The alloy HiFi was one of our surprise test hits of the year, and spending another £1,700 gets you this 2lb lighter carbon flagship. Increased flex means decreased control when the hammer goes down, though.
It’s super-light, very responsive and you’re getting some great kit for your money. However, it’s a real opinion divider. If you’re a powerful rider who values precision, then give the HiFi a wide berth. If, on the other hand, you’re less aggressive and want a low effort, reaction flattering flyweight then the HiFi might be worth plugging into.
Ride & handling: Light, smooth and responsive, but twangy and twitchy if you try to ride it hard
The concept behind Gary Fisher’s steep custom G2 fork geometry is that it quickens steering reactions but leaves the wheelbase – and therefore overall stability – untouched.
While the HiFi Pro Carbon is certainly very quick to whip round switchbacks and trees at slow speed, the relatively tall bar and short stem combined with the turn-on-a-dime G2 geo make it feel ultralight and a little bit fragile in the steering department.
Even with all the steerer spacers removed the bars are still very high; cue a front wheel that skips and lifts rather than tracking the trail.
It cruises very smoothly, however, and responds immediately to any bar or pedal input, but when you stand on the pedals or pull on the bars hard you’ll realise how flexy the frame is.
Even under normal trail conditions, it will wander and twang noticeably through turns or shift gears unexpectedly, and under load it’s worse.
Details like the carbon-shelled saddle combine with the lightweight frame to deliver a very light for 120mm-travel bike at 24.3lb (11kg). That means if you can ride round the flex – or you just don’t ride hard enough to provoke it – there’s potentially a very low effort, ego boosting ride in here.
The light steering was popular with less experienced riders on tight trails too. It gave them the chance to correct mistakes they’d made before they turned terminal and turn tight enough to make it round switchbacks they’d normally fumble and stumble to a stop in.
Frame: Lightweight chassis with supple suspension, but underbuilt in places
The Fisher frame is nearly 100 percent carbon fibre, and lightweight 110g/m2 carbon at that. The tall head section is slab sided while main tubes, bottom bracket block and stays are all chunky too. The shock and main pivot mount points are very skinny, though, and the chainstays are radically asymmetric.
Standover is good, you get full seatpost drop for the steeps and there’s plenty of tyre room for the supplied rubber. You even get conventional over-and-under down tube bottle mounts, which are increasingly rare these days.
The active suspension is great for smooth, compliant comfort and consistent trail connection, but not so great over square edges and bobs when you pedal hard, unless you use lots of compression damping.
Gary fisher hifi pro carbon: gary fisher hifi pro carbon Seb Rogers