So, Trek demo was in Williamsburg today, in May when they came to Birmingham, I didn't get a chance to demo the Hi-Fi 29er and compare it to the Sultan. Today, I aimed to fix that oversight.
Cool shop rat at the Williamsburg BikeBeat owns a Turner 5-spot (despite working at the Trek superstore) and was stoked to see my Sultan a couple of weeks back, he'd never seen one before. Mentioned the demo to me so I thought I'd hit it up.
Here's my thoughts on the XL Hi Fi Pro 29.
- the G2 geometry is not bad at all, pretty well thought out package
- no hint of heavy steering
- pretty nice parts spec out of the box - you can buy this and honestly not have to upgrade, the XT stuff just worked well. Needs 185 front rotor for someone my weight though...
- my first time on Bontrager ACX tires - they worked well
- the Rhythm Elite tubeless ready wheelset was pretty nice, good engagement too
- the rear end of this thing has too much flex for my taste. I rode the 5.5 mile loop at New Quarter Park which you can see at the link is either up or down, but not flat. Lots of short ups off of a switchback which required some bursts of speed our out of the saddle grunts - this think creaked and clacked something fierce, it was unsettling
- my first ride with the Fox F29 - meh, was not blown away. It was stiff like my RST M-29, I just didn't get the smooth action like I did on my 07 32 TALAS. No doubt, this thing was hashed from life as a demo model, I'm sure a trip to Darren's shop would help. Trek dude set it up way too stiff, I had to adjust on the trail.
- the handlebars that come on this model are way too narrow to be used with the G2 geometry. G2 keeps the steering feel light, the narrow bars made is seem very nervous. Again, very unsettling, between the lightning fast steering response and the flexy rear...when I was in college (many moons ago), I worked at an exclusive country club as a valet, parking cars. The Hi-Fi was like a Cadillac, light, almost effortless steering, not imprecise, just not a lot of feedback. My Sultan steers like a Mercedes, connected and solid - hard to describe, but if you drive a bunch of luxury cars back to back, you'll know what I mean. At times, I felt like a Jerry's kid b/c I was see-sawing back and forth too much, too much input w/ the short bars.
- the color scheme on this thing is not all there - the blue is all right but the black faded graphics mixed with a gray wheelset and hubs/ seatpost/stem with red graphics - Ray Charles could have done better
- I came away with a 'so-what' feeling. So what....not a good post-demo ride feeling if your a GF or Trek dealer
- it just doesn't have the extra something that the Turner has. Quality seemed ok, but nothing as inspiring as the craftsmanship on the Sultan. The creaking did nothing but reinforce this notion.
- The name Turner stops a demo rep mid-speech - really, no-kidding. When I came back to the demo truck to turn in the bike, get my pedals back and my license, the nice head lady started chatting me up about the 29ers and how I liked the Hi-Fi. I basically said all of the above minus what I currently ride. She then asks if I'm interested in one of the beautiful Trek OCLV 5x5s they have, I say no thanks, I've got a Turner. She stops mid sentence and thanks me for stopping by. It was like I used the force on her....or DT used the force...
Anyway, later, I'm munching on an apple talking at the back of the trailer with the cool shop guy, eyeing the press-in 90mm internal BB on the sexy new roadie Madone 5.2 and mention the flex to him, he said he had the same experience when he test rode one, seriously considering a purchase.
There, two of us said the same thing and it's on the internet so it must be true
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