I ordered my Windsor Cliff 29er Comp about 2 weeks ago, received it a few days ago, and have been riding it since. I figured I'd give a little review of my experience so far for anyone interested in this model or a similar one.
Here's a list of components and a pic: http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...liff29comp.htm
Rock Shox Dart 3 (80mm) w/ Lockout
SRAM X5 Derailleurs/Shifters
Avid BB5 Disc Brakes
29" Wheels w/ Continental Mountain King Tires
I'll try to get some of my own pictures up soon as well.
Ordering went smoothly as expected and I was soon sent a tracking number. The bike arrived by UPS on time and in good condition. I had to set aside time to be home and sign for it but it was well worth it.
BikesDirect advertises that the bike will ship with the rear wheel on and the bike 90% assembled which would be nice, but as you've probably seen from other threads, this is not the case. There was a significant amount of work required.
As a beginner to the sport with limited experience working with bikes, the pile or parts that came out of the box was pretty intimidating. The generic, no-brand-name "Bicycle Manual" isn't much help either. I had a friend help me out, but if you have a decent amount of experience, it would be no problem.
As far as tools go, all I really used were a set of metric allen wrenches, some needle-nose pliers, and wire cutters to trim the cables. I did however have to go pick up a set or Torx wrenches so I had a T25 Torx wrench for the disc brake rotors.
I had heard this model runs a little big, and it does. I am 5'11" and got the 19" frame. Slightly smaller would be ideal, but it fits fine and I have no complaints. I felt (and still do) that the 17" would be a little small.
First Ride Impressions
So far I've put about 15 miles on the bike through some pretty diverse and challenging terrain (for me at least) and I love the way the bike rides.
A few things in particular stand out...
Switching from a completely rigid bike to this, the Rock Shox Dart 3 fork feels great. Of course its not top of the line, but it makes for a great beginner fork and beats the Darts 2's on my friend's pricier full suspension Giants. I've gone off some small drop and jumps and its worked very well.
My old early-mid 90's Fuji had v-brakes so the stopping power of the Avid BB5 disc brakes was pretty impressive. They took a good amount of tweaking when first assembled and more after a few rides to keep the rotors from rubbing, but they stop on a dime.
Also new to me are the 29" wheels. I feel like I'm pretty much used to them now, but I have noticied a better overall ride with them. I definitley feel like I can clear obstables with more ease with them.
The SRAM X5 components are all working nicely as well.
A few things I've noticed that I'm not partcularly fond of...
Seat Clamp: The seat clamp on this bike is only adjustable with an allen key. I would have preferred one with an actual clamp or lever so I could easily open and close it without tools. Since I have to take the seat off to get the bike into my Pathfinder and put it bake on at the trails (and do this over again coming home) it would be nice to be able to do this a little faster.
Finish on Headset/Handlebars: It seems to scratch fairly easily. I had an allen key slip out of a bolt and it took some of the finish right off. My fault, but I though it would be a little tougher. Not a big deal though, and the actaul frame seems very sturdy and has a good finish.
Adjusting the Disc Brakes: This could just be my lack of experience, but I can not seem to get the disc brakes just right. They work just fine, but there always seems to be one spot that willl rub as the rotor spins through the pads and they are kind of a pain to work with. Like I said, probably user error but...
Pedals: The pedals came with a bunch of straps and junk attached which I removed. They don't provide much traction though and often it doesnt feel like I have a good grip on them. I think I want to stick with platform pedals right now but I'll probably upgrade soon.
Thats pretty much all I have for complaints so far and hopefully all I will have (knock on wood). None of these are anything major and they don't take away from the ride.
Overall I am extremely happy with this bike. For a beginner rig, I don't think you can beat it. Sure, I won't get the support of a LBS, but the LBS also couldn't get me a bike with these components for under $500 out the door. If your considering this bike, I would not hesitate to reccomend it. My experience has been excellent so far and if I was to make this decision and purchase again, I would once again choose the Windsor Cliff.
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Thread: Windsor Cliff 29er Comp Review
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