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Switching from Gravel > Hardtail (?)

cgfw201cgfw201 Posts: 669
edited June 2019 in MTB buying advice
I've had a Cannondale Slate for 2 years and absolutely love the thing. Living in SW London it means I can be off road in minutes across Wimbledon Common, Richmond Park, down the river to Kingston, Esher Common, Epsom, into Surrey etc all in one ride, barely on any roads. And it is loads of fun, but still my #2 bike behind my road bike which does get a lot more use.

But I crashed last week and snapped the frame. Oops.

Insurance claim going through, but a like for like replacement is nigh on impossible due to how hard it is to find a Slate in this country.

I'm also moving out further into Surrey this summer, so much nearer the trails down there.

I've got a budget of £1000-£1500. I've read through a few lists of "Best £1000 hardtails" etc, but as a bit of a novice in this world, is there anything else I should be paying attention. I want to budget for a dropper post as I have noticed the lack of one on the Slate made some more technical/jumpy bits a tiny bit terrifying.

I'll still need to ride a bit down roads on it so would like it to be on the faster end if possible, but would hope to use it for some bikepacking and more technical stuff in the next couple of years so would like it to be a decent all rounder too...

Cheers

Posts

  • MiddleRingerMiddleRinger Posts: 678
    I tossed up between getting a Slate or a hardtail. I went for the hardtail in the end and I'm glad I did - but that's purely for the riding I've been doing on it.

    On the trails the hardtail with it's fat, grippy tyres running lower pressure and nice wide bars give you much more confidence. Having a dropper post (mine came stock with one) is a big plus too! Wouldn't ride without one now. On the road though it's not much chop even with the fork locked out. Just so sluggish compared to a road bike (obviously).

    I think a Slate would have been awesome to flick between road and light trail, but the super short travel fork a real compromise once the trail gets more technical or rough. Also the Cannondale Slate was about 20% more expensive than the hardtail I went for.
  • cgfw201cgfw201 Posts: 669
    I tossed up between getting a Slate or a hardtail. I went for the hardtail in the end and I'm glad I did - but that's purely for the riding I've been doing on it.

    On the trails the hardtail with it's fat, grippy tyres running lower pressure and nice wide bars give you much more confidence. Having a dropper post (mine came stock with one) is a big plus too! Wouldn't ride without one now. On the road though it's not much chop even with the fork locked out. Just so sluggish compared to a road bike (obviously).

    I think a Slate would have been awesome to flick between road and light trail, but the super short travel fork a real compromise once the trail gets more technical or rough. Also the Cannondale Slate was about 20% more expensive than the hardtail I went for.

    Cheers. Think I am leaning towards the hardtail, but then keep coming back to thinking of all the amazing days out on the Slate where it's been able to chew up absolutely everything and wonder if I'll miss the distance I can cover on it.

    Guess there's probably no wrong option at the end of the day, just two slightly different ones.
  • billycoolbillycool Posts: 833
    A £1000+ hardtail will get you a decent spec bike that will be fairly light and cover the ground well. A 29'er might suit you well.

    Ulitmately, a road bike, gravel bike and MTB are good in their specific fields, with some crossover.

    I think you'd like a 29" hardtail and be surprised what else you can do with it.
    "Ride, crash, replace"
  • cgfw201cgfw201 Posts: 669
    BillyCool wrote:
    A £1000+ hardtail will get you a decent spec bike that will be fairly light and cover the ground well. A 29'er might suit you well.

    Ulitmately, a road bike, gravel bike and MTB are good in their specific fields, with some crossover.

    I think you'd like a 29" hardtail and be surprised what else you can do with it.

    Ordered precisely that yesterday. Went for a Giant Fathom 1. Excited.
  • billycoolbillycool Posts: 833
    cgfw201 wrote:
    BillyCool wrote:
    A £1000+ hardtail will get you a decent spec bike that will be fairly light and cover the ground well. A 29'er might suit you well.

    Ulitmately, a road bike, gravel bike and MTB are good in their specific fields, with some crossover.

    I think you'd like a 29" hardtail and be surprised what else you can do with it.

    Ordered precisely that yesterday. Went for a Giant Fathom 1. Excited.

    My work here is done. :D
    "Ride, crash, replace"
  • MiddleRingerMiddleRinger Posts: 678
    cgfw201 wrote:
    Ordered precisely that yesterday. Went for a Giant Fathom 1. Excited.

    That's the bike I went for too. For the money, it's ace! No regrets here!

    I've ridden gravel, fire roads, light single track, long off-road climbs and some really gnarly stuff that had me walking a few sections. It's taken it all in it's stride. It's a better bike than I am rider. I find it's best on a flowing single track (or maybe that's where I'm best). So much fun!
  • cgfw201cgfw201 Posts: 669
    Update on this.

    Had the hardtail for a year and just found it increasingly difficult to love. Around here, it's total overkill for all bar the 1% most technical descents, and so much slower going uphill and on the flat compared to a gravel bike.

    Last month I sold it and got a Topstone which was an excellent decision. More fun, faster and just as capable around here (Surrey) as a mtb.

    Hardtail was like owning a tank and using it for the weekly shopping trip.

    That was my experience anyway.
  • monkimarkmonkimark Posts: 762
    Where about in surrey are you? There are certainly trails near me that my MTB is far more suited to than my CX bike.
    Even on the uphills, I'm often faster on the MTB if it's rough & rocky, that said there are plenty of tamer trails that are just a bit plodding on the MTB.
    I find that I subconsciously select the trails to suit the bike i'm on, without really planning the routes that way.
  • cgfw201cgfw201 Posts: 669
    i live near epsom. good access in all directions to all sorts. went out to leith hill the other day and was overtaking mtbers on the ups, downs and flats round there.
  • monkimarkmonkimark Posts: 762
    Ah, I'm round the corner in Ashtead.
    I was probably one of the mtbers that you overtook :p
  • cgfw201cgfw201 Posts: 669
    Ha. Must admit, speed is the one thing i really like about a gravel bike. Picked up 14 KOMs in a month on the Topstone, all on the same trails i was going down on the hardtail.
  • monkimarkmonkimark Posts: 762
    I used to have a KOM on a short, quite technical downhill section around Boxhill that I got because once I'd pointed the cx bike down it I didn't have enough grip or brakes to slow down until I came out the other end.
    Not much chance of getting any through skill or fitness though.
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