When the ride took a turn onto the brutal, techy singletrack, however, things took a turn for the worse. The bike would sit nice and high in its travel until the rear wheel encountered a sizeable hit, at which point the rear wheel would lose traction while the Virtual Pivot Point (VPP) suspension played catch-up. Often, this would result in a complete loss of traction.
To compound this difficulty, it felt like the VPP blew most of its midstroke once I cracked into its travel. This left me feeling not only like I was climbing way in the back of the saddle, but also towing a bag of rocks, even though I sat way forward on the horn of my saddle. I thought the frame may have an especially slack seat tube angle, but research assured me that the 71.5-degree seat tube on the Nomad is not incredibly far off from many of its competitors noted for their climbing prowess (e.g., Pivot Firebird: 71.1; Trek Slash: 71.9).
In the weeks to come, I relentlessly tried to find the happy medium of shock adjustments, where the bike climbed nicely but still felt plush and active. I usually have no problem setting up my suspension, and in this case I even enlisted the help of my awesome local bike shops. With each try I got different incarnations of the same feeling: The Nomad climbed on smooth terrain like a hardtail, but when faced with any sort of terrain variations, it would break into its travel just a little too late to keep the rear wheel tracking nicely, then blow through a good portion of the rest of its travel. Disappointing.
But as I reached the high point of our ride, things got better again. I hit the dropper post and began descending the techy downhill, and I found myself on an extremely stout machine that was stiff, sturdy, and capable of eating up anything in front of it. Not just that, though, I found the Nomad jibby and playful, easy to ollie, and eager to boost off anything that presented the opportunity. The Nomad did get bucked around quite a bit on smaller bumps, but it ate up the bigger ones nicely.
For a bike designed to climb well but still eat up the techgnar, 67 degrees is a fairly ideal head tube angle, and the Nomad is a case in point.
The firm initial stroke of the suspension requires a standing, active rider on the descent—a seated rider will quickly find most of the small bumps of the trail communicated directly to his or her lower back. The suspension stroke is much easier to break into, however, with the greater force of medium-to-large hits at high speeds. The Nomad was still eager to quickly give up a good portion of its travel all at once on any sizeable terrain variation, but this was much less of a problem on the downhill, and often made for a nice plush ride.
If I had been a bit discouraged on the climb, I was now at ease with the Nomad as I crushed an incredibly technical section of trail faster than I ever had on a bike I was sure I would not break. Nice.