Strengths: Long, steady climbs and steep, short climbs are no problem in this. Light and flick-able, weaves through tight trees at dangerous speeds without a problem. Pedals very efficiently in cross-country sections.
Weaknesses: Light weight means that big roots or rocks can upset it when you're descending quickly, but it's agile enough to get around them with ease.
This is my first full-suspension bike, so I don't have anything to directly compare it to, but this bike is great. Admittedly, the one I got has almost nothing stock, but the frame works very well. Mine has SRAM X-9 mech, X-0 shifters, a modified Rockshox Reba fork, ario 3 shock, Truvativ carbon cranks, and a narrow carbon Easton handlebar. With all the upgrades, the ride is great. The DW link suspension pedals really efficiently, XC guys on hardtails had to push hard to try and catch me on the open climbing sections, but I could really pull away on the downhills. This bike pumps through turns really well, and I leaned to preposterous angles that I didn't think were possible. This bike has made technical trails I used to loathe into some of the most fun times of my life.
from Kaysville, Ut 84037
Date Reviewed: January 13, 2012
Strengths: Great frame, had many, but I love this one. It is solid on descents.
To do over, I'd get a hardtail version of Azure.
Weaknesses: Don't necessarily like the rear suspension. Too soft.
a Cross Country Rider
from Golden, CO
Date Reviewed: July 18, 2011
Strengths: - Excellent suspension by DW-Link
- Good component set
- Good price
Weaknesses: The frame only accommodates somewhat narrower rear tires. It hasn't bothered me but it was one of the first things I noticed.
The only complaint I had about this bike was actually a complaint about the Shimano shifters. Every indexing shifter I've had since I was a kid was made by Shimano so I always thought finicky was just the nature of the beast. I couldn't be happier with the SRAM X.9's though. I almost wish I had bought the less expensive 2008 model, which came with SRAM shifters but it also came with RockShox instead of Fox.
Similar Products Used: I used to have the competition ("comp") model Iron Horse "Warrior" hardtail.
Bike Setup: 2007 Azure Expert, which came with a Fox 32R fork and Fox Float R rear shock. I also replaced the Avid Juicy 7 brakes with Formula ORO K24's and 180mm disks as soon as I got the bike. The 2007 Azure came with Shimano XT shifters, which were so finicky, they were dangerous. I replaced them after they locked up at an inopportune time and I busted my knee on the handlebar stem. I replaced the XT's with SRAM X.9's and couldn't be happier. The Iron Horse/Fox/Formula/SRAM setup is excellent!!!
a Cross Country Rider
from Welwyn Garden City, UK
Date Reviewed: October 23, 2009
Strengths: Agile yet with more strength than pure XC racers. Climbs well but maestro end on my giant is as good in my opinion. DT wheelset is good.
Weaknesses: Tyre clearance! in UK winter conditions I can see this is gonna be fun. Cheap crankset lets it down. X9 rear mech looks very vunerable - may swap over to full XT. Reba SL's are horrid compared to my FOX TALAS X forks. Little stick devoured my mech.hanger like it was cheese :-(
As it's not an all out racer i don't understand such a severe lack of tyre clearance. To be able to comfortably run 2.1/2.2's would have been nice. With a set of Spesh Fast Trak 2.0 on, I have approx 5mm of clearance. Swapped these out for Panaracer Fire XC Pro 1.8's but it's a bit like riding on a knife edge. Will hopefully improve as the mud comes back.
It's a very responsive bike and I'm sure as time goes by, I'll love it even more. Happy so far in the short time I've used it.
Similar Products Used: Boardman Comp. HT, Giant trance
Bike Setup: Stock 2008
a Cross Country Rider
from Keshena, WI, USA
Date Reviewed: January 7, 2009
Strengths: Lighter than a Fisher HIFI. Great at everything I do.
Weaknesses: I had an issue when it wouldnt stay in gear and it worked great for a while before this. needed to take it back to the shop several times to get it fixed. Tire clearence, the biggest tires you can use are without rubbing are 1.95s
Similar Products Used: Ironhorse Mavrick hardtail.
Bike Setup: stock 06
a Weekend Warrior
from ny, ny, usa
Date Reviewed: July 26, 2008
Strengths: Great suspension, climbs very well. I have had no trouble with the 5th element shock, nor do I have to add air. The brakes are great and the pads are lasting me a while. I've wrecked pretty badly (including 2 ER trips) and have yet to damage anything on the bike except a derailleur hanger.
Weaknesses: Requires narrow tires, I think 1.95 or 2". Maybe you can squeeze in a little wider, but then you will rub the frame a bit.
The Skareb front shock bobs badly. I really wish it had a lockout for long smooth uphills
Front derailleur mashed the frame in EVERY position until I replaced it.
I would buy this bike again, though I would much rather have paid $1400 rather than 2K. I had no idea it would get that cheap.
It wasn't so easy getting the suspension dialed.
I had a lot of trouble with pinch flats with the stock mavic rims and light tires and tubes. I replaced the tubes with super thick slime filled units and haven't had a problem since, though this added several lbs to the already heavy bike.
a Cross Country Rider
from Austin Texas
Date Reviewed: February 17, 2008
Strengths: 90 mm DW-Link rear suspension(amazing), Shimano Deore XT Dual Control Hydraulic, brakes (love how they work together) Nice arrangement of parts without cost cutting.
Weaknesses: Must be fine tuned in order to get best performance. I have had some small problems with gear slipping under high strain on climbs...however, when in tune it's like a mountain goat on steroids.
I spent over a year researching, riding, renting and riding some more…I wanted an amazing bike with cutting edge Technology but didn’t want to regret spending a large amount of money on a bike I would be disappointed with a few months later ( had several friends drop 3-5 thousand and where really frustrated with there bikes). When I finished my research on the DW link system I was convinced I had found the right mix of technology, price, and parts on a theorized great design. The Iron Horse MKIII had just received great reviews from MTBR and others but I was really looking for a XC verses a DH. I set out to find an XC with the DW-Link System for the best price. I originally went to Performance and they had the bike I wanted the Azure…the price was around 2250.00 on sale then I saw the Azure on RS and could not believe my eyes at the price. I went ahead an ordered the bike with the pro-build. Got the bike and loved the look and feel right away. Originally however, I had major problems with the shifting. It would not stay in gear at all. I called RS and had a really hard time getting them to work with me. They assured me that the bike had been tested and was fine when it left there location. I ended up having to take it to the local Performance bike store and run it through there shop. The bike still would not stay in gear after two of their mech looked it over. I ended up taking it to a local bike shop in the area and they finally diagnosed the problem. The mech at RS had cut the cable tube to short and under weight the cable would slip out of gear. They replaced the cable tube with a longer one and everything was as it should have been. Note however, that RS refused to reimburse me for their obvious error and my 120.00 fee after the fact nor did they make any effort to give me a voucher or gift certificate. Poor customer service for sure. Once I got the bike in perfect working order I took it out for a good ride of various XC terrain. Without a doubt, it was the smoothest ride I had been on. I had tried the Epic, Trance, and the Dakar and others (all excellent bikes) but the Azure was my favorite and craved up the trails with precision and handled the jumps, drops and climbs flawlessly (actually climbs better than the others even though it is bit heavier). The components group seemed excellent in use…I absolutely loved the XT Dual Control Hydraulic shifters. The brakes had excellent stopping power and I thought the 5th element and suspension in general was fantastic. I was a little confused about the poor reviews the 5th element received as it worked perfectly for me. I highly recommend this bike especially for someone that wants the top of line without breaking the bank. RS actually still has 19 inch Azure still in stock ( I might actually purchase one for my son if RS will do me right by the first bike I got them). I would encourage someone looking… to consider getting the 05 as the bike has not changed a great deal. You can get outstanding performance and parts for a wonderful price. For the money you save you could replace the drive train and suspension and still have money left over…But you want have to because they are excellent as they are.
a Cross Country Rider
from Walnut Creek, CA
Date Reviewed: November 28, 2007
Strengths: Takes a licking and keeps on ticking. I treat my equipment pretty much like I treat rental cars. This bike ROCKS. I adventure race several times a year and this bike took me to the next level.
Weaknesses: Yeah, it's pretty heavy for an XC bike. I also got way too much bob out of the Fox RL it came with. Swapped it for a Fox RLC and life is good.
For the budget conscious XC rider or periodic adventure racer this is an excellent choice. Ride it hard and put it away sweaty, she'll want more tomorrow.
Similar Products Used: GT I-drive, Specialized Rockhopper comp
Bike Setup: Swapped out the bars and stem to Easton flat EC70's and a Syntace superlight. Swapped the forks for a lockout RLC too. Blew through about 4 plastic brake distance adjusters on the Juicy 7's efore I found out you could buy the machined aluminum one's for the Juicy Carbon's and they work just great.
a Cross Country Rider
from Scottsdale, AZ, USA
Date Reviewed: May 26, 2007
Strengths: total package is quality, all very good parts. No awesome parts mixed with garbage parts. I love the shimano hydraulic disc brakes and the pedaling efficiency.
Weaknesses: Instructions on setting up rear shock are not as extensive or precise as I would have liked, but I found better info on the web, and some experimentation is needed to tweak it to my liking.
What a difference from my schwinn, although it saw many years and miles. I love the geometry and the pedaling efficiency, tires, grips, brakes, suspension, seat, eggbeater pedals, and almost everything else, except that it is a mother to get on my hitch mounted bike rack. That is a small price to pay i guess. I couldn't find anything close to this value for the money. I almost bought the 2006 model, but I'm glad I bought the 2005 and saved the difference of $300. I rode it in a rocky trail 24 hour race the week after i got it and i loved the comfort and the toughness. I would buy it again if I had to do it all over again.
Similar Products Used: Tried a friends titus racer x (very nice)but i cant afford his bike/setup and tested a gt idrive 5.0, but it was too mushy for me. Was riding a schwinn moab hardtail for years.
Bike Setup: Out of the box, set up by local bikes direct shop and set both front and rear suspension pressure once in 1 month, haven't needed to re-pump either yet.
from Richmond VA
Date Reviewed: April 11, 2007
Strengths: great ride, climbs awesome, high quality components, DW Link
Weaknesses: I guess it could be a little lighter
DW is awesome!!! I liked it so much better than the other bikes i tried. All I know is that I don't want to continually be reaching down to lock out my rear shock for uphills. The bike is soft when you need it but doesn't bob up/down constantly while peddaling hard. Fantastic bike with top notch components, and I was able to get a price match at a ludacris price. Buy it now!!!!
Similar Products Used: FSR, Yeti Enduro, Rocky Mountain ELement, too many to list
Bike Setup: Fully stock azure expert
from central, NJ
Date Reviewed: April 10, 2007
Strengths: Very solid bike. DW link works great. The bike does not bob on uphill climbs and descents well.
Weaknesses: A bit heavy for a cross-country race bike, but has good manners and is easy to manuever
For the price I paid, I can't complain one bit. The bike comes with a nice Front and rear fork, although it would be nice to have a front lockout. The rear suspension works as advertised. Although the stock DT Swiss wheels are nice, I changed them out to tubeless Crossmax SL's and I really love the ride now. Not quite the racing machine my old Schwinn Homegrown hardtail is (not much is), but my back likes the FS rig much better. Give Ironhorse a look
Bike Setup: XT with Avid hydraulic brakes. Changed wheels to Mavic Crossmax SL's
from San Francisco
Date Reviewed: January 17, 2007
Strengths: Climbs like no other bike I've ridden; same or better performance for less $$$ compared to other "sexier" or boutique brands; dw-link the best suspension design that no one knows/talks about.
Weaknesses: A little heavy compared to the lightest frames in the class; front derailleur must be adjusted just perfectly to prevent hitting the chainstay.
I've got the 2006 Azure Expert. Incredible build kit; no need to upgrade anything. The dw-link suspension is amazing -- especially efficient at climbing, during which the rear wheel articulates over all the bumps so you can maintain traction and control. Sure, platform shocks are a great technology, but it's much better when the suspension is designed such that it can remain active at all times. I sometimes wish I had a bit more travel on the downhills, but I don't do jumps and need all the help I can on the climbs, so the lighter Azure was a better choice than the MkIII for me. Don't let the hype over other suspension designs fool you -- give a dw-link bike a test ride and decide for yourself!
Bike Setup: Stock except for pedals (switched over to SPDs)
a Cross Country Rider
from Yorktown Heights,NY
Date Reviewed: January 2, 2007
Strengths: Climbs great. Suspension is active with almost no bob. Very stable.
Weaknesses: Limited rear tire clearance.
I absolutely love this bike. Since I got it in October I have been riding this 3 to 4 times a week. I came from a Bontrager TiLite and had a hard time finding a FS bike that climbs as well as the Bonrager. The Azure comes close but is a much better descender than the Bonty. I test rode every bike I could get a hold of and liked the Azure the best. I find myself wanting to ride it every chance I can. At the clearance prices for the 2005s the bike is a steal. It is perfect for an XC rider. It handles beatifully in the tight northeast singletrack. I never considered an Iron Horse but test rode it at a festival and am glad I did. I highly reccommend it.
a Cross Country Rider
from Richmond, VA
Date Reviewed: October 22, 2006
Strengths: Reasonable weight. Stable platform design. DW-link works great!Handling. Looks. Perfect east coast trail and xc bike.
Weaknesses: None so far.
I love this bike, it climbs great. It is more racey than squishy. It feels very fast, but still soaks up hits. It may weight a little more than some xc racers, but you don't feel it on the trail. I have found the perfect bike for xc/trail use. Once I upgrade to some racing wheels, it will fly!
I'm just about to purchase a new '08 Iron Horse Azure Expert from a local Big Box sporting goods store for what I consider to be a screaming deal. I've read some glowing reviews of the bike, and am really attracted to the DW link and many of the high end components.
But, while doing my research, ... Read More »
My local LBS has a new '05 Azure in my size (wrongly tagged as an '06 - they can care less); was marked down from $3300 (?!) to $1700; says I can have it for 300 less, the lowest they will go, yet my wife is okay with the numbers. They'd carry their standard LBS warranty; since IH is no more that me ... Read More »
i am considering to get an Azure Expert 08 model. Can fellow riders share your feedback and experience on this bike with its dwlink technology. i am currently riding a hardtail and looking for my first full suspension bike.Read More »
With Randall Scott's sale going on recently I've found the Azure Comp to be comparable price wise to a FSR XC Expert I've seen in a local store. The FSR is $100 more, at $1500, though. Looking from a pure component stand point, the Azure seems to have the step up with Fox floats in the rear ... Read More »