Project LTHT- Singular Buzzard: First Impressions- Guitar Ted
The build has been detailed, (see here), and the frame has been talked about as well, (see here), and after a few initial rides before the claws of Winter dug into us out in the Mid-West, I came up with some thoughts on this bike to share with you.
Background: My thoughts on what I wanted to have in a bike like this were based upon the Diamondback Mason review experience, (seen here), and I was intrigued by how such a seemingly radical geometry and long fork were as capable as they seemed to be with the Mason on my local trails. Not that the trails I have around here warrant such a burly, long-legged beast, but what if I could get away with having such a bike and then have the option to “go big” when I traveled? That seemed a possibility with the Mason if a few things I didn’t get on with could be rectified. The most glaring of these issues, to my mind, was seated climbing and generally just seated pedaling. For whatever reason, the Mason and I did not hit it off 100% in that regard.
Interestingly, the Buzzard set up with seat height, bar height, and reach to the exact same dimensions as a few other bikes in my stable. Even with the long, 140mm travel Reba, the front end was not too high, and the seated position wasn’t compromised “on paper”, but how would that translate to the trail? I was encouraged by the way the bike came together, and on some early shake down rides, it became apparent that the Buzzard was going to be a better fit with my personal component choices than the Mason had been.
On my test loop, it was a bit snowy, but the traction was great and I wasn’t hindered at all in terms of speed or grip. First off I noticed the way the shorter rear end allowed me to pop out of corners, which was part of the fun with the Mason when I tested it. Steering wasn’t too stable/sluggish at all. Maybe a bit of a tendency to loop out in the apex of really tight corners, but this is a slack bike, not a precision single track tool. In light of that, I found it more than acceptable if I adjusted my style to suit the bike, which was easy to do.
My other nit with the Mason was how much I had to accommodate for climbing by weighting the front wheel. I was assuming that the Buzzard would be in a similar camp, and it was to a smaller degree. In fact, it was a bit surprising how little I had to worry about that aspect of this short rear/long front end geometry. Sliding up onto the nose of the saddle was sufficient for even the steepest climbs on the loop, and obviously, the rear wheel was tucked up underneath which lent more grip as well. The only thing I could say about the bike in a negative light was that the weight overall makes its presence known when the ground tilts upward. Still, not bad for a bike that weighs just over 30lbs. And a bike that can take a beating at that.
The descents and technical areas were all ridden with no issues at all, which is what I fully expected. The climbing was what surprised me most about the Buzzard so far. That and how the seated positioning is really nice on this bike. That worked out well.
A Word On The Components: The Buzzard has several things on it which deserve mentioning. The Velocity Dually wheels shod with On One tires are brilliant. Traction and comfort for days. The rolling resistance is surprisingly low as well. The only issue here is that the Chunky Monkey up front is so wide now it buzzes the brake arch on the left side of the Reba a bit. I think I will be searching out another fork for this project over the Winter. Otherwise the wheels are stiff enough and roll beautifully.
The SLX Shimano kit is stout and works like XT, only that the SLX is heavier. Honestly, I could close my eyes and not know I was on a lower level group. The shifting and braking are definitely on par with XT components which I am pretty familiar with. Shimano brakes have to be mentioned once again as having power, feel, and performance that the “other” major player in the OEM marketplace hasn’t matched at all.
The PRO Tharis bar is actually quite nice. I haven’t completely given up on my love for bars with more sweep, but the Tharis is fine and not so wide that I cannot thread it through the trees out here.
Well, that is a wrap for awhile now. Project LTHT is working out well, but there is so much more to test out here. I will have to put it aside for a few months, at the least, since Winter has dumped enough snow out there it has rendered my trails pretty much useless for anything other than fat bikes for now! I’ll be back in Spring with more on this project. Until then…..
NOTE: Parts for Project LTHT were submitted to Twenty Nine Inches at no charge for test and review including the frame, fork, and drive train. We are not being paid, nor bribed by any of the companies who sent in parts for this project and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.