First of all I'd like to give big props to Mike and the Titus Demo Tour for giving me the opportunity to rip around on a couple of new Titus bikes on Saturday. The Canada Cup race was a really great event and it was good to see Titus so well represented with both the big demo fleet and the number of Titus riders on the podiums for the morning's events.

Scope of Review
I spent AT LEAST 10 minutes each on the Racer X 29er and the FTM riding trails comparable to or on an XC race course. I didn't pose for any photos or weigh either bike, so my testing method might be considered less rigorous than what is done for a typical magazine article. That said, I wasn't just pedaling a Trek around a parking lot either, which is generally the criteria for deciding how to spend $2500 at the LBS.

First Impressions
I don't know if the bike was lighter than my Motolite, but it felt lighter at the pedals from the moment I took off. The handling was very predictable, fast and flickable. I flipped the propedal off while riding from the tent to the trail, spun some circles then I stood up and mashed. The rear moved while mashing with the PP off, but was more stable than the ML while spinning.

The Build
Frame was a large with a Talas 15mm fork, DT wheels, Nevegals, Strokers, LX cranks, etc. I'm not sure if the fork was a 140 or 150mm version, but I didn't get the desire to crank it down. The bike felt low and fast at the front end, no doubt this was amplified by the sub 700mm bars and longish ~120mm stem. A friend of mine also commented that the small FTM felt twitchy, even compared to his S-Works Epic, so it's likely that the long stems had something to do with that...even the demo Guapos were rocking 100mm plus stems!

Frame Redesign
The geometry is very similar to the MotoLite's so feeling the changes was straight forward. I couldn't detect any lack of stiffness in the rear end compared to the ML. If I could have thrown my Guapo wheels on the bike it might have removed some of the wheel/tire flex from the equation; as built the QR15 fork provided only a minor stiffness increase. The lower BB didn't make the pedals feel too close to the ground (a la Guapo) and the front end didn't seem to wander while climbing. I don't normally notice the ML wandering, either, but I do tend to use my travel adjust on bigger hills.

The Upgrade
Am I putting my MLII on the classified board after riding the FTM? Probably not. The FTM is a worthy successor and certainly would be my first choice if I was just getting into the category. It's just a little too similar to the ML to justify the upgrade. On the other hand, if I was 180lb and on a small the longer stroke shock of the FTM might be the tipping point for giving into UGI!

Highs
Light weight and has great balance. Extremely easy bike to get comfortable on, especially for riders with ML experience.

Lows
Frame quality draws attention to any mis-spec'd or maladjusted component. Quick-release seat collar makes the saddle feel insecure.