I recently got to check out some new bikes from Santa Cruz and Giant. Here is my XC racer biased take on what I had a chance to try.
Santa Cruz Blur Trail Carbon size M – this bike has potential to be one of the most fun bikes you ever have owned, if you live in the right place. At first it was a bear on the tight XC trails of Darling Hill at Kingdom Trails. The bike pedaled well enough actually really well, but was just too damn slack to make tight turns. after I left some air out of the front shock to get it to feel plusher and the bike become almost fun on tight singletrack. My own 29er was still alot more fun, as was the tallboy both of which have much steeper head angles. Then I hit a trail called kitchell. Kitchell is a flowly Slope style downhill with berms, tables, and pumpable rollers. This bike really came alive on this trail and begged for more. It geo of being low,slack with 5 inches of travel made this thing ride on rails down this trail. It was a joy to manual over the tables, and really loved being thrown into the turns. Overall I think this bike is not a great bike for most place in vermont, or most places back east but if your deal is pedaling a couple hours to get a long fast flowly or technical decent this could be the most fun bike on the market. this would be alot of fun on say Porcupine Rim,Moab, Ut or Flying Dog, Park City, Ut.
Compenents – Full XX including, an XX revelation, and brakes, and fat tubeless tires. everything on this bike worked flawlessly
Santa Cruz Tallboy Alloy size M – This is a great bike, its eat up trails with speeds, quickness, stability and flat out just steam rolled terrain. It was way better at tight EC riding than the Blur TrC, the bike climbed over technical stuff that was great but wasnt as plush as a maestro bike. Bike maintained it line really easily and I cleared several tech sections that give me fits on my hardtail SS. The quirk though are this, in really tight stuff it just did not feel right, the front end was sometime tough to control and felt very 29er in the wrong ways as well as the good ways. My monocog by comparisons is alot more nimble on tight trails
components – Full XX again – the shifting was less than great on this bike. It was clunky and frequently missed shifts despite me trying to reindex it. I chaulk it up to being a beat on demo bike.
Giant Anthem X 29er size M – you know the song anything you can do I can do better? This bike is the fastest XC bike I have ridden in my short life. I do not know what makes it so fast. but the stiffness from the BB30 BB, the stiff frame, the big wheels or maaaybe my knickname Josh Lemond. Whatever it was even in the parking lot it was apparent that this thing get off the line quick and can hold speed like no other. Climbing on the road it was easy to maintain a high speed and burst when I wanted to. Once on dirt it just had ridiculous traction on the uphill in any type of conditions. On singletrack once I got the fork air right , this bike ripped despite it dumb overinflated tubed tires. Nearly perfect, Jedi like handling. every thing I didnt like about this bike could be easily changed. I will own this bike eventually.
Components – Full XX – rear shifting was great, brakes were amazing, front shifting didnt like to go to the big ring. Tires were tubed and it rolled slower, rougher and cornered slower because of it. It could have used bigger than a 2.1 on the front of it as well. Giant put tubeless on your demo bikes!! the stock Fizik seat flat out blew and was like sitting on a skinny cinder block. I also feel the stock stem was bit long, and the handlebar could have used alot more sweep.