So, does all the technology, the SmoothLink™ and StraightUP™ geometry, reduce the pain of a long up hill pedal? No, but the SmoothLink™ does actually reduce pedal bob and StraightUp™ geometry does make pedaling in the saddle much more comfortable. I almost never had the urge to get out of the saddle and I’m a get out of the saddle type of climber. Moving the RP23 into the “Climb” setting and running about 80 to 90% of the Fox 36 locked out, made long ascents much more tolerable while keeping the suspension slightly active for bump, root, and traction. Also, completely locking the fork out seemed to over emphasize the bob of the rear suspension and made for a very awkward feeling of riding a rigid fork on a suspension frame. None of this was notable though when only locking out the fork 80-90%. For more technical ascents leaving the RP23 in the more active “Trail” setting allowed for better traction of the rear wheel. The one complaint I did have was with very steep climbs, the front end wants to wheelie and a lot of leaning forward is required to keep the front wheel down. This might have been less intense if I had had the 20.5-inch frame because my body would have already been leaned over more, but it wouldn’t change the chainstay length and rear wheel placement, thus I’m not sure a larger frame would have actually made a difference.
On descents the Slayer 70 performs wonderfully. A neutral balance to the suspension and stable handling allowed for an extremely comfortable and assured feel right from the start. On my first ride I was hitting the local step-downs and mid-sized doubles without any hesitation. Due to the neutral body position and suspension, cornering was very easy and predictable. Compared to my old Canfield F1 where I needed to constantly remember to “GET UP OVER THE FRONT!”, on the Slayer 70, the body was already there.
The frame is without question, solid. Almost no flex was detectable, and the bike stayed on-line through rocky sections and off camber trail segments. When the trails really got gnarly, the Slayer held its own but it obviously wasn’t a DH bike with a DH fork. Thus, I wasn’t able to ride the DH trails with the same gusto as on a dedicated DH rig, but the Slayer 70 was nonetheless exciting and confidence inspiring. I just had to keep my pure DH mentality in check a bit.