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2013 Banshee Spitfire 650B or 26″

26" or 650B - Your Choice at 140mm

Words by Matthew Lee. Photos by Morgan Taylor.
June 17th, 2013

Touted as the “DHer’s trail bike” on Banshee’s website, the Spitfire is built around the BC company’s KS Link, and sports 140mm of rear suspension travel. The result is a bike that pedals up without complaint, and simply sails through everything on the way down.

Our test bike came in a size large and was clad in an off-spec build. As a result, it fit me nigh on perfectly at 5’10”. That being said, the standard spec builds all feature 70mm stems in lieu of the 50mm one equipped on our test rig and a narrower bar than the 780mm unit seen here.

Thanks to swap-able dropouts in the rear end the Spitfire can be clad in both 26” (as tested) and 650B wheel sizes, which is a nice touch. Those who want to run with the hip and trendy crowd can do so without adversely affecting the geometry, while those who are more traditionally inclined can carry on as they always have.

2013, Banshee, Spitfire, Rune, 650B, 27.5

A Float CTD rear shock keeps things supple in the rear while a Fox 34 Float makes for a stout front end and keeps everything in line. Those who take the time to dial in their suspension will be rewarded with a smooth pedal up, and a bottomless feeling on the descents.

2013, Banshee, Spitfire, Rune, 650B, 27.5

Our non-spec drive train is comprised of X9 and SLX shifty bits with RaceFace pulling duty on the cranks, chain rings and bash. Look for an X9/X0 combination on retail bikes. Of note was the absence of a clutch derailleur, and while the bike still performed well, it would have been nice to have one to help quiet the bike down during descents.

2013, Banshee, Spitfire, Rune, 650B, 27.5

With a the bold title of “Born on the Shore” imprinted on the seat tube, I’m happy to report that the bike has held up well to the rigors of riding everywhere I’ve taken it. The new KS Link suspension platform runs on sealed bearings, which should ensure a long life between services, even during the rain-drenched winter months. The linkage also minimizes rotational wear on the DU bushings, keeping you out of the shops and ripping the trails.

2013, Banshee, Spitfire, Rune, 650B, 27.5

Plenty of tire clearance keeps mud and dirt from stopping riders in their tracks. The nifty swappable dropouts let you pick your flavour of wheel size. Perhaps this is the tool to settle the size debate once and for all?

2013, Banshee, Spitfire, Rune, 650B, 27.5

Maxxis Minion DHF EXO tires were another off-spec selection for our bike, but were much appreciated on greasy pedalling days. Stans No-Tubes tech in the Sun Ringle Charger Pro wheel set makes going tubeless a breeze, and helps shave rotational weight.

2013, Banshee, Spitfire, Rune, 650B, 27.5

Were the 780mm wide DH bars absolutely necessary on a trail bike? Probably not, but they definitely helped instill confidence when pointing the bike through extremely technical terrain.

2013, Banshee, Spitfire, Rune, 650B, 27.5

The Spitfire sports a subtle, smart-looking graphics package.

2013, Banshee, Spitfire, Rune, 650B, 27.5

The Spitfire is a worthy steed, with the ability to keep people on both sides of the wheel size debate happy. Frames start at $1999, and feature both a 2-year manufacturers warranty as well as lifetime crash replacement for the original owner.


If you live for the downs, but don’t want to push your way to the top, the new KS Link Spitfire very well be the bike for you. Does it make the right parts tingle?

  • NoStyle

    All I can say is: I love mine – best Trailbike out there! Switched from 26 to 650B and don´t think of going back. Overall an amazing Bike with unique Geometry, Suspension (KL-Link) and Adjustability!

  • satn

    Do you need to swap forks with either tire? If not then wouldn’t that change the geometry?

    • boomforeal

      switching in larger wheels, the geometry changes whether you change the fork or not. the interchangeable rear drop outs mitigate this somewhat, however: sta and hta stay the same, but the bb height increases and the wheelbase gets longer

      • NoStyle

        Depending on Tire-Choice you can run 650Bs in the 26 Dropouts. There is plenty of Tire-Clearance.

  • NoStyle

    I run a BOS Deville (650B non-specific, but with plenty of Clearance) plus -0,5 Deg Angleset and neutral Flip-Chips. Geometry is only affected in a barely noticable different BB-Height.

  • cunningstunts

    this bike has massive appeal for me, as does the Prime, but this must be that much more maneuverable and poppy in comparison. think this bike is 80% as capable as the Rune while being a little more trail friendly?

    • builttoride

      Pretty much, I’ve ridden my spitfire V2 on everything from 50km backcountry explorations to Fort William DH track (although definitely wasn’t riding DH race pace there). I designed the frame can handle a broad spectrum of riding and more abuse than most trail bikes but with a bit less travel to help rider feel more intouch with the trail for those who want that connection.

      • NoStyle

        “I designed the frame can handle a broad spectrum of riding and more abuse than most trail bikes but with a bit less travel to help rider feel more intouch with the trail for those who want that connection.”
        This pretty much hits the Point. Low and slack Geometry, nicely dialed Suspension-Platform more towards Short-Travel and a durable Frame-Construction makes for a Bike that can do almost everything, regardless of Wheelsize. Although I like the Spitfire slightly more with the 650Bs.

  • monicosh

    Been riding the 26″ Spitfire around in Squamish and I absolutely LOVE it. If you’re the type of person to pedal up only so you can rip a descent, this is THE bike.

  • SubPlop

    Yeah that looks like a really Solid bike. And it’s a Banshee, who do you know that’s broken a Banshee?