Monday, September 19, 2022

2022 Oiz H10 TR

A very nice bonus from work, and some well planned savings, got me to where I needed to afford upgrading to a full suspension mountain bike this spring.

It turns out saving up for the upgrade one is the easiest part of upgrading...

Picking the right full suspension bike is like picking the right kayak.

There are a zillion different things that change how a suspension bike rides. The tire size, the amount of suspension, the suspension tuning, the confounding number of frame measurements like reach and down tube angle, and the level of components.

The component level and frame material are dependent on the price - more money better components and carbon frames.

My budget meant that I could get good components on an aluminum frame or OK ones on a carbon frame. To me the decision was easy: better components are worth more than a few pounds.

The rest of the things to think about made my head hurt while doing online research and trying to narrow down the list of bikes to test out.

I came up with a shortish list and headed down to the local bike shops where most of the bikes on my list were out of stock… COVID did a number on new bike availability between the surge in demand and the constricted supply.

Fortunately, Wheelworks in Belmont had a decent selection and plenty of sales people with mountain biking experience to help me sort through the details. They had me try bikes in a range of suspension sizes from 120mm fronts to 150mm fronts paired up with 100mm backs to 150mm backs and whole boatload of geometries. Doing test rides on pavement wasn’t ideal, but it did let me get a sense of the differences between the bikes.

In general, more suspension means a bigger, heavier bike. It also means a slacker head tube angle and a longer wheelbase. This makes the bike more plush and well mannered. On the road test I could tell that the bigger bikes would be great fun bombing down steep rocky hills while not feeling like riding on the wrong edge of control.

The bikes with smaller travel, 100-120mm, felt more lively. Less squish means more bounce. The geometries on the short travel bikes were more variable. The longer and slacker bikes were bouncy but well mannered. The shorter steeper ones turned and accelerated quickly. The agility translates into feeling like one is on the wrong edge of control when bombing down steep rocky hills. 

The slack short travel bikes were easy to rule out. I didn’t think the trade offs were made for a better ride. If I was going to lose out on some comfort, I definitely wanted to gain something.

In the end I narrowed my list to two bikes by Obera: the Occam, a 140mm trail slayer, and the Oiz TR, a 120mm XC speed daemon.

In the end I picked the Oiz H10 TR. The H10 version is the top end aluminum model. The TR version of the Oiz is basically the same frame geometry as the standard Oiz, which is a dedicated XC race bike, but with and extra 10mm of travel and a dropper post.

It felt like a rocket ship and turned on a dime. Super fun…

The first ride on the trails it was obvious that the Oiz was a rocket ship with way more capabilities than I could handle. I spent more time falling than moving despite being on easy trails that I know well.

After three or four rides I got a better handle on the suspension controls and using the dropper post and I started going faster, and trying harder features. I didn’t start falling less though…

My skills hadn’t improved enough to match what the bike was capable of tricking me into doing. I am not always good at knowing my limits until things get really uncomfortable. On my old hard tail things got uncomfortable just before I reached the edge of what I could manage. On the Oiz, things rarely got uncomfortable until I was past the edge. It accelerated faster, turned faster, and maintained speed better than I the old bike. It also felt more controlled at much higher speeds and much sketchier situations.

For example, there is a nice switchbacking descent near my house that I had gotten pretty comfortable riding on the hard tail. I wasn’t blazing fast and always felt pretty close to the edge, but I also never fell. The first few times down the descent on the Oiz, I felt great and was moving fast until I would hit one of the turns a little too fast and a tad off the proper line and end up eating dirt.

Now that I’ve gotten a handle on how the Oiz rides and relearned how to ride the trail, I fly down at speed and have way more fun doing it. I’m not as fast as some of the people I ride with who have longer, slacker bikes with more suspension.

However, I crush them on the ups and the more flowy trails. I can pick up speed much quicker and snake through tight turns faster. On flat sections of trail, I can lock out the suspension and put all of my energy into going forward. On climbs, I can adjust the suspension for the best combination of tractions and efficiency.

I think it is a fair trade off. I get 95% of the downhill fun and a whole lot more efficiency for longer rides.

The upgrade required some break in time before I could really start using the bike. Once I got over that hump, I started gaining the skills needed to really have fun. I still have a lot to learn, but now I have a much better platform.

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