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Some 2011 demos, Specialized, Intense and Santa Cruz (Giant soon to come)

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

These are going to be short reviews since it was generally short rides. At the end I'll talk about components in general from all of the bikes.

 

Specialized

 

I really wanted to ride the SX Trail, but they didn't have one, so I got to ride the  Enduro and the Camber.

 

Enduro - first of all, to be honest, I'm not sure exactly which model of Enduro I was on, I just looked on the website and did not see it. The one I rode had a RS Lyric fork and SRAM X.0 parts. No brain. It's come a long way since my old '04 Enduro. More into the big hit realm. It climbs better, but it's not exactly nimble definitely meant to go fast. The suspension does a nice job on the ripples, but leaves a bit to be desired on rougher stuff.

 

Camber 29er - I had not yet ridden a 29er that I really like. The Camber kind of lived up to my expectations. Twitchy and cumbersome at the same time. Not for me, I still don't like this color of Kool-Aid.

 

Santa Cruz

 

Blur TRC (AKA Blur Trail) - I was pretty excited to try this bike. It kind f fits with what I am looking for in a new bike. On paper anyway. It's a 5" travel bike with a slack headangle. It was really not fun on tight single track. Climbed OK. On the way down the hill though, WOW, it's like being a god among men. I wanted to like this bike so much that I tried it twice. In the end though, I couldn't like it. I can think of a few reasons why. I think it would have been better with a Fox rear shock, and I think the compression damping was off. I think it was especially noticeable because the bike has a lower leverage ratio than the other SC bikes.

 

Nomad carbon - Again, very excited to ride this bike. 6" travel. Mostly built for going down the hill, but hills that you have to pedal up. Nice bike, but didn't fall in love. It felt a bit slow (as did the TRC). Handled great on the downhills, but was it as good as the TRC? Maybe not. That thing was great. Again, I think this bike was being held back by it's Rock Shox rear shock. As much as I did like this bike, I think the Mojo HD that I tried last year climbed better and was better balanced. That said, I feel that if I owned the Nomad, it could be tuned to my liking.

 

Tallboy - Another 29er? Yes, another 29er. I took it on the same super tight loop as the TRC, and wow, I could ride it so much faster. Not because of the big hoops, but because it handled so much better. It was really nice, it felt a little odd (and I think I'd have changed the stem length), but it was very predictable and would let me change lines whenever I wanted to. It charged on the loose snowmobile trails, and climbed better than any of the other SCs. I was stuck in the 42T ring, but didn't care, I really didn't need the 29 that I was using on the TRC. I could own this bike.

 

Intense

 

Tracer 29 - another 29er. Just a very short ride on this bike. I rode it for just part of the very slippery ride, and will try it again. For now, let's just say that I did not hate it.

 

Components

 

Tubeless vs. Tubes - the Enduro had tubes. I got my first flat since 2004. Tubes suck.

 

SRAM vs. Shimano - every bike from Spec and SC that I rode was a SRAM bike. One of them had accurate rear shifting, the rest did not. They're all demo bikes, and get washed every single day, so for sure it's hard to keep the cables in good shape, but I thought that was the whole idea behind 1:1 that it would let you ride on crap cables (the SCs had Gore Ride-On, btw and even they were knackered).

 

2x10 vs. 3x10 - I like my 3 ring cranks. Even more so now. First of all, in most cases, the 32T is the "money" gear. On the 2x cranks, you generally don't have it. On the Enduro, I had to shift on the front more than I ever have before and I threw the chain twice. This is progress? The 29 was too small and the 42 was too big. It can make sense on some of the bikes and fr some people, but I don't think they should be throwing it at everything.

 

Rock Shox Reverb seatpost - Get one. Everybody should have one. I only got a taste of it, and am not yet "trained" to use it much, but I sure can see how it could change the game. The beauty of it is that it's rock solid, no wiggle at all. If you never touched the button, you'd never know that it's a dropper post. Crank Brothers et al., had better have something on the drawing boards as I can't imagine buying any other ropper post, price be damned.

 

Giant demo this weekend, hoping to try the Anthem 29er and the Reign X.

post #2 of 11
Thread Starter 

I got to ride the AnthemX 29er today. They had no Reign X's though, so I also rode my own Trance X (the control bike). I'd have to say that Giant really got it right with the Anthem X. We rode it on a different loop than the other bike, but I swear I was climbing (on the road) faster than I ever have before. I don't know if it was the bike, me, or the fact that I was chasing Josh LeMond up the hill, but I think I was climbing 3-4 gears higher than normal. Traction was excellent as I expect it to be on the Maestro suspension bike. There was a muddy stream crossing taht I didn't think I'd make. The Giant made it easy. I'm not sure if it was the rear sus., the 29er hoops or the higher BB (no pedal strikes) that made it easier, but it was easy. Handing was good. On the SC Tallboy, I felt that handling was good once you got used to it's quirks. The Anthem just didn't have quirks. On the rough stuff, it didn't compare that well to my Trance. I think that's largely because of the tubed tires, but for sure the extra inch of travel on the Trance didn't hurt. If I were going to buy a 29er, it would be this one. I still think that for me and where I ride, I haven't yet found a bike better than my TranceX (was hoping to try the carbon version today).

post #3 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by epic View Post

I got to ride the AnthemX 29er today. They had no Reign X's though, so I also rode my own Trance X (the control bike). I'd have to say that Giant really got it right with the Anthem X. We rode it on a different loop than the other bike, but I swear I was climbing (on the road) faster than I ever have before. I don't know if it was the bike, me, or the fact that I was chasing Josh LeMond up the hill, but I think I was climbing 3-4 gears higher than normal. Traction was excellent as I expect it to be on the Maestro suspension bike. There was a muddy stream crossing taht I didn't think I'd make. The Giant made it easy. I'm not sure if it was the rear sus., the 29er hoops or the higher BB (no pedal strikes) that made it easier, but it was easy. Handing was good. On the SC Tallboy, I felt that handling was good once you got used to it's quirks. The Anthem just didn't have quirks. On the rough stuff, it didn't compare that well to my Trance. I think that's largely because of the tubed tires, but for sure the extra inch of travel on the Trance didn't hurt. If I were going to buy a 29er, it would be this one. I still think that for me and where I ride, I haven't yet found a bike better than my TranceX (was hoping to try the carbon version today).



remember it was more than 3-4 gears higher because you were on a bigger wheel.

 

So here is my take on the 3 bikes I tested.

 

rider info

 

27 year old

165lb

5'10

 

Cat 1 MTB, and cat 2 cross racer. Decent technical skills I ride a bike 5-6 days a week. normally ride a Single speed Monocog flite 29er

 

Santa Cruz Blur Trail Carbon size M - this bike has potential to be one of the most fun bikes you ever have owned, if you live in the right place. At first it was a bear on the tight XC trails of Darling Hill at Kingdom Trails. The bike pedaled well enough actually really well, but was just to damn slack to make tight turns. after I left some air out of the front shock to get it to feel plusher and the bike become almost fun on tight singletrack. My own 29er was still alot more fun, as was the tallboy both of which have much steeper head angles.  Then I hit a trail called kitchell. Kitchell is a flowly Slope style downhill with berms, tables, and pumpable rollers. This bike really came alive on this trail and begged for more. It geo of being low,slack with 5 inches of travel made this thing ride on rails down this trail. It was a joy to manual over the tables, and really loved being thrown into the turns. Overall I think this bike is not a great bike for most place in vermont, or most places back east but if your deal is pedaling a couple hours to get a long fast flowly or technical decent this could be the most fun bike on the market.  this would be alot of fun on say Porcupine Rim,Moab, Ut or Flying Dog, Park City, Ut.

 

Compenents - Full XX including, an XX revelation, and brakes, and fat tubeless tires. everything on this bike worked flawlessly

 

Santa Cruz Tallboy Alloy size M -  This is a great bike, its eat up trails with speeds, quickness, stability and flat out just steam rolled terrain. It was way better at tight EC riding than the Blur TrC,  the bike climbed over technical stuff that was great but wasnt as plush as a maestro bike. Bike maintained it line really easily and I cleared several tech sections that give me fits on my hardtail SS.  The quirk though are this, in really tight stuff it just did not feel right, the front end was sometime tough to control and felt very 29er in the wrong ways as well as the good ways. My monocog by comparisons is alot more nimble on tight trails

 

components - Full XX again - the shifting was less than great on this bike. It was clunky and frequently missed shifts despite me trying to reindex it. I chaulk it up to being a beat on demo bike.

 

Giant Anthem X 29er size M - you know the song anything you can do I can do better? This bike is the fastest XC bike I have ridden in my short life. I do not know what makes it so fast. but the stiffness from the BB30 BB, the stiff frame, the big wheels or m'aybe my knickname Josh Lemond. Whatever it was even in the parking lot it was apparent that this thing get off the line quick and can hold speed like no other. Climbing on the road it was easy to maintain a high speed and burst when I wanted to. Once on dirt it just had ridiculous traction on the uphill in any type of conditions.  On singletrack once I got the fork air right , this bike ripped despite it dumb overinflated tubed tires. nearly perfect every thing I didnt like about this bike could be easily changed. I will own this bike eventually.

 

Components - Full XX - rear shifting was great, brakes were amazing, front shifting didnt like to go to the big ring. Tires were tubed and it rolled slower, roguherm and cornered slow because of it. It could have used bigger than a 2.1 on the front of it. Giant put tubeless on your demo bikes!! the stock Fizik seat flat out blew and was like sitting on a skinny cinder block.  I also feel the stock stem was bit long, and the handlebar could have used alot more sweep.

 

 

post #4 of 11

Nice Reviews!

I was thinking about trading my fuel8 in for a 29'er but have since decided that I have no good reason to switch bikes just yet.

 

post #5 of 11

Tricia, did you see the news on the jobs report?  Don't you know it is your civic duty to support the economy by buying a new [bike...]?

 

Mike

post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post

Nice Reviews!

I was thinking about trading my fuel8 in for a 29'er but have since decided that I have no good reason to switch bikes just yet.

 



a 29er isnt necessarily better for what you do, there are other suspension designs though that are a night a day difference from your trek.

post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 

I just wanted to add that I finally got the Tracer29 out for a good ride. The bike is a full XT 10-spd build, with a Reba fork and Azonic wheelset. I took it up to Burke for the day and rode the exact same loop I had done the day before on my TranceX, so I could feel how it compares all over the mountain. Overall, I really liked this bike. I thought that it really shined on the downhills. First 29er I can say that about. The bike just disappeared underneath me and felt - well, it felt normal. The longer I rode it, the more confidence I got and the faster I rode until the bike nearly killed me by blowing a tire off the rim (stupid -tubed tires!). The odd thing though, is that I did not feel like the bike climbed that great. It didn't have the get-up and go of the Anthem 29 on the road climb, and it didn't match the traction of my TranceX on the jungle of roots climb that we did. The last bit was kind of odd, as that's where you'd expect the 29 inch wheel to help. So for me the bike was kind of an oddity. I felt that if anything, the bike was great in spite of it's big hoops. I'd love the chance to try this bike again with a lighter tubeless wheelset and see if maybe that is some of what I felt, but as it stands, as good as the bike was going downhill, a 26" wheeled Tracer is better, and for me, the big hoops seemed to only add mass and moment of inertia, not traction, or confidence.

post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 

I finally had a chance to get a good demo ride on a Giant Reign X today. I took it out for about an hour 30 in Waterbury, VT. I'd change the cockpit setup a bit, but overall, I think they have got this bike just right. It has the right amount of ability to go up proportional to it's ability to go down, and the Maestro platform continues to impress. Just the perfect balance (for me at least) of anti-squat, small-bump compliance and ability to take a big hit too. I maybe would have liked a bit more hi-speed compression damping. I'm not sure if the shock had that adjustment or not. This is probably my next bike, although as someone who only wants to buy the frame I need to look into it's hostage headtube and see if that will be a problem for me or not.

post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 

Other bikes demoed so far this year are NomadC (again), Intense Spider29 (like it better than the old Spider, but not as much as the Tracer29) and the Intense Carbine (jury is out).

post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post

Nice Reviews!

I was thinking about trading my fuel8 in for a 29'er but have since decided that I have no good reason to switch bikes just yet.

 

Wow, nice bump Epic!

I was looking back at what I posted and realize how happy I am that I kept my Fuel8.  Its really a great bike for the type of riding I'm doing out here. 

 

I was in Northstar's bike shop a few weeks ago and saw their Giant Anthem 29'r.  That's a nice bike but I'm not sure why they have it for a down hill course.  

post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

Didn't want to bump so much as just keep it in the same place. Giant had the AnthemX29Carbon at the demo. That is a drool-worthy specimen right there let me tell you. What sounds really cool is a future Reign carbon. droooool

 

I so want a carbon bike. The feel of all of the carbon bikes I have been riding is second to none, but I can't get past the suspension performance of the Giants. I think right now in my quest for a bigger bike, the ReignX is in 1st place, and the Ibis Mojo HD is a close second.

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