It wasn’t like Sea Otter but Sunday I had a chance to ride some Trek demo bikes. The demo was at Lake Crabtree Park near where I work. Lately some friends at work had talked me into riding some of the trails at the park. It is a quick ride to and from the trail from where I work. My bikes are not modern. My main road bike is a 85 Cannondale touring model. My commuter is a rigid early 90s Trek mountain bike. My mountain bike is a special edition 86 Cannondale. It even has index shifting – for all 5 gears in the rear. The front is friction. But is rides pretty well. Normally it is setup for my wife to ride with flat pedals and the funky bench seat seen in the photo.
At the demo I road the Cannondale around a couple of the loops (15 to 20 minutes of riding) to get a level set. Then I road various Trek mountain bikes. Of course bikes have come a long way in 27 years. With just a few rides Sunday I could certainly feel the difference.
First up was a hard tail SuperFly – in carbon. It seemed to weigh less than my shoes.
This was the first 29er I had ever riden and I felt high up but you quickly get used to it. It was fast and the front suspension certainly absorbed a lot of bumps. If the back tire slipped a little you could just power thru and it leaped forward. Really nice but then $5000 bikes are supposed to be really nice.
Next I tried a full suspension Superfly and again it was carbon. I think it was the Superfly 100 Elite SL.
Whichever model, it has also fast and the full suspension meant you didn’t have to pick a line that avoided roots and rocks. Just ride right over them. This isn’t too technical of a trail but there were a few spots where I could get a feel for what the suspension could do. What it did was make it easy to tide the normal stuff and I felt it would have been possible to ride some alternate sections I have never done – but I decided to leave that for another day.
Next up was a 26″ wheeled bike, the Fuel EX. I am not a big guy (5’8″ with more torso than leg) and I was riding the medium, 17.5″, 29ers. But I wanted to make sure I wasn’t more comfortable on a 26″ bike. Or as I often see a Craig’s List a 26′ bike. Now that’s a big bike. Who rides a 26 foot bike? Even Manute Bol wouldn’t fit on it. But back to the Fuel. Like the full suspension Superfly it absorbed all the bumps. And a few times winding between the trees it was a little more agile. But it wasn’t quite as fast rolling through the relatively smooth parts as the 29ers.
By this point I was realizing how much more fun it could be on the trails, but I realized I was unlikely to spend over $5000 so I asked to ride the most affordable bike they had – the Stache 8 at about $2400.
This was an aluminum frame 29er with not as high end of components, but it was still a pretty nice bike. Like all the demo mountain bikes I rode it had hydraulic disc brakes. On every bike those were very nice. Just like they say, it was easy to apply just a little brake when that was all you needed. And of course they could really stop you if you needed that. While the Stache didn’t ride quite as well as the other bikes, it still was much better than my old Cannondale.
The last bike I rode was a Domane, but I will talk about that another day.
After riding the various mountain bikes I came away realizing I liked the 29ers and I would rather have full suspension. These particular trails don’t really need the full suspension but there are some others nearby that I would probably find more ridable with full suspension.
So today when I poked around on the Trek web site I found the Rumblefish which is a full suspension 29er related to both the Stache and the Fuel EX. So even though I didn’t ride one, in Trek mountain bikes that would be the one for me. Of course figuring that out and actually deciding to spend over $2000 are not the same thing.
But now when I keep an eye on Craig’s list I know what to watch for: a medium size (around 17″), 29er and full suspension. Maybe I can find something for $1000 to $1500 that was $2000-$3000 new.