Wow, and I thought they would change the suspension design. Hope they have a patent on the proprietary shock crushing technology...
Added a comment about product review The Affordable, Downhiller's Trail Bike 5/15/2014 2:46 PM
Added a product review for X-Fusion Hilo SL Seatpost 5/14/2014 2:36 PM
The Good: The spirit of enduro likes this post.
The Bad: Leaky oil kills plants and makes hippies angry.
Over the past few years, X-Fusion has made quite a stir in the MTB suspension industry. These days, when one considers a new fork or shock, the name X-Fusion usually comes up in a conversation along with the major players like Fox Racing Shox, and Rock Shox when discussing suspension options. Given my friend’s raving reviews about X-Fusion’s forks, and the usual customer service benefit of dealing with a smaller company, I figured I would give their new dropper post, the HILO SL 125mm, a try on my trail bike.
The Hilo SL has a claimed weight of 450g without the cable, making it lighter than the gold standard of travel adjust seat posts, the Rock Shox Reverb (520g). The HILO SL is available with a seat post diameter of 30.9mm and 31.6 mm, and is infinitely adjustable (ie- you can adjust the post to any height you want while riding). The post also has a traditional seat mounting apparatus, so your seat does not fold back on you when you land on it hard.
Setting up the HILO is basically the same as setting up the Specialized Command Post or FOX DOSS seat posts. The hardest part is figuring out exactly how long to make the cable, because the cable is attached to the seat head. Therefore, you have to have certain amount of ‘free play’ in the cable so that the post can actually go up and down in an unrestricted fashion. Anyone with half a brain can do it. X-Fusion provides directions with the post, and has a set of awesome online service videos that will answer any questions you may have. Also, the pinch bolt that holds the cable in place on the post does not need to be torqued very tight. Be careful, as the head of the bolt is very easy to strip.
Riding the Post:
The post goes up and down, just as advertised. I personally like the infinite adjustability provided by the post. On the Command Post, for example, I sometimes find the trail mode to be too low but the climb mode to be too high for a certain trail grade. The HILO does not have this problem. Another thing to consider with this post is that the post doesn’t bottom out like most other travel adjust seat posts. So, someone trying to get his or her seat post as low as possible in the down position could have trouble with this post. I have attached an image below showing the low position on the post. Also, the lever actuator isn’t the most refined when compared to options from other companies. But, it does work.
Reliability/Ease of Service:
Unfortunately, I have not had the best luck with this post. From day 1 the post has leaked oil. Granted, the post still works, but it is very annoying to have to wipe dirt and oil off your seat tube after every ride. Over time, it predictably developed some sag under the load of you sitting on the seat. Despite leaking oil out, the post worked for over six months, and then crapped out randomly.
I attempted to service the post myself at this point, but I ran into trouble trying to get the seal head of the post loose. In order to do this, you will need a very good strap wrench. I broke two of these trying to get the seal head off, only to give up and have X-Fusion service the post at Sea Otter.
At Sea Otter, I gave the mechanic a rebuild kit for the post and tried to bribe him with a bottle of Pliny the Elder (but he did not drink). Regardless, he rebuilt it within the hour. But, when I re-installed the post again, it immediately leaked oil.
From other people I have talked to that own the post, about 50% of them have a leaky post, and the other half does not (Sample size=4). Maybe I got one out of a bad batch; who knows.
Overall, I would rate the post very highly if I could just figure out how to get the post to not leak oil. However, when you factor in the leaky seal head, and difficulty to service, I can’t recommend that anyone buy the HILO over a Reverb or KS Lev. The post goes up and down, has a normal seat clamp mechanism, and has been seemingly reliable despite leaking oil for 6 months and 300 miles of riding. But, you have to like having oil spew out all the time. If you are cool with the possibility of this happening to you, the X-Fusion HILO SL is your golden dropper post.
This product has 1 review
Added a comment about product review The Affordable, Downhiller's Trail Bike 5/14/2014 11:21 AM
Added a product review for Banshee Bikes Spitfire V2 Frame 5/13/2014 11:15 PM
The Good: Shreds the gnar.
The Bad: Enduro will eat your soul.
In a day and age dominated by $10,000 luxury trail bikes like the Santa Cruz Bronson and Nomad, or the S-Works Specialized Enduro and Stumpy Evo, the all mighty spirit of enduro has led us to believe that the only way we can ever hope to be STRAVA KOM is to empty our life savings. Luckily, for us non-industry, normal people, there are still a few semi-affordable, durable trail bikes with real geometry and the latest bike industry marketing tools (aka 650b), that can keep our hopes alive. Yes bike industry pawns, it is still possible to not spend a fortune and get an absolute ripper of a bike. The Banshee Spitfire is one of these bikes. It is not the lightest all mountain frame, nor the best in it’s class at climbing or descending, but it does everything well, and you’d be a fool to not put this bike on your short list of viable ‘downhill-able trail bikes’.
The V2 Spitfire is Banshee’s latest attempt at creating the downhiller’s trail bike at an affordable price point. It has adjustable geometry, 12x142 rear dropouts, adjustable dropouts for 26” or 27.5” rims, a tapered head tube, a paint job that actually stays on the frame, a full-length seat tube, and 140mm of travel. That is a lot of what I want in an all mountain, or to be politically correct, ‘enduro specific’ bike. The head tube is slack, the BB is low, the wheelbase feels just right, and you can always adjust the geo if you want something different for varying terrain. Further, if you don’t have the coin for 650B wheels at this time, you can use the 26” dropouts and upgrade when your budget allows, with little affect on the geometry of the frame. To top it off, you can buy one of these frames online today for less than $1700 bucks.
I should point out at the start that Banshee has already revised the V2 Spitty for 2014 by making it .5lbs lighter, including stealth dropper cable routing, and including water bottle cage mounts. Those are my main issues with my 2013 frame, and they are fixed for anyone shopping for a new 2014.
So let’s get onto the fun stuff- how does this bike work on the trail?
To start, this bike does not climb like a SC Bronson, Giant Trance SX Advanced, or the older SC Blur LTC. It is heavier than all of these frames, and a bit sluggish on the climbs in comparison. To add to the issue, most people running the Spitfire the way it is intended will run bigger, slower rolling tires, and that will not help anyone get up the hill quick.
That said, the bike does not climb badly; it’s just not a carbon XC bike. I do NOT notice any suspension bob while climbing, and with my Pike lowered to 130mm, I have to try to get the front end to come up, even on extremely steep stuff. That really means a lot to me, as Marin County (where I live and ride), has many extremely steep fire-road climbs. For someone with average legs, this bike is perfectly fine for 20ish mile/4K vert rides- anything more than that and I would look for a different bike.
This winter, my DH bike was out of commission, and the Spitfire became my quiver of one- from DH shuttles to massive, pain inducing XC rides, it handled it all. My thoughts below are biased toward the negative, because I mostly compare this bike to my downhill bike. I have to remind myself that the Spitfire is a trail bike. I’ve been mind fucked- it’s that good.
Anyway, after 100K vert of treating the Spitty like a DH bike, I have picked up on what it likes and what it doesn’t. Anyone using this bike like a normal trail bike will be absolutely thrilled with its descending capabilities. It is only when you treat the Spitfire like a DH bike that you will get a reality check thrown at you. For normal, flowy, Santa Cruz-esque single track, the Spitfire is spot on. The bike is stable at speed and in the steeps, corners well, handles moderate rock gardens at will and accelerates on a dime- it is confidence inspiring and I really can’t ask for anything more on these types of trails. The geometry (I have my bike set up in the low position with 650B wheels) is simply spot-on, and let’s you pretend that you are on a bigger bike.
However, once you start to hit bigger doubles, drops, and high-speed rock gardens, you will notice the limitations of the 140mm shredder. I think most of my criticism of the frames’ descending abilities could be fixed by having a better shock on the frame (ie- Float X). On drops, jumps, and harder hits in general, I don’t feel like the Float CTD shock has the mid stroke or ending stroke support that it should, and I believe it holds the bike back. The bike has a tendency to plow through the travel, even with the most progressive volume adjust spacer installed on the Float CTD. This can get annoying for an aggressive rider. If anything, I just don’t hold the belief that the rear end of the bike will bail me out if I case a bigger jump or drop. In order to compensate, I have increased the shock pressure so that I get roughly 10% sag. This changes the way the bike handles through loose sections, high-speed sections, and rocky sections. Overall, the rear end is not as supple, and I feel like I have less traction and control of the rear end. But, this is a compromise in order to have a little more support on a bigger hit. I would love to see what a better, more ‘enduro specific’ shock would do on this frame. Keep in mind, I notice these limitations on trails that most people ride DH bikes on, so some of what I have said should be expected on a 140mm trail bike.
The Banshee build quality is second to none. The welds are nice looking, the paint is still on the frame (no paint chips), and the frame has not dented after being essentially raped to death. The bearings have held up so far, and I’ve had a pivot bolt come loose once, but that was my fault. That said, I am bummed my bike does not have a water bottle cage, and it would be oh so nice if it was lighter (or carbon). This is fixed for 2014. Also, it would be nice to have the cable routing points on the down tube a bit higher up toward the head tube to make the cables not stick out as much.
*Leaving the fork in 130mm mode while descending turns the bike into a slalom machine. It’s ridiculous how well it corners.
*My bike sits at 32lbs with a semi respectable build. *If you are going to run a chain guide, you will most likely have to do some modifying in order to get the guide to clear the swing arm. *I am drunk. Please disregard spelling, grammar, and any references to enduro actually being cool.
In summary, the Spitfire is rad. If you are a downhiller on a budget, you should absolutely consider it as your next trail bike.
This product has 4 reviews
Updated bike check 2013 Banshee Spitfire V2 5/13/2014 8:51 PM
Updated bike check 2013 Banshee Spitfire V2 5/13/2014 8:51 PM
Added a comment about photo Troy Brosnan's 650b Specialized Demo 8 at Fort William 5/9/2014 7:51 PM
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Added a comment about video Just One More Run Before Winter Please 11/14/2013 8:12 PM
Well that just solidified my desire to move to Jackson. Thanks for the stoke Andrew
This video has 5 comments.
Added a comment about product review The Alternative Crank 11/12/2013 8:35 PM
Updated bike check 2013 Banshee Spitfire V2 11/10/2013 3:27 PM
Updated bike check 2013 Banshee Spitfire V2 11/10/2013 3:27 PM
Added bike check 2013 Banshee Spitfire V2 11/9/2013 3:01 PM
Added a new video Brown Pow at Whistler 8/19/2013 8:46 PM
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Liked a comment on the item ONE LAP: Evan Turpen, Pro GRT Fontana, 2013 4/3/2013 5:41 PM
And people are wondering why a lot of US riders don't bother racing DH anymore? I understand why a lot of Pro's go there for training but why would anyone spend their own money going to this craphole?
Added a comment about slideshow First Look: All-New RockShox VIVID & VIVID Air - Perfect For Almost No One 3/8/2013 3:00 PM
Seems like a good marketing tactic to me. It's basic human nature to want what you can't have. I have no interest in buying a Rock Shox fork or shock, but now suddenly I have the urge to want to at least try their new shock. I'm sure they'll eventually sell the shock to everyone, and when they do, they will sell.
This slideshow has 41 comments.
Added a comment to NAYR's bike check 2/13/2013 1:30 PM
In my opinion it is the best 150mm travel fork you can get atm. It's a bit heavier than its counterparts, but the added stiffness due to the extra weight and overall feel provided by the open bath RC3 damper is worth it. The fork feels great. It is very plush in the initial stroke and feels great on rougher trails. It could use a bit more mid-stroke support however. That, aside from weight, is really the only downfall of the fork.
This setup has 2 comments.
Added a comment about video Downhill From Above - Helicam Fun 1/22/2013 11:26 PM
If only it was longer! Looks like a rad trail.
This video has 8 comments.