Bikeman had quite a selection of bikes on hand for demonstration. They had a few "96ers" (what I like to call a 69er) on hand but nothing in my size. Hanging on the stand, however, was a large, titanium, rigid 29er that looked more like the owner's bike rather than part of the demo fleet. I asked if I could try that bike and they said sure.
The process to demo a bike is interesting. They take your pedals off and put them on the demo bike, that is of course their bike's pedals don't match your cleats.
The hard thing about riding a demo is that the bike is set up for someone else, especially if you are riding a singlespeed. When you only have one gear to push configuring the rest of your bike to your riding ability is paramount and to jump onto someone else's configuration is a bit disconcerting. I think bike setup on a geared bike is more forgiving because riding geared has less to do with body position and more with having the strength to make the climb.
The first thing I noticed about this bike was it's weight. It was light, damn light! I have never ridden a titanium bike and it seemed due to the lack of weight the bike seemed to just float over everything. The carbon fork seemed to add to the float but I think what helped was the Conti 2.4 Mountain Kings. Still, riding it through technical sections wasn't at all bone jarring like I am used to when riding aluminum.
The geometry felt really good to. The bike was nimble and very responsive, especially with Avid BB7s although the hubs were a little loose. I was amazed at how fast I could get up to speed and it seemed to roll over everything. I love this bike! Of course affording one is another question.
I started out this ride with my TA jacket because it was cold! I took it off later in the day and rode with just a long sleeve jersey but that was probably a mistake. I probably should have had a short sleeve jersey over it or my wind vest.
Despite being a bike setup for someone else I found the 19" frame to be quite nice. While looking for my next bike, I have been debating on the frame size. Both the Dillinger and Qball are 20 inch frames and I think I am just used to them but the 19 inch frame feels perfect.
The demo loop at Bear Brook was a perfect course for getting a feel for the what the bike can do. It had three nice climbs, the first being a short up, the next one a rooty, technical climb, and the last one an almost right up the fall line climb with another little kick in the cohones once you got up the steep part. Then there is a flat, buff trail back that you could really open it up on!