Aggressive Hardtails - Can't Decide!

Hey folks!

So, assuming I can’t find a used FS that I like, most likely I’ll be picking up an aggressive hardtail for my next bike. Considering my ~$2k budget, my choices right now are the Norco Fluid HT 1, Specialized Fuse Comp 29, Nukeproof Scout Comp 275, and Commencal Meta HT AM Ride 29. At this price I know I’m not getting top spec components and all four models have their compromises. Any advice to help me narrow down my choices? What components would be less hassle/expense to upgrade later on?

Just to add to complicate things, have you considered the Kona Honzo or Big Honzo? I’ve been eye-balling/drooling over them for a while now.

I’m also considering an aggressive hardtail, and have been looking at all the bikes you’ve listed so I’m interested to hear any advice too.

First thing I notice is that the commencal doesn’t come with a dropper post. If you’re going to ride aggressive, you’ll definitely want one.

Another thing to consider is wheel size. The scout is 27.5, while the others are 29er (or have that option). I think without suspension, I’d suggest a 29er with a decent sized tire. The specialized is 29x2.6" which would soak up a lot that nova scotia trails have to offer.

Also, the specialized in black just looks damn good.


Yep I’ve looked at the Big Honzo but I’m trying to find something with a little more slack head angle.

EDIT: Another benefit of the Specialized / Norco options is that I could hopefully see them in person at one of the LBS’s instead of taking the chance on something I’ve never had a chance to try out.

What concerns me about the Fuse is the fork (Recon vs Sektor/35 Gold RL). Solo Air instead of DebonAir, and no option for bottomless tokens. Granted this would be my first bike with an air fork, so either would be a big upgrade for me.

If its a Recon from the 2019 model year I wouldn’t be so concerned. My Norco Fuid FS3 has the Recon 130 Gold RL, in Fast Black and it eats up hits almost as well as my vorksprung tuned Pike that is on my Chromag Hardtail. (I’m 240 and ride fast vs aggressive) Sure you loose the ability to fine tune it, and its a touch heavy but it will take a lot to make you notice the difference. The Sektor is a better fork, don’t get me wrong, but you won’t really notice it unless you send massive stuff, then the tokens + stiffness is nice to have. (I actually run my Pike with no tokens as I don’t see the need) The only fault I can find with the Recon is the weight difference between it and my Pike.

Alternatively in your price range is the Norco Fuid FS4, a bit less fancy, but will get the job done. (1900 here in Truro). A capable bike for the price, a bit beefy, but the geometry is dialed, IMO it is the best budget FS on the market that is locally available anyways.

I’ve got a few friends riding Fluids and they like them. I prefer the Fuse over the Fluid though. You may want to add the Rocky Mountain Growler to your list as well.

The Big Honzo has a slight more slack than the Norco (though 1.5 degrees probably doesn’t make much difference.) but I like that it has more travel in the fork. I feel like I want a lot of travel in a front fork.

Not sure where you’re located, but Cyclesmith in Halifax is the local Kona dealer.

i’m also looking for a bike in this price range and i’ve been looking at the Rocky mountain growler 40

The bike pedaler had some lightly used Chromags in last i was there, to further complicate things

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Get the chromags


They had a wideangle frame a couple of weeks ago. But their used frame price was only $20 cheaper than a new one when I asked.

Oof, yeah that’s too rich for me right now. Thanks for the info! currently has the Middlechild on for 25% off a complete build. “From $1949”. Just squeaks into your budget? I’m really happy with mine! Just don’t get the same colour as me. :wink:

You’re welcome to give mine a look over the weekend if you’re interested.


Sadly no medium frames left. Otherwise that’s a great price :ok_hand:

I wanted a 29 trail hardtail at the beginning of the year and ended up with the Honzo DL. Just felt good to ride. I also liked the Commencal Meta HT but was a bit too aggressive as I wanted something to ride with the kids as well (although I’m now upping the travel the Honzo!!)

The commencal on sale is a pretty hard option to pass up IMO.

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Can’t comment on the other options but I know that I’m always smiling when I finish a ride on my honzo. Can’t recommend it enough and prefer it to my other rides.

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Hey Groddy, how smooth is the ride on your Honzo? What tire width are you running?

I run 2.4 minion dhr2 WT front and rear on spank ozzy 345’s and tubeless. Also worth noting mine is a steel frame. Not a light build at just over 30lbs but it’s always gone where I wanted whether a good choice or not.

As for smooth, the minions are robust but on dirt the ride lovely, I’ve no complaints. The handling it’s pretty much point and shoot and if you lay down nice lines again it’s impeccable.

I was looking at using it for longer rides and the saddle time I’ve had so far suggests that that wouldn’t be a problem either, enough room for frame bag or cage.

I have access to an intense tracer 275, I prefer the Honzo.

Hope that helps some.

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commencal bikes are heavy but they are beast, nuke and norco maybe good options too …

My Meta AM 4.2 is only 30 lbs and my wife’s Meta AM HT is only slightly more than that. The current 29ers seem to be much heavier.