Gary Fisher Sugar 2+ Disc
By Jeff GuerreroSugar... Oh, honey, honey. The Sugar 2+ Disc features up to 5" of travel in the front, up to 4.125" in the rear, and hydraulic disc brakes all around. At 29 lbs. 2 oz. in size small, you'll guess this version is not necessarily the XC racer of the family. The Sugar 2+ is designed as a fun mountain bike for any style of riding. If you think 4.125" of rear travel would be too much for a particular ride, you can simply switch to 2.8" of travel. When the fork is dialed to 80mm and the rear shock is in its 2.8" travel mode, the geometry is the same as the standard XC Sugar. Fisher bills this as a trailside adjustment, but just make sure you have a 5mm hex wrench, 10mm open end or adjustable wrench, and your shock pump along with you.
The Sugar 2+ (size small tested) rides pretty high in full travel mode with a bottom bracket height of 13" and a standover of nearly 29". I became comfortable very quickly as Sugar and I glided, plowed and/or hopped over any trail obstacle under a foot high. The rear suspension not only cushions the ride on rough terrain, it holds the rear wheel to the trail like glue. Just park your butt in the saddle and spin those legs. For those long fire road climbs, the Psylo's lockout feature comes in handy. You simply reach down and twist the dial, and suddenly you have a rigid fork to stand up and hammer on (just remember to turn it back when you head downhill). I know the rear suspension moves a little when I stand and climb, but the suspension design really does seem to limit the amount of "bob." Climbing, however, is not where the Sugar excels.
When the Sugar 2+ is pointed downhill, the fun really begins. The Genesis geometry is specifically designed to put the rider back further without overextending the cockpit area, and I certainly can't complain. The Cane Creek AD-12 air shock has adjustable compression and rebound damping, so within a few rides I was able to dial the suspension perfectly. Once adjusted properly, it takes the sting out of small bumps, but still has enough travel to soak up bigger hits. Setting the rebound damping takes time and attention, but proves to be invaluable in keeping the bike from bouncing. The swing arm assembly has no side-to-side play that I can detect, though bushing based designs are known to eventually wear out and require replacements. (On the other hand, single pivot, bushing-style rear suspensions are virtually maintenance free, and bushings generally cost less than bearings.) The coil-sprung RockShox Psylo performs like a champ, offering its 5" of travel to tame the savage roots and rocks.
When you get rolling down a steep hill, you want the confidence Hayes hydraulic disc brakes bring to the table. This was my first opportunity to test the much-heralded Hayes brakes, and their braking power was so good that I changed my technique to the one finger method. At first I found myself skidding a little bit going into downhill turns, but after a while I figured out how to modulate them and gained even more control of my braking.
When it comes to tight, technical trails, the Sugar 2+ is no slouch. With a 71° head angle (compared to 71.5° on all other sizes) and nearly 42" wheelbase, one might think the Sugar 2+ would steer slowly, however the handling is quite agile. I would love to go on about how much fun it is to ride the Sugar 2+, but I feel as though I need to cover a few more technical aspects of the bike.
The main frame is Trek proprietary aluminum alloy and is welded in the USA. The downtube is bi-ovalized (oval shaped on the ends and rounder near the middle of the tube) which is intended to be stiffer than a standard round tube. The swingarm is made from 6061 T6 aluminum tubing and features oversized stays. Unfortunately, the swingarm suffered an untimely demise as the result of a rather acrobatic face plant on my very first ride. When I replaced the swingarm, I found that the mainframe and bushing bolts were the only things keeping the seatstay from bending out further. This was a freak occurrence, and I am assured that this type of damage would have happened on any tube set.
The Sugar 2+ is loaded with Bontrager parts, such as a sturdy 31.6mm seatpost, riser bar, stem, cranks (with ISIS splined bottom bracket) and 28 spoke race disc wheels (not tubeless, but I don't want tubeless anyhow). Unlike the frameset, these products are manufactured overseas, which is where companies go to get the best quality alloy products for the lowest possible price.
Shifting responsibility belongs to Shimano, whose XT shifters are matched to an XT front and XTR rear derailleur. The WTB Laser V is as good or better than any saddle I've ever tried. You'll find a Cane Creek SAS Aheadset, which will get you by until you can afford a nicer one. However, Fisher throws in a Wrench Force shock pump to make up for leaving a high-end headset out of the parts mix. Finally, the Sugar 2+ includes a pair of Time ATAC clipless pedals, whose performance is barely hindered by snow or mud.
It seems a little silly to put an LX 11-32 cassette on a bike with an XTR derailleur, and I would upgrade to an XT 11-34 cassette when I replace the chain. The lightweight XT cassette would provide more torque with the 34 tooth ring and also shave a little bit of weight off the bike, as would replacing the steel beaded IRC Backcountry tires with their Kevlar beaded cousins.
The water bottle mount above the downtube is too close to the seattube, so a water bottle cannot seat properly. The mount below the downtube would put the water bottle in serious jeopardy. Thankfully, Fisher provided clamps that bolt to the seatpost to accept a bottle cage. This is where I mounted my battery for night riding. The weight didn't seem to affect the bike's feel, and may actually be a better place to mount a battery.
The Sugar 2+ is only available in flipping green, however, the flipping green paint job is way cool. Depending on the light, it can appear dark green, bright green, olive or bronze. Also, the graphics are pretty subdued even if they are large and underneath the clear coat. Man, now I feel bad for badmouthing my Sugar back there. After all, none of those complaints actually stopped me from having fun, and that's what the Sugar 2+ Disc is all about. If you want a full suspension mountain bike with all the bells and whistles, and you have $2650 in your wallet, you should go to a shop and check one out. If you don't want the disc model, Fisher offers the Sugar 2+ with linear-pull brakes, as well as the Sugar 3+ and Sugar 4+ for the budget conscious consumer.
Contact: Gary Fisher Corporation; 801 West Madison St., Waterloo, WI 53594; 800.473.4743; www.fisherbikes.com
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