Weaknesses: A couple of the stock components. Color scheme is lame.
I love my 2011 Paragon, although I've upgrated a few parts; Thomson post and stem, Answer bars, Shimano XT brakes, Selle Italia saddle, Specialized tires (tubless)...and a couple other things. The bike rides very solid and I feel confident on steep decents but it's light enough to climb great. The Fox RL forks are great! Wheels are fine - they stay tru and I'm a big rider, but they're heavy and are next on my list for upgrade. Bottom line is that the geometry and build of this bike is rock solid, very comfortable and super fun to ride. Although I like brighter color schemes on bikes, the tube shapes with the black/grey color gives it a great tank or recon look.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: May 2, 2012
Strengths: Price, Geometry, build kit, price (bought an '11 in Apr '12 for 1700)
Weaknesses: Rear brake not burned by LBS and squealing like a mother, tires
Nice ride and very stable. Handles technical trails well, maybe as good as my '02 Trek 8900. Normal XC chores no problem. Brakes aren't nearly Avid Elixir 7, but the stop well and everyone knows you're stopping (cause they can hear your brake). Not sure why they spec'd the tires they did. They're heavy 2.2's and I can't figure out what they're doing on this bike. A lighter 1.9 or 2.0 inch tire would make more since for most of my normal riding, race weight 2.2's would be better for a bike at this level.
Bike Setup: Stockish, bars shortened 3.5", nubby bar ends, serfas grips, WTB Racing V seat, Eggbeater 3s
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: September 20, 2011
Strengths: stability at speed due to long wheel base, lightweight (26.5 lbs. in 19" with pedals), great climber, best fork I've ever used (Fox)
Weaknesses: boring paint and graphics, still getting used to the 17 degree handlebar but I think it's ok, looks like Trek used the crankset as a place to save costs, not a sharp turner in tight singletrack but that's the price you pay for a laid out cockpit and 29" wheels. D
Good bike, bordering on great. Great compliment to my FS, and I couldn't pass it up for the price I paid. It will be my race bike next year and I think it will do the job well for courses that aren't really rocky or really tight.
I am truly in between sizes at 5'10" exactly. I tested a 17.5 X-Cal and I had 9" of seatpost showing, had the saddle all the way back on the rails, and I still felt crowded. The 17.5 just looked tiny too. The 19" felt a little big and looks a ittle big but it's definitely the better choice. The spacious cockpit is more confortable than I thought it would be - but I'm not going to be tossing this bike all over the trail. If you're 5'10" or more you have to get a 19". I'm a believer in sizing up if in between sizes, unless you're huckin.
-Handlebars (see bottom line)
I recently got back into mountain biking after a 9 year hiatus. A lot has changed, and for a heavier guy like me, it's all changed for the better. At 5'11 230 lb, this bike just fits me like a glove. It's fast, maneuverable, climbs well, and inspires confidence. My fiance owns a 2011 Trek Cobia and the comparison between the Paragon and Cobia is pretty mind-blowing. I can do things on this bike I could never do on hers. The only downsides to this bike are the handlebars and the drivetrain. The handlebars are wide -- really wide -- and have a pretty significant 12mm swoop to them. It's actually the same degree of swoop that comes on the Cobia stock bars, but the extra width was intimidating at first. The main caveat I have with the swoop and width of the bars now is the pressure it puts on my palms. I've adjusted (with gloves and with a lot of riding) but from time to time I question impact on control of bars this wide.
The other downside is the drivetrain. Take what I say with a grain of salt, because I'm far from knowledgeable about modern MTB drivetrains, but the 3x10 setup on this bike feels like overcomplicated overkill. I actually find the 3x9 on her Cobia much more responsive and reliable. Go figure. That said, it performs when I push it; aside from some front derailleur rub, the downsides aren't too noticeable. Just feels to me like there are a lot of duplicated gear ratios on this bike.
All in all, I love it. Best bike I've ever owned, for sure. This is the XC bike that you can ride forever and never get tired or too beat up to keep going. If you're my size, you owe it to yourself to give a solid 29er hardtail a serious try. My comfort level on this bike is lightyears beyond anything I've ridden. I plan to ride it for the next 5 years at least.
Similar Products Used: -2011 Trek Cobia
-2002 Raleigh M800
Bike Setup: -Stock
a Cross Country Rider
from Georgetown, Kentucky, USA
Date Reviewed: August 29, 2011
Strengths: Fast and light (25lbs), but comfortable
Bottom line - this bike made me fast. With no other changes besides buying the Paragon, I went from the perennial caboose to right in the mix with my riding buddies. In my opinion, nothing will reward hard pedaling (speed!) like a light HT 29er will.