Thoughts on some test rides...
I wasn't feeling all that well on Sunday, and the weather promised to be lousy. Actually a snow ride sounded fun, but I really wasn't sure if we'd have a little snow or a lot, or if it would just rain. I was needing a Goldilocks moment, you know...weather that is "just right". Between feeling puny and being unable to decipher the weather signs we went to Portland. To ride bikes. Inside a big warehouse.
River City Cycles in Portland has a track in their building. There are some small bumps and "roots" to ride over while testing out the different bikes. My real reason for this trip was to try and get a ride on some small frame Stumpys and Cambers. And River City carries a lot of stock. They had a little of everything I wanted to try.
Camber 29er FS
Ron also rode a Cannondale Flash 2 29er HT with lefty fork. He loved this bike. It had the nimbleness that he found lacking in other 29ers. Alas they had no small, and I'll learn later they don't make it in a small. Very light, and very nice handling. As of now Ron is leaning 29er HT.
The Safire and Stumpy 26er FSR are basically the same bike in girl/boy set ups. Of course I have a thing for Stumpys, but both rode similar, with the Safire putting the handlebars a little closer, and better standover. But I really like that Stumpy! Of the full suspension offerings, Ron also liked the Stumpy 26er best.
The Camber was unremarkable...and heavy. It was out of the running from the start.
The Stumpy 29er FSR is a much prettier bike in real life than what the online photo shows. Beautiful colors. There was nothing wrong with how it handled really, but it just felt strange, different. Can't put my finger on it, but I just didn't care for the ride. Surprising since just about everything I've ridden of modern bikes have been really nice.
My other favorite was the Stumpy 29er HT. Damn sweet bike. It felt just the way I'd want a fast, training bike to ride: quick and solid. Surprisingly it was most similar in handling to the Stumpy 26er FS. I would have thought it would be more like the other 29er FS.
We had a great afternoon riding around in circles in that old warehouse. Sometimes the snow would be falling outside of the big windows, and sometimes the sun would shine. The salesman loved spending the time looking and trying bikes (or so he said, and he sounded sincere).
When it's all said and done, Ron's favorite was the Cannondale. My favorite is a toss up between the Stumpy 29er HT and the Stumpy 26er FSR....and really the Safire fits in there as well. Before we left the Salesmen had a new 2012 Safire brought over from their other building, just so I could see the new colors. It was also nicer in real life than what the website shows. The 2012 Safire didn't get the upgraded wheels that the Stumpy had, otherwise their pretty much the same.
Guess it's going to come down to what kind of trails do we want to ride? I think for sure we can take the 29er FS bikes off the list. They don't offer that much more over the 26er, and the only one I've liked was the Epic which is out of my price point.
29er and 26er FS with not much difference between them on the test course
29er HT. Def. smoother than a 26er HT. Takes the edge off the harshness of the ride...like steel over aluminum. But still a hardtail and you still want to stand over the bumps. That's not a bad thing, just an observation.