Two modern, full suspension trail bikes that can handle a little of everything.Tweet
Rather than a beefed-up touring bike, the Fargo 2 is actually a drop-bar mountain bike, with a lighter compact frame, 2×10 drivetrain, tubeless wheels, and slacker geometry than you would find on a road-going touring bike. A tall, 44mm head tube means a higher handlebar for comfort off-road, and suspension-corrected geometry allows a suspension fork upgrade.Tweet
Knolly Bikes’ CEO and chief designer, Noel Buckley (hence the correct pronunciation: noll-lee), not only has a degree in engineering and physics, but was born and bred on the trails of Vancouver. This is quite apparent in Knolly’s lineup of bikes built for the rocks and roots of the North Shore. From the Red Bull Rampage tested Podium and the all-mountain monster Chilcotin, to the relatively tame Endorphin, all are built to take a bit of abuse. Don’t let my choice of words fool you, the Endorphin would hardly ever be classified as tame in some other manufacturers’ line ups, but at 140mm, it’s the shortest travel bike Knolly offers.Tweet
By Jon Pratt. Photos by Justin Steiner.
Devin Lenz built his first full suspension bike in 1996, and started selling his frames the following year. Lenz started with mid-travel cross-country and trail bikes and quickly dialed up the squish with his gravity rigs. Lenz entered the 29er market in 2004 when he saw an emerging niche he could fill.
What are Devin’s goals when designing a bike? Simply put, simplicity, lightweight, and stiffness. It’s pretty straightforward thinking. Devin puts these design principles into all his bikes, including the Mammoth: a sturdy 5-inch-travel trail bike built around a linkage-driven single pivot.
The Mammoth inherits its DNA from two popular Lenz 29er models: the Behemoth, the first long travel all-mountain 29er, and the more cross- country oriented Leviathan 29×4.0. The Mammoth is designed to tackle technical terrain while still being light enough for all-day epic rides.
Lenz would rather not build a complete bike, preferring to sell the frame and shock to a shop and allowing it to be customized to the rider’s needs. That said, he will sell a complete build when one is requested. My complete Mammoth came with: a Fox RP23 shock, White Brothers 140mm LOOP fork, Terry Fly Saddle, Maxxis Ardent tires, Truvativ XO brakes and drivetrain, and DT Swiss XM 490 wheels. A very respectable build.
I had the pleasure of riding the Mammoth over varied terrain and found the bike to perform as advertised. Being the kind of rider who takes the more aggressive technical line whenever possible, and loving to sprint up hills when I’ve got gas left in the tank, the Mammoth was well suited to my needs from our very first outing. It glided over my favorite trails, and responded confidently when I ventured off the beaten path and encountered the unexpected trail feature.
The simple suspension design mated with the LOOP and RP23 worked well. The LOOP is incredibly stiff and responsive, even if it’s pretty noisy during its rebound stroke. Once I put it through a few rocky sections I never wondered if I would be sent flying off in the wrong direction…just point and go. The rear suspension design felt pretty spot-on as well. Because of the low placement of the main pivot, the rear wheel maintained traction during technical climbs, and the RP23 was able to handle larger bumps at speed. I didn’t notice any significant pedal bob while climbing.
The 69° headtube angle isn’t too slack to prohibit efficient climbing, but is slack enough to encourage forays down the mountain at speeds not comfortable, or safe, on steeper bikes. The 444mm chainstays felt perfect on the Mammoth, keeping the bike stabile during descents but never adversely affected the front end on tight, switchback climbs.
It’s worth mentioning that the bottom bracket is pretty high for this type of bike. The Mammoth’s high bottom bracket is not ideally suited to carving through corners. Its strength is in ground clearance. A half-inch can make the difference between getting through a tough section and hitting a pedal at the most inopportune time.
There are some things that I’d like to see in the next generation of the Mammoth: a rear thru-axle, which Lenz is planning to include, and water bottle cage mounts that allow me to run a standard cage and bottle under the downtube. The high placement of the mounts on my large frame forced me to use a shorter bottle in the cage than I’m accustomed to. Lenz told me he is looking into this. That being said, the medium and small frames will not accommodate a water bottle.
I really love the anodizing and the extremely low-key graphics on the Mammoth. Unfortunately it sounds like the anodized graphics are going to be replaced with a similarly designed sticker. It turns out the etching of the logo and graphics is an incredibly difficult process. I hope Lenz can find a way to either mimic the subtle graphics or figure out a way to keep doing what he’s been doing. Time will tell.
I dig this bike, in all its simplicity and toughness. The Mammoth is ideal for the rider who takes the technical line while everyone else chooses the easy route. Add in its climbing prowess and this is a great all-around trail bike that’s incredibly fun to ride.
- Wheelbase: 46 inches, 1168mm
- Head Angle: 69 degrees
- Seat Tube Angle: 73.8 degrees
- Bottom Bracket: 13.75 inches, 349mm
- Chainstay Length: 17.5 inches, 444mm
- Weight: 6.5lbs., 2.9kg (frame and shock); 28.3lbs., 12.8kg (as tested)
- Sizes: S, M, L(tested), XL, XXL
- Specs based on size tested
- Price: $2,350 (frame and shock)
- Made in United States
By Jon Pratt. Photos by Adam Newman.
Mark Lynskey from Lynskey Performance stopped by the Dirt Rag office a few weeks ago to hang out, shoot the shit and sample some of the local trails. After a fun-filled day he needed to get on the road, but we wanted some extra time on his personal rig… the 120mm full suspension, titanium Pro29 FS-120 he had with him. So, while he was packing up to leave we used some tried and true misdirection techniques to distract him, and bam… he left the bike in the basement. Score.
What is that you say? A full suspension 29-inch Lynskey? Yep. The Pro29 FS-120 has been available to the public for about four months. Mark has been riding prototypes of the current model for the last few years. Lynskey, well known for its hardtail titanium bikes, has been interested in developing a full suspension model for a long time, but there were a few hurdles to getting started in the full suspension game.
Building a system from the ground up is expensive and time consuming. Time wasn’t something Lynskey Performance had any extra of. The hardtail design and production was absorbing most of it. In addition, before work can even be started there needs to be an in-depth discovery phase to make sure you aren’t using any patented technologies in your suspension design. Fortunately there are people like David Earle from the Sotto Group.
To put it simply, David Earle knows his stuff. David has worked for many years as an engineer in companies such as Bontrager Cycles, Santa Cruz Bicycles and Specialized, as well as with Lockheed Missiles and Space. He’s been heavily involved in developing suspension technologies like VPP and Switch, and along the way has designed some pretty killer bikes like the Nomad, VP-Free, and P3 to name a few.
Lynskey wanted the bike to be bulletproof and the suspension to work from the very first build. To borrow an old adage, "First Impressions are Lasting Impressions". So they brought in Earle who designed the suspension around Lynskey’s desire for a cross country bike meant not for the XC racer, but more for the aggressive trail rider. Earle provided the pivot point locations and the size and valving for the shock. Lynskey designed the bike around those specifications.
The culmination of this partnership is the Pro29 FS-120, a bike at home on singletrack with moderately difficult technical features. It is designed to be stable while climbing and quick but not twitchy. Limiting pedal bob while climbing is achieved through the high main pivot that sits forward of the bottom bracket. Also 50 percent of the rear travel sees the axle moving backwards, pulling the tire into the dirt.
In addition to the suspension design, Lynskey wanted a bike that was stiff but not uncomfortably so. To achieve this Lynskey pioneered Helix tubing technology. Without going into too much detail, the helix shaped down tube balances the benefits of a round tube and a beam. Beams are good at resisting bending, while round tubes are good at resisting twisting forces. Instead of choosing one over the other, the helix shape provides both, evenly distributed along the length of the tube. In addition, the large swingarm pivot, attached to the helix down tube, uses a Shimano press-fit bottom bracket bearing. Beefy.
So how did it feel on the trail? Pretty awesome. The suspension works as designed and I didn’t notice any significant pedal bob while climbing. Leaving the Fox Float CTD in trail mode seemed to tackle most of the technical lines I chose. Mark had his bike set up with a remote lock out on the Fox Float 32, which I used on several longish climbs in concert with the climb setting on the CTD shock. I did venture into some more sketchy sections and the descend mode provided just enough plushness to get me through. Pretty much anywhere I took the Pro29 the suspension systems reacted well, and there were no unwelcomed surprises.
I’m guilty of always thinking titanium and suspension won’t get along, and I took the Pro29 out expecting to feel a lot of sway in the rear end, especially in some of the more bermy sections of my favorite trails. Well… not so much. The bike reacted well to quick lateral directional changes and the rear didn’t take long to snap back to middle when exiting the berms. It was predictable. And that’s good. I also didn’t notice any significant flex while under load from hard uphill pedaling. Maybe it’s the helix down tube, maybe the huge swingarm pivot… whatever it is, it works.
After about 15 minutes of adjusting to a new bike it really started feeling at home on my favorite trails. I was comfortable pushing it through some pretty aggressive sections and it handled the smooth flowy bits with ease. Good stuff Lynskey… good stuff. I was riding the 2nd generation of the Pro29 FS-120 which has the swingarm pivot built into the down tube. Gen 1 had it installed in a Ti plate above the bottom bracket. While the current Pro29 FS-120 utilizes sliding dropouts to allow for a thru axle or 9mm QR in the rear, the next generation, slated for 2014, will be fixed and accept Shimano or DT Swiss thru axles. No other changes are planned. MSRP is $5,900 with XT components (and right now it’s on sale). Choosing the XTR kit adds another $1,600 to the build.Tweet