Ride Report: The Ride that Didn’t Happen

I showed up early Saturday morning for a not-to-be-named boutique bike manufacturer’s demo day. Since my JET9 was stolen three weeks ago, oh how I miss you, I have been perusing the classifieds for a replacement. I have tentatively narrowed down my choices to the following three: Niner RIP9, Santa Cruz Tallboy and Specialized Stumpjumper Expert FSR 29 all of them WAY beyond what I can currently afford. They are all burlier than my JET9 but I think, for my sole FS bike, I’d like more travel bike than the JET’s 80mm.

Back to Saturday morning: having been around a few bike demos including 4 Sea Otters where I demo at least a few bikes each weekend, I have a basic plan of attack to get some saddle time one one of the aforementioned bikes: arrive early, talk to the demo guy and start my ride at 8:00, the scheduled start time of the demo. If the bike I am looking for is being demo’d or they don’t have my size, no worries: I brought my AIR9 (locked to the car of course) so I could still grab a two hour ride with svelte Dan. This, by the way, is my suggestion for any rider looking to demo bikes at a demo day.

7:45. I arrive at the bike shop after a 35 minute drive. Dan had just arrived as well. We look around. No one else was there. No demo van, no other riders, nothing. I am nervous and pleased at the same time. Nervous as the demo van wasn’t there but pleased that we were the first ones and had first dibs on the bikes.

8:00. We stand around outside the shop. When a shop employee arrives, we are let in and the employee tells us that the demo guy is late. That was my first warning. The employee then tells me that there is a sign-up sheet for the riders but he says (which you had to call to be placed on) although he is not sure if the demo guy will use the list or just go by first come first serve. I look over the list. I’m number 3 for the bike I want to ride. Ugh. My second warning.

8:15, the demo guy shows up. He is late and a small crowd has gathered to wait for the demo bikes to unload. As he begins to unload, he glances over at the crowd, pulls out his phone and takes a picture of us and proceeds to tell us that we’re on facebook. I roll my eyes. I should have left by now as there was no way I was going to squeeze in a decent ride in under 1.5 hours but I wait hoping that I’d get the bike I wanted to ride and be off on the trails soon.

8:40, the demo guy asks how he is going to distribute the bikes. The shop employee mentions a list… I sigh. I remind myself that maybe I’m the only one who signed up and showed up for the bike… please, please, please. 10 minutes later: nope, the other two guys before me on the list are both present. Out of luck and by now it’s too late to ride. Might as well stick around, watch Dan get set up on a bike and see him off on the trail.

9:30, Dan finally gets his demo bike and starts off towards the trail while I get back in my car for the 35 minute drive back home. Wasted morning.

Demo guys: please have your bikes set up at the time the demo is scheduled to start. Some of us have other things to do on a Saturday morning. Your tardiness caused me to miss my only chance to ride all weekend.

Trek Demo Day, Part I

This past weekend, my friend Full Squish Randall & I went out and rode some bikes at the Trek Demo in Fullerton. First off, I got to give props to Matt Gfell of Jax Fullerton. Matt got us started on a couple of matching Gary Fisher Superflys. Full Squish Randall & I were like twin clydes on our Superfly demos!

Matt Gfell, General Manager extraordinaire at Jax Fullerton

This was Full Squish Randall’s first ride on a 29er and the Superfly did not disappoint. I heard many random 29” wheel comments from him including how he had better traction on the climbs than he did on his 26” bikes and of course the whole “momentum” thing. He also made a point to mention how the 29” wheels really do roll over trail stuff better than the 26” bike would.

I sat on “RL”

So we know the 29” wheels rock but how was the Superfly? Well, what I can tell you is that on our ride I really dug the Superfly.

The Superfly is the top of the line 29er hardtail produced by Gary Fisher. It is geared toward racing or just riding REALLY fast. The monocoque carbon frame comes equipped with a very good, but not all top of the line level build kit. Thankfully, the component specs does not take away from the bike. Rather the X0 shifters mated to the X9 front and X0 rear derailleurs made me reconsider just how much of a step down an all X9 drivetrain really is compared to the Superfly’s setup. But these are just little things. What about the frame, geometry and fork?

Superfly, I’m not crazy about the new graphics… I prefer the originals understated-ness

Well, the bike absolutely flies and I’m becoming more convinced of the G2 steering. The last time I was at the Trek Demo was about a year and a half ago when G2 had just come out. I was not fully convinced of the benefits of the G2 steering. I’m not sure as to why, but this year I am more of a convert.

Where the Superfly shines is fast swoopy singletrack. Oh me oh my! I was grinning like a mad man after railing through the beginning singletrack of the Fullerton Loop. This area is by no means technical but it is fast and it can be very fun if you’re on the right steed and the Superfly was the right steed. What makes it so much fun was really one thing: steering. The G2 geometry allowed me to rip through the singletrack section and steer with my hips rather than with my arms which then translated to riding much faster. I felt like I take more speed into the flowy turns, lower the bike and really rail the singletrack. It felt really nice.

Full Squish Randall getting some air… I took the picture too early, but I’m pretty sure Full Squish’s rear wheel comes off the ground shortly thereafter

The pedal power transfer is almost instantaneous as expected with the rebranded DT Swiss hubs. Climbing was much more fun, first because the bike is lighter than just about any other bike I’ve ridden save my SS and secondly because the bike transfers power so well. There is no loss of power in the frame or the hubs. Turn the cranks and the Superfly feels almost like it is squirting out from underneath you! This is definitely a plus for those climbing aficionados.

The last thing I really noticed on the Superfly is that I never felt as though I had to really push back off the saddle when going downhill. The Fullerton Loop has no particularly technical descents. There are some slightly more technical “extra credit” sections such as a couple of short offshoot sections that are steeper than the trail’s normal section. I hit as many of these extra credit sections and came away impressed that I really didn’t have to push back off the saddle as much as I normally would. I’m not sure why this I but I’m pretty sure it has to do with the geometry. It did make me feel more confident to take even more technical terrain with the Superfly knowing that the bike can probably do more than my skills allow.

All in all, a great fast, light bike. At an MSRP of over $4,000 it is too steep price wise for my wallet and I can do without the graphics but this little hardtail has got me thinking of Fisher’s G2 29er hardtails again… making me want to consider getting one down the line.

Check back in soon for my thoughts on the Roscoe III, the 2nd bike I got to ride at the Trek Demo.