The bike is extremely well balanced. In tight spots on quick ups and big-ups, I never felt overwhelmed by the longer top tube, and the front end comes up predictably when you want it to, despite the longer (than my heckler) chainstays. This makes it feel less squirrelly, faster, (though I do kind of like that snappy Heckler BMX type of riding), the ride with this overall is much more fluid - smoother and faster. It requires less effort to keep up with front runners on the trail.
Before I continue, I need to say that I am a bike part junkie and continuously swap parts and experiment with different builds, frames, and suspension combinations. Since 2006, I've had 5 frames, (six counting this one), every major shock from Talas to Maverick DUC, to Rock Shox Revelation to Marzocchi 66. (Fox is the best)...
...So though I'm gonna tear this bike apart and trade in and out all my parts till its 100% right for me, I must say that the default build is very nice. The only thing I would have to change to make it tolerable as my only bike would be the stem (personal preference is shorter). The rest is ready to rip.
10 speeds shift nice and smooth, though I did get chain suck, which happens to me always with new bikes due to the goop they put on the chain. I should have cleaned and lubed it more thoroughly.
The lower bottom bracket was a problem in the techs, as the bike was very bouncy over low speed rock hopping single track... until I flipped the low speed compression on the suspension to high speed and the suspension firmed right up. I imagine I have to adjust the air to my weight and all will be well. For the past few bikes I've used suspension that I don't want to adjust over varying terrain, I guess I'll just have to adjust to these many adjustments.
Planned mods: As I said, shorter stem right off. I like a bike I can wheelie drop off anything at short notice. A shorter stem is my solution.
Shorter crankset (eventually). (I'm 5'10 with a stubby 30" inseam) so 170s are the right length for me.
I'm going to lose the big ring and put on a bash as well. I ride rocky terrain, and never learned to bunny hop very well, so I just wheelie into any obstacle bigger than my front wheel at speed and hope (hop) for the best.
I trash most wheels and have gone overboard with the DT 2540frs as far as weight, (I could not hurt those beasts). But maybe I'm getting mellow, so now I ride the DT EX 1750s. Since I have 'em in my garage, I'm putting them on this bike.
Tires roll well. Brakes seem to grab too close to the bar as adjusted for my taste. I will move the levers out, and I do have a nice pair of 203mm rotors laying around. I need to check the fit.
I'm going to keep the 10 speed drive train for now, and the x7 shifters don't bother me at all snappy and accurate. My first 10 speed is okay so far.
The Fox parts are absolutely the best. The frame is killer beefy and well balanced, though I always hated cable runs that go under the BB (old Treks). I'll guess I'll give this one a chance, since keeping cables far away from the very cool Carbon seat stays seems like a good idea.
All in all I'm quite happy with the bike and plan on keeping it in the stable for quite some time.
The longer chainstay is growing on me. While yes its harder to wheelie drop at first, I was surpised that my big ups got bigger as a result of the longer chainstay. Also my wheelies are less squirrelly for some reason. When I start amping up the speed on the babyheads and severely eroded trails, the fox 32 shows its superiority over my very nice rock shox revelation, as it continues to track the front wheel smoothly, where my revelation devolves into chatter and is less stiff and squirrelly, under the same conditions.