Did I ride it?
After I sat staring at it wondering how bad it would look getting passed by anything without a motor… Yeah.
This is a make no bones about it Cross Country Race bike design. But like Gregg found with the Rize, The Scalpel has it’s obvious focus at XC but simply functions well enough not to get cubby holed.
Phoenix Trail 100 isn’t anyone’s fast smooth path. The entire ride is either pointed up a hill or down (frequently both in rapid succession) and the path isn’t traditional “dirt”. It’s almost completely made up of rocks of variable size with the occasional patch of sand… Crashing here means landing on either a sharp rock or a Cactus (or more likely a Cactus growing out between two sharp rocks).
Frankly I should look more toward the all mountain side for an every-day ride, but I love light bikes and simply prefer to ask too much of Cross Country rigs. The Scalpel has no problem filling that roll (but with a definite tilt to XC).
There is a premium in this environment on tracking and control and also on starting and stopping quickly. Constant changes of pace are the norm… Don’t get me wrong, there are other trails around here where the terrain is fast and rolling and this would be a fantastic bike for that. The Scalpel doesn’t sacrifice in weight to many hard tails, but smoother than any hard tail.
The suspension here is a treat. The Speed Carbon Lefty doesn’t just surprise me. It’s surprised everyone that I heard a comment from. And if you’ve tried lefty in the past, I can say that the SL and Max are both better than anything you’ve tried in the past.
And that’s when it’s not even functioning properly…
Full disclosure, I had a little bit of a fork oil leak in the Lefty. On initial build, the top cap on the internal cylinder was left a bit loose and maybe a teaspoon of oil leaked. I noted that there was a little loose-play in lock out (a fairly easy sign) and also noticed the bottom of the fork and the front brake had a coating of oil. And the front brake wasn’t functioning (a REALLY easy sign).
The brakes sit just in the right place for oil to pay a visit.
So it was surgery time and this gave me a chance to see the guts of the fork and how simple the mechanism is inside (the take down is a pretty darn easy deal compared to most forks). After topping off the oil and making sure everything was tight, the fork was working better than great… [Juicy Ultimate brakes are also VERY easy to work on as swapping pads took no time]. Once fully filled, the fork was dead silent (instead of the very VERY slight squish/liquid traveling noise) and the compression was even more consistent and smooth through the range.
Combine the function and the 100mm Travel and the fact that the fork weighs nothing and you have a reasonable all mountain fork that forgot the extra pound of weight.
Or use set up the damping and use it as intended and you have an insane XC fork that leaves me drawing blanks if asked to name a fork I would prefer regardless of bike brand.