Gary Fisher's all mountain machine seeks to thrill with looks and skill.
When the name Gary Fisher is spoken among mountain bike enthusiasts, the first image to pop into mind are generally cross country oriented (whether it is the man or the bicycle line that is being discussed). That is because until recently, the bike brand was known primarily for its XC models, which earned a reputation for quality the honest way: on the racetrack. The times theyíre a changing; we demoed Fisherís take on the All Mountain scene with a dual suspension beast oddly named the Fat Possum.
While the name may suggest an overweight, slow moving, nocturnal, North American marsupial, we are pleased to report that the bicycle is actually quite lean and nimble.
Whatís it for?
All Mountain baby, meaning trails, flats, descents, and small to medium drops.
What about the specs?
We elected to test the middle of the road $2600 Fat Possum XT (as opposed to the $4000 XO and $2200 LX model respectively) in 17.5 inch medium frame size. The ZR9000 externally butted aluminum frame connected via single pivot to a 6061 T6 aluminum swingarm. Up front a RockShox Pike 409 (150 mm) Dual Air fork handled squish duties while a Manitou Split RPA air shock with external Platform Plus damping and rebound settings took care of the rear. Stopping service provided by Hayes in the form of the HFX-9 hydraulic disc group front and rear with 6" rotors. Rounding out the package were Shimanoís XT derailleurs, SRAMís PG970 9 speed cassette, Bontrager wheels, cranks, and Big Earl tires. Shimano M520 ATB clipless pedals. Bontrager riser bar and grips.
How Does It Ride?
Donít be pushy; the Fat Possumís unique experience begins even before the ride itself does. Weighing in at just under 33 lbs with beefed up frame spars, the bike is actually deceptively light and airy once you straddle the main tube. A longer top tube places the rider over the rear tire a bit more effectively than most All Mountain while a fairly high bottom bracket ensures that there is no mistaking the FP for a dedicated cross country mount.
Pushing off provides immediate satisfaction in the form of a very flickable chassis thatís light on its feet. The frame rewards a seated pedal stoke in which steady crank revolutions quickly build into quite a head of steam. High speed stability is decent so long as the chop doesnít become too square edged or the elevation too steep.
However, for a 6 inch travel frame, the Fat Possum is a surprisingly impressive climber. The bikeís relaxed geometry encourages changes in elevation and handles steep trail sections with stability and confidence. It is here that the balance between the RockShox Pike and Manitou Split starts to come into its own. The Dual Air Pike remains active even when the weight load shifts to the rear. Rather than driving the Split through its travel, the two units effectively split the difference by working in unison. The way back down the mountain is equally pleasing from the FPís perspective. The Pike fork rides high enough in its initial travel and leaves plenty in reserve to work with as gravity takes hold. The Manitou Split does a commendable job of keeping the rear wheel on a true course with minimal deflection.
Where Does It Come Up Short?
While small drops and trail clutter hops are perfectly within the Fat Possumís range of abilities, it is wise to realize that the bikeís limits can be reached on hard landings. If Whistler is on the agenda, expect to blow through every mm of the Possumís travel, if you rail the North Shore, well this simply isnít the bike for you.
What Do We Really Think?
Gary Fisher has been crafting bicycle designs here in the US for 25 years and it is clear that his experience lives on through each and every model he develops. The Fat Possum is beefy enough to handle even the roughest trails but light enough to be ridden all day strong. There is an odd sense of uniqueness to the FP riding experience, an immediate lust to try new lines. Confidence comes easy when Gary Fisherís knowledge is your copilot. While the Fat Possum series may not initially appear viable choices in the budget conscious category, take into consideration the fact that a majority of Fisherís bikes are handmade in the USA. For the money, the Fat Possum XT serves up a fine blend of trail taming traits and hill stomping attributes. Weíre still not certain about the name, but imagine it is due in part to the fact that Slim Possum sounds somehow not near as hip.
For more information head over to http://www.fisherbikes.com/