I had my eye on 29's for a while and while demoing a few in "parking lot" test rides I could never get a feel for if a 29 would suit my need. My 04 Liquid as I mentioned was getting a bit "loose" and I knew I wanted something more responsive. Personally, right wrong or indifferent I see 29's being the fat ski or big headed golf club of mountain bikes. Epic was nice enough to bring me an Ibis to ride in Vermont and while it was truly a great bike, it would be out of my price range in either the 26 or 29 form. The Ibis was noticeably more responsive by a good 30% over my Trek but still out of my range. I knew there was also a Specialized (Special Ed, I guess thats supposed to be funny) Demo going on at Killington on the same day, so I shot down. I originally thought the demo there was supposed to be only for one day, but they were doing Saturday also. I was initially going to leave early in the AM to see RossiSmash, so I pushed that back so I can demo some bikes.
I get there in the AM and the two bikes I want to demo were the Stumpjumper FSR and Epic Comp both bikes in the "mid to upper" $2K range". I take the Stump FSR in a Medium up to Kton and the first thing I do is take it into the skills park to get a feel for it. Up and over rocks, logs and some features that are set up. Most of my concerns regarding nimbleness are getting dismissed, now to take it up the lift. I start on trails that I have ridden before (1,3,4,6,9,24,26) and while I know conditions change from year to year, I was able to attack in sections that I was very tentative in prior times. This bike was a real confidence builder after two runs. Where do I sign up? While I did strike oil with the Stump, I decided to keep drilling by going back to test an Epic.
I had found a killer deal on an Epic while riding in Ohio last month...but it was a large. It felt OK riding in the parking lot and I was very hesitant in pulling the trigger due to the size. I went back to the demo tent to try the Epic and coincidently they only had the Epic to demo in the large. I guess this will tell me if the large would be OK. I take it back up and take the same trails I took on the medium FSR. I initially felt the difference going from the med to the large but after a couple of hundred yards it went away. I liked the nimble feel of the Epic too. Choices. Choices.
As a comparison, I find the Stump to be smoother and more relaxed, the Epic tighter and a more responsive bike. If I had to put it in a ski comparison, The Stumpjumper was a Blizzard Cronos and the Epic was a Mag 8.7, those upper 80mm skis that can do so much and are real confidence builders. Eric said to get a bike that its strengths matched my weaknesses and while I am OK in short climbs, long ones kill me that one will climb like a sacred bobcat (old inside joke there), this thought had me leaning to the Epic.
I call the dealer who had the Epic in the L to see if they still had it and they did. Hmmmm. Let me think for a day now on this. Just out of the blue I stop in at my local little LBS and to see if by chance thy had one and sure enough....(not to get into all the details) they had an Epic Comp but in the medium and were willing to slightly better the price. Only difference is it has the "Test Bike" graphics which I actually like better than the regular ones.
Test colors (sticker is being removed):
I am making a few changes out of the box, I am going tubeless and swapping the crank to a Shimano SLX FC-M665 22-36 double (but am running into a compatibility issue). This should also drop the weight down into the 27's.
Oh, BWPA, thanks for throwing cold water on my stoke after I added stoke to your thread. So, please feel free to keep any more thoughts to yourself.
Edited by Philpug - 6/28/10 at 8:10am