Maybe I’m just getting old and tired. Or, maybe I’m just getting tired… tired of pedaling a 45 lb. bike up 2000 vertical feet of singletrack. Maybe I’ve got this hope deep down inside me that someday, somehow, mountain bike manufacturers will team up with shock manufacturers to create bikes that are plush, light and good pedaling. I mean, can’t they just come up with innovative new suspension designs using the latest shock technology from Fox, Progressive, Manitou and Romic?
Somebody pinch me and pinch me hard because those daydreaming days are over–bike manufacturers are listening to the masses. They are listening to those of us who enjoy a plush ride, but want a do-it-all, everyday trailbike. Enter the 2005 class of trailbikes. These bikes are light, pedal well and yet still offer 5+ inches of travel.
Here’s my take on the top all-mountain steeds for the 2005 season.
Building off the popular and capable Gemini platform, Cannondale introduces an all-new all mountain rig for 2005. The Prophet frame is offered in six trim levels to be sure there’s one in your budget and parts spec.
The Prophet 4000 is the top-of-the-line Prophet lineup with race-worthy XT/XTR components. Starting up front is an all-new Lefty Max Carbon 140 SPV+ ti fork and rounded out by the Manitou Swinger 3-Way in back. Destined to become a legend on the trails, the Prophet line has already received plenty of praise.
The Prophet is light and snappy for a 5-inch travel bike (front & rear), but also offers the durability necessary to handle everyday abuse. To finish off the list of cool features, the Prophet offers adjustable head angle from a slack 67.5 for freeride to an upright 69 for XC-style handling.
Ellsworth has long been one of the top names in the custom bike market. Their renowned rocker-arm bikes date back to the original Truth of yesteryear. Further extending the patented Instant Center Tracking (ICT) four-bar suspension design, Ellsworth introduced the Moment in 2004. The Moment really fills the gap between the ID and the Dare–much like the original Dare.
Offered with your choice of either a Fox AVA R Pro Pedal or 5th Element air shock for an efficient 5.25″ of rear travel, or with a Romic D or Fox Vanilla RC for 6″ of pure love, the Moment fits the bill for a long-travel trailbike.
The Ellsworth Moment is as stout as it gets due to the huge pivot and burly construction. However, it’s still lighter than many freeride/trailbikes at under 8 lbs. The Moment is best mated with either a 5 or 6-inch fork of your choice. Ellsworth quality and proven suspension design will keep a smile on your face for years to come.
Giant has entered the fray with their own version of an active and plush suspension design in the Maestro line. The Faith is the freeride bike with 8 inches of travel, the Reign sits in the middle with 6 inches and the Trance offers 4 inches.
The all-new Giant Reign 1 looks to be a promising ride with a smart part spec. The front end is handled by the adjustable travel Manitou Nixon (5.5 inches) and complemented in the rear by the Manitou Swinger 3-Way Air shock. The Reign line looks to be a promising trailbike for 2005.
IRON HORSE BIKES
Iron Horse first introduced the DW-link suspension design in the renowned Hollowpoint model in 2000. The DW-link is a designed by Dave Weagle–hence the DW name. The DW-link is intended to provide the most efficient suspension for both climbing and descending. Extensive riding time on similar designs leads me to believe that the DW-link suspension bikes from Iron Horse won’t dissappoint.
The MKIII does have a head angle that’s steeper than most of the bikes here. At 70 degrees, it’s very XC-oriented, so this bike will likely outclimb anything on the trail, but it may be a bit skiddish at high speeds. The overall package of the MKIII Team with the Manitou Nixon (5.5″ travel) and Progressive 5th Element Air shock (5″ travel) will provide a great riding and performing bike for all-day singletrack adventures.
Paul Turner has long been one of the top names in suspension innovation and technology. As the founder of Rock Shox, he knows all about the squish. And, in 2000, after years of tinkering, the MonoLink suspension design was born in the Maverick ML7. Soon after, the suspension design was licensed to Seven Cycles, Klein and Sycip–a good sign for a new suspension platform.
The ML7 has been heralded by the media and industry buffs, so it’s no wonder that Maverick has been hard at work developing the new Maverick ML8 design. The ML8 sports a beefed-up MonoLink design that offers 6.5″ of unadulterated, efficient and plush suspension travel. Weighing in at 6.5 lbs., the ML8 just might be the lightest, most versatile 6.5″ travel production bike… period!
The ML8 won’t come cheap and will only be available in botique shops such as WrenchScience. With a pricetag of $2250, it will prompt some to sell their cars and go fuel-free and others to simply drool. I’m sure the ML8 won’t disappoint–even in your dreams!
This bike has been completely redesigned from top to bottom for 2005. Utilizing the fabled Horst link suspension (Specialized patent) design, the S-Works enduro is not only a work of art, it’s a proven, efficient design. The new hydroformed tubes offer an entirely new look for Specialized.
The S-Works Enduro is fully loaded–at $5500 it better be! Take the new Fox 36 single-crown fork, a custom Progressive air shock, custom SUN enduro rims and a mixture of XT/XTR components for example–and that’s just for starters. The S-Works Enduro is likely to be one of the best riding trailbikes of the year. Specs on the suspension are 6″ in the rear and adjustable 4″-6″ up front via the Fox 36.
As one of the innovators in full-suspension designs, Dave Turner has been delivering high-quality and efficient squish for over 10 years. Using rocker-arm suspensions with Horst Link pivots, the Turner 5-Spot is already a legend on the trails.
I’ve seen alot of bikes in my day and honestly, I haven’t seen a bike yet that compares to the build and ride quality of a Turner. On top of that, the crew at Turner Bikes is dedicated to top-notch customer service before and after the sale.
The Turner 5-Spot is a 5-inch travel trailbike that’s built to take years of abuse. Standard for 2005 is the plush FOX RP3 shock and revised chainstays to clear a 2.4″ tire. With good all-around angles and efficient travel, you can’t go wrong with a 5-Spot as your companion on steep, rocky climbs and buffed-out singletrack descents.
Introduced in 2004, the Yeti 575 was named after the amount of squish this baby gets–5.75 inches of efficient rear travel via the new FOX Float RP3 shock. The Yeti 575 was years in the making and Yeti didn’t want to introduce anything short of the best performing all-mountain bike it’s ever produced. The 575 can easily be built up under 30 lbs.–that’s right, 30 lbs! There isn’t another full-suspension bike with that much travel in that weight range, period! With lightweight components, the 575 can be had for around 28 lbs. easily.
An interesting feature of the Yeti 575 is the CarbonFlex pivots on the seatstays in lieu of actual pivots. The idea behind this is to create a durable design with minimal lateral flex.
The build kit we’d prefer to see on the 575 is the new Enduro-20, which comes complete with the all-new FOX 36 single-crown wonder. Specs for the Enduro-20 kit have yet to be announced, but rest-assured it will be beefy and capable of taking seasons of abuse on punishing trails, drops and climbs. The Enduro kit comes in at $2399, so the Enduro-20 will likely be a few hundred more than that. Even at $2599 (estimated), the Yeti 575 with the Enduro-20 build kit will surely knock the socks off any other trailbike here in price and overall ride quality.