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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Snowmass
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    372

    "Progressive" hardtails - yay or nay?

    Years ago, when I was broke and in better shape, I rode an On-One Inbred 456 steel hardtail with a Rockshox Psylo providing cushion up front. The fork was softer than five inches of runny dogshit, but the frame was something special. It was my only bike and I rode it on everything. I got complements on it anywhere it went, from dirt jumps in Denver to trailheads in Aspen. It never held me back, though neither did the Juicy 7s even if that was their job. At some point I upgraded to a used Yeti 575 and gave the On-One to a friend in need. I never really missed it as each successive new bike was the best I'd ever ridden up to that point, including my Ripley LS and Guerrilla Gravity Megatrail (the last gen aluminum one). I bought the Megatrail thinking it would complement the Ripley well and could handle both park days and some techier trail rides. Problem is the Megatrail is TOO good and I find myself riding the Ripley less and less. I love the longer reach and steep seat tube. According to Strava I'm faster on my Megatrail on anything but the smoothest trails and it's running doubledowns vs exos on the Ripley. So it's time to make a change. I ride in mostly western colorado, with a fair amount of Moab and SE Utah riding in the mix. I'm thinking about running a long and low hardtail for the smoother/flowier stuff around here, ie 18rd/marys, glassier/rim trail, navajo rocks, etc.

    Bikes that come to mind are the Chromag Stylus, Kona Big Honzo, RSD Middlechild, Reeb Redikylous, etc.

    Not sure how much nostalgia is clouding my mind and if I'll regret the decision when my feet get blown off my pedals in the first rock garden or if geometry has progressed enough to balance out an inherently imbalanced ride. None of these will be much, if any, lighter than the Ripley; they seem more differentiated from today's long travel yet great pedaling enduro bikes.

    For anyone who rides one, thoughts on 27x2.8 vs 29x2.5? Should I size a hardtail any different than a full squish bike I love?
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Posts
    400
    I would suggest to take a closer look at Pole Taival. Bought a frame and built around 29 wheels with 150mm fork. Way better climber and one of the best hardtails on the way down. Used to have aluminum Kona Honzo and due to more slack STA the front was lifting on the ups and in general felt very harsh due to short chainstays and frame material. Pole was also one of the cheaper options among modern rowdy hardtails.

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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Carbondale
    Posts
    10,578

    "Progressive" hardtails - yay or nay?

    The red one.
    That on-one was a special bike.
    We should discuss this on a lift soon while sampling the future moisture content of the dirt


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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Posts
    100

    "Progressive" hardtails - yay or nay?

    2020 bikes that make your shorts tight
    Close to pulling the trigger on one of these, presale 10% off and custom colors, sale applies to full builds too, which seem to be a pretty banginí deal for the price. Anybody got any real word beta on these?



    https://polebicycles.com/polestore/p...olor-pre-sale/









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    https://www.tetongravity.com/forums/....php?p=5864863

    This was my post from the 2020 bikes thread. Also considering the hardtails you listed. I like the build and geo of some of the euro ones better, unfortunately. But the pole is a pretty great deal and with the 10% presale it gets really good. Hard to beat that EN kit for new value.


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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Posts
    100
    Also, review here that also has a link to some other enduro hardtail reviews: https://enduro-mtb.com/en/pole-taival-hardtail-review/

    Blister BTR review makes sense to me, especially not wanting crazy travel on a hardtail, but most of the ones Iím interested in come specíd with 150 or 160 travel forks even though 140 probably makes more sense for where I ride.


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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Central VT
    Posts
    4,154
    I can't recommend Chromag enough. I've got a Surface with 29ers and a 140 fork and its a blast. Its just as capable as my full suspension rig and, like the OP, I'm faster on that bike vs. my fancy full susp. bike on many trails I ride frequently.

    I regards to 29 x 2.5 vs. 27.5 x 2.8 - I ran my hardtail with 27.5 x 2.8s for a while and I far prefer the 29 x 2.4. Plus sized tires offered marginally more traction on softer surfaces but I found I needed to run higher pressures to keep the tire sidewalls from rolling through corners and smashing my rims on bigger hits. I'm also not the smallest person at 6 ft and 185 lbs. so it might be a better choice for lighter riders. For me 29ers corner better on the hardtail and the slightly larger diameter is better for keeping momentum.

    Definitely get a hardtail - its great to mix it up and keep your kills sharp when your main rig is a full suspension. The hardtail might feel a bit goofy at first if you're used to FS but after a few miles it begins to feel more precise and efficient.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    371
    I have a nuke proof scout and transition sentinel combo for the reasons above. Handling is similar but the hardtail is much snappier one the pedals. I think it is a great combo. Lots of good options at different price points. For sizing remember hardtail get steeper angles and more reach as they sag and full suspension does the opposite.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    1,161
    I've got a steel honzo set up as single speed with 29x2.35 tires and a 130mm pike. It just makes you want to do stupid shit, way more capable than most hardtails need to be. Anything in this bracket is going to be a blast, the steel aspect of the honzo handles some of the shittier landings and abuse I put into it.

    Only negative of that frame is the lack of ISCG tabs, totally bizarre.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    LA
    Posts
    154
    As above, yes, go with the 29er wheels. All I might add is to try and find one that can also be (easily) swapped to SS. It'll differentiate the HT that much more from the Megatrail, and offer a different kind of fun. Steel or Ti are usually gonna offer a nicer ride than an aluminum or carbon frame, of course.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Access to Granlibakken
    Posts
    7,330
    When pricing the UK steel hardtails, remember to deduct 20% VAT. If you buy thru a large retailer like chainreactioncycles, the shipping is $50 and they pay import duties. Pace is making some of the best steel hardtails right now.

    Since I’m selling my XL mojo frame, I had a pretty dialed in 27.5 build kit & decided to get a Ragley blue pig frame. My parents live in Bend so I ride that XC trail network regularly. Just built it up yesterday. 35 mm long stem with 800 bars and WB around 1250 mm.

    Since HTs have no rear sag, a nominal HA around 65 seems perfect for an all rounder bike with 140-150 fork.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Driggs
    Posts
    140
    I was in the same boat at the end of last year. Had a Smuggler but wanted something more bike park capable, and still needed a smaller bike to coach the kiddos on, as well as some bikepacking.

    Ended up swapping components from the Smuggler to a Ragley BigWig. Stupid affordable, with really similar geo. Only got a few rides on it last fall, but it's perfect for my use. I can ride any of the techy trails around here on it, and it makes them feel way gnarlier, but also makes casual cruisy rides more fun, as well as coaching. And it's capable enough that it's a really good loaner or backup bike when friends are in town.

    I've only ridden the 27.5+ tires a few times, and really wasn't impressed, I'm on 29x2.4/2.5 on the Bigwig, and that's perfect for me.

    I sized my Bigwig with the same reach as my large Smuggler, and am stoked on it. I used to ride an On-One 45650B that was a touch too small for me, and the difference between it and the longer (and slacker) Bigwig is huge.

    So, like everyone else said, do it! Fun hardtails are fun!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    northern BC
    Posts
    19,021
    Quote Originally Posted by NuMexJoe View Post
    As above, yes, go with the 29er wheels. All I might add is to try and find one that can also be (easily) swapped to SS. It'll differentiate the HT that much more from the Megatrail, and offer a different kind of fun. Steel or Ti are usually gonna offer a nicer ride than an aluminum or carbon frame, of course.
    The Salsa Timberjack has the Alternator dorpouts that let you run anything
    Lee Lau - xxx-er is the laziest Asian canuck I know

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Posts
    556
    I haven't had one of the truly progressive hardtails, but I did have a current gen alloy Chameleon, and hated it. I got it with 27.5+ initially, and really, really, really disliked the undamped rebound of the big tires. Switched it to 29x2.5 and it got better. On that particular bike, it's got like a 74 STA, and while I know that the effective STA on hardtails is steeper because the front sags, it felt like I was way over the rear end and stretched out. On climbs, I had a hard time keeping traction with the front wheel, another indicator to me that the seated position is too far back. Some of that may have come from locking out the fork climbing, but it just never felt like it was as comfortable climbing as my Sentinel. The steep HTA (like 67) felt even steeper because of the hardtail sag effect, especially since I "only" had a 140mm fork on it. Finally, when descending fast, even on smooth trails, my feet fucking HURT. That said, the guy who bought it off me loves it. And after he got that, another guy he rides with got a Chromag, and loves it too.

    I did consider getting a progressive steel frame to replace it (Chromag & Pipedream Moxie were leading candidates), but ended up buying a used alloy Smuggler frame. I don't ride that as much as I thought I would (complicated reasons mostly boiling down to "it's not as nice as my Sentinel"), but it didn't cost *that* much more than a hardtail frame would have. But since you already have a Ripley, it sounds like you don't really want/need a different short travel bike.

    Anyways, TLDR: make sure it's got really progressive geo, has a long fork, and be prepared to have your feet hurt.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Elmore, VT
    Posts
    993
    Ive got a Transition Scout Gen2 150/125travel and a Chromag Rootdown with a 160mm fork and plus tires (2.8). I tried the 29er wheels on it and it felt clumsy in the tight terrain here in VT. Since building up the Rootdown I ride the scout far less. The rootdown is agile, playful, immediately responsive, and fun. I usually only ride the Scout if Im headed to terrain that is more demanding where I would simply get "worked" on the hardtail or if I feel like leaving the ground a little more. Haven't quite mastered the hardtail landing technique yet...
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  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
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    Access to Granlibakken
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    Hardtails are stupid. Click image for larger version. 

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  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Snowmass
    Posts
    372
    If Canfield would announce a new Yelli Screamy I'd write the check today. I'm leaning toward the RSD because I can get it in Ti within my budget, that said those Poles look like a screaming deal.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Carbondale
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andeh View Post
    I haven't had one of the truly progressive hardtails, but I did have a current gen alloy Chameleon, and hated it. I got it with 27.5+ initially, and really, really, really disliked the undamped rebound of the big tires. Switched it to 29x2.5 and it got better. On that particular bike, it's got like a 74 STA, and while I know that the effective STA on hardtails is steeper because the front sags, it felt like I was way over the rear end and stretched out. On climbs, I had a hard time keeping traction with the front wheel, another indicator to me that the seated position is too far back. Some of that may have come from locking out the fork climbing, but it just never felt like it was as comfortable climbing as my Sentinel. The steep HTA (like 67) felt even steeper because of the hardtail sag effect, especially since I "only" had a 140mm fork on it. Finally, when descending fast, even on smooth trails, my feet fucking HURT. That said, the guy who bought it off me loves it. And after he got that, another guy he rides with got a Chromag, and loves it too.

    I did consider getting a progressive steel frame to replace it (Chromag & Pipedream Moxie were leading candidates), but ended up buying a used alloy Smuggler frame. I don't ride that as much as I thought I would (complicated reasons mostly boiling down to "it's not as nice as my Sentinel"), but it didn't cost *that* much more than a hardtail frame would have. But since you already have a Ripley, it sounds like you don't really want/need a different short travel bike.

    Anyways, TLDR: make sure it's got really progressive geo, has a long fork, and be prepared to have your feet hurt.
    I'm not saying that it was, but that's how I feel when I try to climb on a friends bike that's too big for me.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Posts
    400
    Just to lean you towards Pole. This bike is stupid fun and stable.

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  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    2,318
    26" HT. Still rips. 2.5" 150mm. Meat 'n taters. Rode my last steel Canadian HT (Peyto WildBill SOC) for 16 years. Hope this Chromag goes as far.
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  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Mid-tomahawk
    Posts
    323
    Echoing what's been said above that 1) aggressive hardtails are awesome and 2) plus tires are dumb.

    Few thoughts on geo:

    -Especially if you're used to a long, modern reach/steep STA FS bike, I'd go a touch shorter on the reach for a HT. The reach gets (a little) longer as you sag into the bike, and it's helpful to be able to move around on the bike a bit more.
    -You can go really low on the BB. It's not going to sag a ton deeper, like on a FS bike, you're never going to be pedaling it through anything super rough (caveat: maybe less true if you do a ton of very technical climbing. I don't.) and having it very low helps keep you planted "in" the bike and more stable trying to charge on it.
    -That guy who wrote the Blister BTR review is very smart (and also strikingly handsome, I hear). The bit about keeping the fork travel in check is important. I get the temptation to go longer and try to eke a bit of compliance out of the front, but I really think that moderating the geometry swings that you get out of a long travel fork works better. It's a hardtail, you're never going to make it ultra cushy. Embrace the nature of it and look for stuff to boost off instead.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Bottom feeding
    Posts
    7,540
    Frorider: Stupid fun, you mean.

    Quote Originally Posted by NuMexJoe View Post
    As above, yes, go with the 29er wheels. All I might add is to try and find one that can also be (easily) swapped to SS. It'll differentiate the HT that much more from the Megatrail, and offer a different kind of fun. Steel or Ti are usually gonna offer a nicer ride than an aluminum or carbon frame, of course.
    I agree with this. My SS is 4 years old, and if I had it made now I wouldn't do much different except make it more slack or progressive, and wider rims, (which I will change to when cash allows). All my PRs are on the SS for the mixed riding I do.
    Well maybe I'm the faggot America
    I'm not a part of a redneck agenda

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Posts
    556
    Quote Originally Posted by grskier View Post
    I'm not saying that it was, but that's how I feel when I try to climb on a friends bike that's too big for me.
    Yeah, it did feel too big, but should have been fine. It was a SC medium, but for some reason they made the ETT longer than normal for them (621 vs. usually 590-600), so about 25mm longer than both my Sentinel & Smuggler. Reach was actually shorter than my Sentinel (440 vs 450). So there probably was a bit of the hardtail geo weirdness going on.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Hell Track
    Posts
    9,051
    Just had a fuck it moment. Ordered a Taival. In a small, which feels weird. But whatever, looking forward to it. Now I've just gotta wait 5 months for it to show up.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Posts
    100
    Quote Originally Posted by toast2266 View Post
    Just had a fuck it moment. Ordered a Taival. In a small, which feels weird. But whatever, looking forward to it. Now I've just gotta wait 5 months for it to show up.
    I will be doing the same soon as well, getting a medium which also feels weird. What color did you go with?

    Robik, thanks for the beta. Sometimes we all need a little help taking the plunge. This place always helps one spend money on new toys . What offset did you go with? I believe they send these with a standard 51 offset but the geo seems setup for less. Did you start off with a different fork than that 36?


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  25. #25
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Posts
    400
    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgiaSnow View Post
    I will be doing the same soon as well, getting a medium which also feels weird. What color did you go with?

    Robik, thanks for the beta. Sometimes we all need a little help taking the plunge. This place always helps one spend money on new toys . What offset did you go with? I believe they send these with a standard 51 offset but the geo seems setup for less. Did you start off with a different fork than that 36?


    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums
    I built it with 44mm offset Fox 36 and 35mm length stem. I actually sold it to get FS. That could be a perfect 2 bike quiver, but can't afford 2 bikes at the moment so got Stumpjumper Evo instead.
    PS. I feel like I'll be ordering Stamina 140 soon.

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