First off, thanks to everyone who offered feedback and opinions on my 27.5+ vs 29er query. To everyone who suggested I ride everything and get what I like, you are of course correct. I should’ve mentioned this in the previous post but I’m 6’5”, which can make it difficult to find a bike in my size in stock at any bike shop, especially this late in the riding season. That’s why I was looking for other’s impressions/perspectives more than I otherwise would.
I did try multiple of each and found some of the plus bikes to feel too vague at the front while traction was great, which lead to a balance I didn’t enjoy, a couple of others felt more confident. 29ers were generally better but some did feel unwieldy and cumbersome (this may be largely due to my experience being limited to 26ers thus far). Of course this is geometry and rider preference specific, that’s why I had to try everything I could fit (thanks again for the encouragement).
After trying all trail hardtails from Specialized, Kona and Salsa (no Treks, Giants, other brands found) in XL and XXL that I could find I ended up ordering a recently released 2020 Specialized Fuse Comp a couple of weeks ago, with the understanding that it would be at the shop this first week of September. I then got a message on Wednesday saying my delivery got pushed to December.
Annoyed and not having any other hardtail options that I liked the feel of with the features I wanted I started looking at full suspension bikes yesterday. Out of curiosity I checked out what the used market had to offer and found this 2019 Trek Fuel EX8 size XL not too far away from the bike shops I was browsing at anyway and decided to stop by to see if it fit me. My brother rides an XXL EX7 which in a couple of quick spins always felt big when I rode it so I had some hope that it wouldn’t be too small for me, as one bike shop had suggested it would be. I felt immediately comfortable on a quick spin around the owner’s neighbourhood, so I blew my initial budget out of the water and bought it. It’s been upgraded to a carbon wheelset as well, which is nice.
I picked it up today and immediately hit up some local trails I hadn’t tried before. I now know a few things - full suspension is lovely, 2 years off of riding (and 2 unrelated ankle injuries) have killed my riding legs and this bike is well beyond my current skill set. I really was pussyfooting around out there - which annoyed me - the bike can definitely be ridden a lot harder, but I’ll work my way up to that.
The previous owner did me a solid and set up the air springs for my weight when I picked it up but I think I’ll take it by my local bike shop to get it cleaned and tuned up, dial in the suspension and my fit on the bike. I hope to get a good bunch of riding done before winter creeps up on us.
I’m glad to be back on the trails through, my quads are sore, my calves are jelly and it feels good.