At a glance
The Gary Fisher comes in a matte Root Beer colour that looks considerably better than it sounds.Buy Hard Tails on
Big beautifully formed tubes host bold decals that give the Gary Fisher a look of quality and the bike has an air of promise that had us dying to get out on the trail.
A little surprising is the fact that the fork only offers up100mm of travel as this bike is aimed at trail riding rather than xc, but at this level it is better to have a decent 100mm fork than a poor 120mm travel one.
Curvy butted, hydroformed Gold series 6061 T6 aluminium with cold forged BB and drop outs make up the frameset on the Gary Fisher.
The big thing here is the G2 geometry which in essence is a custom off set fork which reduces trail, they then shorten the reach for the bars. The theory is that this means that the rider weights the fork for effectively driving the bike through corners, but at the same time stops the rider from feeling like they have too much weight over the front wheel.
This all sounds very good, but is a tad confusing, the fact is that it does deliver a bike that handles very well.
Our 17.5’’ medium looked big and that may have something to do with the 602mm effective top tube length, the seat angle is 72.5º and the head angle is a relaxed 69.5º.
Plugged in at the front end is a Rock Shox Tora SL 100mm with an off set of 46mm, a coil spring provides the cushioning and there is a turn key lock out on the top of the right leg.
Shifting is taken care of nicely by Sram X.5 and Shimano provide the chainset. Bontrager finishing kit is good stuff, but it is a pity they did not go wider than the 620mm low rise bars.
Shimano hubs are laced to Bontrager Ranger rims and these are shod with the excellent Bontrager Jones XR tyres.
On the trail
Once we were set up it was off into our local woods where one of the first things to note was that there was a fair amount of float from the high volume tyres that did just enough to smooth out some trail vibration.
The long top tube really allowed us to open out and put the hammer down when the trail opened up which saw us hitting the tight sections at pace which was never a problem as the excellent geometry and quick handling meant that speed could be carried through.
The Piranha climbed well and felt controlled on steep technical ups, but the rear tyre does tend to bounce off square edge hits so picking a good line is important to maintain momentum.
Once the hard work of climbing is done and it is time to reap the rewards with a blast back down again; the Gary Fisher can be given its head and allowed to run. The custom off set fork and relaxed head angle means that the handling is predictable and assured which will lead to increased confidence, which in turn will lead to pinning sections that may have had you a little nervous before.
At slow speeds and on switchbacks the bike felt less likely to tuck under than most which helped to reassure our novice test rider who has generally struggled with slow speed control.
The outstanding feature of the Piranha is its sweet handling, fast enough to see you through twisty singletrack yet predictable enough to give you confidence on the downs and not at all shabby at climbing either.
The swoopy oversize tubing gives the bike a purposeful look and the Root Beer colour is a grower.
All the kit works fine and the Tora SL did exactly what was expected of it, a better fork would be the first thing to sort though as the Tora is not as good as the bike and is a limiting feature.
The weight of this bike holds it back just a touch, but then we are in the entry level market here so that is to be expected.
While the brakes do their job ok they are not as powerful as most on test and just had us wondering if we were going to make one or two turns when gravity was busy shoving us down hill.
The G2 geometry requires a custom off set fork be fitted which may present a problem if you want to change forks.
Gary Fisher bikes benefit from tweaked G2 geometry and the up shot of this is that you get a bike that handles well in all situations from slow speed corners right up to high speed down hills, but it is at its best when being put through its paces on flowing trails.
The tyres are a good blend of speed and grip and the fork and the rest of the kit performs without fuss though it was felt that the brakes lacked a little power.
The frameset is one that is worthy of upgrading so if you went for the Piranha then it would only get better as you upgraded worn out kit.
Capable and fun to ride with confidence inspiring handling built-in. The Piranha is an excellent introduction to trail riding that will have you smiling from ear to ear.Buy Hard Tails on
This review was in Issue 2 of IMB.For more information visit Trek Bikes
By Nigel GarroodNigel Garrood was one of the instigators of the IMB project and has been with us since the very beginning. This loveable rogue has more stories than the Bible and is known to enjoy a beer or two. On the bike, he’s fast and loose and often puts younger riders to shame. Equally he’s been known to suffer from the odd crash and carries the scars to prove it. He was once referred to as being a robot sent from the future to save us all!