AADD version --> Czar is a backcountry ripper.
Bike setup XC Mode:
* Frame Size & Color: Large Czar, black
* Rear Shock: Fox CTD w/Kashima
* Fork: Fox Talas TerreLogic (95-120mm)
* Brakes: Shimano XTR Trail
* Shifter: Shimano XTR
* Cranks: Shimano XTR 42.34.24
* Rear Derailleur: XTR Plus
* Pedals: Time ATAC Titan Carbon
* Stem: Easton EC90 SL – 80mm
* Handlebar: Easton Haven Carbon
* Seatpost: Easton EC90
* Saddle: WTB Devo
* Bottom Bracket: Praxis PF30 Conversion
* Cassette: XTR 11-36
* Headset: Cane Creek 110 56ZS, 44ZS Tall
* Grips: Origin 8
* Tires: Racing Ralph 2.1
* Wheels: Easton EC90 XC
Weigt: 25lb 1oz
Bike setup Trail Mode (same as above with below changes):
* Pedals: Point One Racing Platforms
*Seatpost: KS LEV 150mm
* Saddle: Fizik Aliante Verses
* Tires: Rocket Ron 2.25 snakeskin
* Wheels: Easton Haven Carbon
Trail-mode: 27lb 7oz
Leggy 6ft, 168lb, 36yo
Versatility is the name of the game. I wanted a bike that would be light enough to compete in expert-level XC races but would be tough and comfortable enough to do some longer endurance races up to 100mi. A lesser priority would be the ability to do an enduro race or three should the bug bite.
An SC Tallboy filled the order for the last 3yrs, but the minute the Czar was announced I knew I was headed for a swap. I've been riding Turner bikes steady over the past 9 years… currently the owner of an ‘08 RFX, before that an ‘07 Spot, before that a ‘05 Flux. Turner’s famous attention to detail produced an impeccably balanced bike in the case. I have also enjoyed top notch Turner customer service on many occasions.
The main thing I was seeking beyond what the Tallboy delivered was better pedaling. I have always been annoyed by the pedal kickback produced by VPP and the lockout effect it has on the suspension. Another wish was for more linear travel. Tallboy v1 does tend to harshen up at times when you most need suppleness. Running more sag on the Tallboy remedied things a bit, but destroyed pedaling.
Holding the Czar frame in one hand and the TB in the other makes Santa Cruz look like a toy manufacturer. The Czar is just so much better in every regard. The Czar has quite a bit more material in all the right places vs the tallboy. At the weigh-in I had 5lb 1oz for the TB and 5lb 12oz for the Czar … a bit disappointing at first, but I would come to appreciate later on when I realized how stiff this frame was.
I initially test rode the Czar back in August at the factory in Murietta. Though recovering from a cold and with a build that seemed just a bit too funky (stem too long/low, crappy tires, weird 1x11, noisy hubs, etc.), I was able to extract enough positives from the test ride to know that the traits I was after could be had in a more suited package.
Was planning a trip to Santa Cruz when I heard thunderstorms were dumping moisture in South Tahoe so I loaded up the GF, dog and bikes and headed up the hwy 50. We rode Pony XP day 1, Corral-Armsrtrong-Rim Trail day 2. Trails were in stellar condition with super-hero dirt around almost every corner and comfy 70 deg weather.
Initially I was thinking, “man this thing feels a lot like the Tallboy, only without all the annoying pedaling feedback.” I was expecting them to be much more different but I guess its not too big a surprise since on paper the bikes are pretty close and I was using all the same parts. The next thing I noticed was on a couple rocky stairway climbs that used to give me trouble on the TB were significantly ironed out by DW. But it wasn’t until day 2 that the perma-grin took seed… when my GF was done riding and offered to shuttle me up Armstrong Connector & Corral.
With the climbing portion of my day over I decided to turn it up to 11!... mm of sag that is, and bumped up the Talas to 120. No longer making safety stops I was able to get some flow going and eventually let it all hang out. There’s many a video out there of this trail if you haven’t ridden here. It’s a great park type trail with tons of features, berm, jumps etc. Straight built for MTB.
I had no problem launching the Czar up in the air, charging through rock gardens, and hitting medium-size drops, some with sketch landing pads. There were a couple of pilot induced "oh shit" moments, but never anything to scare me away from doing the next feature.
The beefy construction makes a night and day diff compared to the TB. The Czar comes around berms much quicker and recovers from landings much easier. I had no problem keeping it straight while standing and pedaling either. The bike sailed over table tops effortlessly at the bottom of Corral. Just a fantastic all around trailbike!
Now having been proven as a capable trailbike, I’m anxious to slap on the xc wheelset and see what kind of PR’s I can topple. I also plan to experiment with a 90mm stem (using 80 now), but I’m pretty sure a shorter stem is the key to some of the magic. If you can get your hands on the Talas w/ Terrelogic, do it. The 95 & 120mm settings are perfect for getting two flavors of Czar, and the Terrelogic works as advertised, keeping the front end high in its travel until you need it. I’m really surprised these never caught on with the trail folks.
Big thanks to Dave for pumping out a kick-ass bike, taking the time to loan me a sample, and to answer my every question (there were a lot)… I am forever a Turner customer. Also big thanks to Chad at Redbarn Bikes for delivering the goods, hassle-free as always. Thank you eBay for somewhat replenishing my bank account, and finally, thank you Greg @ Turner and crew for always keeping us on the trail no matter what the issue.
Mtbr's 2016 Winter Biking GearReviews and Roundups
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