The splendidly-named Gary Fisher Rumblefish is a new platform for 2010, and will be available in two spec levels. We rode the £3,200 Rumblefish 2 at Interbike – there’s also a £2,300 Rumblefish 1. Both bikes share the same 110mm travel aluminium frame, with a rear suspension design that combines an upper swing link with the Active Braking Pivot rear axle borrowed from brand owner Trek.
You can look at the Rumblefish in one of two ways. Either it’s a 29in version of Gary Fisher’s popular Roscoe, with a bit less travel as dictated by the larger wheels. Or it’s a beefed-up HiFi. If you look at the numbers, it’s hard not to notice that the Rumblefish has a lot in common geometrically with the 2010 HiFi and indeed the lightweight Superfly. All the bikes have 110mm of rear travel, for starters, but the Rumblefish uses the DRCV double-chamber shock as first seen on the Roscoe rather than the Superfly/HiFi’s standard RP23. As a result, the suspension action is more linear and the Rumblefish makes more use of the travel its got, spending a lot more time in the juicy midstroke than the Superfly.
Elsewhere in the numbers, the Rumblefish has the same top tube and chainstay lengths as its racier sisters, but with a slightly higher bottom bracket and shallower angles consistent with having a longer fork stuck on the front – a 120mm Fox unit with the inevitable QR15 axle. In common with other Gary Fishers, the fork has the monster offset that forms the key part of Fisher’s G2 geometry, which sorts out the steering of 29ers without resorting to crazy-steep head angles. We’ve found other G2 bikes to be amazingly handy tools, but you have to get used to the disconcerting lack of steering feedback – initially it feels like the bars aren’t actually connected to anything.
We hopped off this bike and straight on to the Trek Remedy 8, which is roughly the same price and about the same weight and thus makes an interesting comparison. To be more precise, the Remedy is £200 cheaper than the Rumblefish and half a pound heavier, but also has 40mm more travel at the back and 30mm more at the front as well as more familiar geometry. The two bikes represent somewhat different approaches to the challenge of covering rough ground at speed, and perhaps unsurprisingly shine in different areas.
The Rumblefish is particularly fine over braking bumps or chopped-up trails – you can thank the big wheels and linear travel for that. But while 29in wheels work great on the smaller stuff, the Remedy (or a similar bike) will have stroke to spare. When it comes to drops, there’s no substitute for travel. We suspect that many riders would find the Remedy’s relaxed, poised geometry more immediately confidence-inspiring than the Rumblefish’s light-on-the-helm feel, although it’s certainly effective when you learn to trust it.
We remain a little unconvinced by 29in “sturdy” suspension bikes, on the whole. 29in wheels undoubtedly have benefits, but those benefits are most keenly felt on hardtails and short-travel bikes. The more travel you add, the more the “29eriness” gets diluted. Much as 26in bikes will always be lighter than 29ers, so you’ll always be able to package a bit more travel into a bike with smaller wheels. If your riding tends to use up suspension, 26in is probably the way to go.
There’s no doubting the Rumblefish’s ability to roll through stuff, though, and there’s quite a big part of the market that likes to go fast on rough trails but without necessarily wanting to play around leaping off rocks. And it doesn’t feel anything like as unwieldy as you might expect – give it a try…
More details at www.fisherbikes.com.