The ProCal


The race steed

Make: Gary Fisher
Model: Procaliber
Year: 2006
Weight: 26.75 lbs

Key Components

Forks: 2007 Fox F100RLC
2006 Mavic 717 Disc rims; Shimano XTR FH-M965 hubs
Crankset: 2006 Shimano XT FC-M760/761 (44-34-24; 175mm)
Shifter pods: 2002 Shimano XT SL-M751
Front derailleur: 2006 Shimano XT FD-M761 BS
Rear derailleur: 2005 Shimano XT RD-M760-SGS
Handlebars: 2004 Easton EC70 MonkeyLite (650mm)
Brakes: 2006 Avid BB7 mechanical discs; Avid FR-5 levers
Grips: Ritchey TGV

ProCal2 ProCal3
One bad mutha
Check out the elevated chainstay

The Story

Let's just put it this way, the ProCal is an excellent bike, but I own four Gary Fisher mountain bikes, and I will never, ever purchase another one.

In the summer of 2006, I received the ProCal frame as a factory exchange for my 2002 Gary Fisher Sugar frame. From practically day 1 with the Sugar, I had incessant chainsuck problems. Not your usual annoying chainsuck, but super chainsuck. Because of a design flaw in the suspension and rear triangle of the Sugar, the chain would often become wedged between the chainrings and the swing arm. So wedged that the only way to get it loose was to take the chain apart. You can imagine how that would create a bit of a problem in a race.

Sugar chainsuck
Vintage Sugar chainsuck

For four years I tried to get Gary Fisher Corp to acknowledge the problem and provide a viable solution. Finally, I started hanging out at the Gary Fisher tent at the Sea Otter pestering them for a solution.

At first, Fisher completely denied their was a problem. Finally, they admitted that there was a slight problem, but it could easily be fixed. They told me I should put a shim on the swingarm, file down my chainrings, file down the swingarm, shift differently install a new bushing in the rear shock pivots, switch to a 42-mm big ring (try to find a 42-32-22 Shimano XT or XTR crankset, I dare you). Of course, nothing worked.

Finally, at the 2006 Sea Otter, I could take it no more. It was raining that year and when Romulus and I took the bikes out to preride the cross-country course, the bike was chainsucking so bad, I couldn't even make it around the entire course. Livid and panicked that I wouldn't be able to race the next day, I planted myself at the Fisher tent and demanded a fix.

Sugar at the Sea Otter
Not even the Fisher factory boys could fix the Sugar

Fortunately, I met Karl Haunold, a Fisher mechanic. He admitted that Fisher had determined the Sugar was a bust. He also set me up with Fisher's newest cross-country racer, the ProCal, which at that time was just a prototype bike not yet in production. Karl secured one of the ProCal prototypes for me to race the next day.

Karl also hooked me up with some Fisher marketing guys who agreed that something needed to be done to satifsy a Fisher customer who had purchased four Fisher bikes over the last ten years at a cost of nearly $10k.

Well, the marketing guys dragged ass for several months, but eventually (and at some expense to me), the new frame arrived. Of course, I had to replace numerous components because the bike industry makes no effort at cross-compatibility, including a new set of $650 forks, but when it was all said and done, I had a new bike.

ProCal frame
A new frame, a new hope

And the best part of it is, it seems like Fisher actually addressed the chainsuck problem. They did it by moving the entire chainstay above the line of the chain (similar to a Santa Cruz Heckler), making it impossible for the chain to ever get wedged again.

Of course I was extremely dubious, but immediately put it through a trial by fire at the 2006 Downieville Classic. The bike held up beautifully on the treacherous Downieville course, something many other bikes couldn't say.

So the ProCal is my race horse. I ride it in races and as my primary bike during the summer months. I have yet to ride it in really muddy conditions, but I think that my five-year quest for a reliable cross-country race bike may finally be over.

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