Gary Fisher Hi Fi Deluxe 29"er: Update

Hi Fi in the desert

It has been awhile since I have been able to throw a leg over the Hi Fi Deluxe 29″er on true off road trail since the area where I have been living has become home to seemingly perpetual ice and snow conditions. That is why I took the Hi Fi Deluxe on vacation with me to El Paso Texas. (The same place I have been riding the Siren Song) Here is an update of the Hi Fi Deluxe 29″er for you to take a look at……finally!

I should mention that I felt compelled to make a couple of modifications to the stock Hi Fi Deluxe set up. I will detail those now: First, the wheels and tires were going to be needing to be tubeless due to the cactus infested trails I would be riding on. Since the rim strips necessary for the Rhythm wheels to be made tubeless were not yet available, I went with the Bontrager Race X Lite TLR wheels we tested last year. I shod those with a fresh set of Bontrager Dry X tires and called that good. Secondly, the Bontrager grips were not agreeing with my paws, so I swapped out for a pair of Team Green Ergon GE 1 grips. Thirdly, and last of all, I swapped out the 160mm front rotor for a 185mm one. Peace of mind for me more than anything else there.

Now it was off to ride the same loop I did on the Siren Song. Again, I was facing some of the rockiest technical terrain I have ever ridden. The Hi Fi sucked it all right up and asked for more. This bike made riding these trails so much easier that I cleaned sections that surprised me. The limiting factor? Not the bike, but my lack of fitness this soon in the season. That is something I knew would be a limiting factor, so I was all right with that. At least the bike was up to the task!

The overriding factor that kept coming into my mind as I rode was how well the Hi Fi platform climbs. I was clawing up loose rocky ascents with ease that was surprising me. Bigger rocks and step ups were no hindrance. The bike had as much traction as I needed every time, the Dry X tires having a great deal to do with that as well, no doubt. The rear suspension was using all of its travel but I didn’t notice it. The average travel was about 2/3rds of the shock stroke, so I was using a fair amount of the travel on most of this trail. That doesn’t surprise me one bit. The quality of the travel wasn’t buttery smooth like say, a Niner R.I.P.9, it was firm, yet forgiving. That’s the best I can come up with to describe it. No weird flexiness was apparent. No rubbing of the chain stays or anything negative in that way at all was experienced.

The front shock was a slightly different story. I never got the full stroke out of it- probably three inches or slightly less was all. Funny thing was is I didn’t notice that it wasn’t traveling the full 100mm. The Fox F-29 was very rigid laterally and fore and aft. No weird sensations in off cambers, rock fields, or high speed cornering. I was just a bit disappointed to see it only got part of the travel on hand. I could have futzed with the air pressure, but as I checked the sag just before the ride, it was spot on, so I didn’t bother to try that. I will say that the balance front to rear felt great to my mind.

A word on G2: I really like G2 geometry for most of the riding I do, but I found myself wishing for something maybe not quite so eager to turn on these super technical and rocky trails. I had to really be on top of the steering to make sure I didn’t get in over my head. Now to be fair, there also were several times I was glad for it, as I made a quick maneuver around a broken off chunk of prickly pear, for instance. Or when the slow speed attributes of G2 came into play, I was loving it. It is just that the front end of a G2 29″er handles so much like a 26″er, and less like a 29″er, that’s all. You just have to pay attention. Let you mind wander off the task at hand for a moment, you could be eating cactus! Well, if you were riding in El Paso Texas, you would!

Other than that niggle, the front end was rock solid and never felt vague or flexy in any way. That monstrous down tube on the Hi Fi’s frame is the reason for this. It allows for a huge weld area to attach to the head tube and the top tube. The bottom bracket area benefits from this as well.

A couple of notes on the rest of the bike: The cassette has one gear on it that wants to pick up the side plate of the chain in one place and results in an annoying “click” once every cassette revolution in that gear. The Avid Juicy brakes have worked just great throughout the testing period so far, even in ice and snow. The SRAM drive train is great as always. ( The cassette issue not with standing) Shifts were made easily and whenever I needed them. The Shimano two piece crank has been great and feels solid. Nothing shifts like Shimano’s front chain wheels, that’s for sure. The Bontrager Race X Lite wheels are not really supposed to be brutalized like I did, but they came through with flying colors. I never expected to be this pleased with their performance. Of course, the tubeless ready system employed by Bontrager is top notch stuff. Highly recommended! Dry X tires are really surprising in their performance here too.

I will say in conclusion to this update what I murmured to myself as I put the bike away after the ride on that rocky trail the other day, “What a fun bike!” That about sums up the Gary Fisher Hi Fi Deluxe in a nutshell. Stay tuned for further updates coming soon!

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No Responses to “Gary Fisher Hi Fi Deluxe 29"er: Update”

  1. mg Says:

    Nice review Guitar Ted. I had wondered how the G2 handling was going to be down there, and you definitely answered my questions there. And honestly, from the sounds of the amount of travel you were getting out of the rear, I’m not surprised at the travel you were getting out of the front. Sounds like you actually had it balanced out fairly well, if set a bit stiff. Perhaps your Fox components are still breaking in as well… the 08 stuff is taking a while, I’ve heard from a few people (though I have no first-hand experience with it (yet, I hope).

    Thanks for the update!

    Cheers,
    MG

  2. mg Says:

    Bummer… I tried to comment on this a second ago, but all my comments were lost. 😦

  3. ScottS Says:

    GT,

    I had the same issues on my G2 Fox as you mentioned regarding travel on my Rig at both 80 and 100mm. I drained the fluids from the non drive side (air chamber) and refilled according to spec and the problems went away. From what I gathered through some research, it is common on new fox forks to have this problem.

    I also demoed a Hifi pro and thought the rear was very harsh compared to my expectations of this much travel and wondered if a high volume canister on the RP23 would help the issue. I did note that the Hifi wheelied on command easier than any other 29er I have demoed which I though was a nice feature.

  4. Davidcopperfield Says:

    What would be the differences between Hi-fi pro and Hi-fi deluxe while riding? Just the weight and apparel?

  5. Dennism Says:

    I just finished a week long vacation riding at Palo Duro in Texas on my new HiFi Deluxe and I completely agree with this review. My stock HiFi worked flawlessly, handled the rough terrain smoothly, climbed very well, and was fast through the tight singletrack. Palo Duro has all types of trails – wide, narrow, climbs, descents, rocks, drops, sand, hard pack – and I had a great time riding those trails on this machine. It is very fast and smooth.

  6. Runjwalker Says:

    I’m a medium sized rider and found the HiFi to be the best performing bike out of many I tried at the Ballyhoo last year. There were others that I like better in one aspect or another but when I added up everything about the HiFi it really has high marks in many areas which made it my number one choice overall. I may be a bit biased though because I do ride a 26er full suspension half the time and a 29er rigid ss the rest of the time so the G2 geometry really made me feel comfortable on the HiFi. I also was amazed at how well the HiFi pedaled up that big first hill on the Decorah trails, and I rode it probably on my 4th time heading up it, so that says a lot. I say rode but it was more like mashing and gasping, then dropping to the ultimate granny gear and spinning while gasping. Haha. I have to say that for someone who likes the light, quick handling characteristics of a 26er, the HiFi is really a great choice for a 29er, I really felt that this bike of all I have ridden did an excellent job of combining the best of both worlds. I’m glad that you pointed that out about the steering because it made me realize why I probably enjoyed that model so much.

  7. Guitar Ted Says:

    Thanks for all the comments.

    mg: Yeah, maybe it is still breaking in. That’s possible. I’ll keep an eye on that.

    ScottS: I have heard this from others about the fluid being set at too high a level in the fork leg. Another possibility I may explore. As far as a rear damper unit, I wonder if the Rock Shox Monarch with the high volume can would fit. Might be interesting.

    Davidcopperfield: My thought is you would only notice a bit lighter weight on the climbs. A bit more sophisticated suspension as well.

    Dennism, Runjwalker: Glad you are both digging your rides! Thanks for chiming in. 🙂

  8. BruceBrown Says:

    G-Ted:

    It’s pretty impossible for Fox to have a rear shock that encompasses all weights and riding styles of so many riders. If I owned the HiFi – I would send the Fox RP2 rear shock off to Push Industries to have the Factory Tuning Service done to dial it in for my weight and riding style.

    I’ve done this with my Fox Float R on the Sugar and it’s a night and day difference to have it tuned for my specific weight and riding style.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Isn’t the Hifi Deluxe lighter than the Hifi Pro?

  10. Bear on 29s Says:

    Thanks for the review!

    This review, among others is what convinced me to pick up the HiFi 29 pro. I was loving the ride until I CRACKED the swing arm… TWICE! GF was pretty good at sending me anothe swing arm, took about 10 days from breaking to back on. Then I broke the replacement yesterday. Both times it happened mid climb while really torquing the cranks. I wanted to see if this has been a problem for anyone else. Its very frustrating, especially considering I have a duathlon next sunday and my confidence in this frame is nil. ANY feedback regarding this is appreciated.

    Cheers

  11. Granite Says:

    Damn, I did not want to hear about a cracked swing arm. I’ve been on a new HiFi frame for a couple weeks which was provided by GF to replace my Supercaliber frame which cracked on the….wait for it….. swing arm! Hopefully confidence in the frame will grow with each successful ride, because I do love the bike.

  12. Rob Says:

    I wanted to add, I have a 26″ Hifi Pro, and I also do not use the full travel on the Fox front, thanks for the tip about Push Industries. Also, last week I broke the frame, at the weld, rear chainstay of the swing arm.

  13. RustInRivers Says:

    Hey Bear same thing happened to mine. Hearing it happened to you twice is not encouraging. I road mine for about 5 months and put about 600 miles on the bike before the chain stay snapped (at the weld I believe) down where it all comes together with the seat stay and rear drop outs. The weld looks beefier on my new swing arm so I’m hoping this one lasts. I’m an aggressive rider but I never did anything stupid or abusive. Just honest hard trail riding. Do have to say Fisher was really good about getting a new one out to me and the local shop gave me a demo to ride in the mean time. Didn’t put me out more than a couple weeks.

  14. Brokenpieces Says:

    I too have broken 2 swingartms. Once on the rear dropout and the sceond time on the bottom next to the cranks. I also cracked front triangle at the seat tube first weld above the shock mount. Love the ride hate the broken parts.

  15. Davir Says:

    i have also broken my fisher hi-fi 29 at the swing arm near the crank i think it happened cranking up a steep trail. i miss the hell out of it 26 inch bike is not the same.

  16. DontLikeWaitnForParts Says:

    I have a 2007 Supercaliber 29er and just broke the second swingarm today. The last one took 2 months to get replaced and I had to contact the rep myself several times. I weigh 150 lbs and ride xc trails. No big drops, just rocky single track. I have to say, I love the bike but the swingarm breaking does scare me a bit. I would like to see the stats from GF that show: of the bikes sold, how many of the swingarms have broken and how many of these are repeat breaks?

  17. dennism Says:

    After 650 miles, just riding along :-), the driveside rear dropout snapped in two. It was a machined dropout that looked lightweight and dainty. My LBS loaned me a brand new Specialized 29er FSR which I rode for about 10 days before my HiFi was returned to me with a brand new swingarm and solid, beefy dropouts. I was so glad to be back on my HiFi, a far superior bike in my opinion, even after the broken dropout. I ride my HiFi hard, in the mountains of North Carolina, the Canyons of Palo Duro Tx, and many places in between. I was stunned when it broke, but feel better about it now with the design change and I still love the bike. I now have 873 miles on it without any more damage.

  18. Lilkev Says:

    Well its April now and I’m back on my third replacement rear end! This time I also have a new front frame as well. And thanks to Fisher the replacement colors are black, no more silly blue! I’m also on a new set of wheels as the originals have 500-7– miles on them and need constant truing. If you’r under 200 lbs I think it’ll be a good ride for ya! At 250 I do believe I personally need a stronger frame. But you can’t beat the handling of this design. RIDE ON!!!

  19. Unknown Says:

    I have an ’08 Hi-FI Pro 29 that I purchased in Oct ’07…one of the first owners. During the ’08 season I logged over 3500 miles on the HI FI Pro 29er. At about the 1500 mile mark I also cracked the swing arm, right through the center of the support behind the rear link. The swingarm was warrantied with no issues. As long as GF continues to warraty the part, I really don’t have an issue. My rigs take a beating during racing season.

  20. Ollie Says:

    Ride a ’08 Hi-Fi Deluxe and had the rear swing arm crack at 1500 km mark.

  21. Perry Says:

    I have a 21″ Supercaliber 29er, purchased April 2007, now riden about 250 miles. I’m a 200 lb reasonably strong rider. Nothing extreme. First noticed rear tire maiking contact with the left side crank on a moderately steep climb. Rub continued even on the flats. Somehow tire drifted toward left stay. Took it into shop where purchased and they deemed to re-dish the wheel back to center, even a little hard right. First ride uphill felt some rubbing like resistance and as the climb continued intense deep contact occured numerous times between the nubby tire and the left stay. I was able to easily recreate the contact with a lean and powerful crank. Back to the shop where they have reviewed the bike with the “Rep” and determined to replace the rear wheel… Have not received the bike back yet and not sure what good the fix will actually do. Any similar experiences with the GF Supercaliber 29er?

  22. Perry Says:

    correction: making contact between left side rear frame triangle or stay and tire. not “crank”.

  23. DontLikeWaitnForParts Says:

    Just had to post an update to my last comment to say that the new owner of Route 31 Board and Ski did me right on this fix. No waitin this time. Within one week he had a new frame in the shop…grant it…they sent a 26 inch frame and he had to return it to get the 29 version. By the next Friday I had a new 29er HiFi Pro as they no longer make the SuperCal 29er dual suspension. I have been riding the bike since then and gotta say I love it. A good shop and Gary Fisher came through this time. No buggin the rep, no calling constantly.

    I would warn that if you have a med or larger frame and go to a small, you should change the crank to a 170mm. I found on rare occasions that the combination of the fork flex on a downhill and the extra 5mm on the crank would caus my toe to rub the wheel. Almost got launched a couple of times.

    Some additional notes…the HiFi 29 seems to be a good bit stiffer and tighter than the Super Cal. This translates to faster climbs and better handling in the single track, more like a 26″. I am really enjoying this bike. Hoping the frame holds up better than the Super Cal did, but even if it doesn’t, GF is great when it comes to backing it’s product. And…if I am not mistaken…it is still made in the USA. I would buy another one and recomend it to anyone looking for a new ride.

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