MTB Recommendation?

Hey all — I’d love to get some community feedback on an upcoming MTB purchase I’d like to make in the next 6 months.

Here’s some background:

I live in Chicago, so mountain biking won’t be a every day thing. However, I take a MTB trip every year to Tucson, and love that terrain. I’d like to take trips to Copper Harbor, MI for those who are familiar with it. I’ll never ride full downhill, and probably only intermediate difficulty if I’m anywhere serious. Also, I’d like to race The Iceman Cometh MTB race, which most people do on hardtails.

So essentially, I’d like a do-it-all bike. I’m leaning towards a full suspension XC bike, but want one that has more travel than 100mm, but relatively light and also is a really efficient pedaling machine.

The only one that that I’ve zero-ed in on to this point is the Yeti SB100. However I’m thinking there have to be more options out there…but every time I try do do research It seems like all MTBs are trending towards longer travel, heavy bikes.

Would love if any of you have any rec’s on a full suspension bike that has around 110-120 travel.

Thanks in advance.

1 Like

@batwood14 I purchased the new Intense Sniper Pro this year and have had a few months riding on it and it’s fabulous. The geometry, the light frame, the fork offset, the spec, long wheelbase and reach, slack head angle, the wide bars, and the handling are exceptional in my opinion. It pedals and climbs very well (I also have a Scalpel which is a rocket ship when climbing and it is comparable) and descends awesome. It comes with a 100mm and a 120mm option and just this week they have added a fox 34 step cast 120mm version. Might be worth checking out if that is the travel range you are looking at.

1 Like

Another option is the new Specialized Epic Evo, with 120mm up front. It’s hard to get that perfect do it all bike but a modern xc bike is surprisingly capable.

1 Like

Awesome info - never even heard of that brand before. Do you have the XC or Trail build?

I would buy the new Oreba Oiz TR with 120mm front and back. I have a 2018 Oiz and it is awesome imo.


I have the XC build and the travel feels way more than 100mm due to the other spec of the bike. I have also ridden the trail version but it was about 1.5 lbs heavier and I didn’t find the extra travel was necessary for me. I have raced this bike on some pretty technical (not extreme) race courses in B.C. and it handled it nicely. e.g. ‘Round the Mountain in Kimberley and Twars and Gears in Fernie.

They are known more for their downhill and trail bikes but wanted to make a bike that was capable downhill but also light enough to be a XC contender. Or in other words, a XC race bike on one day and a trail bike on the other days. The do recommend that the bike operator doesn’t weigh more than 200lbs, which might be the first MTB I have seen actually have a weight caveat. They have produced very good bikes for a lot of years but some people felt they were too expensive and they recently went to a consumer direct model to help alleviate some of that cost.

I have a Trek Fuel with 130mm suspension front and rear, weighs 26lbs.

I used to live in the Chicago area and rode it at Palos, Kettle Moraine, Brown County. It’s certainly not too much bike for those locations.

It’s also pretty light for a full sus rig, and have ridden it in XC races and also longer MTB races including Leadville.

I’ve also been out to Moab on it, and it’s a plenty capable bike on trails like porcupine rim.

I’ve had the bike for a few years now, and have yet to see a bike on the market that I’d swap it for.


I have a Rocky Mountain Element (2018 model) which is 120mm of travel. Rocky is a company based in British Columbia and they bikes reflect the terrain out here, their XC bike is a very capable bike. It pedals incredibly efficiently and is smooth on the descents. It’s so good that I got rid of my 160mm travel bike because I just wasn’t riding it. There’s nothing I ride that my Element can’t handle.


Santa Cruz Blur or Tallboy too. But that SB100 looks fucking sweet.


Santa Cruz tallboy would tick all your boxes

Bikes are so cool. I think half the reason I ride bikes is so I get to talk about them and tinker with them.

This thread is awesome. Thanks for all the suggestions and keep 'em coming…I’m having a blast researching all theses suggestions.


I don’t know much about mountain biking…but from what I’ve heard, any XC rig coming out of BC is likely to be able to handle itself like a boss. Great info…hadn’t ever heard of this brand either. Thanks!

I love my SB100. It’s faster than my old Ibis HD3 on everything except the most sphincter clenching descents while still climbing like an XC bike. And it has a bottle cage!


There are a lot great options for you. An important item to consider is local support for a shop. Mountain bikes potentially can need a lot more routine maintenance as compared to a road bike and having a trusted mechanic and shop near by can make a big difference especially if you are relatively new to the sport. I’m lucky to have a great mechanic near to me in Columbus, OH and he’s saved me a few times including finding a hairline crack in my rear triangle.

Depending on your budget, there are many options. This time of year you can often score a great deal on a 2018 model. I’ve gotten many bikes in the fall at significant discounts. The Yeti SB100 is going to be harder to find cheap but is a fantastic money is no object modern XC/Trail bike. If I was starting from scratch, that would likely be my choice today, especially if I could only own one mtb bike. Others have mentioned the Specialized Epic and Santa Cruz options, which are all really, really good bikes.

I’m in the midwest and my go to “daily driver” is a Niner RKT with a Fox 34 SC 120 mm fork. It’s light, fast, and handles everything around here. It’s not as slack as an SB100 but is amazing at places like Mohican and Brown County. Here the slightly steeper head angle works navigating some of the tighter terrain but I wouldn’t hesitate to take it to places like Aspen or Eagle, CO to ride. I do have a prior generation Niner Rip 9 RDO (125mm rear, 140mm Pike on the front), and its a good all-around bike but does feel sluggish compared to the RKT.

One other suggestion, whatever your budget is, get a really good set of wheels. I’m partial to Enve and the M525’s are amazing and make such a difference. There are some other good less expensive options, but a good wheelset is really worth the dollars.

1 Like

This is really, really helpful. Thanks for responding.

I’m fortunate in that I don’t really have a budget in mind, per se, but I don’t think I should have to spend more than ~$5k-$6k because the volume of mountain biking I do will be far less than road/gravel, and my skill level will probably never rise to the point where I will get the most out of topp-iest of top end bikes. I just want to be able to take it anywhere and have some fun and do some races without feeling like I’m pulling a parachute.

If I ever move out of Chicago to Boulder, or Arizona, or BC – which is unlikely – then I kind of get that I would probably need a MTB stable to hit all the terrain I wanted to. But for now, I’ll be a here-and-there and vacation mountain biker + Iceman in Traverse City, MI.

I hear you on wheels. And agree.

I rode a Norco Sight Carbon for a week and it fits my definition of XC. It will do anything and climbs really well. The Santa Cruz Hightower is also a fun trail bike. I’m more of a big mountain rider on a Yeti SB6. I will be buying a long travel 29er for the next few seasons.

I think the best value in most of these bikes is the aluminum frame with high end parts. Adding carbon wheels is more important to me than a carbon frame. Buy a carbon frame if you want one but the value to me is questionable versus the extra $1500.00+. Contrary to marketing rhetoric, I find aluminum frames ride as well as most carbon frames, just different. As an XL rider I get little weight benefit from a carbon frame. I get maximum benefits from carbon wheels.

Ahh, you say this now but when N+1 kicks in…

I think at one time I had a single bike to do it all, now though

150mm cube stereo c68 enduro
Cannondale scalpel XC 29er
Marin CX/gravel bike
Forme road bike
Single speed

Just so glad that I hate TT!

1 Like

I got to tell you all . . . after drooling over all these mountain bikes the past day or so, the SB100 still looks really good.

BUT, the Specialized Epic EVO looks like it was built for the description of how I’ll ride it. Does anyone know if it is even for sale yet? Or is a 2019 thing?

1 Like

2019 model:

  • Red Comp bikes are available now (all sizes), gray in S & XL.

  • Experts around late October and early November.

Boom. :boom: Thanks!

1 Like