Saturday Training Ride No3 on the FSR 120

Last year I rode a Specialized FSR Pro, with 4 inches of travel at both ends. It was a great bike, and just the job for the Marathon type stuff I was doing. I sold it at the end of the year because it was too nice to ride through the winter, and I planned on getting an 05 bike for this season. I spent the winter on either my Kona Unit, or my old steel Stumpjumper. When Spesh announced the new FSR 120 I thought that it would be just the bike for me, and could not wait to test one. Anyway, the test bike arrived at Pearce Cycles, and today was the day to test it.

First impression was that it was a bigger bike, pretty obvious really, with more travel it was bound to be higher off the ground. There was a good group out today, and as we climbed up to the Forestry offices all was well. I experimented with the lockout and damping controls on the forks, and shock to familiarise myself with their action. We headed out along the middle road, and the bike rolled along nicely, I commented on how comfortable it was. We joined the cross-country course, and I climbed over the tricky roots with ease due to the superb traction that only a full susser can offer. I arrived at the top of the course feeling good, and ready for some downhill singletrack action…..

…but this is where things started to go wrong. The handling was OK, but seemed a little vague, and I found myself having to make corrections, but worst of all were the really steep switchbacks. Using the brakes pitched the bike forward making the steering angle sharper, and leaving stretched so far of the back of the bike I felt uncomfortable. I made it to the bottom, but I had not enjoyed it.

As the ride went on it felt like I was working very hard, but not getting much back in return. After two hours I had drunk nearly a whole bottle of water, very unusual for me, further evidence of the fact that I was having to work hard to keep up. On the last two big climbs of the day I was dropped by the group. This does not happen to me even when I’m having a bad day. We pulled into Pearce Cycles yard after three hours, and I was stuffed. I would normally wash the bikes first, then eat, but today I just had to eat first.

I was very disappointed, kept chewing it over in my mind, maybe the tyres? maybe the shock settings? perhaps the forks were too soft? In the end I decided that it was just not the bike for me.

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