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  • Chunky 29er hardtail (to replace a FS) – Pole Taival or Cotic Bfe Max
  • Premier Icon gribble
    Free Member


    Thinking of selling my Transition FS (160mm, 27.5). I love it, but for local riding it feels like it is too much bike and honestly nore often than not it just feels heavy. I think this year I ended up having only one ride on it that used the potential of the suspension, when at Forest of Dean smashing through the roots. My other bike is a Bird AM 27.5 (pre-boost) with a 150mm fork.

    I am tall(ish) at 6ft2 and would like to try a 29er. I am not sure how much difference the 29er wheels make (over a 27.5), but I hear good things anecdotally.

    So, given the (lack of) availability of bikes, my plan was to sell off my FS (probably in bits) and then buy a hardtail frame, using some of the leftovers. Considering a Pole Taival or Cotic Bfe Max. I had a Bfe before (in 26in) and loved it (it was bright orange and looked awesome), but in the end it was just a bit too short (they didn’t do an XL size then). I’d probably run the final contestant with a decent 150mm fork some larger volume 29 x 2.6 or 2.5 tyres.

    Any thoughts? Not sure if I am kidding myself expecting a 29er to be supple like a FS, but I’d like a bike to be able to ride local Hindhead steepish stuff, but also to hold it’s own at Bike Park Wales (I’m not able to do much more than a red..) and perhaps a trip to some Alps type hills if we can travel again soon.

    Would like to support Cotic, but not sure how it compares to the Taival. Price is also a consideration – the Bfe Max is cheaper (at £550 plus heaset/BB), but then the Taival does come with the headset included too.

    Premier Icon kelvin
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    would like to try a 29er

    using some of the leftovers

    Have you seen forks that are suitable, you want, and are in stock?

    Premier Icon renton
    Free Member

    I had a Bfe max and loved it.
    Ran it with a 150mm pike which I then extended to 160mm. 2.6 tyres gave it a great bit of cushioning.

    It was a brilliant ride but ultimately I felt the large for me was slightly to small. I’m 6 foot 1.

    The XL would have been good to try but they sold out almost instantly.

    Can’t comment on the pole. I did look at them but heard too many horror stories about poles warranty.

    Another option would be the Orange P7 29.

    Premier Icon Scienceofficer
    Free Member

    I had a taival for 2019/20.

    Best hardtail I’ve ever ridden. My only complaint was that 2.3 tyre clearance in the back was a bit poor. I’d still have it now if I hadn’t sold it to fund a Ti version with improvements (more rear tyre clearance and a couple of other tweaks).

    But – Pole are slow and uncommunicative. They’re building a reputation for poor customer care over on mtbr. This does seem to be almost exclusively their FSers though.

    It’s also a frankly outrageous price they’re asking for a steel hardtail.

    Don’t know about the new BFe, but hardtail party seemed to rate the Taival higher.

    No hardtail is comparable to FS.

    Premier Icon kelvin
    Full Member

    Not sure if I am kidding myself expecting a 29er to be supple like a FS

    You are.

    2.6 tyres gave it a great bit of cushioning.


    Premier Icon Burchy1
    Free Member

    Both are nice and on my next HT list too, from experience i think you are going down the right route with a HT having 29″ wheels.

    A mate has the Pole and runs it with a 150mm Lyrik and i’m pretty certain he is no slower on it than his FS a lot of the time, he’s a v.good rider though. The finish/paint is pretty good and cable routing etc is well thought out.

    The P7 29er is nice, and what i have, but the reason i’m looking at other frames is that i fancy something with the equivalent reach of my FS.

    Premier Icon honourablegeorge
    Full Member


    They’re building a reputation for poor customer care over on mtbr.

    I’d say that reputation was fully constructed, and it’s an absolute monument to how not to treat customers

    Looked at their EBike earlier this week – you’d have to be flat out mad to order an EBike from them, given their reputation for customer service on top of Brose’s reputation for motor problems.

    Premier Icon big_scot_nanny
    Full Member

    I think the Taival will be a bit longer than the Bfe?

    Both would be awesome. 2 pals have Taivals, bloody awesome, they love them.

    TBF to Pole, this year they seem to have really sorted the CS to a remarkable degree, so they are changing. Have a loot at the Pole Bicycle Riders Group on Facebook.

    (disclosure, I have an Evolink and love it, and have found Pole great to deal with this year. last year, not so much!)

    Premier Icon vondally
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    Consider pipedream moxie…. One in our family and it is well liked, running in. Mullet setup currently.
    Lovely colour s.

    Premier Icon chakaping
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    I’d suggest you consider a short or mid-travel 29er FS instead.

    Something with modern angles which pedals well… and is available to buy obvs.

    Premier Icon chiefgrooveguru
    Free Member

    I haven’t owned a 29er hardtail but I’ve ridden a few and although they are slightly better at rolling over smaller bumps it’s nothing like having rear suspension.

    If I were buying a hardtail now I’d get a 29er but I too have a Zero AM and it’s so capable and it’s impossible for me to justify a change for such marginal gains. However mine has been made more capable downhill (with seemingly no detriment the rest of the time) with a Works Components -2 deg headset. The end result of the headset is it drops the BB by a few mm, steepens the seat angle by about half a degree and slackens the head angle by about 1.5 deg.

    I’d be happy taking it down any of the techier reds and blacks at BPW, just avoiding going large on any jumps or drops (that’s my deficiency, not the bike). It’s a cheap upgrade and will get you most of the way to the current gnarly 29er hardtails with a bit more buzz and rattle at the hands and feet.

    Premier Icon mrwhippy
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    I went from a 160mm 26” full suss to a BFe Max earlier this year, apart from fatigue after a long descent (the longest I’ve done so far was the top of helvellyn back to glenridding) there’s nothing I now wouldn’t ride on my hardtail that I would have on the old bike. The efficiency on easier trails and lack of faffing with shocks, bearings, bushings etc makes life so much easier. I have no regrets ditching the full suss for the bfe max.

    Premier Icon tuboflard
    Full Member

    I got a Ragley Big Wig earlier this year and so far so good. Local rides with a bit of tech or steep rooty stuff and it’s fabulous. Big rides it gets a bit fatiguing but not so much that I’d still not choose the bike over my others. I’ve got a gen 1 Cotic RocketMax which rarely gets ridden now as a result.

    Biggest challenge which gets stated everywhere though is stock of frames, forks and components. Get what you can.

    Premier Icon stevenmenmuir
    Free Member

    Birds new steel 29er will take a 150mm fork and have plenty of space for big tyres.

    Premier Icon Bigmantrials
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    Personally I think I would go for the Pole.


    There was an XL bfeMax on FB Market place this morning, not sure if its still available.

    Premier Icon gribble
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    Thanks all for the comments.

    Trying to respond to a few comments at once:

    – I’d considered a short travel FS (in fact, I picked up a friend’s old carbon YT and thought ‘holy crap Batman, this is light’). For me it is a budget issue – don’t think I can stretch to something like a Transition Spur or something of that ilk that would suit a lot of my riding. I rode round The Gap a few weeks ago and I absolutely rattled my way down the 4km descent on the HT.

    – will look at that as an option, but secretly want to fill up the bike spaces before N+1 becomes just 1…

    @mrwhipp & @tuboflard – thanks for the comments. I think my thinking is exactly this – 90% of my riding will be fine (there is lots of soft soil for my southern soft riding), but I will rattle a bit on the occasional trip; I did survive a trip (was awesome) on a dirty Swiss Alps weekend with my wife – I was on a 26in Bfe. And noted on the stock comment. Seen a few wheel sets, but forks & frames harder to get. There are also very few ready made short travel FS bikes that I can see in stock.

    I’m also going to try & go for short a ride on a couple of local friend’s 29ers – one has a Bird FS which looks awesome, the other (who lurks on here) has a 29er Sonder HT. Both have a fair degree more skill than I…

    Premier Icon hatter
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    18 bikes No.9, basically a Pole Tarvail but made in Sheffield (and they were first to market so if anything Pole copied them).

    I’m 6 2″ and have the 500mm reach version, considered the 525 but thought it’d be too much of a monster truck, had it about a year, love it.

    Premier Icon leythervegas
    Free Member

    I’ve had a Pipedream Moxie for a few months now and can highly recommend it. Used to have a Cotic Solarismax which was also excellent so either of these would be a good shout. If you want good customer service you won’t get let down by Cotic, they go above and beyond for you.

    Those new Bird steel hardtails do look lovely too though….

    Premier Icon chiefgrooveguru
    Free Member

    “If you want good customer service you won’t get let down by Cotic, they go above and beyond for you.”

    Having had hardtails from both Cotic and Bird, both brands’ customer service and general attitude is very hard to fault!

    “secretly want to fill up the bike spaces before N+1 becomes just 1…”

    I know what you mean but right now is very bad timing to do so!

    Slackening out your Zero AM will show you what a hardtail can go – it’s only jumps/drops with messy landings (like into piles of roots or rocks) where I’d have less confidence and take a significantly different approach vs my full-sus. Everything else the front end just ploughs through safely whilst the rear goes mental (but usually obediently follows…)

    Premier Icon funkmasterp
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    What about the Stif Squatch as another contender?

    Premier Icon superstu
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    Sonder cortex as a shorter travel 29r, very good value for money?

    Premier Icon Scienceofficer
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    18 bikes No.9, basically a Pole Tarvail

    No, they’re not.They are significantly different.

    Head angle is 2 degrees slacker and seat angle is 2.5 degrees steeper on the Taival. Those two things alone make it a substantially different ride. The only thing thats comparable is the reach and chainstays which are different by 5mm in comparable sizes. Stack on the Taival is also significantly more.

    Premier Icon Crag
    Full Member

    I got a Pole a few months ago, its ridiculous just how capable it is.

    Its by far the best climbing bike I’ve owned (last HT was a Soul 275 and currently got an Airdrop Edit gathering dust)

    Its a long bike so gets a little getting used to but it absolutely rips down hill and has no business going as fast as it does.

    I’ve spent recent weekends chasing friends down on their 160mm endure rigs and can pretty much keep pace until it gets a bit chattery and rocky and the lack of rear travel makes a difference.

    No regrets at all. Although saying that, a mate has just got a new bfe and and he’s in the same boat.

    I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with either, modern long travel 29ers are great.

    Premier Icon Rubber_Buccaneer
    Full Member

    In my (worthless) opinion chiefgrooveguru has the advice I’d +1 and set my sights on a suitable FS frame when I could get one.

    What about the Stif Squatch as another contender?

    I have one of these, it is the best hardtail (for me) I have ever owned with a couple of caveats plus I don’t think they have your size available until autumn.

    Caveat 1. The bottom bracket is low, 80mm drop.  This may be why I like it so much (I can’t say for sure as I just don’t understand geometry well enough) but I also blame it for increased pedal strikes and two crashes that have slammed me into the ground pretty hard.  Right now I have swapped from a 130mm to 140 mm fork to give me a little confidence it wont happen again.  Probably more a skill issue but I will take a little placebo to help.

    Caveat 2. I am 5’8” so the short chain stays appealed to me (because past experience) but I have a suspicion Cotic or Pole’s longer stays may suit taller riders better.

    I’d happily ride my Squatch somewhere like BPW but only if I had no access to a FS bike.  If I had to go down to one bike it would be FS rather than a hardtail unless the budget was really tight.  Much as I like my hardtails I tire faster on them and need the margin for error a FS provides if I’m going to push my luck somewhere.

    Premier Icon reeksy
    Free Member

    +1 for Cotic. Without going into details, their customer service / warranty is outstanding.
    I went from 27.5 carbon FS to a steel 29 HT and can’t imagine ever going back. Most of the people I ride with are on FS and I have no issues keeping up and spend less on servicing.

    Premier Icon slowmover
    Free Member

    How does the Hello Dave compare to the Taival?

    Premier Icon marksnook
    Full Member

    I have a bfemax, absolutely love it. It’s just just so fun and way more capable than i thought it would be.
    If you are anywhere near Dursley and want a go just message. It’s a medium though so not massive. I looked at a pipedream moxie and a nordest bardino but the bfemax won

    Premier Icon intheborders
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    Why would you want two HT’s?

    Surely sell on the Bird and then buy the HT you fancy.

    Premier Icon gribble
    Free Member

    Thanks Marksnook.

    Premier Icon gribble
    Free Member

    Well, I might change my short & long term plan(s). I have realised that the cost of a bespoke build up of a Bfe Max is going to be pretty expensive – almost double what I can sell my full susser for. Appreciate I would be getting a new bike if I ordered a Cotic (and I need to be realistic about depreciation with my FS), but currently probably not stacking up.

    So, alternative is for me to ditch the heavy sled via eBay, then (a) work with the HT I have (I have recently put on riser (30mm) bars with more backsweep than my low rise (12mm) bars and (b) try out a shorter travel full suss, without going so boutique. That way I’d have both a lightweight HT and a FS.

    Long term, if I enjoy 29er, I can see myself trading in the Bird and going 29er for both. I probably should have done it years ago…

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