Product Review by Run and Ride Performance Team Member, Matt Williams.
Don’t get me wrong working in the bike trade can be hard at times. But then there’s times that just make it all worth while. When you get to do things that you can’t really call work, it’s more like play time!
One of those times is testing bikes. Riding around on new top end pieces of kit, putting them to the test just so you can make sure that they come unto to scratch… as I said good times!
On test tonight was the Encore hard tail MTB from Moda. I’ve been a fan of Moda bikes for a while and loved the big brother to the Encore, the Canon – Full Suspension version which I rode last year. Even though I’d wanted to I’d never had the chance to ride the Encore. Thursday night is one of our main ride nights over Cannock Chase so I was really looking forward to getting out and ripping up some trails with the guys.
I spent a bit of time setting it up and the first thing I noticed is that the sizing on the bike is slightly larger for a Medium than most. I’m about 5ft 11″ which normally puts me smack bang in the middle of most Medium / Large frames so getting a bike to fit right on the first attempt can be difficult. The top tube on the Encore was quite long for a medium bike which, once the seat was at the right height felt comfortable. I felt a touch too low at the front but a quick adjustment with the spacers and I was ready to ride.
Up to now I’ve been riding a winter bike with a standard pair of wheels in. I’m that used to the bike now that it’s just what a bike feels like. So the first thing I noticed about the Moda was what a massive difference a good pair of wheels make. The American Classics are a race wheel and they feel every bit like it. Rolling is smooth, axcelaration is instant and effortless. It just makes riding a bike so much more fun. I’ve got to say that most companies don’t tend to spec bikes with great wheels even at the 2k – 3k price point and it’s a real let down. Moda in my book have got it bang on!
After meeting with the guys we set out and included a good mix of trails. Sections from the up coming Midland XC race along with wild single track and fire roads sections. At first riding the carbon frame when your used to riding aluminium feels a bit soft then you start to realise thats the the ride is just far less harsh. You get out of the saddle and the Moda moves, no flex at the rear end or around the bottom bracket. But over the rough sections it feels smooth and in control. The Rock Shox Reba forks worked great, maybe a touch soft more me but they did their job fine. From experience the lock out on Rock Shox is very temperamental but not the case on these, flick the switch and the forks went solid. To be honest i’m more used to riding with SID forks but I couldn’t tell the difference given that the Reba forks are the next model down.
Another difference for me was the SRAM groupset. I’m more of a Shimano person, not because I don’t like Sram, more down to the fact I’ve never had a reason to move away. At first I found the changing on the shifters wasn’t quite so precise like Shimano. It seemed easy to push past the single shift which felt awkerward when coming into and out of tight corners. As the ride went on I started to get used to it and I’ve got no doubt after a few more rides it would feel normal. I did however enjoy the 2 x 10 rather than 3 x which I’m more used to. Never did I need or even look for the small ring on the front and in fact with a good spread that the 10 speed cassette offers I found myself riding in the big ring for most of the time. Defiantly the way forward as far as I’m concerned.
"So overall did I like it… Without a doubt! I felt at home on it straight away. It climbed really well but I also found that I could throw it downhill with ease. The kit on the bike worked as I wanted and expected it to. My only small complaint is the grips… They’d have to go straight away!"
It’s a really really great bike and I’d be more than happy to continue riding round the trails or even putting myself on the start line with it.
I know hard tail bikes aren’t really the trend at the moment but I’d seriously recommend anybody to try one of the these if your racing or riding trails like what you find round Cannock Chase… you would not be disappointed.
Run and Ride are proud to be the exclusive local retailer of Moda bicycles. Their full range can be viewed here.