De către Dragos Mitroi - Jun 18, 2019 

5 years have elapsed since the day I first rode a DRAG. The Hardy model has been around since then, but today's bike is completely different from what we tested a while ago. DRAG has constantly improved this model, and in the 2019 version, it can be said that it has reached maturity: it has a modern geometry, a relatively light and rigid frame and a more attractive appearance. Finally, the story with the design I started to notice only two years ago, when I had the Hardy LTD model tested, with the same price as the current model, but with a color that will take your mind off. In the positive sense, of course.

For 2019 there are some aesthetic changes. The cables are drawn through the frame according to the plan. But what you can’t see is the geometry, and the Bulgarians took a bold step forward and established it better for the entire planet to have the head tube angle at 68.5 degrees. And they did it well, because they practically sent this bike into the big boys' league. In short, this means that at this point, Hardy is coming down even better than last year's version.

In short:

  • hardtail with aluminum frame
  • air fork with a stroke of 100 mm and branches of 32mm
  • purchase price: 840 Euro
  • 29-inch wheels
  • for marathon / XC competitions
  • position: sporty, bent over the front
  • geometry: for steep climbs and descents

Frame / for route

Now that I have learned that Hardy has a perfect athlete's heart, represented by the revised geometry frame, all you have to do is take the cuddles and show them who's boss. Hardy runs with maximum pleasure and on difficult routes, so all that matters is to take it to its own environment to show its strengths. The 440mm chainstay and the 430mm reach (in the L size) also play an important role in the handling of this bike, although the competition already respected is based on such figures. Amazing are not the figures per se, but the evolution of the Bulgarian model and ambition to bring it up to date. And as we know, since we were little, we still measure our forces with our neighbors from the Danube, a custom that I promise not to pass on to my children.

Returning to control, all these figures are unfortunately blurred by a very narrow and fairly straightforward handlebar, a move that I honestly cannot quite understand. 720mm are acceptable but not enough to get the real beast out of this bike, and any buyer who wants to make the most of everything the Hardy TE has to offer an immediate replace of the handlebar with a wider one, recommended in the width of 760mm.

Otherwise, you have two drum clamps, as with any other marathon frame, a conical and beautifully finished head tube, straight and clear lines with no design artifacts, cables drawn inside and of course ... luggage compartment. Above all, the slogan „Proudly made in Bulgaria" stands and it is right that it has what it was looking for.

Equipment

Compared to other competitors in the segment, with a similar price, the Hardy TE is noted by the Rock Shox Recon air fork, with a 100mm stroke. Of course, the most models offer a bike with such a fork for 940 Euro, but the Hardy is 100 Euro cheaper, and the fork bears the Rock Shox badge. Do you understand where I beat?

Then there is the transmission, consisting of a Shimano SLX sprocket (10 in number), with Shadow Plus technology (no knocks and no trunks) and Shimano Deore leaf changer with Side Swing grip (on the side). Two sheets in the 28-38 format make a good team with the gears 11-42, reminding me of the good times when we considered that 2 × 10 is perhaps the greatest invention of the century. But it has not been too long since then, and now we are preparing to receive the boxes with 13 gears.

At the wheel level, DRAG is equipped with WTB rims and Novatec hubs on the bearing, along with the fast Schwalbe Racing Ralph tires in the top version. Things look good in reality, but on the scale the two wheels hang with a total of 5.1 kg, a lot for a 29er bike that participates in competitions. This extra weight added to the wheels translates to slightly heavier acceleration times than in the case of light wheels. I mean less fun when you go out or sprint.

The saddle is comfortable enough, the grips instead - not at all.

Conclusion / To whom it is addressed

If you are excited about taking part in serious marathon or cross country competitions and you want to align yourself with a powerful bike, but with a narrow handlebar, this is an important option. I brought the handlebar almost obsessively to the discussion because it doesn't have a place on this bike, but it can be replaced at any time with a wider one and at a reasonably low cost. Speaking of costs, Hardy TE has very attractive components for the price, being almost the best buy of its segment if we also consider the geometry. It can be a good partner for long roads but also a forgiving one when you throw it down the valley through all the bumps.

Relevant data

Total weight: 13.20 kg without pedals
Frame weight: 2,090 grams
Wheel weight *: 5,100 grams
Fork weight: 1,890 grams
Handlebar width: 720 mm
Pipe length: 70mm
Gear weight (+ Bottom Bracket): 760 grams + 100 grams
Head tube rigidity: 97 Nm /grad
STW grade **: 46.4

* Wheel weight with tire, sprockets, disc and quick release
** SWT (Stiffness to weight): the ratio between frame rigidity and weight