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Mountain Bike Brands & Models

Posted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 10:13 am
by danielmilner
First time poster, long time reader. Or something like that.

I've been running my local trails for quite some time now (on my feet) and have just picked up the mountain biking habit. With family riding and economics in mind I purchased a Giant Talon a couple of years ago but I'm finding it just isn't going to cut it the further and more technical my riding becomes, lets just say I've got plenty of room for improvement at this stage but a solid fitness base.

So I've been trolling the forums and bike reviews and am blown away by the sheer volume of bike brands and models on offer, and they are rolling out new ranges every year. Giant, Trek, Specialized, Merida, Scott, Cannondale, Norco, Santa Cruz, Rocky Mountain, and dozens of others I've missed. For better or worse what defines some of these brands in the current MTB climate ? Do they all boil down to achieving the same outcomes when components are aligned ?

I don't seek a specific answer, as I'm wise enough to know one doesn't exist and the subject is much more complex but am curious to hear other more experienced riders thoughts for and against brands from a general perspective

If I was to define what I my riding is / will be it is 2-3 hours sessions that might be made up of 50% single trail and 50% fire trail, I enjoy the climbing equally to downhill - so I wont be shuttling to the top of trails, and I'm unlikely to spend much time pushing my limits on technical black-type trail.

Thanks for reading. Discuss ?

Re: Mountain Bike Brands & Models

Posted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 11:49 am
by Usernoname
It seems like a lot of bikes are coming with sram GX Eagle 12speed, even on 7k plus bikes. Starting point may be to see if you want Shimano 2x11 or Sram 12s, then decide wheel size 27.5 or 29, then amount of travel 110 - 140. Then start looking at brands / models. I've got sram XO1 11s which i like, but not being a strong climber I'd like another gear sometimes. I have sram GX 2x10 on a gravel bike and GX eagle would want to be a hell of a lot better than my 2x10!!

Re: Mountain Bike Brands & Models

Posted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 12:17 pm
by danielmilner
Thanks for comments. As an inexperienced bike rider deciding between the components would simply be based on advice and online resources. Efficiency gains seem to be available everywhere, I'm not adverse to a bit of hard work and speed/racing is not even a factor in my thinking. I would prefer to get quality of quantity (being breadth of options/gears) for my coin.

The Trek options I've look at seem to offer the GX Eagle you refer to, whilst Giant and Specialized run SLX 11-sp. Otherwise you are stepping back? to Deore and NX ?

27.5 wheel options appear to be fading out of this bracket, 29ers across most models, i cant seem to find a bad word about them. Even though logically to me a more agile and slim wheel could have its advantages ??? I get the coverage and size of a 29er would allow you to get over more technical terrain and maintain a higher speed - again not important.

Re: Mountain Bike Brands & Models

Posted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 12:53 pm
by bychosis
Mountain bikes are all about the suspension design and travel and the geometry. The other component are secondary to performance, and make negligible difference. Wheels, suspension are where it is at for performance. For what it is worth 1x9 was pretty much fine for my riding, but I did appreciate the step to 1x11 for a bit extra range for tired legs. My current bike has Deore brakes, which I was a bit disappointment in the spec, but they work just fine and after using them for a bit I don't know if I'll upgrade.

The wheel size thing is a big debate, 27.5 can be more agile as they are smaller, and easier to turn and accelerate. 29er tend to roll over and are suited to long, open trails - wind them up and keep rolling. I purchased a 27.5 wheeled bike last year because when I rode a same model 29 back to back the 27.5 seemed more agile and I wanted a fun/agile/nimble bike. I came from a quite light weight 26" bike and wanted some of that, but with a slacker geometry.

There is a big difference in range depending on what style of bike you want. From your description, a cross country bike would probably do the trick, but you might prefer something a bit more trail biased if you aren't wanting to be fastest or race and want to enjoy the trail features. Most brands will have a bike in the category you want, then choose your spec on your budget. What model Trek were you looking at?

Re: Mountain Bike Brands & Models

Posted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 1:19 pm
by danielmilner
Awesome comments again, thank you. It just reinforces what's important the the decision.

Trek Top Fuel 8 is one that has crossed my path. RRP $3.5k but last season models going for less than $3k. Giant Anthem, Scott Spark, and Merida One Twenty (mainly as it is in the category and local store a very good) are others that look to meet my mark?

Admittedly I'm at a stage where I've been getting hung up on specs/component hierarchy on paper, rather than considering geometry as you say.

Re: Mountain Bike Brands & Models

Posted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 2:25 pm
by bychosis
danielmilner wrote:Trek Top Fuel 8 is one that has crossed my path. RRP $3.5k but last season models going for less than $3k. Giant Anthem, Scott Spark, and Merida One Twenty (mainly as it is in the category and local store a very good) are others that look to meet my mark?

Quite race-y bikes there. Esp the Anthem and Top Fuel (not overly familiar with the Merida or Spark). You might find a Fuel EX or Trance or Specialized Camber more to your liking if you are out for recreation rather than race. They will be more confidence inspiring going down without compromising on speed much. I didn't really look at Giants (irrational dislike of the brand) but the Trek Fuel EX was pushed hard by the salesman as a very capable all round bike. Pretty fast, but also capable in the rougher stuff. I ended up with a Remedy, because I wanted more bias toward fun and less toward speed and also the 27.5 wheels.

Re: Mountain Bike Brands & Models

Posted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 2:41 pm
by danielmilner
bychosis wrote:Quite race-y bikes there. Esp the Anthem and Top Fuel (not overly familiar with the Merida or Spark). You might find a Fuel EX or Trance or Specialized Camber more to your liking if you are out for recreation rather than race. They will be more confidence inspiring going down without compromising on speed much. I didn't really look at Giants (irrational dislike of the brand) but the Trek Fuel EX was pushed hard by the salesman as a very capable all round bike. Pretty fast, but also capable in the rougher stuff. I ended up with a Remedy, because I wanted more bias toward fun and less toward speed and also the 27.5 wheels.


Thanks for feedback. Certainly food for thought. Specialized Camber was again one I've come across, as was Remedy. I've pretty much been through the complete market hence me ending up here! Love to over-analyse. I can see it is going to come down to picking a colour and getting on with it!

Re: Mountain Bike Brands & Models

Posted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 3:06 pm
by bychosis
It is really hard getting your head around the different models by each manufacturer. Even though most of them follow the same path, ie XC, Trail, All Mountain, Freeride, Downhill or whatever they call the categories now, different brands might fit 'between' models from different brands so they don't quite line up for like for like comparisons with geometry/suspension travel etc.

The Remedy you mention above is more equivalent to the Specialized StumpJumper while the Fuel EX is closer to the Camber.

The first thing you should really do is work out what category you'll be happy with. Then work out what models fit into that category, then lastly fit the specification level to your budget.

For example My journey to a new bike was: Selected more descent biased in the Trail category, looked at Stumpy, Remedy and some others I've already forgotten from GT, Norco. Decided on wheel size in that category (27.5 for me). Narrowed down 4 to 2 and tossed up between the Stumpy and Remedy. Then I found a runout model for the right budget and ended up with a '17 Remedy 8, but could equally have gone with an 18 Remedy 7 or current Stumpy with lesser spec. the 17 Remedy had the same frame/geomtery/travel etc as the 18, but came with a dropper post and the next step up of drivetrain and fork.

Good luck with finding a new steed.

Note, I did not have a rational reason to dismiss the Giant (like Toyota, dependable but common) or Norco (something about the name) and the GT got crossed off because of looks. Some might say that Trek is much the same as Giant, but I have a history with Trek that may have swayed the decision.

Re: Mountain Bike Brands & Models

Posted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 3:09 pm
by ldrcycles
What is it about your current bike that you feel is holding you back? A Talon isn't top of the line, but it's certainly not a K Mart clunker either.

Re: Mountain Bike Brands & Models

Posted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 3:20 pm
by gsxrboy
The dirty little secret is ... there really isn't a huge difference in genre like bikes at any given price point, unless you're direct sales buying (yt, canyon etc). The bike frames are only made by less than a handful of companies, the main components are all the same/similar. The glossies will tell you that you can't possibly ride any trails unless you have 160mm travel. Wheel size has pros and cons, but the trend is moving towards 29"

Get something that fits your body (most important), that you like the look of (because if you're honest if you don't like the look you won't ride it) and fits your budget. For the general non Sam Hill rider, a non XC race type bike with 140mm (which eliminates XC racers) is more than enough. With $3500 to spend, you're not going to get a bad bike (spesh if you can pick up a runout).

Re: Mountain Bike Brands & Models

Posted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 3:42 pm
by danielmilner
ldrcycles wrote:What is it about your current bike that you feel is holding you back? A Talon isn't top of the line, but it's certainly not a K Mart clunker either.


Fair question that and it is worth stepping back and considering it. Looking for a more forgiving ride when on the rougher single trail and something a bit more durable. I'm ducking up and down Derby (tas) on the Talon for 20-30k rides, and whilst there is some smooth flowing trail you are also presented with more technical stuff. The Talon has had a few tough days out there, it holds up but I'm sure I could have some more fun.

I can only hope it will also provide me with some greater control and confidence on those descents given the above-mentioned geometry and suspension gains.

Re: Mountain Bike Brands & Models

Posted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 3:53 pm
by danielmilner
bychosis wrote:It is really hard getting your head around the different models by each manufacturer. Even though most of them follow the same path, ie XC, Trail, All Mountain, Freeride, Downhill or whatever they call the categories now, different brands might fit 'between' models from different brands so they don't quite line up for like for like comparisons with geometry/suspension travel etc.



gsxrboy wrote:The dirty little secret is ... there really isn't a huge difference in genre like bikes at any given price point, unless you're direct sales buying (yt, canyon etc). The bike frames are only made by less than a handful of companies, the main components are all the same/similar. The glossies will tell you that you can't possibly ride any trails unless you have 160mm travel. Wheel size has pros and cons, but the trend is moving towards 29"

Get something that fits your body (most important), that you like the look of (because if you're honest if you don't like the look you won't ride it) and fits your budget. For the general non Sam Hill rider, a non XC race type bike with 140mm (which eliminates XC racers) is more than enough. With $3500 to spend, you're not going to get a bad bike (spesh if you can pick up a runout).


I think it is fair to say that the brands are largely summed up as marketing and slight variations that may sway one way or another.

Ultimately I'm going to need a general all-rounder that gives me some XC efficiency, rather than pure speed, but also equips me with confidence to descend down the fun trails as I come to them (I'm in Tasmania so my options are forever growing it would seem). Most stores I've been into suggest that the XC range, in a traditional since, is dead unless you're looking for a racing bike in that category. Otherwise the manufacturers are making are focusing on those dual suspensions that are entry level trail bikes.

I will resume my search accordingly. 120mm-140mm up front, 27.5s... maybe 29ers if I don't have the choice. Focus on the geometry and comfort factor... and go from there.

I'm all about the runout's and a good deal... given all that is said above with the number of brands, models and new ranges every year you'd have to be pretty keen (and silly) to be paying full retail. Surely.

Thanks for your time and comments.

Re: Mountain Bike Brands & Models

Posted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 5:01 pm
by opik_bidin
danielmilner wrote:
If I was to define what I my riding is / will be it is 2-3 hours sessions that might be made up of 50% single trail and 50% fire trail, I enjoy the climbing equally to downhill - so I wont be shuttling to the top of trails, and I'm unlikely to spend much time pushing my limits on technical black-type trail.

Thanks for reading. Discuss ?


buy a trail bike

Re: Mountain Bike Brands & Models

Posted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 11:10 pm
by Duck!
Usernoname wrote:It seems like a lot of bikes are coming with sram GX Eagle 12speed, even on 7k plus bikes. Starting point may be to see if you want Shimano 2x11 or Sram 12s, then decide wheel size 27.5 or 29, then amount of travel 110 - 140. Then start looking at brands / models. I've got sram XO1 11s which i like, but not being a strong climber I'd like another gear sometimes. I have sram GX 2x10 on a gravel bike and GX eagle would want to be a hell of a lot better than my 2x10!!

Grabbing the wrong end of the stick.

Drivetrain componentry is a secondary consideration, especially when rear suspension is thrown into the mix. Pick the frame that best suits the desired purpose, and assess the merits of different suspension platforms... The mucketing guff will all tell you their stuff is best, but they can't all be right. It's not just the shock fitted, the whole design determines the bahaviour of the system.

The OP's basic riding description would on the face of it suggest a short-travel XC-oriented bike would be quite adequate, but having read a bit about what's going on in Tassies, something with just a tad more travel would cover the bases pretty well; as some others have suggested, a 120-140mm rear travel "Trail" bike is the tip.

DISCLOSURE: I work in a shop that is a Giant dealer, so my knowledge is skewed that way. There are a few options to look at in that sort of range. If you're after an entry-level duallie, the Stance fits the bill; it's a simpler suspension system than the rest of the Giant range, which keeps it more budget-friendly, but the trade off is that it isn't as efficient as the Maestro system used in thre other model ranges. At 120mm travel, it's in that Trail range. The Anthem is primarily an XC rig, especially in 29" form, but the 27.5" version, discontinued for 2019 model, but you may still be able to find some '18s around is more trail-friendly with 110mm rear/130mm front suspension. The new-for-2019 Trance 29er pretty much takes the place of the Anthem 27.5, with 115mm rear/130mm front travel, but is a bit slacker in the front for more stable technical descending (but that does affect climbing cornering - there is always a trade off!). The Trance 27.5 stretches out to 140mm rear/150mm front, which makes it a very capable all-rounder, although it does tend to feel a bit vague in tight corners, but you'll find that with most modern slack geometry bikes. Anyway, enough of that......

For a proper in-depth dig at the performance and merits of different rear suspension systems, wrap your head around [url]this site.[/url] Its originating language is Spanish (possibly may still be with direct link; just hit the "translate" button to convert to English), so some of the translations need a bit of interpreting. It is pretty tech-heavy, which also makes for some difficult reading at times. However the big plus is that it's independent and impartial, so fairly rates everything against certain parameters, so you can see how different systems perform. And it's extremely comprehensive, covering just about every rear suspsnsion system ever built!

Wheel size is a whole different can of worms rife with individual opinions. 29" has its advantages, but it also has drawbacks; it tends to result in much greater geometry compromises as frames get smaller, just to make the bloody things fit. 29" tends to be good at going over stuff, not so good at going around stuff. Old-school 26" (now very rare in new bikes) is the opposite - awesome at going around stuff, sketchy going over stuff. 27.5" finds some degree of balance between them. Of course overall geometry plays a big part, but it can't entirely be isolated from the wheels. Personally I'd lean towards 27.5"; I haven't ridden a single 29er that's made me go "oh wow!" The current Anthem, released last year, isn't bad, but I would buy one. Others I couldn't hand back fast enough. 27.5s have just felt a lot more balanced. As one online mag wrote a few years ago in a 3-way test between the three sizes using variants of the same series bike, "27.5 isn't the best at anything, but it's the best for everything", and Im inclined to agree.

For reference, my own bike is an old (2012) 26" Anthem; in its element on flowy trails it is an incredibly fun, agile weapon, but throw in some lumps while the trail is pointing down and it gets pretty hairy!

Re: Mountain Bike Brands & Models

Posted: Sat Aug 18, 2018 12:19 am
by mikgit
Around derby... admittedly I've not ridden the black trails, only blue (and green)...my Scott Spark 710 (120mm, 650b) is more than enough bike to cope on those trails, it's certainly not the thing holding me back. I also didn't have much issue riding my old 26in HT.
If you're hitting all the jumps and going for max fun, then more than an XC bike, if you're just pounding out the km's and trying to enjoy yourself (without being too exciting) then XC style bike works great.

Re: Mountain Bike Brands & Models

Posted: Sat Aug 18, 2018 9:44 am
by chriso_29er
Given you already have the hard tail I would knock it up a few notches for the next one.
I was recently in the same boat, have been riding a 29er XC hardtail for years. I didn't see the point in moving to a bike that was not going to be a significant difference once the trail pointed down yet was till ridable uphill and fun on flater trails.

I settled on the 'trail bike' as others have suggested.

In my case the Giant Trance which is in the upper levels of 'trail' with 140/150mm travel. But not too slack a head angle to make my favourite climbs a problem.

So far the difference is unbelievable on down hill. There is no comparison once trails get rougher.
Flats is mostly the comfort difference yet so far no noticible average speed differences. Despite going from 29er wheels back to 27.5.
Tech uphill where I thought it could show a big difference, it so far is only marginally slower (seconds over a 5min climb) than the XC bike. Steering does feel a little slower but not overly noticable.