This isn’t your usual carbon-fibre frameset, few of them are these days, but it uses aluminium hardware that’s actually formed into the carbon-fibre tubing, which Fisher calls ‘co-moulding’. Both the shock mounts on the underside of the down-tube and on the inside of the seat-tube are thin forged and machined 7075 T6 aluminium pieces that are inserted into the mould when the frame pieces are laid up.
Three distinct parts make up the main frame — the head-tube/down-tube, seat lug and the bottom bracket/swinglink mount — which are hand laid then bonded together in the same way as carbon Trek frames. If you look closely you’ll see the seat-tube splays out at the
bottom bracket for greater stiffness, the main pivot is a bonded aluminium insert and there’s a thin washer between the shell and the bottom bracket cup to stop the chain gouging into the delicate material.
Fisher uses a 110gsm unidirectional carbon-fibre and cures it with a highly toughened resin, which it says contains a particulate that helps reduce localised impacts and increases fatigue strength. It also uses proportionally sized head and down-tubes across the sizes, which means larger diameter tubes and wall thickness on the bigger bikes. Going down the sizes, frames are 60-80g lighter; and three to five per cent stiffer going the other way.
It’s not all perfection — there are a couple of plastic bushings on the link, which in the UK won’t last. Heel clearance is poor. The chainstays have formed indents for clearance but they seem in the wrong place, almost as if they have come off another bike. There’s also a noticeable amount of chainstay damage on the driveside, so this bike would benefit from some sort of deflection plate. But the worst sin has to be the lack of a quick-release on the seat clamp.
Like the Cannondale, the Fisher is a single-pivot bike with a swing link- activated shock, albeit orientated the other way. This is forged 6061 aluminium and weighs a svelte 88g. Not only is the link light, but it means the whole swingarm can be lighter. There’s no need to beef up the area around the main pivot because the swing link creates a secondary anchor point. The link protects the shock from side-loading and also allows Fisher to play around with the rate of the shock — in this case to improve pedalling.
On this HiFi the shock is higher up in the frame so the shock controls are easy to reach when
riding. The downside of the design is the increased number of bearings — the Orange Five, for example, has two bearings on either side of the main pivot; the HiFi has 10 bearing points. Our HiFi comes with a black Fox F120 RLC fork with the new G2 offset. The idea is simple: Fisher increases the length of the wheelbase for added stability but reduces the trail so the fork steers quicker at slow speeds. The theory seems to make sense but there are times when you don’t want quick steering, like, for example, when it’s slippery. We prefer the fork to drag a bit more, slowing down the steering in these conditions.
Fisher specs house parts from Bontrager. The Race X Lite stuff is OK but lacks the cachet of Thomson and Easton elsewhere, but then you’ve £500 to play with for upgrades. To adjust to different sized riders, medium frames can be fitted with a 70mm, 90mm or 110mm stem, which makes some sense if you’ve odd proportions, but for most riders we’d recommend replacing the stock 90mm for a 70mm. We’d also ditch the bars for something wider, unbolt the uncomfortable race saddle and take a Stanley knife to the grips.
Fisher has got the best of both worlds by speccing a Shimano XTR crankset, front mech, cassette and chain, but SRAM XO shifters and rear derailleur. The latter has a cheaper aluminium cage, not carbon, but shifting is positive, immediate and we’ve actually become accustomed to the double-tap XO triggers.
Avid Juicy Ultimate brakes are hard to fault apart from there not being enough thread in the lever blades for the grub screw that holds the pivot in place. We’d rather see a Juicy 7 aluminium lever — more durable and not much heavier.
Bontrager’s Race X Lite disc wheels have 23mm width rims with a 19mm internal diameter but they’re taller than the rest so feel stiffer. Like the Rovals on the FSR they’re also
tubeless ready. Owners can buy a set of tubeless rim strips, valves and sealant for about £23. Due to the tight fitting rims we’ve also found this system is compatible with more tubeless tyres than Mavic UST rims.
There’s always a bit of give and take with lightweight bikes and in the HiFi’s case it’s flex. Loading the rear end into turns causes a noticeable amount of rear-end deflection and we could also feel the front squirm on tight switchbacks. It’s also the least stiff bike under power but, that said, it isn’t a bad climber.
The reduced tail skews the geometry somewhat but the long 43.75in wheelbase and low 13.125in bottom bracket makes the HiFi stable and surefooted. More importantly, the extra length seems to centre rider weight and creates a balanced feel to the bike.
While the suspension doesn’t really offer that much in the way of grip, it does soak up the medium to big stuff pretty well and that’s the way we’d leave it. Round our rocky test loop at Afan the Fisher was a flyer. It accelerates quickly and carries speed really well. It’s the sort of bike where we could let the gap go then cruise back up to their rear wheel by just letting go of the brakes.