Part 2 of our Moab Outerbike coverage is up including some ride impression from Devinci, Marin, DVO, and more. Check it out inside.
Photos/Words: Toni/Misti Walbridge
If you missed part 1, be sure to read that as well.
Devinci Troy 2016
Shifting gears a bit, I decided to give the new Devinci Troy a go. The Troy brought me back to 140 mm class similar to the Occam AM but proved to be an entirely different sort of animal. Where the Occam was incredibly light and sprinted better than plenty of 120-130mm class bikes I’ve ridden, the Troy was a bit slower to get moving and then completely unstoppable. The Troy had this deep, plush, high traction feeling that you usually only get out of bikes in the 150 mm travel and up class but retained a jibby playfulness that only a shorter travel rig can produce. The pedaling position was excellent for such a capable bike making it a great all-day ride option. This would be a great pick for someone who likes shorter travel bikes yet lives for the downs. ?
At last! The new RFX is here. Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m supposed to be looking for a short travel rig but who in their right mind would pass up on a chance to try out the long awaited and hotly anticipated RFX? This time around the RFX is featuring a full carbon frame and DW link suspension. Turner has positioned the RFX to go head to head with the likes of the Santa Cruz Bronson at 150 mm rear travel and a 160 mm fork at a 66º head tube angle in the neutral position with the option to take the head tube angle down to 65º or up to 67º depending on your riding style. There is an awful lot I could say about this bike but I honestly did not get to ride it long enough on the type of terrain where I could really push it. My immediate impressions were just how active the suspension felt without succumbing to pedal induced bobbing. And traction, traction is through the roof. This bike locked into turns through ball bearing dust conditions in a way that no bike shod with anything less than a DH tire should. My only immediate gripe was the slightly slacker seat tube angle than I’m used to. I rolled out of the tent at 33% sag and felt a bit off the back on climbs. I added a few PSI to bring the sag right to 30% and it felt quite a bit better and the rear-end continued to hook up. Of the bikes that I have ridden in this category, the RFX feels more planted and more stable than most. Could that mean more podiums in your Enduro race career?
Giant Trance Advanced
And now for something entirely different, again. Back to a 140 mm bike that couldn’t be more different than the RFX and the Troy, the Trance is a 140 mm pedaling rocket. I just had to ride this bike if for no other reason than the incredible value it represents. At a retail price of $5000 Giant has managed to spec a carbon frame, a Fox 34 fork, house brand carbon wheels, a dropper post and a full XT drivetrain. If you find yourself shaking your head at skyrocketing prices, well, here ya go. Out on my standard test loop the Trance was fast everywhere flat and uphill but I felt the need to back off a bit through the rougher sections. To be fair, the cockpit was a bit off my standard setup with a slightly longer stem and and narrow bar than I am comfortable with so that may have been the rub. Overall, a very compelling package from Giant at this price point.
I gotta admit, Durango bikes was not on my radar before showing up to Outerbike. Well, turns out that these guys are for real and the Blackjack was one heck of a fun bike. This is a 120 mm trail platform with boost 148 rear spacing allowing it to take either 27.5+ wheels or 29″ wheels. I tried it both ways, first with the 27.5+. Impressions of 27.5+ performance? Lets just say 27.5+ did not exactly impress me for the way I ride. There was gobs of traction and the rolling resistance was not too bad but mobbing hard and laying into corners felt vague and compromised. Moving on, I swapped for 29″ wheels and all of the sudden we were on to something. With chainstays claimed at just 16.7″, and a BB slightly towards the high side, this bike was effortless to manual and was just incredibly playful. I didn’t know what to expect out of the horst link rear in terms of pedaling performance but found the linkage rate and shock tune to be very well matched producing lots of traction without feeling overly active. Motly, this bike just motored everywhere. The Durango Blackjack ties for my pick for biggest surprise of the show. It’s cool to see little guys turning out relevant bikes.
DVO Diamond fork and Jade shock on the Intense Tracer 275
Outerbike isn’t just about new bikes, it’s also about trying out new components. DVO had a tent with a variety of bikes setup with their suspension with company President Bryson Martin Sr on hand to ensure that every component went out properly setup. The Tracer 275 I took out was setup with the 160 mm DVO Diamond air fork and Jade coil rear shock. This ride was a real treat. I’d seen and read plenty on DVO’s tech but somehow had not experienced it for myself. It was hard to get a reading on the Jade with such short descents and having nothing to compare it to on this particular frame but rear wheel traction did seem generally excellent. The Diamond fork however, there was no mistaking it’s incredible control and small bump sensitivity. DVO employs something they call OTT which is fancy speak for a coil negative spring. What this does is allows the rider to setup a very low break-away point at the top of the suspension travel while keeping the rest of the stroke firm and supportive. Pushing this fork hard it felt like it was reacting to every tiny pebble on the trail yet refused to dive when I got all bent out of shape. If you’re in the market for something a little different, DVO is worth a look.
MRP Stage fork and Banshee Phantom
MRP was also on hand showing off their Stage fork on well setup 29″ wheeled Banshee Phantoms. MRP has made a ton of progress towards offering a truly viable alternative to the Pike and Fox 34. The Stage features external rebound, compression, and ramp control (on the fly air spring progressiveness adjustment) in a 34 mm stanchioned package. MRP offers a 26/27.5 version of the fork in 140 to 170 mm travel options and the 29″ version ridden here in 120 to 150 mm travel options. While we didn’t get enough time on the Stage to full evaluate it’s performance we noticed an incredibly smooth stroke and excellent small bump compared to most other forks we rode over the weekend. Ruling out that we had a ringer on our hands, it appears that MRP may have a truly competitive product in the 34/35 mm stanchion fork segment.
Marin Attack Trail Pro
Marin is yet another vendor that has not really been on my radar lately. Yeah, I say Cody Kelly’s latest edit but that kid could make most any bike look good. The Attack Trail Pro is their top tier 27.5 wheeled all-mountain / enduro platform and Cody’s weapon of choice for enduro racing. The Attack Trail Pro features a carbon frame, BOS suspension, WTB carbon wheels, and a full XTR build. The parts spec is just really impressive. Even more so, the ride quality was all that I expect from a top tier suspension offering. The BOS Kirk rear shock did a phenomenal job of controlling the rear end and overall composure was a good balance between playful and stable. At a retail price of $9349, I have to nit pick a little and the 30.9 seat tube means a 125mm reverb instead of a 150 mm which I strongly prefer. The BOS Deville fork was also feeling a bit outgunned by the latest Fox and Rockshox offerings. However, I’m inclined to cut the Deville a little slack not knowing its service history. And with that, the Marin Attack Trail Pro ties with the Durango Blackjack as my pick for biggest surprise of Outerbike 2015.?
Santa Cruz 5010
Ok, back on task and riding bikes that I’m actually interested in owning, here we have the all carbon Santa Cruz 5010 (AKA Solo). For 2016 Santa Cruz has shortened up the chainstays to 16.77″ thanks to boost 148 spacing, slacked the head tube angle to 67º, and increased the travel to 130 mm. The demo I got to take out was an X01 spec build with the new Enve M60 HV (wider) carbon rims laced to I9 hubs. Not surprisingly, this bike accelerated like a top-fuel drag racer. The Solo is agile, snappy, and stable enough to charge some fairly rough terrain. I had a little trouble finding just the right rear shock settings to get the rear to track with the best of the 120 – 130 mm bikes I rode. With more time, I may have found the perfect settings but I got the impression this bike has a narrow window for optimum setup. This is just the sort of bike I’d pick for huge rides over mixed terrain.
The last bike of the event was also one of the most exciting. The Yeti tent had quite a line-up all weekend and it took a while before I hit it just right to grab a free SB4.5c. In case you missed it, the SB4.5c is Yeti’s first 29″ trail bike to utilize the switch infinity link. If you didn’t just skim to the bottom to read this, you know I didn’t’ get on all that well with the SB5. Well, I’m here to tell you, where the SB5c fell short for me, the SB4.5c is absolutely bad ass. This is without a doubt, and by a good margin, the best Yeti that I have ridden. The SB4.5c accelerates, climbs, turns, and descends exactly as an aggressive trail bike should. This bike was smoking fast everywhere except the roughest downhill sections. At the end of day 3, with nearly 70 miles of riding under my belt I PR’d the most significant leg of my test loop on this bike. Full carbon, reasonably short chainstays via boost 148, and a confidence inspiring 66.8º head tube angle added up to a nitro fueled monster. The Achilles heel? For some strange reason Yeti went and built such a hard charging bike with no option to mount a chain guide. I really can’t see myself riding this bike the way I would want to and trusting it to no guide. A Bionicon style guide mounted on the chainstay might do the trick but it’s a big gamble on a bike that retails for $6899 as ridden.
And that’s a wrap. Outerbike 2015 was a huge success for me. I got to ride all the bikes I wanted to ride and few that I had no idea I should be considering. More over, it’s hard not to have a hell of a good time riding bikes all day and then meeting up for the beer garden at the end of each day to swap war stories about all the cool gear you tried. If you’re in the market for a new ride or just a gear head with an insatiable thirst for new product like me, you owe it to yourself to come check out this event.
If you missed part 1, be sure to check it out. Visit www.outerbike.com to learn more about the next events they’re planning.