SBD (I'm assuming its in relation to a noxious arse gas issue that you have?!), I do need to get out and test ride both and that's what I'll do.

I suspect that my budget will lead me to a hardtail 29er over a full suspension 26er, though that most likely won't be a bad thing.

Everyone, thanks for the advice.

Cheers,
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Re: Upgrading to a new MTB - new frame, old parts/AM/29er?

Postby Nobody » Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:35 pm

trailgumby wrote:...9mm QR is just too flexy, but then I need to remember that my Lefty fork makes everything else seem like a wet noodle in comparison anyway. :P
Flex? I don't know what you're talking about. :mrgreen:
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Re: Upgrading to a new MTB - new frame, old parts/AM/29er?

Postby goudgey » Tue Jan 31, 2012 8:58 am

Its just dawned on me that an entry level Giant Anthem X3 can be had from $2000, as can an entry level Trance X3 for the same price. This really throws a cat amongst the pigeons! A better way to go than an mid range 29er I think!

To top it off, I've found a 2011 Avanti Vapour 1 for $1500! I dont really like these hard decisions.
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Re: Upgrading to a new MTB - new frame, old parts/AM/29er?

Postby Shifter » Tue Jan 31, 2012 12:12 pm

goudgey wrote:an entry level Giant Anthem X3 can be had from $2000, as can an entry level Trance X3 for the same price.


I used to think I'd be all about the Anthem, but there's something in that extra travel the Trance has that makes things nicer. It makes the bike more of an all-rounder rather than a flat out race machine.

My Trance is a lot of fun :)
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Re: Upgrading to a new MTB - new frame, old parts/AM/29er?

Postby Mulger bill » Fri Feb 03, 2012 5:28 pm

Shifter wrote:My Trance is a lot of fun :)

You said it brother! My trails have taken on a whole new dimension now that careful line choice is not as important 8)
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Re: Upgrading to a new MTB - new frame, old parts/AM/29er?

Postby goudgey » Sat Feb 04, 2012 6:19 pm

I've managed to ride a number of different bikes this weekend and the experience has been very rewarding. I took a Giant XTC 29er 0 home for the weekend and ridden it over some flowing dirt tracks but no tight twisty stuff yet. It took more effort to get it up to speed but when I did it was noticeably smoother than my old bike. 29 inch wheels, better fork, better frame? All most likely.

I also rode an Avanti Torrent 1, Avanti Vapour 1 and a 2010 Specialized FSRxc but unfortunately the LBS limited me to a few runs around the block so I had to make do to riding on the loose gravel between the footpath and road and take them up and down kerns to get some idea how it would handle bumps and trail irregularities. Of the three I preferred the older Specialized. It's the mid specced bike in that years Specialized range and has better components than the two Avantis and can be had for $1700 which is just a tad more than the two Avantis. The 29er I can get for $2000 down from $2400 and is better specced than the Specialized again.

I'm still unsure of which way to go. I think I prefer the ride and weight of the 29er but am concerned about the possible loss of handling on tight singletrack and i much prefer the look of the dual suspension rigs. Think I need to ride a few more 29ers to see how they feel, plus a Giant Trance and Anthem.

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Re: Upgrading to a new MTB - new frame, old parts/AM/29er?

Postby bmxbandito » Sun Feb 05, 2012 12:41 am

Ive been riding a 29r for 3 years now & love the big wheels. Started on a Stumpjumper alloy hard tail which last year donated his parts to a Niner MCR which is an absolute weapon. Niner now has Niner rigid carbon forks on him & is a handful on the real knarly stuff but still gets through everything OK. Finally decided to get with the times & got an 29r Anthem X0 bouncy bike. Have been banned from riding it with the boys cause its to fast so the Niner gets a fair bit of work but when I ride by myself the anthem gets taken out. Riding the anthem is like cheating ,I sit & pedal where normally I have to stand up & watch where Im going. So if your not into getting a bit punished maybe consider the dually.I feel like i can spend all day on the anthem instead of half a day on the Niner. The XTC your on this weekend is a really well designed bike with good spec. Giant is just about to do a promo through bike exchange that gets you an anthem x2 26r for 2 grand & the x0 29r for 2,500
dollars.
29rs really fly on the fire roads & I find they just seem to roll over things so much nicer than the small wheels. Have shamelessly converted many of the riding buddies onto 29ers & they all find they do a lot of good things. Some can ride up technical climbs better or just simply find them faster on the trails.
Ive found running 710mm low rise bars 2.25 tyres & slammed in the front to work well for all round riding.
I work in a bike shop & like selling the Giants for there good value & design but all the brands are doing a good job these days. So do a good comparison with the brands & pricing but just promise to buy a 29r because you'll love the ride whether your cruising on it or racing the beast.

cheers JEFF
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Re: Upgrading to a new MTB - new frame, old parts/AM/29er?

Postby goudgey » Mon Feb 06, 2012 11:30 am

Thanks for the feedback JEFF, its greatly appreciated.

Unfortunately during my test ride of the XTC 29er on the weekend I picked up a flat which proved to be a pain in the arse! Despite numerous attempts to try to fix it with a glueless repair kit (they're rubbish, by the way!) I wasnt successfully able to and it limited my riding somewhat.

This weekend I'm grabbing the XTC 29er again and also a Specialized Carve Pro so I can test the two of them back to back.

I've also spotted a 2011 Avanti Competitor 26.1 carbon framed hardtail for a ridiculously low $1700. Perhaps worth considering given its running a carbon frame, even though its got 26 inch wheels?
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Re: Upgrading to a new MTB - new frame, old parts/AM/29er?

Postby aeroslave » Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:18 pm

Listen to Jeff. He is a legend! How are you buddy? Are you going to the Snowies?
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Re: Upgrading to a new MTB - new frame, old parts/AM/29er?

Postby goudgey » Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:59 pm

I'm good thanks. you? Oh, you were talking to Jeff.......? :wink:
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Re: Upgrading to a new MTB - new frame, old parts/AM/29er?

Postby Danton » Mon Feb 06, 2012 3:05 pm

bmxbandito wrote:Ive been riding a 29r for 3 years now & love the big wheels. Started on a Stumpjumper alloy hard tail which last year donated his parts to a Niner MCR which is an absolute weapon. Niner now has Niner rigid carbon forks on him & is a handful on the real knarly stuff but still gets through everything OK. Finally decided to get with the times & got an 29r Anthem X0 bouncy bike. Have been banned from riding it with the boys cause its to fast so the Niner gets a fair bit of work but when I ride by myself the anthem gets taken out. Riding the anthem is like cheating ,I sit & pedal where normally I have to stand up & watch where Im going. So if your not into getting a bit punished maybe consider the dually.I feel like i can spend all day on the anthem instead of half a day on the Niner. The XTC your on this weekend is a really well designed bike with good spec. Giant is just about to do a promo through bike exchange that gets you an anthem x2 26r for 2 grand & the x0 29r for 2,500
dollars.
29rs really fly on the fire roads & I find they just seem to roll over things so much nicer than the small wheels. Have shamelessly converted many of the riding buddies onto 29ers & they all find they do a lot of good things. Some can ride up technical climbs better or just simply find them faster on the trails.
Ive found running 710mm low rise bars 2.25 tyres & slammed in the front to work well for all round riding.
I work in a bike shop & like selling the Giants for there good value & design but all the brands are doing a good job these days. So do a good comparison with the brands & pricing but just promise to buy a 29r because you'll love the ride whether your cruising on it or racing the beast.

cheers JEFF


Got to ride an Anthem X0 on the weekend and it's planted a bug, it was so much fun to ride and as you said, made me ride faster and stop less. I did have my heart set on another epic bike but I'm yet to ride it (the weekend hopefully).....who knows I might end up braking my snobby rule never to by a Giant! + save some cash for other toys..
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Re: Upgrading to a new MTB - new frame, old parts/AM/29er?

Postby The Walrus » Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:32 pm

I've had my 29r for nearly a year and love it...I went from a low spec 26 inch MTB to a Specialized Rockhoppper, which was a bit below your budget but at about $1500 was at the top of mine.

I'm a bit different to you in that I'm not really a regular cross country trail rider, although I do the odd bit and intend to do more. I consider myself to be more of an urban trail rider as I use mine for the daily commute. I wanted something that was as close to an all round bike for all conditions as you could get. I like to go up curbs and cross over whatever is between me and the way home, I find the 29r goes up curbs easily compared to a 26r that would stop dead and probably throw me off!

I did a lot of research and spoke to lots and lots of people, to the point of boring them! The 29r option came out as the best everytime so I decided to test ride some. I tried about 5 bikes including Avanti, Trek & Specialized. They were all very well spec'd but it was just a personal choice as the Specialized simply felt the best for me...

But on visiting these, and other, forums regularly for a long while now I find that 75% or more of the replies just seem to be people expressing 'their' preferences for what suits 'them'. If you prefer the 26r option for ease of handling etc then stick with it (assuming speed across the trails is important to you, considering you dont race!) or if you want something different that can handle the same kind of obstacles in a different way then go the 29r...but ultimately its what feels best for 'you' when you are out there riding...so I say, take your time deciding and test a good selection of options.
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Re: Upgrading to a new MTB - new frame, old parts/AM/29er?

Postby Gordo » Tue Feb 07, 2012 7:14 pm

goudgey wrote:
I'm concerned by Mulger Bill's comment about 29ers not being ideally suited to tight technical single track. Not sure if you guys are familiar with it, but I mostly ride at Fox Creek just out of Adelaide and I'd describe these trails as being techincal with tight switchbacks and a lot of elevation change. Presumably a 26inch bike will handle these conditions better than a 29er...but, just how bad will a 29er be on these types of trails?


maybe 26er is a little better...but i wouldnt fear getting on an epic 29 or stumpy HT29 having recently ridden both recently. the epic is a dream. the stumpy is fast and sharp.

myself im still tossing between getting a racy XC 29er (like an epic or anthem X) or jumping out of my comfort zone and getting a more trail orientated bike like a trance x1 or the camber comp 29. Im not use to the laid back position that the camber 29 put me in when i rode it. its a big bike, felt real BIG. Had wide 720 riser bars. i tried dropping and flipping stems and approached some degree of comfort. Id prefer a 680 flat bar. As a bike it just felt massive and I have my doubts that if i go the trail bike route that i should perhaps get a 26er like the trance just for maneurverability. Bascially need more opportunity to ride these kinda bikes and have it set up right for me to come to a decision...
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