a Cross Country Rider
from Charlottesville Va
Date Reviewed: July 9, 2000
Strengths: Flawlessly constructed, beautiful, sub 5 lb frame, quick handling, flawless climber...Great customer service from Charlie, Teresa and Sherwood.
Weaknesses: There really isn't one, and I'm certainly not going to whine about price.
The old Marble Peak garnered much praise for its hardtail- like handling characteristics, and the Fuego turns it up a notch in this department. This is truly as perfect a singletrack bike as you will find.
What I really love is how plush I can set this bike up without much in the way of mush. Of course, much of this can be attributed to the new generation fox air shocks (really put the Alps stuff to shame) For race situations, I just pump the shock up a bit but not much, since, like the Marble Peak, there's something of a lock-out effect during hard pedaling and there is certainly very little in the way of bobbing. (No, I'm obviously no suspension pundit:))
But honestly, this bike is not for everyone. Some will find the handling too quick. After years on an ultra stable Marble Peak, my first few rides on the El Fuego were not confidence inspiring. No doubt they were more fun than on my previous Ventanas, but the quick handling was something I had to get used to. But in a similar vein to a 911 I once drove, once you give this bike a chance and push it with confidence, it rewards you with a handling experience that transcends the typical MTB. Suddenly a twitchy feeling bike feels like a slotcar.Perhaps Mountainbike was right that it "requires an expert to extract maximum performance" but is this such a bad thing ?
I've set this bike up with a 130mm 5 degree stem and a Thomson setback (which really isn't much of a setback . I just like the fact that I could kick everything back if I ever hit the local chairlift ) The Monkey rise works well, but I wouldn't suggest putting anymore rise up front since the headtube and the xfly (great match with the Fuego rear-end, by the way) already create a pretty tall front end. The 4.9 pound weight is a good thing too. I initially built up the bike to weigh in just over 22 pounds using an englund equipped Judy sl. Now with some meaty treads and an xfly I'm still in the 23 pound range.
This could vey well be the quintessential East Coast bike-- one of the few fs bikes that don't sacrifice handling for the sake of suspension. It isn't for the faint of heart, and it won't reward a lazy rider, but for those looking for a truly agile suspended ride (quite the anomoly in the bike world), this could be the ticket.
Similar Products Used: Marble Peak (owned several -- both the falling and straight rate designs) FSR, Super Vs, Turners,blah blah blah
Bike Setup: 17 inch frame (I'm a little under 5'11 160 lbs)Z2 xfly, King wheels, arch supremes, monkey rise 1"...in other words, good stuff.
from atlanta, GA, USA
Date Reviewed: June 5, 2000
Strengths: this bike is supreme. it is so light, so nimble, so plush, and so fast. the suspension is just perfect for my riding style. the bike is feathery in weight, and devilish in attitude. i use it for cross country racing and riding, a little trials, and light downhilling. it is a dream to ride
Weaknesses: the only weakness is a true "weakness"
the rear brakes (XTR V's) seem to be a little mushy. and i can see those seat tubes flexing a little under extreme brake pressure. i think a brake booster would fix that problem, but, they are still tight enough for me. also, the front brakes are really tight, so the rear ones are tollerable.
this bike is a dream. as MTB magazine said, this bike is the ferrari compared to santa cruz, gary fiisher sugar 1, giant, and other high end racers. it works as well, if not better than the other "dream bikes", so if you want the one that nobody in the world has but you, that is the one. it looks mean, it rides mean, and it is a dream to own. if you can afford the price, this bike will suit you well. prepare to become emotuionally attached upon opening the box