Sea Otter 2010: Heather Irmiger

Last year, Tim and I got a chance to ride with Mr. Gary Fisher himself at the Sea Otter Classic. This year, as we were about to return our Kona’s (Abra-Cadabra & Hei Hei 2-9 impressions coming soon) we spotted Heather Irmiger, a Gary Fisher rider out cheering on her teammates during the Pro XC Men’s race on Sunday afternoon. Some of her thoughts on the 29ers included:
– love it
– people who aren’t on them have to try them
– the results speak for themselves (including Burry Stander winning Pro Men’s XC on a 29er)

By the way, Heather is a little thing at maybe 5’4″. But she rocked her Superfly to a 5th place finish at the Pro XC Women’s Race at the Sea Otter Classic. Congrats and we wish you good luck for your 2010 World Cup season and safe travels.

Does Storing Your Bike Upside Down Lead to Fork or Brake Issues?

More of a question than an article on this.

I wanted to see if you, the readers, have had any negative experiences with hanging your bike upside down from the ceiling of your garage for storage between rides. Here is my experience with this issue: I used to hang my bike upside down and although I never developed any problems with my Rock Shox Reba fork, I did notice a slight leaking issue with White Brothers Magic fork. My Avid Juicy 7’s were fine as well. Once I began storing the bike vertically along the wall, the leaking issue vanished.

Currently, I only hang two bikes upside down: 1. my singlespeed commuter with rim brakes and steel fork and 2. my wife’s cheapie Gary Fisher with rim brakes and a low end fork… which surprisingly has not leaked, but then again it doesn’t work very well either.

I ask this question not because I’m exploring this option again but because a good friend of mine hangs his bike upside down from the ceiling and his year old bike with a nice Fox fork is starting to leak badly. I know many of you will say for him to keep it right side up, but his garage is packed with work (owns his own business) and family related stuff.

Three questions total:
1. Do you have any experiences, particularly negative, hanging your bike upside down from the ceiling?
2. Do you know if certain fork or brake manufacturers are better at being hung upside down?
3. Any elegant, space efficient solutions for storing a bike right side up from the low ceiling in a garage? Those pulley systems seem to take too much room.

Sea Otter 2009: Specialized S-Works Carbon HT 29er Quick Ride Review

Tim “Scissors” was able to get some ride time on the new S-Works Carbon 29er HT from Specialized. Here are his thoughts from the short loop we rode:

So here I am on an all new Specialized S-Works Hard tail 29er made from the fiber of the gods, heading to the trail head with Gary Fisher. Why would Gary Fisher be riding with little ol’ me you say? Well, we just happen to be riding at the same time and at the same place at the land of the Dirt Otter. Gary on his, well you know, and me on the badest Specy Hardtail ever made. Yup, that’s right, the not yet released frame rid’n on the not yet released Roval 29er wheel set.


Specialized S-Works Carbon HT 29 with singletrack ready to be ridden

One of my 2 current rides is a 29er hardtail that was geared and is now single speed. This demo is perfect for me since I rode my On-One Scandal geared for a lot longer than it has been a S.S. My Scandal is made from Scandium tubing and the Specy from carbon so an immediate difference in ride characteristics should be noticeable. The Specy was also outfitted with their Fast Track tires in size 29 x 2.0 set up tubeless and mounted on the new Roval 29er wheelset with straight lacing on one side and 2-cross lacing on the brake side. The front fork was a Rock Shox with custom Specialized carbon crown and steer tube. The crank set was a Specy unit with integrated BB; head tube was a 1.5” to 1 1/8”tapered variety, this all made for a very stiff frame laterally.


Integrated BB for stiffness and Specialized’s carbon cranks

Nic, global sales manager for Specialized, took care to make sure I was sized right on the bike adjusting the seat post height and fork air pressure. With everything dialed in, I hit the trail with Jer. We met up with Gary Fisher and Laura and proceeded to ride about 5/6 miles of almost all single track. First thing I notice of course was how compliant the frame is. It absorbed all the little nuances in the trail but remained laterally stiff at all times. This is definitely not a soft tail but this frame rode very well indeed. The bike was very predictable at speed and on rough trails as long as you were smart about how you rode it; ride it smartly and it rewards you with excellent acceleration, predictable handling and a compliant ride that won’t beat you up.


Roval 29er wheels, straight laced on one side, 2-cross on the other

This bike was set up tubeless with the fast rolling Fast Track tires. We got to take home some Fast Traks which will get a full test in the future. I typically prefer a little wider tire than the 2.0’s but I got to say, these tires got the job done without scaring me and the bike went every where I pointed it but remember you have to ride it smartly.

We came to a short but very steep climb. At this point, I was determined to ride it as a S.S. and just see how well it would perform. With Gary Fisher in front of me, I rose out of the saddle and started to hammer. Passing Laura, I continued up the hill where I finally caught Gary at the top resting. I made a comment to him about the bike weighing about 20 lbs and he says “ let me see”, he dismounts his ride and proceeds to pick the Specy up with both hands and says “it weighs a little over 20 lbs”. I guess this comes from years of picking up bikes by hand to determine the weight. Later that on the same ride, while riding next to each other, he looks over at me on the Specy and says “nice bike” with which I return, “ you wanna ride it” he says “no”. I’m not sure why he didn’t want to ride it but, I agree with him, this was a very nice bike indeed!

Sea Otter 2009: Ride with Gary Fisher and Laura of Momentum Mag

Scissors and I picked up our Specialized steeds, the 29 S-works carbon HT for Scissors and 29 Epic FS for me (first ride reviews will be coming shortly). As we were heading out to the trailhead, who did we spy? Gary Fisher himself and Laura of Momentum Magazine.


Scissors, Gary and Laura

The Pro XC men and women were racing on part of the course that we wanted to ride, so we had to detour around until we found another entrance. The detour took us through Bicycling Magazine’s campground where Gary Fisher was camping. Turns out that on Saturday night, Gary slept out under the stars with two Coleman sleeping bags.

Scissors and I ended up hanging with Gary and Laura for the 45 minute ride. Laura was a champ. She was riding a 26″ (her first problem… it wasn’t 29″) Ellsworth BIG travel bike that had way too much travel for the trail. But, Laura had a great attitude and never backed down from the challenges of climbing or descending on the bike. This was especially impressive considering it was her 2nd mountain bike ride, ever. Laura is an avid biker in general, just new to the mtb scene.

Gary… well, he still has it. He was standing up on all of the climbs attacking and conquering them as if they were flat paved paths. Good fun to tag along with him for the ride.

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.

Saturday May 31: Trek Demo 9am – 3pm

Trek Demo, Fullerton Loop tomorrow, Saturday May 31 from 9am to 3pm.

Even if you’re not interested in buying a bike, demoing bikes is super fun. My friend Tim & I went to the last demo day here in Fullerton and had a blast riding Treks and Gary Fishers. Tim wasn’t looking for a new bike at the time but was so blown away by the ABP of the Trek Fuel EX he ended up purchasing a Trek Fuel EX 9.0 after the demo ride. Great props to our friend Matt Gutowski for all the hard work he does in setting up the demo and dialing in the bikes for the ride.

But, if you decide that you are interested in in a Trek, Gary Fisher or Lemond, check this out… particularly the last line:

Jax Road and Mountain Bicycle Demo Day this Saturday

Join us at the Fullerton Loop from 9am – 3pm

Ride the newest 2008 bikes from Trek and Gary Fisher including the New Trek Remedy, New Trek Fuel EX, Trek 69er’s, Fisher HiFi’s, Fisher 29er’s and also the New Trek Madone road bike. Come and experience what all the buzz is about on these class leading products.

Where: Fullerton Loop
When: Saturday, May 31st from 9am to 3pm
What to Bring: A photo ID, cycling shoes, pedals, helmet and a bottle of water. We’ll have a few pedals in case you forget.

For more information visit www.jaxbicycles.com or Ride the Best.

Print this page and bring into any JAX location to receive $100 off any bicycle prices $999 and above.

Don’t print our page! I don’t know how much good that will do you. I’ve linked the page for you. Here is the link for $100 off.

Can’t say I never helped a B.O.B. out. 😉 Happy riding.

Dirty Dog MTB & a Special Guest

We hooked up with Dirty Dog MTB while out at Sea Otter 2008 again to check out some of the new stuff they had going on. If you don’t know, Dirty Dog makes some of the best looking rotors out there. Not only do they look killer they also perform as well as if not better than stock rotors of the same size. We know this from experience as both RL & I have run different rotor designs from Dirty Dog for almost a year now.

Some new designs that Dirty Dog has included in its rotor lineup:


the High Roller


the Bone Burner

They have also reduced the weight of their Reaper Skull Stem although for the life of me I can’t remember by how much or what its current weight is at.

Guess who else liked Dirty Dog MTB’s products… Gary Fisher. Yeah that Gary Fisher, as if there was any other. GF stopped by the booth as we were perusing the new designs and I couldn’t help but overhear how GF wanted some of those sweet rotors on his rig too. By the way I mumbled a quick “Hi Gary? as if we’ve known each other forever or something. Me & Gary, we’re just cool like that.


Gary Fisher talking with Nick DeBeer of Dirty Dog MTB


Nick has a cool orange custom 29er behind his right elbow. I should have gotten a better picture of it. And Gary Fisher is checking out the Skull Cable Guides.

Click here for Dirty Dog MTB’s website.

Quick Survey… 29ers at your LBS?

I recently went out to four nearby Local Bike Shops (LBS) to check out the 29er scene. I was particularly interested in what manufacturers the LBS carried and if the LBS carried 29ers from those manufacturers.


Specialized FSR 29

My realization? 29ers have definitely come a long way in a short period of time. Every shop I went to had at least one 29er on their sales floor. This probably would not have been the case just a year ago. The popularity of 29ers has caught the attention of many big name manufacturers and because of this many of them have added their own 29er for their lineup.

The first shop I visited is a high end bike shop. They carry smaller bike brands like Salsa & Felt. At this shop 29ers were very commonplace and the sales people were very familiar with 29ers. They consistently recommended them for mountain biking to many of their customers. I came away pretty stoked because the 29ers were holding their own at the shop.

The next shop I visited was significantly larger. It had a ton of bikes from different manufacturers and 29ers were still well represented there. The 29ers they had were by Redline and Specialized. Only a short year ago this shop wasn’t even carrying any 29ers. Why? Because they didn’t carry Redline bikes and Specialized was still dragging its feet in coming out with their 29ers. Now Specialized got on board and added a hard tail plus a full suspension 29er to their lineup. The shop, likewise, did the same to their sales floor. Redline had a strong showing here multiple Mono 9’s, Monocogs & Monocog Flights.

The 3rd shop on my list was a Trek/Gary Fisher dealer. I knew this bike shop would be filled with 29ers but I was surprised when I walked in and only a few 29ers were on their sales floor. I inquired about this and was told that their supply couldn’t keep up with the demand for 29ers and the 29ers were flying off the floor as soon as they were built!


Moe & his KHS Solo-One

The last bike shop I visited is a little shop that I’ve been frequenting off and on for the last few months. For mountain bikes they carry Santa Cruz, KHS, Cannondale and Trek. Although half of those manufacturers carry 29ers the LBS had only one 29er on the floor, a lonesome KHS Solo-One (not kidding… a “solo” “one”). I was a little bummed that this shop didn’t have more 29ers especially from KHS who has wholeheartedly supported the 29er movement with rigid, hardtail and recently full suspension 29ers. When I inquired as to why they stocked only one 29er the owner mentioned that he had not ridden a 29er yet. Ahhh… I get it now. In my opinion you really can’t realize the benefits of the 29er unless you’ve had some seat time. His reasoning for carrying the Solo-One is that if any of his customers were interested in trying a 29er the cost would not be prohibitive to get onto one. Valid point.

So, are 29ers coming around? In my neck of the woods I would have to answer with a resounding “yes?. All of the LBS’s I visited carried at least one 29er and many of them had 29ers from different manufacturers. For some of these LBS’s the 29ers were a strong part of their bottom line. Music to my ears!

What about for you? Have you started to see more 29ers out on the trails and in your LBS?