Gary Fisher HiFi Deluxe 29"er: First Ride Impressions

Gary Fisher HiFi Deluxe at The Camp

Allrighty then! Here’s the first impressions from my rides, (and some other folks rides) on the HiFi Deluxe 29″er. The rides took place mainly over frozen dirt with a scattering of loose leaves and some snow. Some rocks and several rooty sections were encountered. Steep climbs and twisty downhills were ridden with a switch back or two thrown in for good measure. I also commuted several days onboard this rig giving it some curb hoppings and generally breaking it in.

The HiFi is well represented in Gary Fishers 29″er bike line up for ’08 with three different models. The Deluxe is the middle bike in the three model line. It comes spec’ed with the great SRAM X-9 stuff, Avid Juicy brakes, and of course, the Fox F-100 29″er fork with exclusive G2 offset.

I’ve ridden the G2 geometry Fishers before, so I wasn’t a total stranger to the new handling package. The bike was easy to set up and after dialing in the air pressures on the shocks I was off. The bikes I had ridden before with the Fox G2 forks seemed a bit harsher than a Reba, but this particular fork was as buttery smooth as any Reba I have ridden. The chassis of the Fox fork is a bit more rigid too, so that was a plus here. The rear worked really well and was easy to find that sweet spot between feeling too plush or too stiff using small air pressure adjustments. I thought the front suspension was very active and you could dial in just enough compression damping control with the lock out lever that you could eliminate fork dive from braking into corners but have a decent amount of small bump compliance. Sharp, sudden bumps are still felt, so it isn’t totally isolating you from the trail, but you still have a greater amount of control, which is great.

Overall I didn’t feel any unwarranted flex. I climbed pretty hard on this, giving it the ol’ single speeders mash, but nothing weird was ever felt. I think the HiFi might have the stiffest front triangle of any 29″er I have ridden. No torsional flex at all here. The Bontrager Rhythm Comp wheels were good in this respect too. They are 28 hole units, but they felt as stiff as any 32 hole set I have built up. They are definitely stiffer than some of the other high zoot wheels we have tested recently, including Bontragers own Race X Lite Tubeless Ready wheels.

A note on the G2 geometry: You would probably have to ride it to really understand, but it isn’t so much a “quicker” handling bike as it is an easier to steer bike. Fisher has developed G2 in 29″er form to give a feeling of a 26 inch wheeled bikes front end without the twitchiness that some XC bikes have. Slow speed handling is excellent and fast decsents are not a big deal. You don’t have to overcorrect in turns, and you can nail your lines better. It’s just an easier bike to ride than most 29″ers out there today.

I let the four guys I was riding with out at The Camp one day take a turn on the HiFi. Two of them ride 29″ers regularly and two are complete “noobs” to 29″ers. The two guys that have 29″ers were immediately impressed with the handling. They could tell right off that the HiFi was an easier bike to steer than their bikes. They liked the handling without any idea of the G2 philosophy, which I purposely didn’t talk about beforehand. The other two guys said they thought it “rode real nice”. They didn’t think the big wheels felt weird or anything, at least they never mentioned anything to that effect. Everyone of the four guys remarked how well the HiFi climbed, which sort of took me by surprise. One of them, a guy that normally rides a 26 inch wheeled full suspension bike, thought the HiFi clawed it’s way up far better than his rig. One of the 29″er riders thought the bike climbed better than his rig too. I asked about stiffness and got a resounding thumbs up from all of them. They ranged in weight from 160lbs to about 200lbs. None of them thought the bike was flexy at all.

I think the HiFi is perfect for long rides over rough terrain where climbing traction is a must. By the way, the tires are Jones ACX tubeless ready units which have great traction. (I was running tubes). Several roots and a few rocks were encountered. Nothing seemed to be able to make the HiFi slip up.

I think the bike could be ridden as an endurance racer quite effectively. The out of the box set up is a bit shorter and more upright than previous Fishers due to the G2 geometry tweaks. The weight of the Deluxe is just shy of 28lbs at 27.8lbs, so it is not a pig and it could easily go south of that weight with a few judicious choices in componentry.

Nits: Well, just a few things. The wheels are Rhythm Comp units which are tubeless compatible, but the bike doesn’t come with the necessary rim strips and valve stems, which I think Fisher should supply with the bike. Just my opinion there. The way the rear damper is nestled under the seat tube brace makes it hard to reach the ProPedal lever during riding, especially with winter mits on. It probably isn’t too bad with summer gloves, but it’s virtually impossible with full finger gloves that are insulated. Your mileage may vary there. Editors Note: Since I wrote that I have found that regular cycling gloves make this task far easier. However; you can’t see for sure if you have the lever flipped the way you want because it is obscured by the frame. The supplied Bontrager grips are too thin and are not very comfy, again a personal nit pick on my part. Finally, I absolutely love Jones ACX tires for trail type rides that demand a tractable tire, but I just would like to see a wider version released by Bontrager. The volume of the current model is a little anemic, especially for rockier terrain.

So far I am thoroughly impressed with the HiFi’s manners and performance. There is a lot going on here, so I will break down a couple of the major features of this bike in some upcoming posts. I think it is safe to say one thing though; G2 Geometry is going to revolutionize the way we look at 29″ers in the future. It is really that good. This is the fourth bike I’ve ridden with the G2 package and it ranks as the best handling 29″er geometry I have tried yet. If my friends reactions are anything to guage this by, I’d say I’m not the only one that thinks so!

Stay tuned for a thorough look at G2 and the Rhythm wheel technology from this bike soon!

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No Responses to “Gary Fisher HiFi Deluxe 29"er: First Ride Impressions”

  1. carno Says:

    GT,

    At some point in your HiFi reviews could you comment on the following?

    The HiFi XC (26er Caliber) Series just made the Fisher site this weekend. Are “Caliber” 29er HiFi’s going to show up at some point? If so, in your opinion, do you think 29er HiFi’s with similar Race Day adjustments, (lighter, lower, longer, less travel), would be better 29er HiFi’s than the current line-up? (I also note they are pricier.)

    Thank you for all you have written thus far on the bike.

    carno

  2. Hynas Says:

    G-T: Great revision….thank you as all :o)

  3. Hynas Says:

    G-T: Great revision, perfect. :o)

  4. Guitar Ted Says:

    carno: It was whispered to me late in the summer that indeed the Supercaliber would be reincarnated as the 26″er models shown only in 29″er form. Less travel, lighter weight, and an XC focus.

    My take is that for three inches or less of rear wheel travel on a 29″er for FS XC purposes a design like the HiFi might be unescessarily complex. I think a well executed softail design is a better choice for that specific application.

    That said, it depends upon your aim as a rider. I think the current HiFi is a better all around trail bike. You could use it for XC, but it would be great at endurance events, and you could take it on a long, epic back country ride and be well served. If you are needing only one bike, this HiFi should be on your radar. If you are into getting specific purpose bikes, than a Supercaliber based on the HiFi might be worth waiting for. You might be waiting up to a year though. 😉

    Currently the Paragon or Superfly are very adept XC platforms and I would err on the side of a hardtail for true XC racing if that is the goal here.

  5. Davidcopperfield Says:

    What about longer travel hi fis? like King Fisher Hi-Fi 29er? Why all new 29ers are short travel? why not using a Fox Talas 29″?

  6. Guitar Ted Says:

    Davidcopperfield: Not a bad suggestion. I think about this time next year you will be seeing such bicycles or at the very least, rumors of such bicycles on the way. I wouldn’t dispair of seeing this come true, it’ll just take time. 😉

  7. captain bob Says:

    This bike is one of the most fun bikes to ride. It steers so well. You have to ride it to believe it.

  8. Dirt McGirt Says:

    Riding is believing…. nooch

  9. SuperD Says:

    I’ve been riding the HiFi 26″ all summer and find it to be an outstanding bike. However, the characteristics that I don’t like are; while climbing in the saddle, when I would yank on the handlebars, I couldn’t produce any extra power, thus, causing my legs to do all the work. I also feel like the front-end was disconnected from the ground. I believe the New HiFi XC would resolve these issues (I’m talking about my personal riding preferences for the trails I ride). Furthermore, I think a HiFi XC 29er version might be the holy grail of mountain bikes so I hope they make it.

    Did you guys find any of the same characteristics with the HiFi 29er?

  10. carno Says:

    SuperD,

    Here is a portion of an August 20th, 2007 post by GT titled “Trek World ’08 Part 2:Bits and Pieces”:

    “Rumor #2: Supercaliber ‘08 to be released as a 29″er? You might notice that the Super Caliber Race Day 29″er full suspension bike isn’t being talked about much and that the 26″er version has been replaced. It’s replacement is eerily like a version of a Sugar, only all grown up with a full carbon rear end, beefed up pivot point, and new designs for the linkage and what not. When asked if this new three inch, XC specific design might see 29″er duty, I didn’t get a “noâ€?. Maybe this is what we may see coming out in the spring as a mid year introduction? We’ll be keeping tabs on this possibility. “

  11. Guitar Ted Says:

    SuperD: Hmm……can’t say as I am sure what you are describing here. I could climb out of the saddle, single speed style which uses alot of handle bar yankage. No real problems, especially when using the lock out. Seated climbing was much like it is on any of my hardtails. As I stated in the piece, the four other guys that rode it all remarked on the climbing prowess of the bike.

    As for the “disconnected” remark, I’ll need more explanation of what you are describing there. I don’t understand that at all.

  12. Dirt McGirt Says:

    SuperD- It almost sounds like your climbing form might be to blame. Pulling up on the bars on a full suspension frame will make the front wheel come off the ground and not do much due to the rear suspension.

    No full suspension bike is going to climb THAT well out of the saddle, they’re just not designed around that climbing “technique”. Besides, you’re WAY more efficient in the saddle then out, not matter what. Save the out-of-the-saddle spinfest till right before the top.

    word ^

  13. SuperD Says:

    Thanks for the feedback. I feel the need to clarify. I believe the “disconnectâ€? feeling is really due to ultra smooth Manitou fork and the extra travel on my HiFi. So when I say, “disconnectâ€?, I really mean “lack of feedbackâ€?. Hence, less travel equals more feedback, which is what I prefer.

    Secondly, the “yankâ€? is really a pull down and back on the handlebars while seated in a climb. This helps the rider squeeze about 10% more power by incorporating the upper-body. I believe what I described originally is probably what I would find on any trail bike because the rider is in a more upright position. Like I said before, I find the HiFi to be an outstanding bike and it sounds like the 29er version is too.

  14. Big29 Says:

    Great review Ted. I rode the Hifi Pro at the Ballyhoo and I loved it. I agree with you in that the bike just goes where you want it to go with less rider input than the previous generations of Fishers and some of the other 29er out there. I wish Fisher had come out with this G2 thing a couple of years ago. Have you ridden a Sultan GTed? I bought one and really like the ride. I have a Reba on it and am considering a Fox for a little more offset. When I compare the geo of the two bikes, they appear to be pretty close. I know that the fox has a little shorter AtoC and that would steepen the angles a tidbit. Do you think the fork change would match up closely to the G2 feel on the Hifi? By the way, I live in Sioux City. If you haven’t ridden one, we need to get together for a test ride.

  15. Guitar Ted Says:

    Big29: Thanks for the comments. I have not ridden a Turner of any sort. Maybe when the weather gets better we can connect up and ride some trails in Western Iowa. 🙂

  16. Sparkplug Says:

    I am looking at getting a 29r, most likely a GF. I have never ridden a FS before and I was wondreing what the biggest pluses and minuses are. I am also considering the ferrous (I like the feel os steal). Is the new G2 geometry that much better to wait for it in steel. If you could only have one 29r would it be FS or HT?

  17. GreenLightGo Says:

    GT – good looking bike. Look forward to more comments on the testing from you.

  18. Hynas Says:

    To Sparkplug:

    Only FS, in my opinion.

  19. Anonymous Says:

    SuperD,

    I can relate to your description of lack of feedback or disconnection. I have a 5″ travel bike and while the first inch or two of travel is super plush, there is somewhat of a lack of input from the front end, You can run higher pressures to change that, but then you lose some of the 5″ travel advantages.

    Guitar Ted,

    Do you perceive any added value from the fox fork over the Reba? I am trying to determine whether I want to go with the deluxe or the plus.

  20. Guitar Ted Says:

    Sparkplug: Tough for me to advise you here. It all depends on you, your trails, and how you like to ride. I think if I could only have one 29″er it would be a full suspension one. I say this because it would allow me more opportunities to shred different trails, (The rocky El Paso, Texas trails come to mind), and it would help me to be able to mtb in comfort (relatively speaking) into the foreseeable future. Full suspension is maturing (speaking of 29″er XC type) to a point where the designs are good and sustainable for a long time. Sure there are trade offs, and I love hardtails and rigid forks, but that’s my answer.

    Anonymous: I percieve a stiffer chassis with the Fox. I think the one on this HiFi feels really similar to a Reba in terms of small bump compliance. If they were all like this one, I’d say Fox by a hair, but it is still a very expensive fork compared to a Reba. That said, a Reba is a darn fine fork as is. If you can afford the Fox, go for it. It’s a nice, nice fork, but for value for the dollar, the Reba is still king.

    Finally, a word on the RST M-29: While not as “refined” as a Reba or a Fox F-29, this fork is a pretty good “giant killer” and should be on your list to take a look at.

  21. Jared Says:

    GT, I’ve been running the gamut with my bike possibilities, and you’ve just helped make my decision a little easier.

    Few questions though: 1) Stack height. I HATE flat bars and would just as soon run my 10* 100mm Thomson stem and Easton bars. From your pic, it looks like the stack is quite high (40mm or so?), but this is different than the stock fisher pics. Did they cut the steer tube for the pics? Can you verify?

    2) Seatpost size? 27.2mm still? (Again, I’d prefer my Thomson just be moved right over).

    3) Tire clearance? Enough room for a 2.3″ WTB or new Schwalbe RR?

    4) Wheels. The two-cross seems like a strange option, but you seem to think they’re stiff. you’ve got about 50 lbs on me, so I don’t know that I’ll have a problem. How would you say they compare to the Mavic C29s you reviewed?

    5) Last, do you think it would be worth upgrading the shock to an RP23? Or does the RP2 handle well with the pro-pedal?

    Thx.

  22. Jared Says:

    Oh…and what’s with the headtube/headset setup? It’s certainly “non-traditional.”

  23. Guitar Ted Says:

    Jared: I’ll answer here the best I can……..

    #1: (And I think this answers your tacked on question also) The headset is semi-integrated, so the stack height is minimal. I could run the bars way lower than I have them in the picture if I wanted to by switching out spacers to the top side of the stem. The stock set up does include a pretty big spacer, so fine tuning would require some shorter stack height spacers. I have not done anything to modify the steer tube or handle bar set up. It is as you see it out of the box. Right now the bars are about the same height as my saddle, but I have really long legs compared to my torso, so a more average proportioned rider would actually be able to run the bars above the saddle height quite easily.

    #2: No- The seat post size is 31.6mm.

    #3: Racing Ralph’s would fit, but it would be close. I will have to try them on the Rhythm rims. The Ralphs seem to spread out more than other tires I have tried on a wider rim, so this answer may change. I’ll update later.

    #4: I would rate the Rhythm Comps on the HiFi as being laterally stiffer than the Cr29max wheels. This is mostly due to the Rhythm having a wider rim. (28mm vs. 24mm) I think the wheels on the HiFi could be stiffer, but not by much. I’m not sure most riders would ever notice it. For the record, I am quite impressed by the Rhythm Comps so far.

    #5: I am of the “simple is better” camp when it comes to technology. So take this with a grain of salt. I feel the Fox damper on the HiFi Deluxe can be set up to ride with a reasonable amount of bump eating ability and not have to fiddle with the ProPedal lever at all. I never really could tell much of a difference between the two settings either. Not enough to make me say, “Wow!, I could feel that!” I would rather have had a lock out lever, which I think would make the bike more versatile in that you could “hardtail it” up a climb and open it back up for decsents. ProPedal didn’t seem to be the answer for me. YMMV.

  24. bikecop Says:

    i only have a comment over your apparent love for the ACX tires. my GF Rig came with ACXs. I removed them almost immediately. Hated ’em. no traction, no cornering grip. nuttin’ . of course with FS + seated climbing, the story is somewhat different than standing&mashing the SS. now running Rampages…MUCH better.

  25. Jared Says:

    Thanks GT! So, a Chris King headset is out of the question. I’m headed out today (provided this rain doesn’t turn to snow) to test ride this bike. I’m quite excited over it. I’ve been looking at Ventanas, Turners, the RIP 9, and haven’t been happy with what I’ve found.

    IMHO, Fisher is 2 years ahead of everyone else in the 29er game. The large offset, slack headtube angles, and travel on this bike make it seem to me like it would be a MONSTER on the trail.

  26. Jared Says:

    So, I rode the bike this morning. I was only able to get on a medium, but…all I can say is WOW. I like it much better than the RIP 9 and Ventana El Rey I have recently tried out. Though it was only a medium, I definitely got a good feel for the platform as a whole.

    The feel of the bike reminds me of my old 24″ BMX cruiser; it’s agile. I didn’t feel as if was sitting “on top” of the bike, like I did on the Niner. The steering is responsive and the bike goes where you want it to almost intuitively. The bike rode much more like the Ventana El Rey, only it costs $1800 or so less.

    There was no perceptible bob when I powered down in the saddle and very little when I got out of the saddle. The pro-pedal made the difference out of the saddle almost negligible. I know I’ll never get the feel of my hard tail on a full-squish bike, but this is pretty dang good. The bike manualed better than my 07 GF hardtail, which I thought was impressive (granted this could be because I was on a medium, but getting over the rear tire seemed a little easier). The cranks felt solid and I may even be satisfied with them and not swap them out (I’m not a Shimano fan though).

    I definitely don’t like Fisher’s choice of a flat bar on the bike. I’d eliminate the stack and put a mid-rise stem and low-rise bar. Visually, I think that’d be an improvement, but that’s just my preference. Also, I believe a wider bar would help. The seat wasn’t my favorite either, I’d certainly swap it out immediately.

    Tire clearance may be an issue with anything larger than a 2.3″ tire, but 2.3″ max is fine for me. I agree with bikecop, the tires aren’t my favorite.

    Rotational weight of the wheels is markedly decreased compared to my bike and the Bontrager wheels were as stiff as anything I’ve ridden. The guy at the LBS agrees that the 28mm wheel has a lot to do with that. I’m also glad to see the lack of Shimano hubs. I’m not sure about how the Bontragers are, but anything is likely better than those Shimano 525s Fisher were using.

    Cable routing is much more well thought out than their previous bikes. I see much less opportunity for paint damage because of cable. Speaking of paint, the colour is really nice in real life, but I just want a raw finish. I should also note my feelings on the brakes. The Juicy 5’s were either poorly set, or just poor brakes. I don’t want to have to pull my lever all the way to the bar to stop. Also, no matter what I did,I could not get the tires to lock up. Just not enough power there for me. Overall, the bike is quite stiff and I agree with G-Ted’s comments about the front triangle. My lateral flex test says it was as stiff (if not a tidbit more) than my 07 GF hardtail.

    I’ve been to my LBS several times now and looked past this bike. In part, I wanted something more boutique, but this bike is helping change my mind. Granted, I have complaints about a few minor things, but of all the things I could not like about a bike, bars, seatpost and stem are easy to deal with. The bike rides WELL and GF has surely put a lot of time and research into the HiFi 29er platform. Come the new year, a large version of the Deluxe may be hanging on my rack.

  27. Jared Says:

    Oh, the one thing I forgot to check was BB height. It seemed fine during my ride, but I’d like a sagged measurement. GT, any idea what the BB height is?

  28. Guitar Ted Says:

    Jared: Thanks for your feedback. A couple of notes. The ACX tires are not my favs, but they don’t totally suck either. They do work well for traction where I ride. Of course, this is why Bontrager makes several models of tires and the other manufacturers are doing great stuff as well. You can always find some shoes that fit, ya know?

    Secondly, on the brakes: I noticed exactly what you described in terms of lever pull and a feeling that the brakes were only so-so. I would suggest you give them a shot. After break in they are much better and the lever throw is less than when new by far. I can not explain why this would be other than the pistons in the calipers must need to seat in and they must not retract as far as when new. Whatever it is, they work quite well for me now.

    The bottom bracket height sagged on my example is 10 3/4″ at approximately 12.5mm of shock travel. Maybe kinda low, but around here it wasn’t an issue.

    The saddle: Well, that’s always a personal preferance issue. I happen to really like it.

    The Handle bars: I can’t imagine riding with any less than the 12 degrees of sweep the handle bar has. I actually prefer a Salsa 17 dgree bar, but YMMV.

    The Paint color: My wife says it’s “dove gray”. My daughter says it reminds her of a pidgeon. In fact, she dubbed the bike, “The Flying Pidgeon”, so take that for what it’s worth!

  29. Jared Says:

    Thanks for the feedback.

    I actually have been running the Bontragers that came on my bike. They are the Jones AC I believe. I quite like them. I’ll definitely give the brakes a chance.

    I’m not entirely thrilled over the BB height, but we’ll see about it after another ride.

    Fisher’s site mentions custom colors. Do you have any idea if I could get a raw finish on the bike?

  30. Guitar Ted Says:

    Jared: As far as I am aware, this is not an option directly from Fisher.

  31. Jared Says:

    GT, I found on their site (in FAQ) where it talks about factory repaints, but that’s it. BUMMER! Also, I got a catalog from LBS yesterday, apparently sagged BB height is 298mm (11.6″). Could be better, but it could be a lot worse. 🙂

  32. Iowagriz Says:

    Interesting comments on the BB height. I was at a fisher demo and took 30min on the hifi and immed followed with 30 on the hardtail 29er (paragon?). I currently ride a sugar2. My immediate impression with the hifi was that the bb was sky high. I definately felt the height difference and wondered if it was the bigger tires. All of my normal 26er lines on the singletrack felt like my head was going to hit a tree trunk on the hifi. The hardtail felt closer to “normal” and was much more fun for me to ride for that reason. I’m curious if you feel the bb on the hifi is higher than normal, or if this is a normal sensation for someone new to the larger wheels.
    Tom

  33. carno Says:

    Iowagriz,

    HiFi 26er BB 325 mm
    Genesis 26er HT’s BB 317 mm (SM, M, L)
    HiFi XC Caliber 26er BB 317.5 mm

    The Caliber XC HiFi’s bring the BB down to the HT height.

    I imagine when the 29er HiFi XC bikes come out some time next year, their BB will be close to that of the Paragon.

    HiFi 29er BB 320 mm
    Paragon BB 312 mm

  34. bdog Says:

    have a basically stock supercaliber 29er – i went tubeless (which by the way is the BEST upgrade possible for a 29er….) Its a different bike – completely.
    question regarding tubeless i bit off topic of the gf hi fi 29er of which i’m still kicking the crap outta myself for not buying (i bought the supercal a week before the hifi came out and on super sale so…)
    i had my tires jones xr to about 45psi and my rear tire BLEW big time on a descent at about 30 kph.
    this was a VERY scary moment for one – because the very loud echoing pop and the wet gook all over my legs felt like i’d been shot (which wouldn’t surprise me being an israeli riding in the west bank… plus my riding partner (and ex army bud) jumped off his bike and took cover under some rocks!). besides almost falling off the side of the mountain having lost complete control, i pretty much destroyed my rear rim when i slammed the brakes and the tire slid partly off exposing rim. i eased off the back brakes and stopped only with fronts. my question is, did the guy at the shop mess up setting up my tubeless? is this common with high pressure? the sidewall of the tire says 45 psi is no problem. did he mess up the tubeless conversion?
    Thanks for any help or info!

  35. bdog Says:

    id like to add – GT – great review of the hifi, i like how different people at different weights and riding styles tested and commented on the bike. Your replys to peoples questions are a great service to the riding community, keep it up!

  36. Iowagriz Says:

    Camo, thanks for the numbers. Interesting that I could feel the difference of 8mm. Perhaps it was the overall setup of the bike and the hardtail just felt faster/firmer in the corners. Remember that I’m used to full-susp, so I don’t think it was that. I wonder if I was experiencing flex and wasn’t aware? 6foot, 185lbs

  37. Anonymous Says:

    lowagriz,
    I’d be surprised if it was a flex issue. I’m your size + 5 lbs and I didn’t notice any unwarranted flex. I wonder if what you were feeling was a different center of gravity? In my book, that is one of the large benefits of a big wheel. Your COG is lower in relation to the axles of the wheels, thus giving you a more stable ride.

    After thinking about it this weekend, I realize that what I was feeling on my test ride was a large decrease in the turning weight of the wheel. This is likely due to the way slack HA and low trail numbers and exactly why it reminded me of my old BMX bike. LOVED IT. Haven’t stopped thinking about it all weekend.

  38. Jared Says:

    Uh…dunno why my info was erased, that above comment was mine. I should clarify what I meant by “turning weight.” I didn’t mean rotational weight of the tires (which WAS less than my bike). What I mean is the amount of effort it takes to turn the wheel left to right.

    After some examination of my bike, I realized that my fork is set at 100mm, which effectively gives me a HUGE trail rating (almost 9cm). Needless to say, going to an 8.1cm trail is a very noticeable difference to me. It definitely steers more like a 26″ bike.

    GF’s site has a video talking about the “moment of inertia.” It illustrates exactly what I was feeling, I just never thought of it as such.

    For those of you who haven’t seen it, you can find it here: http://www.fisherbikes.com/bike/series/twoniners/tech/2 (you may have to use the drop down menu)

  39. Jared Says:

    Haha. I just read GT’s new post. Great minds think alike.

  40. Alex Waid Says:

    Hey everyone. I’m looking to make a move from XC racing to more relaxed all-day trail riding. It seems that 29er is the way to go these days. I actually demoed a 17.5″ HiFi 29 at my lbs and it felt pretty good. Still, I think I could have used a 16″, but they didn’t have any in stock. Therein lies my question: I’m 5’5″ (and all torso: 28″ inseam!). Do I lose any of the 29er advantages when my pistons are so short, or does the physics of leg-length not even come into play when discussing the benefits/detractions of 29 v. 26 inch tires?

    cheers,
    Alex

    PS Thanks to GT for the amazing reviews! The complete info. you deliver is most welcome and very, very helpful.

  41. Guitar Ted Says:

    Alex Waid: Hey, you sound just like the guy I worked for at my first bike shop job. He always had to get bikes with no standover for himself so it fit when he was riding it. That’s something you are probably used to as well, by the sound of it.

    The only “issue” you might encounter would be that of leg strength. Some smaller folks struggle with sterting from a slow or stopped situation with a 29″er because of the slight amount more inertia you work against with the bigger wheels. Once moving, this is no longer an issue for most.

    I should think you would have no problem in this regard. The only issue may be a fit issue, but it seems you are well aware of what it is you need. Good luck! 🙂 Thanks for the kind words.

  42. Alex W Says:

    GT: Thanks! What about toe-overlap? It sounds like the GF HiFi’s G2 geometry has that worked out, but is that still an issue with size “small” 29ers? I’ve heard tight turns are tough b/c feet block the wheel.

    thx,
    Alex

  43. Guitar Ted Says:

    Alex: Although I have no experiences with the small HiFi, I would think that with the slack-ish head angle and 51mm offset you would have little issue with toe overlap.

  44. Mickey Says:

    Hey.. great review!!! I’m thinking about the Hi-Fi 29er PRO. It’s more expensive.. Do you guys think it’s worth the extra bucks comparing to Deluxe? I know it comes with full XT, Juicy 7 and the Fox is RLC.. What you guys think?

  45. Horsetoothed Says:

    I tested the Deluxe but ordered the Pro. After a few rides, I would say that there’s not a lot of justification for the Pro’s spec and price increase. IMHO, X9 is a little smoother than this year’s XT, RP3 and RP23 aren’t hugely different and the low speed compression knob of the FOX fork is just more fine tuning. I think the Deluxe is actually a little lighter.

    Ultimately, I think your decision will probably be made by whatever is available as I expect these to start flying off the shelves. They’re that good.

    Anyone want to buy a Large, 07 Blur X9 AM w/ Mavic ST’s?…… I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever ride a 26 inch bike again.

    Do you guys still ride your 26’ers? I’m hesitant to sell my Nomad.

  46. Alex W Says:

    Two quick reactions to Horsetoothed’s comments:

    I tested the Deluxe and stuck with it for two reasons: 1. like you said, availability was big (Deluxe out the door today, or 1 1/2 months for the Pro) and 2. X9 vs. XT is the same to me IMHO, and the extra settings on the forks are lost on me, I don’t play with them all that much.

    I also doubt I’ll go back to a 26″ bike. I’ve had a zero percent success rating on some technical climbs by me on four different 26″ bikes that I made on my first attempt on the GF HiFi 29er. I’ve been on two different hardtails and two different full-squish and never made it up or over some obstacles that I got on my first ride on the 29er. Unbelievable.

    cheers,
    Alex

  47. Mark Says:

    Love this thread as I am considering a HiFi 29er Deluxe. Very savvy comments … But I am wondering about climbing on smoother trails. I heard a lot about climbing over technical stuff, but several of my favorite climbs here in Maine are up smooth trails through blueberry fields.

    Does the HiFi 29er climb as well there as a 26er, or is this where you make a sacrifice for all of the other advantages of a 29er?

    Thanks,

    Mark

  48. Guitar Ted Says:

    Mark: It really depends what you are expecting, but I think you would be fine. The HiFi isn’t a “plush” trail suspension, but rather more towards the racy, stiff side and you could most likely do a set up with the Fox that would be just up your alley.

    I’d recommend a test ride, if you could, to verify this. I think you might be just fine.

  49. Alex W Says:

    Definitely test ride if possible. I have found no deliterious effects on smooth climbs. If there was a weight penalty (I’m not a weight weenie, I haven’t weighed either bike) moving from my 26″ Epic to the HiFi, I haven’t noticed it. In fact, on the steep stuff the larger contact patch more than makes up for any weight penalties there might be: climbs I used to spin out on I now grab onto and head up. While I’m sure there’s some there, I don’t feel any pedal bob and it definitely hasn’t affected my climbs negatively. My Epic still “feels” like a faster bike, but the GF is getting me over and up so much stuff that it’s way more fun for everyday riding. I’ve got three 26″ bikes that haven’t seen the light of day since the HiFi entered my stable.

    cheers,
    Alex

  50. Mark Says:

    GT and Alex … thanks for your replies. I wonder also about the debate about full suspension versus hardtail … seems like the lbs guys recommend hardtail for 29ers because of the extra cushion … but as a 40 plus guy who likes endurance, I am leaning toward full susp. Any thoughts? Thanks.

  51. Alex W Says:

    Hey Mark! Keep in mind that your lbs guys may all be into a particular kind of riding that’s not what you’re looking to do: are they in it for endurance, or are they racing short-track on the weekends?

    In my limited experience (four years riding mtn bikes), the full squish is helpful for a number of reasons. For me, the first and foremost reason to have full suspension is that my back tire rarely bounces over anything on a climb which leads to continual forward momentum. Probably because I started so late in the game mtn biking, I never learned how to finesse the rocks and roots and other stuff that comes up in front of me. When climbing on a hardtail, this frequently led to my rear end bouncing up over stuff which left nothing on the ground propelling me forward; hence I’d lose forward momentum, land on a wheel that was spinning too fast, spin out and be done with that climb. So, long story longer, full sus was a way to cheat my way out of that. 29er full sus was cheating even more and there’s not much I can’t get up and over now. Am I a better rider? Probably not…but my buddies think I am. And I’m having more fun than ever. Still, I’m aware that I’m cheating (but don’t care)
    🙂
    I’m 35 right now, and most of my riding partners are in the 40-50 age range; all but one ride full-sus for its forgiving qualities. The weight penalties for them and for me, are worth it in order to avoid all the jolts your body has to take otherwise. On a 6-hour ride over New England roots and rocks, it makes a difference in whose got fresher legs (and butt, and back) at the end of the day. On the other hand, on a one-hour rip through the woods, our HT guy will leave many of us in the dust.

    Finally, I’d really have to say that any and all of this decision comes down to a personal preference. No bike is good for everything for everyone. The 29’er hardtail will feel more squishy than a 26″ hardtail, no doubt about it. And dual suspension will feel even squishier. See if you can demo an X-Cal and a HiFi from your lbs. Ask them if they’ll apply the demo cost (or half, or part…) towards the purchase of a bike. Even if they won’t, a $50 rental for the weekend is worth it when you consider you might otherwise come home with a $2,500 bike you’re not totally happy with.

    For what it’s worth, the HiFi is the first bike I brought home and had no sense of buyers remorse. I’ve been happy with the money I spent, and I’m really confident that this will be my bike for a long, long time. Now I’ve just got to get my pals to stop pestering me to switch pedals: they ride Time and I’m on SPDs and they want to give the HiFi a shot, but can’t. They sit there and drool with envy.

  52. Guitar Ted Says:

    Mark: I’d have to just say “ditto” to the above comment by Alex. Pretty much nails it.

    My only addition would be that if you see yourself mountain biking twenty years from now, the FS will see to it that you have a chance to get there and enjoy it. A hardtail? Not so much. 🙂

  53. GreenLightGo Says:

    Alex W – go ahead and make the switch to Times – it’ll help make believers out of them.

    I did the Attack on Swayback this weekend and there was a good number of racers on the Hi-Fi. I don’t know that any were expert class but there sure were a few in the Sport class. In fact, 29ers made quite a good showing at the race. I’d say a good 1/4th of the field in Sport overall was on 29ers and the SS ratio was even higher. What blew me away was the Hi-Fi Deluxe singlespeed (using what looked like a Paul chain tensioner).

    I did not test ride one prior to purchasing my Sultan (and don’t regret the Sultan one bit) but I think Fisher executed this bike pretty well.

  54. bdog Says:

    To Horsetooth –
    i bought a 2007 supercaliber when it went on sale in september 2007 because the Hi Fi was coming out. my 26er collected dust for along time, until recently, when i put slicks and some flashy LEDS for and aft and use it to commute to the train and back. I use my old 26er, because really, i don’t care if someone steals it. havn’t stopped riding 29er.

  55. Growler Says:

    I agree with most of the comments regarding the 29er. I have had a GF HiFi Pro 29er since March ’08 and was loving it, until yesterday, when the left lower section of the swing arm snapped. Has anyone else had similar experiences with their GF 29ers? PS, I’m 6’7″ and 188 lbs.

  56. Guitar Ted Says:

    Growler: There were some incidents reported with swing arms that had dual “vent holes” in the swing arm assembly at the crossbar between the left and right sides. The updated swing arms have been better, but I have seen a rare failure of these as well. At any rate, the Fisher warranty should get you back up and running quite soon.

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