2014 Cove Hustler 650BJ
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.
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″.
The uniquely machined linkage runs on sealed bearings, and has had every extra ounce milled out.
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.
142mm through axle in the rear for maximum stiffness.
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.
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.
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.
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+
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.
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?