Best bike for local trails?

Eric Martyn on facebook asked an interesting question:

Evening. Just wondering what is the best bike for local trails. I’ve been considering a 29er Trek Fuel Ex or Stumpjumper, or even a 27.5 plus version. Would like your thoughts

Not sure if he meant Halifax trails or maybe Atlantic Canada trails?

I’m hoping he joins us here, but either way it is a good question.

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One thought I had was that you are not as likely to see carbon bikes in the Halifax area due to the risk of grinding it on the granite.

Bikes and tires tend to take a beating.

I’m thinking of a new bike and am considering 27.5+ full suspension. Should be great on the rocky and rooty trails. And you get the best of both worlds since you can run 29" wheels as well.

One of the bikes I’m considering is carbon. I hadn’t thought about the granite issue. Is that really more of a concern than with thin aluminum tubes? I would think the rear triangle is most at risk and that is likely to still be aluminum on many carbon bikes. Rear triangle should also be replaceable if it came to that.

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Are you sure that his definition of “trails” is the same as yours?

I hear this question a lot. “Trails” to most people means crusher dust like the BLT, Salt Marsh Trail or Shubie.

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We were discussing this the other night over post-ride beers. With my new rig I went longer travel (6.7") and full aluminum after having trouble with a carbon rear. My Commencal is a pretty responsive beast, but no question it’s a bit burlier than most will need or use. One of my riding buddies just went down in travel from a Nomad to an Intense Spyder (140mm I think?). His thought is that he wanted something a bit quicker to respond and the shorter travel gives him that. He also thinks that carbon is a bad idea if you’re riding our kind of granite trails. Everyone one our riding buddies has had trouble with carbon getting bashed on rocks and cracking.

Personally, I think 5-6" sled that comes in around 30 lbs, with modern long low and slack geo is the perfect trail bike for atlantic canada. Carbon is up to you, but it only saves a pound over most aluminum frames, and honestly, you’ll get better performance out of buying lighter wheels than a lighter frame.

It’s getting harder and harder to find non carbon bikes at the high end of things though.


Hi, it’s Eric Martyn here who posed the original question to Jeff.

I’ve been riding a used Giant Talon 27.5 hardtail with some 2.4 inch tires I squeezed on there. Love the extra traction and volume but really need to upgrade to a full suspension to ease the jarring on my body.

I’ve been riding 30% crusher dust trails and fire roads and 70% trails around Sandy Lake (Hammonds Plains and Hwy 102). ATV trails and singletrack. I really enjoy the challenge singletrack provides and look forward to increasing my skills. Whopper Dropper is pretty technical for me now, but I look forward to progressing to that level of skill.

I’m thinking of staying away from carbon - mostly to keep the cost down. My budget is about $4,500. Haven’t ridden them yet but going to try out a Stumpjumper and Trek Fuel Ex 29er.

Would be really interested in what people feel is the best tire size, and what are popular bikes for Halifax area trails.


Welcome aboard, @Fish!

I just bought a set of Schwalbe Hans damph 2.35"s.

Hey Fish. Welcome.

I ride a 2015 Trek Fuel EX8. 27.5 x 2.35 (Vittoria Goma) Tubeless. I converted to a 1x rather than the stock 2x it shipped with. The newest Fuels are 29ers so I can’t comment on the wheel size. That likely will be a personal preference. A buddy rides the 2017 version that is 29 and loves it.

Great all around bike for the local trails. Very capable of handling whatever is thrown at it. Any limitations are the rider and not the ride :blush:

For $4500 you aren’t going to go very wrong. There are LOTS of fantastic rides in that range and less


I don’t think there is a perfect bike for around here, I think it more depends on what kind of rider you are and what you enjoy doing, as you can ride all trails around here just fine on a 26" HT, as obviously all of the trails were built for the most part when thats what we all had! I am scared of stuff now on my FS rig that I did 15 years ago on a Kona Roast HT with a 100mm fork without even a second thought…!

For me, I like going fast so I am on a pretty modified 120mm Camber 29 (carbon), with carbon wheels, bars, the works. I race it, and ride it everywhere. Its a great blend of efficiency and still takes a pounding.

For the average rider, I think its hard to beat a 120-140mm trail bike in either 27.5 or 29, ALL of them these days are really good bikes. Pick a price and go shopping, you will end up on a good rig.
High volume tires and a dropper are pretty helpful around here too.


Any bike that works is the best bike for local trails to a certain point. For some of the trails here you can be under-biked, but there is always something else to ride that an older, or budget bike can handle with ease. Right now I’m riding a Kona Splice for a mountain bike with a 100mm coil fork and 2.25 tires, but I’ll be upgrading this summer to a fully with 27.5 wheels and 120-140mm of suspension, likely the Kona Precept 130.

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I rode a Trek Fuel ex8 with a SID on all the trails here and it was fine, there is a pic in the buy and sell. I’m now on and aluminium Norco Sight with 160mm fork. I was going to knock the travel down originally but after a year of riding wouldn’t even consider it. I ran into a cyclist last year riding a Stumpy 29 and though he liked it he said he would probably get 27.5 the next time he purchased. Just a thought. I’ll get out and demo everything you can.


My full suspension bike is 130mm rear, 140mm front, couldn’t imagine want more travel honestly, 27.5 wheels with Maxxis DHF 2.5. My other bike is a 26" hardtail with 2.35 tires. Both bikes are steel (is real baby!) and they both weigh 30lbs.

I’m on an old Stumpumper FSR (2007), and really enjoy it, although more travel would be nice since I’m heavy, try to ride everything technical (except for big drops) and not much of a finesse rider. . It’s 120mm front and rear, The newer ones have longer travel (150 mm) and are a little slacker and more burly. Would love to get a new SJ FSR.

A Specialized Camber (130 mm) would be roughly equivalent to my bike. If you’re more balanced between crusher dust/mellower trails and singletrack, then maybe the Camber, a lighter, lower travel bike might be more suitable, although most longer travel full suspension bikes these days have a pretty good (antibounce) pedal platform.

I REALLY enjoy the full suspension bike. Years ago, when I moved to full suspension from a hardtail, my bike-related back pain disappeared. I still ride a hardtail through the winter and as a backup when the Stumpjumper’s in the shop, and always appreciate getting back on full suspension.

@Riderx rides a “6 Fatty” Stumpjumper FSR and seems to like it. Maybe he could weigh in with a review. I’ve test ridden it, and REALLY liked it. One downside for me is that the chainstays are a bit wide to fit the wide tires in, and I occasionally felt them on my legs, but I have big calves.

My current ride is a 26’er, and I’m not sure if I would go up to 29’er. The guys on 29’ers seem to like them, though. They carry momentum well, roll over rough stuff (which we have a lot of here - roots and rocks), but many of our singletrack trails here are tight - lots of corners, speed up, slow down. 29’ers don’t accelerate or corner quite as well. Guys on 29’s say you get used to that and compensate, though. And I’m not very tall. 29’ers suit taller riders better. For mellower, straighter, more open trails, 29’ers probably are the way to go. For tight and twisty, start and stop, maybe 27.5.

27.5+/“6-Fatty” is roughly equivalent to 29’er in wheel diameter, though - just more air volume.


My Dream bike as of now! All season too, need extra wheel sets for 4 season riding. Just my kind of selection.

Budget you’ve got is already a boutique price bike.For the Budget wise, any full suspension would do with reliable components and good mtb skills is enough for any trails in NS. Immigrant here talking not local though. :slight_smile: