Monday, October 20, 2008

Rosaryville Autumn Fest aka Bike Doctor Waldorf Demo Day! :)

The event I was looking forward to!

I've rarely been to any kind of bike demo days, really I've only stumbled on one at Patapsco while riding with some friends before this weekend. I test rode the Cannondale Caffeine 29'er that day having just recently heard about the whole 29'er idea. I didn't like it very much though the bike was fairly poorly spec'd, I'd never ridden a lefty and more importantly I'd never ridden a 29'er and had just spent the last couple of hours riding my 26 inch Trek. I liked how well it rode over things but handling just felt terrible.

At Big Bear I got to test ride the Ellsworth for my last lap, but other then that I've pretty much spent all of my mountain biking time riding my own bike. Demo days are the greatest thing since Al Gore invented the internets!

I managed to drag Aimee and Brian out somehow and figured the 3 of us would tool around a bit on the bikes they had there before heading out to lunch or something. Aimee still being hungover ended up hanging out with the dogs and reading and enjoying the amazing day while Brian and I got to ride a lap on our borrowed bikes thanks to Bike Doctor Waldorf.

I'd expected to try out the Trek Fuel EX 9.9, mostly since it was the highest end bike I saw on the list posted on the forum. Turns out they'd left it at the shop so I had to choose a different one. My eyes almost imediately were drawn to a sleak white Gary Fisher on the end of the rack and my mind was made up on what I wanted to try out. The 2009 Gary Fisher Paragon; 29 inch wheels, X-9 componentry with Avid Juicy Five disc brakes, a Fox fork and Bontrager wheels all set up on the lightweight and super sharp looking aluminum hardtail frame. They initially tried to set Brian up on it but since it was a large it was a bit too big for him, perfect for me. He ended up on the full squishy Gary Fisher Carbon Hi Fi running about $4400... A nice bike for a beginner.

Turns out it was a mixed blessing that the Trek wasn't there. First I really don't have any desire to get a full suspension bike; I just don't feel like it is necessary on the majority of what I ride. So, riding the EX 9.9 would have been relatively pointless aside from just riding a really nice bike. On the flip side, riding the Paragon just poured fuel on the fire. With my history of bike buying putting myself on something I might want is never a good idea. Consider the Paragon wanted.

I loved the ride of the aluminum frame and having gears was definitely nice; my general riding speed aside from waiting for Brian here and there was definitely higher then while on my ss. The bike was tremendously lightweight compared to my steel frame Jamis with lower level components, and on that note the sram X.9 drivetrain was so sweet and smooth. I am set on at least the style of my next bike if not the bike itself.

Reading some online reviews over at I think my only worry would be the likelyhood of the aluminum frame to fail. While it would appear a majority of the complaints are from the older model and that the 2008 model design was overhauled to correct the issue it is still something to think about. Otherwise the componentry complaints are all non-issues to me. I'm not a weight wheenie and at 26 lbs I wouldn't be one to complain about heavy wheels. I love the X.9 and the Avid Juicy five brakes and bontrager components would be easy swaps if I decided I didn't like them. As for the frame, the life time warranty would tend to allay any fears of failure to a back of the mind issue. Plus for the $2000 price tag it comes across to me as a relative bargain for those components.

All that said, I'm in no rush to buy and I will definitely be trying out as many bikes as I possibly can before I really start to get into it. If you on the other hand prefer hardtail, want light and fast with a solid drive train and sleek and simple look, go check out the 2009 Paragon. It's a super nice ride.

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