Gary Fisher’s Dual Sport range is an intriguing take on the hybrid concept, with more than a nod to the big-wheeled 29er bikes that Fisher has championed. Neither fully-fledged off-roader nor flat-barred, wimpy roadster, the range-topping Montare aims to offer a dose of road speed with a hint of mountain bike practicality.
There’s a reason cyclo-cross bikes never made it to the mass market and, for all its undoubted appeal, the Montare is a reminder that skinny-tyred bikes are high maintenance trail companions that demand constant attention.
Ride & handling: Speedy on the road and rugged enough for some light off-road abuse
With a stretched-out ride position that’s partly a result of Fisher’s proprietary Genesis geometry (which tends to feature long top tubes) and part influenced by road bike positioning, the Montare feels most at home reeling off the miles on tarmac or smooth bridleways.
The tall gearing makes light work of undemanding surfaces, while the lively chassis and remote lockout add a dose of grin factor to tractor-chasing sprints.
Don’t write it off entirely for off-road use, either. The light frame and supple fork help shrug off all but the biggest of trail hits, and a little finesse will get the Montare down all but the most boulder-strewn of trails.
Big wheels and a lowish front end contribute to steering that’s stable rather than twitchy – something that newer riders will appreciate.
There is a ‘but’ though: if you let your attention wander too far, or try to blast the Montare through rough lines that are only really suited to forgiving mountain bike tyres, you’ll pay the price in pinch punctures and dented rims.
Frame: Good-looking chassis with practical touches
Key to the Dual Sport concept is a light, good-looking aluminium frame built around a set of standard road-sized 700c wheels.
Practicality is high on the agenda, with the inboard rear brake calliper mounting leaving plenty of room to it a rack and mudguards.
This is a neat touch for a bike that will see its fair share of commuting duty. Shame that there’s only room for a single set of bottle bosses, though.
Equipment: High gearing and skinny tyres rule out serious trail-bashing
The kit is biased towards road-going speed but is practical enough to withstand some off-road use. The coil-sprung Suntour fork is pretty basic, but has enough travel to take the sting out of both potholes and the occasional bridleway.
It comes with the bonus of a bar-mounted remote lockout lever to prevent the fork bobbing when you’re out of the saddle.
Gearing is high enough to keep all but the most speed-obsessed commuters happy, although it’s arguably too tall for steep off-road climbs.
That doesn’t really matter, as the tyres don’t have the grip to cope with vertiginous trails: a little light towpath cruising or dry bridleway bashing is all they’re really cut out for.