There are so many different takes on the 150mm (6in) travel mountain bike, it's hard to know what to expect. According to Gary Fisher, "the Fat Possum is the all-day adventure bike you've been waiting for". Let's see what sort of adventure.
Fisher have gone with a simple, proven design with the pivot near the base of the down tube, but added some of their own tweaks. The dropped top tube gets a big clamshell, monocoque Y-shaped piece at the seat tube junction, while the pivots use massive clamped-in 38mm bearings. The swingarm front end is a single forged piece with big 'wrinkled stocking' terminals for the rear stays and a welded cross brace. The stays themselves are heavily tapered with hydroformed flaring at either end for maximum contact with the forged dropouts.
Mud room and standover is ample, but there's no room to fit a bottle cage except under the down tube. Despite Possums being handmade in the US, the back end was noticeably askew on our sample rig. However, you can adjust the alignment using the cam adjustment on the main bearing.
The FOX 32 RLC fork is smooth and the compression threshold can be tuned nicely to the adjustable SPV platform damping on the Manitou rear shock. It feels a little flexy under heavy braking or cornering loads, but that matches the rest of the bike.
The Shimano XT/LX kit is fine, though lower rent than we'd expect on a £2,000 bike. The broad rim Bontrager Rhythm wheels add welcome tyre fatness but they're not too light, and the Race seatpost needs masses of torque to stop it slipping. We really like the big Bontrager treads and overall bike weight at 13.4kg (29.6lb) is good.
While bearings and various frame sections on the Fat Possum might be truly fat, the bike's definitely on the flexy side. It ghost shifts under real power or serious cornering side loads, and you can feel it twist between the wheels on the trail. While aggressive riders might shudder at this, it actually adds a lively, playful feel. For a 6in bike it's agile and keen on the climbs, with the swingarm digging down for extra traction on steep sections.
There is some pedal kickback, but keep them level and it's easy to lean back and manual or launch through stuff, with plenty of travel to soak up the landings. The frame fl ex combined with the high 14in bottom bracket means it always feels like an extended travel XC bike, rather than anything more burly and planted; it doesn't inspire steep technical or aggressive riding confidence.
The naturally swift handling encourages you to really swing and lean the bike around, drifting either end through corners with well balanced confidence. Just watch it on the brakes on steep stuff, as it can tuck under sharply with the fork fully compressed.
The Possum is an immediately friendly and playful XC bike. On fast flowing trails it swoops and sweeps about nicely, plus it has enough travel to drop or straightline bigger stuff than you'd expect, given its eager climbing character and acceleration.