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Seriously, what is a "trail" bike?

Old 08-24-11, 06:06 AM
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Seriously, what is a "trail" bike?

Ok, I get cross country, downhill, all mountain (I guess), but what is a trail bike? I mean I ride my mountain bike on trails, so does everybody else, unless you're racing, then it's a course.
Is it just a question of travel and geometry, or use, or both. I understand that there is overlap. So....
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Old 08-24-11, 07:01 AM
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The way I understand it...it's a bike that you ride on trails.


It's going to be kind of a general purpose bike for enjoying trails. Think Specialized Hardrock / Rockhopper.

Not a super-light expensive XC rig that you lean way down over the bars to get all ghey-aero on.
Not a Gnar-shredding Nomad, SX Trail or Butcher.
Somewhere in between...like a Stumpjumper. The Stumpy isn't an Epic...but it's not quite an SX either. You wouldn't huck it, you wouldn't expect to win a serious XC race with it. You would take it out in the woods and enjoy a ride.
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Old 08-24-11, 09:52 AM
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ie a Rumblefish. Enough, but not too much
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Old 08-24-11, 10:03 AM
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a funner bike then an XC bike, but not DH only where u walk it more then pedaling
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Old 08-24-11, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by ed
The way I understand it...it's a bike that you ride on trails.
...
Not a Gnar-shredding Nomad, SX Trail or Butcher.
I always get a laugh out of Specialized's names. Buy a trail bike, an SX Trail, if you want to do jumps and drops. Buy a 'jumper or a 'hopper if you want to ride trails. LOL! No wonder we can't keep it all straight.

Somewhere in between...like a Stumpjumper. The Stumpy isn't an Epic...but it's not quite an SX either. You wouldn't huck it, you wouldn't expect to win a serious XC race with it. You would take it out in the woods and enjoy a ride.
I agree with ed's definition here. I see a "trail bike" as good default choice for someone who just wants to get out and ride.
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Old 08-24-11, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by ed
The way I understand it...it's a bike that you ride on trails.


It's going to be kind of a general purpose bike for enjoying trails. Think Specialized Hardrock / Rockhopper.

Not a super-light expensive XC rig that you lean way down over the bars to get all ghey-aero on.
Not a Gnar-shredding Nomad, SX Trail or Butcher.
Somewhere in between...like a Stumpjumper. The Stumpy isn't an Epic...but it's not quite an SX either. You wouldn't huck it, you wouldn't expect to win a serious XC race with it. You would take it out in the woods and enjoy a ride.
What he said...
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Old 08-24-11, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Carl Brill
Ok, I get cross country, downhill, all mountain (I guess), but what is a trail bike? I mean I ride my mountain bike on trails, so does everybody else, unless you're racing, then it's a course.
Is it just a question of travel and geometry, or use, or both. I understand that there is overlap. So....
You sure you're not misreading "Trial Bike"?

The other answers sound about right for what I would consider a "Trail Bike" to be.
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Old 08-24-11, 02:10 PM
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Much more than "XC" but quite a bit less than "All Mountain", c'mon dood get with the times or get left behind on your "mountain bike"!
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Old 08-24-11, 03:36 PM
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I widen the definition a bit - - more to Ed's facetious, but poignant, definition: the bike you go trail riding with. If you're strapped, your XC racer may BE your trail bike (or vice-versa); or your "all-mountain" rig may be your trail bike. In my thinking, a trail bike is whatever you feel most comfortable on day-in and day-out for general trail riding. For me, it's what would nowadays be classed as a somewhat-porky AM bike - - 40 lbs. of 7"/6" dual suspension with fat-casing 2.35s. Yeah, it's a chore on the climbs but I like the slack geometry, the plush forgiveness when I blow a move and the ability to plow straight lines through anything without getting bounced around. Like riding an anvil but less subtle - - which suits my (lack of) style.
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Old 08-24-11, 04:14 PM
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Back in the "YOUNG" days of Mountain Biking, all bikes that could make the trail, were trail bikes. Some of the naming of bikes is purely marketing. I have seen guys on Downhill 40 pounders back in the midst of no where, because that is the bike they have.

The real "SPIRIT" of Mountain biking is ride what you have and enjoy the ride where you want to ride it. If you want to compete in specific bike disciplines, get something that gives you the best edge. Wear what feels good and ride because you enjoy it.
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Old 08-24-11, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Daspydyr
Back in the "YOUNG" days of Mountain Biking, all bikes that could make the trail, were trail bikes. Some of the naming of bikes is purely marketing. I have seen guys on Downhill 40 pounders back in the midst of no where, because that is the bike they have.

The real "SPIRIT" of Mountain biking is ride what you have and enjoy the ride where you want to ride it. If you want to compete in specific bike disciplines, get something that gives you the best edge. Wear what feels good and ride because you enjoy it.
So true. I love the way all these young guys need special purpose bikes for different types of riding.

Below is my do it all 1986 Stumpjumper Trail bike, no suspension, no carbon, no disc brakes and no indexing. It's as basic as they come unless you're into SS or fixed.

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Old 08-24-11, 06:39 PM
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I agree about marketing being crap most of the time...but I do enjoy the benefits of it.

Say I want to spend all day in the saddle on a bike and I don't have but 4bills to spend. Thanks to the marketing crap...there's a bunch of bikes in the "trail bike" category for 4bills that I can look at.

Say I only do drops smaller than 5 feet. Now I can have a schweet son of a buck 28lb 7" travel bike that will shred singletrack...but also do the drops.

Crap man...thanks to the marketing ploy...I was able to get a bike that will do what I want it to do for less than 1300 new. (my Parker) I tried to do that like 4 years ago, but I couldn't afford a Preston. The Preston would have been overkill just a tad, but I wanted a short travel gnarbike. Instead, I went with what I could afford and I ended up with a 2005 Jamis XLT...which was the travel and weight I wanted, but not quite tough enough. I paid the price when the chainstay broke. 4yrs later, I've got the same design...with suspension design upgrades...in a manageable weight (almost) at a price that was even less than the XLT that I "settled on" originally. Were there not a surge in slopestyle wannabe's and a perceived need for a slopestyle line in that particular year of Jamis linup...I'd still be saving for a frame that cost me the same as the entire bike.

Thanks to the marketing giving dumazz labels, there's a direct focus on the 35lb 9" travel DH rigs...the 40lb FR rigs...the 28lb AllMountain rigs...the 25lb AllMountain trail bikes...the 24lb xc trail bike...and the 18lb xc'ghey'wad.

Now, you can not only get a killer rig in the weight-to-durability category that you want...for a little less money than it would have cost a private builder to hand-build you one.



To the OP...you don't need to spend a couple grand on a Stumpy to get a capable trail bike...a good hardtail like the Tassajara, Rockhopper, etc...will be a great trail bike. If you have more coin to spend, the options are endless.

Last edited by ed; 08-24-11 at 06:45 PM.
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Old 08-24-11, 07:33 PM
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Originally Posted by JonathanGennick
I always get a laugh out of Specialized's names. Buy a trail bike, an SX Trail, if you want to do jumps and drops. Buy a 'jumper or a 'hopper if you want to ride trails. LOL! No wonder we can't keep it all straight.
Just to be factual here, Speckialized actually came out with the SX Trail model in 2005, which was before the marketing terms "all mountian" or "trail" had been introduced.
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Old 08-24-11, 11:45 PM
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^^ What I find interesting is what a home run they hit with making that 'do-it-all' trail version of the SX. Not bad for a frame that started out life as a single-purpose weapon for 4-cross racing.
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Old 08-25-11, 04:26 AM
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Ayuh, thats about what I thought. Well, I have a kickin' trail bike then. I think all the terms are kinda ridiculous but what the hey, I'll continue riding my trail bike on the trails. I'd have a trials bike too if I could, I try real hard to do stuff like that. Those guys are amazing, so cool to watch.

cs1, thats a sweet bike. Do I see mid-blade screw inserts on the fork? I have a Trek Antelope that has them but I haven't seen them on any thing else. Until I got my Kona P2 fork that I put on my Cannondale "trail" bike.

If I had the scratch I'd have a Salsa Spearfish. I'd ride that on the trails.
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Old 08-25-11, 05:47 AM
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Originally Posted by cryptid01
Just to be factual here, Speckialized actually came out with the SX Trail model in 2005, which was before the marketing terms "all mountian" or "trail" had been introduced.
The date doesn't matter. The funny part is that it was a bike with "trail" in the name that wasn't designed with general trail riding in mind. I remember looking at one and liking it and having the LBS owner tell me not to buy it because it was a freeride bike and not a cross-country bike. He steered me hard towards the then Stumpjumper. He wanted me to buy a "jumper" and not a "trail" bike to ride trails with. I found that humorous, and still do.
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Old 08-25-11, 07:21 AM
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I'm seeing the irony in the names, JG.

And to be fair (OP), as stated before...you can ride what you want where you want. What I consider my "big bike"...was called a trail bike by local freeriders b/c they use "real" big bikes on FR trails and would use a bike like my Parker on general trail rides.

The marketing hype helps in identifying what type of bike you will need for your intended purpose unless you are a "special needs" kinda person.
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Old 08-25-11, 07:45 AM
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ooooohhhhh, I get it. Like buying a brand new Demo.
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Old 08-25-11, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by ed
I'm seeing the irony in the names, JG.
And believe me, there is no disrespect on my part towards the bikes. To be honest, I wish I had not been steered away from the Enduro and SX Trail lines like I was years ago. But that was long ago and life moves on.
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Old 08-25-11, 10:06 AM
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Originally Posted by ed
I agree about marketing being crap most of the time...but I do enjoy the benefits of it.

Say I want to spend all day in the saddle on a bike and I don't have but 4bills to spend. Thanks to the marketing crap...there's a bunch of bikes in the "trail bike" category for 4bills that I can look at.

Say I only do drops smaller than 5 feet. Now I can have a schweet son of a buck 28lb 7" travel bike that will shred singletrack...but also do the drops.

Crap man...thanks to the marketing ploy...I was able to get a bike that will do what I want it to do for less than 1300 new. (my Parker) I tried to do that like 4 years ago, but I couldn't afford a Preston. The Preston would have been overkill just a tad, but I wanted a short travel gnarbike. Instead, I went with what I could afford and I ended up with a 2005 Jamis XLT...which was the travel and weight I wanted, but not quite tough enough. I paid the price when the chainstay broke. 4yrs later, I've got the same design...with suspension design upgrades...in a manageable weight (almost) at a price that was even less than the XLT that I "settled on" originally. Were there not a surge in slopestyle wannabe's and a perceived need for a slopestyle line in that particular year of Jamis linup...I'd still be saving for a frame that cost me the same as the entire bike.

Thanks to the marketing giving dumazz labels, there's a direct focus on the 35lb 9" travel DH rigs...the 40lb FR rigs...the 28lb AllMountain rigs...the 25lb AllMountain trail bikes...the 24lb xc trail bike...and the 18lb xc'ghey'wad.

Now, you can not only get a killer rig in the weight-to-durability category that you want...for a little less money than it would have cost a private builder to hand-build you one.



To the OP...you don't need to spend a couple grand on a Stumpy to get a capable trail bike...a good hardtail like the Tassajara, Rockhopper, etc...will be a great trail bike. If you have more coin to spend, the options are endless.
Me thinks after reading your posts for a couple of years that you are in a different stratosphere than most bike riders. The level you ride appreciates the different nuances of bike setup and purpose. For an average guy like me that yellow bike up there looks really nice!

I would argue though that thee is a difference between MARKETING and ENGINEERING. Companies are caught up in always needing something revolutionary to bring to market. I went to a LBS to pick up a new tire and was told that this would be the last year that they stocked 26" tires, would I like to see some of the new 29ers. Color me pissed.
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Old 08-25-11, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Daspydyr
....... I went to a LBS to pick up a new tire and was told that this would be the last year that they stocked 26" tires, would I like to see some of the new 29ers. ......
that is some BS right there. i don't know why some shops think they can just get rid of 26" bikes. 29ers are great, for many, but not all, and they certainly aren't going to be the only thing out there, no matter how much companies, media, or whatever tries.
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Old 08-25-11, 01:15 PM
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Pablo, most shops are just going with what sells. I don't really blame them for that.
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Old 08-25-11, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by JonathanGennick
Pablo, most shops are just going with what sells. I don't really blame them for that.
me neither, the object of a shop is to have what sells. if 20ers are hot in your area, stock them like crazy, but to cut out a whole chunk of merchandise that would still sell seems ridiculous.
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Old 08-25-11, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by pablosnazzy
...but to cut out a whole chunk of merchandise that would still sell seems ridiculous.
Velocity matters too. The shop might feel they can get more inventory turns from 29er tires than from 26ers.

Then again, the guy you talked to might have been misinformed.
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Old 08-26-11, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Daspydyr
Me thinks after reading your posts for a couple of years that you are in a different stratosphere than most bike riders. The level you ride appreciates the different nuances of bike setup and purpose. For an average guy like me that yellow bike up there looks really nice!

I would argue though that thee is a difference between MARKETING and ENGINEERING. Companies are caught up in always needing something revolutionary to bring to market. I went to a LBS to pick up a new tire and was told that this would be the last year that they stocked 26" tires, would I like to see some of the new 29ers. Color me pissed.
If'n ya mean I'm off in my own little world, then you're absolutely right.
If you think I'm riding at some sort of expert level...nerp, try again.

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