Semi-Dumb Question: Most "fun" XC race bike?

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8/23/2019 6:11 AM

As I get older I (for some reason) find myself doing a handful of XC races per year. In my 20s it was sort of "funny" to do these on my enduro bike with light tires. These days, it just seems stupid.

I want a bike that I can be competitive when racing XC type events (30-100 mile races) but I don't want to completely lose the fun of the ride along the way.

I was loaned a Scalpel World Cup (or whatever it is called) for an upcoming race (tomorrow, ugh). Its actually pretty fun but its equal parts scary, too. To the point I'm still not sure if I'm even going to race it.

While the new SC TallBoy might be ideal, I'm aiming for something that'll build to ~25 pounds with XC tires, 26-27 with "real" tires. Dropper mandatory.

Money isn't as much an object with this one. (sigh)

What would be the most fun yet racy bike out there? Real angles, enough travel to get after it (110 is fine), stout enough frame that my 200lbs isn't going to break it...

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8/23/2019 8:15 AM

i'm no expert at all, but our bossman here has been dabbling in XC racing lately and has indicated that until he went full XC bike, he was not going as competitive as he wanted to be. with diff sets of wheels/tires for racing like you mentioned, maybe it'd work. i've been goofing around on a norco revolver 120 and it's pretty darn fun. they have the 100 which is full XC, but the 120 feels more relaxed but more xc-race-able than what the tallboy probably would. intense sniper seems like it has potential w/ more aggressive angles, but not sure how their sizing would work out for you. curious to see what you figure out.

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8/23/2019 8:48 AM

sspomer wrote:

i'm no expert at all, but our bossman here has been dabbling in XC racing lately and has indicated that until he went full XC bike, he was not going as competitive as he wanted to be. with diff sets of wheels/tires for racing like you mentioned, maybe it'd work. i've been goofing around on a norco revolver 120 and it's pretty darn fun. they have the 100 which is full XC, but the 120 feels more relaxed but more xc-race-able than what the tallboy probably would. intense sniper seems like it has potential w/ more aggressive angles, but not sure how their sizing would work out for you. curious to see what you figure out.

There are lots of bikes that are "close". The Trek topfuel looks rad, Nobman likes his a lot.

I'm heavier, and can deal with more travel without it really holding me back too much. Plus, the races I'm doing are longer where comfort actually does start to matter, as does your ability to descend through more "rowdy" XC stuff without killing yourself.

A 110/120 bike with good geo is what I want, I just don't see anyone making an XC bike with a 66 deg HTA and a steepish STA.

The Scalpel, like I said, is actually a fun bike held back by the sketch fork. For a lighter rider, the fork would be great, but its scaring the bejesus out of me!

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8/23/2019 8:50 AM

norco fluid, its just heavy. Mine's around 27-28lbs but fun af

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8/23/2019 10:34 AM

jeff.brines wrote:

There are lots of bikes that are "close". The Trek topfuel looks rad, Nobman likes his a lot.

I'm heavier, and can deal with more travel without it really holding me back too much. Plus, the races I'm doing are longer where comfort actually does start to matter, as does your ability to descend through more "rowdy" XC stuff without killing yourself.

A 110/120 bike with good geo is what I want, I just don't see anyone making an XC bike with a 66 deg HTA and a steepish STA.

The Scalpel, like I said, is actually a fun bike held back by the sketch fork. For a lighter rider, the fork would be great, but its scaring the bejesus out of me!

i still think being competitive in longer races is about putting up with something sketchy on the descents, so it can be fastest and most efficient on the climbs. suffering through discomfort wins the races. i don't think anyone at the top end of an XC or endurance-ish class is winning w/ slow, comfy climbs but ripping descents. they're usually good at both up and down, and if they're losing time on a descent, it's not very significant compared to what they make up on a climb.

i agree that SIDs and 32 forks feel frightening. (not sure what the scalpel had)

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8/23/2019 10:44 AM
Edited Date/Time: 8/23/2019 10:46 AM

sspomer wrote:

i still think being competitive in longer races is about putting up with something sketchy on the descents, so it can be fastest and most efficient on the climbs. suffering through discomfort wins the races. i don't think anyone at the top end of an XC or endurance-ish class is winning w/ slow, comfy climbs but ripping descents. they're usually good at both up and down, and if they're losing time on a descent, it's not very significant compared to what they make up on a climb.

i agree that SIDs and 32 forks feel frightening. (not sure what the scalpel had)

Lefty.

Proportionally I don't think a pound of suspension is going to hurt me, as again, my frame justifies it (190-200). By percentages, a 25 pound bike is still technically lighter for me than a 23 pound bike to a 130lbs dude.

I don't disagree with you in that its all about the ascent. I've anecdotally found that rotaing weight is the big part of that equation. 1 pound of non rotating weight, meh, it'll add up to a handful of seconds on a 2-3K climb. That's the kind of time I can get back on the way down if I can trust the bike.

Step Cast 34 @ 120 is under 3.5 lbs.

Bikes I found that I like...

Yeti SB100
Trek Top Fuel EX
Pivot Mach 4 SL
Scott Spark

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8/23/2019 11:09 AM

jeff.brines wrote:

Lefty.

Proportionally I don't think a pound of suspension is going to hurt me, as again, my frame justifies it (190-200). By percentages, a 25 pound bike is still technically lighter for me than a 23 pound bike to a 130lbs dude.

I don't disagree with you in that its all about the ascent. I've anecdotally found that rotaing weight is the big part of that equation. 1 pound of non rotating weight, meh, it'll add up to a handful of seconds on a 2-3K climb. That's the kind of time I can get back on the way down if I can trust the bike.

Step Cast 34 @ 120 is under 3.5 lbs.

Bikes I found that I like...

Yeti SB100
Trek Top Fuel EX
Pivot Mach 4 SL
Scott Spark

totally agree, upping to a 34-ish fork wouldn't matter much at all

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8/25/2019 7:28 PM

Personally i’m Not I’m the new school geo on the xc bikes. Prefer something sketchier on descents for more nimbleness in switchbacks and technical flats. You might love it though, so i’d Get out there and see what you like. Also I don’t weigh much less than you and have broken wheels on my rigid and the frame is totally fine. I wouldn’t factor your weight into decision making personally. I’d also suggest going dedicated race bike if competitiveness matters but if just getting out there and doing your best a Tallboy or similar bike is likely a great option.

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8/26/2019 7:18 AM

I've got a Scott Spark, its pretty XC'd out, its great for what it is made for, but im still not having as much fun on it when terrain gets rowdy-not as much fun as my other bikes that are 140mm or more.

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8/26/2019 7:26 AM
Edited Date/Time: 8/26/2019 7:49 AM

Raced this weekend on a Scalpel Si World Cup in a 50 mile race in Montana. Impressive bike. Was able to stay in the top 10 overall (7th; #gnarcissim) even being over 200lbs.

I do agree I have to skew heavily toward the XC race side of things to be competitive (and lose 20lbs). I was on the dream machine posted above with a few parts (that were heavy) swapped out to better suit my background. Bike was 23-24lbs. The fork was terrifying, the rear end didn't work too well either, but it was super efficient. I really did have to taper it way back on most of the descents, which was a bummer, as the bike was scary when things got raw. I did like having a bar mounted front/rear lockout.

On smoother singletrack it was a BLAST. I had more fun on this bike than my enduro bike. Was able to pump and double stuff like I was on a BMX bike.

I had to run over 30psi in my tires, which makes the bike feel a lot rougher.

Narrowed it down to the Trek Top Fuel EX 9.8 and the Pivot Mach 4 SL Team XO (and eventually get some light as fuck wheels).




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9/17/2019 7:12 AM
Edited Date/Time: 9/17/2019 7:16 AM

A friend of mine bought a Blur Trail last year - 100mm rear and 120mm front (both with lock-outs) with a dropper post. He has good descending skills and the lighter bike makes it easier for him to keep up with the XC hammer-heads he often rides with. I've ridden it a little bit and it's a fun bike. I believe it's around 23 lbs with carbon rims and a mostly XTR 11spd build kit.

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9/17/2019 7:25 AM
Edited Date/Time: 9/17/2019 7:28 AM

Ended up with a Trek Top Fuel 9.8 (2020) - 120 up front, 115 out back. The shop I ride through carries Trek, price was right and honestly - it looks like a blast. Unlike a lot of XC race bikes, this one actually looks fun to ride (we will see) making the purchase more justified. Plus, I'm aiming for 50 mile+ races on trails that are more "real". The extra bike should be an advantage, not a disadvantage...or total disadvantage anyway.

I'll probably buy some 1350 gram wheels for next summer, put a lighter tires, cassette and crank on it and rock. Should be around 24-25 with those changes and be a LOT of fun (I hope!)

First race this weekend. 50 miler! EEK!

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10/16/2019 3:54 AM

Back in '91 I sold a XTR/Grafton equipped custom build Klein Adroit to an overweight attorney that had to have it. When discussing the merits of nylon water bottle bolts vs. aluminum ones the subject of a a second donut for breakfast came up. He still bought it against my recommendations. A week after delivery he sold it to a buddy who was 130lbs hill climber and we built him Yeti ProFRO at over 2x the weight. 20 years later he was still riding it and loving it!
My point is this...Ride what feels best TO YOU! Damn ALL the measurements and geometries and people that tell you that you can't be competitive without the latest tech advancements. You will be quickest on what you feel most confident / comfortable on. There's folks still spanking all comers on 20-30 year old 26ers with old school geometry. ...it's not the size of the boat but rather the motion in the ocean!
Queen said it best...

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10/16/2019 3:57 AM

richierich66 wrote:

Back in '91 I sold a XTR/Grafton equipped custom build Klein Adroit to an overweight attorney that had to have it. When discussing the merits of nylon water bottle bolts vs. aluminum ones the subject of a a second donut for breakfast came up. He still bought it against my recommendations. A week after delivery he sold it to a buddy who was 130lbs hill climber and we built him Yeti ProFRO at over 2x the weight. 20 years later he was still riding it and loving it!
My point is this...Ride what feels best TO YOU! Damn ALL the measurements and geometries and people that tell you that you can't be competitive without the latest tech advancements. You will be quickest on what you feel most confident / comfortable on. There's folks still spanking all comers on 20-30 year old 26ers with old school geometry. ...it's not the size of the boat but rather the motion in the ocean!
Queen said it best...

Btw...that Adroit was SUB 14 lbs with a 3x8!!!

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10/16/2019 4:09 PM
Edited Date/Time: 10/16/2019 4:09 PM

What makes you think this question was only semi-dumb?

You're going to take your light efficient bike, pedal it uphill and think "holy crap this is incredible! what the hell have I been doing all my life pedaling up those tanks!??"

Then because you're not an xc dwid, you're going to ride just as fast downhill as you always do, smash into stuff and end up chattering in corners and breaking wheels, maybe even that lightweight frame, but definitely destroying tires.

Then you'll remember why you pedaled those tanks uphill for so many years.

Your last post was a month ago. So: what have you broken, torn bent or otherwise realize is a flimsy piece of crap? Broken body parts count too.


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10/29/2019 8:12 PM

jeff.brines wrote:

Ended up with a Trek Top Fuel 9.8 (2020) - 120 up front, 115 out back. The shop I ride through carries Trek, price was right and honestly - it looks like a blast. Unlike a lot of XC race bikes, this one actually looks fun to ride (we will see) making the purchase more justified. Plus, I'm aiming for 50 mile+ races on trails that are more "real". The extra bike should be an advantage, not a disadvantage...or total disadvantage anyway.

I'll probably buy some 1350 gram wheels for next summer, put a lighter tires, cassette and crank on it and rock. Should be around 24-25 with those changes and be a LOT of fun (I hope!)

First race this weekend. 50 miler! EEK!

Jeff, how did the race go and how is the Top Fuel?

Did you try a Tallboy 4 before going for the Top Fuel?

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10/31/2019 10:50 AM
Edited Date/Time: 10/31/2019 10:52 AM

Intense sniper and the Unno are probably the best in my book and the most progressive and by progressive I mean not antiquated. It still blew my mind how XC bikes are so wrong. I understand XC bikes are focused on climbing, they need to be light and offer a comfortable/efficient pedaling position. Fast-rolling tires, fast acceleration, no crazy bobbing suspensions. Do they need to be aero? Not necessary at xc speed. Do they they need to be unstable and sketchy with a steep headtube? No.
How crazy it is when people justify these antiquated geometries inherited from road bikes by pretending, xc bikes have to be nimble in tight corners. I'm sorry but xc races are not trial races with a succession of 180 turns every few feet. You can easily turn any normal tight switchback with a 29er and 65 HA, then you can tackle the downs being confident and relax until the next climb.
XC bikes could even tolerate more travel (140mm) if tuned accordingly (or with electronic automatic lockout) to offer a really firm pedaling platform.

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10/31/2019 10:59 AM

Fox wrote:

Jeff, how did the race go and how is the Top Fuel?

Did you try a Tallboy 4 before going for the Top Fuel?

Ups and downs. Strikes and gutters. Lol. I was in fourth with third in striking distance. A poorly marked course left me taking a 4 mile detour. I was still in top 8, making a charge but then had the freehub body fail. I was literally on the side of the trial in sub 40 degree temps picking up pieces of metal trying to make it work again (with sticks as my tools). To my surprise, I was able to get ONE pawl working, which was enough to finish.

I've got a full review of the bike about cut. I actually LOVE the bike. That said, similar to my Slash, Trek needs to stop doing Treky things. Do less. Cut the fat. Whoever is doing the aesthetics, kinematics, geo and parts spec'ing is doing a fine job. Whoever is doing things like Knock Block or forcing Bontrager components onto the bike needs to change their TPS reports.

Overall this bike fits the bill, but I'll have to throw $1.5K at it next year to make it *really* competitive. 27.5lbs is too heavy. I need it to sit around 26 (remember I'm 200lbs) to be able to make a run at some of these longer events (and I'll have to drop 10lbs...but I need to do that anyway ahead of Romaniacs)

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11/10/2019 3:24 PM



...and my thoughts on what I bought! Fun bike!
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11/12/2019 7:14 PM

Bike looks good. How much travel does the dropper post have?

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11/13/2019 6:42 AM

Verbl Kint wrote:

Bike looks good. How much travel does the dropper post have?

170

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11/13/2019 8:03 AM

I'm a big fan of the F-Podium!

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11/13/2019 8:03 PM

This type of bike is really appealing paired with a more enduro bike...

Tires aside, is the Fuel more XC than the tallboy?

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11/14/2019 7:20 AM

I went for an hardtail (zaskar in my signature) with dropper and enduro cockpit + fox 34 (had a Pike previously) and it's a lot of fun on XCm (in Portugal we do a single one lap of around 60 km with aprox 1000D+).
If knew everything I've gather from the last two years I would have gone light full suspension, but apart from that this in a certain way helps me keep my pick the right line skills active.

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11/14/2019 10:04 AM

MPH24 wrote:

This type of bike is really appealing paired with a more enduro bike...

Tires aside, is the Fuel more XC than the tallboy?

Yes. No question.

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