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By Matt Pacocha
Here we are, just getting ready to head full steam into the 2007 racing season, and the 2008 product is already starting to ship. When did we have a chance to enjoy our ’07 bikes?
Trek just started shipping copies of Travis Brown’s 69er single-speed to its dealers last week. And here in Santa Cruz, California, just north of Monterey and the Sea Otter Classic, we’re seeing 69ers with gears and even suspension.
It’s the same on the Gary Fisher side. There was hardly even time to get excited about its new economical aluminum trail bike, the HiFi, a bike with great value and even greater versatility, before Fisher went and made it out of much pricier carbon fiber.
Don’t fret; the aluminum version will still be available. For 2008, the HiFi can be had in various versions at all price points, in carbon or aluminum, with a choice of wheel size. Yes, there will be a 29-inch-wheel aluminum version next year.
Gary Fisher’s 23.3-pound trail bike
Last year’s HiFi frame was a few grams lighter than Fisher’s cross-country race platform, the Race Day. And now, the carbon version is even lighter. Fisher says a medium HiFi frame, shock and hardware weighs 4.71 pounds, which equates to a published weight of 23.3 pounds for the Carbon Pro, a bike that’s decked to the nines and carries a $6500 price tag to prove it. But keep in mind the high price does get you one of the lightest — if not the lightest — five-inch-travel trail bike on the market.
The HiFi is impressive enough by stats alone, but the numbers that really matter can be found in Fisher’s G2 geometry. We were introduced to G2 last summer, at the launch of the aluminum HiFi. The idea was to increase the low-speed-handling attributes of the original Genesis geometry while preserving its high-speed characteristics. Fisher engineers reduced the trail of the bike by increasing the fork’s offset, coming up with a bike that seemed to go where you aimed it — and this is, according to product manager Aaron Mock, is precisely what the design is meant to do — “make a bike that goes naturally where you want it to.”
“We had to own the entire geometry, including the fork geometry, to get it where we wanted it,” added Mock.
HiFi Carbon represents the first carbon project produced from the ground up under the Gary Fisher brand. The frames are molded and assembled in Trek’s carbon facility in Waterloo, Wisconsin, and debut a new co-molding method for the highly stressed shock mounts. More on the information on the molding method and frame construction will be detailed in an upcoming issue of VeloNews.
The rear triangle is the same as the 2007 model’s and is made with carbon seatstays and aluminum chainstays. It features tire clearance to 2.5 inches and Hi-Lo asymmetric chainstays. Together the front and rear triangles create a package that boasts a 40 percent greater stiffness-to-weight ratio than its all-aluminum counterpart. The cable routing has also been improved — cables now run along the down tube instead of the top tube and are tucked out of the way to ensure a rub-free ride.
The new frame carries a lifetime warranty and a crash-replacement program. The HiFi Carbon frame will come built into two versions: The $6500 HiFi Carbon Pro, a Shimano XTR-SRAM X.0 package with top-of-the-line Bontrager carbon components for $6500; and the $4500 HiFi Carbon, with a Shimano XT component package and more economical Bontrager parts. Both bikes are spec’ed with cross-country components that in many cases will limit the five-inch-travel bike’s abilities.
My vote would be to add a Rhythm wheelset. The wider rim would increase the footprint of the spec’d 2.25-inch tires and increase the bike’s range while adding only about three-quarters of a pound. That said, the HiFi Carbon seems to have just as broad a range as this year’s aluminum HiFi Pro, even if it’s less of a smoking-hot bargain.
Other big news behind HiFi for 2008 is Fisher’s new partnership with Fox Racing Shox. Fox will produce an exclusive, Bontrager-tuned G2 fork for the HiFi. The “Tuned by Bontrager” label references the custom G2 offset of 46mm. Fox will also produce a 29-inch fork for Fisher’s revamped line of 29ers for 2008. The new offset is a whopping 51mm, which is achieved with the same 46mm crown of the 26-inch G2 fork paired to a specific 29er lower casting that makes up the final 5mm of offset.
The new 29er forks will show up exclusively on Fisher’s new line of big-wheel bikes, including the 29-inch HiFi, a Paragon aluminum hardtail built with shaped tubes and refined geometry. And Fisher also has a special present for its Subaru-Gary Fisher racers, something we will all have access to — a carbon hardtail called the Superfly. It is still in its rough prototype stages but Fisher reps did bring a SLA prototype, a plastic model formed directly from the engineer’s CAD drawings, to its Sea Otter launch. Details on all of these new bikes will trickle out through the summer; for now, all we can do is look at the prototypes the Fisher crew provided.
Trek broadens its 69er line
Only a week into filling production orders on the original 69er platform, Travis Brown’s brown 69er single-speed, Trek unveiled plans for at least three new 69er bikes in 2008.
You will recall that the 69er concept pairs a 26-inch rear wheel with a 29-inch front to blend the larger contact patch and rolling characteristics of a 29-inch wheel with the quick acceleration and lighter weight of the smaller rear wheel.
Before even making the 69er single-speed, Trek had pre-sold 85 percent of its production quota, described as “a legitimate quantity” by John Riley, Trek’s mountain bike product manager.
Brown has been racing prototypes of the new 69er bikes for roughly a year. His prototypes and the pre-production prototypes shown at the Sea Otter event are based on the Top Fuel suspension design. They feature the same rear swing arm as the standard 26-inch bikes.
In addition to the full-suspension models, Trek introduced a geared version of the brown single-speed. Like the new 29-inch offerings from Fisher, these bikes were shown as a sneak peek, and their availability and retail pricing is not yet known.