So there it was, after all these months, the complete WFO sitting right in front if me, almost too much to behold.
This was a BIG BIKE!
As I previously stated, I barely had enough time to finish the bike before the pre-beer, post-work Saturday ride. There was no time for things like “checking air pressures” or “adjusting the handlebars” or any of that tomfoolery. There was only enough time for the cursory “did I tighten all the important bolts?” check before we launched up to ride Perry Hill.
There was also no weighing or measuring anything, so you can effectively call this a blind review. I like to think that I’ve ridden enough Niners over the years to know what Chris and Steve have up their sleeves.
We stayed on the low (yellow) trails, as the higher up ones at this time are practically unrideable due to the excessive rain we have had. Just when you think it will let up, two dry days turns into a 6 hour, 2″ deluge. Stupid weather….
Anyhoo, I made the first big climb from the tunnel with relative ease, despite feeling a bit boingy in spots where I had to give the pedals a little more oomff. I am a new user to the Fox DHX Air, so I had no idea where to run the settings. I did keep the damper at the highest setting- there are only 2 settings on this shock. At the top of the first climb, I decided to add a bit of air, going from the 140 that was in the can to 185 psi, and this made a world of difference in the boingy department. The bike became downright snappy!
Once we reached level ground, the bike was very flickable. My barometer for seeing how fast I’m going has been completely shot over the last few months. Lately, I’ve been riding with folks that are either way faster than me, or (sorry -no offense) a lot slower. Since the crap weather has limited my terrain options lately, I have developed a new local loop that has a bit of everything in it. I have been spending a lot of time on this loop with the Rocky Mountain Altitude 29er, so I thought it would be a good comparison on my new test track.
My first experience was disorientation on this bike. Strange but completely true. I was ahead of where I thought I should be at any given time. On the climb, or on the flats, the places where I normally zone out simply vanished. Was I riding them that much faster? I must have been, because I was always surprised when I came across a mental trail marker.
“Holy crap! I’m here already.”
This bike pedals uphill much better than I expected a 5.5″ travel bike with a 140mm fork, especially with the insufficient air pressure in the rear shock. I would say it was at least as good as the RIP9, maybe even almost as good as the Jet9. Very surprising. Once I adjusted the pressure in the DHX, it was very clear to me that this bike has some skills that I can’t wait to find the limits on.
Well, this seems like kind of a weird thing to judge a bike on, but sometimes you aren’t going up or down, and the flats can be where you win or loose a race. This is where I like to judge pedaling characteristics and geometry.
There is no doubt that this bike likes to go, and much like the Jet, you need to think further down the trail than you do with the RIP. You run out of room quickly, and if you are not thinking ahead, you can get closed out. Yes, I hit a tree in the first 20 minutes of the first ride OK?
OK, obviously this bike descends like you would not believe. Any pitch, any speed, the bike rolls and begs for more. It’s been a really long time since I’ve ridden a bike like this. It also really likes to catch air. There are a couple of spots on the trail where one can pop off, and pop off you can. Dr Jones, who was behind me at one point, remarked a rather incredible hang time at our joke jump. We normally get about 3″ of effortless air, but pretend like we are getting much more, but apparently I made about 3 feet with little effort.
I bet I had that rear shock set up just about right, and the new Fox Boost Valve was doing it’s thing. I will be spending some time dialing in this DHX, me likey!
Yeah. Awesome. The Marzocchi is a fantastic fork. I have no idea how to set it up, but I muddled through and found a setting I liked. I found it to be stiff and at my whim, which is important to me. Dedicated review coming soon…
The back of the bike felt very stiff as well, I’m not sure if its because of the I9 wheels, or the Maxle rear end, but I couldn’t help but think that this is what is must be like to be 160 lbs and have a long travel bike, that does exactly what you want, when you want with no backtalk.
Are you ready? Large frame, 135mm Maxle rear, DHX rear shock, I9s on Flow rims, Nevegal tires, Noir 22-36t cranks with 11-34t cassette, Elixir CR brakes, Marzoccchi tapered fork, Thomson stem, Easton Monkeylight bar, Ergon GE1 grips, Crank Bros Joplin post, WTB Devo saddle, X9 shifters, XT direct mount front, XO rear derailleur, and Crank Bros Acid Ti pedals.
Here’s where it gets interesting:
HA: 63° – measured with my iphone
Wheelbase: a shocking 45.5″!!!!!
BB height: 13.5″
I’m going to stop now, and will be back with another ride report shortly…
I suspect that all the 29er haters will have one less platform to spew their venom from. This represents an envelope that has yet to be pushed in the 29er world.
Big Bike. Big Fun.