When you don’t have mountains in your state, the only choice you have is to make them out of molehills, and what better way to conquer a mountain than with a couple mountain bikes from Framed and a bunch of writers who have never gone mountain biking a day in their lives. Surely nothing could go wrong.
It’s not often that writers come skulking out of our dark caverns dimly lit with blue computer light. But when we do there is nothing like a hot September afternoon to remind us why we don’t work outside. Such was the case one fateful day at the Carver Lake Trail.
The Carver Lake Trail snakes and webs through the hills that sit along the shore of Carver Lake. It’s a relatively easy track, dominated by conifers and dotted with boulders. For a bunch of amateurs, this trail was exceptional for getting us acclimated to the sudden twists, loose gravel, and ups-and-downs of mountain biking. Fortunately for us, we don’t have any real mountains in Minnesota, so the hills next to Carver Lake were perfect. After a couple of hours, two nasty crashes and a post-bike chicken wing feast, we had been baptized into the world of mountain biking.
Check out what our team of writers, and Jorden, our bike expert, had to say about these fantastic rides!
Fuji SLM 29 2.5
As a beginner who had no real clue what I was getting myself into, the Fuji SLM 29 2.5 mountain bike got me through the course as if I had done it a million times before. When I was younger I would always bike to my friend’s houses, and that often involved me going off-road through the woods, but that was probably 15 years ago if not more. I was nervous getting on the Fuji SLM 29 2.5 mountain bike but was excited to try it out.
Right off the bat, I noticed how comfortable and lightweight the bike was, which was nice for someone of my stature (5’6” and petite) because it made maneuvering the Fuji SLM 29 2.5 super easy. The double front gears were easy for me to shift up and down for the different terrain I experienced on the ride.
On the trail, the Fuji SLM 29 2.5 mountain bike surprised me with how easy it was to ride over rock patches, tree roots and sharp dirt turns. After white-knuckling through most of the mountain bike trail, I was relieved to have ridden such a lightweight, well-handling mountain bike. The Fuji SLM 29 2.5 made my first “real” mountain biking experience a blast and sparked my interest in going more often.
I had never ridden a fat bike before, but I really liked the stability it offered. I was also a fan of the red rim and how vibrant it looked when it caught the sun. As someone who has only gone mountain biking once on an extremely beginner-friendly trail (and managed to wipe out on that), this was pretty new and a lot more challenging than I anticipated.
Honestly, the very first few bumps and sharp turns on the trail scared me. This bike helped me build my confidence fast, though, and I was soon riding over rocks and tree roots without a second thought. One thing I really loved about this bicycle was how smoothly the gears shifted. With my own bike, I’m used to sudden jerks whenever I shift up or down, so it was nice to experience something that didn’t make me feel like I was losing control.
This bike not only rode well on the trail but was also just as easy to pedal on the pavement. I’m definitely no expert when it comes to mountain biking, but I would totally take this bike out again. It was durable, easy to maneuver, and made me feel secure everywhere I rode.
Framed Marquette Carbon
I rode the Framed Marquette Carbon bike on our recent trip to Carver Lake. For someone who has little-to-no experience on a mountain biking trail this bike, fitted with high-end features, performed effortlessly and rode great on the trails. The bike rolled over obstacles like mere bumps in the trail and took a lot of recoil from debris and other hazards I encountered through the heavily wooded zones.
The high-modulus carbon laid in the frame allowed this bike to be extremely lightweight and durable without sacrificing the damping effects of a generic high-grade carbon frame. At the end of the day, I felt extremely satisfied with this bike performance and would highly recommend this bike to a wide range of riders.
Framed Marquette Carbon
I love kicking up dirt on the local single-track, scrubbing rollers and whipping through berms. That being said, I had a great time putting the Marquette Carbon frame to the test. The tight cockpit and short wheelbase make this frame one of my favorites for tight corners, not to mention lifting the front end is effortless, making it great for any skills course.
Paired with a 1×11 drive-train for all the range a Midwest rider could ask for and a Rockshox Reba suspension fork; this bike was meant to hit the single-track. As a rider who has ridden endless miles on traditional 29er wheels, I found the 27.5+ to be much less washy in and out of the berms, which I enjoyed very much. This is a fun, tacky and responsive ride that I can’t wait to get back on.
Riding the Marquette Alloy from Framed over a rutted trail was simultaneously terrifying and thrilling. One moment I was soaring up and over dirt mounds and wooden obstacles, and the next I was racing down bumpy slopes and whipping through hairpins like I’d been mountain biking for years. The Marquette Alloy felt remarkably stable the entire time.
The wide tire combined with a lightweight alloy frame makes for a ride that has incredible control and unmatched comfort. The shocks in the front reduce impact from oncoming rocks and roots, helping you to dig in and stay upright. For my first-time mountain biking, I was doing pretty well. My confidence was growing by the second, and soon we found ourselves racing down a path with three mounds along it before reaching the bottom. The first bump, no problem. The second, I’m starting to feel great. The third, I decided to get some air. That is where this bike really impressed me.
One second I was soaring through the forest watching the path before me, and the next I was looking up at the green canopy tangled in the bike with leaves and dirt filling my shorts and shirt. The bike, the forest and me had become one. Despite my glorious crash, the bike looked as good as new when I looked it over afterward. My shoulder was in rough shape, but the bike was able to carry me comfortably through the rest of the trail. I highly recommend the Marquette Alloy, as well as the Carver Lake Trail!