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120 or 140mm travel


This topic contains 16 replies, has 13 voices, and was last updated by  Rob Nadolny 3 years, 10 months ago.

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    Hi, Everyone

    I’m debating on what my next bike will be and wondering if anyone has any input. I’m debating between 120mm travel and 140mm for a trail or trail/am bike. A little background, I’m from the Woodstock area so during the week I mainly ride the Pines and Hydro cut but on weekends like to travel out to other trails and what SWO has to offer plus some bike trips down to the states are being planned for next season already. I ride at blue frequently but already have a dedicated dh bike so that isn’t a huge factor. I’m probably over thinking but I’m looking for a bike I can take anywhere here in Ontario that can pedal pretty well on the ups and flats but still have fun when it points down. I’ve been able to demo a few 120mm travel bikes on my local trails but haven’t had the chance to try a 140mm. I’m also debating between a Devinci Troy, or Django 29er (demo’d the 27.5 version this summer and liked it but want to try the 29er as well) or a rocky mountain thunderbolt. Any input or experience would be awesome.




    Iā€™m looking for a bike I can take anywhere here in Ontario that can pedal pretty well on the ups and flats but still have fun when it points down

    140mm is clearly the “fun” option and unless you’re a sub 5’5 individual there’s almost no reason not to get a 29er (especially with a separate dedicated DH rig)

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    Since it will be used as an XC bike, I think less travel is more fun. Especially with the big wheels.

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    Thanks for the advice guys I’ve been leaning towards a 29er just don’t have any experience on them other than a hardtail race bike.



    I’ve got a Kona Process 111 (a short-travel 29er). Though, it’s not as quick or as fun as a cross country bike on slower, tighter terrain, the 29 inch wheels are so capable (floats through chunky stuff) and it’s a fast bike without always feeling fast. The corning traction is insane. As someone who loves going fast, it’s hard not to choose a 29er. If I were buying a new bike, I’d have that Django short-listed.

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    Renegade Hardware

    I’d go for the Troy, but I like going fast and getting air too. I also hate truing my wheels, which I’m doing more on 27.5 than I did with 26″, and less than I did with 29″, so there’s that too…..

    Both the Django and the Troy are awesome. Rode both at demo day, liked the Troy more because of it’s flickability and felt more at home on it, and never felt the tiny 27.5″ wheelsize let it down, I’d actually say the microscopic 27.5″ wheels actually made it quicker through trails like ‘X-Treme Trail’ due to the quick transitions and sweeping corners and ease to pop off rocks to clear sections. I liked the Django’s ability to roll over everything, and it feels much nicer than the older trail 29ers. Much nicer all around, esp for maneuvering it through rougher sections. Really hard to go wrong with either choice, so it comes down to what you want.

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    Split the difference!

    I’m biased but I think you should check out something like the Thunderbolt BC edition (or modify another spec level if its not in your price range). It is 120 mm rear travel and 130 mm front (bc edition only). With the adjustable geo via the ride 9 chip you can set it up pretty much to do whatever you want!

    I’ve told them to re-name it thunderbolt ontario trail destroyer edition – but so far no luck. šŸ˜‰


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    Neville Park

    +1 for @tpratt‘s recommendation on a T bolt.
    29r’s do not jump. I mean they do, but they are not ideal.

    As someone who is / was in your position I can offer the following.

    Both my friend and I bought smaller travel trail bikes to “do-it-all-in-Ontario”.
    He bought a RM T-Bolt BC ed (120/130mm) and I was on an alumn SC 5010 (125mm/140mm pike)
    We are both 190lbs, hard on things and from BMX first.

    1) We both broke our bikes this season (10 blue laps, 10+ Jefferson/etc, 80+ don days). He cracked his frame. I sheered multiple linkage pivot bolts and blew up bearings.
    2) They are great bikes but NOT the right bike for Blue laps and even to rip Jefferson / Dagmar / Waterdown properly. (some will disagree…but that’s why its an opinion)
    3) Do not be scared of travel … My buddy went longer and I am now on a longer 150/160mm bike…strava says my times have not suffered.
    4) Travel is not indicative of “build strength” but travel length does correlate with the intent from the manufacture and the other components that go along with it. 130mm = trail / 160mm = all mtn
    4b) Often longer travel bikes have been engineered stronger and spec’d with components to reflect the anticipated abuse.

    If i were you – stay right away from 29’r (unless you plan to lug your DH rig around more)

    The guys I run into on the trails with similar mindsets have been riding:
    – RM Altitudes’
    – Devinci Troys’
    – SC Bronsons’
    – Norco Sights’
    – etc

    With geo and suspension being what it is today – you can still be a race machine when you want but have the option to open up with the flick of a lever… Shoot, I saw a guy who matched a new fox DHX2 coil w switch to his 5010..wild!

    Also the ride9 is no joke – it transforms bikes with 1 bolt assembly and something that is hard to beat if you are truly looking for a 1-bike-do-it-all.

    I loved my SC, I want another 5010…. but i also want lots of bikes .. like a fatripper, a ti hard tail 26+ with 160 fork, etc
    But since I can only have one fancy mtb – I went full enduro and haven’t looked back. The bike is just better suited to how I ride.

    My 2 cents from spending a lot of money the last 2 seasons trying to work this question out for myself šŸ™‚

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    I was in your boat 2 months ago and ended up with a Norco Sight 7.2C. I love it.

    140mm and 27.5″ for fun and an all-round do all bike.

    I didn’t want something for epic 8 hour rides that could roll over everything . I ride 1-2 hour power rides and love to hop,skip and jump off anything I can find on the trail.

    Here is my thread this might help too..


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    Hah – instead of 4.5″ or 5.5″, you could always go right in the middle at 5″. šŸ˜œ

    Like Mike, I also made this choice recently – I really liked the Troy but given how little DH I’m riding here in Ontario, and the fact that my mortgage and my kid makes me stay away from jumps bigger than 5-10 feet, I went with something a little bit more lively for 95% of what I’m doing – normal trail riding. A bike like the Santa Cruz 5010 or the Yeti SB5 is absolutely perfect for Ontario trails as long as you’re content to rent or have a big bike for real DH tracks – sounds like that’s not a problem for you.

    I really enjoyed my last carbon 6″ all-mountain bike and it floated over stuff like you’d expect – but no question that it didn’t feel nearly as light and nimble or as fun when you lay down the power, and it was definitely more effort and work to pedal on XC trails like the Don, Dagmar, etc. The SB5 just feels super fun no matter if you’re pedalling up or down, and that’s what I was looking for.

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    You can still have fun and dirt jump on 29er’s! Please try them for yourself, the new age 29er’s are so good.

    My votes are for

    2017 Trek fuel ex 9
    2017 Intense recluse
    2017 Santa cruz hightower
    2017 Yeti SB 4.5



    If your bike is going to be for mainly Southern Ontario and you want rear squish, I’d be looking at this, hard: http://www.bansheebikes.com/bikes/phantom/

    or this: https://www.transitionbikes.com/Bikes_Smuggler.cfm

    I actually had a phantom on order, but had to cancel and go full adult as my bathroom reno is looking to many times the cost of a new bike.

    These bikes (Process 111 too) seem like amazing options for ontario. Enough out back to take the edge of stuff, but plenty of pep for all the quick ups and downs. 29ers with good geo are a blast too. As you have a dedicated park bike I’d seriously consider a good hardtail as you spend time around places like the Hydrocut. Having a hardtail is quite liberating in that it is so set and forget, and with good geo the trails you mainly ride will be absolutely no problem aboard a good hardtail. People can argue it’s faster over the trail with good suspension, but a rad hardtail is gonna “feel” faster, and that’s more important than strava, haha. I’d like to have a fullsquish and half squish, but till then I’m gonna stick to half squish in Ontario.

    http://www.chromagbikes.com/bikes/rootdown-ba or http://www.chromagbikes.com/bikes/wide-angle

    Nimble 9



    Jason Petznick

    Unless you’re planning on dragging both bikes along with you on the trips you’re planning across the border, I’d stick with a 140mm travel bike that can cover all the bases.



    This market is changing a lot in the coming months. You will start to see Mini DH Bikes that have the geo of a race bike but the strength of a full on trail bike. I would recommend hoping on a few of the bikes out there in the 120 category before picking anything up.

    Having ridden a 140mm travel Hightower all year it is amazing for a one bike quiver that will take you across the country. I rode everything from the Don and Kelso in ON to the South Chilcotins, Top of the World and Squamish on the West coast and Mt Saint Marie in the east. The bike was flawless and truly was one of the best bikes I have ever owned.

    That being said, in the technical, tight and punch stuff we see in ON I opted for a 110mm rear and 120-130mm front with a slightly steeper head angle than the Hightower and picked up a new Tallboy. What is interesting about this bike is that with the ability to run both 29er and 27.5+ the bike has so much more versatility than a lot of bikes in its class. As a result of being able to run the 27.5+ I could rip an XC Geo bike with the feel of a more robust 130-140 mm 29er.

    Other bikes in this category include the new Kona Hei Hei DL 29er (have not physically tested ability to run 27.5+ – awesome review on Bike Mag can be found http://www.bikemag.com/gear/bikes/review-kona-hei-hei-dl-29/#KpcQJL9htFhoeogM.97), Pivot Mach 429 Trail, Salsa Horsethief/Pony Rustler and the Trek Fuel EX. Out of all the bikes to come out in the last several years I think this category is the most compelling for the Ontario MTB market. Keep in mind that all of these bikes are available at the $3500 price point and up so don’t think that you have to buy in at a super high end price point to get a good bike. It wasn’t until I really rode the 27.5+ in really dry arid and loose dirt that it became apparent to me how great this wheel option is.

    But IMO a bike with 67.5 Head angle, 120-130mm front and 110’ish in the rear that can run 27.5+ is the ultimate ON weapon for our trails. If you are planning to travel to New York, Vermont, Quebec or BC then having more travel at 140mm front and rear is well worth it and if you aren’t doing any serious racing you will have a total blast. (Also as note if you SEND IT like NEVILLE a longer travel bike -140mm plus – is very necessary to tackle everything that he takes on).

    I am still running comp tables on all of these now and should be able to get you another update with comps across the entire market from a wider list of companies and provide some more insight on this. In the meantime I have attached some of the pics of my bikes below and the conditions I was riding them in!

    To Clarify: My setup for 2017 will be very similar to yours – a DH Bike for Blue and West Coast (SCB Nomad/Yeti SB6) and then a shorter travel PUNCHIER FS like the Tallboy below.

    SCB TALLBOY 130mm front w/ 110 rear



    Tallboy in yellow is the same bike with 27.5+


    SCB Hightower – 140mm with 67 degree HA
    (Important note – these are the same wheels between both bikes)


    (HT with 29’er wheels in BC)


    29er Wheels a top Whistler!

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    I managed only 4 rides on the Yeti before winter really hit, but I’m completely all-in on the shorter-travel bike for typical trail riding. The sheer ease of pushing up steep climbs and the acceleration when you step on it is exhilarating after spending a good few years on longer-travel bikes.

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