Do Riders Deserve Booby Traps?

Words Dave Tolnai
Date Sep 21, 2015

Hey Uncle Dave,

I’m scared. Worried too.

Wreckless (sic) drivers driving cyclist off the road is one thing. But, in my area, we’ve been having a rash of booby traps being placed on the trails throughout. And its been going on for years. These booby traps consist of planks of wood, with a slot cut into it, and a razor blade shoved in pointy side up. Thankfully, the only serious incidents(!) have been a few cases of slashed tires, but with this going on for, again, years, there’s real concern that someone will definitely get pretty badly hurt. The locals suspect who it is, but nothing has happened toward getting the wrong doer as of yet. And now closer to home, I hear rumors of large holes dug, and covered as to easily collapse into themselves.

So what gives? Are we as cyclist really that bad on and off road that one needs to seriously injury us?

Please help,
Scared of Booby (Traps)


Dear Scooby:

It’s always interesting to see how incidents like this break down by nationality.  Not that long ago, up here in Canada, the North Shore was brought to its knees by an old lady dragging sticks across one of our trails.  This was a tremendously un-Canadian problem for us.  You’re not supposed to exert your influence on others in such a fashion.  If you’re unhappy with people riding bikes on a trail there are appropriate tools to deal with the situation.  Stern looks.  Passive aggressive lectures.  A letter to the editor if the situation gets excessively serious.  Sticks on the trail though?  It was a glitch in the matrix.  

So we tried to fix this un-Canadian-ness by responding in a preposterously Canadian way.  A group of individuals calmly discussed the problem on the Internet before using their own money to buy wildlife cameras to hang in the woods to capture evidence, which they then turned over to the proper authorities in order to have the deviant scoundrel arrested and put on trial for inappropriate use of wood and/or lumber.  It has taken quite some time, but things have finally been set right and calls of “after you!”, “my mistake!” and “sorry!” are once again filtering through the woods of Canada. (Actually things haven’t entirely been set right, and there is a trial set for December. -Ed.)

Your situation feels different than this.  There seems to be a higher element of danger.  Is there any chance that these incidents are taking place someplace within the United States of America?  I don’t mean to stereotype, but the over-the-top violence in response to a minor annoyance is pointing me in that direction.

My suggestion would be to go full-on nuclear Canadian on this guy.  If you already suspect who it is, it shouldn’t be all that difficult to hang some strategically placed cameras in order to catch him in the act of hauling razor blade laced lumber into the woods.

Sorry,
Uncle Dave


Uncle Dave,

I’m shopping for a new bike. I’m:

– Paying a Vancouver mortgage, so cheap would be nice.
– Going to use it in the BC Bike Race, so light would be nice
– Going to keep using it on the Shore, so durable would be nice.

I’ve found quite a few bikes that I like in my price range, but most of them seem to come up a little light in the fork department. They are all under-sized and underwhelming, based on most of the reviews that I’ve read.

If Uncle Dave weighed about 200 pounds, had $2500 to spend, and wanted to do it all, would he make a good fork a priority?  What would that good fork be like?

Sincerely,
Cheap as Fork


Dear Cheapfork:

This question is just so Vancouver.  “My caviar is too expensive, how do you suggest I save money on champagne?”  You people are the worst.

For any long term Uncle Dave readers, you know I talk occasionally about the holy quadreny(?) of:

  1. Geometry/Frame Design
  2. Brakes
  3. Fork
  4. Tires

Nail those things and chances are pretty good that you will have a fun little bike. Yes, everything else matters to a certain extent, but you won’t necessarily be left with a stoke-sapping fun-killer if something is screwed up in a less critical area.

The interesting thing is that it’s pretty easy to get good value and performance in each of these items. Save for one. There are many reasonably priced, well-built/designed frames. There are a few great, low dollar brake options. And tires are the most cost effective upgrade any rider can complete for themselves (and you can often talk the shop into making this swap before you walk out the door). But low dollar forks specc’d on most “cheap” bikes?  Oof. If I was shopping for a ‘budget’ bike, this would be my first area of concern. So yes, a good fork would be a priority for me, and you’re right to be afraid of what is on offer. None of these fork shaped objects should make it to market and the Product Managers at fault should be shipped back to the Quiznos where they came from.

Of course, there are a few low cost gems, but they are really, really hard to find. Each fork model has a few dozen iterations and it’s often possible to have one version that rips and one that sucks and both look exactly the same. So, unfortunately, chances are very good that you are going to end up with a turd of a fork. And, once again unfortunately, I don’t have the in depth knowledge of the thousands of different fork iterations to point you in the right direction, away from any potentially calamitous decision.  The good thing is that there are people that can help!

Here’s what you should do.

  1. Find two or three bikes that are suited to your riding style, are in your price range and that get you a little bit hot-and-bothered.
  2. Make a note of the *exact* fork model that each bike comes with.
  3. Find another few hundred dollars in your budget.
  4. Send a note to one of these guys (or similar), asking which of the forks you’ve noted is the least excremental and would be the best foundation for them to start with:

Suspension Werx
Vorsprung
Fluid Function
Push Industries

  1. Factor this advice into your decision, buy your bike and, drive immediately to your tuner of choice, hand them your money and your fork and call it a day.

I know this feels like a bit of a cop out, but I’ve yet to ride a cheap OEM fork that I can recommend. As adjustability is the first thing to go in the name of cost savings, there probably isn’t much that can be done without diving into the guts.  In this situation, it’s probably best to admit defeat and ask for help. Spending some money on expert hands will go a long way and opening up the conversation early may prevent you from plunking down a pile of cash on an incurable super turd.

One note…Please don’t do this unless you intend to actually follow through on the tuning. These guys aren’t in the suspension opinions business and I don’t want them to be angry at me for the sudden influx of go nowhere “Which fork should I buy” e-mails from cheap Uncle Dave readers.

And another note…Yes, you can probably research this yourself and find a whole host of modifications that will help you polish that stool into a sparkly diamond, avoiding the whole need to put food on some “experts” table. If you’re that guy, I’m not talking to you and there’s no need to tell me all about how dumb I am.

Sorry,
Uncle Dave


hats_1600

Limited Edition snapbacks. So limited they aren’t even in our online store. Yet.

This week’s winner (Cheapfork – because he fielded the most abuse) gets a limited edition NSMB snapback hat. So exclusive we don’t even sell them.


Is your caviar too expensive?

Trending on NSMB

Comments

JulieT
0
ashroadadam1 .  - Sept. 23, 2015, 8:47 a.m.

Dave- Can you clarify about the booby trap letter? Your response seems to imply the letter-writer is from somewhere else, perhaps the USA. It would be good to know how widespread this anti-bike booby-trappings is, and to have some potential case-law to refer to in the Kraal case which still has an upcoming trial date.

Reply

Dirk
0
Dirk  - Sept. 23, 2015, 12:18 p.m.

I don't have that information, I'm just assuming it wasn't from Canada. I think the problem is fairly widespread. It just always seems to be a notch further down in the States, compared to what we face up here.

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gtowncycles
0
Gtowncycles  - Sept. 23, 2015, 4:50 p.m.

I sent the letter. Definitely US of 'Murica, east coast. It's been going on for a few years now, but calmed down for a while. It recently popped back up and this time has gathers local and to a degree national news. There's rumors of the razorboards being placed on ramps, so the rider slices the tire mid- air, which is not a fun landing.

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Lee-Lau
0
Lee Lau  - Sept. 22, 2015, 8:20 p.m.

"A group of individuals calmly discussed the problem on the Internet before using their own money to buy wildlife cameras to hang in the woods to capture evidence, which they then turned over to the proper authorities in order to have the deviant scoundrel arrested and put on trial for inappropriate use of wood and/or lumber."

Not at all. Lots of people bleated on the bulletin boards about what they were going to do but did nothing. Just 2 groups of 2 people (four total) bought game cams to get pictures of Tineke Kraal sabotaging trails.

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Dirk
0
Dirk  - Sept. 24, 2015, 10:41 a.m.

So….(a bunch of people bleated on the bulletin boards and) a group of individuals calmly discussed the problem (I'm not 100% sure of the location of the discussion…but I had thought some of it took place on the Internet) before using their own money to buy wildlife cameras to hang in the woods to capture evidence, which they then turned over to the proper authorities in order to have the deviant scoundrel arrested and put on trial for inappropriate use of wood and/or lumber."

Man. I was way off.

Reply

Lee-Lau
0
Lee Lau  - Sept. 24, 2015, 7:37 p.m.

Why the snark? You exaggerated. I corrected. Move on and accept the fact that sometimes you will get it wrong.

Reply

yvr
0
YVR  - Sept. 22, 2015, 3:02 p.m.

Skip BC Bike Race (which is $2500) and buy a $5000 bike. Then ride the same routes on your own or do BCBR in 2017.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Sept. 22, 2015, 3:41 p.m.

I was thinking the same thing.

Reply

NickB
0
nick bitar  - Sept. 22, 2015, 5:06 p.m.

BC Bike Race may not have the same shine for you locals as it does for us in other countries/on other continents.
But about three years ago I dragged a mate and a few bikes across the ocean, promising him good times and great trails. And, hell, the BCBR delivered in spectacular fashion.

I guess you could try and convince your wife and the mother of you newborn child that you want to hire a van and explore NW Canada with mate while she perfects her lactating techniques.
Or you could just buy the damned race entry at 4am while she sleeps soundly and then tell her that if you don't go you've just wasted $2,500.
PS. There are some nice bikes at BCBR. I think that I may have been on the only 26″ bike in the field, and that was 3 years ago!!!!

Reply

extraspecialandbitter
0
ExtraSpecialandBitter  - Sept. 23, 2015, 9:31 a.m.

Yes, but Cheapfork says that he/she is from Vancouver, so it is easy for them to ride all of the locations (and more) without needing to pay the $2500 entry fee.
And anyway, BCBR is logging road central. The courses always seem to be largely fire road, even when there are better link ups available (due to number of riders). So moral of the story, if you live here and know how to read a map and use Google - there really isn't a need to go in the BCBR… unless of course you intend to win it.
Oh - And Transition TransAM or Kona Explosif - you'll be faster on all the fireroad if you insist on doing the BCBR.
(btw - Kona's site has been hacked it seems!)

Reply

yvr
0
YVR  - Sept. 23, 2015, 11:04 a.m.

Alternatively, buy a $4000 bike and use the other $1000 for race entries/travel. Ride Test of Metal, Nimby 50, etc., test the bike and make a decision on BCBR. Having raced at the sharper end of BCBR a number of times, the 'fun' factor starts to shift into 'survival' mode after Day 3 or 4. If you're not racing and just having a bro-down, do it on your own terms and skip sleeping on a soccer field in a tent. If you choose BCBR, remember to bring earplugs.

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poo-stance
0
Poo Stance  - Sept. 27, 2015, 12:42 p.m.

I was going to add some valid points to this but LOL at paying money to climb Dusty Rd in the middle of summer!

Reply

pizzataco
0
PizzaTaco  - Sept. 22, 2015, 8:51 a.m.

Uncle Dave, what is the best way to get better at mountain biking here in the North Shore, and out of Squamish, Fromme, and Cypress what is the best mountain to just simply have fun and learn new things?

Reply

metacomet
0
Metacomet  - Sept. 22, 2015, 8:54 a.m.

Whichever one is closest to your house and you can ride the most often.

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NickB
0
nick bitar  - Sept. 23, 2015, 4:22 p.m.

What?!? You live in Mountain biking Mecca and don't know where to ride?!?!
I spent a summer riding in Van and down the Sea to Sky and there isn't a day I don't sit here at work dreaming of how to make it back!
I got a great introduction from the crew at NsRide. Their regular group rides are really chilled and inclusive, no matter your skill level. And the people I met are still good friends years later.

Reply

morgan-taylor
0
Morgan Taylor  - Sept. 22, 2015, 8:24 a.m.

Uncle Dave, do you really think the reader can buy a new bike, taxes in, for $2500 that meets all the requirements save for the ($300-400?) fork cartridge upgrade?

Reply

drewm
0
DrewM  - Sept. 22, 2015, 8:51 a.m.

In the case of a lighter rider maybe, especially as Fox ditched Evolution O/C dampers this year so anything with Fox should have a FIT damper.

For a 200lbs rider the lack of chassis stiffness on forks equipped on most bikes at that price point would probably warrant a new (stouter) fork vs. upgrading a long travel XC fork and then being unsatisfied with the do- everythingness of the front end.

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morgan-taylor
0
Morgan Taylor  - Sept. 22, 2015, 9:04 a.m.

Or, a sub-$2000, quality used bike, with $1000 budgeted for upgrades and maintenance ($400 suspension service, $200 tires, brake pads and bleed, chain, cassette and shift cables). There's a good chance a used mid-range bike will have a decent fork (buyer beware, see Dave's commentary above) and a dropper post (which should be point 5 on Dave's "holy quadreny").

Reply

drewm
0
DrewM  - Sept. 22, 2015, 9:36 a.m.

This is a great point assuming they have a super knowledgeable mechanic friend, like Uncle Dave, to go along and inspect the purchase.

I've seen many more sob (or S.O.B) stories than I can count with used bikes.

Drivetrain, frame pivot bearings, suspension service, brake bleed, pads, bb, pedals, dropper service… Etc, etc… and that's not including all the cracked frames or "custom builds" (130mm 32 on a Reign-X kind of F's the geo).

There are some great deals on used bikes -- especially if you go 26″ -- but if you're having trouble discerning between $2500 bikes you're probably not equipped to judge value on the used market.

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drewm
0
DrewM  - Sept. 22, 2015, 10:08 a.m.

If anyone does have a question about the best used bike with the least problems I would send it to this guy:

AskUncleDave@NSMB.com

Only if you're serious though. Wouldn't want to waste Dave's time!

Reply

Dirk
0
Dirk  - Sept. 22, 2015, 10:10 a.m.

Canadian dollar will screw with this…but…yes. Close to it, anyhow. Giant Reign has a really good spec near to this price, albeit a bit over. And the Kona Precept I tested was awesome, save for brakes and fork. Swap rotors and pads in and do something with the fork and I think you could have a pretty bad ass bike for $2500. Or so. It's pushing it, but there are some real bikes around this price level.

What would be interesting is to actually hear from one of the tuners to see if there is anything to be done to these forks for a reasonable amount of money. I was thinking about that as I finalized last night, but didn't really have the time to dig into it.

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morgan-taylor
0
Morgan Taylor  - Sept. 22, 2015, 10:20 a.m.

That's the thing though. Every bike in that range has some sort of fatal flaw. If not the fork, it's the brakes, or a 9-speed drivetrain, or downright scary tires. I know it was the reader's budget, but is it realistic? Or are they going to spend another $1500 in fork, brakes, and drivetrain in the next year, and wish they'd bought the next model up?

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Dirk
0
Dirk  - Sept. 22, 2015, 10:23 a.m.

There is definitely truth in these statements.

But what would you change on this bike?

Edit - Probably not the right bike for this guy…but this is the bike I keep coming back to when I think about usable spec for a reasonable price.

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morgan-taylor
0
Morgan Taylor  - Sept. 22, 2015, 10:31 a.m.

On that bike, probably just the OEM-spec tires, the saddle, and probably the stem. Giant does have well priced bikes in the Canadian market.

You're right, this rider probably needs a Trance:

…in which case we're looking at a Fox 32 140. Under a 200 pound rider.

Reply

poo-stance
0
Poo Stance  - Sept. 22, 2015, 11:07 a.m.

Not sure how I'd feel about pedalling a Reign for seven days straight in the BCBR. I'm sure it would be fun on the Squamish and Whistler stages though.

Reply

0
t.odd  - Sept. 22, 2015, 11:41 a.m.

it would suck. it's a great bike, but everyday trail bike it is not, let alone a bike for a multi-day xc event. I'm not saying you couldn't do it, but it's the wrong tool for the job. too long, too low, too slack. I love mine, but one clips pedals off of everything it's so low, especially on varied xc trail terrain.

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brizzy
0
Brizzy  - Sept. 22, 2015, 1:07 p.m.

Giant Stance is worth a look, I think it's the best deal out there from any of the big brands. Obviously the Recon/32 might be a little small under a 200lb guy, but you're not gonna find a lot of light, XC-friendly bikes with Pikes on them.

Reply

D_C_
0
DMVancouver  - Sept. 22, 2015, 10:47 p.m.

Or last year's + a dropper post:

Reply

hoz
0
Hoz  - Sept. 23, 2015, 3:27 a.m.

For that money I reckon I would live with a 9-speed drivetrain if all the other ducks were in a row….as long as it wasn't too low down the tech pecking order. A couple of my older bikes in the fleet are 9-speed and they are still fun! Hell my winter beater bike is an 8 x 2 speed with old XT thumbshifters…and that is way better than an 11 x 1 in the mud. Would suggest that number of gears on the cassette = not so important in the mix (provided the gear range suits the local trail conditions). Forks, tyres, brakes. Yup not worth compromising too much in those departments

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poo-stance
0
Poo Stance  - Sept. 23, 2015, 11:27 a.m.

I'm waiting for the bike industry cheerleaders to recommend 27.5+ for BCBR.

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Dirk
0
Dirk  - Sept. 22, 2015, 10:19 a.m.

And further to this, the truth is that I've read a lot of comments and received a lot of e-mails about $2500 not really being all that "cheap" for a bike. If it were my money, I'd spend a bit more. It would probably be more accurate to assign the above comments to sub-$3000 bikes than to $2500 bikes, but as long as there are a handful of options I'm okay with what I've said. But I also need to remember that most people don't have a storage room full of bike parts to pull from if something isn't working right.

I think the more interesting question is "how much do you have to spend on a bike to not have to mess with it to make it rideable?"

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morgan-taylor
0
Morgan Taylor  - Sept. 22, 2015, 10:22 a.m.

That's the question I'm trying to get at. Especially the part about it being durable, and worth riding in a 7 day stage race. Call me a snob, but I'd want a dropper post for that.

Reply

nat-brown
0
Nat Brown  - Sept. 23, 2015, 11:59 a.m.

I think it's worth explicitly stating what rideable means, as obvious as it may seem. Most of this discussion is coming from people who have contributed content to NSMB, including testing bikes. While the latter point may give these opinions more weight, you, Morgan and Drew are probably in a niche that in some ways is probably not that representative, and some of your perspective might not be that obvious to the more average Joes and Janes. Speaking for myself, I'm interested in what you're saying, I just want to make sure I understand as best I can.

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nat-brown
0
Nat Brown  - Sept. 23, 2015, 12:08 p.m.

I think your more interesting question has merit, but I'd also like the original taken more seriously (in the comments here, not the article). Think $2500 hard limit. There will be compromises. Where would you choose to make those compromises?

You've gotten some emails about $2500 not being that cheap. For a lot of people that is very much the reality. I don't think this discussion is too bad, but there's room for a little more respect for the financial realities of a not-so-insignificant proportion of the population of Canada, which is after all, one of the wealthiest countries on Earth.

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Dirk
0
Dirk  - Sept. 23, 2015, 12:21 p.m.

This is a very fair comment, and one that probably deserves more discussion. I challenge you to phrase it a little bit differently and send it in and maybe you'll get a prize.

Reply

nat-brown
0
Nat Brown  - Sept. 23, 2015, 1:05 p.m.

Hmmmm, I like to drop my #2s at work so I get paid for the effort. Is this the same sort of thing; do you want to be 'on the clock' when you reply? 😉

Seriously though, thanks for the suggestion. I'll add it to my, to date entirely unexecuted, list of sure fire Uncle Dave prize winners. I should follow through.

Reply

morgan-taylor
0
Morgan Taylor  - Sept. 23, 2015, 8:17 p.m.

While I have had the chance to ride a lot of high end bikes and parts – and that's what often stands out when you consider a magazine review bike – I've also ridden a lot of mid-range and lower priced (sub-$3k) bikes. For a firm $2500 including out of the box mods like tires, and assuming the bike comes with passable fork, I would buy a hardtail.

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nat-brown
0
Nat Brown  - Sept. 23, 2015, 8:25 p.m.

Thanks for taking the time to reply. And I was thinking a hardtail right from the get go too.

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drewm
0
DrewM  - Sept. 24, 2015, 9:04 p.m.

I know what you're saying, but I think the years I've spent working at mating riders to bikes from $400 commuters to high end road/mountain bikes probably informs my opinion in this case more than my personal experiences. I would say that I'm quite adept, and I would say this about Morgan as well from my experiences/conversations with him, at divorcing what works for me, and what I like, from what would work for a rider of X ability/experience and Y needs/desires.

I have definitely ridden a number of different demo/test bikes, but my own rides -- which I spend most my pedaling hours on -- are always eclectic mixes of new and old, and sometimes really old, parts that work for me. I certainly wouldn't prescribe friction shifting or singlespeeding to the average Joe/Jane.

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nat-brown
0
Nat Brown  - Sept. 25, 2015, 10:28 a.m.

Thanks for your reply. Despite how my comment might have come off, I do expect and generally find that you guys are good at making these sorts of judgements for others with different goals, skills and experience levels. The red flag for me was the inference by Morgan that a dropper is requisite. No one disagreed. I understand the desire for a dropper, and these are obviously just opinions here, but to me that's clearly a luxury item in this context: at least 3x the price of an excellent normal post, and almost infinitely more costly to maintain.

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morgan-taylor
0
Morgan Taylor  - Sept. 25, 2015, 10:43 a.m.

Take the dropper post comment as my opinion of my own bike. Not all droppers are high maintenance. My Fox DOSS has been running perfect without service for two and a half years, but in my experience (and in Drew's, also) Gravity Dropper is affordable, durable, and serviceable – just a bit ugly. I prefer not to ride mountain bikes without them – a couple hundred dollars is well spent on a used one in my opinion.

As for what I'd suggest as an "affordable excellence" build for an intermediate or above rider in the year 2015? 10-speed 2x, clutch derailleur, brakes that don't suck, fork that doesn't suck, tires that resist flats and have good traction in wet conditions. Basically what Uncle Dave said. It's hard to get all these things with a suspension frame for that money, even without the dropper post.

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nat-brown
0
Nat Brown  - Sept. 25, 2015, 11:24 a.m.

This is precisely the sort of clarification I was after, thanks.

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drewm
0
DrewM  - Sept. 25, 2015, 12:49 p.m.

Dropper Posts are a difficult one for me.

I use one on my bike and I can definitely point to rides that were enjoyable thanks to it, but I'm also a very social rider, ride a lot of Fromme (up/down), and am comfortable riding fairly tech terrain with my seat up when needed. Generally I would be perfectly content on 80%+ of my rides without one.

However, I know a lot of beginner/intermediate riders locally who would rate a dropper as a necessity. Definitely a bigger concern than geometry or suspension performance.

I took Morg's comment in reference to BCBR and I think most non-pro riders would find a dropper to be an energy saver and fun multiplier in most the stages. Personally I'd go hardtail with dropper rather than duallie with rigid post if I had to choose within this budget.

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