Saturday, a group of us, a cast of shop regulars, road tripped to Hobbs State Park in Arkansas to do some mountain biking.
You know what happens when you go mountain biking in Arkansas in the summer? Not poison ivy. Not ticks. Chiggers. All the chiggers in the whole wide world, gnawing away at your ankles with the feverish intensity of zombies after brains. Never mind that you bathed yourself in DEET.
There should be a new word for the itchiness associated with those little bast … ahem. Where was I? Ah, yes. Mountain biking.
I saw an opportunity for the day-trip; normally, I roll a 2017 Kona Hei Hei AL 29er. Mine’s the bottom-end one with the aluminum frame. It’s a bit on the heavy side, but it has just the right amount of squish to give me good control over pretty much everything. At my advanced age, I don’t use it for flying dozens of feet into the air off of sweet jumps, so I can’t comment on its advanced aerodynamic capabilities.
I love my bike. It’s the first full-suspension bike I’ve ever owned, and I couldn’t be happier. … Well, mostly. I’ve been giving pretty serious consideration to sticking some 27.5s on it and seeing if that changes my center of gravity. Also, N+1.
The first thing I thought when I got word of the daytrip to Hobbs was … I should take the demo bike on that trip. I mean, my bike, but carbon.
So that’s what I did.
Prior to leaving, I had no idea of the nuances between the two bikes. A Hei Hei is a Hei Hei, right? I just thought it’d be cool to go ripping around Hobbs on a carbon mountain bike. The experiences between the two were substantial.
The two bikes are spec’d for completely different activities. My bike is a beginner mountain bike, and there’s a lot of forgiveness in its ride, like a old horse for a new rider. The Hei Hei Race DL is a cross-country (XC) race bike. It’s a lot lighter, has less travel in the suspension, and less aggressive tread on the tires. The AL has a dropper-post for the saddle, the Race DL has a “performance remote” that locks the suspension out so you can climb better.
And boy, does that thing climb better. I could tear up hills much faster and with less effort than on my bike. Made me a little jealous, honestly. And then there was the fact that the Race DL was sporting the 12-speed SRAM Eagle set-up. So much torque.
The Race DL is versatile bike. It could handily double as a gravel bike right out of the box giving you essentially two bikes in one. The treads are perfect for gravel roads, the Eagle would have you flying up those ungraded backcountry hills, and the weight is more than comparable to a gravel bike (Ryan told me the Race DL drops in at just over 22 pounds).
But that’s not all it does. It is a mountain bike, and it performed admirably in Arkansas. As is the case with my own bike, the Hei Hei Race DL is way better at mountain biking than I am. In fact, it seems like it would be perfect for the Enduro race they’re cooking up for Beta Tough in October.
I have yet to surrender the bike back to the shop, but will probably do so tomorrow. Why is that important to you? Because this is the shop demo bike, and it’s currently on sale for 30 percent off. Size M.
You know you wanna.
Sure, the title is a bit of hyperbole. Call it clickbait. Whatever. Come ride the bike.