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  1. #1
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    DW Sultan Impressions

    After no new snow has shown up in over a week, I decided to head down south and try out my new DW Sultan. I know there has been a bit of anticipation about this bike. I also know not many have the opportunity (or foolishness) to buy one and essentially pray it lives up to the hype. So I thought some of y'all might like to hear another impression.

    A few prefaces. First, I am NOT a professional reviewer. So if you're looking for handling subtleties and delicate nuances, you're out of luck.

    Second, there were a lot of new variables involved with my first ride. New bike. New trail. Suspension not dialed. Crappy fitness. First 29er owned.

    Third, my main point of comparison will be my old bike, a Mk.1 SC Nomad. I don't ride a ton of other bikes, so my scope of comparison is limited. I like my Nomad A LOT. It has been a great bike for me. It climbs good for me, I loved it on technical (for me) sections, and it descended like butter. I know people rag on the pivots, but yearly maintenance is all I ever needed. I seriously considered getting a Mk.2 Nomad but decided on something different. I'm also relying on memory of my old bike, as I did not ride them back-to-back. But I've been riding my Nomad for 3 years and put 3000+ miles on it, so I think I know it well.

    Fourth, I weigh 135lbs and am 5'8". I've only ridden 1 bike in my life that I thought was a little flexy. So if I feel something flexing on a bike, it usually means something is broken.

    Anyway, on to my impressions.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I rode the Barrel Trail in St. George. If you don't know this trail, it's a 6mi singletrack XC loop with about 600ft climbing. There are a few rocks here and there, but nothing technical and no slickrock. It's a middle-ring only affair. No areas to open it up too much either--I think my top speed was 20mph for about 1 millisecond.

    Compared to my Nomad, the Sultan feels like I'm sitting much higher in the suspension. My Nomad would wallow a bit, and the Sultan did not. When I hit rocks hard, both bikes sucked up the hit pretty similarly--nice and smooth with minimal fuss and minimal momentum loss. The Nomad has a bit more cushion-like feel, but the Sultan feels appropriate for an more XCish bike. I did feel I was sitting a little bit more "on-top" of the Sultan (as opposed to "in" my Nomad), and that's probably from the 29" wheels. Because I was much higher in the suspension travel of the Sultan, I thought I might have set the sag too low. But at the end of my first lap, the o-ring was all the way down, which surprised me a bit. I didn't think I hit anything that hard. I'm interested to see how a faster, bumpier trail would be on the Sultan.

    On out-of-saddle efforts, the Sultan puts the power down nicely. There doesn't seem to be as much suspension movement from pedaling as there was with the Nomad. It scrabbles for traction well. I surprised myself making it out of a few short uphill bursts with less-than-expected difficulty. The Sultan had no noticeable kickback over stair-steps. In contrast, the Nomad had a little bit of kickback, but nothing that ever affected me much.

    As far as bob, there was minimal--certainly none that I could feel from the saddle. There was a tiny bit of movement visible, and I had PP off. I felt my Nomad had minimal bob too, but a touch more than the Sultan.

    In the big picture, I think both suspensions feel similar. I felt on bigger hits, they acted more alike than not--absorbing them easily with minimal loss of momentum. (To me, a DWL feels much more similarly to a VPP than to a FSR.) They both don't bob much. I think the main difference is when you put the power down--the Sultan seems more efficient and the suspension reacts less to pedaling.

    I'm happy so far with my Sultan, but I know it's still honeymoon time. I am interested to see how the Sultan reacts to a gnarlier trail and to higher speeds. And to a place like Moab...


    Other tidbits:
    --I enjoyed the 29er on the XCish terrain. I'm pretty happy so far with my choice to delve into 29erhood. I'm more of a sit-n-spinner anyway and don't huck at all. So it suits me fine.
    --No pedal strikes on the Sultan. I hate pedal strikes, so I was happy.
    --X.0 twisties rock! Dunno why I never bought them before.
    --Neither the Sultan nor the Nomad are very maneuverable. They felt about the same to me on switchbacks. If you come from a whippier bike, then the Sultan might feel slow and gangly.
    --The Reba 20mm TA was pretty stiff from the store. I think the seals were tight. A Pike I owned acted the same way. On the trail, the Reba loosened up and felt fine--a lot like my old Pike 20mm TA, in fact.
    --No opinion on the Elixir CRs yet. This trail was not much of a stress test for them. No squeal so far, at least. I almost flew off the trail on the first turn, because I forgot they weren't broken in.
    --C29ssmax felt fine. Remember, I don't flex much. Although I'm having a rough time having the front hold air with a Specialized 2bliss tire and 3+oz of Stans. I switched tires and reseated the bead without any improvement. No obvious leak, /shrug.
    --No opinion on the CK BB yet. It felt smooth enough, but it's ride #1.
    --More pics will come when I get home and unload the camera.

    Hope this helps.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Freshies; 01-16-2009 at 10:07 PM.

  2. #2
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    nice bike!! i really need to finish my build

  3. #3
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    Nice rig...

    and welcome to the world of 29ers. You picked a really nice one to start with. I think with a little more riding, it will feel more manueverable. Once you get dialed in on postion and balance hopefully it will improve. It did for me. Nice write up. I am not a professional reviewer either, but I know when it feels good. I sure think the DW Sultan rocks.
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  4. #4
    I love to ride MTB
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    nice ride

  5. #5
    Pixie Dust Addict
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    Nice review. And that is a very nicely appointed Sultan you have there.

  6. #6
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    Nice setup!

    I wonder if you would get a little more maneuverable feel if you dropped the stem below the spacers, there by shifting your weight a bit.
    Happiness depends more on the inward disposition of mind than on outward circumstances. Benjamin Franklin

  7. #7
    _dw
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    That may be the first comparative review that I have ever read between a 120mm 29er and a 165mm All mountain rig.. You tied it together nicely despite the massive differences between the bikes, well done! Enjoy the new rig. I'd love to hear your thoughts on Nomad vs Firebird (or RFX when it comes).
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by _dw
    That may be the first comparative review that I have ever read between a 120mm 29er and a 165mm All mountain rig.
    You must be new here.

    I don't know when I'll be able to ride it (the snow just keeps piling up...), but I should have my DW Sultan built this week, if the fork ever arrives. After comparing it to my '07 Sultan, I'll be sure to see how it stacks up against my '08 RFX.

    BTW, nice writeup Freshies. Interesting perspective too, as your size would not peg you as an obvious 29" rider.
    A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by miles e
    After comparing it to my '07 Sultan, I'll be sure to see how it stacks up against my '08 RFX.
    Been there...done that! Where you been?


  10. #10
    Lay off the Levers
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    Very nice build, great pix. Like the writeup. Thanks for sharing!

    Oh and congrats!
    Faster is better, even when it's not.

  11. #11
    Brass Nipples!
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    Quote Originally Posted by miles e
    After comparing it to my '07 Sultan, I'll be sure to see how it stacks up against my '08 RFX.
    I popped my Sultan's cherry today on the very same trail as the OP. The whole ride I was thinking how it feels as solid as my 6 Pack. I changed out the XTR cranks to a Mr. Whirly so I could get the 20/30/40 rings I've been wanting, so now my cranks, wheels and fork are different compared to my V1 Sultan.

    It feels like a lot more bike to me. I have only favorable impressions so far, and I haven't even set up the suspension except for sag.
    {Principal Skinner} Hmm. Whoever did this is in very deep trouble.
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  12. #12
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    Freshies: thanx for taking the time for giving us a great write-up and pictures. your impressions are important for me because I am a big guy (6'4") riding v.1 of the sultan for 2 years now and itching to try a longer travel 26" bike like the nomad or RFX. the sultan over XC trails and flowy single track has been a fantastic and exhilarating machine for me and rides as you described. where i feel uncomfortable with the sultan or when riding become more like work and less fun is when the terrain becomes much more technical, chunky and steep. i thought it was me (in that i consider myself an "advanced beginner"), but one ride on a nomad made going down steeper/tougher stuff much easier and I felt safer. i felt i was riding "in the bike", rather than "perched" as you mentioned. this was a new feeling for me as all the other 26ers that i tried felt much twitchier with the sensation of nearly always going over the bars. So i think there must be something to the more radical 67 degree geometry of the nomad and just maybe it could be built (lighter) into a better all day bike than the sultan. please send us your impressions after riding sultan v.2 in tougher terrain. thanx again and enjoy your new bike!
    Last edited by starre; 01-18-2009 at 08:41 AM.

  13. #13
    Daniel the Dog
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    Gold card bike

    Sheesh! Spare no expense Nice ride...

    Jaybo

  14. #14
    Don't be a sheep
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaybo
    Sheesh! Spare no expense Nice ride...

    Jaybo
    Ya, you don't see those very often on MTBR Have you seen the IBIS forum? The OP's bike looks nice, nothing really over the top though
    "Do not touch the trim"

  15. #15
    This place needs an enema
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    Quote Originally Posted by Freshies
    I rode the Barrel Trail in St. George. If you don't know this trail, it's a 6mi singletrack XC loop with about 600ft climbing. There are a few rocks here and there, but nothing technical and no slickrock.
    I passed you driving home on I-15 last night. Saw your bike hanging off the back of your minivan. Funny how that silver rear tri just jumps out--even at 85mph and from ~1/2 mile back...

    I too rode the Barrels yesterday, as well as last weekend, and that trail seemed a lot different *to me* than you described it above.

    Cheers,

    MC

  16. #16
    not so super...
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    Medium or small??

  17. #17
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    To Starre: Your story is interesting, because that is similar to what led me to my Nomad. My 1st suspension bike was standard XC geometry. At that time, I was getting back into MTBing after a long hiatus, and I wanted to improve my handling skills. Now, I know it's not so much about the bike but more about the rider. (I mean, I watched a unicyclist clear most of Porcupine Rim, so if you have the right skills, you can ride anywhere with anything.) But what the Nomad gave me was an extra margin for error so that when I did screw up, I wouldn't immediately go butt-over-teakettle. That gave me more confidence, allowed me to carry more speed and momentum into technical sections, and, I think, helped me become a better rider.

    Having said that, I found that the Sultan is stable going down mildly chunky stuff, which is all that I've ridden so far. (I avoided all the huck-a-doodles that mikesee & his friends did.) I never really felt it to be twitchy or that I was going rubber-side up, even when I was mildly (or moderately) off-balance. So far, the main difference for me is in slow-speed maneuvers. With the Nomad, I could get momentum to clear a hard section, come to a near stop, change direction, and move on. I haven't gotten used to that on the big wheels, but I think it'll come with time. Someone above mentioned lowering my stem, which I may try but am a little leery to do because I feel more comfortable with my weight back. In addition, I may run a little more sag when I go to Moab and see if that helps. I have not played much with the suspension settings yet. (Although I don't know have much that applies to you, since the TNT may not change as much with varying sag as a DWL/VPP seems to.)

    One suggestion that I do have that's cheaper than buying a new bike is to try a dropper seatpost if you haven't done so already. It really is amazing how much more stable you are going downhill when your seat is just a few inches lower. (One of my friends calls it my crutch, but he also endos way more than me. ) I'd recommend one with a remote.


    To mikesee: Geez, you have a good eye! I don't think I remember anything from the drive home. I was too delirious from driving from SLC to St. George and back in 2 days.


    To SSINGA: It's a medium.

  18. #18
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    sweet looking bike. are those twisters just as quick and snappy as the lever clickers???? they look nice

  19. #19
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    freshies: you are correct - when i lower my seat about an inch the sultan v.1 is much more confidence inspiring going down the chunkier stuff and also paradoxically when maneuvering up and over obstacles like low rising boulder steps set in the middle of the trail. i'd kinda like to ride all the time with the seat lowered to reduce that "perched" feeling, but my thighs start to burn and that is basically what got me more interested in nomad/rfx category bike. i don't really want to give up the fast, roll over everything feeling i have with the sultan v.1 for a heavier, clunkier type bike just to get over 10% of what i ride easier. that said, i've seen a number "normal guys" on nomads climb really well tougher stuff and i thought it might be a better answer for an all around bike for the stuff i do.

    all of your other impressions of the sultan are spot on although i am sure v.2 is plusher/less harsh than v.1. for climbing i am always in propedal 2 to reduce bob and going down i flick the propedal switch to "full" although sometimes it's a hassle when i forget.

    again thanx for your really good writings and impressions and advice regarding a seat dropper. i'm looking forward to your followup. for me one thing is for certain, i'll stick to watching MC on the videos - i don't think i'll ever make it to that league.

    enjoy your v.2 sultan!

    starre

    Quote Originally Posted by Freshies
    To Starre: Your story is interesting, because that is similar to what led me to my Nomad. My 1st suspension bike was standard XC geometry. At that time, I was getting back into MTBing after a long hiatus, and I wanted to improve my handling skills. Now, I know it's not so much about the bike but more about the rider. (I mean, I watched a unicyclist clear most of Porcupine Rim, so if you have the right skills, you can ride anywhere with anything.) But what the Nomad gave me was an extra margin for error so that when I did screw up, I wouldn't immediately go butt-over-teakettle. That gave me more confidence, allowed me to carry more speed and momentum into technical sections, and, I think, helped me become a better rider.

    Having said that, I found that the Sultan is stable going down mildly chunky stuff, which is all that I've ridden so far. (I avoided all the huck-a-doodles that mikesee & his friends did.) I never really felt it to be twitchy or that I was going rubber-side up, even when I was mildly (or moderately) off-balance. So far, the main difference for me is in slow-speed maneuvers. With the Nomad, I could get momentum to clear a hard section, come to a near stop, change direction, and move on. I haven't gotten used to that on the big wheels, but I think it'll come with time. Someone above mentioned lowering my stem, which I may try but am a little leery to do because I feel more comfortable with my weight back. In addition, I may run a little more sag when I go to Moab and see if that helps. I have not played much with the suspension settings yet. (Although I don't know have much that applies to you, since the TNT may not change as much with varying sag as a DWL/VPP seems to.)

    One suggestion that I do have that's cheaper than buying a new bike is to try a dropper seatpost if you haven't done so already. It really is amazing how much more stable you are going downhill when your seat is just a few inches lower. (One of my friends calls it my crutch, but he also endos way more than me. ) I'd recommend one with a remote.

  20. #20
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    I'm glad you are liking the bike!! It was a pleasure to build.

    Kind of suprised you didn't take the spacers out form under the stem yet, but new bike, off season, St George riding, higher bars feel kinda nice sometimes.

    Krispy
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