Help: I want a new bike for everything

Hi Lee
I am in the process of getting a new bike. I have out grown my heckler and i want to get a 29r, but I love to jump bikes and when I land I land hard. I looked at a specialized stumpjumper 29r and a gary fisher rumblefish. I also looked at a specialized sx which my dad says that fits my personality very well, but I want to race and be competitive. i race xc a few times a year and we ride am/trail. the jumps are three to four feet that i build in the back yard. My dad offered me his 07 specialized enduro sl. What do you think? Thanks JD.

Wringing sweet sweetness from the 2007 Enduro SL. This bike is still going strong.

Hey JD,

You sound like a young pinner. Good for you.

You need a good all-around trail bike, one that can rip trails — up and down — and blip the occasional drop, jump or whatever pops up. I want the same bike, so I understand where you’re coming from.

Let’s break this down:

No doubt: 29-inch wheels roll over rough trails faster/easier than 26-inch wheels. 29ers are definitely cool and viable, and I’ve seen people rip on them. By “people” I mean Coach Mike at the Colorado Rocky Mountain Academy. He RIPS a 29er hardtail on trail, jumps and pump.

I’m not saying a 29er won’t work for you, but if you’re out there crushing stuff, you might be better off with smaller, stronger 26-inch wheels (and the frames that go with them).

Which style of bike?
You’re focusing on a trail bike (Stumpy, Rumblefish) or an all mountain bike (Enduro), which makes sense. Both can be ridden up. Both can be ridden down. The trail bike favors the up; the all mountain bike favors the down.

Decide which is more important to you.

I’ve been riding four generations of Enduros, and I flat-out love them for most situations. That said, I just spent a solid two years on a 2008 Stumpjumper Pro Carbon (with Specialized fork and shock), and that thing is amazing. So amazing I didn’t ride an Enduro for a year. So amazing I ride it on the road, on trails, on pump tracks, on dirt jumps and even for some DH clinics. That bike is very quick, very capable.

But remember: Where you are young and violent, I am old and smooth.

About the SX
The SX is a slalom/4X race bike. The SX Trail is a slopestyle/freeride bike. Both can be ridden on trail, but they strongly favor the braaap. If you want to race XC, they are not ideal.

You can ride the fun stuff on an Enduro …

… or Stumpjumper. But you better be smooth on that Stumpy!

Landing hard

If you land hard, I have two suggestions:

1) Graciously accept that Enduro SL from your dad. That awesome all-mountain do-all steed will withstand your punishment better than a trail bike, and you can race XC on it a few times a year. And: It’s super fun to pin the DH through a tangle of brake-dragging, too-far-above-LT XC racers.

2) Learn to land smoothly! Smoothness first. Amplitude later.

To sum it up
Get that Enduro SL from Dad.

Do your homework. Mow the lawn. Be good.

Learn to Ride (capital R).

— Lee

Know more. Have more fun!

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17 replies
  1. Sean says:

    Good stuff, Lee. I have a Yeti 575 with a TALAS 36 and a steel-framed 29er singlespeed with a F29 at 100mm. I compare the rides constantly. Last summer I rode the 29er exclusively until late July when I was jonesing for a FS trail bike, and got the Yeti. From that point until November when I put the bikes up for the winter, I rode them alternately, noting the differences. This season I rode the Yeti 85-90% of the time, and used the 29er SS for early season strength training and then afterward for a simple change of rides.

    Great point about wheel strength. I have only tacoed a wheel once, it was this year, on the 29er. I have been riding behind a friend on a 29er who has tacoed his front wheel, on 2 different occasions. The 29er wheels definitely don’t have the same strength when pushed hard through corners, and they are more likely to taco from a sideways sort of load. That’s what I’ve experienced and seen. I have friends who flat-out rip on 29ers, too.

    I prefer the stronger wheels of the 26″ FS and I also prefer the ability to work the suspension. More importantly I like the way a 26″ wheel accelerates out of sharp switchbacks and other tight corners and I like the way it is more playful — to me at least. I think of 29ers as primarily cross-country machines that skilled riders can make work in other settings. You can jump and do drops on them, but because the wheels are weaker, your landings have to be more perfect. You can get around the weaker wheels by building strong 36-spoke wheels but then you riding some seriously heavy wheels that take a lot of effort to get up to speed. They’ll hold that speed a bit better once you’re at that speed, but the acceleration really is worse, in my opinion.

    JD’s statement that he likes to fly and lands hard is a good indication that a 29er isn’t the best choice for him right now. When he has more time in the saddle and has lots smoother and softer landing skill, a 29er would be an interesting change for him.

    That’s this old dude’s thoughts, anyway.

  2. tony says:

    heck, get the new demo 8! HaHaHa.

    seriously, jump on the enduro, get a lighter wheel set for racing, and BRRRRRRapppppp the heck out of it the rest of the time!


  3. Jeff says:

    Hey JD,

    Why does the Heckler not work for this purpose? I only ask because I am intersted in getting a heckler for all of the same reasons you mentioned.

    Otherwise I say go for the Enduro.

  4. Simcik says:

    It sounds like he outgrew it. The Heckler is a sweet bike! I have a buddy who rips his for slalom, dirt jumps, 4x, trail rides, XC races, and even a bit of DH. Those bikes kick butt!

  5. leelikesbikes says:

    Oh, he *outgrew* it, like he’s now too tall.

    Speaking of Hecklers, Jon Watt rips one. He runs the stock shock for trail and a shorter shock for pro 4X. And he kicks butt at both.

  6. tony says:

    now this site goes all the way to “12!!!” on the dial!

    you’re talking santa cruz bikes!! don’t let Brandon and the Spesh guys find out….



  7. Jim says:

    Hey guys,

    Thanks for all the great advice. JD has gotten to tall for the heckler and has sold it to his younger brother to help raise his share of his new bike. He still has his sights set on a sj 29. I guess some lessons you just have to learn the hard way.

    Thanks JD’s Dad


  8. John says:

    I wish my dad would give me Enduro SL.

    As for the 29ers, for whats its worth, did some volunteer time at the recent World Champs as a marshall on the ultra burly Hammerhead section of the XC course. Never saw any of the 29er riders on the A line – allways the slower B line.

  9. Sean says:

    John, that comment says more about the rider than it does about the bike. Nothing on an XC race course is too burly for a 29er. I think you’re drawing a bad conclusion. Avoidance of the burlier line usually is about what’s faster, not what one’s bike can handle. XC race course “burl” is almost a laughable idea, there’s nothing in most XC race courses that couldn’t be handled by a cyclocross bike.

  10. Jim says:

    After all that he went with a left over roscoe. I think that should serve him well. Thanks for all the advice because dad is always wrong.

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