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Looking to get a new 29er hardtail with a carbon frame, down to 2 options, need some help deciding.

My most typical riding use case is get out early in the morning, do 20-90 miles on a mix of paved, unpaved and maybe some foresty single-track, get back home tired and happy. Occasionally I'd visit local bike parks with kids and ride a trail with drops and curves, but I'm not good enough to ride double diamonds with crazy drops, cam do blue/green level drops.

I had a 20 year old aluminum Trek 26 hardtail which was pretty satisfactory for all my needs. Now kids growing up, need another bike.

I thought that a 29er carbon hardtail would be a good successor to my all around Trek. Budget-wise I'm looking to stay under (or around) $4k. I haven't bought a new bike in 15 years, so much has moved on, need some help deciding what will work best for my use case.

I'm down to 2 options:

  1. Diamondback Sync'r Carbon: https://www.competitivecyclist.com/diamondback-syncr-29-carbon-mountain-bike?skidn=DMB1WUP-BLA-S&ti=UExQIENhdDpIYXJkdGFpbDoxOjI6Y2F0MTAwMjA3NTk4#

  2. BMC Twostroke 01: https://99spokes.com/bikes/bmc/2021/twostroke-01-one

Normally BMC would be quite a bit more expensive, but there's a really great deal for one in my size at a local bike store which brings it to about same price.

Here's direct spec comparison: https://99spokes.com/compare?bikes=diamondback-syncr-carbon-29-2021;*z.XL|w.29,bmc-twostroke-01-one-2021;*z.XL|w.29

Not caring much about the looks, here's how I'm thinking about them:

Diamondback pros:

  • seems a bit sturdier, beefier frame, supposedly will last longer and handle more abuse
  • comes with integrated dropper post (I'd like to try that),
  • Fox fork has more travel and seems a bit better than BMC's SID, with continuous adjustment (just 2 mode switch on SID)
  • lifetime frame warranty (does anyone care these days?)

Diamondback cons:

  • frame made in China (is that a con?)
  • frame only accommodates up to 32t crankset. This actually would make me pedal with higher cadence to keep up with my old Trek (in its highest 44-12 gear)
  • quite heavy at 29 lbs (actually my old aluminum Trek clocks a bit under 29 lbs - same as DB!). Not sure how much of that are fork/wheels/tires/handlebar/seatpost vs frameset

BMC pros:

  • frame and many components made in Switzerland (that's a good thing, right?), frame is supposed to be better designed/of better carbon, if I understand correctly
  • 9lbs lighter out the box
  • a bit better wheelset, saddle. Carbon cranks and handlebar
  • no restriction of front sprocket size - frame can fit anything, comes with 34t out the box - will allow for same speeds as my old bike

BMC cons:

  • 100mm Rockshox SID fork (vs 140mm Fox 34 Performance on DB). I had 100mm on my Trek, but thought would be nice to have a bit more for those times I want to have fun on single-track
  • only 3 year frame warranty
  • Frame is rated to up to 110kg (242 lbs). I'm at 220, but with a backpack and a healthy meal in, can probably push the limit here.
  • no true lockout on the fork - it just becomes a bit stiffer with "lock" adjustment
  • press-fit bottom bracket. Not sure if that's a con - never had to open a BB on any bike, but hear they may start creaking
  • proprietary seatpost standard (you can get a shim and fit a standard 27mm seatpost, which allows for some droppers) - concerned about reliability/creaking with the shim in

I guess I'm looking for a all-rounder bike which I'll enjoy for another 10-15 years, so I'm probably leaning towards Diamondback due to increased sturdiness, worrying that I might be dealing with ageing issues sooner on a lightweight racing bike, but I'm really on the fence here.

Realize that wheels/fork are a bit harder (more expensive) to replace than anything else, and that really the only thing I can't change about DB is the chainring clearance, so looking for your advice - what do you think would be a better pick? Is there anything I'm overlooking?

Thanks!

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  • 1
    Olympic xc gold was won on the bmc!
    – JoeK
    Oct 11 at 17:11
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    Those are two totally different bikes. DB doesn’t make XC race hardtails. 140mm and 100mm are going to ride very differently, even without factoring in the huge weight difference.
    – MaplePanda
    Oct 11 at 18:57
  • @maplePanda, can you elaborate, pls? Ride differently - how?
    – Corvin
    Oct 11 at 19:28
  • @Corvin The difference is similar to that between an F1 car and an SUV. The BMC wins Olympic races, while the DB is for hitting the local trails with your buddies and grabbing a beer afterwards. Objectively, there’s a huge difference in weight, the DB will be more robust, the BMC more precise, DB more comfortable (40mm extra travel is A LOT), BMC more twitchy at high speed.
    – MaplePanda
    Oct 12 at 7:12
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Per our FAQ, we don't do product recommendations. We can discuss some factors in very general terms. Because I lack MTB expertise, this answer focuses narrowly on the issue of country of origin and press fit vs threaded BBs.

Having your frame made in your own or another OECD country (i.e. a high-income Western country or Japan) has clear subjective benefits. Let's not dismiss that. However, those benefits are mostly psychological - although there are benefits to having a factory closer to the country of origin.

It is the nature of business to seek to minimize labor costs where possible, although you can take an alternative strategy of going high quality. In any case, most bicycle frames are manufactured in Taiwan or mainland China - and possibly many of the Taiwanese firms may outsource some operations to the mainland. As mainland China's wages rise, I believe Western countries and maybe even some mainland firms will outsource elsewhere, e.g. I think I've heard Vietnam.

Building carbon frames is not an operation that someone can take on with minimal training. Currently, many of the process involve working by hand, e.g. to cut up carbon fiber sheets and lay them up on a mandrel, and much of the process also involves working with high-tech machines, e.g. the ovens where you bake the frames to set the resins. Thus, a lot of the talent and experience for building carbon frames has concentrated in Taiwan and mainland China. It is true that a lot of low-cost and low-quality parts originate from mainland China. However, consider that many computers and smartphones, e.g. Apple's products, are made in China. As this site asserts, Specialized, Pinarello, Colnago, Wilier, and a number of other bike firms have manufactured in Taiwan and/or mainland China. (NB: the site doesn't document its sources, but the listings do generally correspond with my understanding of the situation; they assert that BMC frames are made in Taiwan, but I'm not sure if that's current or if it applies to some BMCs).

If a bike brand chooses to outsource its manufacturing to a partner, this potentially enables them to specialize in designing the bikes. Pinkbike gives a glance at how this process looks from BMC's end. The brand doesn't have to worry about maintaining a factory and overseeing day to day operations there. That can be an advantage. Many firms face make or buy decisions like these. Most bicycle firms have come down on the side of 'buying' the production aspect from manufacturing partners. I believe that Campagnolo and Shimano are two prominent exceptions, although Campy manufactures its lower-end groups in its Romania factory, and Shimano has factories in (IIRC) Malaysia, mainland China, and Taiwan, i.e. even these companies found it necessary to go to lower-cost countries.

I'm drawing from a few podcast interviews that I can't remember in exact detail, but my understanding is that designing bicycles is often an iterative process, e.g. you'll physically manufacture prototypes through several cycles and tune the design. Obviously, simulation tools (e.g. CFD and FEA) reduce the number of prototypes you need to physically make, but you still need to make some, and having your manufacturing in China or Taiwan imposes delays in this iterative process. It may be that smaller firms who manufacture on site can benefit from being able to conduct that part of the process more rapidly.

The shorter version of the story is that I would recommend not concentrating on the country of origin. It would probably be better to decide what general category of MTB you want. Some that I'm familiar with include XC race, trail riding, all mountain, down country (a term that I know is used by Pinkbike, but I'm not sure how widespread it is), downhill. Further than that, you can evaluate the frame's design philosophy, e.g. if the geometry differs substantially, which philosophy do you buy? If reviews and/or marketing state that one of the frames is stiffer and designed for performance over comfort, does that align with your needs? This often involves a physical test ride, if possible.

If you can get a sense that one bike manufacturer has persistent quality problems, that might feed into your decision. The problem is that it can be hard to get a reliable sense of this. It has to be a mainstream brand that's heavily reviewed. For example, this Cyclingtips review of the Cannondale Topstone asserts that Cannondale in general has had some problems with creaking. However, on the review sample, it wasn't clear if the bottom bracket creaking was something that could be solved by reinstalling the bottom bracket with retaining compound, or by using a thread together BB, or some other step. Speaking of press fit BBs, the issue is that they are more likely to creak than threaded BBs. This can be ascribed to the tolerances of the shell (e.g. one or both sides are a bit over the official size spec, or perhaps the BB seats aren't perfectly parallel or square to the frame). It generally seems that threaded BBs are better in this regard, but you are not guaranteed to have problems with press fit BBs, and some companies likely maintain better tolerances than others.

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  • Threaded BBs merely mask the misalignment/distortion issues better than PF because they are less likely to creak. Both styles are equally susceptible to crappy manufacturing.
    – MaplePanda
    Oct 11 at 22:16

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