Horst vs. link actuated swing arm suspensions
I rented a 08 Gary Fisher HiFi Deluxe over the Thanksgiving holiday and road it back to back on the same trails as my 04 SJ FSR. The 08 GF HiFi with 120mm of travel was equipped with a Fox Float RL fork and a Fox RP2 rear shock while my 04 SJ FSR with 100mm of travel has a 05 Fox Vanilla RLC fork and a 05 Fox RPL or Triad rear shock. With the sag set to 25% on all of the suspension components on both bike, here are the main differences between the two types of designs:
The GF HiFi peddle efficiency is noticeable better then the SJís-it feels very much like an Epic, which is locked out until the inertia valve is opened. Even with the RP2 open, the HiFi is much easier to pedal on flat and up hilly terrain than the SJ is when the Triad is locked-out. The down side to this efficiency is that the rear travel on the HiFi feels like it has less than 4Ē of travel even though it has 5Ē or 120mm. The HiFiís link activated swing arm suspension is not as active as the Specialized FSR (Horst) rear end is over small and large bumps. The HiFiís rear end does not absorb the bumps as well as the FSR does at any given speed, hence it is a little rougher on the tail feathers. I did not experience any type of pedal kick back or suspension lock up when the rear brake was applied so Fisher has perfected this design which is geared more for XC riding like the Epic.
Just Wanna Ride!
I have owned a couple of FSRs and recently picked up a HiFi 29er. The bike handles extremely well. The G2 geometry works to balance the handling - gets rid of the lag that you sometimes feel when steering a 29er through tight switchbacks. All that being said, I'm considering selling the HiFi frame and picking up an FSR frame and moving all the parts over. (Keeping the G2 fork, though!!)
1. While you may not have noticed the rear locking up, the HiFi does firm up under braking when you need it the most - you can feel this on a longer downhill section - just feels like you're not getting the full travel. 2. A single pivot design can get stalled on sharp edge hits - like when climbing a series of rock steps, or climbing up a rooty section - the HiFi is better than a true single pivot at maintaining momentum when rolling over these obstacles, but you can still feel those ledges halting progress a bit. This is another trait of the horst that isn't mentioned as much, but in a head to head you can certainly feel the FSR rolling over these things more smoothly. 3. The bottom bracket is too low for the trials I ride (not sure about the 26er). The rear swingarm broke within the first month - was a design flaw that is said to have been corrected, but it made me think about the overall durability of such a light frame. May be too light for a trail bike.
Like I said - I love the handling of the G2 fork. Either bike would be a good choice, but there are some things that the FSR does better. I think if you compared a newer FSR to the HiFi you would see that the current shocks have alot to do with the firm pedaling feel. Propedal has continued to improve over the years.
Go demo a new FSR at one of the test center bike shops and let us know what you think.
Last edited by NCtrailX; 11-26-2007 at 08:52 PM.
Nice review, and it confirms most of what I have felt with single-pivot designs.
1997 Specialized Stumpy Pro
1998 Specialized Allez Epic
2007 Specialized Stumpy FSR Elite
2010 Specialized Roubaix Expert