In recent years Eurobike has definitely stolen the limelight from Interbike as the big show for the world’s major brands – many of the US brands no longer exhibit at the show however, this being the last year the show will be in Vegas I was pretty stoked to get the opportunity to come out. Moreover, the dirt demo is famed, several of the key brands who don’t exhibit do bring large demo fleets and there are literally hundreds of bikes to be ridden. So, early on Monday morning, while the temperature was barely pushing 30C Paul and I made our way to the convention centre to get a shuttle out to Bootleg Canyon.
I’d already decided that the first bike I wanted to take out was an Specialized Epic 29er. Not being the tallest I was intrigued to see how the bike rode and whether it would really offer anything. It’s a long time since I rode some of the early Fisher 29ers and the offering in terms of forks, tyres, bars and stems have come a long way. However, I had to wait just over 2 hours for the bike to come back. This is a running theme of the demo day. Queueing and waiting. It’s slightly dissapointing that when there’s so much pressure on bikes and so many people wanting to ride stuff that many riders clearly take bikes out for several hours. The longest trail is 5 miles so you can easily be out and back in 30 minutes.
Still, after my long long wait I was very impressed with the bike. The trails in Nevada are loose and dusty, the loops are designed to offer a bit of undulation, some steep drops and inclines and the odd bit of technical rocky stuff. Overall, they’re not very like riding in the UK. The bike climbed incredibly though, it just wanted to eat up the trail. I was very surprised to find that it handled well too, it’s certainly more of a race or marathon bike than a weekend play bike but I came back firmly believing that 29ers have a place – potentially even for the vertically challenged.
After dropping the Specialized off i nipped over to Fuji to try out the new Outland. This is a bike I’m quite excited about, it’s a new, 120mm all mountain rig with a tapered headtube, an FSR link and an inline shock. I was very impressed by this bike, the build quality looks good and we’ll be looking to get some bikes to the UK for some solid testing through the winter. Watch this space for a potential spring/summer 2011 delivery of this bike and it’s bigger brother the Reveal.
After the Fuji I decided I’d like to try my hand at another 29er – this time I took a carbon Santa Cruz tallboy. This was an equally impressive bike to the Specialized, potentially climbing even better (although it was a higher spec so probably lighter) but the addition of a riser bar lifted the bars too high and so the cockpit felt a little unwieldy. By mid afternoon the temperature was closer to 40 than 30 and the heat when you rolled back into the demo area was oppressive. My last two bikes solidly covered the extremes of current mountain biking trends, a rigid steel 29er with a Gates belt drive and Rocky Mountain’s new Slayer – a 170mm lightweight freeride bike. Both were good in their own way I guess, the former was a Raleigh and a long way from being the kind of bike I’d ride. The latter was probably a bit burly to really get the benefit of on the way marked trails at least. It was light enough to ride for 5 miles but one would want to ride for much longer than 30 minutes for a true test of it’s all mountain capabilities.
At the end of day one, hot, sweaty, tired and dusty we headed back to the hotel to shower with zero appetite for any of Vegas’ (in)famous entertainment.