AM Marketing Hype Box Ticking

smitho

Likes Dirt
Slik Graphics decals finally turned up! Just in time for me to sit and look at it during lockdown.

Also installed the Cascade Components linkage. According to Cascade it requires a heavier spring rate. With the same spring as before in it, it’s sitting pretty squarely at the recommended 33% sag.

Lockdown has ruined any plans of a proper test ride, but first impressions (aka the gutter test) feel much more sensitive.





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Jpez

cancelled Easter
Slik Graphics decals finally turned up! Just in time for me to sit and look at it during lockdown.

Also installed the Cascade Components linkage. According to Cascade it requires a heavier spring rate. With the same spring as before in it, it’s sitting pretty squarely at the recommended 33% sag.

Lockdown has ruined any plans of a proper test ride, but first impressions (aka the gutter test) feel much more sensitive.








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Saw that on the FB page. Veeery niiiice. Liking the orange accents and Kashima(not a fan of kashima usually) With the purple it looks mint.
Is that one of those Jank components straps up under the top tube? In one of my moments of boredom and financial irresponsibility I bought one of their inline one up pump doo dads. Cost me $50 to get a little printed bit of plastic to Oz. Then it occurred to me I haven’t needed a pump on the trail in a long long time.
 

smitho

Likes Dirt
Saw that on the FB page. Veeery niiiice. Liking the orange accents and Kashima(not a fan of kashima usually) With the purple it looks mint.
Is that one of those Jank components straps up under the top tube? In one of my moments of boredom and financial irresponsibility I bought one of their inline one up pump doo dads. Cost me $50 to get a little printed bit of plastic to Oz. Then it occurred to me I haven’t needed a pump on the trail in a long long time.
It's a Wolftooth B-Rad strap. I like the neatness of having a mount point there, and keeping the tube off the frame. The combination of water and You Yangs grit wasn't kind to my last frame where it was strapped directly on.

I think I'll mount a pump on one side of the bottle cage - currently got a pair of nangs strapped on. They tend to get used pretty regularly, although admittedly primarily for fixing riding buddies' punctures.

This bike gives me inappropriate thoughts. Same (favorable) thoughts on the colour scheme as @Jpez too. Can't wait to hear ride impressions once allowed.
The colour scheme was pretty fortuitous. The frame has orange highlights all over it, and had all the orange bits left over from the Insurgent. Had a couple of left over links from an old copper XX1 chain, so made sense to stick with that colour and just buy a single new chain rather than two. Still enough spare links for another change of chain.
 

smitho

Likes Dirt
So, with lockdowns in Victoria easing I have finally had the time to ride it in anger - and more to the point properly set up.

So far it's survived a number of sessions at the You Yangs, a blast around Harcourt, Red Hill and the Yarra Trails, and a shuttle day at Mt Buller - a good variety of riding for proper setup and review.

Since the last post I've installed the Cascade Components linkage which gives it 142mm travel, and bumped the forks up to 160mm. 150mm is recommended by Forbidden, but with the Vorsprung Smashpot the axle to crown is 5mm lower than the same travel air sprung fork. Pretty much bang on same A-C as running a 150mm Lyrik.

Climbing

First impressions were pretty much spot on. It climbs better than it ought to at its relatively portly weight. The steep seat tube angle keeps you relatively centered and at just the right point that you can easily unweight the front wheel without it feeling like it's wandering for the rest of the time. You can feel the suspension slightly firming as you put the power through the pedals, coupled with the light weight wheels it accelerates with minimal effort. It has a real mountain goat feel through rocky technical climbs and almost never gets hung-up on anything with the combination of the rearward axle path and 29er on the front.

It pedals well with the climb switch on, but develops a significant cyclical bob in certain gears without it on.

I've even been on a couple of rides with friends on their thoroughbred cross-county whippets, and havent felt like I'm being left completely in the dust!

Descending

My last few bikes were a Commencal Supreme Racing, a couple of Specialized Enduros and an Evil Insurgent which all fall pretty squarely in the Enduro category. Long travel bikes capable of hitting big features (in the right hands) at speed, long, slack and a bit lazy. Even thought the Druid is a trail bike, I really haven't felt undergunned on it, even on International at Buller or Turbulence at the You Yangs. It's definitely a more capable bike than its rider. Now matter how rough, it's easy to stay composed on it.

Provided that you stay of the brakes it's very stable and confidence inspiring in fast corners as you can feel in hunkering down and lengthening. I can't compare it to the 29/29 version, but it certainly has a degree of nimbleness to it. With the 27.5 back wheel it's not too fussed by tight technical corners. That said, it does require proper technique as any braking in corner tends to upset it.

As you would expect, through rocky or rough sections it feels stable and fast. The rearward axle path isn't revolutionary or game changing but does make it feel like it has the depths of travel of a slightly bigger bike. With the coil, needle bearing and Cascade linkage, can move the suspension with one finger on the seat. Feels uber sensitive off the top and ramps up well resisting bottom out.

I'm still not 100% convinced on the change from the Evil, and can't help but think that an Offering might have been the Goldilocks bike for me. The Forbidden is a very, very good bike, as capable as the Insurgent in the steep and rough, and the Following on an all day adventure. It just misses a small part of the poppy fun factor of the Evils which makes you want to take advantage of every little side hit, or pump and flow through whatever you're riding.

Parts

No real issues with the parts. I did manage to slash the EXO Aggressor on the rear at Buller on International, but thankfully the only 27.5 tyre in stock up there was the exact same one. Realistically might have to consider something a little beefier for the rear on shuttle days - maybe an EXO+ Dissector for a little more grip and a touch more protection. I'd really like to run a Magic Mary front with either Hans Dampf or Big Betty on the rear but just can't stomach the weight of them.

It's certainly a bike that requires ongoing attention - the rear axle keeps working loose (although just grease and no locktite at the moment), and have to give it a go over pretty regularly to ensure everything is properly torqued.

Did manage to lose a chain at Buller in the rough on ABOM and have pivoted the bottom roller around a little more so it's a bit more secure.

I'm a little disappointed in the Transfer seatpost - it has quite a lot of movement in it at full extension. Probably more than then 3-4 year old OneUp I had last.
 
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Tubbsy

Terministrator
Staff member
As you would expect, through rocky or rough sections it feels stable and fast. The rearward axle path isn't revolutionary or game changing but does make it feel like it has the depths of travel of a slightly bigger bike.
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It just misses a small part of the poppy fun factor of the Evils which makes you want to take advantage of every little side hit, or pump flow through whatever you're riding.
These two points are pretty much word for word how I've described my Highlander. These HP bikes really shine in choppy terrain, but on the machine built stuff feel a little inert.
 

ozzybmx

call me Cáitín
These two points are pretty much word for word how I've described my Highlander. These HP bikes really shine in choppy terrain, but on the machine built stuff feel a little inert.
Also how I feel but have found that a bit more speed (though its hard for me to stay off the brakes) makes it a little bit more lively.

The smoothness, speed and predictability going down is far more important to me than the poppiness.

You will never be Vanderham on a Highlander.

Starts at right place... a legendary MTB clip of absolute legends.

 

smitho

Likes Dirt
Also how I feel but have found that a bit more speed (though its hard for me to stay off the brakes) makes it a little bit more lively.

The smoothness, speed and predictability going down is far more important to me than the poppiness.

I rode the Lake Mountain Cascades Trail on the weekend and I'd agree after that. It certainly carries more speed than I'm used to and maybe that compensates for the lack of pop.

In the higher speed machine made trails like Cascades, you can feel it compressing and lengthening mid berm, then as you lighten up to change direction the 27.5 wheel tucks under and it feels quite short and nimble.
 

smitho

Likes Dirt
Started to finally get things dialled in and starting to feel the hype.

Had been running a bit of low speed compression in the shock as it was bobbing like a mofo in certain gears, which upset the initial suppleness. Turns out it just needed quite a lot of low speed rebound, and have been able to back the low speed compression off a bit.

Fork is finally starting to get to where it should be. For ages has had a really solid wooden feel in second half of the travel. Thought it might have been the damper which needed a service - but that didn’t seem to solve anything.

Ended up taking apart the hydraulic bottom out on the Smashpot. Turns out it kicks in, in the last third of the travel and is in most cases fairly over damped. Reversed the shim stack (1 shim instead of 4) and feels substantially better. With the adjustable bottom out wound completely off, still only managed to bottom it out once at the You Yangs after a particularly sketchy performance in one section of Turbulence, so will need a lighter spring.

Still chasing a persistent pedal related creak. Idler right pedal and BB cleaned and regreased. Left pedal end cap absolutely fucked so will have to get the LBS to sort.

Was really considering whether I’d bought the right bike, but really started to vibe with it with incrementally improving setup over the weekend.

Have picked up a lighter 45lb spring for the forks today which will hopefully see even further improvements!


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johnny

I'll tells ya!
Staff member
Feeling like we've gone full circle and we're back riding sleds again. Only thing that's changed is the forks now stop at the bottom of the head tube.
 
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