Saturday, January 30, 2010

Quick Review: Titus Rockstar 29er

I was one of the few bicyclists that took advantage of Titus being in Santa Cruz for a demo out near Delaveaga Park. I wasn't surprised that turnout was on the low side, it rained last night, at times it was raining very, very hard. And normally I wouldn't go riding on trails after such rain but Delaveaga's trails are pretty sturdy (with a few spots that will definitely need repairs once things dry out).

Besides, today was beautiful, sunny and warm and really quite nice. I was tempted to wear my tank top and did wear my riding shorts.

When I got to the Branciforte trailhead, I saw the great big Titus trailer and a rack of bikes near the back just waiting for some trailside punishment. I met Mike Wirth, the demo guy, and talked with him for a little bit about the company, some of the bikes and how the day had gone so far. He had, to that point, had less than ten riders take out bikes for demos. Which seemed like an awful shame.

After discussing my riding style (I'm a cross country rider, I don't jump much and I actually rather enjoy climbing but I also like bombing trails too). He had two options for me, one hardtail 29er and the aforementioned Rockstar 29er. I decided to give the Rockstar a go since I'd never had the pleasure of a 29er and don't usually get to enjoy the more comfortable ride a full suspension rig offers.

Since I'm not really a regular bike reviewer I'm not quite sure how to attack the review so I'll just go with Good, Bad, Ugly and Awesome. I'm working on the video I shot and will post that later on when I've whittled out the boring parts and laid on some phat trackage for aural spice.

The Good:
Those big wheels impart a rather nice sense of invulnerability and rollability. I felt like I could power my way up and over most anything in my path (the gnarly rock waterfall excepted). For a full suspension bike, it climbed really well thanks to its big wheels and well dialed suspension (I could detect virtually no pogo'ing at all). It tracks cleanly and the big wheels allowed me to recover from slight directional mistakes or when a wet root would try to make the front end slide out.

The Bad:
Not the bike's fault but a 29er raises the bike's center of gravity by a bit. Not enough to be really problematic but enough to be noticeable. I got used to it pretty quickly though. Hard to really nit pick about other issues I had since they'd be sorted out in a proper bike fitting and component replacement if it were my bike.

The Ugly:
One problem that I will run into with virtually any bike I demo is that I'm not a paddle shifting guy, I'm not a clip-in kind of guy either. I like my grip shifts and I like my Power Grips (yeah, I'm one of the very, very few that rides them and I love them!). So I spent a good portion of the ride shifting in the wrong direction but that's not the bike's fault. Other than that I can't really think of anything even remotely glaringly bad about the bike, it rode beautifully and felt great.

The Awesome:
29ers are great on trails like Delaveaga, there are roots, rocks, ruts and more. Some spots require taking a very specific route on a regular 26 but the 29er, due to its larger wheels, can go places that make a 26er pause. It was really pretty fun to approach an obstacle and watch and feel that front wheel just roll up and over it. I think I'd have had a ton of fun if I'd had the time (and legs) to take a second run up and down the trails.

Overall Score:
I'd give the Titus Rockstar 29er two big thumbs up, four and a half stars and a big ol' muddy grin (did I mention the trails were wet and muddy?). It is a great bike, confidence inspiring, comfortable, fast and definitely trail-worthy.

Titus is going to be doing another demo day tomorrow, the 31st of January, in Aptos at Nisene Marks State Park. I expect the weather will be as nice or nicer, the trails should be a bit drier and I'm hoping that alot more folks come out to try out these nice bikes. If you do, let Mike know I sent you and maybe I'll see you out on the trails too!

PS. I'd link to the relevant pages on Titus' site for the Rockstar but their site is currently down with a bandwidth exceeded notice. I'll try to add the pertinent links when the site is back available.

Update: Paul Andrews of Bike Intelligencer took out the Rockstar on Sunday at Nisene Marks and put together a very good write up despite some pretty sloppy trail conditions. Paul is also an Ibis Mojo rider so he's definitely good peeps (though I'm guessing he's got one of the new super sweet full suspension models unlike my old steel hardtail!).
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