2009 Interbike Dirt Demo
I like to start these mini reviews/impressions with a disclaimer. I get only 30-60 minutes on any of these bikes and even with the technician at the booth setting up the suspension for my weight and me fiddling with it some out on the trail I know that it would take a day or two of riding (maybe more) to get things really set up so that they are working anywhere close to perfection for me and my riding style. In some cases bar, stem, seat, and certainly tire selection had an adverse affect on my impression of the bike. Some bikes were brand spanking new (I was absolutely the first person to throw a leg over some) and in other cases they had been so thrashed about and the fork and shock seals so full of fine Bootleg talc as to affect our impression as well. So, please, don’t interpret these views as anything but that. Just one hack’s first impression.
So having said all that, let me just say it’s always a lot of fun to get a chance to sample such a wide variety of new bikes on familiar trails (I live not that far from Vegas and have ridden at Bootleg Canyon many times). I enjoy walking through the Demo tent area looking at all the odd and unusual iterations of our sport and seeing a few of the famous (at least to us) faces that are on hand to help their sponsors hawk their wares. And most of all, it always tickles me silly to think that I can just walk up to any of those booths and ask the nice person for one of their expensive new toys and they just smile and do it (Well, except for Trek in the case of the new Scratch…..Booo Trek). Uber Cool.
Some overriding themes for this year's demo:
1.) Sheesh, guys. Put some decent tubes in your demo fleet or run them tubeless. We had 5 pinchflats in the first day of riding between us and they all had 1.9-2.0 weenie light tubes (trying to fill 2.35-2.5" tires) with the tires pumped up to 50 lbs to prevent pinch flats so by time you let some pressure out to get the tires to hook up and the suspension to feel right it was always a gamble as to when and where you were going to flat on those square-edged, sharp rocks at Bootleg.
2.) Bikes are getting lighter. From the 5.5 inch Trail/AM steeds to the full-on DH sleds they all felt a good two pounds lighter than last year.
3. Carbon does break. Ask Russell how we know.
Intense UZZI VP 7-7.5” AM/FR
I’ve been looking at, and drooling over the new UZZI ever since Mr. Intense (Jeff Steber) posted up his early shots of the prototype several months ago. It seemed to have everything I wanted in a bike--- the ability to go gnarly yet the lightness to handle the all day trail/am stuff as well. I love my Del T but often find myself wishing it were a bit lighter. So it was with much anticipation that I launched my first ride on the UZZI. Just hefting it and riding through the pit area I was surprised at how light it felt. In fact if there was a common theme for this year’s I-bike it was this: Bikes are getting lighter. Even big bikes.
The UZZI can be set up in many ways to accommodate different rides and riding styles. With the G3 adjustable rear drop out you can change the wheelbase, the chainstay length, and the bottom bracket height. The shock has two different positions that change the rear travel from 7” to 7.5”. It is a very versatile bike. The bike we sampled was set up in the 7”mode, had a coil DHX 4.0 Coil shock and a new Totem air fork. It pedaled super level just spinning through the pits and climbing the road towards the shuttle pick up. My fellow tester (Russell) had the Santa Cruz Driver 8 so we opted for the shuttle on this first run of the day but there are other opportunities to climb as you descend the techy XC trails back towards the pits so I think I got a decent feel for its climbing ability.
The riding position on the large was very comfortable for me and felt not unlike my old 6.6. That is, fairly upright and roomy even with a shortish stem. I didn’t feel any pedal kickback over rocks while pedaling and the rear stayed planted pretty well on rocky climbs though it would be nice to test this on a longer rocky techy climb. On the descent, the rear end felt pretty plush, and the whole frame felt fairly stiff but not quite like the Driver 8 which I switched onto part way down. Admittedly the Driver 8 has a slightly different target but it would be interesting to see how close the UZZI could be made to feel to the D8 with a Fox 40, bigger tires, the lowest and longest G3 setting, and at 7.5” of travel. I suspect it would come pretty close…. And I doubt the D8 could be set up to climb and do Trail/AM duty like this iteration of the UZZI could.
The new Totem was just that: Brand new, and felt a bit stiff. I had all the compression and rebound knobs dialed out to their lightest/fastest settings and yet it still felt a bit constipated in the initial part of the stroke. I got almost zero sag when first sitting on it. I lowered the air in the left fork leg to 50 lbs which helped some but admit I have no clue what that is supposed to be set on for my weight. It did start feeling slightly better by the end of our ride. Otherwise it was stiff enough and had a good controlled damping feel once in motion.
Overall we came away very impressed with the ability and versatility of this bike.
Santa Cruz Driver 8 8” FR/DH
My buddy Russel grabbed the new Driver 8 for our first run up the hill. It probably would've been more suited to our Tuesday morning downhill fest but it was surprisingly nimble and rideable on the more XC techy descents off the back of the hill. The parking lot heft test revealed a suitably light feel for this type of bike probably on par with, or perhaps even a bit more svelte than my DT.
I really liked this bike on the descents and it even did remarkably well on the few standing climbs that come up on the particular descent that we did (Skyline to East Leg). The Fox 40 on the front was stiff without any flex and tracked through everything with precision and plushness. The rear end followed the terrain nicely and seemed to soak up everything in its path without issue. The relatively slack, interrupted seat tube didn't lend itself to a really ideal position for seated climbs but it was certainly more manageable than all of the DH bikes we tried.
This bike just seemed to work really well for its intended purpose although it really made the UZZI feel like a Tracer after switching off.
If I lived somewhere near a bike park like Northstar or Dear Valley or Whistler with lift assists, and I could have another bike for the all day backcountry rides, it would be high on my list. I would've liked to have taken it down some of the front side DH trails to compare it to some of the more DH specific bikes we rode.
Russell on the Shuttle truck with the D8
Titus FTM 5.5" trail/AM
Next we grabbed a couple of direct competitors in the crowded light, long-legged trail/AM category. The Titus FTM and the Blur LTc. I started out on the FTM which I should've taken back to the booth and switched for a medium. Both these bikes were supposed to be larges but they could not have felt more different in the cockpit. The Titus had a long ETT and a long 120mm stem set up on spacers on top of a particularly tall head tube. It really gave it a tall, awkward feeling. After a mile or so of climbing I did switch the 32 TALAS down to the middle setting (125mm?) which helped a bit. This bike would've been comfortable for someone 6'2" to 6'4" but felt quite big for my 5' 11.5" body.
The ride was very Motolite like. Firm on flat pedaling and efficient, though not that plush over rocky, square edged climbs. The rear end felt controlled and relatively flex free but wiggled some in the all-important grab-the-rear-tire-and-push-it-side-to-side test. It was light and felt like it could convert easily to an endurance race bike without giving up too much. Descents were decidedly less inspiring but that was partly due to the set up. I'm sure a medium with a shorter stem would've helped me feel quite a bit more confident on the downs.
I liked the looks of the champagne colored Cobalt wheels and really didn't feel any noticeable flex out of them. Not sure I'd spend the cash just for looks though.
I liked these Conti Rubber Queen tires. They hooked up well and felt bomb-proof. The sidewalls looked like they would stand up to some abuse.
The new "Light Rail" rear triangle on the FTM looked scant but had plenty of room for some pretty good sized meats and was fairly stiff to boot.
Santa Cruz Blur LTc 5.5" trail/am
As I said above, we took this bike out with the FTM so had a good opportunity to test them side by side. Although this bike said it was a large on the sticker, it felt like it had a very short cockpit despite a longish 100mm stem. I still suspect it was a medium. Having just stepped off the freakishly long and tall FTM didn't help this sensation any.
Other than that we really liked the feel of this bike. It climbed very well but still seemed to soak up the square edge, choppy junk much better than the FTM. When standing and railing the downs the size felt fine, it had a real flickable, yet stable slopestyle feel to it... it just felt kinda crowded while seated. Seated climbing did not seem to induce any noticeable bob or pedal kickback though I could see the shock moving a bit more than on the FTM.
I've never ridden a full carbon bike so didn't know what to expect other than what the talking heads on mtbr have spouted. I kinda expected it to be creaky or plasticky feeling. It most definitely did not. Instead it felt uber solid and stiff and seemed very capable of handling much more than what the travel suggested...... and yet it felt noticeably lighter than the FTM. I'll bet it weighed a good lb or two less, yet felt more flex-free and stable. It would make a great Super D bike especially with a TALAS 36 on it.
My buddy Russell is a very solid and stout 220lbs (he once gave a moto guy a forearm shiver after he tried roosting us that almost knocked the guy off his bike and sent him reeling off into the bushes). He puts his full force into his riding style and is death on equipment. He was a bit skeptical about taking out the Carbon Blur LT but the guy at the booth assured him that he couldn't break it. Well, long story short, Russell broke the Blur. Up until that moment he was totally sold on the virtues of carbon. But a front pinch flat (his third of four for the day) in a corner took him down and smashed the bike into the unforgiving rocks of Bootleg. You'll see the result below. Suffice it to say that rock impacts and carbon don't mix.
Other than that.... a terrific bike.
I don't think the BLTc had quite as much room in the rear for big meats as the FTM but it was sufficient.
Overall this was a very nice looking bike. One of my favorites in the looks department. I particularly liked these downtube stickers.
The no-nonsense parts pick included these SLX cranks and Reba 150mm (?) maxle front fork which had nice action over multiple hits, was plush in the initial stroke but perhaps wasn't quite as stiff as some of the fox offererings.
Here's the rock damage to the left seatstay. Ooops.
It's hard to see in this photo but that crack looks like it went clear around the tube.
LenzSport PBJ 7.0 7" 29er FR/DH
I'm admittedly interested in the whole twenty-niner movement after riding several offerings at previous bike demos, but never really felt the need for 6" AM 29er, let alone a 29er DH bike. Folks may ask the question why.... but after riding this bike, I say why not. Without the dreams, vision, and bulldog determination to bring this bike to market by Devin Lenz and mikesee it probably wouldn't have happened. "There's no suitable wheels", they said, so mike built some. "There's no suitable DH tires", they said, so mike harangued, cajoled, and worked tirelessly (no pun intended) to get WTB to produce a 29" 2.5 inch dual sidewall DH appropriate tire (The Dissent 2.5... very grippy and not particularly slow). "There's no suitable fork for a 7" 29er", they said, so they got Manitou to modify the Durado and reduce it to 7" to balance out the rear.
What they arrived at is one amazing piece of equipment. The plush, controlled 7" of travel with big, wide, meaty, tough tires just steamrolls bouldery rough terrain yet pedals better than many smaller bikes. The wheels did not feel overly sluggish on accellerating but seemed to want to roll and just keep rolling. It may sound like I'm spouting 29er platitudes but it's really the only way to describe the way the PBJ rolls. In fact, after stepping off this bike onto th ASR-7, the Yeti felt like it was going through wet cement at first. The PBJ is very smooth. Perhaps not quite as smooooooth over downhill chop and chatter as I was expecting but after talking to mikesee and reading his intitial write-up on this bike my expectations were off the charts so that may account for some of that.
The other thing that is amazing about this bike is the efficient manner at which it scales hills. I mean, there was no getting around the fact that it was a 39 lb DH sled with a low seat, but standing climbs were deceptively easy and little pedaling effort seemed to be wasted. The wheels did not flex. Period. Get over it.
Air time was very balanced and landings were plush although I almost dragged my rear end on the big rear tire on launching one 4 footer and I did manage to bottom the fork on the same landing despite a fairly steep tranny. Russell managed to drag his fanny on the tire on the same drop, bottomed hard then launched over the bars after hitting the drop with too much speed and landing to flat more like 6-8 feet down. He was a bit ginger (understatement) after that but I can't totally fault the bike. I'm sure Russ would agree that there was some rider error involved.
Does the bike have a point? Heck yeah. I think it's a very viable option. Will it have a market? It's hard to say. Seems like most folks who were the early 29er adaptors are curmudgeonly XC fully ridgid, fixy, SS converts and only recently are more mainstream riders getting into the 29er love and there's a long way to go to sell the FR/DH set.... But I daresay, Devin will sell a few of these.....especially if they get a chance to sample it. It's pretty cool.
This is a very compact, stiff frame. I loved the single chainring and guide. The chain stayed glued to the cogs and created very little if any slap.
Yeti ASR-7 7" AM
I didn't get as long of ride on this bike because I was hogging the PBJ but nothing really stood out either good or bad. It pedalled OK but seemed a little sluggish when I first stepped onto it. The fit and finish are top notch and the cockpit felt just right for me. I would've expected more squish out of 7inches but I suppose my perception of what is big travel isn't keeping up with the times because everything else about this bike seemed to feel a bit more on the Trail side of AM than the FR side. Although the big Lenz had 7" as well and felt a good deal more plush and squishy. I guess all 7inchers are not the same. In fact, other than amount of rear travel, these two had very little in common. Wish I could give you a better review, but honestly I don't remember much else about it.Maybe Russ will chime in.
Titus El Guapo 160mm Trail/AM/FR
This was definitely one of the best looking bikes that I saw. In fact that's probably what made me want to take it out again .... that and I'd ridden the EG at the previous two Dirt Demos and loved it. I loved the ano-orange to silver color scheme which blended perfectly with the Mango CK headset and Iodine wheels and grey TALAS. The new swoopy, twisted rear triangle to match the front really made this bike pop. It was gorgeous imo and looked well balanced visually. It was also one of my favorite bikes of the show to ride.
I've said it before, but I guess I'm a sucker for a well-executed horst link bike. This one is such an example. It stays so active while climbing over the square edged rocks (not stalling out as the suspension compresses) and while braking through the same stuff. The front and back suspenion, combined with the big 2.4 Rubber Queens were both very plush and balanced on medium and small bumps and of course the 6.3 inches of travel soaked up the big stuff with a nice ramp up at the end of the stroke as well. This is one of the few AM/Trail bikes that climbed well without feeling heavy but still soaked up the junk like a bigger, heavier FR bike. Very Delirium-T like (but without the pork). Big hits and landings from up high were soft and controlled. Railing through twisty, tight singletrack was also much better than most bigger bikes. It carved really well oweing, I suppose, to the lowish bottom bracket which also contributed to multiple pedal strikes. I wouldn't trade the stable, carvable handling for fewer pedal strikes though. I'd just get used to it or learn to work around it.
I didn't notice any flex in these Iodine wheels as some have reported and like I said above these were some of my favorite tires of the show as well. I'm definitely going to try these on my personal bike next. Sweet bike. I wish Dave Turner had his new RFX ready so I could've compared them two back to back.
Foes 2:1 FXR 6.5" Trail/AM
I didn't get to ride this bike because Russell and I got separated on this descent. He got another flat and I had to keep moving on the El Guapo because I had a not-so-slow puncture in the rear tubeless tire on the tread portion that I had to keep stopping and pumping up because the Titus guys didn't have any (or not enough) sealant in the tire to stop it. I forgot I had one of those tubeless patch kits in my pack. It would've been a good time to test them. I was secretly glad I didn't have to ride the Foes. We had an awful experience on that bike a couple of years ago. Really poopy feeling rear suspension action. Russell pretty much agreed and I hadn't said anything to him beforehand to bias his opinion. Also, not sure why they put a Fox 32 Talas on there. Seems like the 36 would have been a better match. Although the rear end felt like a constipated 4.5 inches when we rode it and I think Russell will be shocked to find out it has 6.5" (Yeah, I checked the website). I really would like to try one of the bigger Foes bikes some time like the RS-7 or the Fly because I think that is what they are better known for.
Last edited by KRob; 10-01-2009 at 02:22 PM.
Awesome stuff, KRob!
Keep the reviews coming
Great stuff, a sh!t load of work you have put in. Awesome work in fact.....
The_Lecht_Rocks: whafe - cheeers - may i offer an official apology for the wagon wheeler "dis-belief"
KRob, how is Russell's elbow? I hope he got that looked at, it was rather nasty.
I've got to agree with you on the flats. Small Block 8's and the Bontrager version of the 8 were probably 75% of the flats. Not the right tire for Bootleg.
You da mang!
Do you think an aluminum stay would have survived that crash and remained rideable for the life of the frame, or do you think that rock contact would have dented an aluminum tube beyond useability too? A friend of mine demoed a Yeti 575 in moab and took what he called a "minor spill" on Amasa back and cracked the carbon seat stay. Carbon would work fine for me here in Alaska because we rarely deal with rock. It seems like an insane material for the desert however.
looks like you guys had fun like I did out there.
I rode my personal Mojo SL that has a Maxxlite 310 gram tubeless 1.9 rear (2.1 Small Block 8 on front)and no issues for me. Guess you big guys are just bombing through stuff a little differently than I was.
on a routine expedition
Great reviews. Thanks for all the hard work.
BTW, the fork pictured on the Uzzi VP looks to be a 2010 Totem (based on the graphics on the stanchions and lowers).
I pinch flatted a Surly Endomorph (the front tire, even) when I demoed the Pugsly at IBike. I was trying to keep up with my posse who were on 6" AM bikes. Until the flat, I was keeping up nicely. Bootleg is BRUTAL on tires. A half dozen flats a day is standard in my experience (when you are riding bikes you didn't pay for, anyway).
Originally Posted by jbsteven
Great stuff KRob! Finally the quality coverage we've been waiting for (from Schlim as well). Thanks for the time & effort!
Did you happen to check out the Banshee Spitfire? Looks like a promising rig, although still a prototype.
Ah yes. You are correct,sir ( I went ahead and edited my original post to reflect that).... in which case I am seriously underwhelmed by the Totem. I thought that was a Totem when I was riding it but after looking at the pics the stanchions just did not look that beefy and with the music note graphic on the right stanchion I convinced myself that it must be the Lyric. Shoulda checked the website.
Originally Posted by Marshall Willanholly
So, I don't know if the Totem just needed some break-in time or what but I thought it should have more (some?) small to medium bump plushness. The Fox 40 on the Driver 8 blew this one out of the water for plushness and stiffness.
Last edited by KRob; 09-30-2009 at 04:30 PM.
Day 2 Interbike Dirt Demo
The second day we wore all our body armor and full face helmets in the morning before it got too hot with the intention of testing mostly FR/DH bikes on the steeper, gnarlier DH trails off the frontside. First up..... Loading the cattle truck. Yee haw!
Specialized Demo 8 II
We got both these next bikes from the Elka Suspension guys who were really great. They took the time to dial in their shocks and explain the adjustments. It took some time for them to mount the shock on the Demo 8 which got us up to the shuttle pick up kinda late despite arriving at the Demo at 8:30a.m. Oh, well. These two bikes were worth it.
Despite my misgivings about the use of proprietary components and high msrp for a big box bike, I've alway thought Special Ed made beautiful bikes and this is no exception. The lines flow cleanly and the rear double triangle looks trick and all business.The Demo 8 was excellent over rough, steep, choppy terrain (plenty of that at Bootleg). The rear end was very controlled and active without locking up while braking. In retrospect I should of just taken the bike with the DHX 4.0 coil first then brought it back to have them mount the Elka shock so I could compare back to back.... but I'm not smart enough to think about those kinds of things until it's too late. I wasn't as impressed with the Boxxer on the front. It made the front end feel a little too raked out until you had your nose pointed down the business end of a near vertical, rocky, loose, sketchy chute. It wasn't as plush as the Fox 40 or as stiff but worked acceptably well. It was just a bit overwhelmed by the pure awesomeness of the rear. I did notice a little chain/derailer slap on this bike but not much. The Code brakes on this bike were powerful, progressive and quiet.
Elka makes its shock within the same shadow as the Fox DHX coil so fitment shoud not be a problem on any bike that will fit the Fox.... and it fit in the Demo 8 without any clearance issues.
I've never ridden with flats much but I really dug these offerings from Twenty6. Very grippy. In fact I kept trying to twist my heel out to unclip I felt so connected. Ok, so they threw off the whole red/black/white color scheme (which was totally rippin' btw) but what can you do?
These Specialized 2.30 Chunders (?) were smallish for this type of bike but I didn't really have any issues with them will riding.
Canfield Brothers Jedi with Elka shock.
This bike was black, beautiful, and built to dish it out. The friendly French Canadian at the Elka booth took one look at Russell and told him the Jedi was made for him. The tubing and machining on the frame pieces was extraordinary looking and all the welds were works of art. I don't know if the brothers do their own welding or not but whoever did it, did a fine job. The frame was very stiff and I didn't feel any wiggle in the short link rear end. They have it adequately beefed out and braced to handle the sideloads. The frame just felt solid, solid, solid.
We both loved the Fox 40 on the Jedi and wished it had been on the Spec Demo 8 as well. The whole package was just very solid and confidence inspiring. The suspension was amazingly active and yet pedalling was not a pogo stick chore like on some DH bikes. Tires were more appropriately beefy 2.5" dual-ply Nevagals.
The seat post needed to be trimmed a bit more so that it could be slammed but it worked OK with the seat where it was. The pulley system for the chainline was seemless and effectively controlled chainslap and chaingrowth. It didn't create any noticeable drag either. Big bikes need big brakes and the Saint offerings on this Jedi fit the bill. They also provided plenty of stop without noise and with nice feel.
These Canfield Bros. pedals were pretty trick too, but weren't quite as grippy as the Twenty6's
Stay tuned for more day 2 of Interbike Dirt Demo.....
Last edited by KRob; 10-01-2009 at 02:28 PM.
29 some of the time...
That's f'in hilarious that your boy busted the BLTC. Everyone is pushing carbon. It is a great material for riding the loamy redwood trails in the Santa Cruz mountains, but in the rocks this stuff gets worked. Did they mention if that damage would have been covered under warranty? 2 of the 3 Ibis Mojos in the area have had rocks kicked up that damaged the swingarms and neither were covered. Ibis said it was wear and tear. F'that, gimme back my aluminum bastids
Originally Posted by saturnine
Carbon just sucks on rocks. We have plenty of dinged Alu bikes running around after bad crashes when too often, carbon gets gutted and the only savior may be Calfee. Carbon has to be reinforced to handle rocks impacts from crashing and while it may happen someday, the day isn't here yet and we are dealing with shiny lumps of coal so be careful and save some $$ for the crash replacement deal if you ride in really rocky areas like AZ. Most other areas- carbon will be just fine.
Good job, KRob. Looking forward to a Schlim-KRob-tscheezy trio in 2010.
Originally Posted by tscheezy
I was riding ahead of Russell when he went down so I didn't see it..... but Russell only goes down one way.... fast and hard. Gravity has its way with him. It's hard to say if an aluminum stay would've survived any better. I'm sure it would've dented but I think I would've still trusted it.... Not so much with the carbon. In its defense, the stay still felt solid and he rode it out (carefully).
Last edited by KRob; 09-29-2009 at 08:54 AM.
Thanks for the reviews KRob.
Any thoughts on how the Jedi pedals? Interesting bike.
Originally Posted by buddhak
After we got it cleaned up good and butterfly bandaged and wrapped it wasn't too bad. It was hurting him on Tuesday though where it was rubbing on his elbow guards. I was more concerned about his ribs. I'm pretty sure he bruised, cracked, broke one or tore some cartiledge. He was having a heck of a time doing the DH runs because of the pain that morning but soldiered on. He's a super stud. He wouldn't hear of wasting any ride time at the ER. Were you at the First Aid tent there by the Teeter?
Originally Posted by crashtestdummy
I couldn't believe how many folks I saw walking their bikes down the hill or riding the shuttle back down with flats. Way more than last year it seemed. Note to future I-bike attendees: Do not come without being prepared to change your own flats.
Originally Posted by crashtestdummy
GREAT thread. I'm sure you guys were able to 'self medicate' in the evenings so the crashes didn't hurt much, right?
Great job as usual KRob. Did I count that right, 8 bikes you guys were able to demo?
I had one pinch flat last year and none this year. A couple of manufacturers actually ran tubeless tires. The rest I insisted they run higher tire pressures.
Hopefully in the next few days I can post a thread similar to yours. I rode 9 bikes at this year's Dirt Demo. I rode the Titus FTM Carbon, the Giant Reign X1, Giant Trance X1, the Rocky Mountain Altitude 70, the Yeti 5 carbon and Yeti 7, Knolly Endorphin, Kona Cadabra and GT Force. I got snubbed by Trek too and wasn't able to ride the carbon Remedy.
I wasn't able to ride anything from Santa Cruz this year but most people that did liked the SC Tallboy. My two tall friends who rode the Turner Sultan liked that as well.
Bang up job on the ride reports, KRob! I'm glad that you got the chance to get on some of the downhill rigs that I didn't get to. Great action shots, too. Any additional thoughts on the Jedi vs. the Driver 8 or Demo 8? One of the knocks against Canfield in the past has been linkage flex... sounds like the Jedi didn't have any problems there.
Seeeriously easy Livin
Looks like the stanchions on the boxxer are in the tallest positions, that would explain the over raked feeling you had.
Also canfield's bikes are made in Taiwan by pacific cycles, just fyi
Thanks for all your hard "work" riding the bikes, was anyone able to get ride on the trek scratch?
Turner DHR (yes this is the DW-link prototype)
I'd asked one of the Turner guys about the DHR hanging up at their tent and they said it was Tyler Moreland's personal race prototype and they weren't letting it go out but as Russell was talking to Dave later he said he'd let me take it. Cooool! He didn't have to mention it twice so I snagged it next time we were there and headed out. His only stipulations were that I didn't mess with the settings and I didn't let anyone touch it. Fine by me.
As with any Turner DW-link I've ridden it was amazing how flat the thing pedaled. It just stays absolutely level putting all pedal input into forward motion. I spun through the demo area like I was a no-bob Rock Star breaking necks as I passed. We stopped at a couple of other tents to pick up a bike for Russell and everywhere we went people wanted to touch it and ask me questions. The push-on-the-seat test and the pick-it-up test were all that were allowed. This thing was pretty light for a full on downhill rig. I'm guessing somewhere between 36-39 lbs and imo was drop dead gorgeous.
While on the shuttle more oogles and rubber necking were the order of the day. It was like getting to go on a date with a mute Jennifer Anniston. While pushing up the last few switchbacks from the Shuttle drop to the top of the hill the guy behind me noticed the rear wheel/triangle were out of alignment with the front triangle. After inspecting it I had to aggree. The tire was centered in the triangle and in the dropouts properly, but the wheel definitely canted to the right of the seat tube..... just like my old Intense. Nothing looked bent or acted weird while riding it so I'm assuming it was just a mis-alignment.
If I felt like a rock star tooling around the pits with the DHR. I felt like a super hero tearing down the slopes with it. Every year there seems to be one HFC bike (Holy-Freaking -Cow) and this year it was the DHR. While going at my old, novice, hack pace it felt somewhat stiff but controlled. The more I pushed it, the better it felt. Large, wheel-stopping ledges were mere blips on the radar screen and deep, consecutive hits just seemed to disappear if I could muster the courage to maintain some speed. There's one steep long section of high speed braking bumps going into a swooping banked S turn near the halfway point that seemed to really shake the other bikes. The DHR just erased them: Wheel glued to the ground and tracking while everything else staid smooth as glass. Speaking of the big S turn, the low-slung, planted C of G really let it rail these kinds of corners. The lightness and balance of the bike made it great for airing out eventhough my fear of breaking it or myself kept me from doing anything too big. The deep g-outs at the bottom of Snake Back sent you floating up over the crest onto the far side, landing on the downhill transition into the next. Wa-freaking-hoo. Very nice and balanced in the air....then hammering up the short climbs to maintain speed for the next one just seemed effortless: every pedal stroke launching you forward. Wow.
This Boxxer felt sooo much better than the one on the Demo 8. I assume it was a WC with some special factory tuning but it was so plush and deep and controlled it spoiled me for anything else. I can't even imagine how nice it would've felt had it been dialed more for my weight and skill level.
At the top with all the guys in total envy of my steed.
I can't believe I didn't get any pics of me on it or riding it..... but I promise I did. Really.
Here's a shot which attempts to show the misalignment: I didn't do it, Dave, I promise!
Ummm, sorry guys but I was still daydreaming about the DHR when I rode this bike and I honestly don't remember much. The rear didn't feel as active over rocks as some and seemed to bob more but mostly I just rode it around the drop area down by the first aid tent. It seemed to land the bigger drops nicely but was a bit harder to stand and pedal back up. It felt heavier and the Formula brakes were sloppy and difficult to adjust so that they didn't pull clear back to the bar on application. It had the Durado fork but running the full 8 or 9 inches of travel it did not bottom on the same drop that bottomed the Lenz.
It really deserves a better, more thorough review than what I can give it. Maybe Russ will chime in but with his broke/cracked/bruised rib and bad-to-the-bone gash on his forearm he was barely hanging on on that run so I'm not sure how much he remembered about this bike either. Sorry. Um....Did I mention I got to ride the DHR prototype?
After lunch Russell decided to hang back at the Turner tent to rest and recuperate. He was a hurting unit and we still wanted to do some riding in St. George and Gooseberry the next day, so I went off to find some of the 4-5" twenty niners that I had on my wish list.
With the Tuesday afternoon crowds getting thick it was getting increasingly difficult to find bikes but I was able to snag this medium Big Mama.
Salsa Big Mama 4.5" Trailbike 29er
The Big Mama got great reviews last year and I've been wanting to ride one ever since. I'm kind of a tweener when it comes to sizing so with the shortage of bikes I could opt for a medium or large to increase my chances of finding one in stock. This medium fit me very well. It had a fairly upright riding position but not exaggeratedly so. It felt good. It pedalled well up the smooth access road to the trails where I entered the singletrack for an extended loop. My legs were still fresh from doing DH runs all morning so I climbed Mother to the West Leg saddle then up West leg to Caldera then back on Inner Caldera and down Girl Scout.
Switchbacks and loose techy sections seemed to be a breeze on the BM. It was easy finding traction and I soon remembered why I've been drawn to this genre of bikes. The prototypical example of this group for me is the Sultan so I'll compare these others to it. The Big Mama clawed its way over the square edged steps without any problems but seemed to spring back a bit too fast after loading the suspension over rocks like that. Maybe it would just take more rebound damping but it didn't need more for faster chopper stuff. A low speed and a high speed adjustment for rebound would've been nice. Faster, choppier, consecutive hits seems to halt its progess a bit more than other big wheeled bikes I'd ridden... but maybe this was a function of having the rebound set too slow (I was too tired to mess with it). Fast, swoopier, rolling terrain let it exhibit the 29er's strong point which it did nicely: Carrying speed and feeling like it's pulling you along for the ride.
The tires were pumped up too much but I really didn't want to change another flat so I left them. This proved to be a mistake as I was descending a bit of fast, loose, somewhat off-camber trail when the front Nevagal let loose unexpectedly and washed out leavng my tender knee to the mercies of the piranha/blood donor rock of Bootleg. In fact the ugly abbrasion looked very similar to the one beagledadi posted of me from last year..... D'oh. The problem was that I was just congratulating myself for leaving the pads in the car for the XC climb. The Nevagals are usually a good choice for Bootleg, but running the correct pressure would've allowed it to perform to its full potential. This was the only fall of any kind I suffered throughout the three full days of riding that we did and it coulda messed things up much worse so I should count myself lucky..... but still.
After that little misunderstanding we resumed our ride without stopping to clean up...... just letting the blood ooze down my leg and coagulate in place. That ugly site garnered almost as many stares as the DHR back in the paddock.
Anyway, I really liked quite a few things about this bike and would recommend it for XC to trail to even some light AM type riding. It would be a nice, well sprung, and efficient all-day partner.
I liked these grips. The spiral pattern felt really good in my hand.
This picture's out of focus but it show how those flat seat stays are designed to flex instead of having an additional pivot near the dropout. The edges of those flat stays seemed to be the first things to contact a rock or the ground on falls too as shown by the number of scatches and gouges in the paint.
Rocky Mountain Altitude 29er 4.5" 29er
The guys and gals at the RM booth were super friendly and helpful. The tech took quite a bit of time going over the bike and making sure all the controls were in adjustment and deraileurs were shifting correctly. Even so, this is the only bike I rode in the two days that had any shifting issues, which is surprising given what these bikes go through in two days of meat-fisted abuse. I think there must've been a bent tooth on the the second of third cog because the chain woudn't stay on the second cog. All the other gears worked fine but I use that second cog a lot so it was a little annoying. I thought this was a pretty nice looking bike.
I didn't notice how much the rear suspension seemed to stall over square edged ledges and rocks on the Big Mama until I started climbing the same trail on the Altitude. The RM has a pivot on the chainstay which is even with the drop out so according to the tech does not infringe on the FSR patent, but it still had some of the same good characteristics of the FSR horst link. It stayed more active and rolled over rocks while climbing without causing your forward progess to stall. It clung to the loose, dry rocky trail on tech climbs and switchbacks much like the BM but felt more controlled and active doing it. The seated riding position felt a bit more cramped and not as upright as the the BM but was still OK in the medium. It just made it feel a bit more XC.
Descents were rougher and the rear suspension and the fork seemed to bounce and skip over the square edged chop of BC with less control than the BM. I was less comfortable and confident bombing through rocky gardens which the lower bar height may have contributed to. Cornering also felt a bit less sure but that may have been my very tender knee talking. The Mountain King rubber seemed to grip pretty well but like I said was less confidence inspiring than the Rubber Queen I tried on some other rigs. Again, it may just have been my own lack of confidence after going down too.
Really all in all a very good bike, though it would rank third among the three 29ers I tested.
Turner Sultan 4.7" Tail/AM 29er.
I got back to the demo area at about 4:45 and most booths were closing up shop and starting to pack bikes away, but I really wanted to try one more bike. I was hoping for the Santa Cruz Tall Boy but the SC boys had all the bikes stowed away and were in full party mode when I got there so I talked DT into letting me take the large Sultan out for a short spin just to refresh my memory so I could compare it fairly to the other two 29ers I rode.
I grabbed a large because that is what I had ridden last year I had thought that it felt just right but after stepping off two mediums it felt just a tick tall and spread out. Not bad, just roomy. I wished I would've tried the medium now though just so I could compare it. It's so tough being in between sizes on many bikes.
Pedalling up to trails I was again struck by how this thing just carries you along, giving you more go than you deserve for your tired pedal input. It has a way of making you feel fresh. I had planned on climbing just up to the West Leg saddle on Mother then come back down for a short loop but when I saw the shuttle truck loading up for its last run of the day I hopped on. After standing there for a minute and doing the math I knew I wouldn't be riding for another 15-20 minutes and wouldn't be back to the Turner tent before 5:30 or later so I said out loud, but to myself, "Ah, I better not" and proceeded to unload from the truck. One of the guys in the truck assuming I was going to skip the ride called out "You need your box of tampons?" "I'm going to ride up, dude. Maybe you'd better keep them yourself", I called over my shoulder as I took off up the hill on my own power.
Climbing up the same loose techy switchbacks and rocky climbs of Mother up to the saddle really made me appreciate the Sultan. It worked its way over those same rocks and steps as the other two while hooking up just as well but had the efficiency of the Salsa and the plush, active feeling of the RM. The descent was also quite good. At least as good as the Big Mama and much better than the RM. It felt a little more gangly around the tighter switches but I think this was the size of the frame talking. I guess I need to get a ride on the medium now.
The Turner still tops my list for a HH replacement.
Here's the only pic I took of the Sultan. As you may have seen from some other posts, Dave went with bright colors this year for his bikes. I thought the hot pink looked dreadful and I can't say I liked the Kawasaki green that much, but this Banana yellow looked OK. I think I would opt for the Raw though if I still have that choice.
Until next year. Thanks for stopping by.
Last edited by KRob; 10-01-2009 at 02:47 PM.
Thanks. We got to 15 bikes by my count. Eight (If you count the FXR) on day one and seven on day two with Russel out for the count much of the afternoon.
Originally Posted by pedsdoc
Yeah a guy was just bringing in a large Scratch when I got up to the table so I said I wanted to take it and the lady asked me if I had a VIP dealer pass or some such nonsense. I said no and she asked me if we were a Trek dealer and I made the mistake of saying no. I didn't ask about any other bike so I don't know if she would've let me take another or not.
Originally Posted by pedsdoc
I also heard Specialized was only checking out bikes to their dealers but I didn't stop by to confirm. It was always a big crowd when I walked by there anyway.
We didn't have any problems getting SC bikes on day one but by Tuesday afternoon it was tough. Wish I could've tried the Tall Boy.
We got shut out at the Intense booth first thing Tuesday morning when a couple journalists took out all four 951s right before I got up to the front. My inpression of the Intense guys was similar to schlim's.... not that friendly. The coolest guys were the Titus guys, the Elkna guys and the Rocky Mountain guys.
What about the Knolly guys?
I thought they were the coolest and most helpful there, Titus was right behind them. I got snubbed by Trek as well, no carbon frames or Scratch's unless you were a VIP or dealer. Specialized had two lines, one for dealers, one for non-dealers. I tried to get an Enduro a few times and the larges were always out. I only rode 6 bikes in two days, mainly because I spent most of Monday on Deliriums and Endorphins. Tuesday afternoon, I couldnt find a large anything to ride.
I was at the first First Aid tent. I was watching riders in the other direction, but I heard Russell hit the ground. I cleaned up the wound and bandaged it. I was worried about his ribs or sternum. He probably hit the bars really hard. He certainly looked like he'd been rolling around in the dirt for a while.
Originally Posted by KRob
I see the same problems with flats every year at ODD. Bikes leave the vendors with the wrong tires, which means the riders air them down too low to get the grip they desire. Or the bikes leave with too much psi and then get aired down too low. Or the bikes simply leave with too little psi.
I've been providing Mountain Bike Patrol support at ODD for 11 years and 99.5% of the flats are pinch flats.