New bike musings – medium-long travel trail bike

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  • New bike musings – medium-long travel trail bike
  • Premier Icon ta11pau1
    Subscriber

    I’ve currently got a Vitus Escarpe VR (2018), 140mm rear, 150mm front trail bike, and it’s a great bike. This thing.

    However, I’m feeling the need for something better, and thought I’d narrowed down my list to 2 potential replacements: Either the Cube Stereo 140 TM in 27.5 format/Cube Stereo 150 TM in 29er format, at £3500 and £4000 respectively; or, the 2019 Jeffsy CF Pro Race in either 27.5 or 29er model at £4800. I’m going to test ride the Jeffsy in May, and I’ve already ridden the Stereo 140, but there’s a nagging issue with all three of the bikes.

    Both the Cube bikes are a little short in the reaches for me, at 477 and 478mm (640 and 643mm ETT) in size XL, my current bike has 495 reach and a 665mm ETT – I’m very comfortable on twisty, flat, flowy singletrack, where I’m not so good is steep, technical, janky descents. A shorter bike will only make these worse. So longer is definitely needed – 480/490mm reach minimum really (I’m 6ft 3in for reference).

    And the Jeffsy? well, it’s nigh on £5k when you add on shipping/bike box/the one bottle that fits the frame etc, and then I’d want to change out the XTR/E13 drivetrain for some Eagle, so an extra £150-£200, which makes it a bloody expensive bike. Only, it’s an extremely nice bloody expensive bike!!! Aaargh!!

    So… can STW find me a Goldilocks bike? Neither too short, not too expensive, but just right

    My Escarpe is lacking in a few main areas: Weight (14.5kg), Frame (OK, but not something I’d want to hang expensive bits off), Forks (harsh on repeated hits, needs a charger 2 damper), and Geo (slack seat angle).

    So, my basic requirements are:
    Travel: 150-160mm for 27.5 or 140-150mm for 29er. I’m in Kent but I’m planning on plenty of trips to the peak district, wales etc this year.
    Geo: Long: 490mm+ reach in XL, with a nice modern steep seat angle. Nothing too slack, 66 HA is about right.
    Forks: Pike RCT3 (or whatever the new ones are) as a minimum, Fox 36 as the ultimate.
    Frame: Something ‘nice’. (Full) Carbon preferably, but Alloy OK so long as it meets…
    Weight: 13kg or under ideally. I want to be doing full days out with several thousand feet of climbing and lugging a near 15kg bike about is tiring.

    Must also be good value for money, the Canyon Spectral was also on my list but the Cube 140 is a better specced, cheaper version of it, and this years models have gotten a bit more expensive.

    The Jeffsy is perfect in every way, spec, geo, even colour – but even though I could afford the £5k+ for one, it’s a lot of money and part of me thinks, will it actually be twice as good as a £2500 bike? Even a Bird Aeris AM9 is £3500 with a decent fork, GX eagle and a decent wheelset, which is a lot for an alloy framed bike.

    Of course, if YT ever did a sale and have £1k off the Jeffsy I’d pick one up in a heartbeat, so there’s always the option of waiting for end of season and hoping they still have some left. Or there is the CF Pro, but the spec on that is a little underwhelming, it’s got the same rear shock as my bike which cost £1500…

    I open the floor… 😀

    TL:DR – spec me a long, light, carbon trail bike that doesn’t cost £5k or “What’s like a Jeffsy, but not a Jeffsy” 😀

    Premier Icon benpinnick
    Subscriber

    I can’t comment on the other bikes but I would say you can get an AM9 with:

    Lyric Select RC (Really good fork… possibly better than the RC2)
    RCT Super Deluxe
    SLX + 4 Pot brakes
    Hope Pro4/EX511
    Bird dropper
    Turbine Bar/Stem
    + other decent kit

    For under 3K. Just sayin’ 🙂

    Nukeproof Mega 275c Pro? (£4199)? Factory? (£4499) Or last years Factory with the RC2 fork instead of the Grip 2? (Circa £3200) 500mm reach in XL – steep seat angle – decent weight. Forks that can be run anywhere from 160 to 180mm. Oh and you have a warranty centre closer to home than Germany.

    If you are feeling nervous and uncomfortable on steep stuff though, 20mm in reach won’t make much difference. In fact it will make it worse – most DH bikes are still running shorter reachers than 490-500mm in XLs. It’s the BB to stack height ratio and head angle coupled with fork length that makes you feel sat in the bike. More reach will just pull you further over the front wheel and will force you to stoop lower over the bike to keep your arms bent.

    Premier Icon chakaping
    Subscriber

    Just get a Jeffsy, you clearly want one. Upgrade the shock on the lower model if need be.

    You’re describing a (top of the line at 13kg) enduro race bike with those numbers. Are you sure that’s what you need or want? especially as you then call it a light carbon trail bike.

    Fox 36, Eagle and 13kg is going to cost you – and you’ve already found the German box brands and Bird to be too expensive, I’m struggling to think of how you can do better with a new bike.

    Have you considered an ex-demo 2018? Often barely ridden in Small and Extra Large.

    Oh and my experience is that any descent oriented bike that weighs under 30lb ends up compromising it’s descending abilities by being too light and nervous.

    30-32lb is the sweet spot for me.

    P-Jay
    Member

    Tbh if a Bird is too expensive for a full build you need to re-think spec or budget, not much else is going to come close in VFM at this time of year.

    I wouldn’t worry about the fact they’re Alu, they’re far from heavy and climb pretty well.

    Premier Icon peekay
    Subscriber

    Radon Jab 9.0
    About £2800
    Has 160mm Lyriks
    Eagle
    Lightweight
    Reasonable wheels
    20 inch frame looks about right size wise
    Geometry fits your criteria
    https://www.bike-discount.de/en/buy/radon-jab-9.0-ms-760395

    Premier Icon ta11pau1
    Subscriber

    I can’t comment on the other bikes but I would say you can get an AM9 with:

    Lyric Select RC (Really good fork… possibly better than the RC2)
    RCT Super Deluxe
    SLX + 4 Pot brakes
    Hope Pro4/EX511
    Bird dropper
    Turbine Bar/Stem
    + other decent kit

    For under 3K. Just sayin’ 🙂

    You, but looking at review bikes it’s going to be coming in at 14-15kg with that spec. I’d like something lighter ideally 🙂

    Nukeproof Mega 275c Pro? (£4199)? Factory? (£4499) Or last years Factory with the RC2 fork instead of the Grip 2? (Circa £3200) 500mm reach in XL – steep seat angle – decent weight. Forks that can be run anywhere from 160 to 180mm. Oh and you have a warranty centre closer to home than Germany.

    If you are feeling nervous and uncomfortable on steep stuff though, 20mm in reach won’t make much difference. In fact it will make it worse – most DH bikes are still running shorter reachers than 490-500mm in XLs. It’s the BB to stack height ratio and head angle coupled with fork length that makes you feel sat in the bike. More reach will just pull you further over the front wheel and will force you to stoop lower over the bike to keep your arms bent.

    The Megas are nice but they’re a bit too much travel for what I need – 170mm forks on the 27.5, 64 head angle, and again, weight – they’re 15kg for the 275c Pro.

    Interesting about the longer bike thing, I suppose reach is an easy measurement which generally equates to a longer bike overall, I will be doing a bit more work on stem length and bar rise on the new bike as mine is hard work getting the front wheel up. Still, I don’t really want to go shorter (in reach, ETT, or wheelbase) than my current bike.

    Just get a Jeffsy, you clearly want one. Upgrade the shock on the lower model if need be.

    I know, I really do. Call me picky but the colours on the CF pro don’t do it for me, and none of the kit on it calls out to me. The CF Pro race has vastly better kit in every area.

    Premier Icon Mary Hinge
    Subscriber

    I ride xl bikes. Never had one under 34lb, or 15.5kg if you prefer.

    To get much lighter you will be spending. Droppers add a bit remember, plus you need reliable components so will either be slightly heavier or much more expensive.

    I demoed a flaremax recently, not on your list and not cf or alloy but very nice e ride and long reach.

    Also some of the new Santa Cruz are getting longer and are similar money to what you are looking at.

    But, will you always want that Jeffsy? If so, you are better off buying that as you will keep looking at it.

    Premier Icon ta11pau1
    Subscriber

    You’re describing a (top of the line at 13kg) enduro race bike with those numbers. Are you sure that’s what you need or want? especially as you then call it a light carbon trail bike.

    Fox 36, Eagle and 13kg is going to cost you – and you’ve already found the German box brands and Bird to be too expensive, I’m struggling to think of how you can do better with a new bike.

    I’ve specifically stayed away from the enduro race bikes like the strive, mega, and so on – I do want a lightish trail bike that will be able to handle a bit of everything; chundery descents, techy climbs, pootling about on flat trail centres, 4-5 hour rides in the middle of nowhere with hike-a-bike sections.

    It’s a shame the Cube bikes aren’t a bit longer in their Geo – Fox 36 Grip2, GX eagle, 1600g wheels and 13.5kg for £3500 is the best value of anything I’ve seen – I’m just hoping there’s something out there with similar VFM but a bit longer and more progressive in the geo. Ultimately I fear I may need to make the choice between spending £3500-£4000 but with slightly compromised geometry, or £5200 but with the exact geometry I’m after.

    The Bird options aren’t ‘expensive’ either, I just don’t think they’re the best VFM. VFM is a HUGE deal for me, as you’ll have probably noticed 😀 And I’m also slightly wincing at the prospect of paying over £5k for a bike. :O

    Premier Icon chakaping
    Subscriber

    The new Canyon Strive could do you nicely, reviews suggest it pedals very well and the shapeshifter is better now.

    Spec looks much better VFM than YT.

    mark90
    Member

    Decent value but more reassuringly burly than lightweight

    “My Escarpe is lacking in a few main areas: Weight (14.5kg), Frame (OK, but not something I’d want to hang expensive bits off), Forks (harsh on repeated hits, needs a charger 2 damper), and Geo (slack seat angle).“

    If you’re proportionally heavy for your height then the difference between 14.5kg and 13.5kg bike will be immaterial uphill and no benefit downhill. Also 32lbs is a very sensible weight for a bike that’s going to be taken on uplift days if you want it to survive. Bear in mind, the bigger the frame the heavier it should be for proportional stiffness and the heavier the rider the stiffer the frame should be.

    The seat angle of the Escarpe is 74.5 deg which is far from slack, and the actual seat angle is steeper than many bikes so it’ll be steeper at pedalling height than plenty of other bikes which quote a steeper effective seat angle.

    Adding a Charger 2 damper will hugely improve the forks for little cost.

    If your current bike is hard to get the front wheel up then I suggest you get some higher rise bars – or move spacers from above to below the stem if you haven’t already done that.

    A question for you: Can you tell the difference in how your bike climbs and descends with a full water bottle vs no bottle? If not then I suggest you stop worrying about weight!

    Premier Icon lister
    Subscriber

    Orbea Occam…comes in TR and AM flavours?
    (I’ve got a cheapish AM and love it)

    64 head angle, and again, weight – they’re 15kg for the 275c Pro

    Nukeproof quote 65 with a 170mm fork.

    It’s the seattube angle that matters anyway, a degree slacker or steeper here or there won’t make a blind but of difference to climbing.

    That British edition Commencal TR is lovely. That’s easily one the nicest specced and best looking bikes for under 4k out there.

    Want.

    Premier Icon ta11pau1
    Subscriber

    “My Escarpe is lacking in a few main areas: Weight (14.5kg), Frame (OK, but not something I’d want to hang expensive bits off), Forks (harsh on repeated hits, needs a charger 2 damper), and Geo (slack seat angle).“

    If you’re proportionally heavy for your height then the difference between 14.5kg and 13.5kg bike will be immaterial uphill and no benefit downhill. Also 32lbs is a very sensible weight for a bike that’s going to be taken on uplift days if you want it to survive. Bear in mind, the bigger the frame the heavier it should be for proportional stiffness and the heavier the rider the stiffer the frame should be.

    The seat angle of the Escarpe is 74.5 deg which is far from slack, and the actual seat angle is steeper than many bikes so it’ll be steeper at pedalling height than plenty of other bikes which quote a steeper effective seat angle.

    Adding a Charger 2 damper will hugely improve the forks for little cost.

    If your current bike is hard to get the front wheel up then I suggest you get some higher rise bars – or move spacers from above to below the stem if you haven’t already done that.

    A question for you: Can you tell the difference in how your bike climbs and descends with a full water bottle vs no bottle? If not then I suggest you stop worrying about weight!

    All good points, but don’t be fooled by what Vitus say the seat angle is… I’ve just measured mine at actual pedalling height (twice, using triangles) and it comes out as 71 degrees to the middle of the seat clamp. 71 degrees.

    A picture to illustrate:

    The way the seat tube angles back, the taller you are the slacker the seat angle. Same as most bikes, but on something like the jeffsy you’re starting with a 77.5 degree effective angle, not a 74.5 degree effective.

    I’m 13 stone or so, about 85kg depending on the day. So fairly average for my height, but certainly not ‘powerfully built’ 😀

    And no I can’t tell the difference between a full bottle and no bottle, but then a full bottle is 700g so not a massive difference. 1.5kgs less though, added to the improved pedalling efficiency (mine has a fair bit of pedal bob), at the end of 20+ miles, and 3000ft, on that last climb when your legs are gone and you struggle to walk up the hill, never mind ride up it (yes, I’ve been there!), I’ll take that any day. Weight is just one factor, with weight + seat angle + more efficient suspension it should make a big difference to climbing performance compared to my Escarpe.

    The higher rise bars is something I’ll 100% be doing, there are no more spacers left unfortunately. Also, same for the charger 2 damper and debonair spring, I will be doing this as I’ll probably be keeping the forks if I upgrade to put towards a hardtail.

    Nukeproof quote 65 with a 170mm fork.

    It’s the seattube angle that matters anyway, a degree slacker or steeper here or there won’t make a blind but of difference to climbing.

    So they do, apologies. 100% agree though, tbh if something like a pole or geometron was more affordable I’d be considering one of them! a super slack HA wouldn’t be a deal braker.

    Hob Nob
    Member

    If you built up a Sentinel carbon you could get it to that sort of weight with more of a trail build than an ‘enduro’ build. Angleset in it to bring the head angle back a bit if you dont want something that slack. Get a sale frame & you could build in a reasonable budget.

    Premier Icon orangespyderman
    Subscriber

    Jeffsy Pro Race were on sale last week @4200€ (whatever that translated to in their GBP conversion).

    Premier Icon ta11pau1
    Subscriber

    Jeffsy Pro Race were on sale last week @4200€ (whatever that translated to in their GBP conversion).

    I saw over the weekend they were at £3799 down from £4799, but completely sold out in every variation, and nothing about it on any of their social media etc.

    I figured that it was a website error, but maybe I just didn’t look early enough! If they’re at the same price a few months from now then that’s a done deal!

    jedi
    Member

    I’m looking for a new bike too. Liking the giant reign, rocky Mountain and firebird so far

    “The way the seat tube angles back, the taller you are the slacker the seat angle. Same as most bikes, but on something like the jeffsy you’re starting with a 77.5 degree effective angle, not a 74.5 degree effective.”

    Lots of bikes are worse than the Vitus in that respect! But the current Jeffsy is pretty steep so would be better, despite also being offset and angled back.

    “I’m 13 stone or so, about 85kg depending on the day. So fairly average for my height, but certainly not ‘powerfully built’ 😀”

    You’re the same weight as me, I’m hypersensitive to all sorts of bike things (like tyre pressure within a psi or two, suspension damping by a click or few % sag, bar height by less than 5mm, chain ring effect on anti-squat, etc) and I can’t tell any difference by changing the weight of a bike by as little as a kilo odd. And is that any surprise when it’s only about 1% of the system weight? And when off-road, until it gets properly steep the rolling resistance matters more than the weight.

    I agree about pedalling efficiency – my Spitfire was great in that respect. My current full-sus monster truck doesn’t pedal quite so efficiently but it has big wheels rolls SO fast. It weighs an enormous amount more (the Spitfire was 32lbs, this is almost 50lbs – it has a motor but we’re comparing them unassisted) but is quicker on everything but steep climbs.

    So on those grounds, I’d suggest something with 29″ wheels, especially as you’re tall and won’t get tangled in the rear tyre on steep stuff, as happens to shorter-legged people.

    Premier Icon Kamakazie
    Subscriber

    I’d make sure you look at real user weights if you are bothered by a couple of lb here or their as some manufacturers are notorious for being extremely optimistic.

    Something like a Scott Genius would seem to fit your requirements and definitely come in on the lighter side. Also often available at a discount.

    Premier Icon ta11pau1
    Subscriber

    Yeah I’m definitely erring towards a 29er this time round, when buying the escarpe I didn’t have the fitness level to be able to ‘work’ a 29er on the tighter stuff, harder work to get up to speed, and so-on. Now though, I want to go faster, steeper, longer 😀

    And I think YT are normally pretty accurate with their weights, 13kg seems about right for that spec with carbon wheels/bars/cranks.

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