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  1. #1
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    A lady's man...demo review, long post

    I got a chance to ride the El Guapo and Racer X Ti 29er today at the Titus Demo in Pennsylvania. Figured I share my obs about the bikes and the demo overall.

    There were no Supermotos to ride, which I kind-of knew from Bikerbob's post in this thread. I was a little disappointed, because my riding has improved and I was looking forward to being a bit more aggressive on some of the techy trails in the area. The reasoning for not carrying Supermoto's was basically that they didn't have enough room in the trailer. The Guapo wasn't in the line-up last year so that's understandable. Anyway, on with the show.

    The handsome one. I rode the medium, as all the demos were fitted with 110mm stems and I knew the large was gonna be too long with that long of a stem. The medium cockpit ended up being pretty close to my RFX, so I felt comfortable size-wise pretty much immediately. In the real world I would probably ride a large (which really isn't that long, 23.85" ETT) and run a shorter stem. For reference I'm 5'11".

    My strongest impression of the bike was that it was very "balanced" from a front/rear travel standpoint and from a geometry standpoint. Comparing it to my RFX and the Supermoto that I demo'd last year it is definitely not as slack, but I definitely wouldn't describe it as steep either (certainly not with a 68* HTA). The geometry felt right for the bike that it was, if that makes any sense .

    The frame seemed plenty stiff. Well, as much as I could ascertain that since the rear tire was way under-inflated for my 275lbs. So that was squirming a bit. Which, come to think of it, could of had an effect on how the rear-end suspension response felt...hmmm. The Fox fork did its job, was stiff enough and felt good overall.

    Being five+ pounds lighter than my 40lb RFX it certainly was a little easier to accelerate and climb. Exact weight is unknown, but my guess would put it at 33 or 34lbs. That's with a 36 Talas up front and a Fox DHX air in the rear (more on that later). The rest of the parts spec included Maxm cockpit, XT cranks, Sram X9 drivetrain, Formula Oro K24 brakes, DT wheelset, Kenda Nevegals, etc. The travel reduction feature on the Talas proved valuable when I dropped it to 130mm for the one short, steep climb we did on our demo loop. It climbed great until I ran out of legs and lungs. I was already way off the back of the group who were all on Racer X's and Motolites, but I definitely climbed longer and faster than I would've on my RFX...the weight (and pedal platform?) makes a huge difference.

    On the other hand, the Guapo didn't quite have the "ram into every boulder on the trail with no consequences" feeling that I have on my RFX. Some of this may have to do with the extra weight my bike carries and the 2.5" DH tires that I run. The rest of this difference is probably due to suspension performance. I did bring my '02 RFX with me so that I could ride the bikes back to back. Obviously the feel of my personal ride is familiar to me, and that increases my comfort level when riding. But outside of that I felt that I could be more aggressive with my line choices on my bike, even though my bike has over an inch less travel in the rear and 15mm less in the front. This could also have to do with the fact that my suspension is custom-tuned to me (Push Race System on the Vanilla RC shock and Marzocchi Works servicing on my 66SL). The suspension on the Guapo was set-up for my bodyweight at the outset, but I didn't spend any time fiddling with compression or rebound adjustments. I'm sure with some time spent tweaking the suspension could feel a lot better.

    The appearance of the Fox DHX Air was interesting. I thought that the RS Pearl was the absolute only choice of shock for the Guapo, and while several sizes were outfitted with the Pearl, others had a "prototype" DHX Air. I guess there are whispers that RS may not be producing the Pearl next year and presumably Titus is trying to get a well-behaved shock for the Guapo. This is not confirmed info, so take it for what it's worth. The performance of the DHX I rode was...eh...OK. Like I stated before, it certainly wasn't tweaked optimally, but I'll give my impressions as it was. I found myself getting "hung up" when pedaling through/over larger rocks. On bumpy descents it seemed OK, until the chunk got too big and then the bike got tossed around a little. And keep in mind we didn't really hit any significantly large "chunk", just some short, minorly techy sections.

    So, overall a thumbs-up for EL Guapo, with the caveat that the rear shock may take some tinkering. I'd wager that replacing the air damper with a custom-tuned coil shock (Avy, Push or even CCDB) would provide a better platform for aggressive descending, with only a minimal cost in increased weight. I've demo'd several bikes in the 5" to 6"+ travel class, including the Supermoto, Specialized Enduro (2005 5" and 2006 6" versions), Giant Reign X, and of course my Turner RFX. Comparing those bikes, I would classify the Guapo as being on the more XC side of long-travel AM bikes, if those labels mean anything to you. If the Titus demo tour heads your way, try one out for yourself.
    Last edited by PCinSC; 06-30-2007 at 08:34 PM.

  2. #2
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    Oops, forgot about the 29er.

    On the third little demo loop my wife and I did I rode the Ti frame Racer X 29er. (Our second loop was on our personal bikes to get a back to back comparison). I wasn't really sure what to expect. I'd never ridden a 29er before. On paper, the geometry was nothing like my current bike. My first MTB was a XC HT (Kona Hoss), but the angles were a bit different and of course mine was a 26er. And just to mention it, I never liked the XC positioning of my Hoss, I was never able to truly feel comfortable on that bike. So to be honest I wasn't expecting to like the feel of this bike very much.

    Boy was I wrong. I felt pretty comfortable right off the bat. Being a XC race-oriented frame I was expecting the bike to feel really stretched out, with a front-heavy rider position and twitchy handling. None of those expectations were met. My position on the bike was neutral and comfy (I was on a medium) and the whole bike felt super-stable from the start of the ride in the parking lot.

    Once we hit the trail I really got a feel for what the bike was all about. Being lighter than El Guapo (and much lighter than my RFX) I felt like a speed demon. In reality I was still riding at a turtle's pace, but I felt fast, and that's what counts. My immediate observation was that the bike rolled well over all the little chop in the trail (which is what everyone says about 29ers). Pretty early in the loop we hit some rock gardens, and while I did get knocked around more than on my RFX, I still made it through most of them. On a few of the short descents I got a little too aggressive with my speed and line choice and on some of the bigger rocks was reminded that the bike only has 4" of travel.

    The suspension (Fox RP23) felt quite firm, and while I'm sure that it could be tweaked to provide a plusher ride my guess it that the suspension is designed to provide a firm platform given its pedigree as a race bike. This quality gave it more the feel of a "comfortable hardtail" rather than a plush trail bike. Of course, this being my observation coming after a loop on El Guapo and then my RFX. So my senses were probably a little blurred from the admittedly more "couch-like" ride of those bikes. I'm sure for the average XC rider or endurance racer this bike would be an excellent platform for staying comfy on long, techy rides while still having a fast, agile bike.

    The stiffness of the bike suprised me. I'd read the posts of critics of full-suspension Ti frames here on the forums and I'm happy to say that they're wrong. The Ti frame (with Al swingarm) was plenty stiff for this 275lb rider. I was even pleasantly suprised by the Reba 29er fork. I had a Reba on my HT (now on my wife's HT) that flexed like crazy. Perhaps they're using a stronger material now but I didn't notice any flex while riding, and the front end seemed to track OK through the rough stuff. If I were seriously looking to get a 29er I would probably look closely at the White Brother thru-axle models (Fluid 135, etc.), just to be sure I could get the stiffness that I wanted. Apparently the WB front will work fine on the Racer-X 29er. Good to know. No problems either with lateral flex from the wheels. They rolled and didn't break...as far as I'm concerned that's good enough.

    In all a nice bike that for many riders could be a great option. The 29" wheels do what they say they do. And I didn't notice any problems accelerating the big wheels, although I am used to trying to accelerate 2400g of 26" wheels (plus 2700g of tires), so my perception may be skewed. I'd say that overall the benefits of the big wheels outweigh the perceived negatives.
    Last edited by PCinSC; 06-30-2007 at 07:55 PM.

  3. #3
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    Good stuff Patrick !~!

    Where are the photos ?~?

    I does not surprise me that the EG did not feel just right in the back end. I get the distinct feeling that Titus knows they need Zoke Stoke back there , but for some reason they stick to Fox ....well after the Pearl thing. I won't buy one with a Pearl... who would buy the Pearl when you take it off ?~?

    Hopefully Titus can get the rear shock figured out for 08 (or at least a shock that has re-sale value )

    Hey, you're a 29err now ... aaahhh just come out if the closet and get one. I have never rode a 29. Maybe Zoke will make a 66 29err

  4. #4
    Nightriding rules SuperModerator
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    Quote Originally Posted by PCinSC
    .
    I guess there are whispers that RS may not be producing the Pearl next year and presumably Titus is trying to get a well-behaved shock for the Guapo. This is not confirmed info, so take it for what it's worth.
    AFAIK it is confirmed that the Pearl won't be produced... the Monarch will take its place and Vivid on the coil side

    Monarch


    Vivid

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by All Mountain
    Where are the photos ?~?
    Yeah, I know. On every ride I took this week I wanted to take pictures, and I never remembered to bring the camara. Keep an eye on the Speedgoat blog, Jeremy was taking pics and they'll probably get posted up there.

    Quote Originally Posted by All Mountain
    I does not surprise me that the EG did not feel just right in the back end. I get the distinct feeling that Titus knows they need Zoke Stoke back there , but for some reason they stick to Fox ....well after the Pearl thing. I won't buy one with a Pearl... who would buy the Pearl when you take it off ?~?

    Hopefully Titus can get the rear shock figured out for 08 (or at least a shock that has re-sale value )
    I don't know why they can't just toss a Fox RP23 on there and be done with it. Or a Rocco Air. Or a Rocco TST or a Fox DHX 5.0. I can't imagine that all of these shocks perform worse than the Pearl, or DHX Air that I tried. It seems like they're trying match up some weird suspension rate curve that the Guapo must have. And trying to keep the weight down by using an air shock. Or maybe Titus just has something against coil shocks, because they spec the Supermoto (a 170mm travel "freeride" bike) stock with an air shock, and don't even advertise anywhere that it's available with a longer-travel linkage and a coil shock.

    Quote Originally Posted by All Mountain
    Hey, you're a 29err now ... aaahhh just come out if the closet and get one. I have never rode a 29. Maybe Zoke will make a 66 29err
    I definitely think the twenty-niner riders are onto something. I'm learning I'm more of an aggressive rider than a typical XC rider - I don't care how many miles I ride or how fast I climb, but I do care that the bike doesn't break when I practice a drop 12 times in a row or bash through rock gardens a full speed. I don't know if any current 29er frames (or forks or wheels) are really made for this (at least not for a guy my size). So until a frame (and fork) manufacturer comes out with a product with true "all-mountain" capabilities I'm gonna stick with 26". Unless I decide I need a lighter-weight XC bike in addition to my AM steed.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by PCinSC
    ...
    I don't know why they can't just toss a Fox RP23 on there and be done with it. Or a Rocco Air. Or a Rocco TST or a Fox DHX 5.0. I can't imagine that all of these shocks perform worse than the Pearl, or DHX Air that I tried. It seems like they're trying match up some weird suspension rate curve that the Guapo must have. And trying to keep the weight down by using an air shock. Or maybe Titus just has something against coil shocks, because they spec the Supermoto (a 170mm travel "freeride" bike) stock with an air shock, and don't even advertise anywhere that it's available with a longer-travel linkage and a coil shock.

    ...
    The EG has two leverage curves available. One mount hole for air shock (less progressive) and one mount for coil shock (more progressive). Titus bikes typically require shocks with low compression damping. I would have sold them with a low damped RP23 with either a low volume or high volume sleeve (whatever seemed better). I have no idea what Titus does as far as bench testing equipment for determining leverage rates and shocks, but I would have paid Push Industries to do testing (maybe they did, or didn't who knows).

    The only thing that cheeses me off is I could not resell the Pearl as it's a dead duck and never even lived a life to start with. I would be happy with a shock that has re-sale value such as DHX Air, but I am not a fan of DHX Air (but could sell it far better than a Pearl) so I would get one. But, why should I pay more for a frame with DHX Air when the only other offer is a discontinued shock name ?~?

  7. #7
    the 36 year old grom
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    Quote Originally Posted by PCinSC
    I can't imagine that all of these shocks perform worse than the Pearl, or DHX Air that I tried.
    what was your propedal setting? was it an 07 or 08 DHX? if the propedal is "dimed" then it will feel like crapola. no doubt.

  8. #8
    "Its All Good"
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    PCinSC - Great posting, pleasing to be reading some ride reports on the El G... As all have mentioned, I for the life of me cannot fathom why the RS Pearl is coming with the El G..... I mentioned on a thread months ago, it could well be just to remove some of the domination that Fox have etc, but hey, there is Marz etc, oh and the great CCDB...As we know though, the Pearl will be buried without a coffin, straigh into the dirt..

    Interesting to hear that it is feeling from your view more like a 6 inch XC bike, rather than a 6 inch AM thrash bike................ Be keen to hear others views on that.... If I was to go to a 6 inch good pedalling steed, I would want more of the aggresive AM ride feel, if there is such a thing, not the XC feeling, to be I may as well keep the ML.............

    An am not looking for a new steed, like I need one NOT.... But the El G interests me.... The cable routing leaves me a little bewildered also, why oh why have the lugs along the side of the frame.... Noticed in Eric from Compet Cyclist that he has re routed his not using the Titus guides....

    keeo those great writeups coming...
    The_Lecht_Rocks: whafe - cheeers - may i offer an official apology for the wagon wheeler "dis-belief"

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by demo_slug
    what was your propedal setting? was it an 07 or 08 DHX? if the propedal is "dimed" then it will feel like crapola. no doubt.
    The DHX Air was referred to as a "prototype". Which I took to mean a somehow modified '08 version. I didn't touch the propedal setting, it was where it was when they set-up the shock. What do you mean by "dimed": up all the way (max propedal)? I don't think it was, because I was getting a lot of activity from the shock. I actually prefer to have the shock be as active as possible. I wonder too if at my bodyweight that I tend to overwhelm the compression "circuitry" of a shock. After all, these things are probably valved from the factory for riders weighing 100lbs less than me.

    The Vanilla RC on my RFX doesn't have any platform and I love the way it pedals and climbs (other than the geometry and weight ). Like I said, though, my shock has been tuned for me, so I'm pretty spoiled in that sense. I'd love to get a ride on a Guapo equipped with a properly Pushed DHX to see what I could really do.

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