Last weekend I attended a Specialized Demo Day out at Alexander Park. It was a really nice drive (and I should have ridden out there, despite my full schedule of lazing about and also shopping) along the river out to the park. The trails were pretty interesting, as a small park goes, but I wish there would have been some rooty downhill sections, or some rock gardens to really test the rear suspension out on. On the other hand, I think the trails were pretty challenging for novice riders who came out to test bikes.
I wound up trying two bikes, the Specialized Epic Carbon 29er and the Specialized Camber Pro Carbon 29er. Let me just apologize to readers right now. As a test rider, I'm a bit of a flop. You may know this if you've read any of my Interbike Dirt Demo reports: "I rode these bikes and they were nice." I haven't improved much since then. So, parents and relatives will be bored by bike talk, and more knowledgeable riders won't get anything of value from the post. But perhaps everyone can enjoy scanning a few photos?
So let's start on the elementary reviews! All I can really say about the Epic is that it felt almost exactly like my current bike, a steel frame Zion hardtail 29er, except for that it felt like just the right amount of rear suspension when I wanted it, and none when I didn't. Now, I don't mean to insult the Epic by comparing it to the, ahem, economical Zion. I've just noticed that a lot of bikes feel foreign when you hop on them, and the Epic didn't. The geometry must be similar. OR, it might be a sign from the heavens that the bike and I are meant to be.
I seriously liked this bike. It felt natural, with none of the extra/unnecessary squish I've associated with rear suspension. It was set up really well by a Motion Makers mechanic at the demo, so I'm sure that was a huge part of it, and it felt like my kind of bike. I'm guessing it was close in weight to my old clunker, too. It felt pretty good on the climbs. I think I might borrow a demo/rent one from Motion Makers and trade off the Epic and my bike for a lap or two to really compare.
On to a bike that felt a little foreign! The Camber was a lot of bike. Like, a LOT of bike. It felt like I was riding a tool that I could never put to full use. It wasn't too heavy or unwieldy like some more downhill oriented bikes I've demoed, but I felt too dainty for it. On the plus side, now I know exactly what a Trail bike feels like (as opposed to the XC/XC Race Epic). The Camber felt like you could confidently tackle almost anything in Pisgah on it; at least anything I've ridden. Pilot Rock, in particular, came to mind, but basically anything with a lot of downhill roots and rocks to be motored over. Ok, so it's not the bike for me, but it's clearly captured my imagination. If I were a faster, more aggressive rider, I'd definitely be interested.
Did I mention carbon rims? I didn't... because I'm terrible at 'feeling' wheels while riding. I guess the most I can say is that I didn't notice them. Sorry, Roval Control Trail SL 29 rims.
As a side note, the trails were oh so pretty. Lots of new green grass, and flowering trees.
It looks like somebody tried to make this part of the trail a little more passable at one point but couldn't quite manage it.
It's hard to say whether or not I support that kind of modification. The rock was hard to maneuver around, especially on the test bike's wide, uncut bars. It would have been scary for the type of rider that likely frequents the trails... I think the first thing to try would be to build the trail out around it, and if that isn't feasible, to then try blasting the rock. One thing's for sure- it looks pretty sad all drilled with holes.
And now that I've made you read all about my opinions on bikes and trails, I release you! Have a good one.