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  1. #1
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    '12 Horsethief first ride review

    Ordered a closeout large Horsethief from Universal. I didn't really need another bike, but at $2,059 delivered, it was hard to pass up. Ordered on Monday and it was on my doorstep in three boxes on Friday.

    Universal did a great job building it up, then boxing it. I made some personal changes to get the bike set how I like it.

    For reference, I'm 6'2", 185 pounds without gear, 34" cycling inseam. I'm a decent rider and tend to focus on very technical gnar terrain here in Arizona. I strongly prefer descending, but rarely shuttle, so my group earns our runs. I go through a lot of bikes and ride a mix of 26ers and 29ers. Current other bikes in my stable are a '12 Canfield Yelli Screamy (perhaps the most fun bike of all time) and a built '11 Specialized Enduro.

    Photos will show the changes from the stock build:


    IMG_0350 by dbozman1173, on Flickr


    IMG_0352 by dbozman1173, on Flickr


    IMG_0349 by dbozman1173, on Flickr

    Took the spacer out of the 34 to run it at 140, put on my Hope Tech M4 brakes 203/185, KS i950 dropper post with WTB Silverado saddle. Sunline 50mm stem with Deity Dirty 30 bars and ODI grips. Flat pedals, immediate swap to tubeless, Bionicon C-guide chain guide and dropped the 36 ring for a 33 (not strong enough to push a 36 on our trails).

    Took it out with a couple of buddies this morning for a shakedown run on some familiar trails (Phoenix Mountain Preserves for any locals). Very technical climbs, fast chunky descents, etc.; we don't have much in the way of smooth or groomed stuff here in the Phx.

    Riding it around the block yesterday, the bike felt big and a little heavy. That disappeared somewhat on singletrack. The bike is still big, but it pedals much lighter than it's true weight. For reference, I don't tend to weigh bike; I suspect with the dropper and flats, this is around 31 pounds. For our terrain, I don't mind pedaling a 30-pound bike.

    You can really feel the long wheelbase at certain times on the trail. It's not necessarily bad, but I noticed it regularly, that sense of the rear tire hitting obstacles just a fraction later than it seems they should. That said, while I noticed it, it didn't cause any grief. I think the sensation is exacerbated by coming off the Canfield, whose stays are so short the tire is literally underneath your arse.

    The Horsethief is stiff. Really. While I'm not always the most sensitive to minor suspension differences, I'm very sensitive to frame stiffness. Aside from the minor deflection you get with the larger wheels, there was zero frame flex that I could detect.

    As I said, as long as the suspension is working, I don't care much about it. The 'Thief isn't what I'd call "plush," but it's plush enough while maintaining good pedaling efficiency. Didn't notice any weirdness you sometimes get with single-pivots, not much pedal feedback, very slight stiffening of the suspension under braking but nothing too off-putting.

    From a handling perspective, I noted the steering got a little floppy on the steeps, but nothing I'm not used to. This is a bike that you really need to manhandle on the downs to make it go fast. I had my best results by really digging the tires, and exaggerating my normal pedal pressing and hip steering. Bike gets off the ground well, but isn't a natural manual rig. You have to work to loft the front, but it comes up willingly as long as you're firm (again,unlike the Yelli Screamy which lifts the front just by thinking about it).

    Overall, good experience. I don't like the paint or graphics to be honest. I'll probably raw it at some point. The seat tube could be a touch lower and taking an inch off the chainstays would be incredible. That said, it's a very nice rig.

    Hope this is helpful for anyone on the fence. Happy to answer any questions on my limited experience.

  2. #2
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    Nice changes to an overall solid build, especially for the price. Bike is definitely a steal for the price, and I pondered if I really needed FS for the Midwest. I too had it in my cart for quite some time but I just can't commit, especially after having so much fun on my Honzo lately. Plus any type of rear suspension puts me off from enjoying myself (always found my brother's All-Mountain'd Kona Stinky too "up and down" whenever I tried to really get on the pedals and hammer away). For me, a rear suspension, pivots and mainteance is just another hassle I'm not ready for.

    I know you have had only limited time on the Fox 34 Float, but how would you compare it to the Marzocchi 44 or Revelation? Would love to hear your thoughts.

    And personally, I like the paint/color, red components definitely look good on there. The only good looking 2013 Horsethief is the top-end model, with the black and gold. This one is definitely better looking than anything else from the 2013 colors.

  3. #3
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    Good review, thanks! You mention the frame feeling big. Any thoughts on going down to a smaller size, and using a longer stem? The medium has a 20mm shorter ETT length (615mm), and a 20mm shorter wheelbase. If you are using a 50 mm stem on the Large frame, then wouldn't a Medium frame with a 70mm stem fit about the same, while maybe feeling a little more "sporty" and flickable with the shorter wheelbase? I ask because I'm also 6'2", but I have shorter arms/ longer inseem and tend to prefer a shorter reach (my current bike has a 617mm ETT and 100mm stem, with a 73.5 ST angle, and it's about perfect for me). The head tube length on the Large is no longer than the Medium, so that's not an issue.
    Last edited by OhioPT; 10-14-2012 at 06:58 PM.

  4. #4
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    Euro: I have a hit/miss relationship with Fox, but the 34 Float is very nice. I like the damping on the Revelation I bought from you, but the 34 is definitely burlier.

    Ohio: Honestly, I never really thought about a smaller frame. I have a strong preference for short stems and all my bikes are set up very similarly. The "bigness" of the 'Thief is mostly a function of its wheelbase.

  5. #5
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    Very nice! I'm waiting for mine to come. I ordered on Friday, hoping it's here by next Friday.


    When you went tubeless were the wheels taped or did you need to tape them?

    This really is a fantastic bike for the money, the fun per dollar ratio is quite high!

  6. #6
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    They come with tubes. I supplied the tape and valves.

  7. #7
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    Waiting for my '13 eagerly!! (Before the snow comes, may have to go to Southern Utah to break it in properly!)

    Mikey

  8. #8
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    I have a 2012 large frame on the way, working out the build details now.

  9. #9
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    Not much traffic in this forum, huh?

    Anyway, had it out on its second run on Friday. For anyone familiar with Phoenix, took it up and down the National trail at South Mountain. This is a demanding technical climb and a super-fast, gnarly downhill.

    Some of the handling nuances that seemed strange on my first ride seemed normal on the second, referencing the wheelbase. Despite that, picking the front up for wheelie drops and manuals isn't terribly difficult you just have to give a solid pull.

    This rig is fast, particularly when ridden aggressively. Like typical with modern Fox forks, I have to run the pressure super-low to get it to feel like I like. It runs good at about 48psi (I weigh about 200 in gear), but I did bottom it hard on about a 3 foot drop to tranny.

    What I did note was many of the suspension bolts had come loose by mid-ride. Granted, I didn't check 'em first, but I rarely do. I could get to everything except, of course, the main pivot bolt underneath the chain rings. At this price point, the wheels are obviously machine built, but I also noted about every spoke on the non-drive side of the rear wheel was loose.

    Everything is tightened again and will be back out tomorrow.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blatant View Post
    Anyway, had it out on its second run on Friday. For anyone familiar with Phoenix, took it up and down the National trail at South Mountain. This is a demanding technical climb and a super-fast, gnarly downhill.
    Great trail, really demanding too, especially that waterfall section. Pretty jealous that is local for you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Blatant View Post



    This rig is fast, particularly when ridden aggressively. .
    Totally, i noticed how much better it handles at speed too given its wheelbase. Really stable, i would love to ride it down in your area!
    Disclaimer:I work in a Bike Shop.http://www.northcentralcyclery.com/

  11. #11
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    The Waterfall isn't too bad once you've ridden it a bunch. The roll up to it is worse than riding it.

    The more I ride this rig, the less sure I am. I'm not convinced it's actually up the type of day-to-day riding that my group does.

    Today, rode it on several extremely technical trails at Phoenix Mountain Preserve (Upper Cheesegrater). From the beginning, there was a persistent rattling sound coming from the rear end somewhere. It would change to a creak/groan when I stood up an hammered a big gear. The rattle was present whether pedaling or not, but only with weight on the bike (ie, I can't replicate it unless I'm riding it).

    First thought was a cracked frame. Nothing else was loose anywhere on the bike. The sounds were loud enough that my riding buddies could hear them from behind.

    Once home, I inspected and can't find any cracked welds. Nothing is loose. Only thing I did prior to riding was tightening the loose spokes/pivots I found after Friday's ride. The sounds weren't there Friday. Overtightened pivots?

    I pulled the rear wheel. Cassette is tight. I did not some play in the rear hub, which I suppose could account for some of what I experienced. I don't have a big enough key to remove the freehub.

  12. #12
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    It sounds like the 12 mm rear axle is making the noise. I have had two different bikes with maxle's squeak. Put some lite grease where the it sinches down on the maxle itself. That should take care of it.

    Sent from my Galaxy Nexus using Tapatalk 2

  13. #13
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    Really? Interesting. It was an ongoing rattle, it only squeaked/groaned when standing and cranking (high-torque).

  14. #14
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    Haven't been able to replicate the "groan," but the rattle has persisted. Took rear hub apart, removed cassette, put grease on axle. Nothing. After three of us spent 10 minutes at the trail today, finally figured out it's the pad retainer in my rear Hope brake. Problem solved.

    Rear tire finally gave up the ghost today; approximately 1-inch sidewall gash. Made it a total of four Arizona rides, which is about two more than I expected.

    All in all, this isn't the rig for me. If anyone's looking for a large frame-only, give me a shout.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blatant View Post

    All in all, this isn't the rig for me. If anyone's looking for a large frame-only, give me a shout.
    Curious to know the biggest deciding factor that made you give up. It were the semi-truck length chainstays weren't it?

  16. #16
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    Yeah, it's just got too much wheelbase for me. Bike is plush, climbs great, just not suitable for the extreme sort of tech that I ride most of the time.

  17. #17
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    has anyone taken the spacer out of the Fox 34 to bring it to 140mm travel? Is it an easy process?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnJameson View Post
    has anyone taken the spacer out of the Fox 34 to bring it to 140mm travel? Is it an easy process?
    Definitely a lot simpler than on the 2013 34 Floats.

    Check out this for some guidance, also shows a step by step on Fox's site.

    DESPERATION: Removing air spring from '12 Fox Float 34 29er

  19. #19
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    As stated in the first post, yes I run it at 140. The air damper must be removed from the bottom part of the upper, so it's not as easy as regular Fox forks to remove.

  20. #20
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    awesome, thanks fellas.

  21. #21
    dvn
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    I noticed that my rear hub has side play in it today. I have about 200 miles on the bike. These are cartridge bearing hubs right? Not happy.

  22. #22
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    check your maxle dvn....a little maintenance goes a long way. If you don't keep up with basic stuff you will fall behind.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blatant View Post
    Yeah, it's just got too much wheelbase for me. Bike is plush, climbs great, just not suitable for the extreme sort of tech that I ride most of the time.
    What are you looking to replace it with? Am I wrong to think that a shorter chainstay will hinder climbing capabilities? I thought the Horsethief would have shorter cs than the Spearfish, but it doesn't.

  24. #24
    dvn
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    Quote Originally Posted by lurcher View Post
    check your maxle dvn....a little maintenance goes a long way. If you don't keep up with basic stuff you will fall behind.
    Nice first post. Thank you Captain Obvious. I have about 30 years of motocross experience. I know all about maintenance. Criticizing others will make you lots of friends here.

  25. #25
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    Well dvn, you missed a simple maintenance problem so sorry for pointing it out. I guess it wasn't so obvious to you. I wasn't trying to criticize, just give advise, sounds like you are being a little defensive.

    By the way, I am so in awe of your 114 posts.

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