Let’s Get Ready To Rumble….(Rumblefish Review)

Here’s the review of my 2010 Gary Fisher/Trek Rumblefish.  The bike:

Sorry.  Didn’t have any good backdrops for the pics.

The hoops.  Easton Havens.

Fox 29RL air fork with lockout.

Maxxis Ikon EXO 29×2.1 tires, tubeless, front and rear with Stan’s sealant.  (Note: Easton Havens are UST tubeless wheels…so no rim strip or tape is needed).

BBG Bashguard as referenced in the cleaning post…

Active Braking Pivot:

DRCV (dual rate control valve) shock:

Crank Brothers Eggbeater 3s:

Shimano SLX Shifters and Avid Elixir 5 brakes:

What kind of bike?

Huh?

Oh yeah.  Rumblefish.

I had a full suspension 26″ Trek Fuel that I loved…but I wanted to go 29er.  With the stock build, the Bontrager Duster wheels, with tubes, are really heavy.  REALLY heavy.  As in, when I went to the Havens, tubeless, with Maxxis Ikons, I dropped several pounds of weight.  Rotating weight, at that.  I’ve been really, really pleased with that wheel/tire combo.  Tons of traction, great ride, surprisingly little rolling resistance.  They’re perfect for any kind of midwest riding.

Other upgrades: BBG Bashguard, Eggbeaters, Ergon grips, lots of TLC.  I really like the stock saddle.  I’d like to upgrade the seatpost, bars and stem to something lighter, someday.  On that note, I cut the bars down waaaaay too much.  I need to replace them with something a bit longer.

The bash guard and 2×9 drivetrain gives me all of the gearing I could hope for.  If I’m doing a gravel road bash on it, I throw the big ring back on…but frankly, since I got the Mukluk, I haven’t taken the ‘fish on a gravel bash.

The ABP really works well–you can brake through a corner and the suspension is not affected…no lockup, no suspension cycling–just consistent ride.  The DRCV really works as well–I’m a total believer in it.  It makes the 110mm of rear travel (4.3 inches) feel more like 5.5 inches.  The 120mm Fox fork works well up front, too.  I am intrigued by the new DRCV forks that Trek is using on the ‘new’ Rumblefish.

I’m also a big believer in the G2 geometry–it works well, and the bike handles nicely.  It has been very trouble free, and the Shimano drivetrain and Avid brakes have been flawless, thus far.

I cannot overstate the significance of the wheel/tire change.  It’s a totally different bike with this setup–I love the way it rides.

If I were going back and buying a 29er today, I’d get a Salsa Spearfish 1.  Why?  Spearfish 1 is lighter, climbs better, less pedal bob (without having to change the pro-pedal setting), and feels faster.  It also has better components, and is lighter.  Plus, it’s matte black, and [Paris Hilton] that’s hot [/Paris Hilton].  The Rumblefish would be my pick for bashing through a huge rock garden, simply because of the greater rear travel.  But otherwise, for just about any purpose, I’d get the Spearfish.  That’s a pretty informed decision, after riding both, extensively.  The Rumblefish, for as nice as it rides, has a pretty nasty pedal bob if you’re out of the saddle.  Engaging the pro-pedal is an absolute necessity on big climbs…whereas on the Spearfish, you just huff right up inclines.  If I had the Easton Havens and Maxxis Ikons on the Spearfish, tubeless, it would be flat awesome.

The Rumblefish is sensitive to weight positioning when climbing, as well.  If you get too far back in the saddle, the nose rises rapidly.  In comparison to the Spearfish, the handling while climbing is far less predictable.  The Spearfish climbs calmly, and if you pull the front tire off of the ground, it is a smooth transition and you can replant the front end at will.  The Rumblefish wheelie process happens much faster, and much less predictably.  If I wheelie accidentally while climbing, the next step is often me slamming the front end back down…which can upset the rear end, which can end your climb.  In contrast, the Spearfish could be wheelied and then gently ridden out of the wheelie, without affecting the climb.  In some ways, the more active suspension on the Rumblefish works against you while climbing.

If you’re descending rapidly, the Rumblefish has the edge over a Spearfish.  Not exactly a fair comparison, but the Rumblefish has a lot more travel, and the DRCV gives you a lot more perceived travel.  I’ve bottomed out the Rumblefish many times, as evidenced by the positioning of the fork o-ring at the end of a ride.  But I’ve only felt the bike bottom out a very few times.  The DRCV evens out the shock responsiveness and feel over the full travel, and makes it much more linear in its loading and responsiveness.

Even with those benefits, the DRCV is no harder to tune than a regular shock.  In fact, because it is so linear, in many ways it is more forgiving to set up.  No surprises, just consistent action.

I really like the Rumblefish.  I don’t love it, but I really, really like it.  When I first got it, I liked it a lot.  Upgrading the wheels and tires moved it on the scale from “like a lot” to “really, really like”.  If it were lighter, had better components, and less pedal bob, I’d like it even more.  Ride a full-on race bike like the Spearfish, and you get spoiled, frankly.  It’s the truth–I’d swap it out for a Spearfish in a heartbeat, largely because for my tame riding, the extra travel of the Rumblefish isn’t necessary (but the greater climbing efficiency of the Spearfish is greatly valued).

Where do you get a Rumblefish?  Your local bike shop.  As with every single bike in my garage, my Rumblefish came from North Central Cyclery.

Rumblefish at Brown County, IN (shown with platforms):

And at Saw Wee Kee:

With a triple crank on the best bike ride ever (Gypsy Caravan):

In a state of repose:

Fishy.  Rumblefishy.

Specs:

Stock Rumblefish, Easton Havens run tubeless with Maxxis Ikon EXOs and Stans sealant.  3×9 drivetrain converted to 2×9 with BBG Bashguard (great bashguard).  Just upgraded to Crank Brothers Cobalt 2 XC handlebars.  Ergon grips.

19 thoughts on “Let’s Get Ready To Rumble….(Rumblefish Review)

  1. Is this a Rumblefish review or a Spearfish lustfest? two different bikes with different purposes. PS the spearfish is flexy.

      • Yes, is the answer to your original question. It’s a Rumblefish review and a Spearfish lustfest. As for your comment about flex in the rear end of the Spearfish, you’re correct in noting that I’ve never felt that. They are definitely different bikes with different purposes, but are both FS 29ers, with relatively similar amounts of travel (ok–close), similar components, and same price range. They are bikes that I’ve seen many on MTBR cross-shop. There may be an area of the world where the Spearfish would have an advantage, but here in the midwest isn’t it. I’ve extensively reviewed the Spearfish on here, so it makes sense to compare the two. And if I were out shopping for a FS 29er again, I’d get the Spearfish. Obviously a different design and different philosophy…and that different philosophy makes more sense to me now than it did 2 years ago, when I got the Rumblefish. At that time, the Spearfish didn’t seem like it had enough travel. Now with a few seasons of 29er love under me, I can appreciate how less can be more.

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  7. I have a question I hope you might have an answer for. I also have a Rumblefish, 2010 Rumble 2 to be exact, also running a 2×9 drivetrain. (XO triggers, XO med cage rear derail, 991 cross step chain, M960 XTR 11-34 cassette, Bontrager X Lite crank with Race Face 24/36 9 spd rings with Salsa Ring Dinger and SLX dm fd like you appear to be using.) The issue I have been having is dropping my chain to the inside and getting sucked up in between the chain stay and rings. My LBS built the bike-it was a frame replacement under warranty-and is unsure as to why it might be happening. My only thoughts are to try a X9/0 10 spd fd since I hear they play nice with 2×9 set ups like mine, and/or go to a 22/34 tooth count to give me a little more breathing room between rings and stays. Any thoughts and help would be appreciative as my chain stay looks pretty nasty for its young age. Besides this the bike is SWEET!

    • I can’t say as I’ve had any problems with chainsuck or chain dropping on my ‘fish. I’m using the stock Shimano SLX build, and it’s been completely trouble-free for me. I do run a 32/22 crank.

      I assume your front derailleur is direct mount? It isn’t just an adjustment issue with the travel stop on the derailleur?

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