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  1. #1
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    Jan 2004

    Caution;  Merge;  Workers Ahead! 2008 Interbike Dirt Demo

    In tscheezy's absence I tried to fill in the gap best I could. Sorry about the delayed report but as you'll see in a moment.... this is a lot of work. My hat's off to tscheezy for getting those reports out so fast in years past.

    Just a few general comments about this year's demo. First of all, I did not ride any bad bikes. The technology has advanced to the point that when you choose well you will get a good bike.Period. So the rest is just personal preference and what you want to use it for. Secondly, Bob is dead. They've got this one figured out either with good suspension design or good shocks. It just wasnt' there on any of the bikes I rode (except one). Thirdly, because all the bike designs are so good, bike reviews often boiled down to component selection, bike set up, and sizing. And lastly, these are ride impressions, not comprehensive bike tests and I'm not the most observant person or the most sensitive to small nuances. I usually adapt quickly to small annoyances and differences and nothing really gets my attention unless it's really different. This may be good or bad.

    So with that, here it goes. I'll try and be as tscheezy-like as possible and give you what you've been craving.

    Day 1 Dirt Demo

    [SIZE="5"]Pivot Firebird[/SIZE]

    6” DW-Link All Mountain/trail

    I was really looking forward to riding this bike. We loved the build quality, looks, and snappiness of the Pivot offering we sampled last year but were a little disappointed in the small bump compliance. I’ve since heard that a custom light-valved version of Fox’s RP23 has improved the Mach 5 considerably over what we experienced so assumed the Firebird would get the same treatment. As before, the fit and finish are top notch. The proportions and overall aesthetics of the frame are nice. Unlike others, I don’t find the bottom bracket area to be overly busy. All those CNC’ed pieces and anodized aluminum fasteners look pretty trick to me. Climbing was superb. It felt firm and efficient. Very little if any bob could be felt either sitting or standing with pretty much zero side to side flex while hammering. It felt light and nimble like a long legged XC mount. Here’s the knock. They set up the RP23 to get 1/3 sag and I let out air until I was getting closer to 40 to 45% sag and it still just wasn’t that plush. Sorry. I really wanted to love the 6” version of the Pivot but it skipped around on medium sized square edged bumps while standing on the descents also. To be fair I was still not getting full travel according to the rubber ring after descending but didn’t really dare set it for more sag. I've heard others report more plushness so maybe it was a setup thing. Wonder what a more linear shock like a DHX Air or Roco Coil would do for it. Also, I was the first person on this bike and the Fox Float 36 was a bit less than optimal too. In fact that was the case with all the Float and TALAS 36 forks I tried with the exception of one (on the El Guapo). They just felt kinda poopy and not that plush. Maybe it is a quality control thing… or perhaps a set up thing but I’ve set up plenty of Fox forks and think I know what I’m doing. I was getting proper sag and was running the compression damping all the way out (light)….. But still felt too firm.
    I opted for the medium this year after my experience on the large Mach 5 feeling too big last year and the sizing felt about just right for me at 5”11.5”. I might’ve opted for a bit longer stem, but that’s just preference. The only other complaint I had with the Firebird was the ghastly loud chain slap. This bike was in serious need of a chain guide and padding on both the chain and seat stays. I never lost a chain but the noise sure was unsettling and unbecoming of a bike in this (or any) price range.

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 006

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 009

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 008

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 007

    Note the interesting pivoting front derailer mount. It's supposed to allow for a higher chain stay without it hitting the FD on compression. Not sure if this was part of the cause of the chain racket or not.

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 011

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 010

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 014

    [SIZE="4"]Ventana El Bastardo[/SIZE]

    5” 650b Trail/AM

    Loved it! I’ve been interested in trying this one since I rode a Carver Ti 650B hardtail last year. It sounds cliché but the in-between wheel size really does feel just right. Not too big, not too small. They feel snappier and less flexxy and less lethargic than a 29er wheel but still carry momentum and have that rollability thing that the 29er faithful praise. The frame and wheels seem to be balanced aesthetically in the large size I rode which fit me really well though the conventional straight tubing may looks a bit dated to some. The whole bike just felt right and balanced. The frame is typical Ventana quality. Stiff laterally with welds and paint to drool over.
    People worry about the lack of tire and fork choices for 650b, and while that is a concern, at least the tires and fork that are available are pretty darn good. We were seriously under whelmed by the White Brothers 135 we tried last year on the Behemoth, but this one felt pretty good. At least as good as the Fox 29 120 forks I sampled on other bikes and better as far as damping characteristics than msot of the the Fox 36 forks I tried, though not as flex free obviously. The Pacenti Neo Moto tires are good. Period.

    The whole package just comes together. The suspension and wheels together rolled over the nasty Bootleg square edged rocks better than just about anything else I tried (except maybe the Rip 9, Delerium-T, and obviously the V-Tach ).

    Bottom line? If you’re OK with settling for a WB fork and not having tons of tire options this is a great bike. Don’t hold your breath waiting for Fox or Marzocchi to jump on the 650b bandwagon. Dave Turner has shown some serious interest in this wheel size and told me that it’ll be awhile before any of the big manufacturers make a 650b specific fork. He asked the head of Fox Forks when he was at Eurobike when they might expect to build a 650b specific fork and he said, “What’s 650b?”, and Dave said he didn’t sound like he was kidding. Not even on his radar screen.

    Bikerbob rode with me on this demo and we swithced back and forth. So maybe he'll chime in with his impressions too.

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 015

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 016

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 020

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 021

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 019

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 018

    [SIZE="4"]Titus El Guapo[/SIZE]

    6" All Mountain

    I saw the pics of the new El Guapo about a month ago and was pretty excited. Eventhough most vital statistics hadn't really changed the new front triangle looked pretty good.
    I met up with Bikerbob at the Titus tent and he grabbed an El Guapo when I was on the Bastardo. We switched off a couple times, in fact I think I got more time on the EG than he did. I think he was trying to keep me off the EB because he wanted me to buy an EG. Either that or he was just digging the Bastardo so much he didn't want to give it back.
    I was surprised by a couple of things about the El Guapo eventhough I rode it last year and rated it as one of my favorite bikes of the demo. This year it felt a little bigger (it's not), and little heavier (it's not), a little slacker (I don't think it is), and a little less long legged trail bike and a little more All Mountain Nomad beater. It climbed well and seemed to squat less than last year yet still remains active over smaller ledges. The thing just eats up rough choppy downhill terrain like an overweight pubescent teen eats up Cheetos. This particular Fox 36 Float (TALAS maybe) was the only one I rode in the two days of demoing that felt acceptably good. It was rigid as youʼd expect but also soaked up the chunk nicely. The small bump compliance wasn't quite on par with my two favorite forks of the show but was pretty good and it ramped up nicely.

    After seeing the new front triangle in person I wasn't quite as smitten as I was by the photos but it is still a beaut. I didn't love it so well that I would hesitate to pick up an '08 leftover for a considerable discount though. It's mostly just aesthetics although the new one is supposed to be .25lb lighter I believe. I don't think they raised the BB height any but I didn't get any pedal strikes this year and it seemed like I had several last year. I did drop the chain twice on this bike so a chain guide would be helpful here too.

    The ride felt quite balanced but like I said above not quite as nimble and flickable as the one I rode last year. May have been set up..... I couldn't quite put my finger on it. It seemed more capable of steamrolling junk instead of floating over it like last year. It flew straight and landed like you're falling into grandma's old feather bed. Nice. I was having so much fun riding it that I forgot to stop at picture rock on this run and shoot the usual plethora of pics but Bob got one pic of me airing it out and I swiped a few from various other locations including Dominator 13's review on the Titus board.

    Bottom line: It felt like a bike. Nothing really stood out either good or bad which is a good thing. It just worked really well and did everything right. Combine that with Titus quality, CS, and stiffness = No complaints..... but in the end it wasn't enough better than my 6.6 to trade it in for one.

    Titus El Guapo

    Titus El Guapo2

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 023

    [SIZE="4"]Intense Tracer VP[/SIZE]

    5.5" to 6" adjustable Trail/All Mountain

    This is the bike I was most excited about trying. Since I competed in a super D/Enduro type race this year I've been longing for a bike that felt light enough and was efficient enough to hammer the flatter and uphill sections of the course yet still capable enough to blast the fast, rocky, steep, downhill sections without much compromise compared to my 6.6. With two bikes I'm forever trying to decide which one to bring. Could one bike really do it all?

    Well the short answer is, NO. At least mot for me.

    The long answer is that this is a really, really good, fun bike. For most people and the types of riding and trails that they do it will fill the bill between XC and All-mountain pretty dang well. It feels very light and efficient. It absolutely rules on climbs and it carves on par with my HH100x (no small feat) once you drop the fork down to 130mm. I cleaned the four foot step up ledge after the second switchback on your way up to Caldera first try right out of the corner no problem and climbed all the switchbacks up from the saddle at the top of Boy Scout to the top of Skyline cleanly. The combination of light weight and good suspension plus good sticky tires (Intense Edge FRO Sticky, I think) seemed to be a perfect combination for climbing. The 160 setting felt quite slack. More so than my 6.6 (which it is). It was a much better climber in the 130 setting. The new v.2 VPP is amazing. It stays still while hammering and feels pretty plush and reasonably active on square edged ledges and such while climbing. I climbed in granny quite a bit just trying to detect pedal kick back and could not... though it's light enough and efficient enough that I would rarely need to use the 22 it's nice to know it won't sap all my forward momentum with pedal stall when I do. The new short stouter links limit the notorious tail wag inherent in this design but don't completely get ride of it, though I only rarely detected it on the trail.

    Now that I'm at the top of Skyline it's time to point it down raise the fork up to 160 which slackens the HA to 67.5 and see if the Tracer is worthy. It was very capable but I was a bit disappointed. The 6 inch rear end felt pretty good and it definitely descends as well or better than the other 5-5.5 inch trail bikes I tried, but it ain't no 6.6 or RFX. It just wasn't quite as deep or as plush feeling as my Roco coiled bike. It also skipped around a bit when standing and pedaling over the Bootleg chunk on West Leg. A better fork and coil shock would likely solve a lot of this feeling.... but I'm not sure. It just doesn't seem like it could be an adequate substitute for a big burly 6-7inch bike for super chunky steep, droppy trails like National to24th St, Holbert, and Goat Camp in Phoenix, Portal trail in Moab, Boneshaker in Vegas, etc. This is the type of riding I crave. If that's not your cup of tea and you like a more tame version of "all-mountain" than this could very well be the one bike that does it all.

    DT and I had a discussion last week about the oxymoron of lightweight 6 inch travel bikes and how you really need the extra weight to get the suspension to really settle in and plow through the kind of super chunk I'm describing. I likened it to my big, heavy, tractor like 525exc four-stroke KTM and how it just plows through whoops and rocks never getting off line or upset. Whereas my lighter 250cc two-stroke (with the same suspension) seems to dance around a lot more.

    One minor quibble: I got the tire to rub on the chain stay (actually the velcro attached chainstay protector) in the 32/34 combo. Not sure if that was flex or just poor set up.
    Bottom line: If I was absolutely forced to choose one bike and one bike only to cover all the types of riding I do (I love the faster, buffer, carvier stuff too), this would be close to it...... or maybe the El Bastardo.

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 025

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 026

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 027

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 028

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 031

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 030

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 029

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 032

    I liked these tires. They really hooked up. Not sure how long they'll last though.
    Ibike 2008 and Moab 036

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 035

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 034
    Last edited by KRob; 10-08-2008 at 04:31 PM.

  2. #2
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    [SIZE="4"]Turner 5.5 Spot[/SIZE]

    5.5" trail bike

    The TNT 5 spot was one of my favorite bikes of the show last year so I was a bit skeptical that the new DW Link Spot could surpass it. First off, I think the new DW linked frames look great. Even better than the traditional rocker arm look of the previous Turners. They are built with typical Turner precision and stiffness and still retain a distinctive Turner look and, more importantly, feel. All the links and CNC'd bits are beautiful, purposeful, and appear to be well thought out. Lateral stiffness is on par with any (and better than some) of the current bikes in its class. Whether it rides better than the old TNT or HL versions is a question for the hair-splitters to debate. I thought the old ones rode beautifully but , yes, I do feel like the DW-link stuff rides even a bit better (call me a hair-splitter).

    The first thing you notice when you get on the new Spot and start to pedal up a smooth road is the absolutely level ride. Anti-squat seems to be the real deal seated or standing. It's not like you notice a problem with the old TNT link..... until you ride the DW. Not worlds better.... but definitely noticeable. And unlike the VPP bikes which also stay flat on sprints(actually rise a bit), the DW-link seems to remain pretty active when encountering bumps. I also thought small bump compliance was pretty good.

    The sag on my demo was set at 33% while sitting but felt a bit too stiff while standing and hammering up several short rocky climbs on the West Leg descent skipping over some of the square edged rocks not unlike the Tracer. These same sections felt pretty smooth if I sat down and cruised through them. Maybe it's just my riding style but I think I would set it for 33% while standing with my head over the front wheel like I ride while attacking a pedaling descent. It would be interesting to see how the DW-link responds with too much seated sag... say 40-45%. Anyone try it? Is much, if any, of its stellar behavior lost?

    I was excited to try the new Fox32 140mm forks with the 15mm QR TA. I was hoping they would be stiff enough to replace the 36 in most applications. The damping characteristics were pretty good but the stiffness is not really comparable to the 36 with 20mm TA as you might expect. It is adequate for this application and a nice fork but I wish they bumped up the tube diameter to 34mm. It won't be long 'til we see some folks putting bigger forks on the Spot and it will be interesting to see how it responds to that.

    Overall, a terrific trail bike. Just like the old 5 spot and a bit better yet. Nicely done, Dave.

    The Joplin seat post was a nice touch as I've been totally addicted to my Speedball... but I about killed myself trying to raise and lower it without the remote.
    Ibike 2008 and Moab 037

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 040

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 039

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 038

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 042

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 041

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 043

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 045

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 044

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 046

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 047

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 049

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 050

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 051

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 052

    [SIZE="4"]Knolly V-Tach[/SIZE]

    8 inch Freeride/Big Mountain

    I was down to my last bike of day one and I was tired so I was looking for something big and squishy. The V-Tach was just the ticket. This particular size Medium was equipped with a Cane Creek Double Barrell shock so the guy at the Knolly booth directed me over to the CC booth for them to dial it in. That's why the pics show it without a shock because the tech had it off replacing the spring and getting it tuned for my weight. The front was suspended by the venerable 888. Nice set up.

    I hooked up with another Knolly demo-er at the shuttle who led me down one of the funner downhill runs on the front side. Waaa-freaking-hoo!!! This bike was amazing. Talk about your right tool for the job. It felt stupid stiff and solid and ate up everything in its path. Even the steepest, chunkiest, droppiest chutes were child's play. I'd've felt more comfortable seeing bigger looking tires on it than the smallish Maxxis 2.6/2.4 Ardent set up that it had but they seemed to handle everything I threw at them without a whimper. A nice big 2.7 or 3.0 downhill tire would've been more confidence inspiring.

    This thing was also a freakishly good climber. I pedaled almost the whole way up from the shuttle drop off to the top of mountain (past many incredulous hike-a-biking downhillers) where the run begins on pretty tired legs and did not feel like my energy was being wasted. Wow. That part I did not expect.

    On the down.... PLUSH, PLUSH, PLUSH. I would love to give Upper Body Bag a go with this thing. It felt like you could do no wrong.

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 053

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 054

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 055

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 056

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 057

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 058

    [SIZE="4"]Chumba XCL[/SIZE]

    5 inch burly trail/fr

    I really liked the feel of the EVO we demoed last year but this one seemed to bounce up and down a lot while pedaling on flat smooth trail. I only rode this around the demo area as the Chumba folks were set up right next to us at the Turner tent and couldnʼt get their truck in to load up so we offered to ride out some of their bikes for them. So this may have been a set-up issue. Other than that it looked to be a nice, strong trail/am/fr option. Canʼt really comment much more than that.

    Day 2 coming up this afternoon. Stay tuned.

  3. #3
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    Great write-up KRob!! One HUGE thanks and definitely waiting for day two.
    Did you get a chance to demo the current RFX (08) - how does it compare to the new Spot?
    Was there a significant reduced need for propedal in the DW/VPP rides (tracer/pivot) vs the 4-bars (el-guapo/ventana)? On was this similar on both types?
    Hear no evil. See no evil. Speak no evil. (Do it !?!)

  4. #4
    Paper or plastic?
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    Best reviews to date. Pivot Firebird is disappointing but that's also how the Mach 5 felt when I test rode it.
    Faster is not always better, but it's always more fun

  5. #5
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    I wonder what that t-spot weighed. I love the new spot and cant wait to buy and build one.
    One of those blue frames has my name all over it. Great write-up , I wish I could have been there.

  6. #6
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    You done good, KRob. It's tough knowing what is the bike and what is the bike setup when you have only one ride. Your reports were concise and to the point. From what I've seen you are the man to know what makes a good climbing and descending bike.
    A blind man searches in a dark room for a black hat that isn't there. Dashiell Hammett

  7. #7
    "El Whatever"
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    GReat Reviews, man!!

    Thanks for sharing and for taking the time and effort!!
    Check my Site

  8. #8
    Nightriding rules SuperModerator
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    awesome reports, KRob!

    can't wait for day 2

  9. #9
    mnt bike laws of physics
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    Yes, I agree! Awesome reviews KRob. Best Reviews yet.

    BTW. the Firebird has a very high rising rate suspension which is why they set it up with so much sag and you still could not get full travel. Probably why the harsh feel too. Would need a coil to feel good at all.

    Sounds like you likes the RIP9. Looking forward to what you have to say about it...hope you can compare it with the new Sultan.

  10. #10
    mtbr platinum member
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    Excellent job KRob. Thanks for taking the time.
    I stopped driving my bike into my garage - I'm now protected with Roof Rack Ranger app for my iPhone.

  11. #11
    Build More = Ride More
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    Krob, thanks for the info.

    I was pretty certain all of the DW link stuff was a bit overhyped on how it could improve a Turner. Seems like all of the good qualities were retained while gaining that extra bit of awesomeness.

    I give Dave Turner HUGE props for not falling victim to hype. He himself said right after the launch, that the bikes were going to have that little bit extra umpfff. Not the second coming of Weagle. I guess only 3 people in this world have the math know-how to "feel" how the DW link is so vastly "superior" to anything else.

    Thanks again for the honest review. I pretty much ignore any review that comes off as "nut-stroking" . Your hands were firmly planted in your own shorts.

  12. #12
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    tscheezy would be proud. Very well done, KRob. Looking forward to all your reviews.

  13. #13
    Just roll it......
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    Nice reviews KRob. Looking forward to Day 2!!

    As for the V-tach, knowing a couple of folks that own that bike, I'm always amazed at how well they climb on them despite their girth (the bikes, not the riders). The new 5 spot is sounding super.


  14. #14
    Lone Wolf McQuade
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    KRob was rippin it up as usual even after that Bootleg Canyon rock jumped up and bit him in the knee
    Good riding with ya KRob.... I'm still dreaming of that Niner RIP...nice ride
    Attached Images Attached Images
    I should be out riding....

  15. #15
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    Thanks for your time and effort!

    Quote Originally Posted by KRob
    ...It just doesn't seem like it could be an adequate substitute for a big burly 6-7inch bike for super chunky steep, droppy trails like National to24th St, Holbert, and Goat Camp in Phoenix...
    Great pics and write-ups KRob! How about a road trip out to Phoenix this winter to 'ride the SoMo chunk' with me on my Ti EG...?
    "The secret of joy is the mastery of pain." (Anaïs Nin)

  16. #16
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    Great write ups! All of em seemed really balanced and very well thought out. And they all seemed like descriptions for tools for which we need to find the best one to fit our own specific jobs on the trail.



  17. #17
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    Well done mate!
    Pearl & Paiste, weapons of mass percussion

  18. #18
    No, that's not phonetic
    Reputation: tscheezy's Avatar
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    Brilliant job, krob. Looks like I don't have to go back. Yer hired.
    My video techniques can be found in this thread.

  19. #19
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    Day 2 Interbike Dirt Demo

    A couple more general comments about the Dirt Demo: 1) The Bootleg Canyon trails really bring out the worst in any suspension. If you think you're suspension is pretty good it will make it feel like crap. If you're suspension isn't dialed you will suffer. I'm not talking about the congo line Lakes loops that they funneled everybody onto. I'm talking about up the canyon. West Leg, Mother, Skyline, East Leg, Boy Scout and Girl Scout, etc. These trails have such a great mix of fast flowy, slow techy, rocks, drops, and ledges as to really challenge any suspension. 2) I came to dirt demo hoping to find a new light 5.6-6inch travel trail/am bike that could do it all. I learned that it doesn't exist... at least not for me. I ended up discovering that I wanted a bigger, beefier, burlier AM mount than I had already not less of one. 3) Dirt Demo is like Disneyland for bike geeks. I felt like a kid in a candy store with a free pass the whole time.

    Day 2 started with a climb up the canyon with my buddy beagledadi. He broke free from the shuttle driving duty long enough for us to take out the Pivot 429 and the Niner Rip9 for some thrashing and note comparing.

    Day 2:

    [SIZE="4"]Pivot 429 [/SIZE]

    Four inch XC 29er

    Just like the Mach 5 and Firebird I demoed before this bike is beautifully crafted and feel stiff, solid, and light. I does not feel like a 29er when seated on it. It feels a lot like my HH100x. Quick, sharp, point and shoot accurate, and efficient. It's a great climber with absolutely no bob or squat on seated or standing efforts. This would make a great xc race bike, 24hour or endurance race bike.

    After my Firebird experience I resolved to find some plushness in Pivot's version of the DW-link. With almost 40-50% sag while seated the 429 felt reasonably compliant over the bootleg rocks while climbing but I was bottoming it out on the smallest g-outs and stiking the pedals on nearly every rock. When I added air to the RP3 to get it more in line with the recommended 33% sag it stiffened up quite a bit and plainly was not made for the bootleg chunk although the big wheels did seem to smooth out a lot of the smaller stuff that would beat you up on a similar design 26er. On buffer, swoopier, singletrack this thing would absolutely rail. I was hoping to fit in a ride on the Ventana El Rey and the RacerX 29er to compare it but they were always checked out when I went by those booths. These appear to be its direct competitors.

    Nice bike for the right application.

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 060

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 061

    I forgot to mention the small block 8 tire. I had never ridden on of these and was always skeptical when others said how well they hooked up and how fast they rolled. They are right. It hooks up amazingly well and seems to have a nice compliant sidewall that grips in corners and the low profile tread pattern rolls fast.
    Ibike 2008 and Moab 062

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 068

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 063

    [SIZE="4"]Niner Rip 9[/SIZE]

    4.5 inch FS 29er

    I didn't realize they'd changed this bike so much from last year. It's definitely more of an all-mountain trail option compared to the Pivot 429. With the taller head tube and more upright position it feels like a completely different class of bike. All the frame tubes appear to be beefed up with more hydroforming and beefier pivots compared to last year. The one complaint we had last year was that it was a bit flexy feeling and the reworking of the frame seems to have solved that. All the plush of last year but none of the flex. It doesn't feel any heavier either. It does feel like a bigger wheeled bike in every way. It just steamrolls over everything without complaint and does not wander or get kicked off line easily. It was one of the few bikes we rode that seemed to really smooth out the Bootleg chunk. Great pedaling but not as snappy as the 429. It did seem to lose some of its 'tweener playfulness of last year.

    Nice build quality. Attention to detail and beautifully formed tubes and bits will make this bike very popular with the 29er set and will convert a few fence sitters as well. I think beagledadi is sold on it. I'll let him chime in with his impressions.

    The Avid Elixer brakes on this bike were one of only two brake setups that I even noticed during the whole show. That's a good thing. Most had XT or Avid Juicy and they all felt fine. No complaints. The Elixer's I noticed because they felt particularly nice and the Hayes Stroker on the Lenz because the lever reach was bit long (I forgot I could adjust them) and the play portion of the stroke felt a bit sticky.

    Still no sign of the WFO at the dirt demo. Did they show it at the Indoor demo?

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 065

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 064

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 066

    I was a bit surprised to find this lower link to be hollow with flat thin pieces top and bottom. I'm sure their stress analysis algorithms tell them they could skimp here, but it looks like it would bend right in half to me.

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 067

    [SIZE="4"]Norco Fluid LT[/SIZE]

    5.5 to 6" All-mountain/Trail

    I'd seen LeeL touting this bike on his blog so put it on my list to try. The friendly Canadians let me take it out without forcing me to run back to my car and fetch my credit card. I guess they just don't trust us ‘Mercans. This was a beautifully built bike with the White Lyric Two step Air and the orange I9 hubs and spokes setting off the copper/bronze ano finish. Nice, nice, nice. It rode really well too. I'm a sucker for the feel of a well executed HL/ICT rear end I guess. It squats slightly on climbing but does not bob. I think the DHX -Air likes a low leverage ratio Four-bar bike because it behaved way better on this bike and the Delirium T than it ever did on my 6.6. This was my second favorite fork of the show. Very plush and compliant over the bootleg chunder. So you can guess that I liked how it handled. The I9 anchored wheels felt really stiff and tracked true. In fact the whole package just felt solid, solid, solid and well-balanced. As good as the suspension felt I hate to admit that after stepping off two 29ers I was missing the rollability of the bigger wheels though.

    Climbing as excellent and active without being bobby. The bike felt pretty light (32/33lbs I'm guessing) yet I could detect no frame or rear triangle flex. Nothing here to keep from recommending this bike. It just felt more solid then the other bikes in this class.

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 069

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 071

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 073

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 072

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 074

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 078

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 077

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 079

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 075

    [SIZE="4"]Gary Fisher Roscoe III [/SIZE]

    5.5" FS Trail/AM

    After reading Francois' review of this bike I was excited to try it. It seems to fit into that illusive category that I was trying to find with the Tracer. While I liked the Roscoe it's no substitute for a good burly 6" am bike when going gets really rough. It feels very light and XC/trail oriented in my meat-fisted hands. Not because it lacks in laterally rigidity but because it tends to bounce all over the chunk like the other light weight 5-6 inch bikes I tried. This weighed in around 28 lbs. I've come to believe that the category a bike fits into is governed more by the weight of the bike than its travel. In other words, giving a lighweight trail bike 5.5-6inches of travel does not make it an all-mountain bike. It works well in its sphere... but it ain't no substitute for brute strength.

    This is the only bike I rode on which I detected any pedal kick back... and I'm not even sure it was pedal feedback or suspension stall over square edged ledges and it was mild but noticeable. The ABS (Active Braking System) with the pivot concentric to the drop out seemed to work well otherwise on climbing and rolling over rocks while climbing but was a bit skippy coming down. I didn't notice any brake jack on this or any of the bikes for that matter. The TALAS 32 QR TA had pretty good action but I could detect flex where there is none on a 36.

    The suspension would work better on more forgiving terrain or with a better fork. The high volume rounded profile 2.4 Bontrager tires seemed too boingy and didn't stick well in the dry, loose, pebbles over hardpack corners of Bootleg canyon. (Note to exhibitors: Stick to Nevagals at Bootleg. They just work)

    I thought this was one of the best looking bikes of the show. One thing the big brands do well is make pretty bikes.

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 080

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 082

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 081

    This specially designed Fox RP23 has dual air chambers to create a more linear, coil-like feel to the air shock. Not sure I noticed anything special about how it rode.
    Ibike 2008 and Moab 085

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 084

    [SIZE="4"]GT Sanction 1.0 [/SIZE]

    6" Trail/AM FS

    This was the surprise of the show. A very nice bike. The new i-Drive rear suspension felt like it followed the terrain rather than skipping over it... almost like a rearward axle path bike like the Maverick. It seems to stay active and fairly plush on square edged ledges and rocks and does not exhibit any bob while seated. I forgot to really test the standing hammering for bob which was always one of the weak points of the old i-Drive bikes but I'm sure I would've noticed it if it was there. This was another bike that had a crap 36 Fox fork on it so that did affect my impression of the overall suspension feel some. With the right fork this could be a very plausible option in this category. It's pretty light but bridges the gap over to the burly six inch AM field a bit better than the Roscoe, the Remedy, and some of the other light 6 inch trail bikes coming out. More on par with the Fluid LT especially if it had a better fork.

    I liked the looks of this bike as well and think the lines come together nicely to form a pleasing balanced appearance overall. Not that that really matters in the end.... but still. Build quality looked to be on par with the other big brands too.

    This is another one I forgot to get pictures of so I borrowed a pic of someguys bike over in the GT Forum. So the one I rode was set up slightly different. BTW, that's all hydroformed aluminum on there not CF. It's amazing what they do with tin foil these days.


    [SIZE="4"]Knolly Delirium T [/SIZE]

    6" burly AM

    Holy freaking Cow!!!! What an amazing bike. This bike was so much more solid. smooth, and quiet (no chain slap, no rattes, not creaks... like the whole thing is machined out of one big solid piece of aluminum)... down my usual Skyline to East Leg route than anything else I rode at the show (with the exception of the V-tach). Absolutely straightline tracking through the BC super chunk. You could not knock this thing off center with a sledge hammer and the 55 RC3 fork was by far the best fork I rode. Buttery smooth and able to swallow large boulders in a single gulp. It also exhibited the best small bump compliance of any forks I tried (Disclaimer: It was also the only coil fork except the WB I tried.... although it feels better than my Van36 too). I hope Marzocchi has their reliability issues ironed out because I love this fork (The stickers were already peeling off after two days use so I hope that's not a sign of things to come). The rear end stays active while braking and gobbles up square edged rocks as well as the fork which only adds to the feeling of super confidence while railing a rocky, chunky line suspended on the side of a cliff like Skyline/East leg. The rear triangle is STIFF and there is no hint of any lateral flex. Brilliant climber through techy junk though I did notice the slacker head angle and seat tube angle and shorter stem conspiring to cause the front end to wander a bit on really steep slick rock climbs compared to my 6.6. It also outweighs my 6.6 by a good 4-5 pounds even with a DHX-Air which btw is somehow transformed on this low leverage ratio four bar configuration. I'd love to feel how much better a Roco or CCDB would be on there. The 2.6/2.4 Maxxis Ardent dual ply tires felt solid and confidence inspiring as well. Way better feeling on rocky tech than the BigBetty's on my 6.6 but they are starting to show signs of wear and chunking after only a week of riding which I was a little disappointed in.

    The frame construction is uber burly and utilitarian yet still comes together nicely in the looks department.... .at least to my eye. I love a bike that is over built and built to last and last. That's one of the things I've loved about my HH100x. It just keeps going and putting a smile on my face 7.5 years later. As you may have surmised this was my favorite bike of the show. In fact I liked it so much and Noel gave me such a good deal on this demo that I bought it. Anyone want to buy a beautiful slightly used Hot Rod Orange 6.6?

    Lest you think I'm totally twitterpated with new bike love there were a couple of minor bones to pick. It felt a tad nose heavy in the air although it is not hard to pull the wheel up and over ledges (anyone know the weight on that 55RC3?). I got chain suck a couple times and I'm not thrilled with the under the bb routing of the front derailleur cable with the big loop hanging down. It's also heavy and it remains to be seen whether it will be too heavy for big, climbing, adventure ride, type days. It absolutely ruled on Burro Down and Gold Bar Rim to Portal though.

    Bottom line: I bought it. What more can I say?

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 089

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 090

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 091

    Lots of room for beefy tires.
    Ibike 2008 and Moab 093

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 092

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 094

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 095

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 096
    Last edited by KRob; 10-08-2008 at 04:25 PM.

  20. #20
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    [SIZE="4"]Lenz Lunchbox 6.0[/SIZE]

    6” 29er Trail/AM

    Mikesee offered me the opportunity to ride his 6.0 Lunchbox at I-bike and after thinking about it for a nanosecond I accepted his offer. He brought both a large and a medium and after trying both around the demo area I settled on the medium. The large felt fine too but with the big suspension and big wheels it just felt a bit too large for the techy stuff I was going to be riding it on. I didn’t care for the flat swept back bend of the bars on the medium but I got used to them fast enough. I still think I would’ve preferred the more traditional riser bars that were on the large.

    The bike looked nice and it doesn’t seem be crowding things to get 6 inches out of the Lunch Box even in the medium. Perhaps a bit out of proportion compared to what I’m used to looking at, but not odd looking. It was equipped with WB 150 fork and RS Monarch air shock which worked really well. With the stiff Mikesee laced wheels (I presume) the bike just seems to flatten the BC choppy rocks without any side to side twisting and squirming. I didn’t notice the flexy wheels too much on other 29er bikes until I rode Mike’s. Wow. What a difference. If I build a 29er I know who’s building my wheels. On climbing Mother to West Leg I didn’t feel any bob or pedal feedback. The tight switch backs were a bit more of a challenge than on some of the 26er offerings but I made it around each of them with little drama. The bike just felt a bit longer and more gangly than what I’m used to. Not sure what the weight on this bike is but it felt to be in the low 30s and did not tire me out while climbing. This was the last bike I rode after two full 8 hour days and I ended up going on an extended loop up West Leg then up Boy Scout to Skyline. It took two tries to get the 4 foot step up at the start of Caldera that I cleaned first try on the Tracer but that may have been by tired brain and legs conspiring against me. It did feel like a big bike though even in the medium. Big wheels. Fairly upright riding position. Very similar to the Rip 9 in rider position and feel. I didn’t notice the short chain stays making the front end that much easier to lift over ledges but it wasn’t hard. Going down Skyline to East leg it worked really well also. The only bike that felt better on this section was the Delirium-T. This section can be described as medium fast techy flow with a constant drop-off to your right and lots of step ups, step downs, and rocks to keep you on your toes. The big Lenz just let me relax and cruise right down despite my tired body and addled mind..

    I was pretty impressed with the WB 150 which felt as good or better than most of the Fox 36 offerings I tried at the show though maybe not as stiff. The Monarch seemed to soak up small stuff pretty well and ramped up nicely without bottoming. Very RP23 like.

    Bottom line: It’s a great bike. Does it do anything that a 4.5 or 4.7 inch Rip 9 or Sultan won’t do? I don’t know. And if it does (bigger drops I’m assuming) would I feel comfortable doing them on a big wheeled bike? I don’t know. It handled the little two and three footers I tried very well but so did the others. It seemed to be a solution looking for a problem a bit. For the kind of terrain where a burly 6” AM bike like the D-T shines I think the 26inch wheel platform still holds some advantages. Maybe it's just a matter of me wrapping my head around the idea of a long travel 29er because it rolled really nice and was very capable of handling rough technical terrain.

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 097

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 101

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 100

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 099

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 098

    Still has the pivot bolts threading directly into the frame which makes some folks nervous.
    Ibike 2008 and Moab 103

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 102

    Here's those flat, swept back bars I told you about. After the first mile or so I didn't notice them. Oh, this was the only bike I rode in the whole show that had twist shifter and one of the few I've ever ridden. This XO sampling I really liked. Feels less futzy to grap a gear by twisting than taking a thumb or finger off to find a trigger. Must be the old moto guy in me coming out. I was pleasantly surprised.
    Ibike 2008 and Moab 105

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 107

    Pretty good tire clearance though if there existed any bigger 29er tires it would be nice to have more.
    Ibike 2008 and Moab 104

    Ibike 2008 and Moab 106

    [SIZE="4"]Turner Sultan[/SIZE]

    4.7 inch FS 29er

    I didn’t ride the Sultan at the dirt demo because I knew I was signed up for it at the Sovereign trail demo in Moab on Saturday. It did not disappoint. I really liked the Sultan I rode last year at Gooseberry and JEM and this one is just that much better. A couple people who ride TNT Sultans who demoed this one said it was a lot better. 6th element seemed particularly impressed. Hopefully he'll chime in with his impressions. It’s been a year since I rode the v.1 Sultan and I could still feel the differences. It just felt more capable. More Rip 9 like but did not lose much of it’s more XC roots. It still got up and boogied when you put the hammer down and just seems to make you want to push it though it’s perfectly happy to toddle along in cruiser mode too. Despite its greater am/trail capacity this year it still loves to rail the twisty buff stuff.

    This was the last ride of my six full days of riding and we’d already put in a huge 5 hour ride on Gold Bar Rim that morning so you’d think I would be feeling pretty tanked. But the Sultan made me feel fresh and seemed to deliver more go for the measly input I was applying than I deserved. It rolled over the rough stuff smoothly and handled step ups and small drops with aplomb. This is the only bike I’ve ever been able to pedal through the big sandy wash on the road out to the Sovereign trailhead. It just floated right through it.

    I liked the feel of the large for my 5’ 11.5” inch body but it did feel a bit taller than last year and more upright but not as big feeling as the Rip 9 or Lunch Box. Like the Spot, the Sultan just flies flat when you hammer yet still seems to stay active over bumps. The wheels weren’t on par with the Mikesee offerings on the Lenz but I didn’t think they were as noodly as some. I am pretty light though and ride lighter than my weight.

    All the Fox 29er 120 forks I sampled felt pretty good… better than anything I tried last year for 29ers and the RP23 set at about 35% sag was just right.

    This is a home run, Dave. This is my favorite looking and riding 29er of the bunch. It looks so well proportioned it doesn’t even look like a 29er and I’m not constantly being reminded that I’m on a big wheel bike when I’m riding it either.

    Maybe by time things settle down next year and they become a bit more available I’ll be ready to buy one. I think I just found the replacement for my HH100x.

    Photo credit goes to Bob the Wheel Builder because I was having too much fun riding this very bike out in Moab to stop and shoot pics. I ran into Bob up on West Leg in BC when he was riding this bike and he was pretty excited about it (well.... about as excited as Bob gets about anything). I think he was hoping that it wasn't that much better than the v.1Sultan he just purchased but it looks like he's already planning on getting one ordered.
    Turner Sultan1

    Turner Sultan2

    Turner Sultan 3

    Turner Sultan 4

    These Crossmark(?) tires rolled really fast and hooked up great. They are almost road tire quiet on pavement and hardpack.
    Turner Sultan 5

    Well that's it folks. I had a great time and rode a bunch of great bikes but still didn't get to all the bikes on my list. There's always next year I guess.
    Last edited by KRob; 10-01-2008 at 01:09 AM.

  21. #21
    mtbr member
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    Jan 2004
    K-rob - excellent write ups.

    Welcome to the Knolly world. Its an addiction.

  22. #22
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    Awesome. Thanks.

  23. #23
    mtbr member
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    Jan 2004
    Hey KRob,

    Thanks for your reviews. I've been reading them with much interest, especially the 29" bikes as I'm playing with the idea of getting one. I have bee watching the Turner Sultan. Do you know what the deal is with the bike shown at the indoor exhibition. It looks completely different to the one you have pictured?

    Also, if you get a chance to ride a Salsa Big Mama, I'd like to hear what you have to say.

    Attached Images Attached Images
    The trouble with having an open mind is that people will insist on trying to put things in it.

  24. #24
    Hueston Woods Trail Crew
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    Jan 2004

    Holy Moly!!!

    You were a man with a mission. Now I know why you left me in the dust Monday morning after the first couple rides.
    How in heck did you get to demo (and review) so many bikes? Must have had a VIP pass to get on the shuttle. I gave up and rode up to Girl Scout (with Ned Overend!).
    And I had to ride a few XL bikes because all the M's and L's were out for hours.

    That first ride on the Ventana was also my first ride down at Bootleg canyon. Having heard about and seen lots of blood, I was very cautious, particularly on a borrowed demo bike. The Ventana 650b was interesting because I ride a 29er at home, but the El Guapo dialed in by Mike at Titus was a relief after that WB 650 fork.

    The components seemed to be the critical factor on many bikes. Brakes, shifters, and forks could make or break a ride. After a while, the frames started to feel the same, especially as the day wore on. Hot and dusty.

    Sorry I didn't see you again on Tuesday, but looks like you were very dedicated to your work.
    I was there to schmooze, take pictures, network, and try to get enough to eat and drink.

    Congrats on the Knolly. I tried to buy some large Knolly Endorphin demos from Noel, right after they started pouring the whiskey, but all were gone. Might add them to the fleet, just so I have an excuse to go to BC and see the factory.

    Next year I will try to be of more assistance to you. I'm sure you are easier to handle than Cheesey (phonetic). Good job.

    Here's the long shuttle line, the Titus 29er bike I bought for myself, and the prettiest paint job of the show.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  25. #25
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    Mar 2004
    Good work, nice to meet ya.

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