The "do-it-all" trail bike - options and opinions?

Yep. Horse thief. It’s the most popular trail there. I can ride about half way down the drop-in, but then it’s just too much. A 5 ft drop into janky rocks isn’t something I’ll ever do!

I also rode some of the less popular trails like Troy Built and Mack Ridge. Those are more raw and you take more of a beating. Horse thief is smooth in comparison :rofl:.

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That’s probably due to that aluminum rear end. Don’t know if they make it any other way.

So what bike are you riding in Pisgah? I’m trying to figure out my next bike and I also don’t want an uphill pig just to say I went down faster.

I’m on a bit of a franken-bike which is a combo of 2021 and 2018 components: 2021 Fuel EX 9.9 frame, 2018 Fox 34 140mm fork, 29x2.4 tires (XR4 front/XR3 rear), AXS X01 and AXS Reverb. It’s definitely no XC rig but still feels nimble and capable. ~27lbs aint bad either for a 140/130 bike


" and opinions?

Opinion here: I can’t have a “do-it-all” trail bike. I either have an XC bike and a trail bike, or just a trail bike. If I had to chose only one, I would quit racing XC and just keep my trail bike. Anything less than about 160mm of travel is just going to leave me unhappy.

You have to pick what compromise you want to make; capability, speed, usefulness, etc. My compromise would be to quit racing.

  • Probably me being overly picky, but 160mm travel is well beyond the “Trail Bike” category and squarely into “Enduro” territory.

  • Maybe that definition depends more on your local trails and riding style, but 160mm is a heavy hitter bike in every form I have ridden (Slash, Spesh Enduro, Nomad, etc.)? But that would be massive overkill for what I consider “trail” riding that isn’t heavily focused on the down direction, IMO.


Pick your compromise.

Any bike that I have to think twice about riding any of the “Pro Lines” at Mammoth is a bike I don’t want as my only bike. If I can’t go full send on a downhill course, and still climb up (meaning I would be unhappy on a DH only), then it can’t be my only bike and be happy. Which is why I say my compromise is I would quit racing XC if I could only have one bike. I rarely ride my XC bike outside of racing.

I don’t race enduro or DH, but I do race as an XC Pro (I am just in the VERY far back). You can NOT have a bike that will “do-it-all”. For some people they will compromise all out speed for a little more travel. Some will compromise capability for more speed. I would compromise and quit racing (I would probably do more running races, signing up for another 50k soon).

I get all of that. My point is this thread is literally titled:

The “do-it-all” trail bike

  • (italic emphasis is mine) The “trail” aspect of that matters, IMO.

  • You are talking about a different bike with more “downhill” direction and bigger hit emphasis, that I would argue is an “Enduro” bike and not a “Trail” bike based on your travel and use definitions.

  • The XC and DH limits you mention are not really at play here with what I consider as a “trail” bike, being pretty much the middle of those two extremes.


This is probably cheating BUT I’m going to bend the rules a bit.

If I were to get one bike to rule them all, I’d get the current Sworks stumpy.

12.84kg with chunky tires and the 34Grip2 fork. I would be happy to put it in trail mode with faster tires and I could race Leadville on it without really much hesitation or much extra time added.

Put the chunky tires back on, throw a 150mm Fox38 or Zeb on it, and really there isn’t anything that I’m going not hit on the bike at a bike park or any other feature. Anything big enough to where I need a bigger bike, I’m too old for that :laughing:


No, you don’t.

You are compromising the trails you can ride. That is the compromise you are making.

Enduro and XC are racing formats, don’t get caught up in the marketing names people give bikes. My friend rides trail on his “XC bike” (Scott Spark with the 120 fork, whatever model it is) which he races XC on. I ride trail on my “enduro bike” (E29). His compromise is he can’t follow me on big hits. My compromise is I struggle to keep up on the climbs. Either way, they are both “trail” bikes, we picked our compromises.

You are doing the same by picking only one bike. That is fine, just understand what you are more willing to compromise and pick your bike and setup around that.

giphy (5)


Yup, I totally agree that the Stumpy is the definition of a “trail” bike, IMO. It has morphed over the years, to match tech and use changes, but is always what I consider as a safe bet to recommend to most riders that say, “I want a mountain bike”. It is capable at the upper and lower fringes of the “trail” category and typical use.

That and Trek Fuel EX have been reliable options from the brands I sell, for trail use. Other brands offer similar bikes for sure, but these two are constantly working within that range we are discussing here.


Any bike can really be a “do it all trail bike” depending on where/how it’s ridden, but not every bike is really built to be a jack of all trades, there’s always some compromise but it depends on where and how you ride. That will dictate what your do it all trail bike is: for me, it’s an EX. For guys who ride more rowdy trails, they may be willing to compromise more on speed for capability. For guys who don’t ride any rowdy trails, a TF or a hardtail can be their do it all trail bike, because it handles all of the trails they ride.

I guess there’s really no straightforward answer to this conundrum.

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Yup. If I had to buy a new bike tomorrow, it would probably be this.

My current Fuel is pretty close, given it’s a “hybrid” of two model years - the 2021 frame, and 2017 components. 130mm rear, 140mm front with the Fox 34 fork; XC oriented wheels.

I’ve been riding my “new” Fuel for a few months now and love it as an all-rounder.


Just curious what is your weight and what are you running for shock and fork pressure? Did you mess with volume spacers when converting the fork to 140?

  1. 70-75psi front. 190-200psi rear.

I have an extra volume spacer in the 140 fork - I think three, whereas the normal is 2 for 140mm.

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I’m riding an Ibis Ripley V4, perfect for enjoying both up and down, I’ve taken it on some silly trails too. Obviously it climbs well. I just built up a Status which I suspect will be more fun down and less fun up. Working out an injury so I can report back once I’ve gotten some time on that bike too.

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Do you run the shock in the middle trail setting? I only lock it out if I’m doing longer fire roads or smooth climbs, otherwise just try to leave it in the middle mode

In the context of this discussion, trail is a category of mountain bikes. Largely accepted 120-140 rear travel ranges. Like musical genres, it’s just a quick way of communicating what you like and are looking for without going too far into the weeds.


Ditto, and specifically defined in this context via the OP: