Got a first ride report and it isn't even my bike.
Though I wish it was.
Was lucky enough to test ride a thoroughly thrash a New Gary Fisher Big Possum XT around today. The fun part was that I was getting paid to ride it. That factor does not have any factor based on if I enjoyed the bike or not.
Took it to Round Valley for the test since I get into there for free(If you can get a season pass, it pays off, for all state parks.) The color on it is simply amazing, this is the first Gary Fisher that feels right to me. The bike was a blast to ride.Had a Pike 409 on the front, which felt really good, and a Manipoo air shock on it, it did welll for that particular bike though.
Anyways, to the ride itself, I treated it like I would treat my Kona, put it through hell and back basically. From the ride, I got a really good idea what would need to be changed on the bike for this area. What I found was that, The bike handled well, except for the tires, those Big Earls just really lack on that particular bike. Had to ride out of several washouts due to tires losing grips, where the conti's on my Kona wouldn't even lose traction. The Big Possum sucks up the bumps very well, the suspension travel is smooth. With braking, the HFX 9's did an ok job on stopping, I would have put a set of Juicy 7's on a bike in that price range though. On a side note, Hayes has got to do what Avid did with the rotors for the Juicy series, make the rotors stiffer, I felt, heard the rotors flex under hard cornering. I did feel a little brake jack, but nothing worth worrying over, unlike a Prophet, which I felt quite a bit in. I do think that the Big Possum does ride a bit better than an FSR bike does in the turns, it just feels planted.
It's equipped with XT deraillieurs with LX triggers, with the Bontrager Race Crankeset which is external. Which brings me to my 2nd needs improvement out of 2. The gearing is way too low, it was easier to climb in the middle chainring than it was with the granny gear. Looped out on the granny gear on the front and the 3rd lowest on the rear cluster. That can be overlooked though since not everyone uses the same gear range as the person right next to them.
So overall, I found this bike to be a blast to ride, and yes this is the first geared, full suspension bike I have really ridden in ages. I had fun, and now I want to get a Fat Possum XT and set it up how I want it. It was a sad moment when I had to leave it at the shop, got really attached to it in such a short time. If I was to rate it out of 10, 1 being lowest and 10 highest, I would give it a 9.5/10, and a 10/10 with different tires on it.
What was good: The suspension felt great.
Quiet bike in general.
It did not feel as stretched out as other Gary Fishers do.
It can take a real beating.
What needs changing: Get rid of the Big Earl tires, they still lose traction on even a lightly loose surface, let alone a bed of rocks that vary in size and shape.
The gearing needs to be higher.
One particular antidote with it was that after the ride when I was cleaning the bike I figured out why there was no chainstay protector on the chainstay. Since the chain resides below the chainstays, the chainstay protector should be on the bottom, instead, it was on top of the chainstay. Probably a rare goof up, being that this bike was handbuilt in the US.