Thursday, March 8, 2012

Let Me Introduce You

Trek is constantly improving on it's entire line of bikes and its mountain bikes are no exception.  The original Gary Fisher Superfly was a very nimble carbon fiber hardtail with 29" wheels.  I have been riding the 2010 model equipped with a SRAM XO/X9 3x9 speed drive train and Avid Elixir CR brakes for a couple of years now.  I love the bike and still ride it almost daily except for long/fast road riding.  The Fox F29 RLC FIT shock kept things in control up front without making the bike a porker.

Since the introduction of Shimano XTR group last year, I have been anxiously awaiting a Trek 29" hardtail with Shimano XT.  It was a foregone conclusion that the new XT would incorporate the cool stuff of XTR at a more affordable price.  The wait is over - meet the 2012 Superfly Elite.

Superfly Elite 2012 on Stoughton Road, west of Freeman, WA

The SF Elite has XT 2x10 drive train and brakes, a super stiff carbon frame, Fox F32 RLC FIT front shock and Bontrager components. I got to take it out for the first time this week and hit the gravel roads south of town to Freeman and back. The XT setup shifts flawlessly under power and is very quick and smooth.  The SRAM was very prone to chain suck if I got sloppy and tried to go to a smaller chain ring - no such tendency on the XT in my limited attempts at abusing the front shifting. The rear index shifting also has this cool little feature that lets you shift multiple cogs on the the upshift by pushing the lever a little further just like on the downshifts.

The migration of technology from the XTR to the XT was well executed. The brakes are very linear in their response with just one finger and no surprises. They also do not have any of the harmonics or howl that plagued me with the Elixir CRs.

The Fox shock now has 100mm of travel and 4 different adjustments that let you fine-tune the ride and control to your heart's desire. In addition to the stiffness with air pressure you can adjust the rebound speed, low speed compliance and lock-out force. The latter adjustment lets decide how big of a hit it will take to bypass the lock-out. This lets you lock the fork for climbing or bombing, and if needed it jumps back into action to keep things smooth and in control, then it goes back to lock-out mode.

This was one of my favorite features on the F29 and is even better on the F32 since the lock-out does not allow any bobbing when pedaling. In fact, the entire front end has been redesigned with stiffness in mind. Starting with the larger hub flange all the way to the E2 head tube with a 1.5" lower bearing - Solid. The front wheel rotates on a QR15 hollow axle to complete the package. No flex or hesitation in changing direction - it just goes where you point it.

The ride is stiff without being punishing as I learned when I hit every pothole and washboard that presented themselves with the shock in both active and lock-out modes. I have yet to run it on single track, but expect it will be just as fun and responsive as the 2010.  Hopefully, I can work a ride in on the HD trails as rumor has it they are tacky and fast now.

Finally, this bike is gorgeous to look at.  Trek has really perfected the nude carbon/carbon reveal which is accented with minimal paint.  This one is a real head-turning beauty.

If you are looking for a fast XC bike with the latest features and performance, this is the bike for you.  All manners and no bad habits to wreck a great ride.

See you on the road.

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