O.K. Let’s start with a few reasons why I didn’t think I’d like this bike. First, my last hardtail bike left my quiver in 1994 so the thought of no rear suspension didn’t thrill me. Second, most 29’rs I have ridden felt like too much of a geometry/handling compromise. Also, I’ve never been much of a Trek fan. So I figured that the Stache would be an addition to the bike quiver to be used in the winter and a “town bike”/all weather commuter. The Stache disproved all of my assumptions. I originally purchased the Stache from Steamboat Ski and Bike Kare and rode it around town as a commuter and on Emerald Mtn this winter. As the seasons changed I continued to ride the Stache instead of my 5” travel well equipped Giant. This spring I moved back to the east coast, northern N.H., and was ready to hit some of my favorite hometown single track. I reached for the Giant with it’s long travel, light wheels and XTR drivetrain…… instead my hand grabbed the Stache. Why not? It would probably be slow and harsh with all these root and rock filled technical trails, at least I’d know that the Giant was surely the best weapon for my favorite trails. To be clear, the Stache is not a freeride or downhill ride, it is the ultimate trail bike. This is the bike I dreamed of when I started mt. Biking; smooth, solid and capable of exploring anywhere I want to go. For most of my cycling life I have always held to the notion that light wheels are one of the most beneficial upgrades you can make to your bike. Therefore the big 29”+ 3” tires on heavy 50mm rims were going to make this bike feel like a slug. I played with the tire pressure and ended up running 8psi for my 190lb carcass. On the trail I found myself grinning and ready to test the Stache on every section of the ride. The Sram gx level drivetrain shifts as well as higher end Sram drivetrains and never missed a shift. The db5 brakes work well, not quite the guide rsc’s on my Giant but very effective. I did notice the weight of the wheels accelerating through tight singletrack however I also noted that once they were rolling the 3” tires devoured every root and rock on the trail. Overall it turns out that it is much faster through most sections of trail. The Stache’s short chainstays more than compensate for the 29er head angle compromise. While the line I rode was a bit off the line I would normally be on, the short chainstays let you pivot and carve through tight turns. Climbing technical trails is incredible with the traction provided by 3” tires with low pressure. The tires simply conform to roots and rocks and rarely slip under pressure. Descending you notice the lack of rear suspension but it is still FAR faster and confident than a standard hardtail. Descending loose blown out rocks is like floating over them in slow motion, solid. It has now been 6 months since the purchase of a bike I thought would be solidly second string. Really, it’s a $2500 bike with decent but not as high end components as I am accustomed to. I have yet to ride my Giant. I’m sure I’ll pull it out for more rowdy downhill/freeride trails but it is now second string to the Stache. Everytime I ride the Stache it makes me smile. At $2500 this is a solid ride. You don’t NEED to upgrade anything to enjoy this bike. Personally now that the Stache is first string I’ll probably look at a nicer set of wheels mostly because I am hard on hubs and probably a carbon bar to smooth things out a bit, maybe a dropper post. Bottom line is, I never expected to love this bike and now it is my go to ride.