Strengths: affordable, compact tight frame, lightweight, cool looks, can run discs or rim brakes
Weaknesses: none that I've seen but I'm not "hardcore"
The frame is light (all the weight seems to come from the suspension fork, with a better fork or a rigid one, it would probably weigh in at about 20 lbs or so -- light as a roadike!). It handles well and the compact, sloping top tube design gives excellent dismount clearance whether riding on dirt in the woods or running errands in winter snow or anything in between. It's good offroad, on singletrack, dirt roads, even across the grass or woods where there is no trail. Swap knobby tires for something smoother and you can use it for transport around town. I for transport whenever I can.*
* - The review process asks you to choose from the catagories of "weekend Warrior", "cross country rider", "All mountain rider", "downhiller", or "racer". None of these are really accurate, but since all except weekend warror imply qualities I do not have, since I occaisonally offroad and do most of my riding on, the least misleading choice was that. However, I hardly just ride on weekends, on road or off. Why isn't there a catagory for "all around biker?" I mean, I've got a bit of a gut, and i'm not a fast racer type, but I also do between 5-7 thousand miles a year, I use the bike for most trips whenever I can, and some of that includes a mountain bike. Once i roade home with two road wheels strapped to my backpack. And of course I have also taken it into the woods. I ride at night, day, and in winter. Including sometimes snow. Anyhow bikes don't just get used on nice sunny sunday mornings. This said, I can say this bike is suited for all the above. That's the point -- it's one thing to keep it pristine, but how does it work with smow in the cogs? Really? You shouldn't abuse your gear but it's nice to know how it works in less than ideal conditions. This thing makes a good commuter, or winter transport, or offroad ride. Good for cruising around town. I've ridden it on dirt -- and hopped curbs with a twenty lb pack on my back. Some people have spoken of the dropouts being weak. They talked of replacement. I assume they mean the derailliuer hanger that bolts to the dropouts, as replacing the dropouts themselves would appear to require a welding job and aluminum is much more difficult to weld than steel. However, if the concern is indeed about the dropouts I can understand why people would feel that way -- the dropouts are cut out in the center and certainly appear less than substantial because of this skelatonized design. However, they have held up fine and I have a belly. For regular riding I do not see a problem. If you are goign to be riding off drops as tall as an NBA player maybe that's different, but then for riding like that you usually use a specially overbuilt bike anyway.
Long story short -- if you cans core one used (they don't make em anymore but plenty are out there) this bike is fun and a good deal.
Similar Products Used: trek 4500, both as a fixed/ss and geared bike, marin hardtail of some kind, and a Surly 1x1 (but that's steel)
Bike Setup: Initially built up with random parts as a 1x8 - front suspension fork, cheapo (off a trek hardtail), v brakes, sugino 170mm cranks, 34 front chainring and 8 speed rear wheel with thumb shifter. Lately converted to single speed using 3rd outermost rear cog.
from Murfreesboro, Tn, US
Date Reviewed: January 29, 2008
Strengths: Stiff Frame. It can take a beating. price! looks good.
Weaknesses: Weak drop-out. very rough ride. That don't make them any more so factory work is out of the question.
I use this bike for winter training with a single speed conversion kit. I have been riding it for over a year and it has served it's purpose. I have taken it through the nastiest single track the winter can dish out and taken it off several drops. The bike has held up great. However I have a fear of having to replace the drop-out in the future. Finding this part may be next to impossible since they are no longer manufacturing the frame. If you are looking for a quality XC hardtail for a good price this would be a good one. This would also be a good upgrade from an entry level bike. If you are looking for manufacturer support, steer clear.
Bike Setup: Soul Craft Single Speen Conversion kit. Industry 9 SS wheels, Manitou Fork.
a Weekend Warrior
from APO, AE
Date Reviewed: August 14, 2005
Strengths: No paint, replaceable drop out, disc brake ready, light wieght
This frame is great. It may be because my other frame was too big, but this one fits perfect. Love riding this thing. For the price I paid I got the stem, handle bar, headset (FSA w/needle bearings, integrated) and the seat post. I am riding the 14" frame with a 110mm stem and the bike is really comfortable. I could stay on this thing for hours. I am 5'3" and about 165. I can't tell you if it is stiffer than this or that bike or inspires some kind of who knows what, but the bike is light and just great for my ability (begining beginer!) and makes me want to ride all weekend. I have held up bikes that cost way more than what I paid for my frame and parts and they seem alot heavier and the parts selection is pretty poor. This way I got the parts that I wanted on the frame that I wanted the first time.
Bike Setup: Deore LX, cheap Insyc shock, Avid 7, Panaracer fire
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: August 3, 2005
Strengths: none really
Weaknesses: manufacturer can not seem to place the tubing in the jigs very well when welding the frame together. Rear triangle doesn't line up with front triangle. Pretty heavy too for an aluminum frame.
The botton line is this, if you want a quality frame, buy one from a well know manufacturer. Buy something you can physically handle and try out before you buy. I went through two frames in less than 2 years. The first one had a frame misalignemnt of 1/4" and the replacement has cracked in 2 places. Everyone on my team who rode their bikes has had to return their frame under warranty because of poor quality. 3 liberator frames and a black widow.
a Cross Country Rider
from State College, PA
Date Reviewed: February 17, 2005
Strengths: Light, cheap, and pretty
Weaknesses: for some reason it came with ball bearings rolling around in the frame. I got them all out but one, I can still here it rolling around when I flip my bike over. Also, it's set up for rear hydraulic brakes, it's a pain to run cables.
Sweet ride. I was apprehensive about buying a frame online but I was rewarded. For 300 bucks you are not going to find a frame like this anywhere else. It aint titanium, but it aint 1200 bucks either,
Similar Products Used: Ibex alpine, various big name hardtails
Bike Setup: xt drivetrain, manitou xs-r fork
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: December 3, 2004
Strengths: It is strong, light and really fast. I got my cables put on top so it is easy to carry when nature has really reclaimed the trails, or when you get to cliff size rocks. You can't scratch it, it always looks great and they are tough. The fools at Kumming airport sent mine bouncing down the luggage slippery dip thing, I was freaking about damage... but nothing, not a scratch.. they can handle getting loaded on the back of a truck, a plane, or a bouncing jeep and get unloaded perfect and ready to roll.
Weaknesses: It is a hard tail so a bit bouncy on the rough stuff. I am actually currently building up a Airborne paka wallop (soft tail) so I can cycle through the bouncy terain faster. So by xmas I will have two airbornes.
This is the first time I have got top line components and a great frame - the difference in how it rides is unbelievable. You will feel the difference immediately.
As soon as I got this bike my riding improved. I went from finishing in the middle of the pack in races to coming in the top 10%. The biggest change it made for me is improving my confidence, the bike just felt better, I was more confident doing things I would not have attempted before. And being light made all hills seem flat/ter.
I love riding this bike. 8 of my friends have also bought these bikes cause they are light, fast and tough.
Titanium suits my lifestyle, my friends and I do lots of travel to remote places (mostly asia) and the bike comes with us- it went on at least 15 plane rides last year. I chose titanium over carbon because it can take what you give it off the bike - and performs fantastic when riding. I hear that carbon will absorb more shock when on the trails, but it is fragil and need to be loved and cared for - friends of ours with carbon frames need to spend an hours each trip to ensure their carbon frame is all boxed and carefully wrapped for transport - we just wheel our Airbornes on at airports with nothing more than a foam sleeping roll strapped at the bottom to protect the derailers and a bit of air out of the tyres.
I am 60kg so with the light bike my power to weight ratio means I can get up the hill much faster and easier than others with stronger but heavier bikes.
Similar Products Used: Lots of brands - a few giants, previous bikes were Alum
Bike Setup: Airboune liberator frame, avid breaks, XT everything but XTR front and rear derailers, SID team shocks, Mavic tubeless wheels = 9kg (I have weighted it often at airports)
a Cross Country Rider
from Newcastle-upon-tyne, England
Date Reviewed: October 2, 2004
Strengths: Its light weight well built, rides well, price
this bike is equaly as good as its titanium counter parts, the ride is really smooth and the low weight makes it easier for those parts on the trail where it has to be carried. its an alround excellent buy and i would recomend it to anyone.