The Up Side
The La Sal Peak's 78-degree seat tube angle had some of our testers wondering if Fezzari has found the limit of steepness. The bike puts you in a very upright, very comfortable seated climbing position, from which you can reach either of your two water bottle cages. Once hydrated, you'll find ample support for out-of-the-saddle efforts, and pillowy traction on rough pitches.
More stable than the Offering or Ripmo, more precise than the SB150. For many testers, the La Sal Peak was a happy medium with progressive geometry and superlative suspension performance.
Dollar for Dollar
Utah-based Fezzari is a consumer-direct brand, and its bikes are astounding values. The model we tested was specced similarly to comparable bikes that cost hundreds if not thousands more, and the $3,600 base model is an exceptional option.
If you'd administered a pre-Bible poll asking our testers what they knew about Fezzari, you'd have gotten a bunch of shrugs. So it's no wonder that we were surprised when we threw a leg over the La Sal Peak and found ourselves aboard a progressively shaped bike with superlative suspension and the ability to fit not one, but two water bottles inside the front triangle of its full-carbon frame.
The first thing that surprised us was the seat tube angle. It's really steep. At 78 degrees, it gave our testers the sensation of being right on top of the bottom bracket. Combined with the resultingly short toptube and upright seated pedaling position, the La Sal Peak felt pedestrian at first, almost like a hybrid bike.
That's not to say this 150-millimeter-travel Fezzari can't climb, though. Quite the opposite: It is a comfortable, efficient climber, even if it doesn't ascend with the eagerness of the Evil Offering or impassioned fervor of the Ibis Ripmo—likely the best ascender in the test. Our riders had no issue scaling the same technical pitches they flew up on those two bikes. They just weren't flying quite as fast.
The Fezzari greets out-of-the-saddle efforts with a placid pedaling platform that was unfazed by seated efforts, and still pretty calm when we stood on the pedals. And when the corners came, the cement-grey bike proved that it was among the more intuitive to lean, providing ample mid-stroke support and lateral stiffness. Testers appreciated that maintaining front-wheel grab required only a minor forward weight shift in comparison to the Yeti SB150 or Mondraker Foxy 29.
The La Sal Peak and its Horst-link suspension continued to prove itself as ledgy ups, wandering tech and twisting corners yielded to rocky, often-dire straights on our test loop. We noted it was adept at speed, as one would expect from a 29er with a 65-degree headtube angle, 1,232-millimeter wheelbase (large size) and short-offset 160-millimeter fork. It seemed just as content to pick through chunder with precision as it was to pound through under the finger of a heavy-handed pilot.
One tester even posited that the La Sal had the best bottom-out feel of any bike in the test, describing it as a firm, but not harsh ending-stroke platform. It notifies you that you've reached the end, but with a touch on the shoulder rather than a kick in the ass.
Our group of testers is not without a few backpack haters, who were particularly excited at the storage potential within the Fezzari's front triangle. But just about any aggressive rider will appreciate the La Sal Peak, regardless of the rider's preferred method of water storage. It would make for a capable-backcountry rig, enduro-race machine or everyday slayer. It can even be set up for 27.5-plus tires thanks to a flippable chip in the upper link.
Testers gave nuanced comparisons of the Fezzari to the Offering, Ripmo and SB150. It's a slightly bigger-feeling bike than the Offering, though not quite as snappy. The Ripmo and La Sal Peak are nearly identical on paper. All testers agreed that the Ripmo is unsurpassed in its pedaling performance, but one felt that the La Sal Peak's slacker front end allowed him to descend with more abandon than he could on the Ripmo. Devinci's Troy 29 LTD is similarly capable, but is stiffer with slightly shallower-feeling rear suspension. The SB150 is, of course, in another league of bigness.
The Fezzari might not have the looks or je ne sais quois of those boutique brands, but it can still compete on ride quality. And when it comes to price, the consumer-direct offering blows those hallowed names away. Our nicely outfitted test bike was comparatively affordable at $4,600, and isn't even the least-expensive build available.
Q&A With Tyler Cloward, director of product and marketing, Fezzari Bicycles
Was fitting two water bottles inside the front triangle a primary design goal, a fortuitous opportunity presented by other design parameters, or somewhere in the middle?
Fitting two bottles inside the front triangle was a primary design goal. But we were able to balance this with other important design features like geometry, suspension kinematics, our CleanCatch cable management system, longer dropper post insertion depths, and big 29×2.6 or 27.5×2.8 tire clearance. We had to balance all of these characteristics with our strict quality and strength testing standards, all while keeping the weight at 5 pounds with shock. The art of bike design is bringing together all of the must-haves into a complete package that checks all the boxes and riders want to ride.
After riding the La Sal Peak, at least one of our testers wondered if 78 degrees is as steep as seat-tube angles should get. Did you try going steeper?
In our own test sessions we noticed that enduro bikes are pedaled to the top of long steep climbs in a seated position, but a huge majority of the descending was done in an aggressive standing position as we searched out the rocks, drops and jumps on trials. We asked the question, why can't we design a bike with the best seated climbing position and the best standing descending position, instead of making a compromise one way or the other? In our tests the 78-degree seat-tube angle gave us the best pedaling performance when we also took into account suspension travel and the other geometry numbers as a complete system. With the addition to dropper posts on all La Sal Peak models, we are able to get the saddle out of the way for the decent and still offer long comfortable standing reach measurements, combined with the other frame geometry design and suspension design to make the La Sal Peak one of the best descending bikes available. Being a smaller company we can design the bikes we want to ride and bring those new, cutting-edge designs to market quickly, and the La Sal Peak is evidence of that.
Do you see any biomechanical disadvantage to steep seat-tube angles?
I don't see any disadvantages to most riders’ biomechanics caused by a steep seat-tube angle. (There will always be exceptions due to injuries or irregular body mechanics). Where a steep seat-tube angle can have a negative effect is if it is not designed into a whole system. The seat-tube angle has to be balanced in a complete bike system accounting for the rest of the bike's geometry, suspension travel and real-world intended use. Should every style of mountain bike have a 78-degree seat tube angle? Probably not.
We don’t know much about Fezzari. Can you tell us about your brand?
Fezzari was starting in 2006. We specialize in custom-built bikes with lifetime warranties on every model. We also sell direct-to-rider and have done so since day one. Our goal is to build a product and service that we are proud of and makes a difference in people's lives. We always say we don't just sell bikes, but experiences. That means helping riders get the best quality and best performing bikes possible. We offer a complete range of mountain and road bikes ranging in price from $549 to $9,000+.
We custom fit and build every bike through our 23-point custom setup to ensure we are building rider-specific bikes. We change each component on the bike to ensure the best fit because each rider is built and proportioned differently.
All Fezzari bikes are backed with a lifetime warranty even our carbon mountain bikes. We test our bikes at higher standards (130% of ISO), to ensure they hold up to the most demanding riders and so you know you are buying a bike that lasts from a company that has your back. We use the best materials and cutting-edge manufacturing processes to be sure you are getting the best bike possible.
Each and every bike is fully assembled and test ridden in our facility in Lindon, Utah, and is checked by multiple mechanics who are riders themselves. When you receive your new bike, set your saddle height, install the handlebars with four bolts, front wheel, pedals and go for a ride. The drivetrain, brakes and suspension are tuned through our 23-point custom setup and ready to ride. We also will install as many accessories that will ship safely and we have the option of sending you your new bike with the tires already setup tubeless.
By working direct with the riders, we are able to offer exceptional value, with prices 30-to-40-percent cheaper than comparable bikes, saving the rider money and making top-shelf bike more affordable.
We also offer a 30-day Love-it or Return-it program—buy a Fezzari bike, ride it on your own trails for up to 30 days, and if you don't love it, send it back for a full refund. We will even pay the return shipping. Because we sell direct, riders can get a level of customization that isn't usually offered. It's a better way to get your new bike.