They are both kinda tall and leggy and catch your eye as they pass. Hell, I’m gonna go out on a limb and call them the supermodels of the mountain bike world (Hey, this is Interbike 2009, after all, and we’re in Las Vegas where sex sells).
“They” are Santa Cruz’s Tallboy and Fisher’s Superfly 100, both being svelte-yet-built full-suspension carbon 29ers.
Guess you could say that if this were Fashion Week in New York City instead of Interbike in Las Vegas, me getting the opportunity to straddle these beauties is like, um, mounting a supermodel fresh off the catwalk. (OK ladies, before you fire off that scathing email there are male supermodels. So it’d be like you throwing your leg over, er… Fabio – if he was a bicycle, that is.)
Anyway, I digress – Vegas, Outdoor Demo, Spandex-clad crowds, heat, strippers, second-hand casino smoke and fake everything will do that to you. So to repeat, our “supermodels” are the Tallboy (man, is this getting sexually ambiguous or what?) and the Superfly (With a name like that you know yer thinkin’ back-up singers from Sly and the Family Stone, a tub of cocoa butter, a water bed and some groovy Wah-Wah guitar.)
Now that we’ve got your depraved mental images all revved up Vegas-style, let’s throw some cold water on your ass by picturing this: The desert, swoopy, rocky, hilly, sandy, technical singletrack and our aforementioned bikes.
This isn’t the part where I go off about how so-and-so bike frame is 22.5 percent stiffer (is that a word?) than last year’s model – if there were a previous model. Both the Superfly and the Tallboy are new carbon, dually offerings for 2010. What I will go off on is just how agile, fast and responsive both rigs were on the trails in Bootleg Canyon at Outdoor Demo.
Opinions are like…
Yes, yes, I am fully aware of the ongoing debate between lovers of the good-old 26-inch wheeled mountain bike and the 29er; hardtail vs. suspension. Blah, blah , blah. And opinions are like, hmmm, nostrils – everybody has ’em.
My opinion of these 29ers after riding only 26er dualies and hardtails my whole life? Don’t believe the anti-29er hype, at least not for these two bikes (or for most of the other 29ers I rode at Outdoor Demo – both hardtail and suspended.).
One of the biggest knocks on 29ers is that they are dogs on climbs. That wasn’t my experience; the Santa Cruz and the Fisher climbed long ascents with efficient ease while punching up steep inclines was effortless.
Handling in tight turns wasn’t as the naysayers had promised, either. In fact, the reason I may have been a little squirrelly in the corners was because I was going into them faster thanks to my big wheels. At first I was a little suspicious of the tires mounted on those big wheels, as my Blur LT at home is set up with lugged-out 2.4s and the Tallboy and Superfly 100 were running low-tread 2.1s and 1.9s respectively. Still, the big wheels and narrow rubber carried me over rocks and through sand with control and speed.
On a later ride, the Jamis D29 Team carbon hardtail I was on had lugged 2.2s that mowed down some serious technical sections without me wishing for a dually. Before getting to those technical sections there was a good bit of climbing, too, of which the D29’s big wheels and 2X9 drive train made short work.
Pay to Play
As sexy as the Jamis carbon hardtail 29er was, she was more beauty queen compared to our two supermodels. Sure, there are a slew of variables – tires, suspension set-up, build, terrain, legs, lungs – that make the Superfly 100 and Tallboy stand out compared to my girl-next-door 26ers at home. And hell yeah, there were a bunch of smokin’ hot carbon hardtails and dually 26ers that turned my head at Outdoor Demo.
But here’s the rub: No matter what the marketing people say, Vegas and Outdoor Demo (and Fashion Week in NYC with all those supermodels slinking around) ain’t reality – at least not for me. How often do I get to lap the creme de la creme from my finger tips?
It’s said the odds of dating a supermodel are 88,000 to 1 (the odds double or triple when it comes to actually throwing your leg over one with consent). Apparently it costs a lot to wine and dine a supermodel, because even though they don’t eat a lot, what they do eat is expensive. Likewise, to get a chance to mount either of our supermodel 29ers, you’ll also have to pay to play – about $5,500 for the Superfly 100 and up to $4,700 for the Tallboy depending on the build.
The moral of the story? Supermodel 29ers are fine to look at and maybe even fantasize about. Bike lust isn’t a sin, but it’s that good-old-girl-next-door 26er – or maybe even the supermodels’ red-headed step sister, a steel singlespeed 29er – that found its way into your heart and garage that still instills thrills no matter how plain. And the best part is you don’t even need to pay — or hit Vegas — to mount up.
Jamie Bate is the editor of Singletrack.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org