Quantcast

All mountain versus xc versus freeride versus ???

I am new to this forum. This is my first post. I like to ride off-road, on trails or on things approximating trails. These days I am trying to pay a bit more attention to having the "right" sort of bike for the riding that I most like to do. And this gets me to the reason for my post: I'm having a difficult time sorting out just what the different types of mountain bikes are optimized to do.

I've been looking at two models by Specialized: the Enduro SX Trail and the Stumpjumper. The marketing copy on Specialized's web site does a poor job of differentiating between their models. The Enduro is good for "All-Mountain, that doesn't mean just the easy trails..." while the Stumpjumper is good for "...riding a fast, flowing piece of singletrack."

Huh? I must say, that marketing copy just does not enlighten me.

Just what, exactly, are the differences likely to be between these two models? What are the design tradeoffs? Does the Enduro use a different frame geometry? And to what end? I really wish Specialize would post more details about the design tradeoffs between their models.

When I look at bikes in general, I see terms like "all mountain", "freeride", "downhill". Downhill is an obvious term. But what, exactly, does "freeride" refer to? I assume it doesn't mean to ride freely through the woods on traces of 30-year-old logging trails.

I know I should ask the dealer about all this, and I will one of these days, but the store is an hour's drive away (one way), and I'll be lucky to have the time to go back this week.

I sat on the Enduro in the store and really like the "feel" of it. I'm sorely tempted to buy one next spring. I couldn't try the Stumpjumper at all, because you have to cut down the seatpost in order to adjust it. For reasons I can't put my finger on, I visually prefer the Enduro. I'm not sure why that is. Could be just the paint job.

I wasn't really in the market for a $2000+ bike last week, and ended up walking out the door with a Rockhopper Comp at an end-of-season price that seemed reasonably good. The bike is great, and it's what I should have bought three years ago. I had been riding a Specialized Expedition model, which is a very capable bike, but not really the best thing in deep sand, wet sand, when going through mud holes. I still ride it around town though, because the Rockhopper's knobby tires are sub-optimal on pavement.
 

Tenchiro

Attention K Mart Shoppers
Jul 19, 2002
5,407
0
New England
The actual labels people give bikes aren't as limiting as they might seem, so don't get caught up so much there.

I would say for general trail riding, anything from a hardtail al the way to something with 5-6" of travel would be appropriate. Unless you are going to do alot of downhill, I would suggest you also stay with a single crown fork, simply for the tighter turn radius. The Stumpjumper FSR Comp would probably be a good start for general trail riding. The Giant Maestro series might be another good place to look.

If you are looking to go with a hardtail you may want to look at the Giant XTC series they have always been a good value. Kona is also a good place to look, the Kula seems decent.
 
Thanks Tenchiro. I have a hardtail now, in fact, and am thinking my next purchase will be something softer. Maybe. If my wife lets me spend the money. She was rather taken aback this fall when I began looking at that Enduro that was on sale "for only" $2500 :-)

I've read that downhill bikes tend to have lower front fork angles (say, 69 degrees versus 70), and that those lower fork angles promote stability whilst going down. That's the sort of detail I'm interested in learning more about.

Offhand, I don't know what a "single crown fork" is. I'll go google it though. Sorry to be so clueless.

BTW, the type of riding I most do is best characterized as exploring old logging trails near my home. In the immediate vicinity, Munising is surrounded by sandy hills. These hills are chock full of old logging trails. Some of those trails are overgrown with waist-high, and sometimes neck-high brush. (Heh. I was riding through some of that brush just yesterday) Other trails are kept open by four-wheelers and snowmobilers. The "through trails", those that actually go somewhere, tend to be the snowmobile trails. There are hills. My map shows Lake Superior at 183.2 meters, and one of the high hills nearby is shown at 331 meters. Trails tend to be sandy (lots and lots of sand). The ones used by dirt bikes and such tend to have frequent patches of deep sand. Low spots in trails are often muddy. Erosion and washouts are common. I went down a hill yesterday where the trail has eroded some eight feet or more below what originally was ground level. Add to that another two foot deep washout from recent rains. It's all sand, so erosion can be dramatic. We get some rocks, fist to melon sized, and I tend to notice those most on downhills where water has eroded away lots of sand (thus concentrating the rocks). Grand Island has at least one downhill run with enough rocks to make me feel like I'm riding a washboard.

When I can, I just like to go out on the trail system and ride. I am not much for tricks and jumping, though I would like to get a bit better at lifting my front end to hop over logs, and being able to hit a small jump might be fun. I do not ever see myself going for big air. Downhills tend to make me nervous. I am trying to get better at handling those. Flying down an uneven hill littered with rocks and branches with the bike bouncing all around underneath is a little unnerving when failure means I'll likely launch my head into a tree. I use the brakes a lot :-)
 

rigidhack

Turbo Monkey
Aug 16, 2004
1,210
1
In a Van(couver) down by the river
That was a great description of your general riding. I personally think you might find the SX Trail to be too much bike for that kind of thing. A regular Enduro might be worth looking at -same geometry (same"feel") and the same looks without all of the beefed up componentry.

Assuming that you are competent on a bike, you might also want to check out the Giant Reign, Kona Dawg, or the Cannondale Prophet. (I'm adding the competency qualifier since there is no point spending $1500-$2k+ on a bike if you are just messing around.)
 
rigidhack said:
Assuming that you are competent on a bike, you might also want to check out the Giant Reign, Kona Dawg, or the Cannondale Prophet.
Thanks. There is, actually, a Giant/Cannondale dealer in Marquette. Next time I get the chance, I'll try and have a look at the models you mention.

rigidhack said:
(I'm adding the competency qualifier since there is no point spending $1500-$2k+ on a bike if you are just messing around.)
LOL! Yeah, it has occurred to me that I could probably survive without full suspension. Would be nice to have a smoother ride though. And I will say this, I have not regretted (so far) spending the money to buy good bikes. There's probably a point at which I wouldn't be able to tell the difference anymore, a point of diminishing returns as one goes up in price, but I can certainly notice the difference between the average discount store bike and the one I'm riding now.

Am I competent? I have no idea. Competency is probably a relative thing. My guess is that many of you would probably not be all that impressed with my biking prowess. I am 43 and not in the best of shape (getting better though!). But I'm stubborn, and persistant, and not afraid to get off and push when I'm bonked (else I would still be out on the trails where I was at yesterday), and I do, in fact, ride where most others I know would not bother to go.
 
Hey, I just remembered, I have a few photos online of where I like to ride:

http://gennick.com/BikeRide.html

These photos are all on the snowmobile route that loops around south of town.

I was the one taking the pics, so you don't get to see me in them. Sorry 'bout that.

There are less muddy trails to ride on. South of town the snowmobile trail cuts across some seasonal streams that flow downhill and into the swamp. Sometimes those crossings are just awfull messes.
 

Tenchiro

Attention K Mart Shoppers
Jul 19, 2002
5,407
0
New England
From the conditions and the pics, I bet something like a Kona Coiler or maybe an older Stinky would be right up your alley. I have a 6" travel Giant AC2 as my all around bike, and it works real well on everything. Well, everythign that I ride anyways.

With all the sand and loose rocks you have, I would suggest something that can handle 2.35-2.5" tires. They are going to be alot more stable in the rough, loose area.
 

SkaredShtles

I love NEWCASTLE and will ONLY drink NEWCASTLE!!!!
Sep 21, 2003
48,975
2,981
In a van.... down by the river
Get a 4-5" full suspension. Find a reasonably light one. You will ride for years in those MI conditions with nary a problem and it'll be easier on your body.

You can find some nice 4-5" full sus with decent part specs for *much* less than $2500.
 

Skookum

bikey's is cool
Jul 26, 2002
10,190
0
in a bear cave
A stumpjumper would probably fit the type of riding you have, that or an Epic. But you're right in spotting the seatpost flaw, it's really about the only flaw on the bike, but a flaw it is....
i have an older model enduro and i have been pretty happy with it, my complaints with it (low bottom bracket height) might not apply to you. The newer enduros are pretty spendy. But if you got the dough to buy the Enduro SX Trail hell why not, it might be more bike than you need, but who cares right? :D

Anyways much of the marketing jargon is there to hype and sell bikes, but it's also there to cater to a broad variety of rider wants and needs. We all ride different trails with varying terrain.

A basic jist of it DH heavy burly bike awesome for descending and heavy abuse, horrid for climbing.
Freeride, burly heavier bike great for descending and heavy abuse, poor for climbing.
All-Mountain, a tweener bike built tougher with angles split down the middle, slack but not choppered etc., good climber stable descender.
XC Trail, same thing but a little less travel.
XC a lighter bike made for regular trail use, steep to make for a great climber, and a capable descender.
XC race bikes super light for racing but not for real trail use.

There are many bikes within all kinds of classifications, i find the best route to go is to hop on these bikes and get a good feel for it. Take it up and down some steps, hills, curbs, etc and see if it feels good for what you'd do with it. Another great idea is to see what others are riding in your area, and try to get some feedback from them. Different frame designs and shocks enable mt. bikes to do awesome things nowadays, and help cater better to different riders capabilities and ride inclination.
 

sanjuro

Tube Smuggler
Sep 13, 2004
17,412
0
SF
The confusion is understandable. There was another big thread about Trail vs Enduro, which is also confusing marketing terms. (http://www.ridemonkey.com/forums/showthread.php?t=133818).

XC vs AM vs FR is a little easier to categorize, if you are familar with components.

Usually you can categorize based on travel and weight:

XC: 3-4 inches - 20-25 lbs
AM: 4-6 inches - 28-32 lbs
FR: 7+ inches - 35+ lbs

Weight also has a lot to do with cost, the more expensive the lighter.

The real tricky part is the trail vs enduro debate, which both fall under the all mountain category. They both have about 5-7 inches of travel and they both weigh about 30 lbs. I realized today the easiest way to tell a trail bike, which is more like a XC bike, vs an enduro bike, which is more like a FR bike, is to look at the fork.

An enduro bike will have probably have bigger stanctions, typically 36mm like the Fox 36 or the Marzocchi 66. A trail bike with have a 32mm stanction, which is like most XC forks. The smaller stanction is lighter while the heavier is stronger. They both might be coil or air springs, but the stanction legs is the most obvious difference.
 

sanjuro

Tube Smuggler
Sep 13, 2004
17,412
0
SF
SkaredShtles said:
Sweet! I've got an all mountain bike and I didn't even know it........... :think:
Is it a Turner Nitrous with a Profile Racing Cro-mo crankset, MTX wheelset, and a Brooks Leather Saddle; or a BCD Carbon frame with a SID (fork and shock), 20 inch cyclocross tubulars, and a Mrazek Ti crankset?
 

SkaredShtles

I love NEWCASTLE and will ONLY drink NEWCASTLE!!!!
Sep 21, 2003
48,975
2,981
In a van.... down by the river
sanjuro said:
Is it a Turner Nitrous with a Profile Racing Cro-mo crankset, MTX wheelset, and a Brooks Leather Saddle; or a BCD Carbon frame with a SID (fork and shock), 20 inch cyclocross tubulars, and a Mrazek Ti crankset?
No. It's an NRS Air. I always thought it was a XC bike. ;)
 

sanjuro

Tube Smuggler
Sep 13, 2004
17,412
0
SF
SkaredShtles said:
No. It's an NRS Air. I always thought it was a XC bike. ;)
Seriously, there are plenty of under-$500 bikes which weigh 30 lbs. I was talking about the optimal weights for the higher quality bikes.

An a NRS Air is a XC bike. How did you get it up to 28 lbs, put a coil shock on?
 

SkaredShtles

I love NEWCASTLE and will ONLY drink NEWCASTLE!!!!
Sep 21, 2003
48,975
2,981
In a van.... down by the river
sanjuro said:
Seriously, there are plenty of under-$500 bikes which weigh 30 lbs. I was talking about the optimal weights for the higher quality bikes.

An a NRS Air is a XC bike. How did you get it up to 28 lbs, put a coil shock on?
Naw - it's got a Psylo 80-120mm fork on it.

And for the record, I have no idea how much it weighs.