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    Thread: Hardtail advice

    1. 08-11-2017 08:32 AM #1
      So after nearly a season with the Top Fuel, I've decided that I'm going to sell it and get a hardtail. Our trails don't really require much suspension so I am really just dragging around 4-5lbs of weight. It's been fun though and I learned a lot about mountain biking riding the TF.

      So I'm checking out the new Specialized Chisel for $1850: https://www.specialized.com/us/en/me...pert-1x/128882

      and am wondering if anyone has any opinions about the specs and components for the money. Bikerumor weighed it and it came in at 24.4lb without pedals. Pretty impressive for an aluminum bike. My LBS is having a storewide sale right now so they will probably knock off another 10-15% from the price. I will also probably put a remote lockout on the forks, put on a 32 chain ring, and get some lighter wheels (I'm open to suggestions on a wheelset).


      Are there any other hardtails I should be looking at in this price range?

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    3. Member Samson's Avatar
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      08-11-2017 10:26 AM #2
      Hmm. Bummer that you're selling the TF, but I get it. It took me almost a year to really start to like mine. Well, a year and a stack of money. It's proven to be nice on the rough stuff around here, but I have to admit that a ride on my hardtail is more fun on some of the trails. Plus less maintenance, potential noises/failures, etc.

      Anyway, $2k for a hardtail MTB? I know that I'm a bit of a Lynskey whore, but they have a complete Ridgeline for a decent sale price ($2,500). I really do like my Ridgeline, and a Ti hardtail is hard to beat.

      That said, the Chisel looks like a pretty fun bike, and they got the tire sizes right. It also doesn't have a huge, ridiculous "omg hills are hard!" cassette, which is refreshing to see. It's not all old-school XC racy, but it's also not slackened up too much, so it should still feel alive. The build isn't amazing, but for the money, it seems appropriate and solid. Red with black looks pretty badass too. If you can get one of those for $1600 or so, it seems like a deal.

      It looks like the Procaliber 9.6 is about $2k right now as well, which gives you a carbon frame with a seat post decoupler. Neat tech, but the simplicity and lower price of the Specialized is really tempting. Plus, justified or not, I sort of like my MTBs to be metal. That said, they have a lifetime warranty, so what about the Epic Hardtail Comp Carbon World Cup? That's a hell of a long name.

      https://www.specialized.com/us/en/me...rld-cup/118368

      I'd imagine it's slightly lighter. But, yeah, that Chisel is pretty sweet. What I wouldn't do at this price point is buy anything used. On an MTB, a lifetime frame warranty, if available, can be quite handy.

    4. 08-11-2017 11:23 AM #3
      Thanks for the info. I actually really enjoyed the TF especially as I've gotten to know it better. I love the way the handling becomes razor sharp when you push it hard even when it can be sloppy at slower speeds. But the bike is due for a big off season overhaul, including fork/shock rebuilds and possibly linkage servicing. For me, the added weight, complexity, and expense is the real reason why I'm getting rid of it. When I go to more rowdy trails, I can always rent a full squisher.

      I just emailed Lynsky to find out what the weight is on that bike.

      The Procaliber 9.6 is a heavy bike for a hardtail and I don't want to downgrade to a hardtail to save only a couple pounds.

      Good point about looking at the Epic hardtail. It's about $750 more but I was going to get a wheelset anyways and it comes with other superior components.

      My only hesitation is the hassle and longevity of carbon vs aluminum. Do you know if carbon has more fatigue? What about additional maintenance hassles?

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    6. Member Samson's Avatar
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      08-11-2017 12:21 PM #4
      I hear you there. Both of my shocks on the TF are due for servicing. It's not particularly difficult or expensive if you DIY, but it's one more thing. I'm not aware of any linkage servicing on these bikes.

      The Lynskey build on the website is probably a bit heavy compared to other stuff at that price point. For reference, my 2011 1x10 Ridgeline (medium) with a durability-oriented build (XT/Easton Havens/SID RL) is around 24lbs. One thing to keep in mind is that Ti bikes probably aren't going to be as light as aluminum or carbon, but they have other benefits (don't-give-a-damn-durability being my favorite thing). Ride quality is one thing people always talk about with titanium. While it may have some impact, things like tire choice and pressure, not to mention the frame design/style in general, seem to have more of an impact than frame material. That said, it rides damn well, especially with a layback Ti post. I need to rebuild the fork on that one too, actually. My wife has a 17.5" Stumpjumper Comp (aluminum, 2012?), and while it may be a little more harsh on rough stuff, it's an extremely fun bike. No complaints.

      I've never owned a full carbon MTB, but anecdotally, they seem to break more than other similarly-priced frames that are made of something different. I think mrothwell is on his second carbon Stumpjumper HT frame, and another guy that I ride with is on his 3rd? carbon Niner in something like 3 years. It's not supposed to fatigue, but then again, you're very unlikely to hit the fatigue limit of any frame material. There was some frame fatigue test a while back (Sheldon Brown, maybe?), and aluminum survived the most cycles on their torture machine. That was surprising. I had an aluminum Turner frame refinished by the factory, and while talking with Dave Turner, he mentioned that he was hesitant to do it. His opinion was that his aluminum frames have/had a service life of 5 years.

      When it comes down to it, I'm sure either material is totally fine. I doubt there's a hell of a lot of difference in frame weight between the two S-bikes, and for the $750 difference (plus whatever you can get for the OE wheels), you can pick up a good wheelset for the aluminum bike. The rest of the build seems to be a wash.

      Personally, I'd still go for the Chisel. It looks better, and having extra budget to upgrade things is fun. I'd buy it, swap the wheelset to some sort of nice, $500 Nashbar Eastons/Stan's/take-off Rovals, convert to tubeless, pop on some Ergon GA2s, and then go play.
      Last edited by Samson; 08-11-2017 at 12:24 PM.

    7. 08-12-2017 10:33 AM #5
      So I got the spec sheet for the 2018 Epic carbon comp. Looks like the dropped the price from $2600 to $2500 and made some minor changes to components such as:

      *changed from 32h hubs (2017) to 24h front and 28h rear hubs for 2018. I thought that was weird that they made the reduction. Doesn't this compromise strength and flex?

      *changed from 29x2.2 tires to 29x2.3 front and 29x2.1 rear.

      *changed from SRAM NX to GX 11 spd shifter.

      *changed from SRAM 11-42 PG-1130 cassette to 10-42 XG 1150 cassette

      *changed from SRAM PC-1110 chain to KMC X11.

      *changed from Shimano M506 brakes to SRAM TL.

      Looks like everything else is the same. Do you think this is an overall downgrade in specs consistent with the reduced price?

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      08-18-2017 04:16 PM #6
      For what its worth, that chisel looks pretty cool, I didn't even know they made them. The new Air9 looks neat too.

      As for carbon vs metal, I really wouldn't worry about it. I did crack my carbon hardtail frame, but it was warrantied and I was back on the trail pretty fast. FWIW, I cracked my aluminum road frame about a year later. That frame was warrantied too. That tells me that the warranty is probably more important than the frame material.

    9. 08-19-2017 03:56 PM #7
      Thanks. Good to know. How did you crack your frames? Aggressive riding or fluke?

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      08-20-2017 07:04 PM #8
      Quote Originally Posted by vwconvert View Post
      Thanks. Good to know. How did you crack your frames? Aggressive riding or fluke?
      Supposedly all of the 2012 Stumpjumper Carbon hardtails had a poorly designed carbon layup. Right after I got that bike, I saw a guy on the trail with a brand new Stumpjumper carbon like mine. I complimented him on the similar bike, and he said, "Nice bike! How many have you broken?" Confused, I asked him what he was talking about, it was his 3rd frame. Mine broke a couple months later. I got mine replaced with a 2013 frame, and it's been solid so far.

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      09-19-2017 04:04 PM #9
      I ride an 08 gary fisher paragon, weigh 190lbs and beat the s hit out of it at uwharrie mtb trails in nc every weekend. These trails are full of stumps and rocks(even more so in the downhill sections) and I have yet to break anything on it and have had it since 2011. Its mega light for a 29er with reba race front susp. and stylo crankset. It was well worth the 800 I paid for it and I havent changed it much other than a few carbon bits and computer.
      Spiral Innovations 336-937-5181
      Contact me for custom metal component needs.
      I offer CNC plasma cutting, sheetmetal fabrication and general design and fabrication services.

    12. 09-19-2017 04:24 PM #10
      Just an update. I ordered a Chisel Expert. The shop finally decided to cut me a small deal. Good enough for a 2018 model. About the only thing I want to upgrade on it is the rear wheel and cassette for wider gear ratios. I'm looking hard at a custom wheel build from Colorado Cyclist. DT Swiss hubs and spokes. Stan's rim. XD Driver. Total weight is about 875 grams for around $430. Probably about as good as I can do for that price. Once I put an e*thirteen 9-46, I should be good to go. It will also about 1lb lighter making the thing about 23.4 lbs which is great for an aluminum bike imo.

      Question for the experts: I'm guessing I will need a new chain correct? (stock is 30, 11-42; and my setup will be 30, 9-46). Any recommendations on type of chain to get?

    13. Member Samson's Avatar
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      05-02-2019 03:18 PM #11
      OP - how are you liking the Chisel? I'm thinking of picking up the frame (to maybe replace my Top Fuel...). I would have already, but Specialized raised the price from $750 to $1000 from 2018 to 2019. Sucks, but it still seems like a solid-ish deal instead of a great deal. No changes other than less cool colors available.


    14. Member A1an's Avatar
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      05-04-2019 08:24 AM #12
      $1k for an alloy HT frame.

      $200 more will get you a custom ti frame from Carver.

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      05-04-2019 09:30 AM #13
      Quote Originally Posted by A1an View Post
      $1k for an alloy HT frame.

      $200 more will get you a custom ti frame from Carver.

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      That’s what I said when Samson showed me that. It’s not even an especially light alloy HT.

      It does look pretty cool though.

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      05-04-2019 03:00 PM #14
      It is pretty dope. Reminds me of an old 90s (I think) completely chrome Spec Stumpjumper my brother still has.

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    17. Member Samson's Avatar
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      05-05-2019 08:10 PM #15
      Quote Originally Posted by A1an View Post
      $200 more will get you a custom ti frame from Carver.
      Quote Originally Posted by mrothwell View Post
      That’s what I said when Samson showed me that. It’s not even an especially light alloy HT.

      It does look pretty cool though.
      Yeah, it is expensive. The price is also not far off of another Lynskey something or other. Anyway, I test rode (around a greenway near the shop) a medium and large Chisel, and it is a nice bike. Tiny little baby tubes near the seat tube junction that would look small on a road bike... so maybe it does ride well. Nobody demos them though, so it's basically impossible to get a feel for how it preforms as a, you know, mountain bike doing mountain bike things. So in the end, I didn't like the frame or the thought of getting rid of my back-saving 100mm of fully lockable travel enough to buy, especially for $1,000 + tax... plus the Top Fuel still rips along pretty nicely.

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      05-07-2019 03:54 PM #16
      HT aren't cool unless it's for rowdy Endurbro shred sessions...so it's pretty much impossible to demo a "normal" HT these days.

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    19. Member Samson's Avatar
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      05-08-2019 11:47 AM #17
      Quote Originally Posted by A1an View Post
      HT aren't cool unless it's for rowdy Endurbro shred sessions...so it's pretty much impossible to demo a "normal" HT these days.
      Heh, yeah. People who do cool things like "session" aren't really the type who care about XC hardtails.

      I've also found it impossible to rent a hardtail that's not a $400 Rockhopper. We're headed to Tahoe in a bit, and the most XC rental bike that I can find is a 130mm Fuel EX. Yeah, there are downhills, but there are also a lot of uphills. Oh well.

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      05-09-2019 11:00 AM #18
      Quote Originally Posted by A1an View Post
      HT aren't cool unless it's for rowdy Endurbro shred sessions...so it's pretty much impossible to demo a "normal" HT these days.
      It's called "downcountry" now man. Get your lingo right.

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      05-12-2019 08:45 AM #19
      I was really hoping for "extreme feature loitering".

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    22. 05-13-2019 11:10 AM #20
      Quote Originally Posted by Samson View Post
      OP - how are you liking the Chisel? I'm thinking of picking up the frame (to maybe replace my Top Fuel...). I would have already, but Specialized raised the price from $750 to $1000 from 2018 to 2019. Sucks, but it still seems like a solid-ish deal instead of a great deal. No changes other than less cool colors available.
      Sorry for the late response. I bought mine in September 2017 and I still love it. It's a great bike! And I have been to many demos with high $$$$ full suspension bikes since that time and really have no desire for anything else. Sure if somebody were to give me a bling bike, I'd take it but for the price performance ratio, it's hard to beat.

      It's not a heavy aluminum bike. The frame is 1350g which is lighter than a carbon procaliber. The entire bike with stock components weights 24.3 in a medium (but I think the 2019 with the NX Eagle is heavier). Some dudes on the mtbr Chisel thread got there's down to close to 20lbs with custom builds. As for the ride, there is some built in flex so it is not harsh over rough terrain. I am currently running Fast Trak Griptons at 22-24psi front and rear and it is just seriously compliant for a hardtail. Not a huge drop off from my Top Fuel. The handling is also perfect. The faster you go, the more precise it is around corners. I also put two tokens in the stock Reba forks and it transformed them from jack hammers to a perfect combo of small bump compliance and big hit capability. About the only thing I'd change on the bike is to put a remote lockout on it. I also put some thick rubber tape to protect the top tube since the brake lever or shifter contacts the top tube when the bars are rotated far enough.

      The bike is also reliable. No headset or BB creaks. Everything is just smooth. Plus I love having an alloy frame given that I ride lots of rocky trails and the constant pinging of rocks hitting the frame would make me seriously nervous if it were carbon.
      Last edited by vwconvert; 05-13-2019 at 11:36 AM.

    23. Member Samson's Avatar
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      05-13-2019 12:07 PM #21
      Quote Originally Posted by A1an View Post
      I was really hoping for "extreme feature loitering".
      Ha. Around here, that's a [insert whatever carbon Santa Cruz with way too much travel for the local trails that was recently on sale at Competitive Cyclist] on some noisy i9s.

      Quote Originally Posted by vwconvert View Post
      Sorry for the late response. I bought mine in September 2017 and I still love it. It's a great bike! And I have been to many demos with high $$$$ full suspension bikes since that time and really have no desire for anything else. Sure if somebody were to give me a bling bike, I'd take it but for the price performance ratio, it's hard to beat.
      Thanks for the info. Everything I've read agrees with you that it's a pretty comfy hardtail. The simple threaded BB is a nice touch as well (though the Wheels Mfg in the Top Fuel has been fine). I am going to wait and see about the redesigned 2020 Top Fuel and Supercaliber (25mm softtail that'll actually provide a traction benefit unlike the sort of useless Procal, supposedly) before doing anything... maybe the Trek store will let me take those out for an actual test ride. They seem to be pretty good about that sort of thing, at least compared to the local Specialized stores.

    24. 05-13-2019 09:07 PM #22
      So is the Supercaliber going to replace the Procaliber? I'm not sure about a softtail with 25mm of suspension. Seems to defeat the purpose of having a hardtail (simplcity, ease of maintenance, and weight) without giving the full advantages of a fully. I just find that Trek can get pretty gimmicky. Excess complexity needed to do a given job.

    25. Member Samson's Avatar
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      05-14-2019 06:13 PM #23
      Quote Originally Posted by vwconvert View Post
      So is the Supercaliber going to replace the Procaliber? I'm not sure about a softtail with 25mm of suspension. Seems to defeat the purpose of having a hardtail (simplcity, ease of maintenance, and weight) without giving the full advantages of a fully. I just find that Trek can get pretty gimmicky. Excess complexity needed to do a given job.
      I'm not too sure how their 25mm softtail would work. This is just based off of some rumors that I've read... but if it's an inch of rear wheel movement without a traditional shock and pivots (elastomers and flex stays?) and not much weight gain, I can see a decent traction and comfort advantage over the smaller rooty stuff that we have here. I guess we'll see.

      I agree though - Trek (and Specialized) are pretty gimmicky and clunky sometimes. Isospeed is a pretty good example of that, as is the future shock.

    26. 05-15-2019 10:23 AM #24
      Quote Originally Posted by Samson View Post
      I'm not too sure how their 25mm softtail would work. This is just based off of some rumors that I've read... but if it's an inch of rear wheel movement without a traditional shock and pivots (elastomers and flex stays?) and not much weight gain, I can see a decent traction and comfort advantage over the smaller rooty stuff that we have here. I guess we'll see.

      I agree though - Trek (and Specialized) are pretty gimmicky and clunky sometimes. Isospeed is a pretty good example of that, as is the future shock.
      Yep. I avoided a Procaliber because of Isospeed. I am also unlikely to ever buy a high end Specialized MTB because of the Brain. A remote lockout will do the job and doesn't require special suspension servicing. And Re:aktiv seemed to have been a disaster for Trek and people complain about knockblock. I really like Scott MTBs. You get really great components for the price - on par with lots consumer direct bikes and most of the parts aren't proprietary.

    27. Member Samson's Avatar
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      05-15-2019 08:39 PM #25
      Quote Originally Posted by vwconvert View Post
      Yep. I avoided a Procaliber because of Isospeed. I am also unlikely to ever buy a high end Specialized MTB because of the Brain. A remote lockout will do the job and doesn't require special suspension servicing. And Re:aktiv seemed to have been a disaster for Trek and people complain about knockblock. I really like Scott MTBs. You get really great components for the price - on par with lots consumer direct bikes and most of the parts aren't proprietary.
      Manual lockouts are easy and reliable. The Spark is a cool looking bike, but I'm not big on the dual lockout thing. I often just lock out the rear of the Top Fuel, but still want a functional front shock. I'm sure it can be removed though.

      For 2020, Trek 'modernized' the Top Fuel with longer, slacker, 120f/115r travel. Knockblock too. Having never had a bike with it, what's so bad about it? Hopefully they'll still have a ~100mm XC race bike for the lycra wearers like me. Not everybody cares about or even has descents worthy of a long and slack 5" bike. The Supercaliber looks weird, but potentially interesting:

      https://forums.mtbr.com/trek/trek-20...l#post14089802

      Or I'll just keep my existing bike that I like quite a lot... but that's not an efficient way to spend my money.

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