Just got back from my 10 mile test loop.
In a word: FAST.
In two words: Ferkin FAST.
After the 17 mile climbfest with THM yesterday, I thought I might be a little under par, but the CATS just brings out the best / worst in me.
From the start, the lack of suspension forks was noticeable in two respects; the bike is light and you do take a bit of a hit on the rocky stuff.
The road ride to the woods was easy; not even the crap road surface could break the pace, and given that I ride the same roads on my road bikes, I am used to moving fast on these lanes. Into the woods and onto the gravel hardpack, I took a few corners to get used to the feel of the disc brakes, but used sensibly they are pretty similar to my Direct Curve v brakes.
I am running the CATS on 1.8 Fire XC Pros, as opposed to the 2.1's I have on a couple of the other bikes, but this did not seem to make much difference on this section. I had a success on one of the short brutal climbs, only to be defeated by the second. This is more down to my poor technique rather than a fault of the bike. The switchbacks were... switchbacks, I am rubbish at left handers, but managed the tighter right hander with ease. That said, I managed both pretty easily on the Fuquay a couple of days ago, so.....
The long rocky climb was long and rocky, and this was the section of the ride where I really did feel the rigid front end. On the plus side, all but a short section of the steepest rockiest bit were ridden two gears higher than usual, even allowing for the 2 x 10 setup. While on the 2 x 10, I am running slightly bigger front chain rings on the CATS, compared to the DOGS , and it suits the lighter bike well.
Everything else was very quick, including the fast rocky climb, where, just like on Ringo's CATS, the bike encourages you to push on on ON ONON.....
Everywhere else the CATS is just blisteringly quick and you really can feel the road race heritage, even on the road where the short hard climb into the end of my road was taken in a higher gear than usual while kicking hard.
In comparison to Ringo's bike, I would say his CATS is slightly more compliant, this could be due to the fact it has different tubes, or even because mine has just had new chain stays. That said, both bikes are less jarring on the fast hard stuff than my Yates 853, which is my test bed do all bike and which I expect to be supa-stiff due to the tubeset.
So in summary: It's fast, it climbs, it is light and steers extremely well without being twitchy (like the White Spider).
Was it worth the effort and expense... OH YEAH!
"Try not to punch any clowns"