Wednesday, 28 March 2012

A foreign bike, on a foreign track, in a foreign country - Part 1!

Another ride and another experience? Well not quite. As the title says, this riding experience was a little difference than your usual for me.

Recently I was able to experience a different type of riding than what we are use to back home. A new bike and a new track in a foreign land. 

To put it into perspective, I have been travelling overseas and was given the opportunity for a bike ride in Holland. The first thing I can tell you is that even though Holland is so-called "flat", it isn't and the second thing is the guys here ride fast, and you better keep up.

So where do I begin? The review of the track or the review of the bike? These are both brand new to my experience. Let's Start with Part 1 - The Bike 

Currently I am riding my GT Avalanche 1.0 Disc 2011 (which I love). It is a durable, fairly light, easy to maneuver, a hard tail and 26er, and this is the main difference - the suspension and size. I have always been intrigued to see how a 29er rides, nevermind the full suspension, performs. The 29er (which is  a 29 inch size wheel on the bike) is the new fad and all the rave about mountain biking, and more and more manufactures are producing them. Whether it is something that will always be there or if it will fade out, we will wait and see, but right now it is a bike that is doing well. The bike, which I was very fortunate to ride, was the Centurion Numinis Float Ultimate 3.29. It is the brand new 29er from Centurion and all I can say is WOW!

The main tech specs:
·  Frame - Numinis 29er, AL6066 butted, federweg 100mm
·  Fork - Fox 32 Float 29 Fit RL, 120mm, lockout
·  Rear Shock - DT Swiss M210, Lockout
·  Derailleur Front - Shimano XT
·  Derailleur Rear - Shimano XT Shadow
·  Shifters - Shimano - XT 10-s
·  Brakes - Magura MT-4, 180/180mm
·  Tire -  Schwalbe Racing Ralph Evo, 57-622 Kevlar

Onto the review:

The bike overall is amazing and seriously the ride is something completely different to a 26er. First...

The Size - The size of the Centurion 29er is comparable to most 29er's in the market. The bike has a very solid feel. It felt strong and not over sized. I have read reviews on 29ers where riders have said it is very difficult to throw a 29er around on a course, especially single track. I can imagine this as it is simply bigger however, on this bike I did not feel it at all. On the track, which was mainly single track, I felt you could still have fun with it in and out of corners as it is always a nice feeling not to hit a tree full on. Granted, a 26er is more of a whipper-snapper bike when it comes to this kind of riding, but the 29 inch wheels definately stood up to the task and asked for more. 

The Suspension - The Centurion Numinis is equipped with the Fox 32 Float with a 120mm lockout option. What does this mean exactly? The Fox Float is a very nice front fork, it has a weight of 1.6Kg, 120mm travel, Air suspension. The fork is mainly intended for XC and trail, and it withstands it perfectly. It really is a nice smooth ride. I have always been a fan of Fox and believe they make solid and tough forks and shocks. There is a down side with Fox forks and rear shocks and that would be the price. This pretty little thing which makes the ride sweeter will set you back about R8,700 (approx. 870 EURO) if you wanted to fitted. The rear Shock - DT Swiss M210, also with lockout is a very good addition to the bike and certainly makes the ride easier and smoother. It has an Air, elastomer negative spring with Oil dampening and remote lockout. I was hesitant on how it would affect the climbing and soft sand elements, as a rear shock can kill the momentum and use more effort but no problems there either. Overall a very decent shock, it can take a fair amount of beating and is good value for money. The full suspension experience on the bike is great and allows for fun, tough riding.

The Weight - The bike is not really a heavy bike and there are way heavier ones out there which have similar specs. The bike feels light enough that allows you to perform the ever life saving bunny hop but as well as solid and heavy enough to let you stay grounded and perform stand up peddling, for that extra little bit of gas you want to add.

The Components - The Centurion Numinis Float 3.29 is pretty much spec'd out completely with Shimano gear. It is running a front derailleur XT and rear derailleur XT shadow, which is just under the XTR, but still extremly good and durable.The shifter is the Shimano XT 10-s, which is also a very nice shifting package. Overall the shifting on the bike is very good and the up and down changing was very smooth and quick during the middle changing, however, there was a little chain grinding on the rear when in full 30 speed, but then again you are not riding the full 30 speed often, so it is something that could be overlooked.

The Tires - Tires are always a factor to take into account when riding a good bike and the Schwalbe Racing Ralph Evo, 57-622 Kevlar, do not disappoint. The grip on these tires were great, and there was no real sensation of ever actually slipping out of the corner or going in, and when landing or pushing hard the grip and stick was definitely there as well. Having the Kevlar for puncture resistance, also gave a good re-assurance during the ride. Even with all this grip, the Tire still allows for speed and that was one of the main points that stood out for me.

The Price - The part of the review that is probably the main part. Well needless to say that the bike ranges from R25,000 - R30,000 (2,500-3,000 EURO) depending from where you buy. It is a little pricey, but saying this, for this type of spec'd bike and ride you'll get out of it, it is definitely worth this investment. The bike suits intermediate riders who are familiar with a 29er full suspension. Beginners could enjoy it, but starting on a full suspension 29er bike is not really recommended, especially when it comes to more technical and tighter tracks. The price is high for a person who is looking at getting into mountain biking. The biggest mistake in my view these days, is that people who want to ride, see the best and newest shiny toy in the shop and buy it, without  considering how much they will ride or where they will like to take their riding. It is a mistake that happens too often, unfortunately, and in my opinion should be prevented.

So to summarize the Centurion Numinis Float 3.29. It is a great bike and even though not on the cheaper side of bikes like this, it is well priced. The bike rides very smooth and moves with ease, once you get use to the 29" part that is. It winds around corners, climbs with ease and shoots down like a rocket. It is such a fun bike, and I think that is the best way to describe it - FUN.

Still to come - Part 2 - Foreign Tracks

Stay Dirty,


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