My plan for the Cycleworks Demo Day was simple. Try 3 full suss bikes and just enjoy riding them. The contrast between them and my trusty Nail Trail was what I was looking to test.
Like most well laid plans, my schedule of bikes for the Test Day did not pan out the way it should. I was due to ride a Mount Vision, Intense 5.5 and an Orange 5, but instead ended up riding a Marin Attack Trail, Intense 5.5 and a Whyte 46.
At the very basic end of the spectrum all of them were different to my usual bike. It was interesting to try riding a bike with give at the back end, and feel that all the suspension did not have to come from my knees. And if I had kept it as simple as that then this would be the end of my review.
However there was a definite difference to each bike. The Attack Trail suffered from being my first ride. It ended up being my warm up, and as such I didn’t really push it to any boundaries. Added to this the mechanics of the bike were slightly worn, meaning that the gearshift did not work properly, and I couldn’t shift the bike into top gear. My impression of the Attack Trail is therefore clouded, and it is unfair to make any more comment.
The Intense was spanking. The riding position began by feeling very odd. I felt stretched and that I was riding really high, and as a nervous cyclist most of the time this worried me initially. However within 2 minutes of starting out on the circuit I had settled in, and the riding position was very comfortable. I was amazed at the lightness of the front end of the bike. I have never pulled the front end off the ground while riding up a slope before, so was a bit surprised to find myself going sideways on one wheel on one of the climbs.
Downhill the Intense was an absolute dream. Point it in the right direction and just go. I have pondered the wisdom of Dave’s downhill technique, the “Downhill Speeding Looney” approach, but riding the Intense I could see why it works. With the forks and rear suspension taking the knocks, the bike was really stable, making high speed descent really easy.
The Whyte was a great ride too. It had the same stability and strength of the Intense, but I found the SRAM shifters a problem. This is no fault of the bike, and given time I would have got used to them, but I found myself riding the bike as if I were taking my driving test, trying to think 200 yards ahead, to give my brain enough time to think which direction I would be moving the shifters to get the right gear.
So all 3 test bikes were fantastic in there own way, but of the 3 I would personally place the Intense as my favourite.
However all 3 paled into insignificance when I had a short ride on an Orange 5. It was instantly comfortable, the ride was so smooth it made me want to weep, and it felt so stable coming downhill that I felt I could have ridden it down just about anything.
The 5 minutes I spent on the Orange 5 made me realise that it is possible to get on a bike and think, “Yes, this bike feels just right”. All I have to do now is sell the kids and pay off the mortgage and then I can buy one.