Top Ten 29″er Products of 2011: Trek’s Fisher Collection Sawyer: by Guitar Ted

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 2010 through to the end of November 2011. Reviews that are currently in process I did not include and will be eligible for my 2012 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.(Except where indicated) 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……

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Number 4: Trek’s Fisher Collection Sawyer: For 2011 Trek unleashed a Fisher Collection bike in steel. Not only that, but it reflected the heritage of Gary Fisher and the early pioneers of mountain biking. Is this just a stylistic exercise, or a serious mountain bike? I’m sure by now that you have guessed what I found out! 🙂 For more info on the Sawyer, see my posts here, here, here, here, here, and here

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Why It Made The List: It isn’t as if Gary Fisher Bikes hadn’t done this sort of thing before, (remember the “Klunker” model from the mid-90’s?), but this time the take on the cruiser style mountain bike was done as a serious, trail worthy 29″er. Added to this, the Fisher Collection designers figured out a way to make the tubes curve in such a way that this becomes a dead sexy looking cruiser type mountain bike as well. Add in G2 geometry, versatility with the split drive side drop out, and easy single speed conversion with the sliding drop outs, and this is a no-brainer for the Top Ten of 2011.

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My Two Cents: The Fisher Collection Sawyer is my hands down pic for the best production cruiser style mountain bike ever. It even out-cruisers many custom bikes in this style as well. That alone is outstanding in my mind, as getting the curves and lines of a cruiser looking mountain bike “just so” is easy to screw up. Kudos to Trek’s engineers for designing and finding a factory that could reproduce this design faithfully multiple times over.

But a cruiser style mountain bike needs to ride well as a mountain bike or all those styling cues are a waste. Fortunately the Sawyer delivers on this front as well. With a nod to stability, the long ol’ Sawyer makes an all day outing on your favorite trails a fun time without having to be “up on the wheel” to keep things under control through the nasties.

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But not only that, the beauty of the Sawyer goes beyond the skin deep layer. The details of this bike are outstanding, and well executed. The sliders are non-obtrusive, but work fantastically well, if not a bit fiddly, what with all the nuts, Allen adjusters and what not. The split in the drive side drop out for compatibility with a Gates Carbon Drive belt is nearly invisible. That’s a lot going on right there that could have easily derailed the Sawyer’s looks and functionality.

And speaking of the belt drive, the Sawyer is just begging to be modified. This can either be seen as a plus or a minus, depending upon your attitude about upgrading this bike. Either way, as stock, or as a single speed, or with front suspension, the Sawyer just works. It is a tinkerer’s dream, a classically inspired rig that conjures up many different emotions, and a darn fine trail bike all rolled up into a 29 inch wheeled package. It defies modern conventions with its style, yet doesn’t belie modern performance aspects in keeping with those stylistic cues.

All of this adds up to a Number 4 on the 2011 version of The Top Ten 29″er Products list.

Stay tuned for my Top Three, coming soon!