Weaknesses: Clearance of front sprocket & chainstay, weird sizing.
I bought this bike to fill a void that my Freeride bike (Turner RFX) just couldn't fill anymore (is getting heavier w/ each new component I put on it-around 36# now). After 1 ride in/around trails in Bend, Oregon, I knew this was the right choice. I blasted thru jagged rocky sections that I could never get the momentum going on my Turner. The bike just lunges forward w/ each pedal stroke-amazing. I cleared every uphill section I tried-some over 30 minutes straight climbing. Probably not a big deal to some, but I'm not a strong climber typically. Since then I've ridden in a few xc/singletrack places & like this bike even more. Its responsive to power, stiff enuf for my 185# butt, and is plush enuf when it needs to be. It makes me want to keep riding! The build is not a stock package; I got frame/crankset/fork combo for unreal deal, and buile rest up w/ clearance parts and leftover stuff I had. I spent only around $2,000 and its around 27# I guess...not great, but to me its almost 10# lighter than my other rig, and it didn't break the bank. I'll post back in 6 mos or so to see how bearings & pivots deal w/ the Oregon winters.
5 chilis for value since I built up & didn't pay near msrp on anything (just took awhile to finish) 5 chilis for overall
Similar Products Used: Specialized Stumpjumper FSR, Hardtail MTB's.
Bike Setup: Built up Sonix Werx frame w/ RP23 & F100x, XTR crankset, FSA xc300 wheelset, Hope stem, Juicy 5's, Thomson, X-9 drivetrain.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: November 4, 2006
Strengths: Strong, stiff, light frame. Good componentry. Value for money.
Weaknesses: Finicky suspension tuning. Noisy front forks.
Still working on suspension pressures, minimal info available in manuals provided. Seems to be very firm compared to others I ride with. With recommended sag rear shock is too compressed uphill, throwing my weight aft although generally action is good. More pressure to maintain stance results in hard ride. When I reduced the pressure in forks to near minimum recommended levels for improved action, experienced annoying rattling noise. Chain jammed between inner ring and forward pivot bolt whilst changing down for hard uphill climb on several occasions requiring pliers to remove. Adjusted nuts to move bolt across and reset derailer has prevented this. Happy with low weight when shouldering this bike up through the steep corn patches. Experimentation and trial and error required here as shop bike mechanics are hamfisted clutzes, a national trait. Hate the colour.
Similar Products Used: Kona, Schwinn, Gary fisher, Scott, Canondale...
Bike Setup: Stock apart from candy sl eggbeaters and trimmed bars for slipping between coffee trees.
a Cross Country Rider
from Whidbey Island, WA
Date Reviewed: September 2, 2006
Strengths: Suspension design actually works as advertised. Surprisingly lightweight at just under 6 # on my scale for a L frame as it appears to be heavily reinforced; built up bike weighs 25.5#. Rare, lifetime warranty from Haro.
Weaknesses: Some overspray in the painting process. Rear chainstays are wide for large tire clearance - which is a positive except I had to replace my 73x113 BB with a 73x118 to keep the middle chainring from touching the right chainstay. Suspension setup is moderately difficult.
If you don’t want to read this entire review, just read this one sentence: I am faster on the VL120 than any other mountain bike I’ve ever ridden.
I purchased the VL120 frameset and have a FOX RP23 on the back. This is the same spec that the 2007 Werx VL120 will have. I built the bike up so I can review only the frameset, not the entire Werx VL120 package.
HARO CUSTOMER SERVICE
Haro customer service is extremely responsive (by phone, email or even the forum on this web site). How many companies can you call and be speaking to a person vice a box of wires within a few seconds? Second, Haro offers a lifetime warranty which means they stand behind their product and have faith in it.
You may have heard of Neal Saiki, perhaps not. He is a smart cookie - his achievements include the design that holds the record for the first human powered helicopter flight. He also redesigned the VPP for Santa Cruz. The way I understand it, when he finished the work for Santa Cruz he wanted to improve on the design. After four years and a partnership with Haro, you have the Virtual Link (VL). I tried to contact him to get any insights into the design, but no luck.
I didn't test ride this bike prior to purchasing it which made me a bit apprehensive - I went solely on the recommendation of a former pro racer who lives in my town and a bike mechanic I know who has forgotten, learned, and forgotten again more about bikes than I will ever know. (BTW, for those of you in the Monterey, CA area, Jason at Joselyn’s Bicycles is the best mechanic I’ve ever met).
The suspension setup is finicky. I talked to the head tech at Haro (I wish I could remember his name, perhaps Ryan, but I’m only about 25% certain) about suspension setup and he said it was vitally important to set the sag exactly at 20% (10mm). I took that as advice more than a mandate, after all, sag is preference, right? I played with the sag and found the suspension was intolerant to even the smallest deviance. Too much sag or too little sag and the bike bounced when I pedaled. Granted, too little sag only produced a bounce to what was apparently the appropriate sag but also made the ride harsh with no gain in pedaling efficiency. I spent quite a bit of time in my garage and on my computer trying to determine how the suspension works (yes, I’m a geek and proud of it). The two lower pivots (the bottom bracket pivot and the one just forward) have a very subtle interaction. A system in balance is the best way I can describe the VL120 when sag is set appropriately. When it is in balance, it barely moves when pedaling, but otherwise wants to bob. I did all of the setup with the Pro Pedal and damping turned off so I could see the suspension’s tendencies easier. I am still undecided if the Pro Pedal is even necessary (although it does counter some of my poor pedaling habits – see below).
To view a picture of the frame design, visit the Haro forum. There are several pictures there. The Haro web site has a good diagram and information.
Assuming the suspension setup is correct, the VL120 does not pedal like it has five inches of travel. It reacts less to my pedaling than any FS bike I’ve ever ridden (including a 2” travel ST and a 3” FSR).
In or out of the saddle, the suspension is extremely active. It is best when going through technical sections at speed. I pick my lines differently with this frame – I don’t try to avoid the tricky spots by steering around them, rather, I pick the line that will allow me to keep my speed and let the suspension do the rest. The suspension slightly bogs down when there is a lot of stop/start pedaling accelerations through really technical sections – but we are talking about a frame with 5” of travel. Pro Pedal set at “1” completely counters this tendency (as would improving my pedal stroke).
Additionally, I have noticed an extremely small degradation in performance of the suspension under hard braking (it is small enough for me to doubt its existence and chalk it up to my imagination). There are two possibilities: The suspension is becoming less active; or my weight is moving forward and I’m simply not weighting the back enough to compress the suspension. I don’t notice any difference during moderate braking.
Everyone always wants to know if a full suspension bike climbs as good as a hard tail. If you are referring to the way a hard tail has instant acceleration up a paved surface, then, no, the hard tail climbs better than the VL120. If you are comparing it to the way a hard tail stutters, skids, and bounces up an actual mountain trail, the answer is still no because the VL 120 climbs far better. After a stint with full suspension bikes (Trek and Specialized), I actually went back to a hard tail because hard tails climbed better. I’ve heard the Blur climbs well (I’ve never ridden one, but have seen friends clean some pretty tough pitches on Blurs), but I can unequivocally say the VL120 is an excellent climber.
I have been a serious cyclist since 1989 and have done quite a bit of road and MTB racing (including 24 hour). I have a loop near my house that has a bit of everything (logging road, technical, long climbs, singletrack) on which I periodically test myself to determine my level of conditioning. I have tickled the 50 minute mark but have never broken it on hard tail, soft tail or full suspension bikes. On my first attempt on the VL120 I did it in 48:07. You could argue new bike syndrome but I would counter and say that I've tried that loop on three previous new bikes. You could argue that I was fed, fresh, rested and my physiology was just right - I would counter that I had just completed an athletic competition two days before and had done max weight dead lifts just fourteen hours prior. Like I said in the first paragraph of this review, I’m just faster on a VL120.
Similar Products Used: Different FS bikes including unified rear triangle, four bar and soft tail.
Bike Setup: Fork: Manitou Skareb Platinum 100mm Rear Shock: '07 Fox RP23 Headset: American Classic Ultralight Headset Spacers: FSA Carbon Stem: Titec Phat Head Ti Handlebar: Titec 118 Ti Bar Ends: Singletrack Solutions ST Lites Grips: Titec Pork Rinds (trimmed for SRAM shifters) Saddle: Forte Pro SLX Seatpost: Thomson Elite 410 mm Front Derailleur: Shimano XT Rear Derailleur: Shimano XTR Shifters: SRAM Rocket Shorty Crank Set: Truvativ Stylo Team ISIS Bottom Bracket: FSA Platinum Pro Ti Cassette: SRAM PG-990 11-32 Brake Levers: Avid SD-5 Brakes: Avid Mechanical Skewers: Shimano Wheelset: Hayes Superlite Disc Hubs, Velocity VXC Rims, DT Super Comp BLACK 2.0/1.7/1.8 Tubes: Performance Lunar Lite Tyres: Panaracer Fire XC 2.1 Pedals: Speedplay Frog CrMo
a Cross Country Rider
from Avondale, AZ
Date Reviewed: March 26, 2006
Strengths: Pedals great with no bob what so ever. I was out of the saddle for my finish and it was just like a hardtail. Downhill was excellent and I pedaled in the saddle over very rough terrain. Fantastic bike.
Weaknesses: It is a little light up front, just took some getting used to. Climbs great and once again, no bob.
I don't know why this bike is in freeride but it deserves a review, and should be moved to XC. I rode the VL120S the middle of the line Sonix.
I raced the Nova Desert Classic on Saturday the 25th. I showed up with my Haro V3. This was my second race on the McDowell mountains. My last race was my first ever, the McDowell Meltdown through MBAA. I finished with a time of just over 1:13 in February. Well I showed up with my bike and there was the Haro tent with the Sonix for demo. I jokingly asked if I could race it. Jill the Haro rep didn't even hesitate. You don't get a much better opportunity than that to try a bike. She set me up with only 20 min before my start. 19-29 beginner. Well, I finished 3rd, granted there were only five or six in my class but the time speaks for itself 1:07. I dropped nearly 7 min with this bike on the exact same course. Don't believe it. Look up my times on teambigbear.com and on mbaa.net. They are under my name. I don't think you need much more proof than that.
I've ridden my friends Epic several times and for the price you can't beat the VL120S. Well worth the money and I am 100% sold. I have been saving for a new bike and it will be my new ride for next season. You can't beat a company that lets you race their newest model with no questions asked. My V3 has been great but now it is time to move up.
If you are looking to move up to a competitive XC bike, you owe it to yourself to ride the Sonix. I can't say enough about the bike and the company. I've demoed this bike twice once in the race and another at the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. Both times the reps were great. The only people who shouldn't buy this bike are the ones afraid of going against the grain and riding something you don't see everywhere. Compare the components list in the March issue of MBAction.