Fisher HiFi Deluxe and '09 Reba Team Fork: Impressions

Many comments were coming in to me by way of the Reba Team post and from e-mails and it would seem that there are more than a few of you curious as to how the Reba Team 120mm fork plays with the HiFi Deluxe, which was developed around a different fork geometry. This post will discuss my riding impressions and give a few insights as to how the geometry was affected by this fork change.

Reba  Team on the HiFi Deluxe

First of all, let’s take a look at how the two forks differed. The stock Fox Shox F-29 100mm travel fork versus the Rock Shox Reba Team 120mm travel fork. The obvious difference is in the fork offset. The Fox being optimized for Fisher’s exclusive G2 Geometry at 51mm of offset. Rock Shox revamped their line of 29 inch compatible Reba models and the offset was changed in the process from 38mm to 46mm. So, a net difference of -5mm of offset is achieved by going to the Reba versus the Fox Shox F-29.

In the axle to crown category, we have the Fox measuring out to 500.8mm, the Rock Shox at approximately 530mm. (my measurement) This obviously affects the head angle, which on an unsagged stock HiFi deluxe is 71 degrees. On my example, with the 120mm Rock Shox Reba Team, it measures out to 69 degrees. The bottom bracket height was also raised slightly in the process.

The handling, which on a stock HiFi is more “XC-ish” went to a decidedly “trail-bikish” feel with the Reba out front. Gone was the steer by the hip feel and the slightly “nervous” feeling in longer descents. Of course, climbing, a stock HiFi’s strong point, was decidedly more sluggish feeling, and I felt that the front end wanted to wander just a bit on longer steeps.

The rear shock seemed to become even more plush than before with the slight change in geometry. The Reba is also very smooth feeling and plush as well. So far, I have not changed my rear shock settings, but I am going to now that I find I am blowing through all the travel on a regular basis with the longer Reba up front. (I even knocked the “o” ring right off the shock shaft on one occaision!) Another thing: With the stiffer Reba and my stiff Gordo/Hope Pro II with Maxle Lite 20mm through axle set up, the rear of the HiFi now feels woefully inadequate. Even with my relatively stiff Gordo/Hope rear wheel, the swing arm flex now seems amplified, since the rest of the bike is so much stiffer.

Reba on the HiFi

On the front side, the Reba makes me want to sit down and spin climbs now. Even with the fork locked out, the geometry begs for a seated climbing/spinning style. I will admit that when I get my rear suspension dialed better, this may change slightly. When things get bumpy, the Reba simply erases the trail obstacles in my way. Descents are easier, as well. I have been searching out more radical lines now, because the descents that were once sketchy on the hardtail are now a piece of cake with the HiFi set up this way. The stability imparted by the Maxle Lite is palpable. Steering precision in techy descents is much better than before with the Fox. The front of the HiFi is definitely one stiff, precise package with this Reba/Maxle Lite on board.

In conclusion, this combination of parts has changed my perception of the HiFi as a great FS XC design to a perception of the HiFi as a decent trail/AM rig that has some limitations inherent in the frame. Namely the swingarm. If the HiFi had a stiffer swingarm with more generous tire clearance, this could be a great trail/AM rig. Of course, another inch of travel out back wouldn’t hurt either.

That said, the HiFi is very rideable, albeit with a totally different personality in the guise I have mine set up in. No longer a fast XC FS machine, it now has more “play-bike” leanings. I have been having a lot of fun with this set up. The thing is, I know it could be better. Rides on other brands that have purpose built long travel 29″ers have this dialed in much better than my set up. Much stiffer chassis with much more refined handling traits are already out there. I wouldn’t recommend doing this to a HiFi to get a trail/AM bike, not because it results in a bad bike, but because there are choices out there that do trail/AM 29″ers far, far better.

Now going to a 100mm travel Reba would be a fine thing to do, and maybe extending your travel for a vacation trip to Moab would “get you by”, but as a permanent set up, this only rates as “good” in my estimation. Especially in comparison to what I have ridden out there.

Look for further updates on the Reba in the coming weeks.

No Responses to “Fisher HiFi Deluxe and '09 Reba Team Fork: Impressions”

  1. MG Says:

    nice review buddy. thanks for the write-up. that’s exactly what i was wondering. it sounds like that fork in a 100mm version would be a perfect match for a certain orange big wheel dualie sitting here in my basement… she’d love that stiff front end, as currently, there’s really been no match for her frame’s awesome stiffness (and with her bolt-on dropouts, it would be easy for one to hypothesize that maxle-lite dropouts could be but a couple of prototypes away from reality, which would boost that stiffness even further, making the platform a natural progression to longer travel, bigger-hit shiznit)… but I digress.

    i’m glad the new reba is working out so well for you, and is pushing the boundaries for frame manufacturers as well… it’ll make for better bikes for us all, and that’s a good thing!


  2. Davidcopperfield Says:

    @GT we get to a point where we need a 120mm HiFi frame and much stiffer rear swing arm perhaps with light titanium 12mm TA out there.
    What would happen if the Reba at 120mm had 51mm offset? Would the bike retain its XCish flickability of 100mm version?
    Could a 120mm rear & front Hi-fi be a long Travle XC 29er?

  3. Slim Says:

    Which trail/Am bikes are much better?

  4. Guitar Ted Says:

    MG: You got that right, man! I know exactly what you are laying down and you and I are right on the same tracks here! That rear drop out is most definitely on the way, and boy oh boy! When it comes, you are gonna see some serious big hit shiznit over this way! 😉

    Davidcopperfield: Hmm……..I would say that due to weight concerns and the perceptions of the current marketplace, that no- a 120mm XC type handling package is not quite in the cards for the HiFi. My guess is that the bike would be modeled more on a Roscoe type design, from Fisher at least.

    The Roscoe is an extremely appealing rig. I test rode one at Interbike. It handles quite well, seems stiff enough, and has great “monkey motion”. If that could be transferred over to big wheels, then I think that is where you will see Fisher Bikes go next with 29″er FS.

  5. Guitar Ted Says:

    Slim: Take a LenzSport Behemoth, or Lunchbox, a Niner R.I.P.9, (and by association, the W.F.O.9 when it comes out in ’09), the Pivot 429, and most likely Turner’s and Ventana’s 29″er long travel FS rigs, (Although I haven’t been on a Turner or Ventana as yet)

  6. Guitar Ted Says:

    Oh yeah! Although I wouldn’t classify a Salsa Big Mama as a “long travel” 29″er, ( 4″ front and rear) it does AM/FR way better than the HiFi too. Just thought I’d throw that out there. 🙂

  7. MG Says:

    i totally agree with you there g-ted. the big mama is an excellent all mountain rig. like most of the bikes mentioned, true freeride terrain would require careful tire, wheel and suspension component selection, but you could do it. my first two weeks with my big mama have been nothing but absolutely stellar. i love it and can’t get enough. it’s very stiff laterally too, both in the main and rear triangles.

    okay then, i’m off to bed.


  8. agu Says:

    How about the VooDoo Canzo 29?

    I thought the Reba Team has a U-Turn option? Maybe setting travel to 110mm may be a good compromise…

  9. GreenLightGo Says:

    Great feedback. I’ve only got one demo ride on the Hi Fi Pro – my thoughts here: Sounds like this would work in curing some of my thoughts w/ the handling – too bad the rear end limits the package.

  10. Fastfossil Says:

    Don’t forget about the Astrix Monk. Mine has a 120mm thru axle fork and is a great all mountain rig – even on the rough trails here in Moab.

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