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What considerations for new mtb?

Old 04-10-24, 11:09 AM
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What considerations for new mtb?

Long-time gravel rider looking to do some single track. I have a large stable that does include an early 90's rigid 26'er with a more modern 2x10 sram grx drive train, and a Pugsley fatbike. Both of course really have what would be pretty typical geometry of a modern gravel bike, and get used for that purpose occasionally too. I occasionally do some single track, and have had precisely 1 mtb bike handling lesson before the instructor led me out on a handful of green and blue trails. Had a great time, and the pugsley was absolutely fine for my skills, lol. I've ventured out a few other times on my own, and stayed slow and safe...I'm old and chicken however. I kind of think I would like to do a bit more single track riding, and am wondering if there would be a benefit to adding a hard tail to the herd? If not, I'd likely stick to the Pugsley, and bull doze over everything, lol.

If I do go shopping, what geometry is best suited for confidence/fun experience on the trails? I've read reviews suggesting that the new progressive geometry may not be suitable to beginners, so now I'm wondering exactly what I should be looking for. My budget is around the $1500 US range. I feel like I can get easily bamboozled on the forks, for example. I know what I like in a road/gravel bike, and aside from through axles and boost spacing, am pretty lost. I would imagine this price puts me on an aluminum frame, maybe some steel, and either is perfectly fine with me. What are forks that I should look for/avoid? 66 degree head tube angle? I see some at 64? Seat tube angle of 74? I see some out there which are 77 which just seems like it has to be aimed more at those looking to do downhill, rather than the rider that likely will never go beyond green/blue flow trails (me).

My local LBS stores carry Surly of course, Marin, Giant, Specialized, Trek, Kona, and Scott. I looked at a Scott Scale, think it was a 965. It rode on the parking lot fine, but when I looked for a review of the fork (Rockshox Judy 100 Maxle), it sounded poor

I'm only just beginning the shopping experience, and in no particular hurry, but thought I should hear from someone other than sales folks what I should be looking for. Thanks.
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Old 04-11-24, 04:12 AM
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I will preface this with I mostly ride 26in hardtail or full suspension bikes from 2009-2016.

As you said the rigid 26, your gravel bike, and your fatbike do what modern gravel bikes can do. I presume the fatbike is kind of like a slow full suspension bike since you have so much tire to mash through terrain.
The scott scale was originally, and still is a xc hardtail. It should feel a little more capable then your rigid 26, gravel bike, and probably similar capable to your fatbike. It would be fun on trails, and you would be able to carry more speed then any of your current bikes. However it won't be as confidence inspiring or secure as something with more progressive geometry, or more burly parts.
So this is where more info would help. Do you plan on doing just greens+blues? Do you want speed climbing uphill and flats, or more confidence on the descents?
Personally I wouldn't look at anything with sub 66 degree head tube angles. They are fine bikes but you tend to lose the quick and enthusiastic feeling of a mountain bike when you rake the front end out like a DH bike. The higher seat tube angle tends to be good with a dropper post, and climbing uphills.
One of my older full suspension bikes came with a 76 degree seat tube, which slackens a little when seated on it. I noticed it was immediately better at seated climbs that were steep. However if you ride it old school it was harder to "get off the back" of the bike and move your butt behind the seat. Dropper posts fixed that issue.
Forks.... the cheaper ones have been getting better, but it's still best to stick with rockshox, fox, marzocchi, dvo, x-fusion, and even suntour. Air forks are better for most people since you can adjust the pressure and not have to change springs. It is nicer to have a thru axle on the front fork, but again most seem to have that. Try and get hydraulic disk brakes, mech ones just require more lever force which isn't great after a tiring ride.
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Old 04-11-24, 05:59 AM
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I'm no expert of mtb, but my friends are all riding hardtail mid-fat mtbs. They seem to enjoy them a lot. I assume it's a versatile platform. Sorry, I don't have specific info on geometry and forks etc.
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Old 04-11-24, 10:51 AM
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Modern geometry isn't scary (to me) and with slack head tube angles you're more likely to find ascending more difficult IMO. Now is a great time to purchase a bike with dealers still trying to unload 2022 (or earlier) models. I have a Rock Shox Recon on my 2022 Giant FS and it's excellent IMO. You should be able to locate something more than adequate in your price range now (don't wait too long or prices may be back to the old normal when the 2021 & 2022 models are gone).
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Old 04-11-24, 11:07 AM
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hi craptacular8, I have a kona bear delux I am selling. Although it's numeric age is a 2010 it has less than 500 miles. It is well equipped and ready to ride. If you have an interest, give a shout back and we can disscuss specifices
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Old 04-11-24, 04:56 PM
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Get a hardtail with modern progressive geo.

For riding trails, modern progressive geo is a no-brainer, IMO. The vast majority of mountain bikers would agree with me on this. Everyone I ride with has liked the change.

Modern geo is definitely NOT more challenging for a beginner. It is in fact more forgiving and stable on decents. This is due to the long front ends and short stems. And despite the slacker head tube angles, they are better for climbing due to the steeper seat tubes.

Modern geo is better for climbing and descending. Where it lacks a little is riding longer flat non-technical situations. Its why I think modern HTs do not make good gravel bikes (whereas older HTs often do fine).

Iíve been mountain biking regularly for over 25 years. I did not get a bike with modern geo until 2 years ago. I was skeptical. I was wrong. It is a freaking game changer. It made a lot of people realize (myself included) that weíve had mtb geo all wrong for a very long time. At least for the purposes of riding singletrack trails.

Beginner, expert, it does not matter. Modern geo is f-ing awesome.
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Old 04-11-24, 05:29 PM
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I'm a proponent of the modern geometry, regardless of the rider's skill level. Whatever terrain you intend to ride, is going to probably be the biggest factor in how slack/progressive of geometry you want. For reference, my Santa Cruz Blur is the "downcountry"(120mm fork) spec of their full-suspension XC bike. It has a head tube angle of 67.1 and a seat tube angle of 74.9 in size large. The regular Blur(100mm fork) is 68.3 for the HT and 75.8 for the ST. Either of these bikes have pretty "normal" numbers for a modern XC bike(but would be considered slack compared to virtually all the older bikes,) and are perfectly at home on twisty trails that don't feature too many technical features. They can handle some more technical terrain, but I'd describe the handling as "nervous" in those situations. Even at that, they'll completely outclass the old school 26"ers in technical terrain.

The Blur is completely out of your price range, so I'm not recommending it...however, I think it's a good reference point for the geo to look at on a more XC-oriented modern MTB. Expect a "trail bike" to have a HT angle that's a degree or 2 slacker and a ST that's a similar amount steeper. Either style of bike is fine for any skill level on most non-technical trails.
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Old 04-11-24, 06:28 PM
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Modern?

Originally Posted by slow rollin
I will preface this with I mostly ride 26in hardtail or full suspension bikes from 2009-2016.

As you said the rigid 26, your gravel bike, and your fatbike do what modern gravel bikes can do. I presume the fatbike is kind of like a slow full suspension bike since you have so much tire to mash through terrain.
The scott scale was originally, and still is a xc hardtail. It should feel a little more capable then your rigid 26, gravel bike, and probably similar capable to your fatbike. It would be fun on trails, and you would be able to carry more speed then any of your current bikes. However it won't be as confidence inspiring or secure as something with more progressive geometry, or more burly parts.
So this is where more info would help. Do you plan on doing just greens+blues? Do you want speed climbing uphill and flats, or more confidence on the descents?
Personally I wouldn't look at anything with sub 66 degree head tube angles. They are fine bikes but you tend to lose the quick and enthusiastic feeling of a mountain bike when you rake the front end out like a DH bike. The higher seat tube angle tends to be good with a dropper post, and climbing uphills.
One of my older full suspension bikes came with a 76 degree seat tube, which slackens a little when seated on it. I noticed it was immediately better at seated climbs that were steep. However if you ride it old school it was harder to "get off the back" of the bike and move your butt behind the seat. Dropper posts fixed that issue.
Forks.... the cheaper ones have been getting better, but it's still best to stick with rockshox, fox, marzocchi, dvo, x-fusion, and even suntour. Air forks are better for most people since you can adjust the pressure and not have to change springs. It is nicer to have a thru axle on the front fork, but again most seem to have that. Try and get hydraulic disk brakes, mech ones just require more lever force which isn't great after a tiring ride.
I doubt Iím ever brave enough, or have the skills to tackle more than green/blue trails. Iím not racing, I just want something confidence inspiring that makes the sketchy to me downhills feel easier. I can climb well enough with the Pugsley fat bike. In fact I prefer climbing over downhill by far, even on the Iím sure tame trails Iíve ridden.

it sounds like I should be looking for a trail/down country bike? Would that give me the helpful geo, and sturdy enough parts?
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Old 04-11-24, 06:38 PM
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.

Originally Posted by Sierra_rider
I'm a proponent of the modern geometry, regardless of the rider's skill level. Whatever terrain you intend to ride, is going to probably be the biggest factor in how slack/progressive of geometry you want. For reference, my Santa Cruz Blur is the "downcountry"(120mm fork) spec of their full-suspension XC bike. It has a head tube angle of 67.1 and a seat tube angle of 74.9 in size large. The regular Blur(100mm fork) is 68.3 for the HT and 75.8 for the ST. Either of these bikes have pretty "normal" numbers for a modern XC bike(but would be considered slack compared to virtually all the older bikes,) and are perfectly at home on twisty trails that don't feature too many technical features. They can handle some more technical terrain, but I'd describe the handling as "nervous" in those situations. Even at that, they'll completely outclass the old school 26"ers in technical terrain.

The Blur is completely out of your price range, so I'm not recommending it...however, I think it's a good reference point for the geo to look at on a more XC-oriented modern MTB. Expect a "trail bike" to have a HT angle that's a degree or 2 slacker and a ST that's a similar amount steeper. Either style of bike is fine for any skill level on most non-technical trails.

so, 66-67 head tube and 75ish seat tube would be the sweet spot Iím looking for? Add dropper post if not included.
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Old 04-11-24, 09:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Craptacular8
so, 66-67 head tube and 75ish seat tube would be the sweet spot I’m looking for? Add dropper post if not included.
Yeah, I think you'd be happy with something in that range. Definite maybe on the dropper. Droppers are almost mandatory for my riding, but if your bike doesn't come with one, at least try it out before you buy a dropper. That being said, I'd at least budget for the dropper.

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Old 04-12-24, 05:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Craptacular8
I doubt Iím ever brave enough, or have the skills to tackle more than green/blue trails. Iím not racing, I just want something confidence inspiring that makes the sketchy to me downhills feel easier. I can climb well enough with the Pugsley fat bike. In fact I prefer climbing over downhill by far, even on the Iím sure tame trails Iíve ridden.

it sounds like I should be looking for a trail/down country bike? Would that give me the helpful geo, and sturdy enough parts?
Yeah. If you find a nice hardtail in your price range the parts will be pretty good. If you find a full suspension bike with a crazy discount that would work great too in your price range, but it's not necessary.
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Old 04-14-24, 06:00 AM
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Trek Roscoe 7 is just above your price range but a solid hardtail for the price.
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Old 04-21-24, 04:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Craptacular8
so, 66-67 head tube and 75ish seat tube would be the sweet spot Iím looking for? Add dropper post if not included.
Sounds good. 130-140 mm fork travel is a nice compromise too. This kind of bike will be much nicer to ride singletrack than your fatbike.

My 2019 Canyon Neuron has a 67.5 HT and 74.5 ST and can handle the tightest singletrack with ease. Newer bikes are a little slacker, but I find mine pretty stable on the steepest descents. I have 130 mm travel on the fork, which I find perfect for general trail riding. My previous bike had 160 mm travel, which I found was a bit overkill for my local terrain and made technical climbing a little more challenging. But it wasnít that much different. Iíve owned bikes with 100 mm or less travel forks too and found that they lose a lot more in versatility than they gain in agility, so if you are not racing I would go longer. 130-140 mm is my sweet spot for travel.

Dropper posts are great too, especially if you are tall and there are steep descents on your trails. They were a game-changer for me and I was a fairly early adopter in the mid 2000s. But if you are not very tall and/or your trails are relatively tame then you may find a dropper unnecessary. Modem geometry helps here too. My older bikes had much higher BBs and steeper head angles, making descents far more sketchy without a dropper.
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