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2011 Trek 'Gary Fisher' SuperFly 100 Elite 29er Riding Notes
Before reading this page, please see Why Is a 29er So Different From a 26er Mountain Bike?.
I was impressed with the integrity of the frame and fork and wheels, which showed excellent structural rigidity, though I’m left wondering just how much better a 15QR front axle might feel.
Like all dual suspension bikes, the crispness of a hardtail goes missing due to the dual suspension setup. However, the SuperFly is very good in this respect, and rewards the rider on the rough stuff as compensation.
The front and rear shocks can be manually locked out, but there is no remote locket as-built by Trek. On pavement where one can easily notice the effects of suspension, the SuperFly provides an efficient ride, but one that is noticeably less responsive than a hard-tail bike.
Testing consisted of one epic all-day ride, the Trek to the Summit of White Mountain Peak, along with three local rides of 2-3 hours each.
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This is a summary, please see the comparison noted above.
The SRAM XO shifters worked very crisply and quick, though only long term use can prove out a group, and my evaluation period did not include mud and other nasty stuff.
The supplied brakes were powerful and used pads with apparent metallic content. In general, the brakes were excellent, though metallic pads lack the fine modulation of resin (“organic”) pads that I prefer.
The main issue was overheating and severe brake noise on the Trek to the Summit of White Mountain Peak during a descent of upper Silver Canyon. The Avid XO brakes were clearly inferior to the Shimano XTR brakes on the Trek Top Fuel 9.9 SSL, and therefore I cannot recommend them for anyone doing long steep descents. Carrying extra pads and a tool for changing them might be advisable.
The average grade for the upper Silver Canyon descent is 17% for ~3.7 miles, which means that one must brake almost continually, or lose life and limb by flying over a switchback. With my daypack and some water, rider weight was approaching 190 pounds. At the end of the ride, the brake pads were toast, with barely 0.5mm of pad left— for one week old brake pads. By comparison, the Shimano XTR pads on the Top Fuel 9.9 SSL had plenty of thickness left, about 1.0mm. The noise issues and poor braking never recovered; the brake pads needed replacement.
Comfortable for myself and another rider for an all-day ride.
I found that removing one spacer to drop the stem a bit helped with the steeper climbs. Gearing is more than adequate for most terrain, but on ~18% grades, I did wish I had another gear. A 29er effectively loses a gear due to the large diameter tires, so even the 26-tooth front chainring is not quite enough for the really steep stuff.
The SuperFly 100 Elite was much easier to pilot high speed down rough stuff than a 26" mountain bike, due to its longer wheelbase and 29" wheels.
Climbing with the SuperFly was notably easier on loose and gravelly surfaces as compared with the Top Fuel 9.9 SSL, due to the 29" wheels of the SuperFly carrying more momentum and rolling over stuff more readily. This factor cannot be underestimated for those who ride on surfaces other than hard-pack or similar. The 29er wheels are terrific when the going gets rocky or loose.
The 29 X 2.0" rear tire supplied with the SuperFly is marginal for traction when climbing loose stuff. I strongly advise replacing it at time of purchase with the same tire as the front, unless one primarily rides hard pack where grip and grade are not issues.
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Tubes vs Tubeless
Trek ships the SuperFly with tubeless-ready wheels and tires, but the bike uses tubes as-shipped. This is understandable, but not ideal for the SuperFly in my view, and it adds roughly a pound over the tubeless setup.
The first two rides were with tubes but the ride quality is easily superior with a tubeless setup once I converted it. I advise SuperFly buyers to ditch the tubes immediately, and use Stan’s sealant (not Bontrager sealant) to run a tubeless setup. Carry a spare tube just in case a major puncture cannot be dealt with by the sealant, and remember that sealant dissipates over some months.
The stock grips are not bad, but I replaced them after the first ride with a slightly thicker and more comfortable grip.
Water bottle cages
There is only one water bottle cage, and it is awkward to insert a full size bottle on the 17.5" frame, so awkward that one often tweaks the lockout lever while inserting or removing the bottle.