I have been looking for a 29er to replace my Fuel. Reasons being is more speed and better over roots. I went to a demo day in Conyers, GA and rode the stache 8, Rumblefish Elite, and the Superfly 100 AL Elite. The course was held where the 1996 Olympic Cross Country mountain bike event was held. The course/section I rode was consisted alot of granite hill face and general singletrack in a tight woods. The Granite was not loose and there was a few step downs. Surprisingly you get pretty good traction with the 29-1 and 29-3 tires with tubes in them (i.e. not lower tire pressures as you would on tubless). I should say that I have been riding off and on since 1997 but have been at it steady for about 1.5 years now and plan to continue. In that time I have been only on FS bikes and only owned a HT when I was a teen.
First bike out: Stache 8
This was my first ride to speak of on a HT and a 29er other than parking lot rides. This was a fun bike. Very confidence inspiring. The bike had a "quality feel" that left an impression on me. Not sure if it was the stiffness of the race face crank and what ever BB was on it but it just felt solid. I immidiatly was able to climb past a couple riders on FS bikes. I also made a fairly difficult climb up a rock face that would have given me trouble on my fuel. The 2x10 gearing was great. I was reminded it was an HT on a few spots. I do think the trails I rode were probably a touch harder/rougher than my usual spots I ride. With that being said tubeless and lower PSI would help alot. I just would not run a very low PSI at this place....you would damage a rim on the square faced granite. BTW the HT weight or lack of from a FS bike was noticed on the climbs. I did take this bike out twice because I missed a section of trail that I wanted to ride. I did not enjoy it much as it was my last go and I was really exhausted especially not having the comfort of a FS bike.
Second bike: Rumblefish Elite
This was alot of bike! I could feel the bulk of the bike on the climbs. This bike really likes to decend or flats. This was my first time using a dropper post. I like it but for my local trails not sure if I would fork over the $ to get one. The XT gear is awesome!. The brakes dont feel any stronger than SLX to me. The XT shifters feel alot better with the metal finger levers. This is a very impressive bike. Very solid feeling. DCRV was noticable only after riding the Superfly 100. I have DCRV on my rear shock but leave my bike in the pro pedal mode. I rode this bike on the same trail as the stache but being the second time around I was better prepared for the obsticles. I was told the RF weighs about 1-2 lbs more than a Superfly 100 AL Elite.
Third bike: Superfly 100 AL Elite
To be fair to this bike I had already rode 2 laps and was feeling it. This bike can really climb! This bike felt quicker through the tight woods than the RF. I was able to ride the tech sections with almost the confidence of the RF. I will note that I did some rock step downs that a few guys were having second thoughts on a more trail/all mountain bike than what I was on. The non DCRV shocks were noticable riding the bumps on the granite rock face. It was kind of between the Stache HT and the RF. There was a section of twisty banked corners that was fun on the RF and SF 100. The SF 100 is a pretty agile bike...very close to the stache. There was a swell / 4' deep dip in the trail you can do a small hop out of and the Stache did that the best.
Thoughts: I really wished I played with the CTD settings on all the bikes. The second time out on the stache the CTD was not working. I would have like to see how the CTD performed on the SF 100. At this point I dont have a clear winner for my next bike. I like the stache but I could tell my body needs conditioning for a HT. I also know my local trails are not as rough as the granite rock. I also wonder without conditioning how long could I ride a HT. The RF was a great bike but is probably more bike than I need. I say that because I need all I can get for climbs. The XT great is all that. The SF 100 was a great bike. I have suspisions the CTD on the fork may have not been working. I had a few ah hah moments with the bikes ability to climb and and general trail manners. I would have liked to verify/mess with the suspension settings more. The crank/BB did not have the quality feel of the Stache. I wish the SF 100 had the 12mm rear axel. I may go back up there to ride my EX 8 there for comparison in the coming weeks. I can appreciate what each of those bikes can do but still not sure what I want to buy. Also the frame was kind of a hassel getting a water bottle out of the RF and SF 100.
Last to be said the Trek demo team was working the butts off there and did a great job. I also got a $100 rebate from Trek.
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