After a bit of break in and a couple of parts swaps I finally have the Hard Core configured for trail riding. I tried to beat the heat here in SoCal and went out for a relatively early ride to Portugese Bend in Palos Verdes.
This is definitely not my ideal trail as it's either up or down, not much in the way of cross country riding. Worse yet you start off at the top and end up climbing your way back after snaking through a maze of singletrack with stunning views of the Pacific.
The Hard Core was primarily designed for Pennsylvania's rock gardens. If the name Shingletown Gap means anything to you then you understand this bike. Tons of ground clearance, able to handle slow technical terrain with ease but high speed, tight descents make you feel like you're going over at any moment. Since the Hard Core sits higher than the average bike (13.5" BB height) you have to raise the seat up further to achieve optimal extension (or get very long cranks), this results in a very high riding position. So, on steep, confined downhills you have to really lean back to keep the bike planted. But then the seat gets in your way...
The Hard Core climbs rather well. Although about 4-5 lbs heavier than my Adroit it doesn't feel very hefty, it tracks well, has zero flex and is surprisingly sticky during out of saddle climbs. Now, perhaps this rider should not have opted for the 11-24 Dura Ace rear spread, but that's another matter entirely.
All in all a great ride and I definitely feel that this bike is done. No point in trying to shave any weight and everything things works perfectly. Can't wait to get it out on some longer trails and really stretch my legs!