Today was my first time on trails in a long time. It was also my first time on the newly acquired Trek Procaliber hardtail. My initial reactions are damn positive, but as with any new ride, there are some things I’ll need to dial in the future. Here is what I learned about the bike (and me) on its maiden voyage…
My first reaction to the bike as I entered the singletrack was that it got up to speed freaking quick. My next reaction was “damn, this fork feels harsh.” Of course that was immediately followed by “you dumb ass, you have the lockout engaged!” Then all was good and I settled in to enjoy the ride.
The difficult thing about the IsoSpeed decoupler is that there is no real way of knowing how much it’s working other than looking down betweenst your legs while riding over a technical section to see how it’s moving. As you can imagine, that’s not real effective or safe. With a shock it’s as easy as taking a look at the o-ring to see movement. With the IsoSpeed, you just have to go on feel.
What I noticed was just what I expected: no, it’s not a full suspension and it’s not a soft tail. BUT it does flex enough to add comfort when hammering in the saddle, something that is done quite often on elevationally challenged Michigan singletrack. Given that I find sections of trail at MMCC some of the most unforgiving in Michigan’s lower peninsula, and at no point felt beat up, I’d say it works fine. I would be interested to see some data on the IsoSpeed vs. a hardtail with a nice flexy ti post, but I doubt such data exists.
The frame sizing felt so much better than my old hardtail, and nearly identical to my Superfly, so there wasn’t much to get used to as far as fit and sizing.
The SID up front felt great (as long as you don’t ride the first two miles with the lockout on!) as did the 1 x 11 drive train. When mountain biking in Michigan, I tend to ride the shit out my middle ring (or bing ring in the case of my Superfly’s 2 x 10), and usually forget I even have a front derailleur, so the 1 x 11 was not a big deal. It will be interesting to see how the 32T ring feels when I get it out on some dirt road rides, as to if I feel like I’m spinning out or not. Given that I often ride the Farley out on dirt roads with a 36T ring up front, I may not notice anything other than the ten pound weight difference.
Thus far, are a real highlight for me. I’m not sure if I’ve ever had wheels that spin up as quickly as these DT Swiss wheel do. Of course time will tell how they hold up to my six-foot one inch “meaty” frame.
The Cockpit Etc.
The first ride with the SRAM 1 x 11 paddle shifters proved interesting. My first reaction is that I like XT triggers much better, but I’m sure I will get used to it. As for today there were a few shifts down that were meant to be up and vice versa.
The XT brakes were awesome! In fact they are even better than the XTs that I have on the ’14 Superfly. Braking just has a great overall feel; grippy, but not too grippy.
The bike came with ESI Grips installed. I like ESI grips, but given that they were pre-installed there is no option for adding bar ends without removing them and reinstalling never works out as planned. I haven’t rode a mountain bike without bar ends in over twenty years and today I found my hands reaching out for them and getting nothing but air. I’ll probably hi-jack the Ergon grips off the for sale Superfly in the near future.
On a minorish sour note...
It seems that it doesn’t matter what bike I use: full suspension, hard tail or soft tail, my lower back still hurts. It’s not a sharp pain, but it’s noticeable for sure. It doesn’t seem to matter that I do about seventy-five crunches a day to improve my core strength, it still hurts after a few miles of singletrack. It’s not muscular, so I probably won’t know what’s wrong with me for sure until I finally go see a doctor. Of course the Procaliber allowed me to stand more often without loss of power and standing and attacking hills rather than grinding up seated tends to help relieve and back issues I experience on the bike.
Ending on good note…
The ride was awesome! I got about 15 miles in, the sun was out, the temps were in the 50s and the trails were dry and packed… in December… IN MICHIGAN!! There has also been a new section of trail that adds around a half mile to the sixteen-ish miles that are already there. The new stuff is still a bit lumpy in parts, but I’m sure will get rode in soon enough. Hard to believe when I first moved here over five years ago, just about ALL of the MMCC trails were new(er) ands lumpy. The ride should have been a bit longer but sections of trail that butt up against private property filled with hunters has been rerouted for a few weeks.
Hoping to get more miles in on the Procaliber on Sunday. Whether it’s dirt roads or trail remains to be seen, leaning toward dirt road since I’m jonzing to get the camera out.
Note: I’m no expert who sits around comparing fork rakes and chain stay lengths, I know what I like and don’t like, but tend to just ride the hell out of bike and leave it at that. The above are initial reactions, I’m sure as the miles stack up I will know more about what I like and what I don’t like and will most likely share that.