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Need help choosing a XC 29er


This topic contains 13 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  downhillmike 3 years, 7 months ago.

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    So I want to buy a new XC hardtail bike for around $2000 CDN dollars, coming from a 2005 Rocky Mountain Vertex 50.

    **I do most of my trail riding around Kelso/ Durham Forest/ sometimes on the Don Valley trails. Going with XC since I spend 60% of my time doing “cruises” riding from Edwards Gardens to High Park along paved sections and can really only have 1 bike.
    Here are some of the choices I’ve narrowed down:

    1) Rocky Mountain Vertex 950
    2) Scott Scale 950
    3) Giant Advanced 29 2 or 3
    4) Trek Superfly 6 or 7

    my LBS can probably work out a deal on a Rocky Mountain Vertex 950 RSL and 970 RSL, but I am more curious about which bike is best out of the 4 listed (i.e. benefits in Geometry, agility, handling etc).

    Really leaning towards the Rocky Mountain bikes, but I want to know what everyone else thinks!


    Links to specs here!

    Links here!

    RM Vertex 950: https://skiisandbiikes.com/products/roc … 6362323139
    Scott Scale 950: https://www.evanscycles.com/en-ca/scott … e-EV253341
    Trek Superfly 6: https://www.evanscycles.com/en-ca/trek- … e-EV242021
    Giant XTC 29: https://www.giant-bicycles.com/us/xtc-a … 9er-2-2016

    The RM RSL= Carbon Frame counterparts

    The RM 950 RSL= same specs as normal 950, http://www.peerkesbikeshop.com/Vertex-950-RSL-(2015)

    The RM 970 RSL: http://roadbikeonsale.com/products/Rock … -Bike.html



    I only have limited experience on the RM vertex. It was a fun xc bike was fairly easy to move around and maneuver. To compare it to the thunderbolt it didn’t like doing the little side hits you find trail side but was a quick bike. I’ve only demo’d these so take it for what its worth that my time on them was only about 1.5hrs each.



    Hey @gkssj4. The best advice is probably to throw a leg over as many of these as you can and see what you are most comfortable on. But any of the bikes you mention will feel like a significant upgrade on your current steed.

    I don’t have any experience with those on your list except the Vertex. I picked up a 930 a few years ago when I was getting back into the sport, but then sold it a few months later and bought a 990 RSL that I still have as my only mountain bike. They have the same geometry, and are very similar to the current models. I find the bike to be very nimble and agile for a 29er, and very comfortable at speed. Upgrading to a carbon (RSL) frame makes a huge difference. It is their top of the line frame. You will notice it within a few pedal strokes. The acceleration and responsiveness is ridiculous and it climbs like a goat. I also find it quite forgiving for a hard tail with trail chatter. The bike can be a little nervous hucking it off stuff (obviously, I guess) and if I’m being honest, I think I was a tad more comfortable on the aluminum frame on some of the faster downhills but that might be a weight thing. Good luck!



    My 2cents would be to buy a used bike. Since you are currently riding a 2005 bike, jumping up to a 2014 or 15 would be a huge advance. You can save some money compared to buying something new or keep your same budget and buy a bike with a much nicer build than the ones you are thinking about.


    secret agent

    I bought a used carbon superfly and built up fully rigid. It is my “CX” and bombing around town bike. There are a lot of awesome hardtails in the used market.



    Chucking this in there because it’s often overlooked and really worth a good look at. Throw a leg over one and I’m certain you’d have to make an absolute effort not to have fun…

    Trek Stache 5

    Clearly not as XC as the full blown race machine that the 970 RSL is, but then again let’s think about what you’re talking about doing… Someone running 60% of their time between Edward Garden and High Park isn’t exactly what I’d call a prime candidate for a race bike. It looks cool and cost a lot of money, but is it fun? I’m willing to bet you could probably benefit from a little mechanical advantage (everyone knows I sure did) and those big wheels are the ticket. You get a bit more shoulder season since you’ve got that extra bit of a footprint and to top it all off you end up worst case with options. If you’re not totally into the 3.0 tires you can still run a regular 29″ tire by swapping to them, they’ll even fit on the stock rims!

    That said, if you’ve gotta have a rocky like that 970 RSL I don’t blame you one bit. @marley is totally right it’s a sweet bike (still missing my ’04 Vertex 50 just a bit) but more to his point is throw a leg over some stuff and sort out what’s right for you and your riding.



    I second going used. As much as I want to support my LBS, I don’t mind getting previous years gear at a significant discount.

    I’ve never ridden any of the bikes your looking at, but I have ridden XC purely for the last 20+ years. I’m a big fan of the Specialized Epic, as I like the set and go suspension. They just released a hardtail version this year, but if you look used, the Carve had great reviews.

    Otherwise, there are a ton of people riding the Norco Revolver that a huge fnas. The Scott lineup also gets a lot of praise.



    I second the used market.

    Good luck!



    Wow, lots of great answers here! Actually I’ve been eyeing for deals on the 2016 models, and they don’t cost that much more than the used bikes I’ve seen on Pinkbike.

    I sort of like the idea of the Trek Stache, and even had my eye on a Diamondback Sync’r Pro, but I heard they aren’t very XC or that long distance friendly.

    I’ll take everyones advice and do as much leg work as I can.



    I’d shy away from the Diamondback personally, but that may have more to do with department store brands being a big pain in the neck to deal with post purchase. Maybe that’s changed for the better for DiamondBack, but more reputable brands aren’t much if anymore money at clearance pricing.

    I can say for certain that the 29+ is distance friendly… The extra volume absolutely dampens the trail that slight bit more than a standard 29er and you really take notice of it on a long haul. If Kelso and Durham are your non-Don/city targets for riding I’d have a hard time saying something “more XC” would be anymore enjoyable… honestly the only “reason” to get a “very” XC bike (read:race bike) in my opinion is if you’re intending to race and compete, otherwise while you might feel great about your XC weapon, you’re not getting the most out of your riding or the money you’ve invested in it. but hey, don’t listen to me too much… I really don’t care what your ride as long as we’re having fun riding bikes.

    1 user thanked author for this post.


    I used to shy away from Diamondbacks bikes too. Until I started realizing they don’t just make Department store bikes. Check out this review here of the Sync r pro here;


    I am well aware of the shortcomings of Department Store brands, but I know even Mongoose makes $4000usd Enduro machines.

    Thanks again!



    @blurredlines is almost always bang on with advice, but I am not sure about him dismissing Diamondback here. I mean, look at pedigree:

    1. DB.jpg



    Hey guys!

    So I’m the proud owner of a 2016 Rocky Mountain Vertex 950 😀

    Had an opportunity to test ride as many bikes as I could, and aside from the Carbon Fiber Vertex bikes, this one felt the most “flickable” and agile of them all, whilst being at least $800 less.

    I want to thank everyone here for your suggestions, and I hope to enjoy many more happy trails to come with my new bike!



    How is the bike riding? I also own carbon RM Vertex and love that bike. I love riding places like Durham/Dagmar, Bass lake and sometimes the Don as the bike super fast and efficient.

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