About a year ago we previewed the Gary Fisher Hifi Pro, praising it for being superlight for what was effectively just a 6000 series aluminium frame. Tubeless tyres and a firm suspension action made it one of the quickest bikes on the trail.
For 2008 Gary Fisher has upped the ante, making the frame from carbon and saving 0.75lb in the process.
An 18in Pro Carbon frameset now weighs a claimed 4.3lb and that’s including the shock and hardware. On our office scales the entire bike weighed in at a flyweight 23.98lb.
The company has shaved the weight off by using a new ‘co-moulded’ construction process, whereby the mounts for the main pivot and shock are placed inside the mould with the carbon when it’s cured. These are made from very thin walled aluminium and the OCLV 110gsm fibre material gets squeezed inside them, resulting in a tough but lightweight joint. Carbon fibre is used at the rear end for additional vertical compliance and to reduce the weight where it matters most.
One of the things Gary Fisher bangs on about more than any other bike firm is geometry and it definitely ploughs its own furrow where this is concerned. Like last year, the Hifi Pro comes fitted with a G2 suspension fork with greater offset (46mm), which results in less trail and, according to Gary Fisher, more immediate steering at slow speeds. The idea is to make a bike that is stable at high speeds and nippy at low speeds, and while we could think of ways to do that without locking buyers into one type of fork, the Hifi Pro seems to work as a whole.
The bike’s wheelbase is long, at 44in, but it has short 16in chainstays as well as a low 13in
bottom bracket and although we wouldn’t call the 69.7° head angle slack, the bike rips through singletrack. The length in the front centre adds stability and the sharper handling fork always means the steering is more immediate than that of a regular bike fitted with a stem of this length or handlebars this wide. The suspension doesn’t really offer that much in the way of traction but it’s OK at absorbing big hits.
We don’t like the plastic bushings on the swing link, especially for UK riding, but Gary Fisher is running sealed ‘FourBarrel’ bearings in the other pivots. Cable running has also been improved from last year and doesn’t bulge out under compression. The Fox 32 Float offers greater stiffness and suspension performance than the Manitou Minute it replaces. At this price we’d like to see tubeless tyres as standard but you can upgrade by fitting a couple of Bontrager rim strips.