Wednesday, August 20, 2008

As The Wheel Turns.....

Finally, I have figured out how to cash in on Raja's obsessive, compulsive bike demo disorder, or BDD, as referred to in medical terms. Listen to my pitch I'm presenting to the big heads at Fox Talas TV for a new reality series:

"Fox Talas TV is proud to present our newest reality series, As The Wheel Turns. (credit goes to regularjoe for the title) In an effort to reach out to the athletic viewers, our original series, The Bachelor, has been revamped with some new twists. Our single male in search of true love has been replaced with SherpaMan, Raja, in search of The Perfect Bike.

Sequestered deep in the trails of North Georgia, our Sherpaman will be forced to choose one bike from a cast of many. Each week, he will ride and critique a 5" travel mountain bike, eliminating them as they fail stringent tests until there is only one remaining. Will Raja be able to resist eliminating them all? Will he be able to pick one lucky bike with which to spend the rest of his mountain biking days? Will the bikes be able to stand the pressure of his relentless demo rides? Find out the answer to these questions and more on, As The Wheel Turns."

I do not have a technical bone in my body. Therefore, detailed bike geek writing does not come naturally for me. I know ya'll would rather read some in depth analysis, but I just do not have the time to put it in writing the way you want it. There is a line a mile long outside our door of folks wanting to know Raja's thoughts on such n such bike. So before the masses get too out of control I better put up something.

Raja can do alot of things, but his one shortcoming is a lack of typing ability. Coupled with the fact that we rarely have a spare moment together at home with him by my side telling me what to write, I leave the techno talk to Robb and other sites. Therefore, we'll have to settle for the fluffy, touch on the highlights version of "Raja's BDD Test Results".

When reading any assessment of a bike, one must always consider Who the assessor is. A beginner mountain biker will not necessarily be looking for the same thing in a bike that a Professional Downhiller will. Many of you know Raja, but for those of you that do not or have not ridden with him, let me introduce you to our Sherpaman, BDD extraordinaire. Knowing the Judge may influence whether or not his opinions will have sway in your opinion. Much of it is subjective and based on personal wants.

At 5'9", Raja weighs in at 182 with quads that are solid as a rock. He has more of sprinter's build than a boney climber. A few weeks shy of his 48th birthday, a plush riding bike now takes priority over the responsiveness of a hardtail. He may not be as nimble as a 30 year old, but he has decades of experience riding mountain bikes and dirt bikes. Highly regarded and respected by his peers for his excellent skills, he prefers his trails on the skinny twisty side without too many large boulders or drop offs. Hucking comes easier for him on a dirt bike than a mountain bike. His strength is zipping through tight singletrack and bombing fast downhills. He likes to take on steep climbs and can usually clean vertical crap that no one else can. Raja likes long rides of 3 hours plus and he loves to go fast in the singletrack. What is the perfect bike for his riding style and ability?

Ellsworth Epiphany:
Raja had a brief flirtation with the Epiphany, but ownership lasted only a few weeks. It more than exceeded his standards for a plush ride and it climbed well without the need for propedal. However, the long wheel base made it difficult to maneuver as fast as he'd like through the trees on a tight trails. He rode one for a week in Moab and Fruita where the trails are rough but wide open. It was the perfect bike for those conditions, but here in the woods of North Georgia on fast tight singletrack, it did not give him the same satisfaction. Its heavy weight was a real negative, and could really be felt when trying to accelerate.

Titus MotoLite:

Raja just recently rode the MotoLite on the VanMichael trail at Blankets. Very plush ride over the small to medium stuff. Easy to jump and lands well. Light rear end makes it easy to flick around. Climbing is okay, but to get the best out of it you must put it in propedal. Too harsh with the square edge hits. Didn't not like it, but didn't love it. (I am still very pleased with my MotoLite)

Trek EX 9.5 Carbon:
Has ridden the Trek at Big Creek, Bull Mtn, and Pinhoti. Great climber, plush on the downhills, acceptable weight, excellent braking with the fancy brake pivot. Overall great bike, but he just cannot get it to rail through the turns.

Sultan 29r:
Did a Competitive Cyclist Demo with this one. Rode at Pisgah and Big Creek. It rolls beautifully over any obstacle, and is stable on the downhill. Certainly a comfortable ride, but with the larger wheels, too much flex is felt and they are slow to accelerate. Would have to buy high dollar wheels to combat the flex. Biggest turn off for him though is he's not able to quickly change directions in the tight singletrack.

Santa Cruz Blur:
He has not actually demoed a Blur because there have been no opportunities. But the LT is too heavy for his weight test and the XC only accepts a 100mm front fork which won't cut it. Cockpit is too short for his very picky measurements.

Yeti 575:

Very quick and nimble bike. Climbs like a hardtail and rails nicely. But it is heavy and too harsh of a ride. We both rode the Yeti in Fruita and both made the same observations (which is unusual since our styles are different). I cut my demo ride short so I could get back on my MotoLite because the Yeti was beating me to death. However, I bet it would make a good ride for Georgia trails.

Pivot Mach 5:
The Pivot accelerates nicely without the use of propedal. It jumps well and is stable on fast downhills. However, it is slightly harsh for cruising along fire roads, smooth singletrack, and on the rocky rooty downhills. He wasn't thrilled over its weight either. The Pivot was tested at Bull Mtn and the Van Michael Trail.

Ibis Mojo:
This contestant comes close to being the perfect bike if it were not for 2 issues. It climbs well, rails, and is extremely comfy on the descents. But it seems to have an inherent problem of chain suck, which is not acceptable. And when the rear suspension is deep in the travel, the chain rubs the front derailleur. Pedal strikes also seem to be an issue. The cockpit measures in at 22.5 which is a bit too cramped. Testing grounds were Bull Mtn, Big Creek, and Blankets.

Specialized FSR:
He has not tested this to any extent because it doesn't seem to jive with his measurements. Never felt "right" on it.

Which brings us to the Gary Fisher HiFi:
Simply because he wanted a plusher ride than his RacerX for our recent ride at Rich Mtn, he got his hands on the Cycleworks demo HiFi. This bike surprised him! It seemed to check all his boxes; very plush, easy to zip quickly through tight singletrack, corners well, and not too heavy. It needs Propedal to climb well and the chain slaps the underside of the chainstay, but thats about all of the negatives.

He's already called me to report on the price of the HiFi. Who would of seen this coming? Of course, he has not actually purchased a bike, so don't get excited. This time last week, I thought he was going to order a Pivot.

So, you have to stay tuned. Things change on an hourly basis As The Wheel Turns!

Note: As we speak, he's at his "2nd job", as I call it. You wonder how we get money to pay for all our trips? He makes more at this 2nd job than I do at my day job. Analyzing cars and test driving. Researchers are picking his brain right now. If we could just get the bike industry to get in his head like the car industry does.....


Robb Sutton said...

"Researchers are picking his brain right now. If we could just get the bike industry to get in his head like the car industry does....."

We'll work on this...


regularjoe said...

Test driving? Cool!

I love the title of your show. :-)

Ken said...

Buy Fisher stock now! All of the MTB world is holding their breath for this decision. Congratulations to all of you who timed your short sell of the Ellsworth and Pivot stock when Raja headfaked in that decision and caused a speculative buying spree and then a crash when the truth was known...