Gear

Gary Fisher’s new road line aims for ‘race utility’

Road bikes are nothing new to Gary Fisher. He began racing on the road as a junior decades ago. His original goals were to make it as a professional road cyclist but those plans were derailed when he began his mountain bike business. Fisher thanks his experience as a roadie for his obsession with the perfectly fitting mountain bike. For a complete new road line, Fisher aimed to build bikes that stiffer and lighter plus a few extras that should improve the ride quality. New Technology Fisher Control Column

By Robbie Stout

Fisher road bikes: A closer look at some cool carbon shaping on the top tube.

Fisher road bikes: A closer look at some cool carbon shaping on the top tube.

Photo: Robbie Stout

Road bikes are nothing new to Gary Fisher. He began racing on the road as a junior decades ago. His original goals were to make it as a professional road cyclist but those plans were derailed when he began his mountain bike business. Fisher thanks his experience as a roadie for his obsession with the perfectly fitting mountain bike.

For a complete new road line, Fisher aimed to build bikes that stiffer and lighter plus a few extras that should improve the ride quality.

New Technology

Fisher Control Column

While fit and geometry are a key focus for Fisher, ride quality is a third element that the company aimed to improve. Gary Fisher engineers developed an in-house test to isolate each component of the front end of the bike to determine which component was the weakest link. What they discovered was that they could stiffen the entire steering column with the E2 headtube, borrowed technology from Trek, and a redesigned fork and hub.

The Fisher Control Column (FCC) is the centerpiece of the new bikes. The E2 headtube, as seen on the new Trek Madone, is a 1.5-inches at the bottom and 1-1/8-inches at the top. Trek engineers believe that this improves frame stiffness front-to-back and front-end steering precision. The wide lower headtube also allows for a larger downtube-headtube junction.

The next improvement for better steering precision was a redesigned fork with legs that are further away from the center before bending back in at the dropouts.

Perhaps the main reason for the wider fork is to fit the new FCC hub with outboard J-bend spokes. Fisher didn’t exactly reinvent the wheel, but he did possibly make it stiffer. Designed in with Bontrager, the new FCC hub has wider, taller flanges, outboard J-bend spokes, 25mm endcaps (instead of the standard 19mm caps), and only fits the new Fisher wide stance fork. Fisher engineers believe that the flanges, which position the spokes at a wider angle, provide better lateral stiffness. The outboard spokes maximize the bracing angle between the rim and the hub. The wider endcaps act like a thru-axle on a mountain bike, providing better steering precision.

Fisher road bikes: A non-driveside view shows how robust the bottom bracket junction truly is.

Fisher road bikes: A non-driveside view shows how robust the bottom bracket junction truly is.

Photo: Robbie Stout

Gary Fisher engineers said the Fisher fork with an FCC front wheel is 27 percent stiffer than the previous best fork and wheel combination they tested.

Genesis Road Geometry

With help from bike fit guru Michael Sylvester, Fisher strove to develop rider fit position and handling that remains consistent across the size range.

To do this the line includes three different fork offsets to maintain consistent trail. The frame stack and reach are also designed to accommodate riders of different sizes.

Race Utility

You can expect to hear the phrase “race utility” from the Fisher folks. The concept is that Fisher road bikes are race worthy but also flexible to meet other needs.

For example, Fisher road bikes have enough tire clearance to fit 28c tires without a problem. And every Gary Fisher road frame comes with nearly invisble fender mounts for wet-season training or commuting.

The fender mounts are super sleek and look like drain holes without fenders attached. With the robust tire clearance, fenders work with tires up to 25c.

Fisher road bikes: You can hardly see the fender mounts on the fork of the Cronus.

Fisher road bikes: You can hardly see the fender mounts on the fork of the Cronus.

Photo: Robbie Stout

Fisher opted for external cable routing and a standard 27.2 seatpost for a user-friendly interface. The external cable routing allows for easier cable and housing changes for the home mechanic. 27.2 seatposts are the most common size and Fisher believes that this size also allows for the best vertical compliance for rider comfort.

Top of the line

The Gary Fisher Cronus is available in three component packages, the Ultimate, the Pro, and the Cronus. The Ultimate comes complete with a SRAM Red drivetrain and a Bontrager Race X Lite FCC wheelset. Frame weight design is unchanged across the line.

The carbon Cronus frame weighs just 900 grams and is the frame used by the Kelly Benefit Strategies domestic pro team. The first thing you may notice about this frame is that it has massive tubes. In fact, the downtube is the largest that Fisher or Trek has ever created, made possible with the BB90 bottom bracket and 1.5-inch lower headtube.

While the bike itself is centered, the tubes appear to be off center. This is most noticeable when looking at the water bottle mounts on the downtube, which appear off center, but are actually on the centerline of the bike. The seattube, too, is asymmetric. It’s all for the sake of maximizing the size of the bottom bracket junction to resist flex and increase pedal efficiency.

The driveside chainstay is taller and narrower than the more bulbous non-driveside chainstay to allow for larger sections than were possible in the past. This is believed to improve bottom bracket stiffness.

Cronus Ultimate – 14.7 pounds – $5,250
Frame: Carbon, size specific layup, BB90 integrated bottom bracket
Size: 45 to 61cm (8 sizes)
Color: Carbon black smoke
Fork: Bontrager carbon FCC w/integrated SpeedTrap computer mount
Wheelset: Bontrager Race X Lite FCC
Drivetrain: SRAM Red

Put to the test

Fisher road bikes: The 14.7 pound, all carbon, full SRAM Red, Gary Fisher Cronus retails for 5,250.

Fisher road bikes: The 14.7 pound, all carbon, full SRAM Red, Gary Fisher Cronus retails for 5,250.

Photo: Robbie Stout

I had a chance to ride the Cronus Ultimate for two rides in Glacier National Park for a total of about 80 miles of climbing, descending, rolling flats, and inconsistent surface, including moose and bear droppings. The first thing I noticed was a positive response when putting power into the pedal stroke— likely a result of the massive bottom bracket junction and tubes joining to it.

At 6-foot-5, I typically ride a 63cm frame and occasionally a 61cm. The largest size available for the Cronus is 61cm, which was no problem at all due to the Genesis geometry. Usually when I ride a 61cm I feel too crouched, with too much saddle to handlebar drop. With the stem dropped all the way down to the headset I felt that I could achieve a comfortable race position with enough reach and drop.

Out of the saddle climbing was comfortable and there didn’t appear to be any loss of efficiency. Lightweight race bikes rarely feel stiff enough for an efficient all-out sprint. I attempted a few maximum efforts and I was most surprised by how quickly it felt that I had accelerated.

The Fisher Control Column was most noticeable when out of the saddle and when diving into sharp corners. With some bikes I often feel a bit of give when I weight my inside hand when going into a sharp corner. When cornering on the Cronus there was no apparent unwanted flex when cornering.

Trickle down

The Ion shares many of the features and qualities of the Cronus, but with an aluminum front triangle and carbon rear triangle and a lower cost. With aluminum and spec’ the biggest difference from the Cronus, the Ion uses a BB86 rather than a BB90. The BB86 allows for press-in bottom bracket cups and allows for massive carbon chainstays, creating a stiffer pedaling platform.

At just $1,490 for the Ion Super, the top spec for the Ion line, it’s a good fit for riders on a budget. In addition, the Ion is said to be even stiffer than the Cronus, but a bit heavier, making it a good fit for the crit racer.

Ion Pro – $1,490

Fisher road bikes: The Bontrager Race Lite cyclocross fork provides enough clearance for this 29 x 1.8 tire.

Fisher road bikes: The Bontrager Race Lite cyclocross fork provides enough clearance for this 29 x 1.8 tire.

Photo: Robbie Stout

Frame: 6061 T6 aluminum main and carbon seatstays and chainstays, BB86 integrated bottom bracket
Size: 45 to 61cm (8 sizes)
Color: Gun metal gray/carbon
Fork: Bontrager carbon FCC w/integrated SpeedTrap computer mount
Wheelset: Bontrager SSR
Shifters and derailleurs: Shimano Tiagra
Crankset: FSA Gossamer Mego Exo 50/34

CX
The Presidio is the top-of-the-line Gary Fisher cyclocross bike for 2010. The steel-framed Presidio shares many of the features and innovations of the Cronus. The rear dropouts are adjustable fore and aft, making it possible to run single speed or gears. The Presidio also takes advantage of the FCC technology and a modified Genesis geometry for cyclocross.

Fisher road bikes: The Gary Fisher Presidio offers and elegant solution to the hybrid singlespeed/geared cyclocross bike.

Fisher road bikes: The Gary Fisher Presidio offers and elegant solution to the hybrid singlespeed/geared cyclocross bike.

Photo: Robbie Stout

Notable features on the Presidio include massive tire clearance —up to a 29 x 1.8 mountain bike tire. The Presidio uses an internal BB86 bottom bracket, once again for a stiffer pedaling platform. The top tube flattens out where it meets the seat tube for better shouldering comfort. And of course, the Presidio includes the vanishing fender mounts.

Presidio – $1,980
Frame: Custom butted platinum series steel, sliding dropouts
Size: 50 to 61cm (6 sizes)
Color: Pearl white
Fork: Bontrager Race Lite Cyclocross, aluminum steerer, carbon legs
Wheelset: Bontrager Race FCC
Drivetrain: SRAM Rival
Brakeset: Avid Shorty 6 cantilever

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