Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Superfly: First Hand

Over the past few years the 29er mountain bike has really seen some cool developments, especially from the the Gary Fisher line. Two years they launched their revised G2 geometry that vastly improved the low speed handling characteristics while simultaineously launching an elite level carbon fiber frame that at the time was the lightest carbon frame that Trek/Fisher had ever produced. For 2009 they launched a Singlespeed version of that frame, but it was only available to show attendees. 2010 however will see the launch of a production singlespeed frameset but also a fully suspended complete elite level race bike.

We arrived in Madison a little behind schedule so our time at the dirt demo was limited. I did however get a chance to take out one of the new Superfly 100 units. After having ridden more than a few miles on my Superfly SS I was ready to see how the full suspension version handled the trails. In short, I was not disappointed. In comparison to my HiFi 29 the new Superfly steered much quicker and snapped through the corners with very little effort. I quickly found my full suspension riding style coming back to me as I loaded the bike into the apex of the corner and accelerated out of it. The new design also get's the proprietary ABP rear pivot so your rear wheel will stay firmly planted on the ground under braking in rough terrain. I'd wish I had more time to spend on it as I was just getting the suspension dialed into where I wanted it by the end of my first loop at Jim's Trails, Trek's testing ground across the street from their design office.

The key to the quick handling was the bikes shortened wheelbase. Fisher designers were able to shorten the Superfly 100's wheelbase by a whole centimeter thanks to the addition of Shimano direct mount front deraileur (see bottom photo). By moving the seat tube forward, it keeps the wheel from contact the frame during compression. The advantage was massive as the new bike had no problems snappy left and right through tight succesive corners. Additionally, the new derailuer mount makes adjusting the front derailuer much easier as now you only have to worry about vertical alignment, no more rotational adjustments. Kudos.

The hardtail Superfly is virtually unchanged from 2009 minus paint. What is new is the redesigned rear end of the Superfly SS. Gone is the rear fork dropout that required you to loosen the brake caliper to remove the wheel. In it's place is a unique, swing style, sliding vertical dropout with adjuster dials. All else remains the same, but plan on dropping about $2K for frame and Fox fork with new F.I.T. damper cartridge.

If you don't want to take my word for it, Ken and the Ride the Best demo truck will be back sometime in October, so try it for yourself.

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