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.
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.
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.