Make: Gary Fisher
Forks: 2007 Fox F100RLC
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.
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.
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.
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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