By Eric McKeegan
Ellsworth has been in the long travel category for years, but lacked a true downhill bike. For 2012 they have a new 180mm travel bike, the Method, which replaces the Rouge. Ellsworth was kind enough to hold on to a brand new Method in the larger of the two soon-to-be-available until I could make it to the booth for a test ride.
First off, this is a good-looking bike. I usually get a little grumpy about matchy–matchy anodized parts, but the understated blue of the handlebars and rocker link goes well with the not-quite-flat back frame. Classy. Geometry-wise the Method is slacker than the Rouge, and slightly shorter in travel. Depending on set up, the Method can work as a mini-DH bike, and trick-happy park bike, or long travel freeride bike.
Ellsworth had this Method kitted out with A Fox 36 180mm Talus up front and a DHX coil rear shock with a sold blend of sturdy high-end parts in including a single chainring and chain guide.
Enough about looks and parts, how does the newest Ellsworth ride? In a word: playful. Although the travel isn’t far off a DH bike, the single crown fork and shorter wheelbase make the Method much more maneuverable, but the short top tube (22.9") and 66º head angle makes for a little more pucker factor in steep roll-ins than I was used to on a long travel bike. Once I adjusted to the more BMX feel of this bike I was much more happy charging the loose and sharp desert terrain.
I ended up riding a short XC loop too, and the Method pedaled, oddly enough it felt more efficent standing than sitting. It didn’t feel to out of place on the easier, flatter trails, but that front wheel needs attention to make it stick in lose flat corners.
The 180mm catagory is getting interesting these days and the Method seems like it has all the makings of a serious contender.