After the OOB and the Midterm, the first ride I had on the Stache 8 was over a few miles of multi-user, technical single track that climbed and dropped through the course of three canyons in the Santa Monica Mountains of SoCal. It set t...
After the OOB and the Midterm, the first ride I had on the Stache 8 was over a few miles of multi-user, technical single track that climbed and dropped through the course of three canyons in the Santa Monica Mountains of SoCal. It set the stage for me for the duration of the test of the Stache, for if this bike were only ridden on smooth fire roads and buff trails, it would be a shame. That first ride was a few hours of steep on-the-nose-of-the-saddle climbs, switchback turns, rocky creek beds, and swoopy blind turns on scrabbly dirt. From the very beginning to the very end of that ride the Stache was balanced, composed, and fun. And ‘fun’ was a word that I used a lot whenever I talked about this bike to others and within my own fevered little brain. This is a fun bike to ride. This is why, or at least, why I think it is so.
Bikes have become pretty well niche these days. There is something for everyone no matter what you like to do or aspire to be. From full on XC race to All Mountain work, the 29″er hard tail is a pretty versatile beast and those big wheels can do a lot to make you wonder if you really need full suspension. But at the extremes…say a stiff carbon, steep angled race bike book ended by a 140mm fork equipped, short stay-ed steel beast of an AM hard tail, lies a broad range of uses that just requires a bike. Nothing fancy or dramatic in intent…not niche. That middle section between the bookends is a fat cut of the trail riding pie and that is where the Stache sits, topped with a nice dollop of Cool Whip.
Ed The Tall on some buff trail, high in the backcountry of So Cal.
From the beginning I liked the way the Stache was on-trail. My weight was back off the front wheel and yet I was not feeling like I was balancing over the rear wheel either. It was cockpit rear-ward if that makes sense but it felt better to me than anything I had been on lately. Picking down techy sections was a notch above what the ‘normal’ 29″er hard tail would be in the same situation. In the past, I have not been particularly impressed with G2 ‘equipped/designed’ Fisher bikes. The Hi Fi left me cold and the Rumblefish was so so. But I suspect that the G2 approach with the 51mm fork offset is a good part of why this bike comes together for me. I am becoming a fan of slacker head tube angles if you can keep the bike from getting too long and keep it from flopping around when speeds are slower. The 68.6° HT angle on the Trek combined with the 120mm G2 fork, and, with the stock bars and 100mm stem, seldom gave me anything but good results and when speeds came up, it was calm and fun. There is that word again. A 72° seat tube angle helps pull the front center in a bit so even though the wheelbase on the 21″ is getting a bit long at 45.71″/116.1 cm, it was an easy bike to get around tight turns and felt good at slow speeds as well. The only time I felt the rearward weight position and the slacker front end working against me was on very steep uphill switchbacks where, if the soil was loose, the front tire would want to push. It took a more aggressive position on the nose of the saddle to combat that.
So while any skilled rider can ride a trail on a ‘typical’ 29″er hardtail (71°/73° head tube/sest tube angles, 100mm fork etc) just as fast as they can on the slacker Stache, the Stache gives you a bit of grace and feels just great when the ruts come along, the whoops get deeper, or the grade gets you off the back and past the dropper post. The 120mm fork pays off and sucks up a lot of trail nasties. So while both riders may be riding the same trail at the same speeds, the Stache ride is not working as hard to do it. I am willing to bet that means more fun.
Some bullet points:
120mms for fork travel and a slack HT angle on a hard tail 29″er means that you can go pretty darn fast until the amber warning lights start flashing in your
about 15 hours ago