/ Carbon Hardtail, XX1, 650B Tubeless anyone?

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mikehike on 30 Dec 2012
Im mindful that im wanting to replace my 90's Proflex Full Sus MTB in the next 12 or so months.
So this last year ive been bringing myself up to date on what you can get for one's hard earned.
It seems that since 1995 technology has come on a long way, but disappointingly im finding mid priced bikes are a similar weight to those of old. Meaning, in general mid priced in 1995 was £1500 weighing 25lb, and now mid priced circa £2000-2500 still weighing 25lb. Surely due to modern materials, bike weights would have reduced?

Anyway, im trying to work out what’s going to be my perfect ride.
Fuss Sus or Hardtail?

This last 2 months ive been riding a Cyclocross bike on my local trails, 700c x 35 MTB tread low-ish pressure, which in effect is a rigid 29er. Ive been surprised how well it handles the rough stuff. Ok ive have to be careful with the likes of ruts and hidden holes. But it made me think do I need full sus? Can I get away with hardtail?

I then had a blast out on the Proflex to find it feels like riding a mushy settee, in comparison.

Hardtail is looking favourable considering the added comfort of running a higher profile tubeless tyre at lower pressure. Add to that 650b wheel diameter instead of 26”.
Ive just learned about SRAM XX1, 11 speed rear cassette, one front chain ring. No front mech or shifter.

So my perfect ride could be:
Carbon Hardtail, XX1, 650B Tubeless

I realise choosing a bike all depends on what one want out of a ride, where you ride and how far you ride.
My rides tend to be local, with a club of mixed bikes and abilities.
I might try locking out my rear end as an experiment.

Would like to hear any thoughts or comments.

mh
quirky - on 31 Dec 2012
In reply to mikehike: If you have a cyclocross i would go fo a fs with rear shock lock out. The weight of bikes may not have come down a great deal but the stiffness has. Totally different animals these days. I have been looking at the xx1 stuff, don't know anyone that uses it. Looks great for trail centres but a bit limiting for big days out.
Dave Kerr - on 31 Dec 2012
In reply to mikehike:

To echo the above, depending on the kind of riding you do a crosser and a full susser can be a good combo. Crosser for local / not too gnarly and FS for trail centres / rocky stuff.

If you're looking at FS but mainly ride XC look at bikes in the 100mm travel range rather than the bigger 140-160mm that seems to be more common these days. I'm out of touch on these but the Giant Anthem always got good reviews.

If however the majority of your riding is not too rocky / droppy then a carbon hardtail might be just the ticket.

As for 650b, well I'm not sure there is much available yet (might be wrong) and the jury seems to be out on whether they will continue of fade away. I'd definately stick with one of the standards (26 or 29). This is good if you haven't seen it already: http://www.bikeradar.com/mtb/news/article/650b-mountain-bike-wheels-looking-at-the-trends-35483/
johnj on 31 Dec 2012 - 86.112.78.158 whois?
In reply to mikehike:

Just some musing on the wheel size. From speaking to trade sellers and having put a few hundred wheels together my thoughts as of now are.

If you're over 5 foot 9 the wheelbase of a modern mountain bike frame can accommodate the big wheels, and those that I have spoken to that have ridden and demo'd all the high end tech, 6 grand plus basically told me this statement

Therefore if you're below 5 foot 4 and ride the small frames the geometry of the bikes suit the 26 inch wheels.

Now there's quite a lot written about wheel size, same as what i'm saying now, it's opinion and it's well known the bike mags on on-line publishing often get stuff free for demo, so generally they have to put it in a favorable light but there are still brands that they don't favor so much for various reason which is outside the scope of this post.

Which brings me into the middle sizes, the manufacturing base of the industry seems very keen to get the 650's out probably as all the tooling has been developed and they have new product to sell; and whilst there is some opposition from the retail side, as we've just got the big ones what was wrong with the small ones? Again there's a lot more in it than this, like selling trends, fads, product life cycles etc...

So the way i see it is, wheel size is a bit like shoe size and you need the correct fit.

Thus:

If buying or building a new MTB i'd be thinking along the lines of;

Small frame 26 wheel,
Medium frame choice of 26 or 650 wheel,
Large frame choice of 650 or 29 wheel,
X large frame 29 wheel.
TimB - on 31 Dec 2012
In reply to mikehike:

XX1 is starting to be available in online shops, but don't forget that you need a specific rear hub to take the XX1 cassette (only DT Swiss and SRAM do them at the moment I think), which is going to add build limitations and/or cost.

Not sure it'd be limiting on big days out. One of the design features is that it's supposed to be easy to swap out the chainring (26, 36, 38) so you can go to easier gearing for big alpine days and bigger gearing for more XC stuff.

It's all quite new though - I'd give it a while before diving in, although if you want to be an early adopter then please let the rest of us know how it works out in the longer term! Things like "Does the chain retention still work once the chainring wears" "Does the eye-wateringly expensive cassette last more than a few gritty rides"...

As for wheel size, personally I like the look of the latest generation of short-travel 29ers, but that's partly because on paper they'd suit the kind of riding I do. Fortunately I have no budget at all for a new bike (fortunately because 29ers seem to cost disproportionately more than 26ers).

mikehike on 31 Dec 2012
In reply to johnj:
John, thanks for the input.
Im 5'11, would normally go for medium - large frame, 45yrs of age and like the short blast rides rather than the big epics where my knee issue would flare up.
I agree a medium frame would suit the medium wheel diameter.
Its a bit like different sized people, walking with short legs or long legs. The shorter stride plants the foot more so hits more pebbles.

I would avoid 29" due to harder to fit in the car as well as the acceleration and added weight penalties. But the comfort factor of the larger diameter is a desire.

I read an article where a fella tested 26" against 29" over the same mixed XC circuit to find the 26" was quicker. This came as no surprise if your on a mission but comfort was not considered.
I dont have an issue with 26" on my current FS bike, but if I went HT then tubeless 650b may give me back some comfort.
mikehike on 31 Dec 2012
In reply to TimB:

This has been my bench mark bike (in spec and weight)
Hardtail £1659.00 10kg
http://www.canyon.com/_en/mountainbikes/bike.html?b=3017#tab-reiter2

but with 650b wheels to help ride out the bumps.
I too think its going to be a long time before XX1 filters down to mid range groupset prices. So happy to stick with a 10x2 or 9x2

wbo - on 01 Jan 2013
In reply to mikehike: John, I also held that perhaps the choice between 26 and 29 could be made on height ( I am 5' 7", little) but now Think the style of riding is the main factor.

If the op only had the proflex I'd advise trying a 29 hardtail and a 26 susser. I personally will a 29 hard soon enough as it suite my riding. I have no experience with 29 suss. But the presence of the cx might make the 29 hard irrelevant.

I'd avoid 650b myself. Might well be a fad.
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Frank4short - on 03 Jan 2013
In reply to mikehike:
> It seems that since 1995 technology has come on a long way, but disappointingly im finding mid priced bikes are a similar weight to those of old. Meaning, in general mid priced in 1995 was £1500 weighing 25lb, and now mid priced circa £2000-2500 still weighing 25lb. Surely due to modern materials, bike weights would have reduced?

In 1995 your 25lb bike would have gotten you an aluminium frame that was probably good for 2-3 years tops with excessive material saved in places that weren't ideal. It would also have gotten you canti brakes which didn't actually work that well, as I'm pretty certain 95 was around the era of low pro canti's that weren't as effective as the old school wider ones (as used by CX bikes nowadays) and pre v-brakes and well before discs. The drivetrain would have been 7 or 8 speed highly susceptible to excessive wear in poor conditions and if you got a suspension fork you'd have been doing well to get 80mm of travel and that would have pogo'd. Wheels that were either based around road rim designs or old fashioned touring rims so either extremely narrow and prone to bending or cheap and heavy and still partial to bending.

On a modern equivalent bike at the price point you've mentioned you'll get a top of the line suspension fork that works and has up to 150mm of travel, disc brakes that work on time, every time, revised geometry and materials science in the frame that unless you've either gotten unlucky with a bad design or are completely ragging it all the time is highly unlikely to ever break. Wheels are now more likely to be tubeless or tubeless ready. Plus things like handlebars, seatposts, stems, and other ancillary parts are much better designed and manufactured now. Basically for your 25lbs weight gauge you're getting a lot more in literal and performance terms than you did 18 years ago.

> Anyway, im trying to work out what’s going to be my perfect ride.
> Fuss Sus or Hardtail?
>
> This last 2 months ive been riding a Cyclocross bike on my local trails, 700c x 35 MTB tread low-ish pressure, which in effect is a rigid 29er. Ive been surprised how well it handles the rough stuff. Ok ive have to be careful with the likes of ruts and hidden holes. But it made me think do I need full sus? Can I get away with hardtail?
>
> I then had a blast out on the Proflex to find it feels like riding a mushy settee, in comparison.

Your proflex is a 20 year old full sus design, which whilst incredibly innovative at the time, was based around poor dampers and not having a full understanding of suspension kinematics. Whilst it may still be nice for retronicheness to have and ride the proflex compared to modern full sus's calling it a couch in comparison to the CX bike is a bit of a misnomer as a modern full sus will be a lot more controlled, stiff and versatile than your proflex.

> Hardtail is looking favourable considering the added comfort of running a higher profile tubeless tyre at lower pressure. Add to that 650b wheel diameter instead of 26”.

I like the idea of 650b, at least more than 29", as they're more versatile and stronger. Though I'm still not convinced it's a combination of fashion in the bike industry and constantly changing standards in the effort to get people to buy more bikes. Possibly best to wait a year or two before committing to 650b just to see where it ends up landing in the end. It may become the new standard, like 29ers have to an extent, or it may just turn out to be a misturn along the way.

> Ive just learned about SRAM XX1, 11 speed rear cassette, one front chain ring. No front mech or shifter.

Have you seen the price of an XX1 cassette? £305!!! That's just the cassette. Now I'll hold my hand up here and say I prefer Shimano stuff to Sram though that's just personal preference. Though for money involved in XX1 I'd rather buy an XTR drivetrain, plus with the XX1 cassette you need a specially adapted freehub to run. I don't believe Sram are going to downgrade the tech to the mass market any time soon either. In my opinion if one wants a 1x drivetrain then man up to the fact it has compromises either that or go 2x accept it has a few more working parts though gives a more user friendly range of gears.

> So my perfect ride could be:
> Carbon Hardtail, XX1, 650B Tubeless

Sounds expensive and full of compromises, to me.

> I realise choosing a bike all depends on what one want out of a ride, where you ride and how far you ride.
> My rides tend to be local, with a club of mixed bikes and abilities.

Doesn't actually say a lot about the terrain and distance you ride which would probably be more helpful in suggesting a bike style to suit your requirements.

> I might try locking out my rear end as an experiment.

For me my next bike will probably have a cf frame with between 125-140 of travel on the rear maybe 10-20mm more on the front, 2x drivetrain, a traditional screw in BB (i've yet to be convinced of the advantages of press fit BBs in mtbs), xtr trail type disc brakes and i'll probably keep the finishing kit and wheels I have on my current bike as it's quite good stuff.

All of the above are of course largely speaking only my opinions so may not necessarily be of interest or help to you though hopefully speaking they may be of some assistance.

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