The Race Day Procaliber was designed to be the perfect weapon for the Gary Fisher Pro race team. Short travel and low weight and width were the three main criteria, and Fisher’s designers have managed that.
A classic single-pivot design for streamlined simplicity, but the main tube junctions and obvious stress points like the large diameter 38mm pivot point are all supersized for maximum stiffness. Fat ribbed forgings connect the stays to the swingarm post too.
At the request of the Fisher team, the Race Day also uses a super narrow 108mm bottom bracket width to keep feet, and therefore knees, as close together as possible for maximum ‘Q factor’ efficiency. This means the otherwise fat rear stays have to slim right down in the centre to keep out the way of the cranks and there are no cross braces across the back end either. Great for mud clearance, very bad for frame stiffness.
The shock mount plates are super skinny too, combining with the single front swingarm post to let a lot of flex into the centre section. In a final blow, it’s worth noting that the 40mm longer travel Gary Fisher HiFi frame is actually lighter.
It’s certainly a racey rig in kit terms. The SID World Cup fork with its ‘Black Box’ one-piece carbon steerer and crown is pure podium porn. The remote control PopLoc Floodgate platform and lockout is a sprinter’s favourite too. The skinny legs and short 80mm travel need nursing on even mildly technical descents though. The Avid brakes are plenty powerful, and SRAM X.0 still shifts sharper than anything else when split seconds count. The oversize Bontrager carbon cockpit and carbon cranks are impressively stiff, even if the frame they’re attached to isn’t.
We’re surprised this otherwise bling build uses the second string Race Lite rather than genuinely gramless Race X Lite wheels, but then the 11.6kg (25.5lb) complete bike is very competitively priced.
While the frame is stiff in places, it’s got some real torsional black spots. This flex and distortion is noticeable in every steering movement, every pedal push, every heave on the bar and every hard corner too. The Procaliber is unnerving in its vague attitude to line choice, but keep at it and you’ll learn to stay relaxed as it finds its own way down the trail. You’ll need to take the same loose attitude to the suspension – the fork moves almost as much sideways and back-to-front as it does up and down, and the platform-damped rear shock is reluctant to move at all.
That’s when you’ll start to appreciate the lively twang and kick of the frame as it loads up and then spits out stresses. The ‘dig in’ effect of the swingarm suspension also helps with power delivery, but stomp-and-go riders will tie it in knots.
The Race Day is great value in terms of parts and weight for the price, and if you have a history of riding skippy, flexy bikes then go for it. Most riders will find the frame distortion disconcerting, if not downright scary, when you want to hammer hard though.