Strengths: Great bike! I own an '12 and its pretty good, the geometry at this price point is the best value. Not super heavy.
Weaknesses: Front FORK!
overall i am pretty confident on this bike. Love the tires, the hydra brakes are good enough. For this price point, I cannot expect much.
Date Reviewed: September 28, 2012
Strengths: Great control and excellent derailleur.
Weaknesses: Tektro Braking system, Tektro disc rotors, paddles and a cheap chain
Poor tight turning (23" frame) capabilities. Whenever we hear mineral oil is used for braking some of us might say "WOW", however it's far from the wow factor. Dust and oil don't mix. Unfortunately due to the mineral oil + ceramic brakes + rotors = disaster in the making. Spent several hours replacing the oil, cleaning the rotors from the break dust that accumulated. PAIN IN THE AS. After 60 days of ownership I had to remove the Tektro braking system. I had to make several upgrades to make this bike perform better. New chain, new paddles, Avis braking system + Avis disc rotors, new crankset, new tires with better traction. Ever since I upgraded my bike. It's a great ride. So be prepared to spend more denero to improve the true capabilities of your bike, sometimes manufacture settings may not work to your style of riding.
Date Reviewed: April 16, 2012
Strengths: Solid frame and decent parts to get you started.
Weaknesses: Don't like the stock handlebar and stem set-up. Bike feels a bit heavier than other bikes in the same class.
I bought this bike in the fall of 2010 and have put it through the ringer on several occassions. The frame and components are decent for anyone from leisure riding to agressive trails - basically anyone who isn't a hardcore mtb professional. Not to say that you couldn't use this bike if you were - after a few component upgrades. This is my first 29er (19 inch frame), and I LOVE the way I fly over objects my comrades on 26 inch tires are getting hung up on.
UPGRADES - I didn't like the stock pedals (probably because I have bigger feet) however a pair of toe clips (and later upgraded pedals) solved that problem. I also found I didn't like the short handlebars or the angle they put my wrists into, so I upgraded them to a pair of Deity dirt jumping bars which are much more wider AND suit my riding style. That being said, I noticed with larger bars and a 29 inch tire that my handle bars were too far over the front tire due to the long stock stem. This made me feel like i was driving one of those city buses where the driver sits/steers out in front of the steering axle/wheels. I replaced the stem with a Deity dirt jumping stem and the responsiveness I get out of the bars is beyond belief. When people see my bike they usually say "wow, how do you steer that thing through the trees?", and then watch with amazement as I breeze through single track trails with accuracy and agression. All I can recommend is don't be afraid to experiment with the set-up and parts on your bike. Many people have called me crazy for putting dirt jumping style parts on my bike, but given my size and choice of frame (19 inch) it works well for me. Those same people appreciate my crafty-ness after taking my wheels for a ride.
The only thing I dislike about the bike is it seems to feel heavier than other bikes of comparible size. I've read reviews on various website about people complaining about the various sizes of the bike and it being too big/small for them. Maybe you should take the bike for a ride before buying it to determine it it feels like you (or if not fitted properly - the bike) are in control. I think a 29er naturally feels bigger than the same sized frame on a 26 inch, so you may find yourself dropping down an inch or two if upgrading from a 26 inch to a 29er.
A great overall bike for all riders, provided you can foot the pricey bill. It's always the head turner/crowd pleaser when I ride with a bunch of serious riders.
from Warsaw, IN
Date Reviewed: June 17, 2011
Strengths: Solid bike frame, decent wheels, breaks good
Weaknesses: wide handle bars, chain falls off for no good reason while you're riding, too big and heavy for a woman.
This was my first 29'er. I was extremely disappointed and sold it with less than 200 miles on it. It seemed to heavy and big for my size (5'6" 125 lbs) and the ppl who saw me on it thought it looked too big for me too. I never felt like I was in control of the bike, rather the bike was in control of me. Hills that I have always charged up, I found myself sitting there with my back tire spinning walking up the hills. I also spoke to other males with the same bike and it appears to have a factory issue with the chain popping off when you go over logs, etc. The chain seems too big for bike, but yet couldn't fit smaller chain on the bike either. If you're a female with long legs, short body and a small figure, I would not recommend this bike for you.
a Cross Country Rider
from Poltava, Ukraine
Date Reviewed: January 23, 2011
Strengths: This was my first 29er bike and I was happy to find a big 23" frame which are rare. First of all - big wheels rule! Also I was happy with SRAM X-5 derailleur and X-4 shifters (cheap but work as well as more expensive models). Fast Track tires are a bit heavy but work well everywhere. Saddle was surprisingly comfortable even for long rides. Loved the fact that could finally "stretch" on the bike because the frame is longer comparing to other makers. Good paint-job. You could go single-speed as the frame has sliding dropouts.
Weaknesses: For that kind of money - rubbish fork (Dart 3) and wheels (front one with only 28 spokes) - what a joke for 23" frame size made supposedly for tall heavy rider. The fork wobbled under my weight and overall worked horribly. The frame was definitely designed to be smaller so the top and bottom tube weren't welded together at the head tube therefore making the frame way too soft, so the climbs are very difficult. And because of the above you can't go single-speed as you'd simply quickly break the frame. And the list of weaknesses can go on: handlebar too short and cheap along with the stem, BB-5 brakes are too weak for a 29er, the pedals I simply threw away and so on.
Over 1 year period I replaced everything except for the seat-post, saddle and rear derailleur and now fairly happy with it. I still have hard time climbing with it and even riding on flat ground as the frame seems to eat up half of my effort but it feels great on the ride down - I can easily go as fast as I want and still be in complete control of the bike. But comparing to my other bike it feels like a bus )). Bottom line - I would never recommend to anyone to buy this bike as it is a waste of money!
a Cross Country Rider
from averill park new york
Date Reviewed: August 8, 2010
Strengths: I love the juice brakes. The alivio shifters the way they pull back to upshift unlike the hard rock I had two weeks before and they gave me full credit for when I returned it for the upgrade to the rockhopper disc comp 29er
Weaknesses: Its not realy a weakness but you must put cardboard in the brake caliper if you pull the wheel off. If you hit the brake lever without it your buds will get started without you while your getting your wheel back on
I am very happy with the bike and plaine & sons bike shop.
I also had a good experiance at downtube bike shop in Albany where I picked up my md-424 clip on pedals and shoes,Blaze front light and superflash stealth tail light for a very fair price. I have been out of it for about 15yrs and my pasta legs are just about gone. This is the best bike I ever had. AAA+++
Similar Products Used: I have two old stumpjumpers, one with shocks one without. Now for sale @ 518-674-2000
Bike Setup: 21 inch frame 29er
a Weekend Warrior
from Portland OR 97222
Date Reviewed: May 7, 2010
Strengths: excellent frame and design.
Weaknesses: Parts are inferior but get you going. Upgrade as they fall apart.
Love the 29's. On paved and fire roads youll push the same gear yet gain valuable inches on ever revolution. Although not as 'quick' as my old Zaskar this bike did great on singletrack, up and downs, switchbacks, everything. Im 37 and a little beyond my big air days so this bike is perfect. I dont know what is out there for the retail price but for what I paid this is a gem.
Strengths: Just a great feeling and handling bike on tight and technical river-side trails. It feels great in my hands, handles like a dream. The brakes are incredible. The 29 inch wheels really get you through the rough stuff. The shifting is very smooth and no-drama.
Weaknesses: None so far. The rear tire rubs a little under hard pedaling on angled trails. Not a big deal but was noted.
I just love this bike. I only ride in the woods on dirt and have been doing this casually for about 17 years. In my opinion this is more than an entry-level mountain bike. I really put it through its paces the last two rides and it's exceeded my expectations. I can't wait to take it on more of my favorite trails. One thing I noticed was that with the bigger wheels, I tend to ride faster, and feel less resistance on low lying areas that have soft moist trails. I usually get burned out riding through them, especially after its recently rained. Not with this bike. Also crossing small streams and over trees laid on their side as bridges, the wheels roll right over the stuff. The bike really tackles the rough stuff well (I just need to get my confidence back after not riding much). The brakes are very grabby and I just love them. Very impressed with the brakes. My front brake dragged from the store but there's a procedure for adjusting them that takes about 5-10 minutes (loosen 2 bolts, turn in ride dial until snug, tighten 2 bolts. Back red dial out until doesn't rub, adjust brakes at lever, done).
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: March 25, 2010
Strengths: Takes everything I can throw at it
Weaknesses: None that I've found
I have had this bike for about 6 months and in that time I have put it through a number if different types of trail. It excels at everything from XC riding to basic All-mountain. Ive put it up against a number of full suspension XC bikes and come out on top every time. After running down the side of a 4200 ft. mountain with some 50-100, 1ft-2ft drops, nothing even needed adjustment. I highly recommend this bike!
a Cross Country Rider
from northern indiana
Date Reviewed: March 19, 2010
Strengths: Universal bike. Horizontal dropouts make for easy conversion back and fourth from single speed back to geared set up. BB5 brakes are good and haven seen any of the problems with the rims thus far as mentioned previously. For the price I think its perfect.
Weaknesses: Fork was the first thing replaced. Definitely the weakest point, but honestly its fine for leisurely trail riding. Can't comment on shifters or gears because I don't use them.
I've had one great year of riding this rig and anticipate many more. The frame seems strong and is very comfortable for me (5'11, 175 lbs). During the summer and fall I put on about 40+ miles a week on the trails and many more on walking/bike paths and also use this bike for adventure races, which is the only time I run gears. I'm a former motocross and hare scrambles racer and push this bike pretty hard and for the money that I have into this bike I couldn't have found a better alternative.
Similar Products Used: Specialized rockhopper 26" rims
Redline mono cog
Bike Setup: Single speed
Replaced seat and grips
Hayes HFX 9 XC, 7" hydraulic brakes
Rock Shox Reba Race
a Weekend Warrior
from Bristol, VA, USA
Date Reviewed: March 8, 2010
Strengths: This is a solid bike. I am 6'3" about 215 lbs and this bike is exactly what I expect a bike to feel like. It shifts quickly and accurately. The brakes are solid and stop the bike on a dime. I attribute a lot of this to my LBS's ability to set the bike up correctly. I talked to the mechanic for quit a while about what they do and how they do it before I test rode it.
Weaknesses: The seat is a bit hard.
For me this is the perfect bike. I have never ridden better. This is all relative as I haven't ridden anything that costs more than this bike nor will I. I plan to ride it until the frame can no longer be safely ridden, and will only upgrade parts as the originals wear out.
Strengths: great bike. best bike i have had by far yet.ride it all week and race it when i can and have had lots of good times with it.
Weaknesses: cheap wheels that came with it.have had them trude over and over and had to have the front replaced.BUT i do ride this bike all the time and race it. so that might be why. new wheel set will fix that. and it will be bomb proof
great bike i would by another one. but i think if your looking for a 29er race hard tail i would go with the stumpjumper it looks crazy fast. but this bike would get the job done.
Similar Products Used: wife's 08 29er
09 hard rock
Bike Setup: 29er comp all sock but race face bars
going to upgrade it this year wheel set,cranks seat/ seat post and maybe go from tora shock to a reba race.
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: October 6, 2009
Strengths: The bike is comfortable to ride and climbs really well. Having a 29 allows you a little more leeway to stay on the seat as you come across obstacles. The biggest difference I saw moving from a 26 to a 29 is all of the small bumps and cracks are taken a lot easier. Granted this bike has a better fork than the the TREK 4500 I was ridding, but the 29er has more wheel to attack obstacles with.
Weaknesses: Handles are way way way too wide. They get caught on everything and makes ridding on bike paths and side walks difficult. Paint job sucks sucks sucks. Any minor little bump up against something results in the paint flaking off. Something as simple as dropping your keys on it can knock of a piece of paint the size of a pencil eraser head. If you happen to be vertically challenged like me (I ride a 17), then the frame is a little odd looking and you are limited to only 1 water bottle holder. Also as others have mentioned, the wheels suck. I have done very very little off road, mainly I've used the bike for commuting to work along Buffalo Bayou and the bike is constantly out of alignment. Compared to the Trek 4500, I feel like I am losing power when riding on flat roads because of the geometry of the bike (as a side not the geometry makes the bike more comfortable to ride)
Like the bike and it rides well, but I would look somewhere else, the paint job is a major sticking point. I know mountain bikes are made to be ridden and they are going to get scratches here and there, but I expect those scratches to come from wrecks and hard trail ridding, not parking my bike at Starbucks or leaning it against trees.
a Weekend Warrior
from Evansville, IN, USA
Date Reviewed: October 1, 2009
Strengths: Larger and longer frame option for 29er. I'm no expert, just a weekend casual rider who is 6'-1", needed a larger/longer bike, and wanted 29" wheels. I use standard pedals and my feet move around so without a longer frame a 29er front wheel would hit my toe in turns. I don't need speed and agility, mainly just comfort and this 29er provides everything I want at respectable price.
Weaknesses: Don't know enough to say really. Everything works fine for my use.
I don't get air or do drops, just trail ride at slow to moderate speeds. So far the bike has been great, nothing broken or bent. It feels like a really sturdy bike and like any bike, as it ages, can be upgraded with better parts if necessary to adapt as the owner grows and gets better. It can even be converted to single speed, doubt I will ever do that though. I'm extremely pleased with the size of the 21" frame. I don't feel cramped like I'm riding a kids bike. This thing feels like a rolling monster and even with the shock locked out, the trail felt smoother. Compared to the improperly sized for me Trek 4300, this bike has helped me enjoy riding again.
Similar Products Used: I tested a Haro Ally XC and it was too short, major toe/tire conflict. Not many 29ers in my area to check out so I had to go by specs and most were just too short based on comparing specs with the Haro. Previous bike was a Trek 4300. LBS didn't bother to help me properly and put me on whatever was stock.. 18" frame. I didn't know any better at the time.