by Ben Haworth
December 15, 2009
A "video walkthrough" for Matt’s Gary Fisher Hifi 29er full-susser …
Matt’s Gary Fisher 29er Hifi Pro
From: Trek UK
Weight: 28 lbs
The Hifi has had a lot of use over the last 8 months – mostly by other people than me! It seemed to be one of those bikes that people wanted to try – especially the more cynical 29er wheel riders amongst us (myself included).
Before I broke my ankle in the Spring I rode it a lot. The thing that immediately stands out is how “long legged” it is. It really is a bike for riding out over the countyside with, over far distant hills. It doesn’t feel too ungainly between your legs.
I’m 5′ 8″ (on a good day) and a lot of 29ers I’ve cast a leg over have had odd “tiptoeing” feeling. They feel like I’m sitting away from the bike. The Hifi felt like I was sitting in the bike. The cockpit felt very normal. My relationship to the handlebar bar felt natural. Gary Fisher’s Genesis geometry absolutely makes sense on this type of bike; the large front wheel, your centre of balance back a bit further. It is almost impossible to endo. It also has a Fisher-specific 51mm offset fork that does make it handle better than a standard 29er over a wider variety of riding speeds.
The bike in general is a safe pair of hands. It’s capable but it does lack some of the aspects of which I look for in my bikes. Even if it does roll better because of the wheel size, it certainly didn’t feel as composed down more technical stuff than something like the Lapierre X-Control or the Santa Cruz Blur XC Carbon (reviewed last issue). The Hifi isn’t as “involving” to ride. It was also noticeably more flexible than a 26” wheel equivalent bike, which could be mildly alarming during hard cornering. Stiffer wheels and a bolt-thru fork would help here I think.
All this isn’t so much a damning criticism, it’s more indicative of a sense of where this bike wants to be ridden. Big marathon rides and smooth, swoopy singletrack – where it makes perfect sense. Stuff where you’re keeping your speed at a constant state (whether that’s settling down to a 6hr ride or a 90min trail centre thrash). The type of riding that I prefer (full throttle then hard braking to crawling pace, and repeat) isn’t what this bike is meant for.
Component wise it all worked so well it was unnoticeable. It almost goes without saying that I ditched the lethally traction-less Bontrager XDX tyres. I also added (surprise surprise) a wider flat handlebar from Element.
Overall: If technical thrutching is your thing, this bike’s not for you. If your riding consists of most of the South Downs in a day… or you do a lot of Marathon events… or you live near a nice, smooth trail centre this bike will carry on effortlessly mile after mile.
If you’re not a Premier User, you can read the full version of this review in the current issue of Singletrack Magazine…