Our contact in the states, Jon Severson, attended the recent Interbike Dirt Demo, at the worlds biggest bike trade show, Interbike. Here’s what he found…
Before I go into details I’d like to point out that each bike was setup to my weight and size by the representitives of each company according to their specs. Little things like stem length and weight were not changed. Both front and rear shocks were tuned I should add.
This bike is one I have wanted for a long time. Not anymore. While it was a very nicely handling bike, I didn’t feel the suspension was as advanced as claimed. While it didn’t seem to hurt braking at all and reacted quite well to the terrain, it seemed affected by pedaling more than they claimed it would be. Nice bike, but I do not think it is worth the money. Also I wouldn’t call the people at Ellsworth “unfriendly” by any means, but I felt as though they were the least responsive and they didn’t give me a positive portrayle of the company. As though their suspension system was THE best. Other companies were much more friendly to deal with and helpful.
Titus Racer X
I have mixed feelings about this bike due to the fact that they had it set up with a VERY narrow handlebar (the rest used either a slight rise or a wide bar) and the stem was jacked up quite high as well compared to a normal bike. The frame fit otherwise though. Suspension action was good and the Titus built swingarm is a HUGE improvement over the old AMP design. If I never road the others I would have been very tempted to order one on the spot. The people at Titus are very nice and the price of the frame was reasonable compared to the others I tested (the Santa Cruz being a bit cheaper). I’d recommend it to anyone interested, just don’t think it will end up in my stable.
Well I’ve heard the hype for a long time and thought it was just that. Hype. If any bike is worth the money it costs this one is it. The people there really seem to know what’s up as well and made you feel like you could trust them. This was the only bike I ended up repeatedly off the trail because it was soooo fast. Very quick,too. Everything felt so dialed on this bike I never really thought about how it was working because it did work. Cost however is up there.
Ventana El Fuego
This bike is the bike I might end up with. A last minute pick before I left for Interbike, it turned out to be very impressive. It was just fast. While the others had around 4 inches of travel, the Ventanna had 3″. Yet it felt like more and damn near perfect. Of course I must admit that it fits almost exactly like my bike at home so this may have something to do with it. The guys at Ventanna are very nice and very helpful to boot which is also a bonus. Climbed quite well and handled well.
I must admit I road this bike only so I could get the free Body Geometry gloves (I had forgotten gloves). Yet I have to say it was one of my favorites and was better than the Ellsworth in my honest opinion. If you have a budget you can not go wrong with this bike. Price is good, ride is good, all is good.
Santa Cruz Superlight
This bike has been on my brain for a long time. Everything seemed to make sense about it. Price is good. Weight is good. Yet after riding linkage bikes all day long I really did not have the urge to try the Santa Cruz. I was tired and I felt the others road so well it was pointless to try it. But I did. This bike I must say climbed the best of any of these. It also felt the best on flats. Downhill however the advantages of the various linkage and multi pivot bikes was very obvious. Yet I think that if I was to have one bike and only one bike the Santa Cruz wins. I’ve even been thinking I’ll get a Cyclocross bike for my “hardtail” and get a Santa Cruz for everything else. The $900 retail one would save over the others (which also weigh at least a half pound more at least) can buy you a really kick ass wheelset or get some much needed repairs for ones car.
All pictures courtesy of the manufacturers respective websites.
John Severson is an IMBA member, Racer, Mechanic, and freelance writer.
Contact him at:-
2026 Cheryl Court
Winona, MN 55987