Which Bike?

brocksw

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Considering a bike purchase for this fall and need some suggestions. Have not really gotten into "mountain biking" in the past but like the idea of having the mechanical advantage and it's a good excuse to buy a new toy.

Looking for an all around, stable, and comfortable bike that could help me take gear into the mountains and badlands, probably pull a trailer. If I can I'd also like to do some bike packing on some local long distance trails. Maybe drive as a commuter once in a while are on the local city bike trails.

Since I won't be looking to race, jump, or do any of that stuff do I need front suspension? Do I need 27.5+ tires?

On a budget and would like to avoid buying 2 bikes if possible.

Bikes I'm currently considering:

Specialized AWOL - 29" with a road bike frame made for bike packing - no suspension - can house up to a 2.3" tire. I'm think I could run two tires on this bike... Stock tire for around town and a second set (2.3") slightly more aggressive for hunting. concerned about the road bike geometry and no front suspension. However, seems like lots of people use these style bikes for carrying heavy loads.

Specialized Fuse 6fattie - 27.5+ bike - Might be nice in the mountains for a little extra float, but not ideal for using it around town. I'm wondering if this is a luxury and maybe a little overkill. Is there enough of a performance enhancement to warrant buying a second bike for around town? I think this bike is more of a hobby bike that I would use if I were interested in the more aggressive aspect of the sport.

Specialized Rockhopper - Another 29" bike - the most affordable - Doesn't offer the rack compatibility that the AWOL offers, but it does have front suspension.
 
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Tag_Soup

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Picked up one of these a few weeks ago and it is absolutely awesome! I wouldn't recommend it for road riding, but it has been great in the hills and on gravel with a kid trailer behind!

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Poser

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You can always add suspension later if you find you need it. Not purchasing it will save you $$.

I'd take a good look at your local used bike market on Craigslist.


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beefman

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If you're considering riding this bike on FS roads or anything much rougher than a gravel road, I would for sure get a bike with front suspension. Most of those steel framed bike packer bikes are not going to do well on rocky doubletrack. Plus the geometry isn't going to be comfortable for long, bumpy rides.

The 27.5+ is a nice way to go for accessing hunting areas because you get the extra traction of a wide tire and the diameter ends up being close to 29" anyways. A lot of the areas I hunt are accessed via long slogs up FS roads and I got a Salsa Timberjack for this exact purpose.
 

Titan_Bow

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I really like the look of that Salsa Timberjack. I have been using an old Giant mountain bike that I picked up at a yard sale. I've used it for hunting, family bike rides, commutes to work, etc. Ive put hundreds, if not thousands of miles on it, and I am really ready to upgrade myself. From the places I have taken my bike, I think I am going to go plus size tire (2.8 -3.0") 27.5 or 29 Starting with a cheap bike might get you into it deep enough that you begin to really realize exactly what you want.

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twall13

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I'm also in the market and I've been leaning heavily towards the Diamondback Mason. Being a 27.5+ it won't be great for road riding but should be awesome for the type of riding I intend to do 95% of the time.
 

Bar

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I always wanted a bike, but I hunt too much wilderness and we can't use them there. You guys are lucky.
 

Titan_Bow

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I hunt wilderness areas alot too. I use my bike for whitetails out in eastern Colorado and Nebraska, and for turkeys in Nebraska. Just took it to NW Montana for spring bear this year also. I've also used it antelope hunting in Wyoming a few times
 

flatlanderhuffandpuff

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I mountain bike as my main hobby. I used to build bicycle frames before I got too busy with everything else. That doesn't by any means make me an expert on what you are looking for, but I would recommend you look into a 29+ rigid. THe extra wheel volume will give you plenty of comfort and the rigid fork will save a bit.

Find something with a steel frame and fork and you will be set to go for the long haul.

Don't get a Specialized, just because they are the flat-brimmed-hat dealer who loves to sue other companies. I would also stay away from a cyclocross inspired geometry. That wont work well for getting into the mountains with a load.
 

Poser

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I really like the look of that Salsa Timberjack. I have been using an old Giant mountain bike that I picked up at a yard sale. I've used it for hunting, family bike rides, commutes to work, etc. Ive put hundreds, if not thousands of miles on it, and I am really ready to upgrade myself. From the places I have taken my bike, I think I am going to go plus size tire (2.8 -3.0") 27.5 or 29 Starting with a cheap bike might get you into it deep enough that you begin to really realize exactly what you want.

Zmvlc69.jpg

283TMqc.jpg

I've test ridden a Timberjack twice in the last 2 months. It's a really great value for the money. You get the same components as bikes that cost 2.5x as much. You can rail on that bike but it's also great for bikepacking.


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RBNM

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I mountain bike as my main hobby. I used to build bicycle frames before I got too busy with everything else. That doesn't by any means make me an expert on what you are looking for, but I would recommend you look into a 29+ rigid. THe extra wheel volume will give you plenty of comfort and the rigid fork will save a bit.

Find something with a steel frame and fork and you will be set to go for the long haul.

Don't get a Specialized, just because they are the flat-brimmed-hat dealer who loves to sue other companies. I would also stay away from a cyclocross inspired geometry. That wont work well for getting into the mountains with a load.

I second the idea of a plus tire with a rigid fork being a nice combo. I mountain bike on a fully suspended bike and I recently put together the bike pictured in this post for reasons very similar to the original poster. I love them both on single track and forest roads. My 27.5 plus tires have been a blast to ride.

Someone mentioned the Karate Monkey. I don't think that's a bad idea. I went with the Surly Ogre with a 27.5 plus build, but strongly considered the KM and the new Krampus.
Ogre.jpg
ogre1.jpg
 
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brocksw

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Thanks for all the feedback. I had a long discussion with a local dealer who to my surprise had access to surly bikes. I was unaware of this at the time of my original post. Now that I know this I have eliminated specialized and narrowed my bikes down to two. The surly Karate Monkey and the Ogre. My gut tells me the ogre will fit my needs better and give me the option to add 27.5+ tires. It also fits more racks and fenders and is better suited for hauling... At least that's according to surly.

Anyone have good compelling arguments for one or the other? If not it looks like the ogre will get my money. Down the road if I want a lighter more aggressive bike... The KM will get the vote then.

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RBNM

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Thanks for all the feedback. I had a long discussion with a local dealer who to my surprise had access to surly bikes. I was unaware of this at the time of my original post. Now that I know this I have eliminated specialized and narrowed my bikes down to two. The surly Karate Monkey and the Ogre. My gut tells me the ogre will fit my needs better and give me the option to add 27.5+ tires. It also fits more racks and fenders and is better suited for hauling... At least that's according to surly.

Anyone have good compelling arguments for one or the other? If not it looks like the ogre will get my money. Down the road if I want a lighter more aggressive bike... The KM will get the vote then.

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For a 27.5 + build on the Ogre you will be out the cost of plus size wheels/tires and you will need to add a Surly offset double crankset/BB combo(maybe $650 or so extra) to make it work. Compared to the Karate Monkey you will also have a lower bottom bracket which means your ride may feel more stable but your pedal strikes will probably increase. Ogre is no longer suspension corrected so adding front suspension is out of the question (a selling point for me).

If you go with the Karate monkey you'll already have plus tires, you have the option to add suspension, and you'll experience a bike that's slightly more ready to be trail roudy. I think it's a tough call. I went with the Ogre partly because I've got a suspended mountain bike for the more ripping fun days and I thought the ogre with 27.5 would be nice on longer bikepacking trips and general putzing around but capable on most of the stuff I'll want to ride.
 
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brocksw

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For a 27.5 + build on the Ogre you will be out the cost of plus size wheels/tires and you will need to add a Surly offset double crankset/BB combo(maybe $650 or so extra) to make it work. Compared to the Karate Monkey you will also have a lower bottom bracket which means your ride may feel more stable but your pedal strikes will probably increase. Ogre is no longer suspension corrected so adding front suspension is out of the question (a selling point for me).

If you go with the Karate monkey you'll already have plus tires, you have the option to add suspension, and you'll experience a bike that's slightly more ready to be trail roudy. I think it's a tough call. I went with the Ogre partly because I've got a suspended mountain bike for the more ripping fun days and I thought the ogre with 27.5 would be nice on longer bikepacking trips and general putzing around but capable on most of the stuff I'll want to ride.
Yes that's my understanding too... However the more I think about it, the more I wonder if I really need to go to the 27.5+ tires on the ogre. I think it would be ready to go as is with the 29x2.5 stock tires and would work great for commuting and load hauling on non technical trails. I can always beef up the tires a little if I wanted, or buy a 27.5+ KM later.

As of today I know I need/want a capable load hauling bike that can be used to travel long trails in the badlands, haul gear in and out of the mountains, and commute around town... Too me that sounds more like the ogre, but I could be mistaken.

Is there a big difference in stability and traction going from a 29x2.5 tire on the ogre to a 27.5x3 on the KM?

Will climbing be easier with one of the two bikes?



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RBNM

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Yes that's my understanding too... However the more I think about it, the more I wonder if I really need to go to the 27.5+ tires on the ogre. I think it would be ready to go as is with the 29x2.5 stock tires and would work great for commuting and load hauling on non technical trails. I can always beef up the tires a little if I wanted, or buy a 27.5+ KM later.

As of today I know I need/want a capable load hauling bike that can be used to travel long trails in the badlands, haul gear in and out of the mountains, and commute around town... Too me that sounds more like the ogre, but I could be mistaken.

Is there a big difference in stability and traction going from a 29x2.5 tire on the ogre to a 27.5x3 on the KM?

Will climbing be easier with one of the two bikes?



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Any chance you're shop has some demos you could ride? With the plus tires you'll probably get away with tire pressures in the low teens and with the 29 x 2.5 maybe around 20 PSI. You'll benefit from surface area and added traction of a plus tire on a climb. I'm not sure to what extent though. I ripped around on some local single track with a stock Ogre demo before going 27.5 and it was fine at everything I do around here. 27.5 has given me a much more comfortable ride though.

I am in the camp that thinks that if you're a strong rider that 29ers have an advantage while climbing. So, if you're like me, you will agonize over this decision, meaning that it's probably fine either way.
 
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brocksw

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Any chance you're shop has some demos you could ride? With the plus tires you'll probably get away with tire pressures in the low teens and with the 29 x 2.5 maybe around 20 PSI. You'll benefit from surface area and added traction of a plus tire on a climb. I'm not sure to what extent though. I ripped around on some local single track with a stock Ogre demo before going 27.5 and it was fine at everything I do around here. 27.5 has given me a much more comfortable ride though.

I am in the camp that thinks that if you're a strong rider that 29ers have an advantage while climbing. So, if you're like me, you will agonize over this decision, meaning that it's probably fine either way.
No demos available

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NHRedleg

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If not getting a fat bike or + I would definitely recommend the front suspension. Being a bit older (50) with cranky wrists I really like my front suspension, and it can be locked out if I am on smooth roads. Also, I would recommend taking a look at Bikes Direct: Save Up To 60% Off Road Bikes, Bicycles, Mountain Bikes and Bicycles with Bikesdirect.com, New with full warranties You can get a lot of bike for significant savings; basically their house name on the frames with quality brand name components. I have bought two bikes from them and have been super satisfied; my cyclocross bike and wife’s road bike and had I not found smoking deals on my BMC mnt bike and her Diamondback mnt bike I probably would have gotten them there as well. If you're at all comfortable wrenching on your own bike it is worth the look.
 
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