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  1. #1
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    recommend full suspension xcountry?

    as a long time MTB rider i think i'm finally going to try a full suspension - before i just wasn't willing to accept the extra weight, climbing penalty and cost...

    i currently ride a '98 Norco Torrent hardtail w/ mostly XT and some LX that had a Rock Shox SID (originally Manitou SXR) until i blew it up last fall and now i have a Judy XC - i decided to save a little and put it toward a new bike sometime - I miss my SID already -- i've repleaced everything on the bike except the frame at least once... i ride at least 5,000 miles per year - don't quite keep track but i think about 12,000 average the last 4 years... so this bike has definitely been used and ridden at least 25k miles already... so it can live on as my daily commuter (currently 12 miles/day)

    i'm looking for something in the XT/XTR class from $1500-2500... don't think i want disc brakes (they're more maintenance and heavier and i think V brakes work fine - for me the only motivation i see for discs is i can save wear on my rims which i detroy pretty rapidly with all the miles i do...)

    so the main things i'm looking for are:
    * good frame and suspension i will probably use for 3+ years and 50k+ miles
    * xcountry 'hard-tail-like' setup - almost no pedal/suspension backfeed when climbing
    * good light XC fork - preferably SID or better - although there are so many new ones like the DUKE and Black that i don't know much about
    * quality components - minimum XT/LX mix, but preferably XT/XTR mix
    * light weight - max 26lbs, but i'd really like 23/24 which is a lot for a full suspension that's not $3000+
    * strong, solid, light weight is more important than cushy or major big drops extreme
    * $1500-2500

    i race xcountry and do lots of tours, lots of climbing, and lots of singletrack... technical, but no trials or extreme drops or whatever (i.e. i always climb up and then ride down)

    i think most serious mountain bikers are gearheads, and i am too, but not so much as most of the people i ride with - i.e. i usually DO NOT have the newest latest and prefer to just ride better rather than spend $$$ to improve my riding, but... i think the time has come to upgrade -- and it sounds fun

    i've heard comments from people that the benefits to a fully:
    * smooths out the bumps and leads to less fatigue - and i have slight lower back problems from running too much, so it can't hurt
    * gives better control downhill and high speed
    * allows for more technical riding - i.e. drops, etc.

    i've been looking at the following, although i'm still researching:
    * Trek Fuel (98 and 100)
    * Gary Fisher Sugar (i guess 2 and 3 but i'm not quite sure which is which)
    * Giant NRS - something here, i don't quite know, but i've heard some good stuff
    * GT - not sure, but i heard they have some knew suspension setup that's light w/ no backfeed for climbing
    * Santa Cruz - not sure which one

    the following i think will be too expensive for the components i want:
    * Specialized FSR
    * Klein - don't know much

    * Cannondale - don't know jack about them...

    any personal experience or comments in general...

    2 other notes:
    * i currently live in Germany, but the bikes seem more expensive here (i saw a Trek Fuel 98 for 3000 which is like $2700 including tax) so i'm thinking of buying one when i'm back in the States in June...
    * i would consider looking at used bikes, but in Germany many of the bikes i'm interested in seem hard to find (of the North America bikes Cannondale, Klein, and Rocky Mountain are abundant but all expensive) and i know so little about the German/Euro bikes like Rotwild, Votec, etc...

  2. #2
    Senior Member RacerX's Avatar
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    The FSR XC might be one of the cheaper options you listed. It is a great frame and nothing is better than the Horst rear suspension (on which Specialized has the patent). It doesn't bob per se, but digs the rear wheel into the ground from pedalling action- works great.

    The Titus Racer X (also a Horst link suspension) is awesome.
    Santa Cruz Superlight. They lightened it for '02 and improved torsional strength. It has a little bob but is a great, great xc bike.
    Both can be legitimate 21-23 pound rides. They run anywhere from $2-3K. 21-23 pound bikes are closer to $3K, I think.

    You can buy the FSR for your budget. I think the FSR runs around 23 pounds. Heavier for the cheaper models of course. Check out Specialized.com.

  3. #3
    NCAA - DUAL CHAMPIONS! a2psyklnut's Avatar
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    Such an open ended question. All of the bikes listed are great bikes for the type of use you've described. I personally like the Specialized and I'm sure there are a couple in your price range. Their FSR XC line starts at $1,200 USD, and goes up from there depending on the components you desire.

    The Gary Fisher Sugar 3+(additional 1.5 of rear suspn travel to bring it up to 4" front and rear) starts at about $1300 USD and the price goes up from there.

    Since Trek owns Gary Fisher, the Trek Fuel and the Sugars and based on the same concept, just with different linkages and shock positions. Which is better? Depends on what you like in a bike. The Sugars tend to be stiffer and more race oriented and the Fuel tend to be good "all arounders".

    Giant makes a very nice full squishy XC bike. The XTC NRS, that is very competitively priced with superior components compared to other manufactueres. There are four levels depending on how much you want to spend. For MY (more all around, less racey) preference I would rather get their AC Air, it's more of a lighter weight freeride bike! If that makes any sense at all!

    Cannondale's, their Jeykll is a great all around bike with an adjustable shock mount that allows you to change the bottom brackett height and the head tube angle simply by rotating the rear shock in it's trunion mount. The big thing with Cannondales are their forks. People either hate em or love em. Personally I think they are great! The steering is very precise and due to their design there is no lateral flex, heck there is no flex at all regardless of direction. Problems are the limited travel, unless you go with a LEFTY and then that's an entirely different subject all together!

    Santa Cruz bikes have been gaining a lot of popularity due to their simple single pivot design and excellent craftsmanship, although pricey! A superlight frame alone can run $1,300 to $1500 USD.

    A company that doesn't get a lot of press, but has some very nice bikes at great prices is HARO. They've got their Werks line of bikes that are all race quality and have a great component spec. Their full suspension is basically the same as the Santa Cruz superlight without the high price.

    Just my .02

    Good Luck
    L8R
    "Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, "WOW, What a Ride!" - unknown
    "Your Bike Sucks" - Sky Yaeger

  4. #4
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    Thanks...

    actually _before_ reading your post, RacerX, i test rode a Specialized FSR XC Pro... wow - really nice - i've never ridden a better bike (but then i haven't done a test-ride in 3 years! since my last purchase)... feels like a light weight hard tail until you go down stairs or something... then, wow!

    Here at the LBS in Germany the Pro goes for 2700 (about $2400) which is still a little steep, but i'm really thinking about it... actually i think compared with the markup on other US bikes, it's not a bad price...

    the XC Comp is more my price (1900) but you drop from XTR to XT, SID SL to Duke and loose the rear shock lock-out --- which in sum is i think worth the difference of 800($700)

    as of yet, i haven't been able to find a Santa Cruz - i've also heard great stuff about it too...

    i think it might be hard for me to wait unti June when i'm in the US...

  5. #5
    Senior Member RacerX's Avatar
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    I would go for the XT stuff no matter when you buy. It's lighter than the XTR and is tougher (in my experience).
    I don't know if it would be needed, but the MRP Link is a really good addition to have (mrp.com) but the '02 has a version of it...don't know which is lighter or performs better.
    You don't need the rear lockout. You need a front lockout- if it doesnt have one, I think you can buy the lever for about $80? Rear lockout isn't needed on this suspension

  6. #6
    Senior Member Diligum's Avatar
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    The specialized FSR XC Comp should have a fox fork, not the RS Duke. I also think it weighs about 30 lbs...but if it performs like people have been saying it does, maybe it's worth the trade off.
    Lick the Sun :p

  7. #7
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    you're right Diligum, the Comp does have the Fox fork - it's the basic XC with the Duke. Either i read the tag wrong (i don't think so) or the LBS had the wrong one on it, because i looked at the Pro(Red) and the Basic(White), and they didn't even have a Comp(Black) on the floor.

    it's a pretty big drop from the Pro to the basic(and a lot more weight), but the Comp is a pretty good compromise - some of the components drops from XTR to XT which is OK for me, the fork from SID SL to Fox Float RL, and the brakes from Avid Ti to basic avids, and a few other S-Work components on the Pro are not there on the Comp... but sounds OK to me (for the money savings of $430). plus i've read really good reviews of the Fox fork...

    i tries to go by the LBS yesterday, but closed on Monday... i'll have to drop back by later this week... i hope they have or can get a Comp - i guess it's possible that they have some funky marketing deal where they only have 2 instead of 3 models...

    i really liked the ride of the Specialized, and from more research i've done, i think the Gary Fischer and Trek are pretty similar designs but would be more expensive. I would like to find a Santa Cruz and a Giant to test ride. i think the Giant might be possible (although i've read it's more cushy and heavy than light-weight/racey), but i think it's a long shot to find the Santa Cruz here in Munich...

    i'll probably test the Rocky Mountain and Cannondales just b/c they're easy to find here - but i'm not too crazy about the Cannondale shock...

    so, like i said before, i'll be in back the States for a few weeks in June, but unless there's a big price difference i think it might be hard to wait until then (i'm planning at least one trip to Lake Garda plus the riding season has already started)...

    I check on the Specialized website and the list price for the '02 Pro is $2380 which is about 2674... the LBS has it including tax for 2700 which seems OK unless there are currently major mark-downs in the US... anyone know what kind of prices in the LBS in the US? plus, i'll obvioulsy get better service from a shop here than one in the US if i'm in Germany...

    thanks for the comments... i'm still looking, so more comments would be great too... anyone know anything more about the Fox Float RL (80mm travel)??

  8. #8
    It's not easy being green FatBomber's Avatar
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    I've been riding on C'dales since 1990 and C'dales with the Headshok since 1994. I rather like them a lot and enjoy the clean look of them. One beauty of a feature is the lockout I have on my 2001 Jekyll. With a quarter turn of the lever on the top of the unit, I can completely lockout the front suspension.

    Look into the Cannondales; especially the Jekyll. I managed to get one for $1,700 and I've only made minor upgrades since.

    The others are all good too, but I test rode a Specalized before getting the Jekyll and I thought the craftsmanship was a bit shoddy in comparison. Kleins are beautiful, but the bike I rode--the Adept-- just seemed a bit too stiff for my liking.

    Enjoy!

  9. #9
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    I'd look for a used Tracer while you're in the states. typically run $1800 - $2000 on MTBR with nice components.

    lightweight, adjustable from 3-4" rear, immaculate build quality.

  10. #10
    Senior Member RacerX's Avatar
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    Nathank,
    I've been going by your original post on what you wanted in a full-suspension bike.
    I think the FSR XC fits the closest so far. You can eventually build it up to be a 22lbs. xc beast and even at 26lbs. it isn't too bad for xc.

    Another Cannondale you should look at is the Scalpel. Besides looking like the coolest thing ever it is really light. I think it can be built up to under 23lbs.
    Lefty front fork sucks (even the Pro team doesn't use them anymore. They hate it too). Headshock only gives you 60 or 70mm of travel- ok for xc racing I guess.
    It is more of a softtail and not a full-susp. so there is only 2" or so of travel. It is really more inbetween a hardtail and full susp.- focused for xc racing. Don't know the prices but the Scalpel 800 or Scalpel 1000 (with Headshock) might be in your range. Still, an excellent bike.

    If you do longer non-racing rides, i would take the full susp. and get more travel/comfort/control for that extra weight penalty.

  11. #11
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    OK, thanks for the suggestions. I think i made a great choice...

    i bought the 2002 Specialized FSR XC Comp - picked it up yesterday and did a 3 hr ride last night on some local single track - wow - i love it - it's my first full suspension.

    anyway, decided the Fox Float RL air fork was probably better than the SID SL which comes on the XC Pro model for $500 more...

    haven't had it on the scale, but it supposedly weighs in at 11,9kgs (26 lbs) - mix of XTR, XT and LX so there's room for improvement if i ever want to make it a little lighter...

    the ride is really incredible - no bob when pedaling, but then i hardly notice the roots and rocks that normally jar the heck out of me on my hardtail. it has both front and rear shock lockouts, but i haven't used either yet and seems to climb OK w/o --- i'm ready to try some bike climbs and descents now...

    Going to the mountains in Lake Garda Italy for 4 days for Easter with the new bike

  12. #12
    It's the fight in the man Rich's Avatar
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    Enjoy your Easter mate..I think you'll have a great time!

    Rich
    Making New Zealand a safer place :)

  13. #13
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    Originally posted by nathank
    OK, thanks for the suggestions. I think i made a great choice...

    i bought the 2002 Specialized FSR XC Comp - picked it up yesterday and did a 3 hr ride last night on some local single track - wow - i love it - it's my first full suspension.

    anyway, decided the Fox Float RL air fork was probably better than the SID SL which comes on the XC Pro model for $500 more...

    haven't had it on the scale, but it supposedly weighs in at 11,9kgs (26 lbs) - mix of XTR, XT and LX so there's room for improvement if i ever want to make it a little lighter...

    the ride is really incredible - no bob when pedaling, but then i hardly notice the roots and rocks that normally jar the heck out of me on my hardtail. it has both front and rear shock lockouts, but i haven't used either yet and seems to climb OK w/o --- i'm ready to try some bike climbs and descents now...

    Going to the mountains in Lake Garda Italy for 4 days for Easter with the new bike
    Congrats man. Let us know how it goes. (the bike and italy)
    MtbPhreek

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