SantaCruz_Nomad_PeteRoggeman_banner.jpg

Long Term Review: Santa Cruz Nomad

Words Pete Roggeman
Photos Various
Date Nov 6, 2014

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Couldn’t resist another shot from Chile. That’s Santa Cruz staff photographer Gary Perkin. I think he’s checking the light from a test shot. Yo Gary, the light’s firing. Photo – Pete Roggeman

The new Nomad was already one of the most talked about bikes of the year before it was even released on April 1st. Between being a long overdue revamp of an aged favourite, coming on the heels of a very successful Bronson the year before, and the PINK and TURQUOISE colour scheme (you can also get it in a stealthy black), this was never going to be an understated launch. Hosting the media launch in Chile did nothing to detract from that. And while that was a great way to get acquainted with the new bike, I was curious to see how it rode on trails I was used to, with a thick coat of West coast loam all over it.

Hit the link above for the full run down of changes between the previous Nomad and the mk III, but here are the highlights.

  • Full carbon frame (including carbon dropouts and rear disk mount) with internal cable routing (molded full-length carbon tubes)
  • 165mm of travel from SC’s well-developed VPP platform
  • 27.5″ wheels
  • Repositioned upper and lower links. Upper: pierces top tube for lowered top tube & low standover. Lower: raised for ground clearance & shorter chain stays
  • Accepts a 150mm Roch Shox Reverb Stealth post in all frame sizes
  • Collet axle pivots (no pinch bolts) with angular contact bearings
  • Carbon ISCG 05 tabs (but no front derailleur mount)
  • Threaded BB
  • Grease port on lower link
  • Bottle cage allows regular bottle to be used with piggyback shock
  • Aggressive geo: 65º head angle, 13.4″ BB height, 17″ chain stays, and a pedal-friendly 74º seat tube angle
  • Weight: 28.02 lbs (Large frame with XX1/Enve build kit, w/o pedals)

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Geo charts for the Santa Cruz Nomad in Imperial and Metric. Some of these numbers seemed radical less than a year ago, but more and more manufacturers have adopted long, low, and slack geo.

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Cotton Candy. The Miami Vice Bike. The Bubble Gum Bomber. Whatever you want to call the colour scheme, it gets looks and comments everywhere it goes. Every. Single. Ride. Photo – Pete Roggeman

Mixing and Matching Suspension

The Nomad I rode in Chile was equipped with a Pike on the front and a Vivid Air out back. Half the test bikes had the Rock Shox Monarch RC3 with what was then a new and larger DebonAir can, but I didn’t jump on one in Chile – that would come later. The Vivid-equipped Nomad had my attention and I was happy with how it felt: supple if not buttery, with lots of traction in those tricky conditions, while ramping up smoothly for successive high speed hits or large impacts. It felt plush but not quite coil-like to me.

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The Rock Shox Vivid Air seemed to be the perfect complement to the Nomad’s hard charging style. Then the Monarch RC3 showed up to boogie. We’ve been getting down ever since. Photo – Pete Roggeman

We were informed that the Nomad is a picky beast to set up: get the air pressure wrong in either direction by 5 lbs and it could spike or sag pretty dramatically. The upshot of this is that you’ll know when you’re there or close to it, and I didn’t find it a challenge to get it dialed in: start with body weight and add 10-15 lbs, then tweak.Once back in Vancouver, I found the Vivid performed better on our trails with ~5% less pressure than I was running for the higher speed, lower angle trails in Maitencillo. One thing we didn’t do much of in Chile was climb, and it took some getting used to on the Nomad. With low speed compression cranked on the Vivid, the bike pedals confidently. The VPP shines here, stiffening under tension and responding well to inputs without losing too much sensitivity or traction.

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The Nomad doesn’t lack for confidence, especially if a little speed factors into the equation. Photo – Kaz Yamamura

If, that is, you could keep it up to speed. Once things slowed down and got technical, I felt the length and size of the bike under me. Over time I got used to it and learned to attack technical uphill sections. The Nomad climbs well for the burly AM bike that it is, but don’t be misled: without a suitable combination of torque and technique, you may flail a bit. After about 3 rides I got used to it and started to be really impressed by its climbing, but anytime I had an off day, I was reminded that you have to be on your game to take down long, steep climbs.

Descending on the other hand, didn’t take getting used to at all. The kitty-litter-over-hardpan of the trails in Chile always threatened to yank me down by the ear and rub my face into it, whereas the familiar dirt, roots, and granite back home gave me a better basis for comparison. Slow technical moves felt a bit like a 21 year old asking for a raise: the Nomad stumbled and stuttered a bit at first but got there eventually.

Chalk a bit of that up to acclimatization, though, because since then I’ve become as comfortable as ever planting my weight onto the 800mm wide bars with the binders on, peering down a chute to pick a line, and letting it rip. Or, the second time through, just sending a heater down the middle. It would be so cliché to say the Nomad begs to be ridden faster; instead I’ll say that it has saved my ass more times than I care to count, and the reason is because I felt comfortable putting my ass on the line to begin with, time after time. I have never been more confident on a bike. Never hooted and hollered so much (mostly due to recovering from my back wheel trying to beat the front through a turn). Never had so many ‘on’ days in a row. Full tilt boogie down some downright nasty sections.

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All those ‘on’ days make for a bit of wear and tear – and some close calls. The Rock Shox Pike has been flawless, especially when my technique hasn’t been. Photo – Pete Roggeman

The Nomad is a long term test platform, and Cam took it to Moab for the Fox 36 launch, so it came back with a new front end. Once we got the 36 dialed in, it performed well, but never felt as good as the Pike. It’s a bit of a nebulous thing to describe – traction, ride height, rebound, progressiveness – everything worked well with the 36, and it inspired confidence, but it just wasn’t the same. It didn’t match as well with the Vivid Air as the smoother feeling Pike did, and I couldn’t find the sweet spot between higher pressure/less compression or the reverse relationship. It’s a similar issue with the 36 on the SB6c we’re testing, but this time we’re going to let the gurus at Suspensionwerx play around with it a bit and see where we end up. Conclusion? The 36 is clearly a great fork and performance matches the Pike, but there’s a preference issue that will be black and white for some, like Ginger v. MaryAnne. You might have a first pick, but either way you’d be a fool not to be stoked.

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Fox’s 36 is a helluva fork, I just wish I could get it to feel as sweet as the 36s of the past. I have faith it’ll happen. Until then I’ll think of it like a race car’s suspension: tons of performance, just not what I’d choose for a mellow ride. Photo – Kaz Yamamura

Then the Rock Shox Monarch RC3 showed up, and it was time to swap out the Vivid, so I put the Pike back on as well. The Pike felt like an old friend, but the Monarch came strutting in like a young bull. I knew it was supposed to feel more playful than the Vivid Air – and it did – but it didn’t give up much in plushness or sensitivity, and traction on the steep granite faces of Gargamel in Whistler felt better. In fact, it made the bike feel like it had just guzzled a gallon of coffee, but somehow avoided the jitters. By comparison the Vivid Air felt damped, even mellow.

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One of the best riding days of the summer on Gargamel in Whistler. That was day 1 with the Monarch RC3, and it crushed the steeps and chundery sections. Photo – Kaz Yamamura

I took it into the Whistler Bike Park on the second day of the EWS and rode the Top of the World section on it. Long, rough and fast – generally DH bike conditions. The Nomad ruled. In fact it was more fun than the DH bike I rode down the same course a few days later.

There are a few other shocks that may get a bit of play time on the Nomad in the near future, notably a DVO Jade and a Cane Creek DB Inline. Different beasts altogether, but the former has been working well for some French guy, whereas the latter looks to turn some heads in 2015 and is gaining some OE spec.

Geometry

The suspension is the biggest story of the Nomad, but the geometry deserves more than a passing glance. The long front center of this bike (or almost any modern AM bike) takes a bit of getting used to, but once you’ve adjusted, it doesn’t feel like a detriment at all – you just might need a little body english to get the bike to sing for you. You can’t steer the bike from the back, it has to be ridden aggressively from somewhere over the middle of the long top tube or else it just won’t comply. Get it right and you’ll feel like a better rider than you deserve to. Over fast, stuttery sections, only DH bikes under me have felt so adept at skipping over rough ground at speed.

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With a 13.4″ BB height, the down tube is right in the line of fire. Even if Santa Cruz don’t want to extend the DT plate further up, it should probably reach from edge to edge. The rock that made that ding wasn’t looking to take prisoners. Somehow it missed me. Photo – Pete Roggeman

Yes, the BB is low, and even the most careful pedaler will get a ratchet thrust wrong or get a little carried away and hit a low point after a compression and smack them from time to time, but the tradeoff is that, combined with the slack head angle and long top tube, the stability at speed is unmatched. It’s not just a heat-seeking missile, though – this bike loves to go left and right. So many times I’ve found myself setting up the next move before finishing a corner, because I know the suspension has me covered.

Other Bits

I’ve deliberately avoided the pink and teal elephant in the room until now, because as with any new Carbon über bike, price is a big deal. And the bike as tested will cost five figures unless you buy one in Oregon where they don’t have sales tax. One culprit are the Enve M70 Thirty wheels. So light, stiff, and sexy, and sofa king expensive, too. And the ones that came on the test bike were laced with DT Competition spokes, which are stiffer than the DT Aerolites that Enve recommends for use with these rims. The result? A cracked rear rim.

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The Enve M70 Thirty wheels are responsible for $2k worth of upcharge to the Nomad. They rule, but the cost is understandably a non-starter for all but the truly dedicated, or well-heeled. Maxxis High Roller II isn’t everyone’s first choice for the shore, but they’ve been consistent across a wide variety of terrain. Photo – Pete Roggeman

Granted, that wheel had been ridden hard in Chile, the North Shore, Squamish, and Moab, and I rode hard on the cracked rim at least 10 times before the replacement showed up, but this bike and these wheels demand to be ridden hard, and they also come with 5 year crash replacement coverage. I believe Enve made an adjustment to the layup to accommodate that issue, and I haven’t heard much about cracked rims since the very early days of the release of the M series.

So…almost 3 grand. Would ya? The wheels are phenomenal, and you do notice a difference in feel over alloy, but until the price comes down they will remain the domain of the wealthy, because it’s hard to justify that premium, even if you do get 5 years out of them, or more. That said, damn it held up well even with a big crack in it. Some days I even forgot I was riding on a broken wheel. It was impressive.

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Let ‘er go – we’ve got this. Photo – Scott Robarts/scottrobarts.ca

The 150mm Reverb has been perfect, and that extra inch of movement is much appreciated. The XX1 drivetrain has been smooth and efficient and never uttered a single complaint. No cable tension issues, not a skipped gear. Pretty impressive after 7 months of hard riding. I did throw on a test set of Race Face’s SixC cranks and took that opportunity to swap the stock 34 tooth ring to a 32. Around here a 30 wouldn’t be a bad call, depending on your HTFU status.

Most of my riding has been decidedly AM: climb at a pace that won’t have you tasting breakfast again, descend with the bit between your teeth while hound dogging the shit out of your buddies (or being hound-dogged). But there have also been days with long, steep climbs and lots of pedaling, and I never hesitated to tackle them with the Nomad under me. The descent always made it more than worthwhile.

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The XX1 crank was great, too, but the RF SixC crank added a little hometown flash to the package. The 32-tooth ring has been a bit more manageable than the stock 34, but 30 is probably a better call if there are steep climbs in your area. Tucked away are ISCG 05 tabs. Not tucked away is a front derailleur mount option – Nomad is 1x only. Photo – Pete Roggeman

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Selective internal routing keeps things tide, and the full length carbon tubes that house the internal cables keep everything quiet. The location of the ingress ports for the cables on either side of the head tube were chosen to prevent cable rub – it worked. Photo – Pete Roggeman

This bike is still so quiet. The internal cable routing is utterly silent and the rubber grommets that guide them in and out of the frame also keep them from slipping. The chain hardly slaps. The linkage is as laterally stiff and smooth as it was when new (I haven’t yet injected grease into the port, and the collet axle pivots have kept everything snug). The loudest disturbance was the damper on the Fox 36 when it was on the bike, and that sound is a good reminder of how hard your fork is working for you. The paint is clearly durable – the only scratches were well-earned as a result of bike-body separation. There is no cable rub or other wear developing anywhere. These small things only become obvious as a bike racks up miles. The Nomad is still new, but will clearly age with grace.

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Race Face’s 35mm SixC carbon bar is simply perfect, although if you buy a Nomad now it will come with Santa Cruz’s new carbon bar and Palmdale grips. At 800mm many will benefit from cutting a bit off each side. SRAM Guide brakes replaced the stock XTR that came with this tester. Like with the Fox 36 vs Pike, it’s more of a personal preference: Betty or Veronica? Photo – Pete Roggeman

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Waiting around for photo shoots are painful when riding fast is so damn fun. Photo – Kaz Yamamura

As modern a bike as it is, the 3rd gen Nomad actually hasn’t changed in positioning from its first iteration – it just does what it’s meant to do so much better than those that came before it. Of course it is a great choice for an Enduro racer – that is its pedigree after all. But it’s so much more than that. If you’re an aggressive AM rider, the Nomad should be on your list. Ditto if you have strong climbing legs but want to gain an edge when descending in rowdy terrain. There are bikes in its class that cost less. But very few of them can claim the Nomad’s superlative descending and confident pedaling in such refined, well thought-out package.

The Santa Cruz Nomad starts at $7150 CAD.


So, Stealth Black or Teal and Pink?

 

Comments

wacek-keepshack
0
Wacek Keepshack  - July 24, 2016, 11:16 p.m.

I highly recommend Cane Creek DB Coil CS. It made my 160 Antidote Carbon Jack pedal and pump better than 125 Blur Trc with Pushed Float. And I'm speaking about riding in non-climb mode. Those bikes are bulldozers, additional 1lbs spent on coil won't hurt it.

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dan-fagelson
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Dan Fagelson  - Jan. 18, 2015, 2:35 p.m.

Hi Pete Roggeman, loving the nomad and really close to buying one… question, I did have a friend who had the 2012 nomad and in a large always felt a little short for long rides, I am 6″1. Have a heckler 650b that i bought in xl with a shorty stem 50mm. Question is would a large nomad fit the bill as I hear they are longer now than the previous one? Thanks.

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sg
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SG  - Dec. 22, 2014, 2:14 p.m.

How tall was the tester, what size was the bike and how did he find the fit. Trying to pic a size to order a nomad. I usually ride a large but santa cruz have previously come up a bit small, is this still the case?

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still-26
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Still 26  - Nov. 10, 2014, 6:46 p.m.

What a great article- I have a 2012 Nomad C and have been trying to decide whether or not to go 650. I think I was hoping for a 26″ resurgence or something, but I'm guessing that is not going to happen. Has anybody seen a good comparison between a 26″ Nomad C and the new 650 Nomad? It sounds like it would be a pretty fun transition once I got used to it, but it would be great to hear what others have found. I did a test ride on a Nomad 3, but it is pretty hard to figure things out on a bike that is not set up for you in 30 minutes on a light trail.

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megrim
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megrim  - Nov. 9, 2014, 6:30 p.m.

Pete, great review. Although I'm not sure I agree with some of the comments about the Nomad's climbing ability. I think it's really, really good. Better than some of the 140/150mm bikes I've ridden. I've been blown away at this bike's versatility. It is certainly an All-of-the-Mountain bike. I rode a quick XC ride in Whislter (Kill Me Thrill Me) and then went to the park for a few laps. There's not too many bikes out there that would be happy doing both on the same day with the same set up.

I have also really enjoyed the RockShox Monarch on the rear. When I bought the bike, I figured I'd ride it for a couple weeks, then buy a Cane Creek. But the shock was (is) awesome! I got it rebuilt at Fluid Function this summer and Sean added a bottomless token (or the equivalent for the rear shock). I now run 187 psi vs 202 psi before. The shock climbs a little worse, but has way, way better small bump and is still good on the big stuff.

Anyway, awesome bike. The only downside I can think of is the super, crazy, high price.

Mike

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Nov. 11, 2014, 3:28 p.m.

Thanks for your thoughts, megrim. You've got me pondering a Monarch tweak now…

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keillor
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Cam  - Nov. 7, 2014, 7:34 p.m.

I, for one, would be fascinated to read a comparison of the DB Inline (or DB Air CS) to the Monarch. I'm expecting a January delivery of a Devinci Spartan, which ships with the Monarch, and I'm trying to decide whether to swap for a DB Air CS now, a year into the bikes life, or never. I'm sure others are curious about the now-common OEM Monarch and DB comparison.

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keillor
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Cam  - Nov. 7, 2014, 7:35 p.m.

I should add that I'm well aware that every bike handles shocks different based on leverage curve/ratio, etc. More a global comparison re: feel and tunability.

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duner36
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Duner36  - Nov. 7, 2014, 6:24 a.m.

Where did you run your LSC and rebound on the pike to get best all around results?

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tuskalooa
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tuskalooa  - Nov. 7, 2014, 1:38 a.m.

A really great discussion on top of a brilliant review, thanks Pete.

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thebikingbuddha
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Jas Dhiman  - Nov. 6, 2014, 2:27 p.m.

How would you describe the XC climbing ability of this bike? Based on your experience with the bike, how would it handle on some of the Whistler Valley XC trails? In particular, how do you think it would handle on Comfortably Numb??

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djball
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djball  - Nov. 6, 2014, 3:17 p.m.

I think you should look at smaller xc specs, these bikes are designed to shred the down but also get you to the top if need be. I rode Comfortably Dumb on Rune V2 which is similar and a very capable climber, but just about died doing it.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Nov. 6, 2014, 4:08 p.m.

If Comfortably Numb is the type of trail you ride frequently, I would agree and say something smaller would suit you fine - in the case of SC, Bronson, or to be frank, even 5010 should be plenty if you're a Whistler local who rides a lot and is comfortable in the tech stuff.

When I wrote that the Nomad climbs well, the disclaimer is "for a bike in its class". It doesn't climb like a XC bike. That said I wouldn't hesitate to take the Nomad to Uncomfortable Bum anytime, although you'd be more likely to find me pedaling up to Gargamel or somewhere on the Flank, since those trails are more the type I'd want to ride, and where the Nomad and bikes of its ilk will shine.

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andrewbikeguide
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AndrewR  - Nov. 6, 2014, 8:52 p.m.

I took my Nomad up Really Numb Bum (Comfortably Numb) the other day and it handled the switch back, tech rooty corners really well (but that it mainly the joy of 650B rolling over 26″ shaped divots and trail hollows). It climbs as well as my old Bullit (2003), not quite as snappy as my 2012 Blur TRc, but is is a 6.5″ travel bike with a 65 degree head angle. I feel no need to rush out and buy a Dual Position Air/ TALAS. More importantly it totally rocked "Out There" on the warm up to CN and was a blast down "Young Lust". I mean who has the time to waste on the middle section of CN anyway? So many other trails that could be ridden in the time life time slot!!

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jazzdhiman
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jazzdhiman  - Nov. 7, 2014, 10:52 a.m.

Thanks Pete, excellent and very thorough review of the new Nomad. I guess I am looking for the perfect bike, as of yet that is not to be found. In the near future, the technology will allow you to change the head angle from 65 to 67 degrees probably by a mere click, kind of like how the technology of dropper posts evolved. Again, thanks for the very informative review.

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acadian
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Acadian  - Nov. 6, 2014, 2:22 p.m.

Great review - but I was more intrigued by the Pike vs 36 comparison than the bike review itself 😉

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drewm
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DrewM  - Nov. 6, 2014, 5:54 p.m.

If you want your 36 to ride like Fox fork try: LSC +6, HSC +6, Sag 15%-to-18% and the stock 7.5mm volume spacer (or swap that for a 10.8mm volume spacer if you want a touch more end stroke ramp).

If your general preference is for the less-damped//more-ramped ride of the Pike then try LSC +3, HSC +3, Sag 20%-to-23% and both a 7.5mm and a 10.8mm volume spacer (add another spacer as needed).

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jesse-oneill
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Jesse O'Neill  - Nov. 14, 2015, 1:03 p.m.

I have had both the Pike and the 36. And the 36 once setup is a better fork imo. The 36 is noticeably stiffer with 20mm. But the Pike is no slouch and I enjoyed having it.

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jerryek
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Jerryek  - Nov. 6, 2014, 1:55 p.m.

This is a really excellent review. Especially the consideration of different shocks. Thanks Pete.

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ryan
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Ryan  - Nov. 6, 2014, 12:12 p.m.

how about adding a yt capra into the mix? be interesting to see how it compares to a nomad

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mightyted  - Nov. 6, 2014, 11:06 a.m.

So from your review, are you saying that you really need to work your suspension in order to get the bike to corner? And how does it turn at slow speeds on technical courses?
Also could you elaborate on it's climbing? How does it handle Old Buck or the BP? Did you ever think a steeper HA would be better suited?
Thanks Pete

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Nov. 6, 2014, 11:19 a.m.

I wouldn't quite say you need to work it to get the bike to corner, but being active and aggressive over the front definitely produced better results and let the bike's personality come out.

Slow speed tech: down is better than up, but all bikes in this category should be similar. Your question about climbing is good b/c I can answer specifically - if you have a similar trail on the shore re: going down, I might be able to help.

There are definitely times when a steeper HA would help with steep climbs, but not on Old Buck - that's just a grunt no matter what you're riding (to me, at least). When it gets tighter then yes, you're going to feel that slack HA and need to overcome it with precise body positioning. But that's the game, right? I'll take those 65 degrees and laugh all the way down. There are always compromises but the Nomad splits the difference really well. The 74º seat tube angle is key.

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mightyted  - Nov. 6, 2014, 11:36 a.m.

Nice Review BTW. Value added by you sharing your impressions o a few different suspension components.

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sean
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Sean  - Nov. 6, 2014, 11:53 a.m.

Pete's assessment of the climbing is spot on. The bike climbs spectacularly well for what it is. I spent the entire summer with mine in the Lake Tahoe area slogging out unrelenting 4,000ft+ ascents on it through some really technical sections of trail, and the bike did it, no problem. But you have to be on point with body position, momentum, and line in a way that you wouldn't have to be on something with a steeper HA. The new Nomad will get you to the top of wherever you're aiming to go, you're just not likely to shatter any records doing it…once you point it downhill though, game on.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Nov. 6, 2014, 1:14 p.m.

Beast mode.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Nov. 6, 2014, 1:15 p.m.

Looks like a few more are on the way, too…

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sean
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Sean  - Nov. 6, 2014, 2:48 p.m.

Haha…more like, "no other choice mode." The trails I was after have no shuttle options. Gotta earn the turn

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david-max
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David Max  - July 21, 2015, 7:52 a.m.

Hi Pete, I realize this is an old review, but I just re-read it to get excited since I have a shiny new, black Nomad frame sitting in my house waiting for a set of wheels and a few other key components. I was wondering if you ever ended up doing any further testing on the Nomad with a Cane Creek Shock or the DVO diamond like you mentioned in your review? If so it would be really great to hear what you though of them. I was also wondering if you had any plans to test out a Push 11-6 since they are available locally through Suspension Werx? There is a thread in the Santa Cruz forum on MTBR that seems to suggest that it is the a wonder shock powered by pixie dust and that it does everything for you including your laundry and sending your wife flowers. It would be really interesting to hear a review from someone that doesn't have an inherent interest in justifying the $1200 US they just spent on a shock.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - July 22, 2015, 1:28 p.m.

Ha!
Congrats on the purchase. What wheels are you putting on it?

DVO Jade on the way soon (we'll also be testing a Diamond up front) so stay tuned for that but it'll still be a few months before we publish anything.

I'm curious about a Push and will look into it. Dabbled with a DB Inline but haven't been able to make it sing - I think you need the big can on the Nomad.

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andy
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Andy  - July 23, 2015, 9:33 p.m.

Pete, do you think I should go with a Large or medium? 5'8″ -8.5″ 31.5 inseam. I feel I am in between sizes.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Nov. 13, 2015, 1:37 p.m.

Tough one, Andy. You'd better sit on both and preferably ride at least one of them before buying. My torso is long and L works for me at 6′ 1″ (with a relatively short 32″ inseam) but it's borderline. You're correct that it seems like you're between M and L - so do you think the stretched out L will work for you? Here's another thought: with a super short stem, running an L might be a bit easier…

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phil-szczepaniak
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Phil Szczepaniak  - Nov. 6, 2014, 1:19 p.m.

I climbed a few nasty bits on the triple crown this year on mine. Old Buck, as well as the nasty bit up on Cypress before the last long descent of the day. It truly impresses me how well it handles tricky tech.

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andrewbikeguide
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AndrewR  - Nov. 6, 2014, 4:07 p.m.

The recent Dirt 'review' mentioned that the Nomad did not feel balanced front to rear. Whilst I disagree I would say that the bike has a sweet spot and performs like a race car when you are in it and does not feel so 'on point' when you are not. I agree that the body has to be centred and that there has to be weight over the front wheel to get the best out of the bike.

I have climbed stuff more easily that I did on my Blur TRc and that thing has a 68 degree headangle (which was consdiered slack in 2012!!). Rider set up is pretty key to getting the most out of it and the correct saddle position for climbing (and some knicks under the shorts) certainly help. I have dropped the stem back to 40mm which makes it decidely direct (almost twitchy) in the steering department and despite the trend towards stupid wide bars on everything (I am 6'2″ and 200 lbs BTW and happily ride 780 mm bars on my V-10.5C) I have just cut mine down to 760 mm and I am far happier all round. I started with the SC 800 mm bars but did not get on with the sweep angle so moved to my old faithfuls, Answer DH 780 Carbon bars and ran them at full width for about six weeks. If I cared about my climb times I might go back to a 50 mm stem.

Suspension, Pike and Monarch are quite sensitive to the air pressure, gone are the days of needing 15 psi changes to feel any difference in performance. I am trying to get a shock pump that can accurately deliver and measure 2 psi increments because I believe that you can feel it especially in the forks. My main gripe is that I think that suspension on an advanced bike should have seperate LSC and HSC so that the bike can be tuned for rider input and trail input. The rebound knobs on the RS stuff also have very vague detents. That said the Pike is delivering near BOS levels of plushness and the Monarch has amazing small bump compliance and works well in the mid travel.

On pedalling this bad boy one must remember to keep momentum (helped by the 650B wheelset) or to half pedal because even with 170 mm cranks you are going to whack a thing or two on a VPP bike, not as often as on the Blur TRc but it still happens and luckily I view pedal bearings as an expense/ wear and tear item.

Finally ENVE wheels (well they don't have to be ENVE but let's say well built carbon wheelset with a decent inner rim width), a total game changer. No arguments at all about how good they are and how well they handle.

I hope more people get to enjoy riding a Nomad. Happy trails.

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GladePlayboy
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Rob Gretchen  - Nov. 6, 2014, 10:47 a.m.

So many good bikes in this segment. A shoot-out would only be splitting hairs. It really comes down to personal preference and for many brand loyalty.

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phil-szczepaniak
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Phil Szczepaniak  - Nov. 6, 2014, 9:47 a.m.

" I have never been more confident on a bike." Great review Pete - I can only echo the same for my Nomad

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Nov. 6, 2014, 1:11 p.m.

Thanks, Phil. What did you build it up with?

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phil-szczepaniak
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Phil Szczepaniak  - Nov. 6, 2014, 1:17 p.m.

Very similar to your test spec Pete: Pike Solo 160, Enve wheels, Raceface SixC cranks, XT/XTR mix, 9point8 dropper post. But I'm running a DB Air (with climb switch) and very happy with it.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Nov. 6, 2014, 1:45 p.m.

Love the DB Air on my Enduro. Now I'm curious about it on the Nomad…

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brandin
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Brandin  - Nov. 7, 2014, 2:54 p.m.

I'm running a DBAir CS on my Nomad and I dig it. The climb switch really does live up to the hype. I'd say it's more plush & composed than the Monarch the bike came with, but I didn't lose a whole lot of the "playful" feel you described.

I'd also like to join the others and say great review. I appreciate that you guys don't hesitate to point out flaws or annoyances when you find them.

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Captain-Snappy
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Merwinn  - Nov. 6, 2014, 9:33 a.m.

Awesome review. Nice job.

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hbelly13
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Raymond Epstein  - Nov. 6, 2014, 8:13 a.m.

The Rune V2 with 650b wheels in the low setting is nearly identical to the Nomad 3 with the difference in numbers being less than 1/2 and inch or degree. Banshee however beat SC to punch by nearly two years. A comparison between these two bikes with a similar build would be great to see. I have a '14 Rune and sitting next to the Nomad they are nearly same. Some of the same points listed for the Nomad in this review can be applied to the Rune. However, IMHO the KS-link with a CCDB Air pedals better. Not to mention the obvious cost difference between the two.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Nov. 6, 2014, 9:34 a.m.

We are overdue to review a Banshee. I'll look into it, Raymond.

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dogboy
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Dogboy  - Nov. 6, 2014, 10:03 a.m.

A half inch lower BB on the Nomad is significant. Since most 160mm bikes fall closer to the Rune, it sets the Nomad apart - though more bikes are headed that way. 1/4″ longer chainstays on the Rune are also going to make a difference.

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hbelly13
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Raymond Epstein  - Nov. 6, 2014, 10:25 a.m.

If you're into splitting hairs the BB height difference b/t the two is 4/10's of an inch. Yes, still less than half an inch. In the terrain I ride I still get pedal strikes and I can gaurantee that this would be even more noticeable on a Nomad. Deal breaker? No, in terms of raw noticeable performance unless you share the proverbial princess ability to detect peas beneath multiple mattresses, I don't think you will feel it. Many started calling the Rune V2 the "aluminum Nomad" for good reason. Nonetheless, horses for courses and ride whatever turns you on.

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dogboy
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Dogboy  - Nov. 6, 2014, 12:23 p.m.

You are corrrect, 4/10's so not quite a half inch. My Spartan is even lower and I dig it, but like you say horses for courses. As for the princess and the pea analogy, nuance (and personal preference) is really what it comes down to with so many good bike options out there and some folks surely can tell the difference.

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hbelly13
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Raymond Epstein  - Nov. 6, 2014, 12:58 p.m.

The Spartan is a seriously dope bike too and I would have considered it had it been available when I ordered my Banshee at the beginning of the year. That said, I have zero complaints and I have 5 friends who ride Banshees (3 Primes, a Spitfire and another Rune) here (GA, TN, NC) who all love them.

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paul-watt
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Paul Watt  - Nov. 7, 2014, 11:16 p.m.

I've got a Rune V2 with 26s (and full Raceface with same bars stem etc), and the bottom bracket is at 340, same as the nomad. It's sweet, but it's pretty freaking low. Lots of pedal strikes. I'd love to compare the ride between the two

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wig
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Wig  - Nov. 13, 2015, 6:59 p.m.

I was going to say the same thing. I have a Rune V2 w/ 26″ wheels and Marz 55 (170mm) Fork. With the Geo set in the middle and I get almost the exact same Geometry (65 HTA…) and measurements (Chainstay, Reach, ETT…). My BB Height is higher -- 13.6 13.7. And they are both Vpp pivot suspension so I like a coil shock with decent sag n vpp bikes. So I don't want the BB Lower.

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tuskalooa
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tuskalooa  - Nov. 6, 2014, 8:01 a.m.

I second undecided, a shoot out would be great is the Rune V2 comparable to these bikes as well

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undecided
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undecided  - Nov. 6, 2014, 7:42 a.m.

How about a shootout: Nomad, SB6c, Reign, Process153

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Nov. 6, 2014, 9:31 a.m.

While we don't favour shootout style reviews, we just happen to have 3 of those 4 in the test fleet right now and it would be impossible not to compare them to some degree.

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chillyrider
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ChillyRider  - Nov. 6, 2014, 9:42 a.m.

This is a great review and very well written. However, what's the reason for not doing a shootout style review? Wouldn't this be one of the better ways to directly compare the competition against each other?

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drewm
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DrewM  - Nov. 6, 2014, 10:15 a.m.

If you believe the answer to your second question is 'YES' (which presumably you do), then you have two options for answers to your first (it's like a choose your own adventure book):

1) You can cynically assume that "shoot outs" are bad because they pick winners and losers.

2) You can happily note that the current crop of do-it-all mountain bikes are all @&#%ing awesome and it would be a waste of a lot of ink trying to nuance the differences (overcoming personal preference and differences in spec) to pick winners and losers.

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andrew-oneal
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Andrew O'Neal  - Nov. 6, 2014, 10:19 a.m.

Can you give us a little tease on the SB6c compared to the Nomad? A little better climber or descender? Same?

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Nov. 6, 2014, 10:23 a.m.

The problem with shootout style reviews is that they give the impression that one bike is better than another, and that's an oversimplification. I might like one bike for the way I ride but that doesn't mean it'll be your favourite. It's the same reason why we don't use a ratings system. We used to, but then readers are likely to just look at how many stars/chainrings/burrito toppings we give a product, and not read the review.

Of course it's useful to compare, though, and we are noting how bikes ride next to each other and will sprinkle reviews with those notes when relevant.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Nov. 6, 2014, 10:25 a.m.

Well put, Drew. Point #2 is a big one. The MBA shootout style reviews of the 90s go back to a time when some bikes were good, and others truly sucked. I haven't ridden a shitty MTB in a while.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Nov. 6, 2014, 10:26 a.m.

Yeah, sure. It does both well 😉

Sorry, you gotta wait for the review.

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jerryek
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Jerryek  - Nov. 6, 2014, 1:51 p.m.

I agree about the 'shootout' approach being a bit subjective. However, good comps focusing on the tendencies of bikes that are in the same category would be very useful. I'm shopping for a new frame, and am considering the Nomad and Sb6c (as well as the Reign). It would be awesome to hear about the respective pros and cons of each, and what type of riding/terrain each is best suited for.

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drewm
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DrewM  - Nov. 6, 2014, 2:20 p.m.

Are you a tall person or a short person? Are you lean-and-mean or carrying 20lbs of desk job? Do you sit and spin (like a bike with a nice pedalling pocket) or do you stand and attack tech ups (firmer mid-stroke)? Do you have long femurs (in which case many of today's steep seat angle //zero offset dropper post bikes probably don't fit you great)? How much or your height is torso? What is your ape index? How flexible are you? Do you clip-in or ride flats?

Head-to-head tests are way too subjective.

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jerryek
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Jerryek  - Nov. 6, 2014, 3:09 p.m.

DrewM,

There is a difference between a head-to-head test and comparing a bike to other similar bikes on the market. I think comparisons are really useful, especially to those of use reading these things that might be looking to buy a new bike.

If you believe that all those variables you listed make comparing bikes highly subjective, then why would you even read a bike review? Obviously all the things you mentioned are factors. But if those factors make a comparison way too subjective, wouldn't those same factors make a single bike review just as subjective? Its all subjective! As long as a reviewer contextualizes their opinions (as Pete did in this review), there is nothing wrong with comparing bikes.

You can compare similar bikes without identifying a 'winner'. Even the old MBA shootouts would contextualize their ratings based on different types of terrain, riding styles, and body types. I always compare bikes I've had the chance to try with bikes I've owned or ridden in the past. Saying that its too subjective is a cop out.

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drewm
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DrewM  - Nov. 6, 2014, 5:32 p.m.

Single bike// single author reviews tend to do a much better job of highlighting the preferences of the individual reviewer (do they normally prefer bikes with steep or slack effective seat angles and how does that affect their opinion of the bike in question for example) compared to collaborative or "bike bible" style shoot out reviews - in my opinion.

Fair enough though -- whatever works for you.

In all honesty I don't read reviews because I am interested in what the reviewer has to say about the bikes themselves -- I enjoy how reviewers interpret what they are feeling on the bike, comparing reviews by the same writer to get a picture of their bias'/preferences, and occasionally some really crafty wordsmithing (there are some great writers who write about bikes).

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big-ted  - Nov. 7, 2014, 9:23 a.m.

Also consider that asking a media outlet to come down in preference of one product directly over another is a tall order for fear of upsetting those involved with the latter product. Whilst I trust NSMB would have no reservations about pointing out a genuinely flawed product, they also need to preserve their industry relationships to ensure flow of product for future reviews.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Nov. 7, 2014, 3 p.m.

We're not afraid to say we prefer one thing over another on an individual level - all the good brands out there are confident enough in their own product to know that everyone has different tastes and you can't win 'em all.

That's a different thing from pointing out a product's flaws, though. Which is also something we try to do. And again, most companies don't get upset by that. Our industry relationships are important but as soon as readers don't believe us, we might as well close up shop.

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teamrobot
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TEAMROBOT  - Nov. 9, 2014, 12:01 p.m.

This is a good conversation to have. There are concrete objective differences between bikes, eg top tube length, leverage rate, seat angle, and I've never understood why those differences aren't addressed, compared, and contrasted in single bike reviews. Even better, most of those objective differences point toward a bike's intended purpose and ideal rider, why it excels in this situation and drags in that one, why the competitor's bike does the opposite, etc. Why you wouldn't define a bike's niche relative to it's direct competition is beyond me. That's almost the only thing I'm looking for in one of these reviews.

This isn't an attack on NSMB. Pinkbike does this as well. So does almost everyone. If you're reviewing a Toyota you have to at least mention what Honda's doing.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Nov. 11, 2014, 3:26 p.m.

That's fair and whether I was explicit enough in past comments or not, I'll try to be more so here: we are going to start doing more comparing. Side-by- side and dimension-to-dimension, not so much (at least not exhaustively) but especially when we have so many bikes purporting to be doing the same thing (AM/Enduro) I think it's fair to at least put some references to how a given bike rides relative to others - with the caveat that people will feel different things on different bikes.

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jesse-oneill
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Jesse O'Neill  - Nov. 14, 2015, 1:01 p.m.

and a Banshee Rune v2?

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yeti115
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yeti115  - Nov. 6, 2014, 5:34 a.m.

Nice review ! Thxs. Looking forward to read the one from the SB6c as I'm hesitating between these 2 bikes… Any date by when SB6c review will be published ?

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Nov. 6, 2014, 10:10 a.m.

I can't say specifically, but it'll be weeks, not months, from now.

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