Weaknesses: Remote lockout on the front fork would be nice...but not a big deal.
I am reviewing a 2013 model, in the Pewter/clear coat and orange accents. This is a gorgeous bike and it delivers. I bought a new comparable Cannondale and returned it within 3 days, and looked long and hard at the Superfly AL but decided on the AL Elite. This bike has a solid and maneuverable feel, is a joy to ride. This is my first 29er and this thing flies. Highly recommend.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: January 18, 2013
Strengths: Stiff, responsive, and stable. Parts spec is above respectable.
Weaknesses: The wheels feel a bit sluggish, and stock tires are limiting. Just a bit.
I was in the process of buying a 29'er for the first time after riding 26 since 1994. I was riding a 6 year old custom built Ti 26'er that I had loved, but was always a touch small. It loved the corners, but was never really stable underneath. So, when my old man upgraded to a 29'er and began to rant and rave about it, I had to check it out. He's been riding since 1994, also on 26'ers. He's the same height, a little lighter and claims to be faster.
I test rode the Breezer Lightning Team, the Niner SIR and AIR, the Giant and Specialized in this range. The Trek and the Breezer stood out. It was a duel between the Breezer and Trek, which both looked and felt great. In comaparison to the other test rides, these two beasts just felt more natural and less skitchy then the others. Both handled sick. Being a former shop rat, it basically came down to the cool factor of the Breezer versus the tech of the Trek. The tech won.
My dad beat me to it and grabbed the last 2012 SF AL Elite from the shop, and it sold me. I got to beat it up on a few trails in the area, and it took all comers with precision and stability. From swoopy sandy river trails to flowing single track, to climbs and rocky descents, this bike is killer. I'm a big rider (6'2", 220 lbs) and the flex in the Breezer was what ultimately sold me on the Trek. This bike just disappears under you. No question, no flex, no complaints. I test rode it side by side with my 26'er, a steel 29'er, and a Trek 8900 (26'er, about the same spec). It is amazing how the feel of the Superfly just blew them all away. It's just a damned fine ride.
It looks bigger then it handles, and that comes from the G2 geometry, which is second to none. It took a while to adjust to the stable feel of the bike, and you feel sluggish, especially coming from a 26'er, but the times don't lie, and they went down on the new steed. I put less effort in keeping the bike up to speed. But the handling I noticed on the test rides definitely converted on to the trail, and once I got to trust the bike and really lean in on it, it held up great.
No knocks on the Breezer, I think a lighter rider would love everything about it, but for me, the Superfly was too dialed in to pass up.
So, I sold the old racer and ordered the 2013. I gotta beat the old man, somehow, right?
Bike Setup: Upgraded shifting to x9 breaks to alixer5s
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: October 19, 2012
Strengths: Stiff, very precise handling, and well conceived geometry. Great components, the slx/xt mixture made the bike a great value. The breaks make only satisfying, nearly instantaneous "clicks" when applied, and can slow the bike down STUPID fast!
Weaknesses: Not very forgiving. Rear wheel is heavy, and spins rather slowly (in terms of hub behavior).
The G2 geometry makes the bike not only quick and precise in the handling department, it also makes handling very easy with proper technique. Slipping the tires in-between bowlders and brushing trees at suicidal speed felt like nothing more than a daily ride with and added adrenaline rush.
The front wheel surprised me with how stiff, light, and strong it seemed to be.
The first few times I took the bike to the single track I thought I may have made a mistake. It beat me up rather well and I'm in great shape and I'm only 22 (to top it off I spoke to a man with a 32oz. beer in his hand who said my local trail was one of the smoothest he has ever ridden). I kept at it and within a month I was leaving the rockiest and most technical trails within 200 miles, feeling better than I felt when I arrived.
Similar Products Used: Trek x-caliber, Gery Fisher HiFi
Bike Setup: Stock
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: October 8, 2012
Strengths: What sold me on this bike was that it came with such great components for the price: XT crank and rear derail, Fox CTD Fork, SLK breaks. The paint color is a tinted clear coat so you can see the brushed aluminum - pretty cool. I was skeptical about Fox's new CTD fork, but it's been a non issue and it responds well to how I ride (5'10' 175lbs) Trek did a great job with this bike.
Weaknesses: My only complaint is that Trek didn't have a 2x10 drivetrain option. I'll probably replace the tires since they're not conducive to most of my riding condition.
I bought the 2013 model. This is probably the best equipped aluminum frame bike on the market.
Weaknesses: seat clamp, front fork, frame made in Taiwan.
I am 6'-4", 296 lbs. The brakes are incredible and do not make any noise like my fellow riders less expensive brakes. Tires track well for this dry east coast style riding. Wheelset has held up fantastic considering my weight and not smooth riding technique. Cable routing is fantastic compared to my last bicycle (2001 I-drive race). I ride with the front fork locked out most of the time because it dives so much if I brake hard on the downhill. It's limited to 125 psig max and is pretty squishy under my weight. Overall after getting used to the disc brakes and larger wheels this is with out a doubt the best bike I have ever riden. Every ride is more enjoyable than the next. I would recommend this bike and 29" wheels to my friends. This bike seems like it will provide lasting value, I have riden it 12 - 15 times and it continues to hold up.
Strengths: The new Frame design (beefy chainstays and Tapered Fork) compared to my G1 style Paragon.
Weaknesses: None (because I bought all my own components with my first Paragon frame)
The frame design improved on everything that made the Paragon so great!!
Gary Fisher Dialed in the 29er (the geometry is the best around) PERIOD!!!
I got a new Superfly 2012 AL Elite frame and put my upgraded parts from my Paragon which included:
WTB Wheelset, XT Crank (bought a new XT front derailer), SRAM X-9 Drivetrain with Elixer R brakes, Bontrafer RXL Stem and Race seatpost, Salsa Bar, Ergon Grips and WTB Rocket V saddle. I am also upgrading to a G2 Tapered Ford (maybe 15mm with a new wheelset)
Strengths: very stable on downhills and steep drops, rolls over everything. Great for XC. Absolutly no complaints about the ride. Will probably never go back to full suspension!
Weaknesses: Just a tad on the heavy side but I do have a larger 19inch frame, Over time I will upgrade to lighter and better parts as I find deals etc. Really wish I had seven grand to drop on the superfly pro
I been riding MTB for very long time, this is my first 29er....Very impressed. I moved to NC from California. Having bigger tires really helps to get over roots bloody roots.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: May 17, 2012
Strengths: Frame is light and compliant. Parts are a great mix for the price. Geometry is absolute perfection - seriously..... perfection.
Weaknesses: I would like more adjustability from the forks, but they are wonderful if you like the default setup. Tire sidewalls seem a bit thin. I had the first sidewall tear I have ever had on this bike and I am getting more pinch flats than I would like. That said, I really love the tread on these tires, they roll brilliantly and grip quite well. I would go tubeless but the kit is out of stock.
This is the best bike I have ever owned in 20+ years of off-road riding. I demo-ed six different bikes plus the one I was replacing and nothing rode like the Trek 29er. The slacker head tube is brilliant thanks to the extra offset on the forks. The highlight of this bike is the frame, it is absolutely outstanding for an aluminium frame. I came off a nice steel frame and this bike is not beating me up at all, plus there is a noticeable increase in stiffness under the pedals. I even got a week on the equivalent carbon superfly. It was much lighter, but I was surprised how well this AL bike rode in comparison with the much more expensive frame. 800kms later, I am enjoying the bike more and more with every ride.
I could have picked up an equivalent Giant for the same price (or less) and it had a much better spec on paper. However, the parts on this bike have been flawless over the first 800km or so. There is nothing on here I feel like I need to upgrade, the cranks are last year's XT, which are really nice, and the SLX brakes are a joy.
I really can't say enough good things about this bike. I have owned higher spec bikes, but I don't notice a difference in practice. I have owned fancier frames, but this one matches them all. All this at an incredible price.
Similar Products Used: Salsa El-Mariachi, Norco Rampage, Giant ATX (getting back a bit now...), and on it goes.
Bike Setup: Stock 19inch with a 90mm stem
a Cross Country Rider
from Wyong, NSW Australia
Date Reviewed: February 14, 2012
Strengths: Comfort, climbing ability and confidence on all trails
Weaknesses: The rider! And it's desirability,. It got Stolen after a week!
I bought this bike to race in marathons - the Canberra Capital Punishment 100klm in March 2012 being my first. After a week of owning it, it was stolen. Luckily it was insured, and after two and a bit weeks I have a new one, ready to put together today.
Coming from my SCOTT Spark 60 duallie, the first thing I noticed was speed! This this is incredibly fast and smooth over any and all surfaces. There are sections of my local trails that I just could never climb on the 26", and this thing eats them up. Also, being a fairly novice level MTB rider, the change from dual to hardtail was a bit of a shock (no pun intended), but after a short time and a couple of tweaks, felt very much at home.
This bike handles tight single track very well, and for the little time I had the first one, felt very good at pace in open environments.
I can't say anything bad about any of the components, as everything was silky smooth. Can't wait to get back on this great bike.
I could ride this all day - thankfully considering the use I bought it for, and would recommend it to the XC racer who want to shop at the top of the aluminium tree.
I also tested the GT Zaskar and Giant's 29er hardtail. Both were good bikes, but this is great.
My bike is a 17.5" size, and I am 182cm (6' even) and weight 100kg's. It is a fantastic fit for my size. The 19.5" was just too much of a stretch to the bars.
Thanks Mr Fischer for designing this awesome bike. (I wonder if the wife will let me have a Rig SS as well? :) )