Bike Review: Breezer Repack and Supercell
This entry was posted on May 9, 2014.
Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend the Fruita Fat Tire Festival in Fruita, Colo. If you've never been, or never heard of it, it's basically an event where customers like you and me get to ride and test just about any mountain bike you want. In other words, it's mountain bike heaven. I went so I could try out the Breezer Repack and the Breezer Supercell. Never heard of them? Don't worry; they're brand new on the market, only launching a couple of months ago.
Breezer is not quite a household name to your typical mountain biker, and as I found out, not too many people know that Joe Breeze, the creator of the brand and all that goes with it, is actually one of the men responsible for the modern day mountain bike. We could talk all day about the history of the brand, but let's get to the latest and greatest in mountain bike technology and design.
The Breezer Repack gets its name from the Repack downhill race that ran from 1976 to 1984 (Joe won 10 out of the 24 total races) in Fairfax, CA. This bike uses a 27.5-inch wheel platform and features 160mm of travel in the front and the rear, which makes this an excellent all-mountain trail bike.
The Supercell is essentially the same bike as the Repack, but in a 29er version. The Supercell name isn't as rich of in history like the Repack, but still is quite the trail bike. This 29er bike features 120mm of travel in both the front and the rear, giving it a nice plush ride.
Both of these bikes feature what is called M-Link (Mid-Link) a brand new technology, unique to Breezer, that moves the chainstay pivot to the middle of the chainstay instead of in the front or in the back. In a nutshell, this link design gives you a more rigid chainstay, which allows you to climb more efficiently with minimal to no pedal bob. On the descent, the M-Link helps keep your bike under control as that pivot only moves three degrees, so your bearings don't get worn down nearly as much or as fast.
You may be thinking "cool story Hanzel, but how do they ride?" Let me tell you my experiences with these bikes. I rode both bikes on the same trail to get a feel for how they both handle on the same terrain. I took the Mary's Loop to Horse Thief back to Mary's Loop -- 13 miles each ride.
The first thing I noticed when I got going on this bike was how comfortable the riding position is. The 68-degree headtube angle along with the Ritchey WCS Trail 74cm handlebar really makes for a comfortable fit.
My ride started with a lengthy climb about which, being out of shape, I was a little bit nervous. I was very surprised at how effortless this bike climbs. Both trails I rode had plenty of obstacles, big and small. Step-ups were surprisingly easy to get over, and even when things got steep, I just pedaled to the top without any real issue. In fact, there were a couple of spots where people had gotten off their bikes because of the difficulty of the climb, and I just came up behind them and rode past saying, "Good day!"
This bike was a big confidence boost when pedaling up steep hills and going over obstacles.
Going downhill was an equally pleasant experience. I'm not as extreme as many mountain bikers are, I don't typically do drop-offs or anything crazy like that, but some good ol' single track descents are a blast! Going down steep hills wasn't a problem at all for me; going around berms and windy trails really brought out the fun part of this bike. I'm 6 ft 3 in, and I never felt like I was too tall to do any cornering. And I didn't feel too tall when I was riding on flat ground, either.
My personal bike runs 26-inch wheels, and I'm used to the nimble handling that comes with a 26er. The Repack was super nimble on the descents. I could go around tight turns, around, through and over obstacles with an almost immediate response. The 27.5 wheels really made a nice feel to the ride.
One thing to keep in mind is that Breezer recommends you leave your valves open on the fork and the shock. They claim that the geometry of the bike is setup so you don't need to mess with that stuff. I left everything open the entire time. I didn't adjust one thing while I was riding, and I never felt like it was too soft or too firm. It might sound like fluff, but the feel of the ride was just about perfect from the get-go.
At the end of the ride, my legs were tired and my lungs were burning, but my back was fine and my hands didn't hurt at all -- two pains that almost always follow my rides on my personal bike.
The Repack was the best bike I've been on in a long time. It was super fun to ride, with the capacity of being super aggressive.
As mentioned, I did the exact same trail that I rode on the Repack, and this bike was similar to ride. This was one of my first experiences on a 29er bike on a trail. The Supercell is not the lightest of bikes, which may be a turnoff to some mountain bikers who obsess about weight and whatever else. But let me tell you one thing: When you are climbing on this bike, you don't notice that it's not light as a feather. You hardly even notice that this bike has rear suspension.
Speaking of climbing, it seemed that there was just about nothing that could stop me from getting up and over whatever I wanted. The 29-inch wheels gave really good rolling quality for getting over roots, bumps and rocks, yet I never felt like I was too high up, or too far forward. My Front wheel never came up, which is always a good sign. Climbing was pretty much flawless, even with keeping the shock and the fork in the open position.
As far as descending on the Supercell goes, I was generally impressed with its capability. If there was one thing I wasn't too excited about, it would be the fact that the wheel base did feel a bit long. This made me feel a little awkward when I was going around tight corners. But as a whole, I thought the Supercell handled quite nice on the descents. Small rocks, roots and other obstacles really don't stand a chance when combined with 29-inch wheels and 120mm travel.
While both bikes are exceptional all-round bikes and a blast to ride, if I were to pick a winner out of the two, I'd choose the Repack. I really thought that the Repack really nailed it on just about every level. It climbs well, descends and corners well, and -- with a full XT build at the highest level -- shifts and brakes exceptionally well.
At the end of the day, both bikes were fun, and that's what you want out of a bike, but the Repack left me with a bigger smile and left me wanting more.