Opinion on quick comparison between 2 bikes

SteveIves Posts: 3
edited September 2015 in MTB buying advice

I'm looking to upgrade from my old Saracen Limited Edition (26" wheels), and I'd decided between a 29" for £550 (reduced from £750) that just missed out on 1st place in a sub-£750 group test and another from the same company at £680 down from £1000. (I've omitted the brand to prevent any bias!)

I usually ride off-road with my family (wife and 2 boys aged 10 & 11), doing cross-country stuff that's not too demanding. (We did the 15 mile Evans ride-it event on the South Downs last month - 1,800' of climbing). I'm looking to upgrade as the brakes on my Saracen are rubbish, and by the time I've upgraded them etc.

From what I've read, based on the sort or riding I do, I should perhaps go for a 29" bike, but are the specs of the more expensive bike that much better to make it worth going for? I'm getting the bike through the cycle to work scheme, so I'll effectively get 42% off.

The main specs of the 2 bikes are below, but I suspect the main difference I'll notice will be 26" vs 29" wheels, although I currently ride a 26", so that'll feel more familiar. I can't test both bikes, as the 26" has to be ordered in (I can exchange if I don’t like it), but they do have a very similar 27.5" but that’s £330 more (this year's vs. last year's model, I think).

Thanks for any input.


Bike 1 (£680 reduced from £1000, cost to me £395)
Manitou Marvel Pro air fork with remote 3-stage damping/lockout
SRAM gears
SRAM shifters
Avid brakes
26" wheels
680mm bars
11.980 kg

Bike 2 (£550 reduced from £750, cost to me £319)
Rockshox XC air fork with remote lockout
Shimano Deore gears
Tektro 160mm brakes
29" wheels
620mm bars
13.3 kg