Strengths: Components, looks good, fast, agile, value, and unlimited/unconditional warranty from REI
Weaknesses: front fork, bike a little heavy, getting the drivetrain set up by the store's mechanics, BB5 brakes were a little noisy for a while and not great modulation.
Such an awesome bike for the money! Does everything I need it to do. Rear derailleur shifting issues still not addressed by the store techs, but this is a local, set up issue rather than a flaw with the bike. 29er geometry feels pretty agile. This is a quick bike. BB5 brakes were noisy for a while, but had the shop scuff the pads and clean the rotors and it seems better now. The seat is comfortable. Frame is VERY light. I felt the frame's weight before the bike was put together. I would say not much over 2.5 lbs. This bike can be upgraded to be pretty fierce with a new fork and maybe some hydraulic brakes. I added XO twist shifters and rear derailleur. Use the member coupon for 20% off or catch it on a 15% off sale and this bike lands $640-$680. With a drivetrain you can find on $2k bikes, it is clear they spent their money on the things that matter for an average commuter and occasional single track rider. Some have said the chain is cheap. Techs at the store say the wheels are heavy and need to be upgraded. Tires are Nano race wraps that other riders have made positive comments on when they notice them. Altogether a great bike for me (someone just getting back into riding.
a All Mountain Rider
Date Reviewed: June 13, 2012
Strengths: -SRAM X7/X5
I have yet to find another bike in similar price range with Matador components. I have looked at several other companies in the Matador price range, and all the other companies had lower scale components. The SRAM X7 derailleur shifts smoothly, and the X5 shifter is fast and easy to use. I have heard negative feedback regarding the BB5 brakes, but I have yet to have any problems. The BB5 brakes tend to be a bit noisy, but have no problems stopping this 185 pound rider. The only pain in the butt with the BB5 is aligning the front brake, after removing and placing the front wheel back on. The Suntour fork can handle a pounding, and I have yet to bottom out the fork. Maybe other reviewers need to adjust the tension? The bike obviously gets a bit bouncy, due to being a hard tail bike.
The only complaint I have is the tires. The tires tend to wear easily and lack needed traction on very steep hills.
Overall excellent bike, and well worth the money. Wait for a sale and purchase the bike for 679.00.
from Austin TX, United States
Date Reviewed: November 9, 2011
Strengths: Sram X-7 RD shifts like butter, even on steep hill shifts. 29' wheel base allows for higher speed control, plus you can ride over ANYTHING. It is surprisingly light for a 29er, allowing for impressive jumps and excellent maneuverability.
Weaknesses: Suntour XCR 80mm front shock. This shock is politely said, a piece of crap. However, I have been brutalizing it over the past 3 months taking it off drops and jumps, yet somehow it has held up. I had it bottom out twice but then I found a good setting on the preload, so now it's not a problem. That said, I believe that this is the only weakness.
This bike is an amazing value for the price. It comes with excellent components that will satisfy a large majority of riders. If you plan on taking it off anything too crazy I suggest upgrading the front shock. If your hesitant about buying this bike because it's "REI" brand DON'T. This is a good thing because if anything goes wrong you can just take it back and I guarantee that they will hook you up with discounts or do it for free. Besides, mountain bikes are made with 75% other companies components. Plus the frame is made by Giant. So all in all this bike looks good, performs great, and will last longer than you'll want to ride with regular maintenance.
Bike Setup: Dart 3 front shock (all that needed upgrading)
a Cross Country Rider
from Eagle River, AK, USA
Date Reviewed: September 28, 2011
Strengths: For the money, this is a great bike. This bike rolls great on the trail or on the road. All the benefits of a 29er; rolls easily over obstacles and maintains momentum.
Weaknesses: Once again, consider the pride range. Biggest complaint-fork is not too good with no real adjustments that work other than lockout. Any serious roots in the trail are enough to wreak havoc on this fork. The bike feels sluggish in corners and in acceleration. I do not think that this is only because of it being a 29er, but because of a higher center of gravity and cheaper wheels/hubs. Rear end has some flex when pushed hard, even with me only at 165lbs.
I'm 5'11" and about 165 lbs. I ride the medium frame and I have a blast on this bike. For me, I have found that I am can get a bit too agressive for this bike as I love to descend and take some drops and catch some air and this bike just is not designed for that. The front fork is the most dissapointing aspect of the bike, but at this price point it is hard to complain or find much wrong with this bike. REI has awesome customer service and backs their products up. Between that and the price, it is hard to make any argument against this bike. I would highly reccomend the Matador to anyone looking for an entry level daily rider.