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  1. #1
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    Interbike 2009 Dirt Demo Derby

    Interbike report, each review in separate posts immediately below.

    It was hot for the 2009 Interbike Dirt Demo at Bootleg Canyon but quite not as hot as the 101 degrees predicted, probably only 98 on Monday and 94 on Tuesday with a moderate wind after noon both days to keep the temps tolerable. The attendance was more crowded than my first DD 2 years ago. Although the Indoor Expo on Wednesday and Thursday was noticeably smaller in number of vendor booths and far less as crowed in attendees. I utilized the shuttle to the top and rode Boy Scouts, Left Leg and Mothers to gain a variety of rough and smooth trail conditions with not much but enough climbing for the heat. The trails are smoothing out compared to when they were new and very chiseled about 10 years ago when I first rode them, but there are still plenty of jagged sections and scary exposures. Brent Thomson, the founder of the Bootleg trails passed away earlier this year, but he was there in spirit giving a double thumbs up.

    Iím 6í1 inch 200 lbs and my riding interests is rough and rhythmic trail riding with smaller jumps and drops to 3 foot. Bootleg Canyon is one of my favorite ride areas.

    Bikes ridden:
    Santa Cruz Nomad
    Haro Xeon 160
    Cove G-Spot Prototype
    Knolly Endorphin
    Yeti ARS 5 Carbon
    Yeti ARS 7

    Notable components tested:
    SRAM Hammerschmidt cranks
    Elka Stage 5 shock

  2. #2
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    Santa Cruz Nomad

    Santa Cruz Nomad, size large: I think I was the first person to ride this bike because after a few turns downhill I was not getting a good feeling and checked the shock and fork to find the rebound in both set full hard. Compression on the 160 RC2 had HSC adjusted near full soft and Monarch shock platform lever flipped to softest. After adjusting rebound to allow fast action the ride was much better, still a bit choppy and lowering tire pressures then helped find the flow but I really needed more time to get a real positive balance that Iím sure would be possible given the nice AM geometry. Iím not very impressed with the Monarch compared to Fox air shocks, but Iím not a fan of air shocks for travel over 4 inches although air is more convenient for demos. The rear end is not quite as flexy as the early version Nomad, but still one of the flexiest, which never hurt the overwhelming popularity of the Nomad. Braking was not noticeably improved and still only average in traction, stiffening in reactivity much like a monopivot, and the preferred reaction for the skid turning technique of many riders. Pedaling has the most hardtail platform like feel of any Iíve ridden. The new version of VPP has lost itís smooth but exaggerated pedal stall when seated climbing, but a sharper kickback is now evident but not bad. A great bike overall for pedaling efficiency and downhill handling. A carbon version Nomad is rumored coming soon which should smooth out and dampen the rear end flex and kickback.
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  3. #3
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    Haro Xeon 160

    Haro Xeon 160, size large: I did a very short ride on this bike out of curiosity with the unusual Virtual Link Suspension design. It had terrible pedaling and terrible handling. Massive pedal bob like a low monopivot without platform damping, even with the Monarch platform lever in the middle position. The handling was too quick for a 140 fork with 160 rear suspension. The tech said that rear sag must be 20% or less and it was set accordingly for me. More rear sag might have helped the handling, I couldnít imagine the pedal bob could be any worse. I returned the bike quickly and politely thanked them for the effort to set me up. I found out later at the Haro booth at the indoor expo that this 140/160 Xeon model is discontinued due to lack of demand. RIP.
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  4. #4
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    Cove G-Spot Prototype with Elka Stage 5 shock

    Cove G-Spot Prototype, size medium: This was my favorite ride of the Dirt Demo, by far. I rode it because I was curious to demo the Elka Stage 5 coil shock. Elka and Cove, both Canadian manufactures, co-opted a small booth at the backside of the Dirt Demo. Elka is newly entering the mountain bike shock world after many years in motorcycle suspension. For each customer Elka custom tunes the reserve chamber Internal Floating Piston level and pressure to suit the bike design. This can adjust the ramp up of the bottom travel to bring more rising rate to suspensions designed for naturally rising rate air shocks. The Elka Stage 5 has externally adjustable separate LS and HS compression and single adjust rebound damping circuits. This shock was the bomb and brought the best compliance and handling stability Iíve ever ridden. The new G-Spot design is near DW-Link, almost infringing, appearing to be very close to the Turner DW-Link design. Pedaling was much like the DW-Link 6Point Iíd ridden 2 years earlier at the Dirt Demo with slightly more bob but not very much, standing and pedaling in the middle ring (there was no big ring) while climbing was quite good also without any sense of crushing bob. The suspension felt bottomless and topless.

    The G-Spot was quite heavy and laterally stiff, near 40 lbs with coil Lyrik u-turn and coil Elka and Maxxis Minion 2.5 downhill tires, but it was a prototype and production frames should be lighter and using lighter AM wheels could bring the same build otherwise easily down to 34 lbs Iíd guess. The geometry is 67/71.5 head and seat angles, 14 inch BB height, with a 160mm fork and 8 inch wide handlebars with 60mm stem handled ideal for Bootleg.
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  5. #5
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    Knolly Endorphin with CCDB

    Knolly Endorphin, size large: I got to meet Knoll and hear that his philosophy of design is coming from downhill design reaching into XC/Enduro and light AM with the Endorphin model I rode. They are partnering with Cane Creek shocks and Malcolm from CC was in the Knolly booth setting up the CC Double Barrel shocks on the Endorphin and Delirium bikes. I think I should have ridden the Delirium instead. The 140mm travel Endorphin was set up with CCDB shock, 160mm Talas narrow bars about 26 inch wide and long stem near 100mm. The bike is incredibly stiff in rear end flex. But the bike handled poorly for Bootleg, I probably should have lowered the very harsh and sticky new Talas to 140 to reduce the very floppy and slow handling, but the fork was so harsh I didnít want to loose any compliance by lowering it. I had to focus on the rear suspension feel which was excellent, very smooth and plush with very little pedaling bob, no sense at all of full travel sharp bump spiking or noise that a couple riders have posted repeatedly on MTBR, maybe it helps to have a CCDB expert tune this highly adjustable shock. The CCDB is a great shock if you donít need custom tuning to bring more rising rate spring action for bikes designed specifically for air shocks. Knoll told me all his suspensions are raising in suspension leverage progression rate so both coil and large volume can air shocks both work well without custom tuning. A coil shock should only be matched with a coil fork. No air fork can hope to match the smoothness of a coil shock even if the fork is over sprung. Iíve never had a quality feel from any Talas Iíve demoed but this one was the worst ever. A friend, and local Bootleg rider, who rode with me on another smaller sized Endorphin said his Talas felt great and the Endorphin was the best bike at the Demo he rode.
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    Last edited by derby; 10-02-2009 at 03:55 PM. Reason: add title

  6. #6
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    Yeti ARS 5 Carbon

    Yeti ARS 5 Carbon, size large: This bike is magic. It was the best suspension balanced bike I rode at the Demo with 5 inch rear travel with a RP23 Boost valve shock and a 120/32 Float RLC with FIT cartridge and 15mm axle. The quality of balance in the suspension brought a feeling that it had more travel than measured. The rear end flex was quite minimal, well balanced with the 15mm axle fork and frame. This bike was very light probably no more than 26 lbs but also very stable handling. The 68/72 degree head and seat angles, 13 inch BB height with 120mm fork brought stable handling balance. Pedaling bob was very small with the light platform shock at minimal compression setting, standing and pedaling was also comfortably balanced without excessive bob. Braking was stiffening as usual for linked shock monopivot design but the relatively slack fit angles positioned the weight balance well behind the wheels for good rear braking traction. The Schwalbe Racing Ralph tires gripe and roll very well for such light tires. Overall I can find no weaknesses with this Yeti ARS 5 Carbon. With a 140mm fork it would slack geometry to 67/71 degrees and be an even more big bump capable AM ride.
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  7. #7
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    Yeti ARS 7

    Yeti ARS 7, size medium: This is the longest travel bike I have ever ridden. Air suspension finally becomes acceptably tolerable to me with this much leverage. (Iím an admitted coil smoothness and traction snob! ) I like every Yeti bike I ride. This bike felt big, stable, stiff, and solid feeling with 67/69 head seat tube angles. The 36 Float RC2 160mm fork and large volume can RP23 had good balance. It pedaled well with not much bob even standing and climbing was well balanced with less bob than the fork. This is not a heavy bike only about 33 lbs with air suspension and the Schwalbe Fat Albert tires. This feels like it would be a great big hit and higher speed AM bike. But not ideal for me due to my requirement for coil suspension and this is designed with a falling rate linked shock leverage for air spring.
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  8. #8
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    SRAM Hammerschmidt cranks

    SRAM Hammerschmidt cranks: This was only a bike stand demo of the Hammerschmidt at the indoor expo. What was impressive to me demoing it was the immediate very positive shift action. There was absolutely no delay shifting whether pedaling easy or hard, or not pedaling or back pedaling. This would be a very nice advantage for those last second shifts down from too high a gear when facing a sudden obstacle or steep climb up a gully at too low a speed to carry a higher gear. Also dropping a chain would be very rare if ever. Is it worth the extra half pound or so of weight? Yes if you ride lots of unfamiliar rough trail, and yes for the weight if you otherwise run duel ring with bash guard.

    Dave Weagle must cringe when seeing his Turner suspension design using a Hammerschmidt because the higher gear would have too much anti-squat and bring inefficient suspension binding or stiffening extension reactivity to each pedal stroke. But many other suspension designs have less anti-squat and this could possibly better balance pedaling efficiency in the higher gear for most designs.
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  9. #9
    Singletrack Addict!!!
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    Thanks for sharing Dervy, good info

  10. #10
    FAT CHANCE!
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    Nice reviews!! Thank you

  11. #11
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    Reviews

    Derby,

    Thanks for posting your reviews. I take it you liked the new Yeti ASR-5.

    Might have to give that bike a try when it is available.

  12. #12
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    Thanks for the reviews Ray. On the one bike we rode in common, (ASR-7) I sounded a bit more negative than you but overall, my impression was similar.

    We wanted to try a Nomad but Russell was afraid to go back to the SC booth after breaking the Blur LTc.

    I was surprised there weren't more bikes set up with the Hammerschmidt at the dirt demo. I didn't stop by the SRAM/Truvativ tent to see if they had one again, but I thought maybe some of the other vendors might have them, but I didn't see any.

    I was pretty impressed when I rode it last year on a TNT RFX. The panic shifting that you mentioned would be one of the big advantages but you'd have to get used to the fact that's it's backwards from normal first (Big thumb trigger lower gear/little trigger higher gear).

  13. #13
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    I have been curious about the Cove. Thanks for posting.
    Only two infinite things exist: the universe and stupidity. And, I am unsure of the universe
    - Albert Einstein

  14. #14
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    Thanks for the review - how would you compare the ASR-5 to the Ibis Mojo?

  15. #15
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    ASR-5 to the Ibis Mojo

    Quote Originally Posted by Danish Dynamite
    Thanks for the review - how would you compare the ASR-5 to the Ibis Mojo?
    As you must know I've been riding a Mojo, and for 3 years now. Mines not common, 650b (27.5) X 2.3 wheels with Lyrik coil and PUSH'd Vanilla RC coil shock.

    Even a stock air suspension 26 inch wheeled Mojo is pretty different, longer more plush travel, snappier pedaling, and grippier braking. Both are very light and still feel moderately stable at higher speed. The ARS-5 Carbon was very well balanced for me at the demo with new 120mm FIT damper fork and Boost Valve RP23. This combination of fork and shock was the best balance I have felt with air suspension, ever. My own trail bikes have had coil suspension for more than the last 8 years, I only try air suspension on demo bikes. Previous air suspension demos on any bike have felt either bouncy or too firmly damped, either way have felt more disconnected from the ground.

    I think with the ARS-5 ride I was most impressed with the air suspension handling balance, and a big part of that was the quality and geometry of the Yeti frame.

    The ARS has a very well balanced slacker frame geometry which lowers the center of weight of the rider and brings very stable but light and quick feeling handling. Both are great bikes. I have the ability to adjust my Mojo with slightly taller fork travel using the u-turn and seated position 1 inch lower with a dropper seat post and scooting back on the seat to get similar lower gravity centered handling as the ARS-5.

    I'm not 100% satisfied with any bike, but closest with the Mojo with the changes I've made for my interests in rougher trail riding and with much climbing required near home. I always get a very good first impression demoing any of the Yeti bikes, they work very well for me.

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