|Both of your options are great bikes, but they're drastically different machines on the trail that each have their own strength and weaknesses, so it's going to depend on what you are looking to do on the bike. I've spent a load of time on Mondraker's Foxy XR, and while it is a great rig, it's also a quirky one that some riders may or may not gel with. First, the good: it's a 140mm travel bike that pedals nearly as well as a cross-country race rocket, which makes it a blast on trails that require a bit of legwork to get the most from. Due to the long reach and short stem geometry setup, it feels immensely confidence inspiring on steep trails and at high speeds, but the downside to the bike is that, for the same reason, I found it pretty awkward when on tighter terrain. The Foxy is a great bike, but it's also one that some riders will have to learn how to get the most from.|
The Mega AM, on the other hand, is a 160mm bike that is much more forgiving out back than the shorter travel Foxy. Its geometry is more traditional, and it will be easier to jump on and get used to right away, all of which might make it the better choice for an average rider who's just looking for a bike to smash into things on. However, it falls short of the Foxy when it comes to bike weight and pedalling abilities - I'd much rather be on the Foxy if my rides included a ton of pedalling and not much in the way of truly hairball terrain. - Mike Levy
|Because you are already a happy Maxxis customer, the logical choice would be a 2.25-inch Ardent for the rear. The Ardent has a low tread profile on the crown and it is a fast roller on most any surfaces, which makes it a popular combination with your High Roller II. You said, however, that you wanted the same cornering grip as your HRII up front and the 2.25-inch Ardent is not trustworthy in the corners. The 2.4-inch version actually corners better than the HRII, but it rolls about as bad and weighs more (I believe). I suggest the Schwalbe Rock Razor. It has a low, fast-rolling crown, paired with grippy edging blocks that rival the performance of the Maxxis HRII's. - RC|
|I wouldn't necessarily call switching to shorter cranks an upgrade - it's usually a change that's dictated by a specific event, whether that's related to a bike's geometry, or a fit issue you're trying to resolve.|
One reason for running shorter cranks is to gain additional ground clearance to help keep from constantly smacking your pedals on mid-trail obstacles. This is most common on downhill bikes where the combination of a low bottom bracket and loads of suspension travel makes running full length cranks all but impossible. Many DH bikes use 165mm crankarms, and even some longer travel all-mountain / enduro bikes benefit from using 170mm versus the most common 175mm size.
Aside from ground clearance, bike fit is another reason for using a different crank length. In most cases, longer cranks work best for taller riders, which is why large and XL frame sizes often have longer crankarms than the smaller frame sizes. You'll find endless debates about crankarm length among road cyclists, since road biking involves much more seated pedaling at the same cadence compared to the more frequent in and out of the saddle movement that occurs in mountain biking. It's best to visit a reputable bike fitter in your area if you're experiencing any knee pain or other issues that are making you consider shorter cranks - there may be something as simple as a saddle height or position change that could help. - Mike Kazimer
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