|When it comes to riding a hardtail, tire choice is so, so important. Not only is traction at a premium, but you're also depending on your rubber to provide some extra forgiveness that your bike isn't able to. Like you, I'm also not a fan of Ardents, so we're on the same page there, but you're on the right track when thinking about a set of Minions. Unfortunately, your 25mm wide (internal) rims aren't really suited for the new and very impressive Maxxis Minion 2.5'' wide WT tires that are designed for a rim around 30 to 35mm wide - there won't be enough tire sidewall support to let the tires shine as intended. When it comes to mud and high-volume rubber, my go-to choice is usually a set of 2.35'' wide Schwalbe Nobby Nics that, while not as aggressive as the Magic Mary, are a far better all-around choice. I've never been a fan of the standard Minion when things get sloppy. The Nics are basically the same width as your current 2.4'' wide Ardents that you don't like much, but you can't really go wider unless you also buy some wider rims. - Mike Levy|
|I'd strongly suggest adding another option to that list and renting a DH bike when you arrive rather than struggling to ride your dirt jumper in the bike park. Yes, it is possible to make it down the hill on a hardtail, but your fun level will increase exponentially if you're on a proper downhill bike. You'll have more control at high speeds, and it'll save your body from being rattled to pieces by the braking bumps. There are numerous shops in Whistler that have high end rentals, and many of them offer a discount for pre-booking or renting for multiple days. I'd still bring the hardtail along, though; Whistler has a great set of dirt jumps outside of the bike park that are worth hitting up.|
As for not looking like a joey, as long as your helmet has a visor and you're not wearing knee pads on the outside of your jeans you should be fine. Whistler's full of riders of all shapes, sizes, and ability levels - I wouldn't worry at all about not fitting in. - Mike Kazimer
|The short answer is no, you can't have your cake and eat it. Framesets, especially of the rigid carbon variety are becoming rarer as complete bikes take over. But I did find a couple of options that come close to your needs:|
Saracen's Mantra-X frameset is available for 799GBP and meets most of your criteria - carbon, 142mm rear axle, 68 degree head angle with a (recommended) 120mm travel fork. But it is let down by a 30.9mm seat tube. The seat post might not be an issue as the Saracen is by far the cheapest here, and the only one focused on trail riding more than XC/racing.
The second option is towards the higher end of the carbon class, the Santa Cruz Highball. The head angle is stated as 69 degrees with a 100mm fork but will be within your range with a longer 130mm travel fork up front. Unfortunately, the seatpost is a slender 27.2mm, so changing the dropper from another bike won't be an option. At 1699GBP for a frame, the savings you have made by parts sharing will probably be lost.
Another option is the Pivot LES 27.5. Again, the price is towards the top of the range and the seat post diameter is smaller than requested at 30.9mm. But it does meet the rest of your criteria and is available for 1500GBP in the UK. Finally, and a full pound cheaper than the Pivot, the Giant XTC matches your needs except for the 27.2mm post and the steep 69.5 degree head angle with a 100mm fork. - Paul Aston
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