Strengths: Good overall components like SRAM x9, avid brakes and rock shock Rebeka.
Weaknesses: Frame, 185 disk rosters, and performance costumer support.
I had this bike for 4 month now and the frame just cracked at where the seat tube connects to the frame. It almost went all the way though the frame which it is very scary. So I decided to return the bike since I will not be confident with ride this bike any more. Performance will not take the bike back. I'm so disappointed with there 100% satisfaction guaranteed that is posted in their website. Don't buy a bike from performance if you would like to ride safe.
Fit and finish surpassed my expectations on the frame, as I have seen other member posts that were somewhat negative. My 23" frame was built and painted very well with a cool matte/slight satin black finish. I was also impressed with the quality of components... full SRAM x9, Cr29ssmax wheels, and pretty expensive WTB tires. I have no experience with Truvativ Fire-X, so I can't tell you how well these cranks hold up. The bike is light for such a massive ride, weighing in at just over 26 pounds!
Even with a massive frame size, the cockpit feels a bit small. The top tube length is relatively short, and clearance is low. I guess I had assumed that because it is a huge frame on a 29er, that the geometry would fit me better as a tall guy, but that isn't the case... I will still need to get riser handlebars (here comes some Monkey Lites!) and a longer stem.
My intro ride out, I noticed that the SRAM driveline is super solid... shifting is quick and smooth, and better than my XTR. The front deraileur was out of alignment, but that was an easy fix. Although the bike is heavier and bigger than my Titus, it didn't feel cumbersome. The Crossmax's roll up quickly despite the larger size, and once up to speed I was able to carry speed more easily than on my old bike.
Weaknesses: Technical terrain will take some getting used to, as the overall larger dimensions make the bike less agile. (this may not be a fault in the bikes design, but my adjustment to my first 29er)
I rode over a rock that I always cleared with my Titus, and banged the snot out of the chainring and smashed a couple teeth. That answered the question about the cranks, which I was unfamiliar with and had no idea about quality.... they obviously skimped on the chainrings and used a softer aluminum than what I had on my XTR cranks, which were bashed to death and still held up pretty well.
The bike's size is very apparent in simple bunny hops or wheelies, as it is more difficult to do any of them on this bike, but again that just might be a 29er thing.
Nits and drawbacks:
The Rockshox Reba SL may be a good shock, but the bike was shipped with no air in the shock, so I can't test it, and I need a shock pump to pump it up because my standard pump (which goes to 160 psi) is too big to fit into the recessed area. The shock also has a remote lockout, but it didn't ship with an allen tool small enough to clamp down the cable, so I had to go out and buy one. The headset is cheap and so is the bottom bracket; two important areas when riding in dusty or muddy conditions... I will be replacing with a Chris King headset and an X0 bottom bracket as soon as these wear out.
I would give this bike an overall rating of 8 out of 10. They did a lot of things right, but the devil is in the details, and they didn't get those details right. But when I consider the price and that you can't get anywhere near this level of bike anywhere else for the same money, I give it a 9 out of 10.
this bike rides great right out of the box. it is very comfortable and does not feel like a 29er. components are awsome and the bike inspires confidence. this was my first 29er, came from a trek fuel ex9 full suspension. this was my favorite bike of all time for about 3 weeks until i was riding at my home trail, down a section i'v ridden 100 times when i heard a loud cracking sound so i stopped to inspect the frame. the frame cracked sircumferentially on the top one third of the down tube. luckily the frame had a 5 year warranty and performance had me send the bike back for a full refund.