Sunday, February 19, 2012
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
I recently spent several hours researching about my potential next purchase; a 2012 Transition Bandit (26”). I couldn’t find much aside from what has been copy/pasted from Transition’s website… Yay… Super helpful… Looking for anything I could on the Bandit, I found/rode a demo Transition Covert from Grassroots Cycles. They’re “close” in design and I felt it would be a good comparison. It was good, but a tiny bit sluggish on climbs and wasn’t what I was looking for. It’d be good for an all-mountain bike, but I already had one of those and wasn’t enjoying it. I want to be able to do the 40-mile XC rides with occasional 4-5’ drops, and challenge myself on super technical climbs... It’s a pretty specific bike I was after. After a bit of dialogue I was assured by the Grassroots Cycles guys that the Bandit would be perfect. Having worked in a few bike shops as a mechanic for 16 years I've owned and ridden a lot of designs (my notables are several FSR bikes, a variety of Trek's ABP bikes, VPP bikes, and a plethora of single pivot bikes). I know my sh*t… I literally plot out suspension and axle-paths on my computer. I’m very weary of single pivot bikes because it comes down to main pivot location and shock/leverage placement. Blah, blah, blah… the thing about single pivot bikes is they can either ride really bad, or really good. Needless to say I was skeptical, but hopeful enough to order one. The verdict: the Bandit works!
It’s one of the most playful trail bikes I’ve ever been on! It's a 5" bike, but with a 142/12mm rear and some fancy engineering the stiffness almost compensates for the lack of travel. It's no doubt a XC bike, but it feels super solid on bigger hits. It's not an “All Mountain” bike... It just feels like a nimble 5" bike that can take a beating. If you hit a big drop you feel it, but you don't feel like it was a bad idea. It's different. My last bike was a beastly heifer that once I got to the top was easy to descend... The Bandit is fun to climb (especially the tough moves), but yet descends super stable.
I’ve only logged about 60 miles so far. It’s not the most through test, but it’s what I can offer in my two weeks of owning ‘er. I’ve done all of the Grand Junction Lunch Loops (first photo and my local trails), Gooseberry Mesa (second photo), and Bootleg Canyon (third photo). I’ve gotta say I’m totally in love with this bike. A yardstick I use is if after an hour into a ride if you’re riding a wheely for no reason, it’s a fun bike. After 2.5 hours of riding Gooseberry Mesa I was riding wheelies and playing around on the rock walls! For me, it may be the best bike I’ve ever owned (for ultra-aggressive XC). If you want a 22 pound bike to do a 100 mile day it’s not for you. If you want to bomb some XC and race SuperD, buy one. I really hope this helped you if you’re looking into a Bandit 26. It's not for everyone, but it's for me!!!
Monday, February 6, 2012
Saturday, February 4, 2012
Kona came out with a couple new bikes this year that have really caught my eye and peaked my interest. One of which is the new 130mm travel Satori. I have been riding this bike for about 2 months now, and here is my review.
The Satori has a swing link 4 bar design, that allows the rear triangle to be relatively short (17.3 inch chainstays). This is important because a short rear end makes the bike much easier to manual, bunnyhop, and accelerate hard out of corners. It has a tapered headtube and 142x12mm rear axle to increase overall stiffness. A 68 degree head tube angle makes high speeds and steeps more manageable than your typical trail bike. An extremely important feature to me is the 13.3 inch high bottom bracket. This greatly lowers your overall center of gravity and helps the bike to rail corners extra hard, and feels like you can pop or bunnyhop higher as well.
It comes pretty well equipped for the price with a sram x-7 2x10 build up, a rp2 shock, and a monarch RLT fork. The highlights include a "real" 7inch front rotor with Elixir 5 brakes, and a Maxxis Ardent 2.4 front and 2.25 rear tire combo (my personal favorite for a 29er tire) and ISCG 05 tabs so you can run a proper chain guide. Kona says it wieghs about 30 pounds.
I immediately added a 60mm 0 rise stem and a 31 inch low rise handlebar. I feel the big wheel and big fork often raise the 29er front too high to properly weight the front end for aggressive cornering, so I lower the bars as much as possible with the stem and spacers. I also added a much needed KS dropper post. I still want to build up stronger/stiffer wheels and add a single front 36 tooth ring and a chainguide.
I think the only 2 things worth complaining about will not affect everyone and are mostly a matter of preference. The bike has a direct mount front derailleur and the chainguide mount. It doesn' t need both, and the dual front ring and derailleur were a let down, and could not retain the chain when riding fast in the rough. The Satori also comes spec'ed with a 24 spoke Easton vice wheelset that feels mushy, and soft. They are still straight after two months of abuse, including 3-4 foot drops and plenty of double jumps, etc, but I dont think they could take much more. I am 6'04" and 190 pounds and prefer really stiff wheels.
The bike feels like a balanced and well thought out package. The bottom bracket is really low and you might drag a pedal here and there if your not careful, but it is well worth it. The bike corners really hard and maintains speed effortlessly through the nastiest terrain. It navigates the tightest trails beautifully, and is extremely stable at speed. Brake jack was not an issue, and with a flip of the switch you can have fast firm climbing, or full, damp travel for the descent. I have been thrilled with this bike's climbing, and often clean new technical climbs I haven't been able to before. Then I drop the seat at the top and really surprise everyone with its downhill capability. I have gotten away with jumping it farther and faster than it was probably designed for. It feels much more playful than a 29er should be, and begs to brake late, and be stuffed into corners with excessive speed. Overall I am really happy with the bike. I feel I got a really good value, and a very capable trailbike. It seems that people are constantly surprised by how fast and hard these new 29ers can be ridden. It has inspired my speed and confidence so much that I think I will race a few enduro's on it this summer.