The best part about Interbike is the Outdoor Demo. Where else can you simply walk up to any bike dealer in the world and test ride their bike on real dirt trails? Usually, you’d have to go to multiple shops and all you’d be able to do is ride the bike around the parking lot. Yeehaw… Outdoor Demo works for me!
The Balfa BB7 is a strange single-pivot design that looks menacing. The frame simply screams speed. Balfa, out of Montreal, Canada, has been making bikes for over 10 years, with some bomber full suspension designs under their belt. The BB7 is their trusty downhill steed that goes through some refinements for 2003.
Now offered for the first time on the BB7 is the Progressive 5th Element shock and a floating disc brake caliper.
One of the coolest features of the BB7 is the elevated pulley design which routes the chain upwards from the chainring, then back to the rear cassette. This helps tension the chain and maintains even pressure on the rear hub as the swingarm travels through its 9″ of plush suspension.
The BB7 setup is made as a pure DH machine, but with precise pivot locations and tight suspension design, it pedals with the best freeride machines too.
On The Trail
I had a quick couple of laps on the BB7 and was quickly impressed. Setup with a single chainring up and a Rock Shox Boxxer up front, this bike was no agile climber (what DH rigs are?). Well, that said, I was passing people left and right on the short climbs out of Blue Diamond. I was floored as I passed on by a handful of people on the short, technical ascents. WOW!
I continued to the top of the trail and through some rocky sections. I was very amazed at the agility, plushness and solid tracking attributes of the BB7. This thing turned on rails and soaked up anything in its path.
The raised pulley design was not noticeable at all. I thought I would notice some extra chain friction or something, but it simply inspired confidence as the chain was always tight and ready to deliver power when needed.
If I were a dowhniller, I would buy this bike. It was fun and easy to throw around, yet solid and plush. It climbed well, which is an attribute not many DH rigs can claim and, most importantly, it descended like a dream.
Honestly, after riding the Santa Cruz V10, I thought all full-on DH rigs had to be sluggish and battleship-like. But, the Balfa BB7 proved to me that even a squishy DH rig can be a blast to ride and keep that huge grin on your face as you whip it around on your favorite trail.