Which Short Travel FS for when racing returns?
Have been wondering this since last January and have a short travel FS itch that hasn’t gone away. I may scratch it this year if any bikes actually appear on sale.
I’ve got a race HT and I have a trail FS. So wanted something bouncy and racey enough if you get it between the tapes.
Not sure whether to go for something like a Trek Supercaliber… or a little more “trail” (can’t being myself to say the downc**ntry word) but with race heritage…like a Spark or an Epic Evo (not the Brain equipped Epic. I know they’ve come on a lot…but am still scarred by my last one)
For reference, I am not an out and out race snake. But in non covid years I manage a race once every couple of months – so it it’s certainly a consideration. Otherwise it is South Downs and Surrey Hills mainly.
WWSTWD?Posted 1 month ago
Find something in stock in your size and buy it quicklyPosted 1 month ago
Spark RC is a great shout if you can find one, Supercaliber is nice but possibly a little too like your race HT. The 2021 Spark RC gets a burlier Fox 34SC or the new 35mm Sid with 110mm travel, so it’s plenty capable and with a dropper post added will do most things. True STW style though and recommend your own, the Transition Spur is incredible. By far and away the fastest, most enjoyable bike I’ve ridden. Doesn’t feel like it gives much away to race bikes (rode older Sparks, Scalpels and Anthems a few years back) but my god is it a hooligan on singletrack and descents. With two pairs of wheels (or even just a set of race tyres) I’d happily have it as a race bike that can double as a trail bike. It’s insanely good, highly recommended!Posted 1 month ago
I’d like a nice, light, short travel 29er, can’t afford one having just bought a new enduro last year, but if i could I’d have a new scalpel or spesh epic!Posted 1 month ago
@lawman91 – The Spur looks amazing. But also so does the price! Which of the models to you have and does the lesser specced version concede a lot to the £££ version?Posted 1 month ago
I will follow this with interest.Posted 1 month ago
I’m not racing XC, but after riding a fair bit of XC last year. My bikes are +30lb RipmoAF + P7 – both setup for enduro. I borrowed a mates superlight XC HT for a duathlon recently – wow! just wow! So damn fast and to my surprise great fun on a the southern XC track. I’ve convinced myself I need a nice light bike for XC duties.
Toying between Transition Spur, Epic Evo, possibly a Scott Spark (the latest model). I’m not sure how Transition can justify the £6k price tag for the higher spec one, when the frame + shock (SID ultimate) is £3k? I’ll build a better bike for circa £5k.
As said above, I’m not sure you’ll get a lot of choice.
Find something in stock that’s the right size and you like the look of and get it. I get the feeling bikes are going to be in short supply for a whilePosted 1 month ago
@mccraque, it is expensive, but it honestly could be your only FS bike, it feels just as capable (if not more capable) as any other FS bike I’ve owned round Llandegla and other places I frequent it’s quicker than my old Foxy XR downhill too, and that had a 160mm Fox 36 up front!
I’ve got a “base” GX build, honestly the only area it really gives up compared to the X01 build is in the wheels, everything else is spot on really and weight savings would be minimal. I got some Hunt XC Wides which cut 300g off the weight (also added my Chromag carbon bars and stem, but the ANVL bar is actually quite light, so only saved 50g). The cranks on the X01 are not X01 models either, and are cheaper and heavier, so again, only 50g or so lighter than the alloy Stylo’s on the GX.
If I had the choice (I could get a full bike quicker) I would go GX and swap the wheels or go frame only and build. Nice as the X01 build is, you can get the bike just as light without spending the extra £1k. Interesting fact as well, the Sid Select+ shock is identical in damper terms to the Ultimate, there’s just more machining around the eyelet that saves a massive 5g, so really wouldn’t worry about the apparent “downgrade” on the shock. The Select+ fork is fine as well, really good actually, feels better than the Charger RC damper in my old Pikes. It is hella money, but as a one bike XC/trail bike to rule them all, it’s up there with the very best and it is crazy light, mine is 12.1kg with pedals, a mates Tallboy 4 with similar build is well over a kilo heavier.Posted 1 month ago
I’d probably get a YT Izzo if I wanted to do a bit of XC but still have a decent trail bike.
One of the bike sites (probably a German one) did a comparison with a proper XC FS bike and found it was very close in overall speed.
Whether they are gonna be in stock anytime soon however…Posted 1 month ago
In true STW style I’ll recommend what I ride: Intense Sniper.
“I’ve had my Intense now for about 2 months now & I’ll admit I’m still getting used to it, but I’ve ridden & raced it in that time so I’ve a few thoughts on it.
My 1st XC race bike was a SC Blur XC. This bike was a total blast. Eminently flickable & agile, a superb climbing bike & stiff enough to point down things it had no right to take on. LOVED IT. It carried me safely trough BC Bike Race & other shenanigans too! Then I tore a tendon & I was off the bike for 2 yrs or so.
Return to racing.
I bought a Trek Top Fuel as 26″ bikes just weren’t cutting it in XC any more. Lots of very positive reviews on this bike so I felt comfortable taking a punt & managed to get a good deal on a 2017 frame. This bike has a lovely, supple rear end – one of the best I’ve ever ridden, almost as smooth as Pivot’s DW. But the front end? I just could not get on with it – often felt that front wheel was trying to tuck in underneath me. Frightening at times…perhaps it was me?
New bike time.
I needed something new if I was going to carry on racing, something still race orientated but a bit more fun! Thankfully, there’s a lot of choice now when it comes to to slack angled short travel bikes & rightly so. I looked at the Scott Spark (obvious choice really) but something about it I didn’t like. I did demo one & the twin-loc is useful but it felt a little too flimsy though I’m sure that isn’t the case. Santa Cruz have a new Blur XC out but HA looked too steep. Yeti? Lovely bike but a complete unknown to me. The Pivot has really nice rear end but HA still too steep. Then spotted the Intense & I’ve always had a soft spot for the Intense since way back in the day with the M1. Plus it had VPP which I’m familiar with & all the numbers checked out.
What’s it like?
Fun! Carry’s incredible speed, agile, planted on descents (by which I mean I’m not sh1ttig myself & can recover a touch too), climbs well enough….only thing I’d say is I’m not sure I’ve got the VPP set up yet – feels a touch agricultural.
Intense set up the bike with a 50mm stem & a fork offset of 44mm, I run mine with a 65mm stem & 51mm offset. I found a 60mm stem way too short & felt like I was hanging off the back of the bike & the front wheel was miles out in front. God knows what a 50mm stem must feel like…… I tried a 70mm stem (from the Trek) but that felt I was being pulled out too far in front & I was losing some of the agility in the bike. Settled on 65mm & so far, so good. No real idea how the different in fork offset has affected the handling, but the change in trail should slow down the handling a touch. It seems fine regardless.
In short: the Intense is a fun race/short travel trail bike. I did a test lap at Torq in your sleep – on the Saturday night before it rained – & it was a riot. Fast, capable, confidence inspiring. Did I say fast? Like Endor speeder bike fast! In the mud on Sunday it was still good, though I think I could have done with grippier tyres……it’s had a couple of blats round Swinley/Crowthorne too & well, I think I’m in love!”
I’ve now changed the fork from a Fox SC 32 to a Sid WC – the Fox was too twangy at times, the Sid is marginally stiffer. I’ve also added the brace for the rear triangle to stiffen up the rear end. I’m not heavy at 72kg but I like to feel whats going on so for met it’s been worth while.Posted 1 month ago
Reading on YT’s site too, you have to pay £185 postage and customs fees as well 14% import fees, which makes the Izzo Pro over £4.1k… I could be wrong about that, but that doesn’t make it as good value as it would be, especially so given their CS reputation and the lack of stock!Posted 1 month ago
Orbea Oiz gets good reviews pretty much every wherePosted 1 month ago
Not sure whether to go for something like a Trek Supercaliber… or a little more “trail”
I can agree with mrlebowski on the sniper, it’s incredibly quick (assuming the XC version). They’ve got the suspension just right so it really carries the speed without losing any power when pedalling. The epic is also very good. I’ve ridden the brain version which is probably quicker than th sniper, although you’ll have to accept no dropper which may or may not be a good thing depending on your preference.
I just bought an ex-demo Sniper Trail. It’s not as light or aggressive as the XC version, but it keeps the pedalling efficiency and is more capable on the descents, almost as good as my Cotic Flare Max in fact so perfect for the marathon/endurance duties it’s intended for.Posted 1 month ago
If money and availability were covered then I’d be looking at an Orbea Oiz or Cannondale Scalpel. If not for a HT then Trek Supercaliber. I can’t bring myself to buy a Spec and absolutely can’t be doing with the million cables on a Spark (and am not convinced by the suspension to remove the lockout either). If I were spending a ton of money on an XC full sus bike I’d also want two bottle cages so that influences my suggestions as well. I’d make an exception for a BMC Fourstroke as the integrated dropped looks very slick and I’ve always wanted one and bike lust is a valid thing 🙂Posted 1 month ago
Orbea Oiz gets good reviews pretty much every where
I’ve also ridden one of them, very nice but more traditional xc geometry compared to the sniper and epic.Posted 1 month ago
Trek Top Fuel meets those requirements and Trek seem to hold good stock of them.
I have one and I love it – may replace it for a Transition Spur, but for the moment it meets my ‘XC with some serious gnar when required’ needs.
29lbs fully built with proper tonka tyres, 26lbs with fast light tyres .
Posted 1 month ago
Orbea Oiz – racey enough for me to catch and pass cross bikes on a short track course, XCey enough for me to ride 75km of mixed terrain and still feel fresh at the endPosted 1 month ago
Epic evo can be built crazy light and Curtis Keene looks like he gives it some stick judging by his setup. I think even the new stumpy can get int9 the mid twenties easily enough. Not sure how good speech are to deal with.Posted 1 month ago
Another option is the Kona Hei Hei, I have a 2017 Kona Hei Hei Race DL and love it, upgraded a few bits and added a dropper post. At the time the geo was at the more extreme end of XC, it was longer and slacker than most other XC bikes I was looking at. I’m running mine with 110 mm front travel and it can go up to 120 mm. The new for 2020 Hei Hei CR and CR/DL have reduced frame weight, a different shock position so that the frame fits 2 water bottles and increased rear travel to 120 mm.
OP, if this fits you its a bargain: https://winstanleysbikes.co.uk/bikes/mountain-bikes/full-suspension-mtb-bikes/kona-hei-hei-race-supreme-2017-bikePosted 1 month ago
Have an epic evo, ticks the boxes, really like the oiz too I have a Rallon which I love, not for xc ovs…. fast becoming an Orbea fanboiPosted 1 month ago
Transition Spur, YT Izzy, Yeti whatever it’s called?
These all get positive reviews and feedback for being fast and capable.Posted 1 month ago
Very long lead times at the moment, but I have put my order in for a Live Valve equipped Pivot Mach 4 SL. I’ve had the demo bike for a little while and it’s definitely faster than my Spark, and rides better than the Epic and Oiz I also demoed.
I definitely preferred it with the 120mm fork rather than the 100mm, the HA was a touch steep and the 120mm slackens it out to a much nicer angle.Posted 1 month ago
Some good ideas in here! I love the Intense…but not sure about the frame graphics. Wouldn’t be a deal breaker but looks like they have tried to use every colour they had available in the photos. Also….Never seems to be in stock (since before COVID!)
I like Pivot and the distributor is just up the road from me. But Superboost rear ends? Why!?
Hei Hei is another of interest….but how to they weigh in? Always assumed they were on the beefier side of XC?Posted 1 month ago
Kona’s have never been the lightest bikes in a category. My size XL 2017 Hei Hei Race DL weighs 12.2 kg (with a Reverb seatpost and Bontrager XR2 rear and XR3 front tyres), though I don’t consider it to be heavy.Posted 1 month ago
I’ve got the 120mm travel Oiz and it’s more than capable of being thrashed round at the sharp end of an XC race.Posted 1 month ago
Of the suggestions above that I’ve tried, I’d recommend the Spark, Sniper XC or T and Top Fuel. I was in a similar position last June, but wanted frame only so I could swap bits from my Scale to keep the cost down. Ended getting the Top Fuel as that was the only frame in stock at the time. I’m very happy with it. I wanted to try the Epic Evo, but it came out a few weeks too late (the threaded bb would probably have edged it for me, but maybe not the price). If I was in the same position now I’d also be tempted by the Izzo, but one of those might make your trail bike redundant. I’d only be looking at something like the Supercaliber or Spark RC if I was at the pointy end of the grid and wanted every last drop of “marginal gains”.Posted 1 month ago
I really like the look of the Revel Ranger with that CBF suspension. It’s more like the Spur and the SB115 in that it’s not an all out xc race bike.Posted 1 month ago
Hei Hei is another of interest….but how to they weigh in? Always assumed they were on the beefier side of XC?
Carbon frame is around 1950g if I remember correctly. Fairly similar to Scalpel, Supercaliber, Lux but a bit heavier than Epic EVO or Oiz OMX. Actually my aluminium frame wasn’t bad either, within a couple of hundred grams of carbon frames I’ve got now.Posted 1 month ago
Pivot mach4 frames on ebay just now. Not cheap but they never were newPosted 1 month ago
Rocky Mountain Element 999rsl ticks your boxes, spendy though
Is that the 429 Upgrade Bikes are selling off?Posted 1 month ago
When i was looking my options were Canyon Lux, Cube AMS, Trek Supercalibre, Orbea Oiz I went with the Lux in the end for overall better spec for a good price that got me carbon wheels and a dropper. A spark was tempting but I need a small frame and you can’t fit a 2nd bottle cage.Posted 1 month ago
I was just about to get a Rose Thrill hill until they pulled out of the UK.
Totally happy with my choice just need races now.
re: the Izzo, the one I paid for in the middle of November is still in Germany, assuming they didn’t lie about build date…Posted 1 month ago
I like Pivot and the distributor is just up the road from me. But Superboost rear ends? Why!?
That’s only on the trail bikes. The Mach 4 is standard Boost.Posted 1 month ago
Bird 120 with 120-140 travelPosted 1 month ago
I’ll second (or is it third?) those Sniper recommendations. Mine is 10.5kg, pedals really well, generally doesn’t give much up to the more standard Olympic XC bikes, BUT has decent trail geometry and dropper to boot (well, older trail bikes anyway). I got an ex-demo so had to get the mad colour scheme one – it actually looks far better in the flesh (ie OK) than in photos. Unusually I haven’t really felt the need to change anything on it either, their builds don’t really skimp imo. Only downer for me is the single cage – although I think L and above now have two cages.Posted 1 month ago
Bird 120 with 120-140 travel
He wants something lightish and fast, not a plodder.
-Spark (two in the group I ride with, no unnecessary bobbing and go downhill well, handlerbar lockout nice feature)
A bit less GnarC, more trail, but with xc wheels and racy rubber they could be contenders
-Stumpjumper, new one is getting rave reviews (and if I was replacing my smuggler, that would be top of the list)
-Trek Fuel (seat angle is a no no from me, mate has one and it goes up and down hills very well)
No love for the Scalpel SE?
The SE 1 is XT equipped, 120mm, around 11kg and ‘only’ £4,400. Much cheaper than Epic Evo or Blur TR.
I don’t have one, but I am very tempted by it for some endurance races and rocky trails.Posted 1 month ago
Just my opinion and like assholes everyone has one…….
I ride a Spark RC on the SDW and a friend has an Oiz – both would meet your criteria for where you’re riding. I also like the Scalpel which IME give a more ‘stretched out’ position on the bike.
For mile munching in comfort with efficiency the Spark is a very good bike.Posted 1 month ago
I have an Epic that I’ve put on a diet – was fast before when it weighed 12kg, but now it’s around the 10kg mark it is really quick.
I picked it up (ex demo) for a good price, otherwise I would have gone for a Spark or Oiz.
The riding I built it for is biggish mileage days out or multi days out. Also for short fast blasts if XC racing ever comes back.Posted 1 month ago
I had a sniper trail, when it was working properly, it was incredibly fun to ride.
BUT I warrantied it twice, the service from saddleback / intense was poor. Also, due to the slack seat angle and flexy rear end, it wasn’t that much quicker than my bird am 9 on the climbs and definitely wasnt as comfortable.
I sold I it, lost a load of money and now have an ns synonym on the way. I’m hoping this will have all the good bits of the sniper, but none of the bad.
I would never buy another intense after my experience.Posted 1 month ago
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