I got a chance last weekend to ride the Mega Trail when the owners hosted a group ride in Colorado Springs. They put it up on facebook and so my room mate and I joined them. I fully expected to ride my own bike that day, but to my surprise they has a shiney yellow Mega Trail in my size to ride all day. We rode at Palmer Park in Colorado Springs. This is a good spot to test bikes as there are a good mixture of technical features, flowey singletrack, and lot of climbing. My personal bike is a Trek Remedy 29er. I have also recently ridden the Specialized Enduro 650b and 29er, and a Stumpjumper EVO 650b. While thats only a few bikes to compare the Mega Trail to, I put alot of miles on each bike, so I feel like I can make some valid statments.
Starting off with what I was working with (I couldnt remember all the exact specs):
Mega Trail size medium 650b
SR Suntour Aion RC fork
Cane Creek DB Air shock (link in Trail mode)
Schwalbe Hans Dampf tires
Raceface Turbine Cranks
Shimano SLX brakes
Shimano XT drive train
42T rear cog
32T front cog
KS dropper post
All the specs with the exception of the fork excited me. I usually associate Suntour with inexpensive and heavy beginner forks. Matt from GG was on the other hand quite impressed with the Aion describing it as "it performs not as good as the Pike in every way, but its a solid performer for half the money." we dialed the suspension and set the tire pressures and off we went.
Climbing: Our day started out at a brisk 45ish degrees so a little climbing warm up on the bike was really nice. I immediately noted how instantly comfortable the riding position is. The long top tube fits me well. I didn't feel too stretched out or too cramped. Palmer has some chunky climbing, but this didnt seem to bother the Mega Trail. My Remedy with its 29in wheels is a stronger climber over the chunky rocks, but to my surprise the Mega Trail with its 27.5 wheels flew up the terrain with out any hesitation or added input from me. The first climb out the parking lot on our route was about a mile and a half or so. It was very steep and rocky in places and smooth in others. I found myself only occationally relying on the 42t cog and most of the time in the middle of the cassette. Also, there is very minimal pedal bob, so no need to lock out. The front end of the bike doesnt wonder like some bikes of this style do on steeper sections. One last note on the climbing is the bike has alot of rear wheel traction on very steep sections, even when leaning forward. Having seat time on a new Nomad (climbing only, I never descended on it... I know i know), I found the Nomad front end would wander and then you lean forward to correct, which allowed the rear wheel to spin incredibally easy. As climbing isnt the reason I ride mountain bikes... Thats about all I have to say on that topic.
Descending: Once we crested the first climb and saw a bit of the trail heading down it was on like donkey kong! I was following Matt from GG and he starting hitting it hard. You can tell he is a good rider (defintely better than me). I followed his lines and really started pushing the bike hard. The first descent was rooty and rocky. The bike felt super well balanced and very plush! Nothing was hectic or out of control, even with me riding slightly over my head. All there was on my face was an ear to ear smile by the time we got to the bottom. The bike was super playful and really allowed you to make sketchy last minute decisions that actually worked! Despite the rear suspension lay out being single pivot, I did not experiance any brake jack or brake squat. Also the rear suspension all the way through the travel felt very plush. The Suntour fork was a little soft at first, but after some dialing it was really starting to work well. The Shimano brakes and drive trail were on point as usual.
Technical Descents: Railing flowey single track is one thing, but negotiating super steep technical rocky section is a good shakedown for both bike and suspension. The first section we came across was a mix of rock rolls and gnarley rock garden. It was very steep, and even with the bike in trail mode (as opposed to the lower and slacker gravity mode), the Mega Trail tackled it all without any drama. It just felt very confidence inspiring. Later on we found some faster technical descents. The Mega Trail just continued to perform above expectation. I found myself hucking the bike off rocks I would normally roll on my Remedy. I cannot emphasize enough how playful the Mega Trail is!
After dwelling on my ride for the last week I have come to some conclusions on the bike. The Mega Trail is about having your cake and eating it too. It climbs like a stump jumper and descends better than a enduro. Its comfortable
for all day riding, doesnt wear you out on the climbs, and is very forgiving when you make terrible line choices. My only regret is not swapping the rear link into gravity mode that day.
Add all of that up with a day of riding with the owners and the customer service that goes above and beyond (I have had amazing customer service from them working on my personal bike in the past) equals most likely my next bike purchase. I strongly recommend if you live anywhere near Denver taking a test ride on one of theae steeds next time you have a chance! Thanks GG!
I will post pictures up later
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