EWR OWB29er: Parting Thoughts

hubba hubbaOver the past few months I’ve been blogging about the EWR OWB29er test bike that I will be reviewing in Dirt Rag Issue #140—the February 15th, 2009 edition. In my prior installments I talked about the bike’s geometry and specifications, discussed my first impressions, and did my best to describe how the OWB29er rides. As I put the finishing touches on my review for the magazine, I want to share some final thoughts on my test experience.

My print review will focus on the OWB29er frame, it’s design/construction, and how it performed on the trail. Since I spent most of my review “word count” focusing on the bike, I did not have much space to write about the components. I’ll use this final blog installment to discuss a few of the components that impressed me.

I was quite pleased with the performance of the 100mm-travel RockShox Reba Team 29″ with Maxle QR (20mm) fork. The Dual Air positive/negative air spring design provided outstanding tunability, and a plush feeling. This was my first extended experience testing a thru-axle front-end, and I came away impressed with Maxle’s true-tracking solidity, and ease of operation. I didn’t have a lick of trouble with the Reba.

seatstay  clearanceAvid’s Elixr CR hydraulic disc brakes are sweet. In my personal and highly subjective opinion, these are the best-feeling hydros that I’ve had the pleasure of squeezing. The predictable, progressive lever-feel belies the Elixr CR’s raw stopping power. I came away impressed.

I ran the provided Kenda Karma LR3 Pro 29×2.2 tires for the entire test period. The Karmas hooked up well and handled predictably under a wide variety of conditions—ranging from hardpack, to mud, to ice and snow. Running them tubeless, with extra-low air pressure, surely helped in the snow. Overall, the Karma’s low-profile square knobs struck a great balance between rolling fast, while still hooking up on climbs and in hard corners.

Finally, I give two “buns up” to the Selle Italia C2 Gel Flow saddle. Before my first ride, I skeptically studied its svelte shape. But one ride was all it took to make me a believer. The C2’s strategically placed gel, “just right” padding and central cut-out combine to make this one of the most comfortable “lightweight’ saddles I’ve ridden.