Matt McCulley and I headed out Monday night for a quick road trip to Syllamo. Since the Shelby Farms ride was so crappy, I wanted to get the Jet9 out on some decent singletrack before I wrote up anything resembling a review.
Since Syllamo’s Revenge is gone until next year, I figured I’d try some clockwise riding (the whole race course is counter-clockwise, so I’ve been riding that way for months in order to practice). I must say, the Blue & Orange loops (at least the parts on the East side of Green Mountain Rd.) ride much better going clockwise.
The Jet is a different animal than the Air. The best way I can compare it is going back to when I used to train/show horses- you can have two equally awesome horses, but the way you ride the two can be significantly different. The Jet is all business. I’d become very accustomed to the manner in which the Air deflected off of rocks and off-camber roots. I just didn’t realize it until I started really going at some of the tech-y, rocky stuff at Syllamo.
The Jet is very, very precise. You point it towards something and pedal, it’s going to generally track in a straight line up and over; it’s a combination of several things- the 20mm Maxle, the tapered steertube/stiffness of the frame, and, of course, the rear suspension. The result was me screwing up through the rocks a few times at first. I’d be expecting the bike to zig or zag when it would just keep rolling like the rocks didn’t exist.
For whatever reason, the bike also feels “light” in front. Going up rocky, steep climbs, there were several instances where I’d accidentally unweight my front wheel enough that I’d lose the ability to steer and end up in the bushes on the side of the trail. Once I dropped the stem down under the 10mm spacer I’d had between it & the headtube, this was not as bad, and I was able to use the “lightness” more to my advantage to get over the same sort of rocks that had been stalling me out.Ã‚ I started really liking the rocky climbs- the rear suspension on that bike is really, really nice, and the pedal bob is minimal.
It is going to take a few more rides on the more difficult trails to really get used to the handling, but I don’t consider that a bad thing at all, just something I will eventually grow accustomed to. I’m looking forward to getting it back out sometime soon!
Unfortunately, our ride was cut short by thunderstorms. We ended up riding in the downpour/lightning up Green Mountain Rd from the White River Bluff trailhead to the car at the Bald Scrappy trailhead. We’d both gotten our share of mud and slippery, wet rocks back at Syllamo’s Revenge, so we headed back to the cabin to dry out before heading back to Memphis.