Editors Note: Yeah, yeah…..another year end review! Tis the season! So, here are my favorite things that have passed through the Twenty Nine Inches review process during the past year. I want to point out a few parameters that I used for what I chose here.

1. The product had to be in the review process during the time period of December 2009 through to the end of November 2010. Reviews that are currently in process I did not include and will be eligible for my 2011 Top Ten list.

2. They had to be products or bicycles that I personally used during this period. Nothing any of the other Twenty Nine Inches staff reviewed on their own could be considered for my list. This list doesn’t necessarily reflect the opinions of anyone but me, Guitar Ted.

3. The reviewed products were provided to Twenty Nine Inches at no charge for review. I was not paid or bribed for this review. I will give/gave my honest opinion or thoughts through out.

That said, let’s get on with this……

ChargerFR3Rumble 001

Number 1: Gary Fisher Bikes Rumblefish II: The Rumblefish was Fisher’s take on a Trail/AM rig with big wheels. Featuring several new frame enhancements over the old HiFi line and new damper technology not seen before in 29″er wheels, the Rumblefish was an impressive introduction.

Why It Made The List: The Rumblefish II was introduced in August 2009 as a trail bike that had “only” 110mm of rear travel. Claiming some amazing benefits, I was rather skeptical going in. However; the Rumblefish II was simply the most amazing, spot on full suspension bike I rode in 2010. It not only did what it claimed going in, but with some of the new technology present on this bike, the Rumblefish redefined what could be possible with 29 inch wheels in a full suspension context.

ospreyfish10 005My Two Cents The Hi Fi line before the Rumblefish was decent, but was plagued with issues in regards to the rear swing arm. Not only did Fisher solve these issues, but they employed a technology that had been being used on Trek FS bikes called the “Active Brake Pivot”, or “ABP” for short. It was originally developed to separate braking forces from affecting suspension action, (and it works wonderfully in that regard, by the way), but it had a secondary, important effect upon the frame design. It made the rear end stiffer by lowering the rear pivot point closer to the tire contact patch and lessening the lever effect the wheel has on the swing arm. Besides this, the swing arm recieved several other tweaks that made the structure stiffer and the wheel base shorter to boot. Then there is the DRCV damper which made the 110mm of rear travel feel at least an inch longer than it really was. Not only did it feel deeper, but it felt very linear, which was a promise that the system made and delivered on. Up front the geometry was slackened a bit and a 120mm Fox fork fitted with a tapered steer tube for a stable, flex free front end that did everything I expected of it very well.

The Gary Fisher Rumblefish II to my mind was a design executed very well and delivered on all its promises in spades. Not many bicycles can claim that, much less the 29″ers that come through here. Was it “perfect”? No. Nothing is, but the Rumblefish is hard to pick on. It doesn’t do out of the saddle hammering well, but it isn’t really that kind of bike. It could have more rear travel, but the travel it has is so good, both in feel and performance, that it is hard to complain about that. Plus, it keeps the bottom bracket height and chain stay length in check. Probably the worst thing about the bike was that you couldn’t find one to buy for most of 2010. That should be resolved now going forward with the new “Fisher Collection”/Trek collaboration that will put more Rumblefish bikes in more dealers showrooms. The Rumblefish also makes us hope for this technology to be used for a “bigger”, longer travel platform at some point for 29’er wheels. If it works anything like the Rumblefish, it’ll be an amazing 29 inch wheeled bicycle.

Congrats to (former) Gary Fisher Bikes and their Rumblefish II model, which snagged the 2010 top spot on the Top ten 29″er Products Of 2010 list.

Stay tuned for the Reader’s Choice Award announcement coming soon!