Find me a new trail bike


So the old XC bike is sold. I need a modern full-sus trail bike to replace it. So many options. How do I decide? I’m a roadie who only dabbles in mtn but wants to do more. Thought I needed an XC bike because I’m a road rider but never really felt great on it and tried a 2018 Pivot Mach429trail on a trip this spring and wow, it was so much more fun.
Mtn bikes are so much more complicated that road. On the road I ride a decent quality carbon fibre frame with Ultegra and good tires and I can’t imagine ever needing more - what’s the trail bike equivalent?
I would like to buy from a local bike shop (Hali or vicinity).
I’m more interested in comfort and control and fun than trying to send it.
Not interested in riding really agro / rocky / break my neck stuff.
Do I need a carbon frame or is alu just fine for a guy who only rides a few times a month?
Trails I ride / will ride are Empire, Irishmans, Bonshaw, and similar.
Budget about $4,000.


Marin Rift Zone 130 travel. Suppose to be a fast rig. That or the Giant Anthem 29


I’d go with the giant anthem (27.5 or 29, you can decide this). Hands down best value for your money if that’s what your looking for. There are other XC bikes out there that beat the giant in specific categories but you’ll pay more of a premium.

Side note…the giant trance is classified as an enduro bike; however, it’s not as slack and long as most typical enduro bikes on the market making it very capable of handling itself among the XC crowd with the added capabilities it brings as an enduro bike on the downhills. Full disclosure, I ride a trance✌️👊


Hey. Thanks for the comments. I’m looking for a more trail oriented bike this time. Interesting to hear your thoughts on the Trance. I like to idea of a capable trail bike that can still keep up on the climbs/XC type stuff.

What do you think of the Trance 2 spec? Is it a good enough suspension spec? Trance 1’s are all sold out so only option above the Trance 2 is to move into carbon. Any need for carbon frame for the casual rider??

The other option that is in-stock in a local shop is the Rocky Mtn Instinct Alloy 50. (140mm front and back, 29’er). Any thoughts on that one versus the Trance?


I rode the trance and I can’t say I enjoyed it. I’m used to 29 wheels and rolling big objects without much thought. I honestly think the market is about to be dominated by short and very long travel 29ers. That rocky mountain gets my vote even though I have yet to ride one. I don’t think either one would be a let down however. Depends on if you want to stay strava times or have a more playful bike. The trance was fun to ride just not for me.


The only thing I can suggest is read the reviews online. Then take both out for test rides…on trails if you can. If you can make it out to a Tuesday group ride you can try my trance to see if you like it.


Not too many Marins around here. I don’t know who sells them locally. Not too diss @TheGOAT, but personally, I wouldn’t buy one, mainly because getting parts and service might be an issue.

Lots of people ride Giants around here, and getting service in HRM isn’t an issue. The Anthem is more of a shorter travel XC race bike. That might suit you for mellower trails and coming from the roadie side of things. It will be lighter and livelier. I think @adventurer rides one and loves it. A lot of people around here ride Trances. I think the extra suspension travel suits our rough trails around HRM, if you’re not looking to get top speed around a race course.

I personally ride a Specialized Stumpjumper. It’s a very capable bike that would be within the high end of your budget. It’s possibly more bike than you need from the sounds of things. The Stumpie’s little brother, the Camber, has a bit less travel, may be a bit lighter, and a bit cheaper, and suit you well.

One thing to consider is what shop is closest to you for service, or who you like to deal with. There are lots of great choices in mountain bikes these days, especially at the $4000 price point, so who you prefer to get service from is quite important. You might see more of the shop with a mountain bike than a road bike. Mountain bikes live hard lives, and probably need service and repair more often than road bikes that only get taken out on sunny days, and are not rolled over roots, rocks and mud.

I don’t think you need Carbon for around here, unless you want to race your new bike. Alloy should be just fine for recreational trail riding.

Wheel size is a hot topic in the mountain bike world. You basically have two choices: 27.5" or 29". You also may have a choice in tire size: Normal or “Plus”. Bigger wheels tend to roll over stuff better (which is really good for a newbie), but they don’t accelerate or turn as well. Best for rough trails without a lot of ups and downs, or mellower trails without a lot of tight turns. The smaller wheels are livelier - accelerate and turn better, and jump better, and because the wheels are smaller, the frame can have more suspension travel. Better for trails with tight corners, punchy up and downs, drops and jumps.

And then there’s plus tires vs. normal tires, although the trend seems to be to fit bigger tires on mountain bikes these days, so the differences may not be as big as they used to be. A standard mtb tire is typically 2.1". Modern bikes seem to be going up to 2.3-2.6". My plus-sized Stumpjumper has 3.0" tires. Bigger tires can be run at lower pressure - better grip, more traction, more cushion over rough stuff… but they’re heavier, accelerate slower, and don’t turn as well. Well suited to a newbie or someone who just wants to roll straight over stuff. Smaller tires will be lighter, accelerate faster, jump better. Well suited to someone looking for speed, acceleration, and flicking around the trail.


Talk to Dan at the Bike n Bean, he has some demo 2018 Devinci bikes available. Django (which sounds exaclty like what you’re after) and Spartan in medium and large.


All those trails you like to ride are xc trails for sure. I have a Giant Anthem and it is made for that type of trail. But that is just me. Some people have beefier trail bikes for the same trails. It is a matter of the bike that puts a smile on your face! And the only way to do that is to try different bikes on different trails. A good way to do this is to go to a demo day and try different bikes. I did 3 this year and was surprised that by far a Rocky Mountain Intense felt much better than the Giant Trance and a Specialized Stump Jumper. I was just trying bikes with bigger shocks just for fun. And a carbon bike is about $1000 more but you don’t need it unless racing.


Royal Dist sells em. Not saying it’s the bike to buy but short travel 29er seems like the way to go here. The new Stuntjumper ST looks wicked. I guess ultimately try a few bikes both wheel sizes and pick.


Lots of great tips here. The Giant Trance 2 and the Rocky Instinct Alloy 50 are in-stock in the city and are on my test list. I’ll read up on the Devinci - don’t know much about them.


Definitely a valley POV here, but the Scott Spark series is pretty popular down here. I think you could find an aluminum bike with decent spec for the price point you are looking at. Colin @ Banks Bikes will usually deal a bit especially for any left over stock he’s got in the shop.

Certainly a bit of a premium over something like a Giant, but the Scott aluminum frames are some of the lightest on the market.


Some have suggested the Giant Anthem and I would disagree. I ride a 2018 Anthem 29 and it is unapologetically a firm, fast, XC rig. Nothing wrong with it, but it doesn’t sound like thats what you’re looking for. It sounds like you’re on the right track with the Trance and similar trail bikes. Although… the new Trance with 140mm/150mm travel seems like overkill to me. I can’t imagine hauling that much squish around the trails in HRM.


knolly endorphin is the perfect trail bike in my opinion. Available locally through a shop as well


On the topic of carbon frame, I say no. Carbon is nice but you tend to trade a better overall spec to save some weight. Also, I know carbon is strong but, most trails in HRM have so much granite that I would be freaking every time I dropped a carbon bike for fears of putting a bit score in it. Maybe a bit less if it was only a carbon front triangle but I personally don’t think carbon is worth the cost on an enduro style bike.

On this note, I know a lot of people ride the trance but if your used to a proper XC bike I think you will dislike the Trance. I owned one and also test road the newest one and, personally, I think it climbs like garbage. I think the Anthem would be a better fit it you want to leave to the more XC climbing style while still having a bite that can descend well. Maybe note able to smash the downs quite as fast but definitely get up them and have more energy on the way down. The way the Trance climbs is the reason I wont buy another.

All this don’t mean it’s the wrong bike thats just my take on it and I would definitely not drop this much on a bike without first doing some test rides.


I love my Reign. I had a Stumpy before that and it was good too. Both climbed pretty good to me.


That’s what I ride and I find it great. I find that it climbs quite well for a trail bike and I can definitely throw it around no problem on the trails around HRM. Obviously it doesn’t climb like a low travel XC trail bike would, but I have no complaints with it.


I’d say go enduro setup 150 travel front and back for all trails in NS specially Macfight blacklines!

An all rounder 27.5 setup hitting downhill and climb like a goat. Depending on how active progressive your frame is.


When buying the trance I asked myself whether I wanted performance and stability on the ups, doing 2km/hr or the downs, doing 30km/hr…between trees, rocks, roots. Plus, I lock out or add air pressure if I want more stiffness on the climbs. Red bull and cliff bars gets the motor going also.


Test rides are probably the best bet. Personally I think with the varied terrain we’ve got in NS that a mid-travel (130-150mm) bike is your best choice overall unless you plan on sticking to a specific style of trail.

I’ve ridden my Nickel (140mm front, 125mm rear) all over the place, everything from Nora Warren to Keppoch and it worked great at all of them (although I will say Keppoch is a different experience on a long travel bike!).

With that budget in mind you’ve got lots of great choices that’s for sure! I’m also a fan of buying good, used bikes but I know that’s not the route for everyone.