Existential question re: bike purchase

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Existential question re: bike purchase
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Posted: Jun 6, 2019 at 20:35 Quote
I'm an intermediate mountain biker, working hard to move closer to the advanced column. I'm never going to do anything REALLY big, but I want to get to the point where I'm using a lot of what a bigger bike has to offer, a bike such as the Bronson or the Ripmo. I am not there yet, but I hope to be there in the next few years. When I demo 'bigger' bikes, I rarely use more than ~120-130mm of front travel, but I do use most of the rear, mostly because sometimes my form sucks.

In this situation, would you:

a) But a mid travel trail bike (the Ripley, for example) and get really proficient on it, with an eye toward trading up when I (hopefully) start taking on bigger stuff. I see the merit in this approach as in this case I'm never punching too far above my current weight. (The Ripley is appealing because it can work well with 120-140mm in the front.)

or

b) Get one of the bigger bikes now and grow into it. I see the merit in this approach because it allows me to get used to the bigger bike sooner, possibly speeding up my learning curve. Also it takes the need to upgrade off the table.

I would appreciate any advice you might want to offer.

Posted: Jun 6, 2019 at 22:00 Quote
Α more capable bike can change your perception of what's "big" and allow you to feel confident on trails you've had trouble before. You may even discover lines that you didn't think were rideable before.

That said the bike has to suit the trails you regularly ride. Too much bike and they may start to feel boring, too little and it may become hard work.

The other option is to get an aggro ht and constantly surprise yourself with how you cleaned all the gnarly stuff without rear suspension ; )

Posted: Jun 7, 2019 at 10:09 Quote
justwan-naride wrote:
Α more capable bike can change your perception of what's "big" and allow you to feel confident on trails you've had trouble before. You may even discover lines that you didn't think were rideable before.

That said the bike has to suit the trails you regularly ride. Too much bike and they may start to feel boring, too little and it may become hard work.

The other option is to get an aggro ht and constantly surprise yourself with how you cleaned all the gnarly stuff without rear suspension ; )

THIS!! I got a long travel Enduro bike as my first "nice" bike, and it definitely helped me to progress my riding in terms of knowing that no matter what the trail presented, the bike could handle it. Now I've progressed way beyond where I was when I got that bike, and it's just too much for 90% of the trails I ride. The aspects of the bike that started out as inspiring confidence now feel like they're insulating me from the trail and the experience of riding, so I'm downsizing to a shorter travel bike or maybe even a hardtail.

I would say go with a lower travel bike to begin with. If you feel like you need more bike as you get better, upsize, but a shorter travel bike is going to be good for you as a first full sus bike and will continue to stay fun once you progress, as you can really stay on the limit of the bike's performance, even on milder trails.

Posted: Jun 7, 2019 at 10:16 Quote
justwan-naride wrote:

That said the bike has to suit the trails you regularly ride. Too much bike and they may start to feel boring, too little and it may become hard work.

Good point. There are PLENTY of trails around here that would be/are great on bigger bikes. I just don't know how to *use* the bigger bike properly. There are a ton of mellower trails, too (I'm in PNW, lots of trails, period). Like I said, when I ride the bigger trails on the bigger bike, I don't really use the travel.

I guess the answer is both a Ripley and a Ripmo!

Posted: Jun 7, 2019 at 11:14 Quote
It's a double edged sword though. A big bike can fill you with false confidence and you may put yourself in a situation that you don't have the experience to handle.

Sometimes short or no rear travel can work as a safety fuse. The bike starts misbehaving and tells you're going too fast for the terrain/your abilities. A modern enduro bike can handle things the rider often can't. This can lead to crushing at speed when you finaly lose control.

Posted: Jun 7, 2019 at 11:40 Quote
So, I think the Ripmo is your ticket. Here's why.

Fist, I believe that you should use the right tool for the right job. Could you get really proficient on an aggro trail bike like the Ripley? Sure. You could also hammer in a nail using the back of a screwdriver. But in both those situations, there are better options. Fact is, when you're pushing your limits, you are by definition regularly attempting to ride things that are slightly above your current skill level. You ride harder things to build the skill. Having a bigger, burlier bike will cover your ass when you run out of talent, and lower the overall risk level, and increase your confidence. Having the "safety net" of long suspension makes taking risks more palatable, more fun, and less likely to result in injury. That way, you can push your limits more regularly, and improve more rapidly.

So, in my opinion, build your skill on the bigger bike. When things start to feel boring later, or when you feel like you've exhausted the level of Gnar in your area, get a smaller bike. Having just done this myself, I can say that I'm a MUCH better, safer, and harder rider than I was last season . . . and I didn't get injured a single time.

Second, the Ripmo is not a true-on big bike. For that reason, it's a pleasure to ride on mellower trails, at lower speeds, or when you're just having a relaxing pedal. Sure, it's bigger than a lot of trail bikes. But compared to things like the Capra 29, Trek Slash, Santa Cruz Megatower, Commencal Meta AM 29, and the SB150, it's smaller. It's still massively capable, but it's not a "bruiser". It's a good middle-of-the-road option.

Posted: Jun 7, 2019 at 19:14 Quote
I bet someone could progress to advanced level just as fast on the Ripmo as some superenduro bike. Get the Ripmo.

OR get 2 aluminum bikes, at opposite ends of the all mtn spectrum, for the price of one carbon boutique bike. I bought my Reign SX for $2222 new, and I could have added a Trance to the stable too, and still spend less than the Ripmo.

Posted: Jun 16, 2019 at 16:45 Quote
I live in Northwest Arkansas. I rode a Santa Cruz 5010 (130mm F/R) for three years. It was great. Fast. Nimble. Fun. Now I have a Ripmo (160F/145R). It's amazing. Definitely faster. No less nimble. It's hard to beat a Ripmo in fun factor. I rarely use the full travel but I like Ripmo a lot better.

Posted: Jun 16, 2019 at 23:39 Quote
50105010 wrote:
I live in Northwest Arkansas. I rode a Santa Cruz 5010 (130mm F/R) for three years. It was great. Fast. Nimble. Fun. Now I have a Ripmo (160F/145R). It's amazing. Definitely faster. No less nimble. It's hard to beat a Ripmo in fun factor. I rarely use the full travel but I like Ripmo a lot better.

Funny, it was a demo on the ripmo that prompted me to start this thread. I had an awesome four hour ride (5200 feet of climbing). Got home and realized I only used about 100mm of fork travel.

Posted: Jun 17, 2019 at 4:38 Quote
ColinFerguson wrote:
50105010 wrote:
I live in Northwest Arkansas. I rode a Santa Cruz 5010 (130mm F/R) for three years. It was great. Fast. Nimble. Fun. Now I have a Ripmo (160F/145R). It's amazing. Definitely faster. No less nimble. It's hard to beat a Ripmo in fun factor. I rarely use the full travel but I like Ripmo a lot better.

Funny, it was a demo on the ripmo that prompted me to start this thread. I had an awesome four our ride (5200 feet of climbing). Got home and realized I only used about 100mm of fork travel.

If it felt ok, and you had fun, why worry about how much travel you used?

Posted: Jun 17, 2019 at 7:26 Quote
Nothing wrong with having or starting with a “big bike”. I started my GF with a 150 front/rear bike with aggressive tires. Bike is more forgiving, she’s more confident, crashes less, and actually have gotten pretty fast on it

Posted: Jun 18, 2019 at 11:30 Quote
I'm a big fan of these aggressive trail bikes but not quite enduro bikes. Ripmo, Jeffsy, Smuggler, Fuel Ex, etc. I had a 160/160 "big bike" for a few years, and it sucked to ride rocky/technical terrain on flat ground or climbing. Essentially it only felt good when descending. I figured I just sucked at that sort of stuff. I then demo'd a ton of bikes and was surprised to find a bunch of these mid travel 29ers descended just as well as my big bike, but were a million times better to climb and ride over technical terrain. So i downsized my 160mm bike to a 140mm YT Jeffsy for a few seasons. Bikes got even more capable, and now I'm riding a 120mm Smuggler that descends just as well if not better. I don't do huge drops or gap to flat so I figure I don't need the extra squish. The geometry is what is truly important.

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