A Convert to the Squish

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Had me a pretty good bike week last week…which is to say, I rode. I got out on the mountain bike twice while the weather was beautiful and in the 70s, which is fortunate because it snowed today. It’s also fortunate because I had almost no free time…I ran into Gnome on the trails and we talked about the full-time job that is marketing a book, and I told him how glad I was to be away from the computer for a while.

“It’s a glass ceiling, marketing that book, but it’s a thick glass ceiling. It can be broken.” So sayeth Gnome. Smart guy, that one.

“I feel like I’m throwing pebbles.” So sayeth I. Pussy.

I’ll keep pressin on…after all, how many authors do you know who would do a book signing in a bike shop?

Anyway, I got a chance to test ride a Niner full suspension bike, since they were doing a demo day at Schultz on Saturday. I took out this steed:

Niner RIP 9.
Niner RIP 9.

My thoughts on the bike:

I dig the full suspension. I resisted it for a long time, and I’ve been a devout hardtail rider for almost nine years now. But my sufferin’ back with its arthritis and facet trophism and compression and lack of core muscles can’t take it anymore, so I’ve been dancing around the idea of a squish bike for some time now. This definitely swung me in the direction of the squish. I loved the 29er too: it rolls over everything. I don’t even have to try. This is not the best bike for climbing, and since it was a demo, it wasn’t set up well for me, so I didn’t get the best ride I could have out of it, but it handles well in general. I dug it.

So, I moseyed on down to Flag Bike Revolution and to AZ Bikes to scope out the situations on full suspensions. I narrowed down my search to a Kona, and to this fine bike:

Baby's Got Sauce.
Baby's Got Sauce.

That there is a Giant Anthem X 29er. I’m hoping that’ll be my new ride…you know, after I sell all of my possessions and an unhealthy amount of sperm.

If anyone has any experience with these bikes, I’d love to hear your feedback. I doubt I’ll be running out to buy a bike this week or anything, but hopefully within the next six months or so I’ll be a convert to the squish, so feedback is always appreciated.

While you’re typing your comments, be sure to check out this band. If you like Tool, you might dig these guys…you might not. I’ve been rockin’ them on the ol’ Ipod for a while now, and it took me a bit to get into them, but now I can’t stop. It’s like drinking whiskey. Or eating nachos. Yeah. I’m a fatty.

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About D2

I am a writer and a photographer. I never killed a man in Reno, but I once rode a bike through a casino in Vegas. Bikes are cool, huevos rancheros are for breakfast, whiskey is for dinner. Denver, Colorado, USA

43 Replies to “A Convert to the Squish”

  1. Dan – I work for a Giant retailer and if I were to get my full suspension bike of choice, the Anthem X 29er would be it. Giant’s frames rule, and having test ridden the entire line up extensively for the past year, I can say that I’m a little bit in love.

    My frame of choice, however, would definitely be the XTC Composite 29er. Oh baby…

  2. I’ve been rockin’ a Fuel for 10 yrs now and a 29er single speed for 5. The next bike will be a fs 29er and I too have eyes for that shiney piece of aluminum… I too like nachos, whiskey and Tool (everything Maynard, including his wine!) Ill be looking for more of these guys…

  3. I’m still learning to grok a freewheel and gears. It’s funny-People talk about riding fixed (especially offroad) like it’s some sort of ninja Jedi zen-type black art. Bull hockey. Keepin’ up with the cranks is the most natural thing in the world to me. Picking the right gear by moving your thumb? On the fly? COASTING, for the love of God? Now there’s some learning curve, I’ll tell you what. At least for me.

    Squish? Maybe in five or six years if the arthritis keeps on. But cripes, I’m still just a kid. Won’t even be 60 until July.

  4. Oh, and I like tools too. Well I’m an electrician so it sorta goes with the territory. Mmmm, Greenlee…

  5. While I was down there on vacation I used Yuri’s Rip 9 and it was good fun.. hard to Keep up with Gnome and Tom going up hill. It sure did climb and descend well… Not ready to whole sale switch but one fun ride..

  6. Suspension & 29 is overkill in gnomesville. I love the snap of a 26″ wheel, so dual suspension works there. But to lug wagon wheels AND dually weight up a hill? No thanks.

  7. I’ve been riding a RIP for the past year. I really dig it and feel that the big wheels have taken my abilities up about 4 notches. I’ve had it up in the mountains (CO and NM) away from the flatlands where I live. It climbs really well after you get it dialed in.

    Haven’t tried either the Anthem or Kona big wheels but I am sure both are swell.

  8. every giant full suspension bike i have ever owned or demoed has creaked in the linkage at the slightest hint of dust. Maybe i’m unlucky but I can’t handle my bike making any noise.

  9. I still have an ’02 NRS Air that I ride occasionally and although it has a hole in the top tube (wayward pedal wrench) and it creaks slightly at the linkages, it has never let me down. Ever. I used to race on it in college and I’ve still never rebuilt the suspension. The frame is strong and light, the squish is good, and the pedal feedback is minimal. I’d buy a new Giant without a second thought if I had the spare cash.

    One caveat though: Always go with your feeling. If it’s slightly uncomfortable the first ride, it’ll most likely be REALLY uncomfortable after some long miles. All the big brands have their own geometry, and some fit better than others. While I think my Gary Fisher and Trek bikes are similar quality-wise to the Giant, the Giant just fits me better.

  10. ellsworth enlightenment 29’er ht or tallboy dude…..

    by the way, that band sounds too much like tool, even the fucking videos…and that singer could not hold MJK’s jock strap.

  11. I’ll have my 03 Specialized Epic Pro for a while (definitely not stock). It still hangs with new bikes. Even as an 8 year old bike, I still have friends ride it and claim it out-rides new rigs. However a 29er is probably on the list to replace it. You can bitch about Specialized all you want, but they make some of the best mass production bikes going.

    I’ve got some friends on the Giant 29 who love it. I’ve seen too many Konas break to trust them to central TX riding. A good riding buddy of mine is on one of the Niner Rip9 bikes and loves it.

  12. My Anthem 29er is the most fun bike i have ever ridden, hardtail history myself. It is grand. did mesa verde solo on it, doing Breck 100 on it, will do smoother shorter races on the carbon XtC 29er though.

  13. @ Humpty: you’re right about that band. I was looking for something like Tool and realized there is nothing like Tool…but these guys rock anyway, at least until Tool comes out with a new album.

    Thanks to everyone else for the feedback.

    @Hurben: I tried to harden up. I’m just not that badass. My back can’t handle it anymore.

  14. Your back can’t handle it ?

    Spend years jumping out of an APV with 30 KGs worth of shit on ya & see how your back feels ?

    Actually my back is great, it’s my knees that are fucked.

    Okay that might also be due to the 30 years worth of jogging but I’d blame Jim Fixx for that except that he’s dead so there’s no point.

    You just enjoy riding your bicycle, as I say to my co-workers, it’s just like sitting in you Lazee Boy & moving your legs.

  15. Yeah yeah yeah…you’re a HARD guy. So HARD. You’ve got a HARD on.

    I’m fine with who I am. I know what I need. I feel bad not at all for wanting a squish bike.

  16. There we go, totaly missed all the nuanaces of the thread, Jesus Christ, how did you ever call yourself a writter ?

  17. 29er+FS = Instant AARP Membership

    I heard you might even get a cupon on adult diapers.

  18. I bought a RacerX 3 years ago…my first f/s bike (also my first with fancy disc brakes). Ran me just over $3k…I figured it’d be the end of my steel hardtail ss riding preference…plus I wanted something a bit more plush for endurance racing. Poor thing just hangs in my garage. Every time I get on it, it takes MILES to get used to how slack the handling and climbing seem to be. I call it a couch, in fact. I killed my 26″ steel hardtail ss last spring, so in the fall I bought a 29″ Milwaukee Bicycle Co ss and put a rigid carbon White Bros fork on it…it is the greatest bike I have ever owned.

    However…this selection is so subjective relative to where you live. I’d bring the Titus west every time over the ss…in fact, even around here I travel with both if I can.

    Talked to a dude with an Anthem last week at the trailhead…he was enamored. Another of my bros is rocking the Pivot 29er f/s and LOVES it…something else to consider.

  19. I’d say it takes a good 4-6 months to actually figure out how to ride a FS bike efficiently. There are ways you get used to moving on a hardtail, that aren’t good on a FS.

  20. Hardtail or squish?


    I swing back and forth between a small, light Klein HT (26″) and a five n’ five fully with a 26/650b setup.
    Radically different bikes requiring different riding styles and techniques but I can’t see myself ever choosing just one for everything.

    I’ve only a little experience with the 29r thing but while I think they’re super ideal for endurance and flat our point to point efficiency I was disappointed a little in how dull the handling was. I just couldn’t ‘work’ the bike underneath and after fighting it for a bit ended up just plowing straight through shit instead of moving the bike around.
    based on my experience I really doubt I’d ever find utility with a 29r fully.
    ..but thats just me, and obviously I need the harden the fuck up at least half the time.. :)

  21. IMO, it depends on the trail you usually ride. I live in NorCal where the trails are pretty well groomed and not rocky or rooty. I have a Trek Fuel that is a 26er and all carbon, so it is fairly light but the FS is probably overkill for most of the trails around here. But is GREAT to have when you take trips out to Tahoe, Utah, or Colorado where it can be super ledgy and rocky. I’m looking at a 29 hardtail Breezer Cloud 9. I’m not too sure about the 29er and the heavier weight/wheels.

  22. @Hurben: I never call myself a writter.

    Sometimes I call myself a writer. Har har.

    I agree that the 29 thing has its place, as does squish, and I actually had the conversation with my wife about this. I would definitely keep the hardtail because I love it, it’s fun, it makes me a better rider…but I just can’t ride it all the time. I’d rather have the squish for everyday trail riding and the hardtail for once in a while. Might save my back and still allow me to abuse myself every so often.

  23. D, I currently ride a rip 9 29er, and I work at a giant dealer. I love both bikes and you really cannot go wrong either way. If I were to replace my frame, I would go with the anthem 1 just to change it up a little. Hope that helps.

  24. D2 – Ever try a steel hardtail 29’er with a tubeless setup? I’m 190lb and run 2.4’s at 25 psi and it feels like a great compromise between an aluminum hardtail and a full squish. You’re more than welcome to try my bike. Kickstand Cafe is an easy drop. You might just likey. You can get a hella’ lot o’ bike for $1,500, climb strong, AND cancel that AARP membership at the same time.

  25. built up an Anthem 29er frame couple months ago. 59, cat1 in Texas. also have back, wrist, neck issues, for our rocky, hill country courses, the Giant is awesome. switch pro-pedal off, lock out the Fox, great on smooth stuff. I took parts off my Titus Racerx 29er, stan’s hoop, bike weighs 23lb.s. it’s all i hoped it would be & then some.

  26. …suspension ???…on a bicycle ???…

    …that’s an interesting concept…

  27. I’m just waiting till noon tomorrow when I will certainly win that Pereira custom 29er.

    All you suckers can listen to me laugh as I ride away.

    Just don’t take pics K ? My ass is even fatter than bj’s.

  28. The Niner recall was from a year ago (a buddy of mine got his frame replaced under it), and any shop selling recalled merchandise is putting themselves at huge legal risk. The Giant recall looks like a bad batch of frames, since they were able to narrow it down to 370 bikes. There might still be some people riding these frames, but there should be no risk of buying one of the recalled frames from a shop.

  29. Recalls happen at just about every company. Not worried about that. Unless you’re buying a handmade, custom frame (which I can’t afford), you should probably expect a recall or two every so often. Bikes break.

  30. Because I’m feeling all ‘Chopper Reid’

    How’s about this…

    All you poofters with your dual linkage boing boing bikes…

    You want to Harden the Fuck up!

    SoftRide had a Steel framed, (just as God intended), off road machine many years ago.

    A Frankenstem up front, & an Alsop carbon beam out back between your legs, see how the chicks dig you with this bad boy out there..

    Not to mention that they cleaned up before the UCI banned them.

    If anyone has one of these to sell please get hold of me now.

  31. People,

    apologies for the above.

    A case of ‘Instant Arsehole’, just add alcohol.

  32. I have been riding the R.I.P. 9 for the past year too. I run the Stans 355 rims and switch up tires for the terrain. You can keep em pretty light and it really doesn’t feel like a weight penalty. I still go up faster than the guys i always go faster than, but i think i’m going down faster than i used to.
    Niner has/is a great company to deal with too.