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By Zack Vestal
First seen in public at Sunday’s Bump n’ Grind event in Alabama (round three of the Pro XCT Tour), Sam Schultz’s pre-production Gary Fisher full suspension bike is full of new features.
The team ventured south to participate, and tucked in the race trailer alongside the team-spec Superfly hardtails and Procaliber 26-inch-wheeled, full-suspension bikes was a completely new, full-suspension 29er that incorporates the lightweight carbon of the Superfly, big wheels from the HiFi 29er, plus flagship design elements pioneered in the Trek line.
Well known as one of the founders of the 29er movement, Gary Fisher has created a series of 29ers to suit every need, but full-suspension bikes with big wheels have rarely (if ever) been raced by team riders. Furthermore, new bikes from Niner, Specialized and Rocky Mountain have lately stolen Fisher’s thunder in the category.
It only takes one bike to buck that trend — and from our first look, this could be the bike.
VeloNews had a chance to preview the new rig, tentatively called the “Superfly 100,” before it was trailered 1,300 miles to meet rider Sam Schultz at the race.
Most notably, the new bike is made entirely from carbon fiber, including the mainframe, seatstays and chainstays. The material permits any tube shape imaginable, and Gary Fisher designers clearly took advantage of the freedom to engineer every possible advantage into the frame.
Starting at the head tube, the Superfly 100 uses a tapered 1 1/8th to 1.5-inch internal (zero stack) headset. It’s the same E2 front end that Trek employs on the Top Fuel EX and others. But added to this oversized head tube is a massive, boxed frame junction between the top and down tubes. Front-end geometry is built for Gary Fisher’s G2 51mm fork offset.
The down tube has a gentle “S” curve from head tube to bottom bracket, another design feature that recently appears on many mountain bikes. It helps maintain clearance for front wheel travel at the front and bottle cage space inside the triangle.
Again taking a page from the Trek playbook, the bottom bracket is unthreaded, uses no metal and relies on bearings that fit directly into carbon fiber bearing seats in the BB shell. This bike marks the first adoption in the Gary Fisher line of the technology (BB 90) that first appeared on Trek Madone road bikes.
Also adopted from Trek, and first used by Fisher in the Roscoe, is the Active Braking Pivot (ABP). ABP places a pivot between the seatstays and chainstays, concentric with the rear axle. The feature has been adopted across the entire Trek mountain bike line, from XC bikes to downhill bikes; again, this is only Fisher’s second use of the technology.
Rear shock placement looks similar to extant Gary Fisher full-suspension bikes, but the linkage now swings below the top tube, rather than up from a point on the seat tube. The linkage we saw was aluminum, but team sources said the final version will have a molded carbon fiber piece.
Also notable is the front derailleur mounting point — it’s a direct-mount fitting on the seat tube and will not accept a clamp. For this pre-production frame, team mechanic Matt Opperman had to fabricate a braze-on-style front derailleur mount to accommodate his team spec’ component (in this case, a SRAM Red road front derailleur).