I had heard that Mark had offered us the use of Highland for some test runs. Needless to say, I wanted to get the bike out and do some back to back comparisons between the R9 and the F-bomb. Max, one of my guys from the shop was kind enough to assist me as did Wilson who snapped a few pics.
First thing we did was get the new bike set up for Max's riding preferences. It wasn't too difficult as he built up the bike last week. We knew already that it pedals really well so I loosened the damping quite a bit to start with. I don't think the same settings would work on a normal day, it was 20 and the wind was blowing.
I had Max session some rough sections that had been shreaded by riders in the rain and had frozen that way. The bike tracked awesome and had no tendency to pack or drift in high frequency stutters. We headed to a nice steep rock garden and noticed the fork was soft and we were a bit deep in the front travel but it was OK. Same thing, he drilled it several times on both bikes.
We then worked on some slow sprints through the rough,
then we sampled a section of hellion (a new BMX top to bottom run) Max was able to nail a step-up twice, one he had never cleaned before. He then fired off several runs over a BIG jump into a steeply banked, very rough turn.
Here are my findings from this brief early test.
Pedaling, someone who has ridden more bikes than I will have to be the judge. It pedals very flat with no chain growth or torque reaction at all.
Rock gardens It's very good and easy to change lines, no drifting and minimal speed loss (this is something to watch other bikes for) We didn't find the big square edge we were looking for but so far, so good. I also feel that the slacker head angle has a nice effect in extreme steep and rough. We ran very small tires (not the 2.7's that it was weighed with) and it was very fast in the rough.
handling the flickability of this bike is amazing. I watched Max over do bunnyhops and side moves, the bike responds quickly and effortlessly. It turns well and compresses far less that the 9 in big g-outs.
Summary Max loves the bike and I felt like I could ride extremely fast with confidence. While the straight-rate rear shouldn't be as plush as the 9, perhaps the greatly reduced un-sprung weight had major effect. Could be the shock is tuned to open bypasses at lower pressures, I don't know but it works very well even in freezing temps. As you know the frame is under eight lbs. with a steel spring shock. it's made from the same tube as the R9. It just has has less machined parts and only one small steel bolt and two double-row bearings. I have major confidence in it's construction and it's freakishly stiff with ZERO flex in the rear stays ...ZERO... and it's apparent the moment you nail the gas. I really can't wait to see people ride this and try to keep a straight face.
Thanks to Mark, Max and Wilson for todays efforts, thanks to my sinister family for the fire in my belly and thanks to the future F-bomb owners who have supported this rewarding effort. I tip my hat to you..