We did it. Interbike 2015. Two days of outdoor demo and two days of indoor show. At outdoor demo we rode a Scott Spark, a Santa Cruz 5010, a Scott Genius 900, a Pivot 429 Trail, and the S-Works Camber 29. At the show, we focused on tires, walkable spd shoes, and a few tools and a little bit of clothing. Check it out…
SCOTT Spark 900 Premium
Coming in just a hair over 23 lbs., the Spark is full-on 29er cross country whip. I fantasize about needing a bike like this for an endurance race, but there were just too many personal roadblocks on this bike for me to fall in love. The first three strikes are only sort of the bikes fault. 1. no dropper - yes I get it that XC bikes are supposed to be light and minimal 2. small tires. The demo track was rocky and technical, so something slightly beefier would have helped a lot. 3. Twin Loc suspension lockout works great on long dirt road climbs, but isn't something I want to mess with on trail. I need a little more set-it-and-forget-it readiness. My fault for picking an XC demo bike. This is what I was riding 3 years ago, so we're expecting our bikes to do quite a bit more these days than just go fast on smooth terrain
Santa Cruz 5010
I'm currently riding the SOLO for my fun trail bike, so I had to check in with Santa Cruz to see how they've updated this bike since it was introduced three years ago. Geometry has been tweaked - the head tube is now 67 degrees - one degree slacker, the top tube is longer and the seattube is steeper. The rear triangle linkage is revamped as well. That's a Pike RCT3 130 fork up front and a FOX Float Factory EVOL in back. I give Santa Cruz credit for sending out demo bikes with proper fat treads like Maxxis Ardents and Minions on Enve M60 rims. The bike felt tuned up and a bit more responsive than the bike I have at home. A worth upgrade to an already rad bike. The royal blue with chlorine details is pretty too.
SCOTT Genius 900 Tuned
The Genius 900 is the kind of bike you want for Arizona Trail or Colorado Trail race. It comes in at just over 25 lbs. and is 130mm of travel front and rear. “Tuned” means that Scott has worked closely with FOX to custom tune the suspension to the bike. Unless you're riding big drops or racing enduro or downhill I can't imagine needing more bike than this. It's nimble enough for endurance races and loaded with light bags, you'd be able to go bikepacking on fairly technical courses. This bike is a solid contender for a capable all-rounder. A 5 inch 29er will take you far and you'll have fun doing it.
PIVOT 429 Trail
The Pivot 429 Trail finally hits the sweet spot! The Pivot 429 has been around for awhile now, but I feel like this version really nailed it. I've been looking for a quiver killer like this. We could pick apart the geometry and the parts to explain this bikes success, but ultimately it comes down to the fact that the bike inspires confidence and it feels fast. It feels noticeably more confident climbing than any bike I rode and made me want to find drops and technical rocks bits to test it. Some folks will roll their eyes at the boost 148 spacing on the rear hub, but Pivot says it takes care of the lack of stiffness folks complained about in the past with 29ers. The other thing I see Pivot doing is offering the ability to customize their bikes. With the 429 trail, riders can choose 120 or 130mm forks and have the ability to run 27+ wheels. I really loved this bike and can't wait to spend more time on one. The only complaints I had were the LEV dropper post always hesitated before it did it's job and I worry about the external cable routing being vulnerable to rocks. I'm not sure if anything can be done about that. Pivot says it's able to offer a more affordable bike like this, but with so many companies doing slick internal routing, it just seems unfinished. Still, that's a minor complaint and I still want to see what I can do on this bike.
S-Works Camber 29
I had heard good things about this bike. I was also anxious to ride the RS-1 fork, since it's supposed to have superior damping qualities. I guess this bike should have a nice intuitive feel, since it retails for $9800. What can I say, the bike felt great. It did feel a bit more planted and cross country in feel compared to the 5010 or the PIVOT429. I'm guessing that the 30mm wide rims and the RS-1 contributed to this stability. If you have the cash, this could be the perfect endurance XC race bike, but it does feel limited in it's all-around trail abilities. I'm pretty skeptical about the SWAT door. On one hand it would be nice to stash a mini pump and a tube in there for emergencies, on the other it seems unnecessary and I'd forget what I had in there. I applaud Specialized for making bikes like this, since they push what's possible in mountain bikes. They've come so far from The Rockhopper Comp I bought in 1988!