Firstly, 'hi' and an introduction.
I used to waste far too many hours on STW when all this was beige and maroon. I've loved bikes since I had pictures of Peaty on his GT LTS and Hans on his Zaskar on my bedroom wall. I've always had a softspot for beautiful hardtails. I've owned (since progressing from my Townsend with matching purple anodizing and snowflakes spokes) Genesis alu hardtail (Magura hydraulic brakes, Rockshox Judy, lemon Mavic rims etc), GT Avalanche, Canondale F3000SL (ex-team bike) Specialized Enduro M5 (my only full sus), and an On One 853 (geared). I grew up in Devon and spent most of my riding time on Woodbury Common (nr. Exeter, 15 mins from my door) and Dartmoor on special occasions.
Having had a 7 year break from riding whilst living in The Philippines, my wife, son and I (didn't have those two when I last posted here) are probably moving to Qatar this August. It's not perfect riding country but better than nothing.
My wife, when drunk a few years ago, gave me a £1,500 budget for a bike "when we live somewhere you can use it" and Qatar fits the bill. I'll be scouring the classifieds in a couple of months for a lovely, 2nd hand, hardtail setup. I figure something like the On One 456 with 130-140mm forks, lots of Hope (I'm a big fan) and XT / XTR is do-able.
So, my questions...
650B vs 29" vs 26" ... I'm 5' 7" so don't see the need for 29" wheels. I had an old hack with 700c wheels so do feel / understand there are benefits but not for someone my size. I'm worried that 26" wheels seem to be going out of fashion and the choice now is pretty much 650b vs 29". True? I do t want to end up with an obsolete frame / wheel set.
Running tubeless was gaining popularity but I didn't get around to it. It seemed like a faff, a weight penalty and limited tire choice. Is this still the case or do most people run tubeless now?
Headsets. This really confuses me. It was all 1 1/8" and King was the best. 1.5" was for downhillers. Now lots of frames seem to be tapered. Are there good quality aftermarket tapered headsets available? Is there that much of a benefit in having a tapered head tube?
SLX - this is the new LX / XT, right? I was lucky, last time around, without responsibility and a reasonably good job, I could buy XTR without feeling the pinch. Not so this time. Where does SLX fit in?
Axel sizes really confuse me as do the various methods for keeping wheels attached to the frame. Before it was simply QR skewers. A link to a good guide for this would be great.
Gears - is the world heading towards 2 x 10? If so, is it normally the granny ring or the 42-46 toothed ring that's missing? I always used road cassettes so don't really mind missing the granny, but would miss the 44t for long downhills.
As I'm going to be looking for a 2nd hand, pretty traditional bike, do I need to care about all this stuff? Am I likely to get a 1 1/8" headtubed, 26" wheeled, tubed wheel set etc.
Also, in case I end up buying bits from the classifieds, are these still the benchmarks for bits?
Thompson - stem and s post
Hope - hubs and brakes
Reba / Rev
XT drivetrain / shifters
Thanks for reading what's turned into a very long post. I don't see any of the names I remember but hope STW lives up to its high standards of before.
Thanks a lot,