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Old 01-15-09, 12:19 PM   #1
gregm
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shopping for a Specialized - frame material & fork choice

My kid's high school mountain bike team is doing a discounted group purchase of Specialized bikes. We're roadies at our house, so this MTB gear is new to us. Can you seasoned MTBers shine some light?

Ok -- so there are a lot of choices for the Specialized lineup. We're looking at hardtails. In the price range we're looking at, we have some choices regarding the frame material and the brand of fork:

Frame material: "A1" (cheaper) vs. "M4" (more expensive)

Fork: Suntour vs. RockShox; more specifically...

Quote:
Suntour XCT-V2-D-MLO, 80mm/100mm travel, Disc only 1pc alloy lower, 28mm Hiten stanchion and 1-1/8" steer, Mechanical LO, 13/15" = Soft 17/19" = Standard Coil/Mcu spring w/ preload adj., spring type mini boot seals
vs.

Quote:
RockShox Dart 3 S-Lite La Femme, 13/15": 80mm, 17/19": 100mm, 28.6mm Cr-Mo stanchions with alloy steerer, coil spring, preload and rebound adj. w/ LO

How big of a difference are each of these choices? What do ya'll think?

Thanks!
-Greg
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Old 01-15-09, 02:13 PM   #2
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I'm not familiar with either the A1 or M4 frame material. Coming from a road bike, any mountain bike frame is going to feel like it's made of lead. I'd buy whichever is lighter. That probably means the M4.

Neither of the forks sounds that great. If I had to chose one, I'd probably go with the RockShox. I've got a RockShox Revelation on my current bike and it seems to be decent. And it's pretty easy to work on. I tend to associate SunTour with junky '80s road bikes; wasn't aware they were still in business. They could be fine, they're just not a name you hear when talking about high-quality suspension components.

FYI, both of the forks are women's-specific designs. If you're looking for yourself, they may not be exactly what you need...
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Old 01-15-09, 03:36 PM   #3
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I'm not familiar with either the A1 or M4 frame material. Coming from a road bike, any mountain bike frame is going to feel like it's made of lead. I'd buy whichever is lighter. That probably means the M4.

Neither of the forks sounds that great. If I had to chose one, I'd probably go with the RockShox. I've got a RockShox Revelation on my current bike and it seems to be decent. And it's pretty easy to work on. I tend to associate SunTour with junky '80s road bikes; wasn't aware they were still in business. They could be fine, they're just not a name you hear when talking about high-quality suspension components.

FYI, both of the forks are women's-specific designs. If you're looking for yourself, they may not be exactly what you need...
incorrect.
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Old 01-15-09, 05:51 PM   #4
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i have 2 specialized bikes one has A1 one has M4. the M4 is lighter by a long shot. actually the bike with A1 is rigid and the one with M4 is full suspension and still weighs significantly less.

as for forks. i'd go with the rockshox. the suntour fork would be of questionable quality, depending on the pricepoint it could verywell be the same fork put on $150 dollar department store bikes, take that how ever you want.
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Old 01-15-09, 08:38 PM   #5
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Ideal frame material: Unobtanium (T9 to be exact)
Frok choyce: Fox currently makes the F29...but I'd hold out for the upgraded F30 next season.
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Old 01-15-09, 09:05 PM   #6
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From the Specialized website Re. A1 & M4:

*A1 Aluminum is shorthand for an exclusive Aluminum material/design/manufacturing process that lets us do a number of very good things to bicycle frames at a very reasonable price.
What our designers and engineers like about A1 is the degree of control it gives us over every part of the process of turning raw materials into finish-and-ready-to-be painted bikes. We control the alloy itself, as well the extrusion, shape and dimensions.
You can see this for yourself by looking carefully at (or even better, running your hand over) the different tubes on any of our A1 frames and feeling how the shapes change. What you can't see (or feel) is what's going on with the inside of the tube--butting, welding and heat treating.

*M4 Manipulated Alloy is a proprietary material that is comprised mostly of aluminum, but is alloyed with four other metals in precise trace amounts. The result is an alloy that has nearly twice the tensile strength of "standard" 6061 aluminum, plus excellent fatigue resistance and elongation properties.
It's the % elongation of M4 that allows us to build frames with very complex shapes and greatly varied wall thickness. The end result is a frame that's lighter, stiffer, stronger and more durable. Relative to A1, it's also significantly more expensive.
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Old 01-15-09, 10:38 PM   #7
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Go M4 with Dart. You'll have a frame worth upgrading in the future and a decent fork.
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Old 01-16-09, 03:39 AM   #8
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incorrect.
Sorry, you're wrong.
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Old 01-16-09, 09:40 AM   #9
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incorrect.
+1
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Old 01-16-09, 07:33 PM   #10
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incorrect.
+2
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Old 01-16-09, 07:43 PM   #11
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incorrect.
+3. I am fairly sure my mountain frame is lighter than the steel frame from my road bike.
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Old 01-17-09, 07:20 AM   #12
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are you choosing between a Rockhopper and a Hardrock? I believe the Hardrocks are the only Specialized models left that use A1 (in their mountain-bike range).

For my money, I'd go with the M4 frame and the Rockshox fork. (In fact, I did buy matching, M4 Rockhooper frames last spring for my son and I). I agree with the previous advice about the M4 frame being more upgrade-worthy. And Rockshox is one of the leading fork companies. I'd take a Rockshox over a Suntour any day. In fact, I doubt I'd even buy a bike with a Suntour fork on it. Suntour in my mind is low-end.

It's cool that your kid's school has a mountain-bike club. I had nothing like that growing up.
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Old 01-17-09, 09:38 AM   #13
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Sorry, you're wrong.
Oh, do tell............
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Old 01-17-09, 09:50 AM   #14
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Go M4 with Dart. You'll have a frame worth upgrading in the future and a decent fork.
Dart = decent fork =

Last edited by ed; 01-20-09 at 04:28 PM.
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Old 01-17-09, 09:57 AM   #15
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the dart is like a rigid fork with a lot of flex and weight.
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Old 01-19-09, 01:26 PM   #16
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IMO always go with the option resulting in a bike without the "RST/Suntour" insignia any where on it.
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Old 01-19-09, 01:58 PM   #17
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IMO always go with the option resulting in a bike without the "RST/Suntour" insignia any where on it.
DMinor Might Have some insight on the RST forks if you ask him. Or better yet do a search
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Old 01-19-09, 03:29 PM   #18
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Sorry, you're wrong.






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Old 01-19-09, 03:51 PM   #19
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^ holy schmoly! Hadn't seen the latest s-works hardtail till now- looks killer.
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Old 01-19-09, 06:56 PM   #20
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Great entry-level bike for the OP! I'm sure the build you'll recommend will rival the 18-pound weight of a modern entry-level road bike, right? And it will probably only cost 5X more?

Whether you want to admit it or not, an entry-level mountain bike is going to be much heavier than a road bike. If you're lucky, it might only be 50% heavier. That makes it a lead brick in my book...
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Old 01-19-09, 08:23 PM   #21
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Saying entry level mountain bikes are heavier than road bikes is like saying the sky is blue- yeah you're right, but it's not exactly profound knowledge.
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Old 01-20-09, 03:42 AM   #22
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Great entry-level bike for the OP! I'm sure the build you'll recommend will rival the 18-pound weight of a modern entry-level road bike, right? And it will probably only cost 5X more?

Whether you want to admit it or not, an entry-level mountain bike is going to be much heavier than a road bike. If you're lucky, it might only be 50% heavier. That makes it a lead brick in my book...
see post 3 and stop moving the goalposts.

You said

Quote:
Originally Posted by sstorkel
I'm not familiar with either the A1 or M4 frame material. Coming from a road bike, any mountain bike frame is going to feel like it's made of lead.

Even an M4 frame isn't going to feel like it was made of lead, and they ain't too 'spensive last time I checked.

How you want to build it up is a whole seperate animal

Last edited by C Law; 01-20-09 at 07:34 AM.
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Old 01-20-09, 04:18 PM   #23
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Thanks for your thoughts, everyone! (Even the thread hijackers )

We were shopping the Myka line-up, and ended up with the M4/Rockshox Dart combo after all. Specialized is a sponsor, and, teamed up with our LBS, we were able to get discounted prices. The $$ difference came down with the discount and made it really, really worth it. Also went from Suntour to Shimano cranks, and a step up in derailleurs. Cool!

-Greg
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