Gary Fisher Hi Fi Deluxe 29"er: Final Review

It has been since last November that we have had the Gary Fisher Hi Fi Deluxe around here and now it is time to lay down my final thoughts on this 4 inch travel trail bike.

Hi Fi Deluxe

This bike is loaded with features and I have detailed out a few of them over the updates that I have done. Before I get into my final thoughts, I wanted to tick off the major features that impressed me most about the Hi Fi Deluxe 29″er.

G2 Geometry: Much has been said and written about this new development in 29″er geometry. Much has been misunderstood about it. I will keep it brief and say this: It does what it was intended to do. It gives you slow speed stability. It gives you a “less heavy”, snappier feel during turns. It retains high speed handling traits that were present with the original Genesis geometry. Will it be right for you? That’s a tougher question. Read the thoughts at the end for my take.

Fox Fork: It wasn’t all that long ago that you could find a thread on a 29″er forum at about anytime that said something to the effect of “Give me a Fox 29″er fork!” Well, they finally came out with a model and it is of typical Fox quality. (Read: High quality) It performed well, and became an “invisible” component for the most part. Some may have an issue with the amount of travel they are getting out of their Fox F-29’s, but I never had any problems obtaining the full 100mm if I set the shock to what I would call a “middle setting” in terms of air spring pressure for my weight. The rear Fox Float RP2 was as steady as a rock performance-wise. I never could really tell much difference between open and closed in regards to the Pro Pedal feature though. Not that it mattered. It worked great as it was.

Rhythm Wheels: The wheel set on the Hi Fi Deluxe is from the new Rhythm model line from Bontrager, (of course) and it was a really great performing wheel set for me. If only I could have gotten my hands on those dratted Tubeless Ready rim strips that were never available during our test period. Besides that niggle, I was pleased with these wheels.

Final Thoughts: The Hi Fi Deluxe is a great package and can tackle about any sort of trail condition you can throw it’s way short of big drops and that sort of trickery. It is more of a XC/Trail kind of rig, one that you might choose for your next all day mountain/trail/woods ride or for your next 12/24 hour attempt. It smooths out trail chatter nicely, doesn’t bob much, and has traction for the climbs in spades. In fact, that is its strong suit, climbing. At least to my mind. Sit down and grind away in your chosen gear. The Hi Fi will still be willing to roll when you run out of legs and lungs.

Niggles? Besides the unavailable Rhythm rim strips which prevented me from properly turning those hoops into tubeless ready wheels, I did notice a couple of things. First, the rear swing arm is somewhat narrow, reducing choices for rear rubber to something 2.3″ or less with any hope for mud clearance. I found that to be something of a surprise for a rig touted as a trail bike. I would like to see Fisher increase this clearance for at least 2.5 inch meats. As it is, there are several tires that one can fit into the bike, so it’s not a “deal killer”, but perhaps a bit of an oddity in this bikes category. There was some amount of torsional flex in the chassis. I detected something when hitting an off camber with my front wheel which would seem to push it ever so slightly off track from the back wheel. I would say it is a swingarm issue, since the front triangle was pretty stout torsionally in my testing. This problem exacerbates itself with a wheel set that is flexy, so be careful if you switch out wheels. I actually got tire rub with one set I own that is a bit flexy laterally. I would recommend a handbuilt set with a higher tension, or stick with the excellent Rhythm wheels. Finally, the front end was a bit harder to loft than some other 29″er full suspension bikes I have ridden. This might be solved by slightly modifying the rider position, although I felt I was already pretty upright on this bike.

In the end, the Hi Fi wins me over with its great suspension, great spec, and bang for the buck. G2 Geometry is great for most situations. I absolutely loved it in slow speed, technical manuverings. It got to be a handful during extended technical descents, where if your attention waned a bit from the task at hand, the bike was a bit unforgiving. I’m speaking of something long, rocky, and fast. G2 demands that you “get up on the wheel” or pay the consequences in those situations. Otherwise G2 worked great in every other situation I encountered.

The Hi Fi line is a winner. I would hope to see Gary Fisher Bikes continue to evolutionize this platform. With bigger 29″er rubber on the horizon, I would hope to see an improvement in tire clearance in the rear. Perhaps a spec change to a 120mm thru-axle shock would help with the higher speed nervousness in descending. As a first year effort though, you can count on the Hi Fi Deluxe to be a great performer out of the box in most trail situations. I would recommend it as a great Trail/XC 29″er.

This is the final installment on the Gary Fisher Bikes Hi Fi Deluxe. Thanks to Gary Fisher Bikes for the opportunity to test and review this rig.

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

  1. Toddre Says:

    Rear end is flexy on this too?
    Hmmmm…maybe the rear end of my SuperCaliber isn’t as bad as I originally thought…
    Thanks for the write up

  2. BunE Says:

    I have the SC dialed in and I love it.

  3. Dirt McGirt Says:

    I’ve heard time and time again about the flexy nature of these. I don’t know why everyone is whining about that. Can y’all NOT get used to something like that? It’s not a bad thing, actually, It makes for better bermed cornering and kinda steers like a powder ski.

    IDK. Maybe I’m just old school, but I can adapt my riding style to whatever I’m on. And I don’t whine about my equipment either. Maybe I shouldn’t be on the immernets if I can’t whine about my bike…. Or at the very least, I shouldn’t be on MTBR… oh wait, I’m not.

    Thank you.

  4. Guitar Ted Says:

    Dirt: You have a great point there. Yes, you can adapt to the very slight amount of flex in the Hi Fi. I would still submit that your wheels and tires are probably a bigger problem in the area of flex and the wrong choice can compound the matter.

    Otherwise, yeah, you definitely can get used to it. πŸ˜‰

  5. Stumps Says:

    Who can used to the rear end flexing? When the tire rubs right side chainstay like mine did….I couldn’t get used to it. My dealer had to get used to seeing me in for the problem. I thought the bike handled great but if I really railed a turn at high speed or took a good drop the tire rubbed the right side stay. Not good. I heard the new procaliber has rubbing issues as well with the flexy rear end.

  6. Dirt McGirt Says:

    Get better wheels, son. That’s one hell of a bike shop you got there….

    I mean, that’s a rudimentary fix. Why did no one tell you that??

    Well, it could be that or the fact that it sounds like you ride like a gorilla. I rallied corners on a HIFI and on a supercal and had no rub whatsoever. And it was a demo bike, so you know I wasn’t being very gingerly on it.

    Get a hardtail and learn how to ride, kid. That’s all there is to it. Technique.

    I see this type of thing all the time being the service manager for a BRAIN top50 dealer. Work on your skills and you will be fine.

    Might I add that I’m 250 lbs and I still have no problems with frame flex? How, you say? Technique.

    And to answer the first question:
    Someone who knows how to ride well, that’s who can get used to frame flex. I’ve done it myself many many times over.

    Snooch to the Nooch.

  7. Satan Spacemonkey Says:

    I’d like to address one of the points concerning wheel flex.

    1) How much lateral stiffness are you going to get with 28 spoke wheels ?

    2) Bontrager’s external cam quick release skewers are a joke. They just don’t have enough clamping power to adequately keep the axle from wandering around in your drop outs.

    3) To suggest that a potential customer can get used to frame and wheel flex is doing the customer a grave disservice. It’s like saying – hey, this coffee has a little rat poison in it. But you’ll get used to it.

    It reminds me of some of the reviews concerning the old Ibis Bow Tie. The rear end flexed like freaking crazy but because it was marked as a bonus design feature people simply bought into it.

    Seriously, it’s 2008. Full suss bikes have been out for a while so there’s no excuse for it.

  8. Oderus Says:

    Dirt, I have been riding mountain bikes since ’91. I too weigh in at 250+lbs. I have solid technique and skills. I can hang with my skinny counterparts on the trail. I have ridden that bike….it flexes. Different wheels….I don’t think so. I have the Rhythm Elites on my rigid 29er and they are stiff. Besides, how would that guy’s shop look if they told him to buy new wheels on his new bike because the stock ones weren’t any good? The issue is not the wheels. In regards to what Stumpy said about the Procaliber, the rub there is not from the wheels, it’s from the cranks. Specifically the XTR crank under heavy load can rub the stays.

  9. MMcG Says:

    Overall – comparing this Hi-Fi to the former Fisher 292s, 293s, other than G2 and the overall look of the frame, is there anything else that is different?

    I know G2 is a big change, but from a suspension design stand point, the Hi-Fi is still a single pivot like it’s predecessor the Sugar 292s and 293s, and for that matter even the short lived SuperCal and Procalibur right?

  10. Guitar Ted Says:

    Satan Spacemonkey: #1: Plenty stiff here with the Rhythms. I would class them as better in stiffness laterally than some fancy 32 spoke set ups that I have had the pleasure of riding.

    #2: Never had any problems with the steel Bontrager skewers. I find that they hold and clamp rather well. The titanium shafted ones are maybe a question mark, but these I wouldn’t recommend titanium skewers for a suspension bike or for disc brakes.

    #3: Perhaps you might want to consider what the context is in this case, as far as I am saying it. Flex is an inherent and desirable thing in bicycle design. Only when it detracts from performance, and more importantly, functionality of a design is it a bad thing. This is what I think is trying to be portrayed here. Of course, if flex impinges upon function and performance, then we have problems. In the case of the Hi Fi, I found no such problems that would raise my eyebrows. It was flexy wheels in my case……oh yeah! Did I mention that they were 32 hole Stan’s Flow rims? πŸ˜‰ Yep!

    Oderus: I had not heard that XTR cranks were flexy. (If I understand you correctly) It would seem odd that this would be the case.

    MMcG: to be sure, Fisher, and for that matter most companies, are not breaking any new ground suspension design-wise with the new crop of FS 29″ers. What is “new” is the design challenges of such attempts at full suspension what with longer swing arms, different geometries, and rear damper ratios being figured out. Sure, to the naked eye the previous Fisher attempts may look identical/similar, but small changes in pivot placements, geometry of rockers, etc can have huge affects on how a 29″er performs.

    I was taken “behind the curtains” as it were, with the Salsa Big Mama project and their three iterations of prototypes all look very similar, but rode drastically different from each other. So, as you are aware from your time at Balfa, things are not always what they seem from the skin of it, ya know? πŸ™‚

  11. Oderus Says:

    GTed, it’s not the cranks that are flexy, it’s the rear end. Under heavy force, it sways enough that the XTR crank hits the stays. You should see it on one of your dealer resources

  12. MMcG Says:

    GT – I hear ya on the subtle changes things – yep. Thanks for the response.

    Mark

  13. Dirt McGirt Says:

    Wow, looks like we have a bunch of gorillas passing as mountain bikers in here.

    By a show of hands, how many people in here have broken a frame before?!?!

  14. Oderus Says:

    “a” frame? Why stop at one. My personal best is 4 in 1 year. If memory serves me correctly, I have broken 9 frames in the past 18 years. With any luck, I will add another notch to my workbench before this season is up.

  15. Dirt McGirt Says:

    I’ve been riding since 1991 and have NEVER broken a frame….

    And don’t say I’m not riding hard enough, cuz that’s not the case.

    What does that say about y’all?

  16. Oderus Says:

    That we ride harder and go bigger than you do! lol

  17. Dirt McGirt Says:

    LOL! I knew SOMEBODY would go there!! Glad to see we got it out of the way quick this time!!
    Good show!

  18. Carl Martens Says:

    I love your blog and have found it very useful as I look into building a 29er for myself. Do you have any thoughts on 69er vs 29er?

  19. Guitar Ted Says:

    Carl Martens: Hey, thanks for the compliments. I appreciate that. πŸ™‚

    69ers? (Lots of you longtime regular readers already know the answer to this one. πŸ˜‰ )

    I think that the 69er concept is fine as a bicycle. First and foremost, it can be fun and I have ridden a couple before. Not a problem to get one to work off road. My beef is that it still has a 26 inch rear wheel that does all the things a 26 inch rear wheel does.

    Early proponents of the design thought that the front wheel made the rear wheel better somehow. That in a strange sort of magical way, the 29 inch front wheel and 26 inch rear wheel suddenly became something else altogether. This is pure wishful thinking.

    The rear wheel of a 26 inch wheeled bike does the same thing as the rear wheel on a 69er. Same thing, period. And I like what a 29″er rear wheel does better.

    29″er rear wheels have better traction and roll over stuff easier. they carry their momentum better and are more stable in all situations where the wheel is turning. My take is that if you want a 29″er front for what it’s good for, you might as well get the rear too, since that bike will be that much better. (The full on 29″er, that is.)

    Okay, that’s my take on the performance side. As a concept, this is going nowhere. Without Trek’s support of the idea, it would already be an after thought. Trek is just prolonging the inevitable.

    Your mileage may vary.

  20. Velociphile Says:

    Great blog. Always checking up. Really appreciate the effort you put in.

    But, Ted,… mate,….. it’s ‘evolve’ not ‘evolutionize’.

    πŸ˜‰

    Velo

  21. mudslinger0009 Says:

    So my rear triangle seems to have more than normal flex, I assume that’s just the way it is with this bike or have any of you found something else, say like blown bushings?

    This is my first 29er, love how smooth and fast it is down hill but hate the soft flex feel of the FS. test rode a hard tail 29er and love how responsive it was. FS is a little heavy for racing I have found.

    Muddy

  22. Inneedofbetterskills Says:

    Recently went over the handlebars and separated my shoulder during a technical decent.
    What did you mean by G2 demands that you β€œget up on the wheel”?

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