Dean USA Ace 3.0 FS XTR 2003 Full Suspension

Dean USA Ace 3.0 FS XTR 2003 Full Suspension 


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[Jun 10, 2009]
Cross Country Rider


Titanium and all its lovely qualities. Build is lightweight and more importantly, reliable.


Paint on rear triangle has faded(understandable though). Seatpost hard to remove from frame.

The bike has served me well. Took me a while to review because I have been out riding. I can go faster and further than on any other bike I've owned. Being built as a weight weenie XC bike, it is not designed to go big but I have other bikes for that.

The Build: The bike's front and rear was mated to work well with each other. I originally had a Sid World Cup up front which was great. Despite others review, I loved that fork and still do. Unfortunately, because of my tendency to take the occassional ill-advized drop, paired with my weight gain, I opted for a sturdier front end. The carbon crown is gorgeous but I love my face a little too much to risk it. The rear shock works fine with minimal bob. The lockout comes in handy on long out of saddle climbs but is really not necessary. Locked out, very similar to a softtail. Again, the Rock Shox rear shock has a love/hate following as their forks.
XTR is not just a pretty face. I run the dual control shifters and that's another love em or hate em part. I find it flawless, crisp and intuitive. Never had a problem with any of the XTR parts. Only replaced a shifter cable and chains in all these years.
The wheels are the one part I hate on this bike now. Strong, light and expensive. Never had a problem when I was running it tubeless. But now, I run tubes and realized how hard it is to put tire on. I am talking, snapping tire irons hard. Changing a flat on the trails will probably be the reason I switch to new wheels.

The Ride: Titanium is just lively. Hard to describe but you have to ride it to understand it. Mated to my suspension choices, this frame is just flowy. I climb better than ever, due to the combination of light weight and tight rear. Downhills is a blast as well. I am coming from longer travel FS bikes and I was tenative at first on steep rocky descents. However, this bike has inspired much more confidence as I learned to trust it. After trading my flat bar to a riser, and adapting to the geometry, I find it faster down the fun side of a mountain. Keep in mind it is still an xc setup, meaning 3+ foot drops are out and I will stay out of an emergency room. I have launched a couple of times and I have neither bottomed out nor broken anything but I'm older and wiser than to push the envelope here.

The Workmanship: Dean has beautiful welds. I looked at a few ti builders and they are on par or better than a lot of ti builders. And their prices were quite reasonable. The painted part on the rear triangle is the weak link. It is a mountain bike so I'm not too concerned but it is pretty dinged up. Ti is pricey and quality is never cheap but my philosophy is that something is only expensive if you dont use it to your money's worth.

In Conclusion: If you are going to get use (possible a lifetime) out of it, it is a fine investment. You'll probably go through a few sets of shocks, drivetrains, seats, decals, and wheels before retiring this frame. Solid XC performer, with no frills or overkill. Seemingly simple design which means minimal maintainance costs. The frame gets a lot of attention at the trailhead and even the bike shop. She's a few years old now but still a looker with minimal paint to chip and a timeless design.

Similar Products Used:

SC Superlight, Giant NRS 1

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