Trek Demo: Gary Fisher HiFi 29er Pro Ponderings & Musings

Matt tuning up the HiFi 29er Pro

Here are my humble ponderings and musings on the new HiFi 29er.

As a 29er advocate, I’ve been waiting with great anticipation to try out the innovative technology and geometry that Trek & Gary Fisher have begun to apply to the 29ers. Gary Fisher is an innovator when it comes to 29ers and his introduction of the new Genesis 2.0 (G2) is something I’ve been itching to get some saddle time on. Trek, with its steadfast belief in the 69er platform, piqued my interest as I wanted to understand what it was that made a whole company stand behind a blend of two wheel sizes. This past Saturday, I got my wish and I was able to first swing my leg over the new HiFi 29er Pro. Later on I got my chance at the Trek 69er FS but that’s for another post.

I was pretty lucky this time around because not only did I get to ride the two bikes I was interested in, I got to ride it on a trail I’m infinitely familiar with. This, to me, is much better than riding a new trail because this means I don’t have to worry too much about new trail issues (which way do I go, what’s around the next bend, that hill came out of nowhere) I can just ride and keep my thoughts on the bike.

The HiFi 29er Pro. First off, this is the current top of the level HiFi 29er. I say “current” because I’m hoping Gary Fisher decides to produce a carbon version of this baby like the little wheeled HiFi Pro Carbon. I’ve been pretty excited about trying this bike for two reasons: the claimed better slow speed handling and less flexy rear triangle. These were two problems I noticed in the previous version of Gary Fisher’s full suspension 29ers that I hoped they solved with the new HiFi’s.

White forks, oh so pretty! Fox F29 with custom fork offset specific to Gary Fisher

Yes, the steering is MUCH better than the previous generation especially at slow speeds. At fast speeds, the steering handling is not noticeably better, but once you slow things down like negotiating a tight switchbacks or just carving some singletrack, I could tell the steering is better than original Genesis geometry 29ers I’d ridden.

By reducing the trail on the bike, the steering became quicker, but not so quick as to become twitchy. If you ever been on a 29er doing a singletrack switchback you’ll know what I mean when I say that turning the 29er at slow speeds can be difficult at times. I feel like I have to have perfect form in order to make the turn: drop the inside shoulder, lock out my outside arm and really concentrate on turning the bike. With the new G2, I didn’t feel this at all. I felt that as I turned the bike would follow and it was easy to turn. The best way to explain it is I’m not fighting the bike to turn it anymore.

The second issue I hoped that Gary Fisher addressed with their new HiFi 29ers was if the seatstays were still flexy. A few months prior to the release of the HiFi 29ers, I hopped on a 29er full suspension by GF and I immediately felt the flex in the rear stays. It was very disconcerting and I immediately got off to check if anything was loose. Nothing, it was just the bike. The new HiFi 29ers, I can confidently state, do not have the same problem. The comolded carbon seatstays are stiff (and I’m 215 lbs). I never felt any of that dreaded flex that I felt in Gary Fisher’s previous 29er full suspension bikes.

HiFi 29er Pro? Yes, please!

Some other observations related to design of the bike is that the HiFi 29er is not a plush full suspension bike. I find it to be more of a firm full suspension bike. Thankfully, I rather prefer a firm full suspension bike. Also, coming from a rigid and a hardtail 29er, I’m a stickler for pedal bob. Again, because of the design and the suspension, the HiFi had very little if any pedal bob at all. I never felt the inclination to reach down and turn the lockout feature on the Fox F29 fork. Nor did I ever reach down to mess with the Fox shock. In retrospect, I’m pretty surprised by this, but it’s a clear sign of what type of bike the HiFi 29er was intended to be.

All over the net I’ve been hearing great things about the HiFi 29er and for the most part I’ve been pretty skeptical. But now I’ve changed my mind. This bike rocks. Frame stiffness is leaps and bounds better than Gary Fisher’s previous full suspension 29er and the handling set a new standard in the 29er industry for slower speed turning. Combining G2 and full suspension 29er has made for an excellent bike in the HiFi 29er.

Check out the Gary Fisher HiFi Pro here.

Click here for 29er parts at

Trek Demo Review

Trek Demo Day!

Impressions on the bikes we rode have been written.
For our thoughts on the Gary Fisher HiFi Pro, click here.
For our thoughts on the Trek Fuel Ex 9.5, click here.
For our thoughts on the Trek Top Fuel 69er, click here.

Demos are an extremely fun event to do as a mountain biker. Think of it: you get to ride a new bike – professionally maintained, mind you – on a fun trail and you get to do it over and over again.

This Saturday my friend Tim and I hit up the Fullerton Loop for Trek Demo Day mentioned in this previous post. To say it was a lot of fun is an understatement. It was a TON of fun. Tip for you: get to the demo early. If it says it starts at 9, get there at least 20 minutes early and chat up the mechanic. If he’s good, he’s probably almost done getting the bikes ready and if you’re nice, he’ll probably get you going first.

Matt, working hard to setup the Gary Fisher HiFi 29er Pro; Lance, looking on

Matt, the Trek demo dude, is good, real good. Not only was he ready by about 15 minutes til 9am, but he also was extremely knowledgeable and helpful. Tim and I threw out a variety of question to him including questions on weight, specs, prices… a variety of things and he had the correct – as I later found out – answer every time. Matt was also helpful and friendly encouraging us to ride and enjoy our time on the bike. Matt already knew I was interested in the Large Gary Fisher HiFi 29er, so when I got there, on went my pedals and off Tim and I went.

New friends, Randall (Trek Fuel Ex 9.5) & Deb (Gary Fisher HiFi Pro Carbon)

We picked up a couple of new friends who weren’t familiar with the loop, so our pair became a fun group of four. Tim had been eying the Trek Fuel EX 9.5 and got to swing a leg over that for the first loop. He was really curious about the Active Braking Pivot (ABP) and found it to function exactly like it was supposed to (it’s not a marketing gimmick!). Randall also got a leg over a Trek Fuel EX 9.5 while Deb rode a Gary Fisher HiFi Carbon (26″ version). We all had a blast on the first loop and really enjoyed our steeds.

The second time around I jumped on a Trek 69er FS while Tim took the Gary Fisher HiFi Carbon (26″). We both preferred our first rides for different reasons, but that didn’t stop us from having a blast anyway.

Trek/Gary Fisher bikes ready to go!

In the next few days, I’ll post more thorough impressions on the bikes I rode. Check back for them soon.

Trek Demo at Fullerton Loop

Jeremy rockin’ the Gary Fisher 29er X-Caliber on some nice singletrack at Crystal Cove State Park

Some of the crew will be at the Trek Demo that is happening this Saturday from 9am to 3pm at the most popular loop in Orange County, the Fullerton Loop. Here’s the official word from the Trek Demo Site:

Jax Fullerton
Fullerton, CA
Sat. Jan 12th, 2008 @ 9:00 am—3:00 pm

I (Matt from Trek) will be at the Fullerton Loop Parking lot with the new 2008 Road and Mtn. bikes. Stop on by and take a spin on the best.

Location: Fullerton
2520 E. Chapman Avenue
Fullerton, CA 92381
View Map (ADDRESS here is for the shop. Here’s the address for the Loop Parking lot:
1275 N. Berkeley Avenue
Fullerton, CA 92832)

Directions: Please call the shop for directions to the store, they can be reached at 714.441.1100.

I inquired as to which bikes would be there and Matt Gutowski sent me a short list of what he was bringing: Trek EX 9.5’s, Gary Fisher HiFi Carbon Pros, Trek Top Fuel 69er’s & Gary Fisher Paragons. He also has one Large Gary Fisher HiFi 29er. I’ve got first dibs on the HiFi 29er!

Thanks Matt for the email and for all the info!

Here are some pertinent questions from the FAQ page:

QUESTION: What do I need to do to demo a bike?
ANSWER: Check out our calendar of upcoming events and select one to attend. Allow yourself plenty of time to check out our inventory and give us some time to fit you on the selected model you would like to try. You will need to fill out a quick registration/waiver form and provide us with a valid ID (driver’s license) and Credit Card. (Of course your credit card will not be charged, unless of course you disappear or damage the product.)

QUESTION: What if I am under 18, can I still demo a bike?
ANSWER: Yes! But you will need a parent to fill out your registration/waiver form.

QUESTION: Do I need cycling shoes?
ANSWER: We recommend that you use the shoes that you typically ride in or most comfortable in.

QUESTION: Do I need to bring my own helmet?
ANSWER: We do have a limited number of helmets available for use, but is best to bring your own personal riding gear if possible.

QUESTION: Do I need to bring my own pedals to the demo?
ANSWER: While we stock a number of the most common clipless pedals, we don’t have every brand and so it is always a good idea to bring your own just in case.

QUESTION: How long can I test ride the bike?
ANSWER: We generally request test rides of no more than thirty to forty minutes so everyone gets a chance to ride their desired model. This is flexible to some degree based on trail options and rider turnout.

QUESTION: Can I ride more than one bike ?
ANSWER: Sure, as many as you want! We would love you to try all of our inventory and we will do our best to get you on whatever you want to ride. We appreciate your patience, sometimes we get busy.

If you haven’t checked out the Trek Demo Page, click here. These trucks are all over the place and I’m sure one will be coming to you soon.

Rigid or Hardtail?

“Both. Always both.” – Joey Tribbiani, Friends

If you’ve been keeping tabs on our test sleds, you’ll notice that one bike has gone from fully rigid to a hardtail over the last few months. As I’ve been able to ride this bike over that time period I’ve noticed how I always initially adopt the “grass is always greener on the other side” mentality before reverting to the “this is the best-est”.

When I first got on the rigid, I couldn’t stand it. We’d ride an easy trail and it’d be alright but once we got to a long downhill, my arms, hands and wrists were feeling the pain. All I wished for at that point in time was to get back on my hardtail and be comforted by Ms. Reba… Rock Shox Reba that is. I had the “grass is always greener on the other side” mentality.

Rigid is where it’s at!

But after a few months of riding the rigid I really developed an affinity for it or the “this is the best-est” mentality. I went on some pretty technical singletrack and LOVED how the rigid gave such precise feedback. The fact that the fork never compresses is also reassuring when riding gnarly terrain. Also, there is no flex so you never feel as though you’re pointing the wheel in one direction but the trail pushes the wheel in another. Long downhills are still not much fun as I can’t open it up as much as I’d like to and chatter sucks, but for the most part the rigid felt like it was the way to go for me.

Then the bike transformation occurred and we took off the steel fork and put on a White Brothers 80mm Magic. For the first few rides, all I could talk about is how I missed the rigid fork. How precise it was and how it didn’t compress. Now don’t get me wrong I’m really enjoying the WB Magic but for some reason, I’d gone back to the the “grass is always greener on the other side” and during all the first rides I wished for my rigid again.

So soft, so smooth… suspension is the best-est!

Now, over time, I’m starting to come back around on the suspension fork again. The WB magic is definitely stiffer than my previous Reba so that takes some of the advantages of the rigid away but it is also much more comfortable than a rigid. No, it is not as precise (I don’t think any suspension fork will ever be as precise as a rigid) but it excels in other aspects namely: comfort & allowance for poor line pickin’. For example, if I choose the wrong line on a technical section with the rigid I know I’m eating it. With the WB, the give in the suspension occasionally gives me some allowance and will help me turn something that should be bad into a “maybe I’ll fall, maybe I won’t.”

Have I come full circle back to the hardtail camp? Not quite and I don’t know if I ever will be. But when I get the question: Rigid or hardtail? I’ll know my answer. “Both. Always both.” Indeed Mr. Tribbiani, both indeed.

Redline’s Customer Service

After having something really weird happen to the Redline Mono 9 (caused by user error) a couple of weeks ago we contacted Redline and they immediately sent out a new chainring for me. I picked up the chainring a few days ago and my addled brain thought I had written a post pointing out how great Redline’s service was. But I guess I didn’t. That’s what two boys under the age of 3 will do to you, plus rainy weather in So. Cal.

Redline also, thankfully, sent along the correct chainring bolts too! If you read this site, you’ll know that the bolts is what caused the problem… argh.

Thanks Redline for your great customer service. It’s no wonder people who buy Redline bikes love them so much.

Last Ride of the Year

My last ride of the year was at Santiago Oaks: Chutes + 3 B’s on the Redline Mono 9. Last week we installed a chainring I had on the Mono 9 so I could ride again. Of course the day after we did the install the chainring + bolts arrived from Redline. I’ll be picking it up tonight.

Santiago was a short ride set up at the last minute. Thankfully my buddy Wayland is always up for those types of rides especially since it starts less then a mile from his backyard!

Santiago Oaks is a pretty technical trail with great technical singletrack and some steep fireroad climbs. Adding to the technical difficulty today was a special feature known as the “howling wind”. The howling wind was not only noisy as it pushed along, it was also very strong. You know it’s going to be windy out there when doesn’t give you a picture of the sun or clouds but rather the words “Windy” replaces the picture. It was windy indeed.

Riding in the wind is a particularly tricky proposition especially when there is a lot of exposure. I didn’t really think too much of it until I got to the top of the 3rd B (we jumped on the trail at the bottom of the 3rd B) and started getting pushed around by the gusts. My eyes scanned the trail we were going to ride and I have to admit to you that I gulped a time or two. There is some nasty exposure on this trail and a wrong move could hurt badly. Add to this the STRONG wind blowing the wheels and having to adjust for that… adjust incorrectly and you’re on your way into cactus, rocks or just down the steep hillside. All I could think of was that I needed to stay on my lines.

Thankfully, we made it through the ride safely. No falls although I did chicken out of one tough move. Wayland, being the beneficiary of my life insurance policy (or so it would seem), pushed me to go back up and try the tough move. I cleared it but only after stopping for a break in the middle to umm… recheck my line of course! We also found some new single track that gets us around riding some boring fireroads.

By the way, I broke over 1,000 miles for year 2007 on this ride!

How do you know you’re a masher?

Before I answer this question, a little background on my weekend’s ride:

Redline Mono 9 enjoying the sun and dirt. Look at the paint sparkle.

This ride started out harmlessly enough. It was a nice climb up Marshall Canyon for some fun singletrack at the top of the canyon. Along the way we went through multiple tiny streams, climbed up fireroads and some singletrack. We rolled in and out of tree coverage all the way up the trail and got to the top. (Mental note, this is an excellent trail to ride during the hot days of summer… and spring and fall.) There were some steep climbs but they were all very short, which is a plus for someone who hasn’t ridden in a month! When we got to the top of the mountain we had a couple of choices to make. Of course the easy choice was taking the singletrack, hehe, back down to the main trail.

As we started down the fun singletrack I couldn’t help but think how sweet it is to ride a new trail. There are so many fun little surprises and our guide, Tim, was excellent in giving us a heads up as to what was coming up. As I got more into the singletrack I started to feel as though I was finally getting into the flow of mountain biking again. Oh, what a feeling! Then, it happened.

WB fork is doing well, a little bit of top out, but I’ll get that adjusted

We crossed a mini-stream and began climbing up the other embankment when a sharp bang resonated through the forest (hyperbole). As my ears registered the sound my mind had already come to the realization that a MAJOR mechanical issue had occurred. I looked down to see… well, I don’t know what I saw. I was confused as I’ve never seen anything like this before. I jumped off the bike and ran up the embankment to a flat part of the trail. I called out loudly to Tim, now about 30 yards ahead, and moved over to the side as my buddy David rode up behind me.

What I saw appalled me and brought me to my knees, more hyperbole. If your sensitive to gruesome, broken bike components, I’d skip this next picture:

The front chainring blew up!

It has been officially confirmed. I’m a masher. A spinner would have gently chosen a lower gear to climb up the embankment but I’m no spinner. I held my high gear and ripped apart my front chain ring while tackling that short embankment. Since I was running a 1×9 I was also out of luck. I had no more front chainrings for my chain to run on. Off came the chain and now my pedals spun freely. I spent the rest of the riding coasting, kicking, pumping and running my way down the hill. Thankfully it was mostly downhill so I still got to enjoy the trail.

My buddy Tim, who normally rides an Inbred 29er, noticed how on his Yeti 575 (a 26″ bike) he had to pedal a lot earlier than I did when we were coasting along. He mentioned something about 29er momentum and I knew Tim was a true 29er convert.

Marshall Canyon might have won this time around but I promise you that I will be back for more.

Please note that a bashguard and new bolts were added to the Redline’s stock setup, I never had issues before with the stock ring.

UPDATE: Click here to read the probable cause of the failure.

Riding a New Trail

I’m heading out to a new trail this Saturday for some early morning riding and I am stoked. For me, riding a new trail is always a fun experience but sometimes the anticipation of riding something new is just as fun.

Riding a familiar trail has its perks. It’s always nice to know where you’re going. It’s also nice to know when the next big climb is or the technical part of the ride. Lastly knowing that you probably won’t get lost is a huge comfort too. But sometimes being too familiar with a trail can make you a bit uninterested in riding it.

With a new trail, there is always the dilemma of which bike to take on the new trail? Hardtail? Rigid? Full Suspension? Which would do better out there? Are there a lot of climbs? Is it a fast trail? Any jumps? Technical steep sections? There are so many factors to take into consideration when deciding on which bike to ride on the new trail that it can be almost paralyzing. It would almost be better to have just one bike. (Hmm… nope. It didn’t work. I thought I’d write that line and see if I could believe my own writing but I can’t.) Having just one bike is a bit like heresy. The more choices, the merrier.

Just thinking about the different terrain that you may encounter on a new ride gets my adrenaline flowing. My palms start sweating and my feet get anxious to turn the pedals. I picture myself riding strong up the hills and flowing on the downhills, flying through the singletrack and just having a great time. Of course when I get out there it’s a totally different story: I’m struggling to get up the hills and going down hill is like pulling teeth because I’m going so slowly.

But it’s worth it when I get back to the car and I think about the trail I just rode. New trails can’t help but put a smile on your face. Now, whens the next one?

Niner Bikes: Jet 9

Jet 9 in Kermit Green

Niner bikes, a bike company solely dedicated to producing 29ers, is coming out with the Jet 9. The Jet 9 is a 3 inch, FS race bike. Here’s what Niner bikes has to say about the production of the Jet 9:

Well, we can finally say the time has come. The Jet 9 will be ready in Feb 2008. Thank you very much for your patience, this frame will be well worth the wait. While we could have just put shorter rockers on the R.I.P. 9 and called it a day, that is not what we are about.

The Jet 9 has different rockers, tubing, shock, pivots, dropouts, and different butting profiles based on the design: a light, fully active XC bike with 3.1″ of travel. We spent a whole year designing and testing a frame that only has 1.4″ less travel. Trust me it makes a difference in the final product as you are cruising your favorite trail with a big fat smile on your face. That smile is why we do what we do.

We did spend a lot of time with the geometry of the frame. The final design will work with all current forks both 80 & 100mm lengths. We recommend the 80mm travel forks for tight fast groomed singletrack or racing on groomed courses. 100mm will work best for general XC use and rocky trails. Or you can use our exclusive Rock Shox Reba U turn and fine tune the ride to your liking. Your dealer can purchase this fork with any Niner frame.

OK, how do you get one of these babies? Well visit your local Niner Dealer and plunk down a $200 deposit between now and Dec 15th and we will send you a free Patagonia Half-Mass messenger bag for Christmas. This should make the wait a little more tolerable. Then in Feb, if Murphy does not pop up his ugly head, you will have a shiny Jet 9 in your hands.

Jet 9, Anodizded Licorice $1,749

For those of you 29er fanatics without an LBS that sells Niner bikes, check out (a 29er only store).

26″ vs 29er; Observations from a 29er Fan

So that everyone knows where I’m coming from, I’d like to clarify that my name is Jeremy and I am a 29er fanatic.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I went to North Carolina a couple of weeks ago and I got to do some mountain biking. To show you that us riders here at are just a bunch of regular Joe’s, I did not get hooked up with the latest and greatest from Gary Fisher’s 29er lineup for my rides out in the NC. Rather, I borrowed my sister-in-law’s bike which is a Mongoose Rockadile. This bike is not a 29er, rather it’s a hardtail 26″ bike, a few years old but in good ride-able condition.

Most 29er riders will tell you that the biggest difference they see when riding a 29er is not seen when riding a 29er it is seen when going back to a 26 inch bike after having ridden a 29er for an extensive period of time. I got to experience this first hand when I rode in North Carolina. While there, I spent all of my riding time on the 26 inch hardtail after having strictly ridden 29ers for a long time.

And I’ve got a few observations I’d like to share from those miles on the 26 inch bike:

– There is absolutely no question that the 29er rolls over roots and rocks better than its 26″ brethren. Actually, the 29er rolls over basically anything better than the 26″ bike. While in North Carolina, I rode the most root filled trail I’ve ever done and all I could think about is how much I missed my 29er for this ride. Each root required just a little more effort than I normally would have to give in my 29er. It also required a little more balance as I’d normally just roll over them, now I had to ride over them.

– The traction on turns with the 29er grips differently and in my opinion, better, than the 26″ bike. We’re not comparing apples to apples (since the tires aren’t the same width, I’m more comfortable on my 29er…) and I recognize this. But I observed that I can normally take turns on the 29er at a faster speed than the 26″ bike. It may have had to do with my familiarity with my 29er and my lack of familiarity with the Rockadile, but with the 26″ bike, I was constantly scrubbing off speed as I dove into turns. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure my 29er would have held my line at speed through those turns.

– The 29er keeps momentum better than the 26″ bike. This became very apparent to me when I was on a relatively flat connector trail between two loops. While on the connector trail, I pedaled to get up to a certain speed then kind of just let the bike cruise along. Each time I did this though, I felt like I was having to pedal again sooner than I normally would have on my 29er. Basically, I felt that my momentum was gone sooner on the 26″ bike than the 29er. It was a weird sensation, something I didn’t expect, but was pretty noticeable. On my 29er I know I could have kept my speed a little bit longer than the 26″ bike did. This might not seem like that big of a deal but for longer rides and being more efficient while riding, it is. Less pedaling (using the momentum of the 29er) means less effort exerted which means less on rides.

– I did notice a plus for the 26″ bike. It’s something that I noticed right away. The 26 inch bike accelerated much faster than the 29er. To me, there is no doubt that the 26 inch bike accelerates faster than the my 29ers. “No doubt” because it was IMMEDIATELY noticeable. Spin out of the parking lot to the trailhead and I could feel myself accelerating faster right away. If I was already moving at a good clip, I didn’t notice this as much. But from a stand still or when riding slowly, I definitely notice the jump when pedaling.

After reflecting on riding the 26 inch bike in North Carolina, I am even more firmly convinced of the benefits of rolling the big wheels. For me, the disadvantages of the 26 inch bike were readily apparent because of the time spent on my 29ers. The time on the 29ers made me expect certain attributes when riding (as mentioned above) that the 26 inch bike just did not deliver on.

Because of this, I’m sticking with my 29er.