The term "trail bike" is a fairly new phrase that has arisen recently in the mountain biking world. In the ever increasing segments of mountain biking, most manufacturers put the "trail bike" between XC and AM in the XC-AM-FR-DH spectrum.
But, just exactly what IS a "trail bike"? Can it be defined by something as simple as amount of suspension travel and bike geometry or is it something more?
Well, I have been riding the new Cannondale Rize 1 for two months now, and one thing is clear....<b>the Cannondale Rize is the kind of bike that defines the term "trail bike".</b>
I have a full review of the Rize 1 coming soon, but I just wanted to put out a short preview of what I have learned and experienced so far. I was set up on the Rize 1 by Murray from Cannondale. I am riding a size small, and will include the suspension settings in my full report. This is the same pre-production Rize 1 that many people here have demo'ed. Since it is a pre-production, the front triangle is actually aluminum (not carbon fiber, as the production Rize 1s are), but with the forging process...it fools many people with it's decidedly carbon looking joints.
The first thing I noticed about this bike is that the finish on it is beautiful. The white finish with black and red highlights give it an elegant but racey look. And of course, the Lefty Max gets looks anywhere you go (if you are in to that sort of thing.) Even after the half dozen demo days and my rides on it, the bike still looks fresh.
The build kit is also quite solid, with CrossMax wheels, XT/XTR drivetrain, XTR brakes, RP23 rear shock, FSA carbon bars.....But it is the Hollowgram SL cranks and Left Max Carbon fork that stand out.
The Hollowgram SL cranks are rumored to be the lightest cranks out, right now. I have not personally verified that, but even with the lightness, they are super stiff and efficient and they hold up to trail abuse.
I have to admit that this is my first time riding a Lefty, any Lefty, and this fork has a super plush feel and ride. At first I was concerned that the fork might be too plush, since it exhibited a lot of brake dive while tooling around the office. However, out on the trail, this was not a problem. The fork operates as smooth as the best of any conventional (two-legged) fork, but is much lighter. While riding, you forget that the fork is single sided, as the stiffness and tractability of it is spot on. The brake dive was not a problem on the trail and I never once went OTB (or <i>felt</i> like I was going to go OTB.) And the PBR feature (stands for Push Button Rebound....what else?) is very easy to use for locking out the fork.
How does it ride? The rear suspension design of the Rize 1 provides a very efficient pedaling platform. Bob is not a problem, even without the lockout engaged. And although it "only" has 130mm of rear travel, it feels more like 150, on the downhills. I have been riding this bike in 4 different parks here in the Bay Area, and every time I ride it, I enjoy it more. Push the bike hard (whether on the climbs or the downhills) and the bike handles it. It climbs great and feels as light as it is. On the downhills, I am enjoy the smoothness of the front fork, and the Rize 1 tracks straight and true every time. You will realize the limits of the trail bike spec amount of rear travel, but it won't limit what you can ride. Rather it will limit how fast you can ride through it.
So, is the Cannondale Rize 1 trail bike a beefed up XC bike or a lightened up AM bike? Aggessive XC or AM lite? A bit of both, really. But, after riding the Rize 1, I would categorize the "trail bike" segment as a subset of the All Mountain category, rather than a separate category by itself. What do I mean by that? While, the basic ride qualities and characteristics of an All Mountain bike are present in the Trail Bike as well. The trail bike is limited by what it can't do, rather than what it can. The Rize 1 can make it down the same rock gardens and steep chutes that an All Mountain bike can, it just means that you won't be bombing through them as fast and you will have to pick your line a little more carefully. But with the 24.4 pound weight, the word "shuttle" is not in your vocabulary.
Look for the expanded review with more specs, info, and pix coming soon.
Thanks for reading, and feel free to post comments here.
Cannondale's Rize minisite: http://www.cannondale.com/thelodge/
Read or write a user review of the Rize 1: http://www.mtbr.com/mfr/cannondale/a...8_1547crx.aspx
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