Shopping for a "do it all" MTB - recommendations?

Hoping the MTB crew here can help me wrap my head around the best type of MTB bike for my situation. For background, I’m 49 y.o. male that grew up racing BMX, then ran for 20 years (not continuously, I took breaks for work, meals, etc.), and got back into riding about 5 years ago.

After test riding a bunch of 29er race bikes about 5 years ago they all felt like school buses to me (I’m 5’8" and 150 lbs) and I couldn’t hardly manual over a curb let alone bunny hop over the Sunday paper. So I have a 27.5" XC hardtail race bike that I picked up to do Leadville and MTB races, mostly marathon distance (50 - 100 miles). It’s a great climber and fun on buff trails, but pretty scary on steep or rocky descents and beats me up after a few hours. Has served me well, but it’s time to take another look as I understand 29er geometry has improved since I was in the market.

I’d like to continue doing marathon events and am looking for a full suspension MTB that would be good for that sort of thing and fun for trail rides with the guys. Most riding is in the mid-atlantic, so plenty of rocks and roots, short/steep climbs. I’m not going to be hucking this thing, so don’t need a ton of travel and I’m fairly light so I’d like a relatively light bike. My super competitive days (if I ever really had them) are over and it’s more about fun than placing to me. Price is a secondary concern, not really too limited there.

So, any recommendations on how much front/rear travel to look for or any specific bikes based on this info? Thanks for your help!

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I went through a search almost identical to what you’re looking for recently and ended up with this bad boy with the help of the board.

BMC Agonist Two

Just spent a week with it riding in Sedona and Tucson (rocky as hell) and it was everything I wanted it to be. It was everything I needed it to be. Couldn’t be happier with it.

Check out this thread - it was super helpful:

and this thread…

It was @grenhall who pointed me towards the Agonist – it was helpful that my LBS is a BMC dealer.


My MTB experience goes back to the early 1990s when I rode a Giant AL1.75 on 26” wheels, so 27.5 seemed like a big wheel to me just a ‘few’ years ago. Now I ride a 29er HT and I’m not going back.

You didn’t mention if your ht has a dropper, but it definitely helps with the steeps.

If you’re interested in trying out an underrated but hugely fun FS, try the Trek Fuel EX. I borrowed a 2017 model Fuel EX 5 and I had a blast on it. Almost bought one, but then I remembered that I don’t have any money!


Sounds like a 120 or 130mm travel bike is what you’re looking for. There’s a lot of 120mm travel XC bikes out there. Not as many 130mm which for me is perfect sweet spot as I ride XCM but also more technical stuff like Fruita or Moab. Trek Fuel and Canyon Neuron are a couple of 130mm travel bikes worth looking at. I have a Fuel EX 9.9. Love it.


Fuel EX or Santa Cruz Tall Boy. I really, really dig the Reactive Trek shocks.


Yeti SB130 (regular, not LR)
Ripley V4
Santa Cruz Tallboy (might want to wait since rumors say a new one is coming)
Scott Spark (non-RC)
Pivot 429 Trail (not my favorite but lots of folks like them)
New Fuel EX is on the way in July
Stumpjumper ST

Basically every major brand has a mid travel 29er that should meet your needs. If you aren’t looking to compete, get more travel. It won’t be a big deal on long days.


Everyone always overlooks the Rocky Mountain Element, the original down country bike. 120 up front, 100 out back, but seems like much more.

The frame may not get as slack as say a Yeti SB100, but it is lighter, and doesn’t have a creaking fancy pants pivot either.

And the thing can motor, and handle the rough with aplomb. I have set several PBs on technical downs that I had set on my Canyon Strive enduro bike. The bike is composed, and I have yet to get to a spot where I have gone “that was a bit much for the bike to handle”.

Annnnnnd…it has TWO waterbottle mounts. One of the big reasons I bought it to race/ride marathon events.

But as for the above recommendations by others, I agree that you won’t want over 130mm travel. After that, bikes get heavier, and subject to where you ride, they are like taking a couch out on the trails.

I’d look at:

Rocky Mountain Element C70 or C50
Canyon Neuron CF
Trek Fuel EX
Ibis Ripley


Sounds like a 27.5 trail bike is what you want and you’re spoiled for choice. If I had the cash right now I’d get myself an Orange Five. It’s awesome.

Surely he should go for something that is 10kg or less?

They have an S in stock! You lucky bastard. :smile:

I think fs 120/120 is what you want. For me i wanted a light bike with remote lockout front and back. Orbea Oiz TR 2019 meet this demands and i have one on order myself.


That Canyon looks sweet. Super light weight.

I bought the Scott Spark RC in the team guise and then used the extra cash to add options. I love it.

A dropper post is a must for me. I also got a decent set of race wheels and a 120mm fork for general riding.
It’s a good set of gear that I can mix and match depending on what I want to do.

If you’re trail riding for fun I’ve found it really handy having the original wheelset on hand. I have them fitted with high volume downhill/enduro tyres which I use for fun stuff and training.
For me, a set of chunky tyres can totally transform an XC rig into a capable trail bike.

Also, the manuals are harder with a longer wheelbase bike. On the other hand, while less playful than a shorter wheelbase, the 29er really works well when trying to cover distance.

Have fun buying a new toy. I’m jealous.

I’ve been riding MTB for about 30 years and I’ve owned a couple of bikes. The technology and geometry on the 29 inch XC bikes has changes dramatically and are super fast. They are basicly like trail bikes with shorter suspension. Check out the Norco Revolver FS. pretty much the best MTB I’ve ever owned. It climbs like a machine and the decents are absolutely unreal.


Love my Scott Spark RC 900 WC! I added a dropper to it and it’s capable of getting me podium in Cat 2 XCO races as well as riding down black diamond trails in Colorado. The remote lockouts are great and the modern progressive XC geometry is very capable for nearly any condition. I’d give the Scott Spark a hard consideration.

Below is a video of one of 8 trail systems I rode in Colorado in the cities of Grand Junction, Fruita, Loma, Pallisade and Carbondale (google those trails). The people I was with were on all-mountain/trail and enduro bikes but I was never held back because of my bike.


Thanks for the links, that first one was super helpful, and that BMC looks like a great option! There are a few local BMC shops nearby, so I plan to check them out. Thanks!

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The BMC is a great, albeit not cheap option. Otherwise, I’d look at fullys with about 140 mm travel more generally. Unless you are riding seriously gnarly trails, that should give you more than enough travel. However, even modern full suspension XC fullys are extremely capable and typically come with 120 mm. (When I bought my fully, XC full sus bikes had 100-110 mm travel and trail-focused bikes >= 130 mm, so the new breed of XC bikes is coming close to what was a trail machine.)

@SoonerNate Thanks for your input! No, my HT doesn’t have dropper and I’ve been reluctant to invest much into it at this point. Mind if I ask why your sold on 29er HT vs. FS?

I’ve never owned a FS and my initial thinking was to get a Trek Procalibre (or similar) with a dropper, but a couple of friends encouraged me to give FS a chance.


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@stevemz Ugh, so many choices! Great problem to have… as long as I can eventually make a decision. Thanks!

@Trhuster Wow, that is a sharp looking bike and agree, it’s what I’m looking for. Went on the Orbea site and fell in love with the OIZ M10-TR 19 when I saw the XT brakes and… looks like there no dealer nearby with an OIZ. Ah well, bummer, maybe I’ll run into someone on the trail with an OIZ that will let me give it a try.

Thanks again!

@Legendary. Thanks, I will definitely check out the Revolver too as I have a friend at a shop that sells these. Hopefully they have one I can demo, really sharp and I’ve seen a couple of great reviews. Thank you!

@MI-XC Nice video and thanks for the Spark suggestion. Looked like some pretty tough and beautiful climbing around the 25 minute mark, great camera setup you have there!