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High Pivot Takeover? Forbidden Bike Co's Prototype Trail MTB

What do you think when you look at this sexy, new Forbidden Bikes high-pivotin'-long-chain-runnin'-idler-havin' prototype trail machine? If you have any sense about you, you think, "that looks really similar to the Norco Aurum HSP downhill bike that Blenki has been shredding but without those crazy linkages," right? Besides the high-pivot design, things like the carbon finish, the bolts and hardware and the carbon rear triangle are just way too close to the HSP to be coincidence. It is no coincidence. Owen Pemberton, designer at this fledgling Cumberland B.C. brand, is responsible for the bike. Owen works along side Alastair Beckett and two other outside-of-the-box thinkers at Forbidden.

Now Owen would only officially say that he previously worked for "one of the larger brands" and that he worked on "one of the new high-pivot DH bikes" that came out this year. He's from Canada and a quick Google search shows that has a tag dedicated to his name. Mystery solved without even having to be an industry insider. We don't care why Owen and Norco aren't together any more. We don't care why he has to be mysterious about his former employer (although we like to imagine the name Forbidden has some juicy secret behind it). All we care about is the 130mm-travel 29er he's sort-of debuting in Whistler.

Owen Pemberton in audio

Owen Pemberton with his Forbidden prototype.

Owen says the Forbidden is designed for modern, aggressive riding styles. That's hardly a new reason to start a bike brand and pushing the pivot skyward in a short-travel bike is as novel as the mid-90's Klein Mantra (and probably dorks comment here). The Klein was death on two wheels and nothing close in terms of functionality to what we're discussing here, but most high-pivot attempts were abandoned for more traditional, simple suspension designs in the XC/trail/enduro realm over the years. This probably has something to do with the fact that many high-pivot/idler designs lack the "traditional" anti-squat which is generated by forces along the chain counteracting the forces induced upon the suspension by your mass shifting back as a result of the forward force on the wheels. A higher placed pivot can alleviate this problem by creating anti-squat as a result of the rear wheel pushing the bike forward at a point close to or below the main pivot, and this is probably what is putting this design back in the spotlight once again, at least in the downhill world.


Because yeah, enter 2018 and high-pivot DH bikes are cleaning the F up. Amaury Pierron and basically all Commencal shredders are clocking wins or improved results. Blenki, your new King of Crankworx, has been stomping it on the aforementioned HSP. Scott Velosolutions put Brendog and Gaetan on a somewhat less extreme high pivot halfway through the World Cup season. It's the must-have-or-my-bike-won't-be-fast crack of 2018 in DH and Owen Pemberton has had his focus on the high-pivot layout for trail usage, unveiled in the Forbidden. In the trail bike segment, we rummaged up this Swarf Cycles Curve prototype from 2013, Arbr has the Saker and Deviate has The Guide, but there is plenty of real estate to be snagged early on in this high-pivot land grab with the Forbidden having the looks and design pedigree to be a legit player.


The claim on the Forbidden is that it's not just for those willing to suffer up a climb for a descending party. Pemberton says the 130mm-travel bike works with a 140mm or 150mm-travel fork, is an efficient climber, and is playful, despite the big wheels, while also being ready for bump-smashing action. A focus on bike balance and geometry was key in engineering. He wouldn't tell us numbers, but our quick and dirty Photoshop angle finder puts the head angle right around 65 degrees, maybe even a tick slacker than that. We like it.


Like any smart bike designer, Pemberton designed the carbon molds to leave enough room for linkage tweaking and suspension curve manipulation. They've worked with a variety of linkage designs (version #8 on the bike in the photos) and feel they are close to where they want to be for production. At this point, we'll have to take his word for it since we couldn't ride it. The rest of the aethestic and on-board details hit the mark.

Suspension design aside, the potential for these two bolts is promising.


Forbidden is nearing the end of the development stage of the new bike. Their focus is on this single high-end bike for now with more details to come in 2019. We know we'd love to get acquainted with this black beauty, but the real question is, would you ride it? If so, ping 'em on Facebook.

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