Another Bike Testing Day

Mark and I spent a couple of hours today testing a bikes.  You’ll know that I’ve tried the Trek Fuel EX, and loved it…I can’t actually think of a reason not to buy it, but being sensible, I thought I should try a few others (not that I did when I bought my current Pace RC405, and I loved that from day 1 – still do, but want something a bit lighter for the next TR).

Today, we tried the Giant Anthem X3 and a Yeti ASR-5, thanks to Mountain Trax near Wokingham (they charge £10 and you can try as many as bikes as you like in a 30 day period…at least I think that’s how it works!).

It always surprises me how different bikes can feel (maybe it’s more that it surprises me that I can tell any difference) – I mean, in simple terms, they’re all full suspension bikes with similar amounts of travel, but the Giant and Yeti were poles apart.  The Giant was a nimble, lively, twitchy race machine* – its acceleration was stunning, and it just flew up the hills.  But it was very steep, and while that twitchiness meant it flew through the tight twisty singletrack of Bracknell Forest, on longer flowing corners, you were constantly adjusting.  There was constant feedback from the back..chattering over pebbly trail rather than smoothing it out.  It also had a low BB, getting lots of irritating pedal strikes.

The Yeti was much more like the Trek Fuel – still very quick and light, but more mellow.  It would be a much more relaxing bike to ride all day, or indeed, 7 long days in a rowall day for 7 days in a row!   Not sure there was anything that made it better (or worse) than the Trek….but for personal reasons I’m not sure I can bring myself to by a Yeti!

I also had the Specialized Epic on my shortlist, but I think I’ve taken it off…partly because I can’t find anyone to let me try one, and partly because I think the “brain” rear shock is a gimmick – I know some people swear it’s the best thing since sliced bread, but I’m just not convinced.

So, by the end of today, I’d got my shortlist down to one – the Trek Fuel Ex – which I guess means I’d chosen one ..until we got back to the shop, and Mark “helpfully” pointed out the Scott Spark.  It’s certainly a nice looking bike (apart from the hideous white tyres on the top of the range one…I mean, why???), and as light as a light thing full of helium…..I’ll do some digging and find some reviews, but I my gut feel (based on nothing) is that the dual remote lockout is a cover for a not very good suspension design!

* apologies for my lack of technical bike speak…I’ve not mastered the art of the authentic frontier gibberish they put in bike reviews!

Training for the week:
Cycling – 5 hrs
Running – none (oops)
Swimming 1.2k (at the 50m pool in Swansea…so much nicer than the local 25m pool here)

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2 Responses to Another Bike Testing Day

  1. Hey Richard – you are obviously a bit of a gear expert. What would you recommend as a starter off-road bike for a lady of a certain age – and fitness level 🙂 ?
    My local store says get a 2011 Trek – the cheapest hardtail that lets you lock out the front suspension is just under $500 – what do you think?

    • Richard says:

      You can’t go wrong if you get a Trek or Specialized really. I don’t know the Trek range, but the Specialized Hardrock would be their entry level off road bike. Rather than get a 2011 one, at this time of year, most outlets will be selling off their 2010 stock to make way for 2011 stuff. So, you should be able to get the next model up (at least) in the 2010 range for the same price as the bottom of the range 2011 bike….the frame will be the same, but it will generally have better brakes and gears. (For the Hardrock, you might get the Hardrock Disc Sport for the price of the 2011 Hardrock).
      Try to get one with hydraulic disk (or disc!) brakes – the work better in the wet. And I’m not sure about the need for a lockable front suspension…I have it on my bikes but almost never use it…may be good if you have lots of road uphills – as long as you remember to unlock it!!

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