Help me Pick a Bike Please (overwhelmed)

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Help me Pick a Bike Please (overwhelmed)
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Posted: Jul 27, 2021 at 9:22 Quote
Hi All,

Long time lurker but I was hoping to get some advice. I've been out of the game for about 5 years and want to get back at it. I am trying to pick out a new bike and I am just totally overwhelmed by all the options with trail bikes, all mountain bikes, down country bikes, and everything in-between. It doesn't help that nothing is in stock to view in person and I will probably have to order off spec for 2022 - I am told I need to put down a deposit soon if I want a bike for next Spring, especially a popular bike.

My goal is to replace a 2008 Giant Trance X1 which has served me well but things have changed so much it's time for a new bike. I used to pair it with a Giant Glory however I don't ride any pure DH anymore - am 36 years old and I feel like I had a good run not seriously injuring myself LOL.

I am looking for a single bike that does everything well except I don't need it to do any really crazy DH stuff. I don't want an Enduro bike - that is too much. I want to ride everything around Calgary area (WestBragg, Bowmont, Moose, Canmore Nordic, Sibbald, Fish Creek Park, COP, etc.) I will not be doing a lot of lift/shuttle runs however I wouldn't mind taking it to COP every now and then. I want the most capable bike I can possibly get without punishing me on the climbs. Probably something in the 140mm-160mm travel range.

The main struggle I am having is to go with a 34mm fork or a 36mm fork as that seems to dictate what the rest of the bike will be like. The bike shops I've talked to so far have mostly pushed me towards the 36mm stuff. I want something under 35lbs that climbs really well but can still handle some aggressive downhill sections. Hope that makes sense.

I've been doing a ton of research and based on their value propositions I've got these bikes on my short list (looking to spend ~$3500-4500CAD):

Specialized StumpJumper Alloy Comp (34mm, new design, good bang for the buck. I've read the horst link is bad for climbing?)

Specialized StumpJumper Evo Alloy Comp (36mm, absolute top of my budget, seems like possibly the most capable but I don't know how it climbs)

DeVinci Troy GX12S (36mm, RockShox setup, seems like good value. Again I don't have a sense for how well they climb - I have heard the suspension design is prone to bobbing).

Norco Optic - The cheapest version I see online is the C3 which is $4850. You get a carbon frame though so I could probably stretch the budget for that. RockShox setup that I am not familiar with. I have read that it's so focused on descending that it isn't a good climber, and I am worried about such small rear travel. I know lots of people like this bike though so I haven't ruled it out and would love to hear more about how it climbs. The more I look at it though the more I think it might be quite good.

I'm open to other suggestions. I want something with more than the 120mm of travel I have now, but I realize 29 wheels and modern geo can make up for some of that. I am partial to Fox suspension but it's not a deal breaker. I'm mostly concerned with how well these bikes climb as they are all long/low/slack so I assume they are pretty good on the downhills.

I'm 5'10" and ~170lbs.


Other bikes I looked at:

Rocky Mountain Instinct - can only afford the "alloy 30" model and the spec is pretty bad for the price. Moving up to the 50 model is $5600 and that's way too much.

Trek Fuel - I don't know what it is about Trek but nothing they have excites me haha

Ibis Ripley - People seem to like this bike a lot. Apparently climbs amazing. I don't like the way it looks and I have read descents aren't great. It's 34mm. I looked at the Ripmo too but that's too much bike.



Hope that wasn't too long, thanks in advance for any advice.

Posted: Jul 27, 2021 at 11:16 Quote
With a good susp design, 150 mm is a nice compromise, do it all type bike. For me, horst link (Specialized) design never pedaled well, but worked well going down. I like a firmer pedaling platform. My Hightower LT is working well for me, for a do it all bike. I climb to the top and come back down in the mtns of NC. My bike weighs 30lbs as a custom build, but would be under or close to where you want to be with heavier wheels and tires. Not saying SC is the way as there are lots of options, but starting out, you may want to consider used if you can find something, till you figure out what you like or don't like. Took me awhile. I also consider shock placement so I have easy reach to flip the lever. Unless I am descending for a longer run, I leave it in the mid position.

Definitely 36 over the 34, especially once you get to 140+mm. I had a Factory 34 120mm on my 18 Tallboy and now a Factory 36 150mm on my HTLT. No comparison.

Posted: Jul 27, 2021 at 13:51 Quote
I ride YT Jeffsy. Would be ideal for you. Canyon Spectral is another one to look at.

Posted: Jul 27, 2021 at 14:24 Quote
gmoss wrote:
With a good susp design, 150 mm is a nice compromise, do it all type bike. For me, horst link (Specialized) design never pedaled well, but worked well going down. I like a firmer pedaling platform. My Hightower LT is working well for me, for a do it all bike. I climb to the top and come back down in the mtns of NC. My bike weighs 30lbs as a custom build, but would be under or close to where you want to be with heavier wheels and tires. Not saying SC is the way as there are lots of options, but starting out, you may want to consider used if you can find something, till you figure out what you like or don't like. Took me awhile. I also consider shock placement so I have easy reach to flip the lever. Unless I am descending for a longer run, I leave it in the mid position.

Definitely 36 over the 34, especially once you get to 140+mm. I had a Factory 34 120mm on my 18 Tallboy and now a Factory 36 150mm on my HTLT. No comparison.

Thank you for the reply.

Yeah the Horst link seems to be love/hate when reading on forums. Apparently for 2021 they moved the pivots and now it pedals better but I'm finding that hard to verify.

Used prices are pretty crazy, and I will probably keep this bike 10 years, so I am OK buying new and also getting a frame warranty. I'm also very anal, so unless the bike is pristine AND significantly cheaper than new, I probably won't be happy.

Good point about paying attention to shock compression lever - depending on the bike I might be reaching for it a lot haha. Sounds like 36mm is the way to go - pretty much everyone seems to be pointing me in that direction.


Dr-YTMTB wrote:
I ride YT Jeffsy. Would be ideal for you. Canyon Spectral is another one to look at.

How hard is it to get those "internet direct" bikes in Canada? I haven't done much research to be honest but one person I talked to said they aren't worth the effort because by the time you get them here, the value proposition is not as good. I will also have to pay someone to build it for me. I will check them out though as both bikes you suggested look like good value.

The Jeffsy looks like is has a suspension design similar to what Ibis uses so it's probably a good climber. The specs also look pretty good for $4200.

The Canyon Spectral looks pretty good too - the suspension seems to be a pretty big step down compared to the Jeffsy but you get a carbon frame and a nice 31lb weight for $4550.

Posted: Jul 27, 2021 at 14:52 Quote
ManyTrails wrote:
How hard is it to get those "internet direct" bikes in Canada? I haven't done much research to be honest but one person I talked to said they aren't worth the effort because by the time you get them here, the value proposition is not as good. I will also have to pay someone to build it for me. I will check them out though as both bikes you suggested look like good value.

The Jeffsy looks like is has a suspension design similar to what Ibis uses so it's probably a good climber. The specs also look pretty good for $4200.

The Canyon Spectral looks pretty good too - the suspension seems to be a pretty big step down compared to the Jeffsy but you get a carbon frame and a nice 31lb weight for $4550.

The hardest thing is getting one when it’s in stock. But YT, and I assume Canyon, will have a distributor in Canada. I’m in the USA, but bought my YT from Canada when the USA store was out of stock. It was a bit of a nightmare working with the Canada rep, but he got me sorted. I paid $100 for shipping, and then sales tax, that was it.

Both bikes will come all but assembled. You’ll need to put the wheels on, and bolt the handlebar into the stem, the rest will be done. Might need a slight shifter adjust, but mine didn’t.

Posted: Jul 27, 2021 at 15:06 Quote
Devinci Troy is a killer do-it-all bike. Made in Canada too! Not sure the price of the one you listed, but they seem generally pretty well specced for the price.

Posted: Jul 27, 2021 at 18:38 Quote
I am anal as well. I have bought new mostly. My last purchase was from a fellow PB member, used 17 Hightower frame. Bought some parts and built another bike. Other than warranty, I am very pleased with my bike for the money spent. Bike had a few scuffs, but waa in really good shape. However, its not for everybody. If you are patient, almost new bikes show up for sale locally here that people buy and don't ride. Keep that in mind as an option. Used market is silly, but so is the new market. LOL

If you are not mechanically inclined, then having a local dealer to lean on can be valuable.

Posted: Jul 27, 2021 at 18:47 Quote
BTW, my carbon 2017 Jeffsy is a killer on the downhills. I’ve upgraded it extensively, it weighed in at 28lbs in stock form, and about the same with my upgrades. I’ve lightened some parts and purchased more burly stuff elsewhere.

Upgrades so far: Entire fox factory suspension setup (160mm 38, and a 230x65 X2 that gets me 160mm out back); as well as carbon wheels and bar, different tires (DHF and Aggressor combo), new grips, and tubeless conversion.

Posted: Jul 27, 2021 at 23:12 Quote
Don’t rule out Horst link. Shock tune and kinematics have a bigger impact, I went from a DW link bike to a Horst link bike and the Horst link bike has no more unwanted peddle Bob than the DW link. The Horst link bike actually outclimbs the DWlink bike due to better geometry and damping.

Geometry and tires will have a bigger impact on how the bike climbs, handles and descends than anything else. You need to pretty much ignore everything you know about bike sizing and geometry with the latest bikes. Trying before you buy is wise.

It's worth noting that a modern trail/Am/Enduro bike is so much more capable as an 'allrounder' than your Reign and will climb way better but still be great on the downs.

If you want 1 bike to do it all then one option is to pick a bike with enough travel to handle to biggest terrain you ride and buy two wheel sets, one with enduro rubber for big days and one with lighter XC rubber for fast loops and mellow terrain. Do not underestimate how a lightweight wheel and tyre set can transform an enduro bike into a fast rolling trail bike. You need to decide where your priorities lie.

Don’t worry too much about weight, with the exception of rotational mass (wheels and tyres) where every gram counts on the climbs, it’s not as important as geometry. Fox 36’s make more sense on a 29er with front travel over 140mm as they are just more durable and a better performing fork due to their increased stiffness.

Geometry has evolved so much even in the last 5 years that you want to buy the latest frame you can if you want to keep it a while. It will help the bike stay capable as trails evolve in line with bike capability.

If you want the bike to last 10years then be wary of direct order bikes. I work on quite a few of my friends and the manufacturing tolerances and small parts quality just isn’t as good as a lot of conventional retail brands as they are built to a price. The 3 jeffsy I have worked on have been good examples of this with poorly aligned back ends and bearings that don’t last that well in uk conditions. Canyon seem better but I've only had my hands on one versus quite a few YT's. I would say they are a 3 to 4 year bike if ridden regularly through winter.

The latest Spesh stumpy EVO is a great all round bike.

Posted: Jul 28, 2021 at 3:23 Quote
Forget about that 36 years old rubbish, tou won’t believe it once you start riding down with a modern 29er, you ll see. I m 45 and never rode so fast as I do now on my Tr Sentinel. ( although I ve never owned a proper dh bike).

Go Fox 36 or Rs lyrik. These forks are around 2kgs, stiff and versatile enough to ride all day.

My personal advice is the wheelbase. Are your trails fast or slow and technical? It’s the only thing I don’t like on my bike, sometimes I wish it could be a couple of cms shorter, because I have always liked a more playful bike. Aside this, in the range of 130-140 rear travel, choose the one you like more to look at, because nowadays there are no bad bikes.

Consider buying used, overall prices are overkill, but sometimes there’s some really cool stuff, and you avoid waiting almost one year to get a bike.

Posted: Jul 28, 2021 at 7:07 Quote
Orbea Occam.
I ride a Rallon M20 170mm. F 160mm. R myself. But that's an endurorig so probably not something you want. But in all fairness it pedals great. I've been on 20KM plus leisurly road rides and not suffered to bad with shock in trail mode.
The Occam is the Rallons little bro. 140R 140/150F depending on build and upgrades at purchase.
I considered the Occam H30 before buying my Rallon.
The Occam H30 is probably one of the best purchases under 3000$ in my book. Only thing I would do is upgrade to 4 piston brakes, atleast up front. (simple caliper upgrade possible).

Posted: Jul 28, 2021 at 9:14 Quote
Dr-YTMTB wrote:

The hardest thing is getting one when it’s in stock. But YT, and I assume Canyon, will have a distributor in Canada. I’m in the USA, but bought my YT from Canada when the USA store was out of stock. It was a bit of a nightmare working with the Canada rep, but he got me sorted. I paid $100 for shipping, and then sales tax, that was it.

Both bikes will come all but assembled. You’ll need to put the wheels on, and bolt the handlebar into the stem, the rest will be done. Might need a slight shifter adjust, but mine didn’t.

Well that's good news, basically $100 over the base cost of the bike and GST is a sunk cost regardless. YT's website currently says "no later than October" for deliveries but at that point I'd probably be better off just ordering a 2022.

I just realized it also uses a Horst link, does that mean it is going to be a pig on the up-hills? Or do you just flip the shock switch and you're good to go? Then again I would venture a guess than any bike with 140mm+ travel bobs a bit when you pedal hard on the climbs.


bishopsmike wrote:
Devinci Troy is a killer do-it-all bike. Made in Canada too! Not sure the price of the one you listed, but they seem generally pretty well specced for the price.

The one I would be looking at is the GX12S for $4499 CAD. The one up from that is too expensive (carbon aluminum hybrid). It is using RockShox Pike/SuperDeluxe for suspension which I get the impression is a step down from the Fox 36 Grip2 / DPX2 however the GX drive train is better than the NX I see on most comparables.


gmoss wrote:
I am anal as well. I have bought new mostly. My last purchase was from a fellow PB member, used 17 Hightower frame. Bought some parts and built another bike. Other than warranty, I am very pleased with my bike for the money spent. Bike had a few scuffs, but waa in really good shape. However, its not for everybody. If you are patient, almost new bikes show up for sale locally here that people buy and don't ride. Keep that in mind as an option. Used market is silly, but so is the new market. LOL

If you are not mechanically inclined, then having a local dealer to lean on can be valuable.

I wouldn't be opposed to building my own with a frame (of having someone do it for me) but from what I am told the only thing harder to get than bikes is individual bike parts haha. So I probably will need a complete unit.

Dr-YTMTB wrote:
BTW, my carbon 2017 Jeffsy is a killer on the downhills. I’ve upgraded it extensively, it weighed in at 28lbs in stock form, and about the same with my upgrades. I’ve lightened some parts and purchased more burly stuff elsewhere.

Upgrades so far: Entire fox factory suspension setup (160mm 38, and a 230x65 X2 that gets me 160mm out back); as well as carbon wheels and bar, different tires (DHF and Aggressor combo), new grips, and tubeless conversion.

28lbs is awesome for a bike like that - the carbon stuff is out of my budget unfortunately, but I would like to be as close to 30lbs as possible. I'm assuming tubeless tires, better cranks, etc. is the easiest path to weight saving outside of a carbon frame. How is it on the climbs? I get the impression all of these bikes descend pretty well with the "long low slack" theme, but climbing performance seems to be more hit & miss.

Pigglet13 wrote:
Don’t rule out Horst link. Shock tune and kinematics have a bigger impact, I went from a DW link bike to a Horst link bike and the Horst link bike has no more unwanted peddle Bob than the DW link. The Horst link bike actually outclimbs the DWlink bike due to better geometry and damping.

Geometry and tires will have a bigger impact on how the bike climbs, handles and descends than anything else. You need to pretty much ignore everything you know about bike sizing and geometry with the latest bikes. Trying before you buy is wise.

It's worth noting that a modern trail/Am/Enduro bike is so much more capable as an 'allrounder' than your Reign and will climb way better but still be great on the downs.

If you want 1 bike to do it all then one option is to pick a bike with enough travel to handle to biggest terrain you ride and buy two wheel sets, one with enduro rubber for big days and one with lighter XC rubber for fast loops and mellow terrain. Do not underestimate how a lightweight wheel and tyre set can transform an enduro bike into a fast rolling trail bike. You need to decide where your priorities lie.

Don’t worry too much about weight, with the exception of rotational mass (wheels and tyres) where every gram counts on the climbs, it’s not as important as geometry. Fox 36’s make more sense on a 29er with front travel over 140mm as they are just more durable and a better performing fork due to their increased stiffness.

Geometry has evolved so much even in the last 5 years that you want to buy the latest frame you can if you want to keep it a while. It will help the bike stay capable as trails evolve in line with bike capability.

If you want the bike to last 10years then be wary of direct order bikes. I work on quite a few of my friends and the manufacturing tolerances and small parts quality just isn’t as good as a lot of conventional retail brands as they are built to a price. The 3 jeffsy I have worked on have been good examples of this with poorly aligned back ends and bearings that don’t last that well in uk conditions. Canyon seem better but I've only had my hands on one versus quite a few YT's. I would say they are a 3 to 4 year bike if ridden regularly through winter.

The latest Spesh stumpy EVO is a great all round bike.

Lots of good advice here, thank you. The Stumpy Evo is a front runner for me but I am having trouble finding info on how it climbs. Actually if I could get the downtube storage compartment with an aluminum frame I'd probably already be sold, but unfortunately it's only available on the carbon models. It seems like a bike you would have to flip the shock switch for climbs but that is fine with me (and maybe that is true of all 140-160mm travel bikes). I definitely want something that lasts longer than 3-4 years without having to replace parts. My current bike is actually a 2008 Trance X (not a Reign) but I think your comments all still apply. Even just looking at head angles, some of these Trail bikes are more slack than my old Glory DH bike haha - crazy. I like the idea of 2 sets of wheels on a beefier bike.



Pyres wrote:
Forget about that 36 years old rubbish, tou won’t believe it once you start riding down with a modern 29er, you ll see. I m 45 and never rode so fast as I do now on my Tr Sentinel. ( although I ve never owned a proper dh bike).

Go Fox 36 or Rs lyrik. These forks are around 2kgs, stiff and versatile enough to ride all day.

My personal advice is the wheelbase. Are your trails fast or slow and technical? It’s the only thing I don’t like on my bike, sometimes I wish it could be a couple of cms shorter, because I have always liked a more playful bike. Aside this, in the range of 130-140 rear travel, choose the one you like more to look at, because nowadays there are no bad bikes.

Consider buying used, overall prices are overkill, but sometimes there’s some really cool stuff, and you avoid waiting almost one year to get a bike.

That's encouraging, thanks! What I found bothered me the most about long days of DH in the past was my hands would get so sore I couldn't brake effectively after a while. I upgraded to the best twin piston CODE brakes available at the time hoping that would help, but it didn't. I also have some lower back issues but most bikes seem to keep your back pretty straight so I think I will be OK as long as I am not reaching forward too much.

I'm definitely excited to experience how different these new bikes are. I will be coming from a 26" wheelset and 73.5/69.5 seat/head angle so I am probably going to be quite surprised.

Tjomball wrote:
Orbea Occam.
I ride a Rallon M20 170mm. F 160mm. R myself. But that's an endurorig so probably not something you want. But in all fairness it pedals great. I've been on 20KM plus leisurly road rides and not suffered to bad with shock in trail mode.
The Occam is the Rallons little bro. 140R 140/150F depending on build and upgrades at purchase.
I considered the Occam H30 before buying my Rallon.
The Occam H30 is probably one of the best purchases under 3000$ in my book. Only thing I would do is upgrade to 4 piston brakes, atleast up front. (simple caliper upgrade possible).

Thanks - I will check out the Occam. The H30 looks like it's $3,500 CAD which is well within my budget and I could easily spend another $500-1000 on upgrades if needed. I've heard the Marzocchi shocks are good value as they are basically slightly heavier Fox units. Only thing I'm not a huge fan of is the DPS shock on the rear (I would like a piggyback if possible) but not a deal breaker. Just doing some quick research it looks to be an outstanding climber which is appealing to me. Unless I am missing something though it looks like all the fork options are 34mm which could be a problem.



Thanks again everyone, I really appreciate the suggestions and advice.

Posted: Jul 28, 2021 at 9:28 Quote
Used Canfield Balance or a new One.2 or Lithium and call it a day

Posted: Jul 28, 2021 at 10:26 Quote
ManyTrails wrote:
Well that's good news, basically $100 over the base cost of the bike and GST is a sunk cost regardless. YT's website currently says "no later than October" for deliveries but at that point I'd probably be better off just ordering a 2022.

I just realized it also uses a Horst link, does that mean it is going to be a pig on the up-hills? Or do you just flip the shock switch and you're good to go? Then again I would venture a guess than any bike with 140mm+ travel bobs a bit when you pedal hard on the climbs.

Actually, the Jeffsy pedals quite well, minimal pedal-bob. I don’t think Horst link means bad climber, it’s more in the kinematics of each specific bike, Jeffsy and Stumpjumper have very different feel suspension wise.

I have a climb switch, but I have never really been tempted to use it. Professional reviews tend to bear this out too. I feel like it climbs great for an AM bike, doesn’t seem to hold me back much at all, certainly not as much as my fitness and general lack of climbing skill do. Most reviewers felt it was a great climber. But Jeffsy is definitely built to be more on the gravity end of the spectrum, and as good as it is going up, it really comes alive going back down.

Posted: Jul 28, 2021 at 11:00 Quote
I live in Calgary and I ride all the locations listed in your post. I'm 5' 6" and approx. 200 lbs, almost 49 years old. I have a 2019 Norco Optic C2 and I think it is very suitable for the conditions around Calgary. Climbs all of the trails well. I am not the fastest up, but I never will be. Handles the downs well. Any place I have to dismount on the downhill is because of my (lack) of skill and/or the fear of having yet another visit to the hospital.

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