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Carver 96er Frame

Product Reviews - Bikeman's Product Testing

My first ride on the 96er was with our local beginner road ride, you can imagine their astonishment as these beginners see someone roll up on not only a mountain bike, but a single speed and some weird looking single speed at that. I quickly put their fears to rest as I paced at the front of the group and hopped on and off the road riding on the side of the road through gravel and into every hole in the road. The 34/18 gearing that was on the 96er was perfect for this and I proved to a lot of new riders that EVERYONE should ride mountain bikes. My first real trail experience proved my theory that a 34 tooth chain ring with an 18tooth freewheel just isn’t going to cut it down here, so after a 2 hour suffer fest on every hill on my favorite local single track I promptly changed the gearing to 32/19 and all was well with the world.

My Carver 96er demo weighed in at 24 pounds which is a nice mid range racing weight but heavy enough that you’re not scared to ride it hard and put it up wet. It also came with an Igleheart Big Job 29er fork which I loved (see review later) and a hodgepodge wheel set, Race Face cranks, and Avid BB7 Disc up front with an Avid Ultimate V-brake in the rear. About that last bit, at first I questioned the sanity of the person (big AL bikeman Team Manager) who sent me the bike, but if you have never used a QUALITY v-brake you don’t know what you’re missing. And since 80% of your stopping power is on your front wheel, you don’t notice a whole lot of difference. Initially the build also included what looked like a 5 degree rise stem turned upside down and riser bars effectively turned the Easton Monkey Light into a flat bar, crazy. So I tacked on a flat Ritchey WCS stem and EC70 bars and it made for a nice light set up. But I digress.

And now for the real focus of the review. How did I like the 26inch rear and the 29inch front? I liked it enough to sell my Kona Unit 2-9, and my new Salsa Moto-Rapido, and buy a special Single Speed only 96er. Is that a strong statement? Yes it absolutely is, and I can say with 95% certainty that if you try it and give it a real chance you will like it (and if you’re in the 5% you’re probably a road biker). The geometry is extremely responsive but not twitchy, and the frame is light and stiff without feeling harsh or brittle. My biggest beef with the full 29er was that they didn’t have the necessary acceleration to rip long steep climbs that don’t allow you to keep a constant speed. The Carver 96er does not have that problem, the snappy acceleration of a 26inch rear wheel allows you to transfer pedaling energy into acceleration like a full 26in bike. It confidently rolled over large obstacles the way any 29er would and handled turns at speed like a 29er, but subtract the weight from the rear wheel and you have the instant speed that you get from a 26inch race bike. The bottom line is that you honestly get the best of worlds, the stability and roll over of a 29er and the rubber burning acceleration of a 26er. But remember buying a frame that was designed to handle the 26-29 set up IS different than simple putting a 29er fork and wheel on a normal frame. Give it a shot, and if you don’t like it Davis Carver will eat a live squid (ok, no he won’t but he’ll definitely help you build the Carver 96er that’s right for you).

Jesse Stevens

Rated: Image
Panaracer Razer XC Tires
 $399.95


Carver Bikes 96'er Frame: A new generation of mountain bikes is born. The Carver Bikes 96'er is built around a 29 front wheel, a 26 rear wheel and an eccentric bottom bracket. The first production bike of its kind to offer....
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