AS a later in life adopter of riding the mts, I have become a pretty avid rider and in the past 3 years my riding, passion for the sport and skills have all gone up. For perspective - 46yrs young, 5'6", 165lbs. Live in Denver CO. Ride at least 3x per week and more if possible. I used to stick to only trails I knew and were low technical when I started - now I will ride anywhere and anything.
Current Bike - Kona Satori 29er. One of the benchmarks for a longer travel, short chainstay extremely capable, fun and good "value" bike.
Previous Bikes - Giant Anthem X29, Yeti 575, Spec Stump FSR
For me - the 29 and especially the Kona - has made me love mt biking. I can ride up and over or down and through most everything I've been on whether front range or west - like Fruita/Moab. I take more chances and realize it's more the bike's ability to handle it and save my bacon than my skill as a rider. I dont have bmx or motox background at all.
Before I bought the Kona (after numerous back to back demos against other bikes) - i demoed a high spec 26 bike in carbon that rhymes w beti and frankly a bike i so wanted to love. I didnt. Couldnt stand the small wheel after riding 29 for a solid 18 mos previous. At the time the kona felt right and simply disappeared on the very first ride - allowing me to do things i've never before done on a bike.
Well - as an ADD rider - all kinds of shiney things have popped up and 27.5 seems to be the industry shiney object I can't ignore. Skeptical it would replace my 29 - based on reading others riding perspectives, but I'm open minded and NOT afraid of change... hey - i did just get married a couple weeks back
So - with anticipation - after many new bike releases - i've been awaiting the option to get on some demo rides. Primary interest in:
Kona Process line
SC Bronson and Solo
Giants new trances
Low and behold I got the chance by sheer randomness to get on an Intense Carbine 275. Shop demo bike so not a full on top spec - but pretty good with nice set of XT der's, Sun Charger tubeless, Reverb dropper, RS Revelation frt. CTD Kashima rear. Kenda Nev 2.4 frt/rr, Avid 5 brakes
So - off we go:
The ride - Apex - a nice technical trail here in the front range - technical sections, rock strewn, tight switchbacks, trees, some roots, some flow sections etc... bottom line - great route to test a bike for all around conditions and trail riding that would prove a bike for most riding scenarios
after some minor setup in shop - got to lot and dialed a bit more - shock pressures, rebound baselines, tire pressures, seat height etc...
What I noticed immediately:
- easier to pedal up to speed and found myself a few gears deeper in the rear right off the bat.
- liked the immediate feel of the rear. rocks and square edge no issue or finesse needed
- while the wheel looked as wide/wider - still didnt see or feel as much in front of me
- felt the trail more under me - was not muted out by the wheel/tire size
- the bike in now way was "twitchy' but yet coming from a veritable tank of a bike and the mass of the 29 wheels - its the word that comes to mind
- first switchbacks - wheel def carved a tighter inner line
- first technical rock sections - cleared the up and over on all of em
- waterbars/setups - same - no issues
- didnt feel as "planted" to the ground - this has both positive and negatives
- downhill - wow - very fun, more nimble and I did not get into any trouble even on the worst of it
I havent checked my runtastic mtb app which logs a lot of great info - but believe my overall ride was very similar to my 29. prob faster in some ways (climbing - not has heavy or many watts to get up to and maintain speed, or energy needed to get up and over some rocky sections) and slower in others - 1st ride on a foreign bike - always some hesitancy
my overall realization - i think i could drop to the tweener size and be a happy rider! The bike actually surprised me in many ways - and that's a great thing! I am not stating that I will run out and buy the Carbine - but it worked well and I felt almost immediately comfortable - some tweaks in build and cockpit - wider bars, shimano brakes, wheels/tires(??). And some tweaks to sus settings - to fine tune for me - and the carbine is a real winner. 275 - seems to legitimately have a place - for a guy like me and Im sure as sales numbers a couple years out will suggest - many others.
Looking fwd to trying the others on the list as well as some of the new 29ers from Salsa, trek and the Kona process
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