Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Ride Test - Maverick ML8

Last weekend, I got the chance to test ride some bikes as part of the Passion Trail Bikes fall bike demo. Very good shop, more on that to come. I'm not the most experienced dual suspension rider, owning a hard tail Niner myself. However, I did own a Gary Fisher Cake 3 for some time. I ended up selling it because the flexible frame deflected under breaking loads and felt imprecise during hard cornering. I just checked the web site, apparently Gary doesn't make it any more. It had the features I wanted, just not the performance. Anyway, on to the review.

We took the bikes to Water Dog Lake park which is steep, loose, rocky and semi urban. Good for teenagers with a desire to smash themselves against dirt, or people looking for a quick, fun experience. There's a half buried jalopy car in one of the ravines that you can rider over.

The first bike I tested was a size large Maverick ML8 and was set up for me by the owner of the shop himself who explained the suspension system and Speedball R seatpost. The bike was fitted with an DUC32 fork. Once under way on the trail, I noticed a few things:
-The suspension put power to the ground very well, somewhat making up for the weight penalty during climbs
-The linkage changed the distance from my saddle to my pedal, an unnerving feeling coming from a hard tail
-Speedball seatpost goes forward, rather than straight down, due to the slack seat tube angle. It was still a fabulous trick, and allowed me to motor down downhills like a dirt biker
-The suspension tended to 'squat' the bike under load. This might have been the "Parallel Path Technology" suspension I was feeling.
-The combination of squatting suspension, lowered seat height (due to Speedball) and ability to bomb downhills resulted in me dropping my heels while pedalling, causing the inside heel to strike the ground on some turns. No harm, but it did scare me for a quick second.
-The Shimano XTR Dual Control shifters worked like a dream. The rear derailler direction was chosen such that both levers went "up for uphills" and "down for downhills". Very intuitive, very fast, worked very well.
-Although I didn't need to adjust the suspension, the controls seemed straightforward enough that I didn't have to read a manual to figure them out.

It would have been interesting to try the Durance model as it looks more my speed. I think that if I were the kind of guy who spent a lot of time mountain biking at ski areas, or went on really long, rocky rides, I would appreciate the incredible suspension and rideability of the ML8. I am, however, a water bottle user so the lack of easy water bottle placement was a bit of a nag, but probably not enough to prevent someone from buying the frame. Speaking of which, if you are interested in owning one, I couldn't talk you out of it.


-d said...

Great review! It sounded like a fun ride. I've never had the opportunity to ride a Speedball seatpost. I know it telescopes, but I've always wondered... does it stay clocked? In other words, when you release the locking collar, could the nose of your saddle swing to the side?

-p said...

Excellent question! Yes and no. It has some clocking mechanism with a lot of play, maybe 3 degrees left to right. I only noticed the slop when I was off the bike holding the saddle in my hand.

-d said...

Interesting. Slop all the time? or only when the locking collar is unlocked?

-p said...

I tried tightening the lock ring which decreased but did not eliminate slop.