Gary Fisher was one of the pioneers of mountain biking but his bike range has now revisited its road roots. This hybrid carbon/alloy bike has plenty going for it in terms of overall ride and value for money – as long as you’re not hung up on road heritage.
Ride & handling: Wildcard from the 'dad' of MTB can compete with the tarmac establishment
Gary Fisher mountain bikes have a reputation for pushing some radical ideas. The short 105mm stem and 73.5 degree head angle of the ARC also produce a more agile but attention-demanding ride than most bikes.
Once you realise it never develops into dangerous shake or instability on descents, the lighter steering is a bonus in close pack or pock-marked urban road environments. The relatively short wheelbase lets it change direction through chicane-style corners too, and the Fisher took twisty back-roads in its stride.
The Shimano 105 transmission never missed a beat and the frame applies power smoothly and without obvious softness sapping your hard-earned watts. The low wheel weight meant we never felt at a disadvantage if the road disappeared upwards.
A similarly balanced character sums up the ride quality too. Whether the end-of-bar inserts did any good is a moot point, but our hands never went numb. And it’s the same story from the rear. There’s enough traction feedback and power delivery to get on the gas with no lack of confidence and a reassuring reward awaits.
While occasional potholes certainly stung, they never threatened to send us straight to physio, and as long as we plotted smooth lines then the Fisher was impressively silky throughout. Even on rides where multiple, hard out-of-the-saddle climbs were back-to-back with rough twisty descents that required a full grip, we never got the impression we’d outstayed our welcome on the bike.
The bar and saddle comfort points also came in for favourable comments from our test group, although a more supple set of tyres should deinitely be first on most people’s upgrade menu.
Chassis: Well thought out – and well implemented – frame and forks
It’s obvious that the mainframe has been well thought out, with a top tube that swells and then tapers off as it extends backwards, and an inverse teardrop-to-ovalised down tube to control power delivery.
Despite extending above and below the main tubes, the vase-shaped head tube is still plenty low enough to translate into a decent aero position if you add clip-ons.
The tapered carbon stays plug into neat diagonal alloy lugs and wishbone sections, giving the setup a pleasingly traditional frame-build look.
At 2.74lb (1,243g) the frame is a good weight for the price. The carbon-legged forks are light too, despite having built-in sensors ready for the addition of a Trek wireless computer. You’ll find the gear-cable adjusters on the mainframe are harder to reach than shifter-mounted ones.
Equipment: Full Shimano 105 plus decent wheels and finishing kit, but tyres aren't exactly lively
Fisher roll out a complete 105 braking and transmission spread for the ARC Pro with no shortcuts anywhere. The compact chainset is a definite bonus for all but the biggest gear mashers. Slick shifting and accurate braking from the metal-backed cartridge pads give featherlight fingertip control too.
The twinned spoke Bontrager wheels are reasonably light and tight, but check bearings before you buy, as our front wheel felt rough from new. The Bontrager Race Lite tyres are certainly durable, if not exactly lively in feel. You’ll find the new shorter, chunkier quick-release levers are harder on your hands.
However, Bontrager make it up to your mitts by providing the short, white and light stem and well-shaped mid-width bars, complete with vibration-reducing Buzz Kill bar plugs. Bontrager carbon-steerer spacers are a nice touch too. The single bolt seatpost marks easily but is relatively light, while the In Form saddle is a comfortable, if unusual-looking seat.