I quite like the thing, it's basically a shorter, springier, drop-barred Road Rat with a carbon fork that's taken the horrible solid clang out of the front end. I didn't like the steering, the tyres, the gearing or the bars - yes, I know, a long list - so I changed them all. And then of course it wasn't a standard bike any more.
So you get into the thing about whether you should alter things so they work better or just ride as is. Tell you what though, seven flats in three rides or something, those bloody tyres had to go or my sanity was outta the window at speed...
Anyway, in its lightly improved state - or 'ruined' one, depending on how you feel about these things - the >X< suits me pretty well. With an 11-32 mountain bike cassette out back it climbs properly off road without giving you a hernia on every slight rise, steers acceptably and is surprisingly capable on rougher things up to and including limited rubble fields and small bedrock steps. And it has a 29er-style rollability to it that means it'll run through things if you will.
|Not so lovely...|
You fair hurtle along the flatter, harder-surfaced stuff. And then there's the more technical off road bits where I sort of picked my way down. And then there was the Longdendale Trail when the front tyre decided to peel off the rim releasing the inner tube to wrap itself balloon dog style around the fork. And the hub. Hmmm... And it didn't even flat. And I didn't fall off. Slightly bizarre. Limped home with slash in the sidewall patched in traditional fashion with a gel wrapper.
I call this art.