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2014 Cove Hustler 650BJ

150mm of 650B Shenanigans

Words by Matthew Lee. Photos by Matthew Lee.
January 8th, 2014

Never one to pass up a lewd naming opportunity, the Cove Hustler has seen a rebirth of sorts for 2014. Shod in 650B wheels, and sporting a revised rear suspension setup, the Hustler has been redesigned to take advantage of all the modern technologies. Careful observers will note that this frame looks familiar, as we had a chance to ride the prototype earlier this year. While all the lines are still there, the tubes have been slimmed down, and the (in)appropriate decals added.

With a RockShox Pike fork and the slightly larger wheels, Cove’s 150mm platform lives up to its namesake. The pivot locations make this one a Horst link, which is a departure from both the previous Hustler’s linkage driven single pivot and the virtual pivot linkage seen on the current generation STD and G-Spot.

Our test bike came spec’d with Cove’s standard build package, which will run you $3,999. The frame and shock are also available for $1950 for those who prefer to assemble their own kit. Cove’s build spec features a mix of SRAM’s X9 and X0 components for the drivetrain and brakes, and Race Face taking care of the cockpit and crank set. Wheels are DT Swiss M480 rims laced to a DT Swiss 350 rear hub and a Cove-branded front. Tires are a pair of Maxxis Ardent 27.5″ x 2.25 in an EXO casing. One notable addition to our build kit was the Rock Shox Reverb dropper post, which is an add-on.

Early rides have left a good impression. The bike is snappy and responsive on the climbs, scooting up and over difficult root and rock sections with ease. There is very little pedal bob on the ups, even with the shock set to Descend mode. Point the bike downhill, and you’re left with the impression that Cove has incorporated some dual slalom DNA into the frame. Riders who finesse rather than smash their way through rough sections of trail will be left with wide grins at the bottom. The bike is capable of handling the chunder, but it will politely let you know as you reach the outer limits of its capabilities.

Cove Bikes, Hummer 650B, North Shore, Test Bike, First Look, Cove, Bikes, Hustler, 650B, Review, Photos

A tapered headtube that sits at a trail-friendly 67 degrees and smart cable routing put the Hustler shoulder to shoulder with it’s big brand counterparts. The effective top tube on our medium frame measures 23.43″.

Cove Bikes, Hummer 650B, North Shore, Test Bike, First Look, Cove, Bikes, Hustler, 650B, Review, Photos

The uniquely machined linkage runs on sealed bearings, and has had every extra ounce milled out.

Cove Bikes, Hummer 650B, North Shore, Test Bike, First Look, Cove, Bikes, Hustler, 650B, Review, Photos

The Hustler’s rear end sports a clean-looking 150mm of Horst-link suspension. Cove is one of many brands now taking advantage of the expired patent on the linkage.

Cove Bikes, Hummer 650B, North Shore, Test Bike, First Look, Cove, Bikes, Hustler, 650B, Review, Photos

142mm through axle in the rear for maximum stiffness.

Cove Bikes, Hummer 650B, North Shore, Test Bike, First Look, Cove, Bikes, Hustler, 650B, Review, Photos

A top-flight Rock Shox Pike Dual Position Air sits on the front end of the Hustler. The stiffness lets you get rowdy when you want to, and the travel-adjust helps the Cove scoot up climbs.

Cove Bikes, Hummer 650B, North Shore, Test Bike, First Look, Cove, Bikes, Hustler, 650B, Review, Photos

A Fox Float CTD shock keeps things plush out back, with cable routing along the top tube to keep an errant rock from ending your ride early.

Cove Bikes, Hummer 650B, North Shore, Test Bike, First Look, Cove, Bikes, Hustler, 650B, Review, Photos

The bike arrived with a Race Face Turbine cockpit, but was soon swapped for something slightly wider in bar and shorter in stem. Shifting and stopping duties were handled by SRAM’s X0 Trail brakes and X9 shifters. The integrated Reverb remote is another nice touch.

Cove Bikes, Hummer 650B, North Shore, Test Bike, First Look, Cove, Bikes, Hustler, 650B, Review, Photos

More Race Face for the drivetrain sitting at a bb height of 12.9″. Turbine cranks laced to a 34-22 dual ring setup, with that all-important aluminum bash guard. Front derailleur duties are handled by an X0 unit. Pedals are the tester’s own long-suffering e*13 LG1+

Cove Bikes, Hummer 650B, North Shore, Test Bike, First Look, Cove, Bikes, Hustler, 650B, Review, Photos

Rounding out the package is a Rock Shox Reverb dropper post, topped with a Cove-branded WTB saddle that has since been swapped for the eternal Trailmaster. The seat tube itself rests at a climb-friendly 72 degrees.

Cove Bikes, Hummer 650B, North Shore, Test Bike, First Look, Cove, Bikes, Hustler, 650B, Review, Photos

The Hustler 650BJ in its current state. Photo Morgan Taylor.

Our test bike is a size medium, measuring 18″ in the seat tube and fitting my 5’8″ height quite nicely. The Cove original spec comes in at a hair under 30lbs. Since the initial photoshoot, the bars, stem and saddle have been swapped for their Chromag counterparts seen in the last photo (given my love for the Chromag Trailmaster that one was kind of a no-brainer), and the front tire has become a more winter-appropriate Schwalbe Hans Dampf.


Is Cove’s newest steed enough to get your crank turning, or do you yearn for something made out of fantastic plastic?

  • mightyted

    This the first time Cove has ever manufactured a frameset offshore, and at $1950 they try to pass the cost savings on to the rider. Other bike companies should take note. It may not be flashy carbon, but its a quality rig at a reasonable price.

  • nick

    cool bike but seriously still bj, it’s getting old…

    • Cove Bike Shop

      The 650 BJ was just a joke the name is “Hustler”

  • nouseforaname

    Massively expensive, no stealth routing.

    I don’t get the horst link. Why wouldn’t you run with the system you have ‘experience’ with – i.e. VPP style suspension?

    Even if it didn’t have a stupid name it wouldn’t compare with the rest of the bikes in this category.

    Come on Cove, you can do better.

    • boomforeal

      really?

      i don’t see how this is massively expensive. both frame/shock and complete prices seem competitive with other players at this level (banshee, etc.)

      i don’t know why they switched to horst link but maybe they couldn’t get the weight down with their vpp style frames? they were heavy. and if as matthew says they managed a horst link design that pedals/climbs well without boatloads of compression damping or a platform, they may have just turned water into wine!

      i’d want to see more geo numbers, but this bike would seem pretty standard in its category, plus the added cred of being a cove

      come on duncan, you can bitch better ;)

      • nouseforaname

        This is very true – i was wrong on the pricing thing. Apologies to the Cove for that libel on the costing.

        Re: the VPP, it’s working for other bike brands, it just stikes me as wrong when bike brands hop around from single pivot to VPP to horst to whatever. No brand has a bottomless well of R+D money or design experience, and when it’s a small brand, i think they’re usually better off sticking with what they ‘know’ and dialing the intangibles – cable routing, geometry, dropouts etc etc.

        I think it’s a missed opportunity to use off shore manufacturing to make something that was more Shore Core than this. From the beginning Cove bikes have been about making stuff that was appropriate for the local riding that wasn’t available from the other guys. Not just ‘it’s the same as the rest but with a Cove decal on it’. Look at the time period of the Stiffee, the Peeler, the G Spot. All genre defining bikes.

        Too much catalog bike and not enough Cove bike.

        This is all as a guy who pretty much wore a hole in my first Cove catalog in 1999 or 2000. I really really want them to be bikes i want to buy again.

        Apologies for seeming like i’m just bitching for the sake of bitching.

    • morgman

      Boom. Foreal.

      • Cove Bike Shop

        This Model has had extensive testing here on the Shore and Various other locations, by an assortment of differing riders, it has passed all tests.
        Were you not the one who stated in the last article on this model, “that we just grabbed the front end from the warranty pile out back”. Really Dude. I think you should give the bike a ride before you make strong comments like this.
        We chose offshore manufacturing to keep the price down and stay competitive in this market. To have this frame manufactured here would have increased the cost by at least 20% with no real quality issues as overseas manufacturing has improved greatly over the years.

  • ryando

    Is this a basic catalogue Taiwan frame or Cove-engineered frame manufactured in Taiwan? Would be interesting to know before commenting on the relatively high price.

  • awesterner

    Is the BB height correct? That’s less than a Blur Trc with and inch more travel. She’ll rail the corners I suppose :)

    • boomforeal

      the design was local, afaik

      that bb number is LOW, and doesn’t pass the eyeball test… matt, if its claimed, break out the tape!

      also, is the sta figure actual or (in)”effective”?

    • Cove Bike Shop

      The BB height on my prototype is bang on 13″ with the Schwalbe Hans Damf 2.35 the specs on the drawings were using a different fork and tires, all these issues will change the final BB height.

      • boomforeal

        do you measure bb height from the center of the axle, or from the bottom of the bb case? cuz…

        i dl’d that profile shot and used photoshop to draw a line between the front and rear axles. bb axle lined up perfectly between the two – which given the size of the wheels and tires suggests its closer to 14″ than 13″

      • boomforeal

        that second paragraph is supposed to have nerd tags around it

  • flattire

    72 deg seat angle is climb-friendly? With dropper posts commonplace seat angles should be steeper for best climbing, and for descents the seat is out of your way with the dropper. I would have spec’d a 74* SA

    • boomforeal

      that’s why i asked if the 72 number was actual or effective. the seat tube is swagged slightly just above the bb, so a 72 “actual” number would probably be close to 74 “effective”

      (meaning the real number would be somewhere in the middle, as is always the case, since both of those numbers are functionally meaningless)

  • Bryce

    Good looking bike. Maybe they switched to Horst due to the patent expiring? Dunno

    The cable routing is bad though and especially sketchy running through that upper linkage where you’ll have significant rub. Down the top of the downtube, out the chainstays!

    • awesterner

      That exact cable rub issue is why Kona changed the routing on the Satori.

  • Cove Bike Shop

    The Frames will also come with Ti. bolts and caps on all the pivot points with Cove and specified torque etched on each cap.

    • boomforeal

      what’s the weight of a medium or large frame (with or without shock)?

      • Cove Bike Shop

        Frame,rear shock(Fox float CTD) with Maxel 6.99999 lbs

      • Cove Bike Shop

        That was a Med Frame as we do not have the Small, and large until April 1 2014

  • PUNKY

    Nice to see the production bike Chaz was showing me in March finally in a production model

  • boot

    My god, you guys are high. This is a fugly 1980′s prototype. stick to 26er you did it right sort of.

  • Heathen

    This would have made and amazing 26er and was just the bike I was asking about in 2011. Sad to see it jump to the 650BS bandwagon. I bought a Stumpy EVO.

    http://bb.nsmb.com/showthread.php?t=146392&highlight=hustler

    • Cove Bike Shop

      I still have that front end hanging around.

  • PinkRobe

    I seriously had to do a double-take on this. Titus El Guapo @ $1000 frame with shock or $2k complete [current stock going end-of-line]. 26″ to boot. Just saying…

  • boomforeal

    jesus, give me a break. comparing the cost of a new frame to that of an old design being blown out online?

    http://www.on-one.co.uk/i/q/FRTITELGUV3/titus_el_guapo_frame_with_rockshox_monarch_rt3_shock

    “How can we offer such amazing value for such an incredibly specced machine? Because we are selling direct to you, without the margins that a dealer and distributor would add $$$ to the price – infact this exact frame and shock combo was retailing at $2150 three years ago.

  • Cookiesville

    As a friend and riding buddy of Matt’s for a while now I can say that without a doubt his riding has improved exponentially. The biggest leap has been since the move to the North Shore and riding this bike. More confident, smoother and with more flow. Now that he’s got the Chromag OSX bar/Hi-Fi stem combo on there LOOK OUT!

    “It’s gotta be the shoes” – Spike Lee

  • shutts79

    What do people think of the Maxxis Ardent 27.5″ x 2.25?? I have heard they aren’t so great on anything wet….