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Bike Recommendation...for you

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I have been riding a lot of different bikes this year (shop work has it's bonuses).

My advice for mountain bikers:

1. 650b is for real, and really real if you want 160mm of front and rear travel.  The Norco Sight and Range Killer B bikes are as versatile (and well priced) as any I have ever ridden.

2. BEFORE you go and buy into the whole 650b thing, however, do yourself a favor and Jump on a Cannondale Trigger 1 29er.  Blown away buy this bike, and I can't make sense of it--It's big, burly, it's complex-and yet, it is one of the best handling and best all-day climbing bikes ever.  A real pleasure to ride, especially for the game intermediate who wants to really smooth out the greasy, bumpy challenges of Northeastern Riding.

3. If Hardtails are your passion (as they are mine), you'll still be riding a 29er for years to come (if you are 5'8" or taller, shorter folks will apreciate the 650b a lot more).

4. Mountain biking is safer than road biking...just saying.


I'd have to say that I've taken more falls with my mountain bike --- but there is never any automobile traffic around when I do so.  I just heard about two bikers on a highway frequented by bikers and with extremely wide shoulders getting hit by a car going 65 mph by a distracted driver (who is now in jail).

Hey Liam,

I really like the concept of 650B.  Makes perfect sense to me, especially for smaller riders.  I often see small guys and women riding and racing 29ers, and it looks ridiculously awkward and disproportionate.

I am sure that for their next bikes, my wife and daughter (5'7" and 5'6", respectively) would really benefit from a larger wheel size.  They are on 26" hardtails presently.  OTOH, they are able to navigate almost all the gnarly terrain that I can on my 29er, and in tight twisty singletrack the agility of the smaller bikes is noticeable -- they leave me WAY behind.  Bottom line -- the 26" wheels are working great for them in our terrain, so there is no rush to go 650B.  But when the bikes need replacing, the slightly bigger wheels would be brilliant -- same agility as a 26er, and a bit more roll-over ability like a 29er.

As for Norco, they make great bikes.  Solid, great build quality, good component specs for the price, and the geometry is dialed.  We have two in our stable -- an EXC2 model 26" hardtail, and a Faze 1 full suspension 26er.  Both are outstanding bikes. 

I have read excellent things about the Norco Sight and Range models too.  Dirtrag magazine rated one of them (Sight, I think?) as THE best bike they had ever tested in the history of their publication.  Quite the accolade.  Nice to see that they are well respected south of the border too.

I have been toying with the idea of buying a road bike for about the past year, and the more I hear about vehicles taking out cyclists, the more I balk at the idea.  To add to the hesitation, the country roads around here, although pastoral and beautiful, have no shoulders, and have short steep little hills that would completely hide a cyclist from an oncoming car.  And people here speed...most go 20 to 30 km/hr over the limit.  Not a good recipe for staying alive.  On the plus side, there are hundreds of kilometers of rail trails around here that go through the same countryside as the roads do, and if we want an open-country ride, our hardtail mountain bikes serve us perfectly well there.

FWIW, my wife and I have been riding mtn. bikes on singletrack since 1989, and can count the total number of falls on one hand.  Worst is a bruise and a scrape, some paint nicked off the frame....accompanie d by a laugh or a curse...and then we ride on.  No ambulance required.

yea, Svend,

As I always say, there is a broken wrist or collarbone waiting out there for every mountain biker, but you cash in all your chips.  Road biking-fals are far less frequent (I've never dropped my road bike) but when things happen they are worse.  ANd, they are often beyond your control.  When I eat **** on my mountain bike, it is 100% my fault and a result of choices I made (or failed to make).  But cars driven by drunks, angry commuters, texting teens and dangerous old ladies can kill even the safest and savviest of road riders who do everything right.  I have had too many close associates  taken out for me to ever really feel comfortable  on a road bike anymore.

I live in a wonderful area for road biking, too.  Miles and miles and miles of paved country roads through gorgeous new england hills--but I have almost totally abandoned road riding.

Rode a Banshee Prime locally the other day...put that on the list of still relevant bigger travel 29ers.  Not as nimble feeling as the C-dale Trigger 29er, but nimble enough and it had that unshakeable stability at speed in the rough that no smaller wheel diameter bike can match.  Corners like all Banshees which is to say, wonderfully )you can get really low in the corners on this beast.

I also rode the new Giant Anthem 650b--liked it a lot, and if race speed, and big acceleration was of primary concern, this bike is at the top of the list.  But for my general riding, there's not enough beef on this bike--the Norco's are better--but I'd like to check out the new Trances 650b as well before making any definitive statements.

Hey Liam,

Sounds like you're in the market for a new 29er? Or 650B perhaps? There are sure some nice bikes on your short list.  You are right about Norco build quality -- solid stuff.  Banshee too, of course. 

If you can find one, take a hard look at Devinci bikes.  Their full suspension designs are by Dave Weigle, and use a split pivot design that is really cool.  My brother rides a Dexter model from a couple of years back, and it is a really sweet ride.  Very well made - as solid as Norco.  Snappy acceleration, too, for a full-suss bike.  FWIW, their downhill team won the World Championship cup this year, so good cred in their lineup.  For 2014, they have done away with their 26" XC full suspension designs and have gone to 650B.  Interesting....

If you like Norco, take a look at their Fluid 1 29er.  Some good value there, given the spec package and price.  I have not kicked the tires of one, but that bike comes from a long line of very high quality all-mtn rigs.  My father-in-law rides an older 26" Fluid 1, and it is just a great bike.  Built like a tank, and very natural feeling handling.  Horst link suspension, I think...

As for myself, no need for a full-suspension 29er in these parts.  I do just fine with my Fisher hardtail.  Local trails are pretty smooth and flowy, so rear suspension would be overkill.  I've spent quite a bit of time lately getting the fit of my bike dialed (shorter cockpit, wider bars, etc.) and am very happy with the handling now.

Have fun with your test rides! Keep us posted on how things are going....


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