First, thanks to Doug and Mike at North of the Border bike shop in San Diego. You guys are awesome.
This week I was able to spend 1.5 hours on a medium Czar and 2.5 hours on a large. These came straight from SOC. I am 5’10” with a 31 inch inseam. Both bikes were set up with 100mm stem, xx1, and Enve wheels. AMAZING! This is the bike I’ve been waiting for. So fast, great climber and with the relaxed head angle it is very stable on fast and rocky downhills. I had an original sultan for a couple years. I am currently on a SC highball carbon HT with 24 inch top tube. The large Czar was the better fit. The medium was just too cramped. This was my first time on a dw-link bike. Compared to previous VPP and Maestro bikes I’ve had or demoed(Tallboy, SB95, and 429c), this is the best pedaling bike I’ve ridden, no question. It doesn’t feel like you are giving up much compared to the HT on fire road or smooth pedaling sections in descend or trail mode however it is just shines when you get in rocky single track. The faster you go the better it just floats.
~ Posted on MTBR by Jhardeman
Riding the Czar simply feels natural. Balanced cornering geometry, not twitchy at speed or floppy while climbing, the large wheels and low BB height offer low and stable pedal weighted cornering below the wheel axles. Pedaling is instantly responsive, firm and grippy traction that refuses to spin out on gravely climbs, even when standing to accelerate and climb. Also my first ride on XX1, found plenty of gear range for the Sea Otter’s demonstration trail, the NorCal HS XC race course having fast downhill small jumps, some washboard stutter bumps and one steep climb, with little chance of dropping a chain having not front shifting and a clutched tightened chain, very quiet, no chain slap. This is a top quality bike for elite XC and XC Enduro racers, also easy handling for road riders entering the trails for the first time, and well experienced hardpack single track explorers. Very, very well done! Wow!
I’ll add this… I’m a 200 lb rider, not well designed for XC racing (big upper body, short legs). I’m more trail and AM oriented, climbing for the reward of the descent and traveling to ride challenging mountain or desert rocky trails. Usually XC racer bikes are too firm and twitchy handling for my rough trail interests. But like I said above, the CZAR is natural feeling, easy to ride, and besides having very light feeling snappy acceleration and easy climbing, the CZAR would be a great solo 24 hour race ride, and for most all day XC trail rides. The handling doesn’t take away any exhausting mental energy, all mental focus can be spent reading the trail ahead, conserving energy for improved performance towards the end of a long ride.
I’ve also had time to reflect on the XX1 drive train after returning to my bike’s double-ring+bash 10-speed. And I really like the quick and easy gear rate jump when shifting the duel front rings for riding frequently irregular up and down trail. The XX1 single ring does makes good sense to drop the front ring and shifter weight for always riding more consistent medium to higher speeds while pedaling during XC racing and smoother higher momentum single track.
It is amazing that just 15 years ago or so the original Turner Burner was winning national DH races with very similar frame geometry and travel as the CZAR. Now, under the same rider, the CZAR with the same tires would beat the Burner down those same DH runs… and easily climb up to do it again!
~ Posted on MTBR by Derby