By Josh Patterson
The 2011 model year marks the end of Gary Fisher Bicycles as we have known them. Last summer Trek Bicycles, Fisher’s parent company, made the decision to completely absorb the Fisher brand into Trek’s lineup, now dubbed “The Fisher Collection.” What does this mean to the average consumer? Two things really, Trek now has 29ers in their lineup, and they are available at many more shops than Fisherbranded 29ers were. More choices for more riders are good things.
So what makes the Superfly 100 Elite super? It starts with a lightweight frame, tipping the scales at 5lbs., including the Fox RP23 shock. The front and rear triangles are constructed using Trek’s proprietary OCLV carbon construction processes at their headquarters in Waterloo, WI. I had the opportunity to view this construction process firsthand. Carbon construction challenges the idea of what a “handbuilt” bicycle is. Without delving too far off topic, many more people are involved in the production of a carbon bike such as the Superfly than are involved in the fabrication of a custom Ti, aluminum or steel bicycle—and those labor costs are certainly reflected in the price of carbon bikes like this one.
Like all of Trek’s full suspension models, the Superfly 100 uses Trek’s Active Braking Pivot technology. ABP places the rear pivot concentric to the rear axle to mitigate the effects of braking on the suspension. Suspension stiffening under hard braking is less noticeable on a 4” XC race bike than it is on long-travel bikes. Trek’s engineers claim the ABP design improves shock actuation under hard breaking by 7% over the previous design, which relied on a pivot on the seatstays. Another added benefit of the ABP design is that the rear quick release passes through the pivot and acts as a “faux thru-axle,” adding lateral stiffness to the rear end. Up front, the 100mm Fox RLC fork lacks a 15mm thru-axle but does use a hub with wide flanges and oversized, 25mm endcaps, which Trek claims improves stiffness over standard hubs.
What makes the Superfly 100 Elite elite? Trek spares little expense with it comes to the parts spec. SRAM’s XO group handles, well, pretty much everything. Where SRAM leaves off Bontrager steps in with the cockpit, tires and a pair of tubeless-compatible scandium Race X Lite wheels. The lower of the two Superfly 100 models shares the same frame but with a more budget-minded components spec and a $4,930 price tag.
Overall, the Superfly 100 Elite is a well-apportioned bicycle, though I do have two nits to pick with the spec: The SRAM XO brakes have aluminum rather than the carbon levers found on the aftermarket XO brakes; and the wheels, while tubeless-ready, don’t come with Bontrager’s tubeless rim strips and valves. The tubeless system will set you back another $33. Both of these cost savings measures are minor in the grand scheme of things, but if I was shelling out this much cash for a bike, even one made in the USA, I don’t want to see any corners cut. That’s just me.
This Superfly 100 Elite was chosen to test my fitness as much as it was chosen to test the bike itself. I’ll spare you the details—the bike won. I rode the Superfly 100 Elite all spring and raced it during the Trans-Sylvania Epic. My fit on the medium Superfly 100 was very good. With a few minor adjustments I felt right at home.
The handling took some time to get accustomed to. Fisher’s G2 geometry is used throughout Trek’s 29er line and gives the impression of a lighter steering feel than many other 29ers on the market. Fisher developed G2 geometry to address the sluggish handling characteristics of many 29ers. Custom forks with 51mm of offset are used to reduce the trail figure with the goal of improving low-speed handling while maintaining high-speed stability.
During my first few rides I found myself oversteering during slow speed maneuvers, simply because the front end was more willing to change direction. Once I adapted to the bike it was a non-issue in most situations. However on slow, technical climbs, the lighter steering required me to be more attentive. It was necessary to keep more weight over the front of the bike to keep the wheel tracking through rocks and roots, rather than glancing off them.
On the flipside, the Superfly 100 came alive at speed. Once I really started spinning the pedals, the bike’s agility became apparent. The Superfly 100 shines in high speed situations—it is a race bike after all. The bike is not noticeably stiffer than other carbon bikes I’ve ridden, but tracked well when pushed hard into high-speed turns. Despite the oversized endcaps on the stock wheelset, the 100mm Fox RLC could benefit from the added stiffness of a thru-axle.
The Superfly 100’s ride can best be described as trail bike manners with XC race performance. The rear suspension has 110mm of travel and relies on a race-tuned Fox RP23 for pedaling efficiency. Trek includes an easyto- use sag meter so suspension setup is a breeze. There is a noticeable difference in pedaling performance between the RP23’s “Open” and “2” position. I spent most of my time riding with the ProPedal engaged but would flip it open for long descents. With the ProPedal off the Superfly rides more like a trail bike, sitting lower in its travel and providing a more comfortable ride, albeit at the expense of pedaling performance.
A $6,300 carbon race bike is certainly not for everyone. The Superfly 100 Elite blurs the line between race and trail bikes. It is a worthy bike for marathon racing or for trail riders looking for a comfortable but nimble bike for long days in the saddle. If you wish Trek had a more affordable, aluminum version of the Superfly in their lineup, quit pining…it already exists. The HiFi shares the same geometry and suspension as the Superfly 100 with a slightly heavier aluminum frame and a significantly more affordable price. If you take racing seriously or are looking for a high-performance XC/trail bike, the Superfly 100 Elite warrants a test ride.
Country of origin: United States
Sizes available: 15.5, 17.5 (tested), 19, 21, 23