I initially demoed a load of ~160mm bikes, Trek Remedy, Cannondale Jekyll, I almost bought a Transition Covert but soon realised the Bandit was the bike for me after a demo. I could ride almost as fast as the larger bikes and had more fun over a range of tracks.
I really liked the Trek Fuel EX too at 120mm but decided it probably wouldn’t be too happy with being plonked about on a DH course. The Bandit coped a lot better on DH type stuff so went for that in the end. The final choice was definitely between the two shorter travel bikes rather than the longer travel ones
The scout is still an incredibly capable bike, all the professional and regular bloke feedback seems to agree and still 140 up front.
I too demoed a bandit and a covert. I was pretty sure of the bandit before I went and the demo confirmed it. The covert swallowed everything and climbed ok but the bandit made for a fun ride and has coped with everything I’ve ridden it on around exmoor, quantocks, Dartmoor and Welsh trail centres. Admittedly DH runs are above my comfort zone on any bike and I ride a hardtail 80% of the time but still….. It climbs great too.
If I was in the market for a new FS bike the scout would be very close to the top of the list!
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