Banshee Enigma NSMB Andrew Major
FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Banshee's Enigma Aluminum Hardtail Frame

Photos Andrew Major (Unless Noted)
Reading time

F.R.O

The Banshee Enigma is about as boutique as a production aluminum frame gets these days, both in terms of design and dineros. It sports exciting geometry and it has some of the cleanest external cable-routing around. It also carries some bold claims about frame compliance that would be more commonly associated with any other frame material - steel, carbon fiber, wood laminates, etc.

For my first look, the Banshee is wearing the rigid fork and 29+ front tire off of my personal bike, as well as the Dominion brakes, Resolve dropper post, and Sagma saddle. This is a frame-only review and I also have plans to dress the sleek satin sled up with a short travel suspension fork in the near future.

Banshee Enigma Wolf Tooth Camo May23 NSMB Andrew Major

Attitude. Stance. Pose.

The Enigma looks fantastic in a satin-raw finish and the lines of this size large frame are oh so smooth and sweet. But, for me, the initial appeal goes a few pedal strokes further. From the seat tube forward, this rig is almost a geometry twin of my Waltworks V2 assuming the same axle-to-crown. Siblings from a different alloy if you will.

This means that in addition to my Waltworks rigid fork and custom WZRD bar transferring straight across, I can also plug in the recently serviced 120mm Manitou Magic Toothpick I have on hand. The dual 29" hoops from my Walt don't transfer across, so these Project 321 G2 hubs are getting an overdue service and pressed back into action. I also used this wheelset previously to mullet the Banshee Titan I reviewed and on the Santa Cruz Chameleon MX.

Banshee Enigma NSMB Andrew Major (3)

June is Pride Month. Shout out to the LGBTQIA2S+ members of our inclusive NSMB community.

Enigma.

My goal with the Enigma is to both test the frame and test some of my long-held ideas about hardtail geometry. While the geometry of the front triangle is very similar to my Walt, the rear-end dimensions have clearly been stolen off some kid's dirt jumper.

I've taken to calling the bike, in its current rigid-forked guise, a 'Freeride BMX' and it truly and fully embodies the mullet concept. The familiarly slack headtube angle and 29" front wheel are all business and keen to dive into anything. The rear center is a massive 45mm shorter than what I'm used to on my rigid single-speed and makes the bike almost frighteningly playful at times as I learn to ride it.

Banshee Enigma Geo Chart NSMB

Providing a seat height for effective seat angle measurements seems like the kind of simple but helpful detail every bike company should be including in their geometry chart.

In addition to looking expensive, the machined forgings at the drop-outs, bottom bracket, and seat stay-seat tube junction are said to be engineered to add compliance and vibration damping. No one is claiming it's a full-suspension bike or even a soft-tail, but it does move down the trail with an impressive smoothness, and I've certainly ridden much harsher frames in aluminum, carbon, and steel.

Keep in mind I'm running a 29x3" front tire so there is a boost in traction, and some additional compliance. The rear tire is 27x2.6". I'm also running CushCore inserts front and rear - with a Plus in the front and a Pro in the rear - for that rubber-in-rubber traction boost. These are factors to take into account when discussing compliance.

Banshee Enigma NSMB Andrew Major (7)

The Enigma uses a 73mm BSA bottom bracket, 31.6mm seat post, 34.9mm seat post clamp, and a ZS44|ZS56 headtube. Cable routing is external on top of the downtube, which is very clean.

Banshee Enigma NSMB Andrew Major (8)

All Banshee frames include a headset, pre-installed. They feel a headset press is one tool the average home bike builder may not have access to. I knocked it out so Claire could install this Maxhit headset from Enduro.

I'm going to try and have something more to say about this in the future when I'm wrapping my review. In the meantime, it was part of the inspiration for my piece Aluminum Is Actual, and it's certainly a unique appeal factor to the Banshee. Aside from any ride-quality claims, the forgings at the dropouts, bottom bracket-chainstay junction, and seat stay-seat tube junction, all look great. Other than imperfect comparative anecdotes, I have no way of measuring what amount of compliance or vibration damping they deliver.

There's something there. Yes, even though the all-mighty 12mm rear thru-axle arguably killed much of the frame-related comfort compliance in hardtail and road frames. Depending on rider weight, Keith at Banshee says it's less than 10mm. It'll be very interesting to hit things faster, once I install a suspension fork and see if that sensation translates over from the rigid setup.

Here are Banshee's words on the subject:

"The Enigma utilizes Banshee’s engineered vertical compliance and vibration damping achieved through clever FEA-optimized forgings. The Enigma is beyond your average hardtail. It offers a truly unique and joyous ride quality that will put a huge smile on your face."

Banshee Enigma NSMB Andrew Major (2)

The splines around the bottom bracket shell are to mount Banshee's standard, replaceable, ISCG tabs.

Banshee Enigma NSMB Andrew Major (4)

"...engineered vertical compliance and vibration damping achieved through clever FEA-optimized forgings" - Banshee

Banshee Enigma NSMB Andrew Major (3)

Compliance or sliders? I asked Keith why the Enigma doesn't have an adjustable wheelbase. Sliders add too much stiffness.

VS. V2

The front-end geometry of the V2 and Enigma may be twins like Joel & Benji but once the rear-center measurements are taken into account the bikes sit in a 'twins' category more like Arnold & Danny. It's a fitting comparison when judging the characteristics of two rigid bikes with a 45mm difference in chainstay length between them.

The Banshee, which I've taken to calling Vincent, after the DeVito character, is a hustler. It loves to change lines and live the fast life but in any treacherous trail-tech-gnar travails I have to stay on top of it. We're still getting to know each other, but when trails get steep, chunky, and janky, my truculent and trustworthy V2 is significantly more planted, stable, and supportive. The long-stayed V2 also delivers more climbing traction in the steepest, loosest, and most technical situations.

Banshee Enigma NSMB Andrew Major (9)

It's been very interesting to compare the Enigma against my V2 on the same trails and features. Photo: The Clairebarian

Banshee Enigma NSMB Andrew Major

The front-end geometry is almost identical between the two bikes. They're also similarly stiff forward of the seat tube.

Banshee Enigma NSMB Andrew Major (10)

The shorter wheelbase does feel less stable rolling into steeper feature, and through chunky sections. Photo: The Clairebarian

It's very early days, and it depends on the trails I'm riding, but there are many places where the Enigma is more fun. The smaller rear wheel accelerates much more quickly, which is enough of a fun booster on the single-speed that I'm considering mulleting the V2 when it comes back, even acknowledging straight-up that this will affect my speed chunking down janky lines. With the 418mm stays it takes no effort to get the front end up compared to my Waltworks.

And it's not that I find myself walking a bunch of lines that I ride on my V2, it's just notably slower to pick my way down steeper and more aggressive trails. I really only notice this comparatively, when I'm riding with other folks on their full-suspension Enduro bikes. I find myself reaching for the Enigma more for solo riders, and riding my Marinster Truck (El Roy) more with groups where I'd normally have taken the rigid V2.

Waltworks V2 Rigid NSMB Andrew Major

My Waltworks V2 is headed off to meet its maker for some repair work. It has loaned out its livery to the Enigma in the meantime.

Banshee Enigma NSMB Andrew Major (5)

My first attempt at single-speeding relied on a 'magic gear' setup. Zero issues with derailment thanks to the narrow-wide ring and straight chainline.

Does that sound like a lot of difference for 45mm of chainstay length and a slightly smaller rear wheel? Bicycle geometry is a game of millimeters and all told that's a massive difference in rear-center. The rear center of my V2 already grew significantly from my V1, and that bike is also much longer out back compared to the Enigma.

I'll need a lot more hours on the Enigma to be able to comment on 'Vincent' as intimately as I can on my own rig. I have hundreds of hours of experience compensating for my Walt's long rear-center in the moments that it isn't beneficial, and maybe I can get to that point from the other direction with the Banshee. I may need to decide, at this point in my rigid-bike journey, if I want a none-meaner rigid rig I can ride down most anything or one that's more playful.

Banshee Enigma NSMB Andrew Major (6)

I'm all in on mullets for full-suspension bikes. On hardtails I can argue either way, as the larger wheel makes it easier to maintain momentum through rocks and roots.

Banshee Enigma NSMB Andrew Major (11)

The Enigma makes an amazingly fun single-speed aside from no built-in way to tension the chain. There are three options, a tensioner off the derailleur hanger, a tensioner off the ISCG tabs, or an eccentric bottom bracket.

RR Mini Review

I have two rear tire setups going for the Enigma; a full-on knobby 2.6" tire, which does clear healthily even with the 418mm stays, and this 2.6" Schwalbe Rock Razor. I'm not here to sell anyone on semi-slick tires, I love them except when I don't and that's the findings of most folks I know who've tried one.

But, I want to say that it's a crime against mountain bicycles that Schwalbe does not make this tire in a 29" size. The 2.6" Rock Razor, mounted on an i30 rim here, is a much superior experience to riding the 2.3" in either size. It's not just that the extra volume is appreciated, it also transitions from the fast rolling center to hard-biting sides much more intuitively. It's a great complement to the fast and fun riding characteristics of the Engima.

Banshee Enigma Rock Razor NSMB Andrew Major (2)

The 2.6" Rock Razor is such an improvement over my experiences with their 2.3" tire of the same name that it's both sad and shocking that Schwalbe only makes it in a 27" wheel size.

Banshee Enigma Rock Razor NSMB Andrew Major

The 1.66° Project 321 G2 rear hub zings into and out of action as the Rock Razor accelerates quickly, corners hard, and provides surprising braking traction. They're a lovely compliement to the Enigma frame.

Balfa MinuteMan

There was a time in my life when my only mountain bike was a single-speeded Balfa Minuteman. Size long. True Temper steel frame, in a clear-over-raw finish. With a rigid fork. Actually, it was the rigid fork off a Banshee Scratch. I had a fast-rolling tire in the back in the form of the always under-rated Maxxis Larsen TT 26x2.35. It had a decently big tire up front, a 2.7" Maxxis Mobster, that was really more of a 2.5" even on my D321 rim. I rode that bike anywhere and everywhere.

The Banshee Enigma is infinitely more capable with a 64°-ish headtube angle, much longer Reach, the massive 29+ front tire, awesome brakes, and a dropper post. At the same time, the experience of riding it is so overwhelmingly nostalgic that I can ignore every bike I've ridden in between and see this as a clear evolution.

It's an especially pertinent comparison for me, as the unique Balfa is an iconic straight-tubed steel hardtail frame, while the twenty-year-younger Enigma sports highly manipulated aluminum tubes and forgings.

Banshee Enigma Boogieman NSMB Andrew by Jac (3)

There are sections of trails that I find more heart-pumping on the Banshee than my V2, but thus far I've shirked on very few features and I'm still learning the bike. Photo: JacVenture

Banshee Enigma NSMB Andrew Major (8)

I like the top-of-the-down-tube external cable routing. A few friends have remarked that the Enigma's front end looks to be recycled from one of Banshee's full-suspension bikes. Okay.

Banshee Enigma Boogieman NSMB Andrew by Jac (2)

There are places where I'd trade the more playful Enigma frame for the stability of my Waltworks in a heartbeat. With my fear of heights, this happens to be one of them. Photo: JacVenture

"It offers a truly unique and joyous ride quality that will put a huge smile on your face." - Banshee Bikes

Stiffness, compliance, Reach, Stack, effective top tube length, estimated bottom bracket height, actual seat angle equivalence at a given saddle height. I'll talk more about the Banshee Enigma down the trail when I have the necessary hours on my flat pedals and I know the bike as well as my own.

In the meantime, I've been smiling a lot when I ride this thing. Admittedly there's occasionally some terror being ground between my teeth - hey, Scare Yourself! - but more often than not it's just a ridiculously fun mountain bicycle. Actually, it's the first rigid single-speed I've had around that has garnered more "that looks fun!" than "you must be nuts!" comments from other riders I know.

The Banshee Enigma frame, including a headset and rear axle, sells for 1100 USD | 1500 CAD. For more information check it out at Banshee Bikes.

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major

Height - Steve Buscemi-ish

Wait - Patiently

Ape Index - T-Rex

Age - The same as DOS

Favourite Trail(s) every week - Pipeline (thank you Ken!) to Lower Crippler (thank you Andy!)

Favourite Song(s) this week - I'm Your Man. Nick Cave (covering Leonard Cohen)

Favourite Colour - Cosmic Lilac

Bar Width - It depends

Reach & Stack & ETT - It depends

Crank Length - 175mm except when it's 170mm

Wheel Size - Hot For Mullets

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Comments

blangshaw
+4 Andrew Major Morgan Heater bighonzo ohio

I got my hands on one of the very first production frames in Canada, and have been riding it for about 4 months in eastern Canada. Built up full 650b. I'd describe this bike as a dirt jumper, with a dropper post. Turns on a dime, easy to throw around, very fun in the air. Only niggles are bottle cage mounts are high in the frame, and wish the dropper routing was a little lower still. I end up pushing it hard enough that I really think a tire insert is necessary in the rear wheel, as im hucking things I shouldn't on it (the rear flex is real) and pulling the tire off the rim by hitting corners too hard.

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AndrewMajor
0

I’m all in on inserts, especially for hardtails, so I’m a biased party when I say it sounds like you definitely need one.

Interesting comment re. bottle mounts - they’re in a fairly standard location but you’re thinking a trade off in terms of ease of reaching the bottle but getting a lower center of gravity? I can get with that.

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blangshaw
+3 Andrew Major Vik Banerjee bighonzo

Ordered one of the Topeak bottle adjust mount thingies so I can fit a whole 1L bottle (can just fit 750ml of the medium frame), plus lower centre of gravity, which I think is wholly worthwhile on this particular frame.  Bontrager BTIS in the stem and hand pump mounted to the frame and trusting in tubeless means I can do fairly long rides with no pack (fanny or otherwise).

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AndrewMajor
+4 Schmolson Cr4w olaa Tremeer023

Ha, some days I think I’ll be the last person around riding in a backpack.

Cheers!

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Schmolson
+1 Andrew Major

Don't worry, when you come to Cumberland, there will always be at least two of us with backpacks.

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AndrewMajor
0

Cheers!

Ddean
+1 Lynx .

Agree, and for me 29+ is even one notch better. On slow tech'y terrain, nothing beats a hardtail, but being able to run low pressure wide rubber with inserts does amp up your traction when you need it and softens the ride a bit more when you're in faster rougher sections. I dont know if a 3inch is the best for the front (although thats what I use on my hardtail), but I think a 3inch is the best rear width. Makes sense to me for all performance hardtails to at least maintain that option regardless of what diameter they run.

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AndrewMajor
0

I love the 2.8" or 3" front with my rigid fork but I can be perfectly happy using a 2.6" with a suspension fork. Though, I do still prefer to stick with the i40 rim for the more square profile.

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Kenny
+1 Andrew Major

I have 2 rides on mine now and being undergunned in the rear tire department was very noticeable. Even with mediocre skills this bike loves having the rear tire just stuffed into corners. 

Insert and decent tire is mandatory. I am now on a double down high roller 2 with tannus on an i35 rear rim. Beefy times. Should be better. 

I think with a low mount cage like an Arundel, the 1L would go. 

I like the placement for my 835ml thirstmaster, although I may add a B-Rad relocator so I can move the bottle up slightly and add a little accessory bag below:

Overall the bike just rips. 

Talking about n=2, I think this bike is an awesome compliment for a big beefy Enduro bike for people in the sea to sky, because it's capable enough to not be terrifying on our trails, but strikes such a different character to a big long Enduro machine. 

My full suss has 447 stays and a 1300mm wheelbase and I hate to say it but the enigma feels like a breath of fresh air in some scenarios. A great compliment. I gave up on super long hardtails, there was no point for me personally, just a worse version of my full suspension bike, but this enigma is.. just joy.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Kenny

"but this enigma is.. just joy."

Couldn't agree more.

It's an N=2 bike for me, certainly. It's playful - super playful - but also very capable but it doesn't monster truck like the 170mm travel FS rig (or long travel hardtail) that I'd pair it with. I've still only ridden it rigid - have a lot of miles on it now though - but I'll be lowering the Mattoc 34 to 120mm and running it paired soon. 

I'm loving the RockRazor + CushCore combo. I've also ridden it with a Big Betty but the boost in rear braking wasn't worth the trade-off in shenanigans given it's never going to be my only bike. 

If I had a 1L bottle I'd test for you, but I agree - I think with my Morse Cage moved all the way low that the big bottle would clear (large frame). I haven't installed a B-Rad base with bag setup yet, but if it's helpful I can try that tomorrow and post a photo - let me know.

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blangshaw
0

Quick update - put Rimpact Pros in my Enigma (front and rear) on i35 rims but with very xc tires (ontario riding). Big benefit to having the rimpacts - no longer ripping tires of the rim on every berm. Would 100% agree that insert is absolutely necessary on this particular bike, regardless of tire choice and terrain.

Picking up a bottle adjust today, but can fit a 30oz polar bottle in the medium frame with a morse cage now - it just rattles on the top tube a little.

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AndrewMajor
0

"...it just rattles on the top tube a little."

I've come across this in running long B-rad bases with 2x bottle holders and my secret has been hockey sock tape. Stick-on Velcro would probably be even better in this case.

.

I've not, and don't plan to, ride the Enigma without inserts, but it is very interesting that, at least out back, this is developing as the consensus. Really comes down to that Freeride-BMX lack of balance between the long and slack front end and the DJ bike rear end. Love it.

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Kenny
0

Interested to hear what you think with some bounce up front. I've found with long travel hardtails I end up with with the fork set up so progressive I only use 130mm or so anyways, so I find the shorter travel great since it is slack enough without the extra axle-to-crown of a longer fork. 

Also interested to hear how the rock razor holds up. At what appears to be roughly exo casing weight I'd be nervous. Otherwise it seems like the right tool for the job. The HR2 has a drifty vibe so I'm hoping it's not too gluey, I agree that would not be the right feel. Eagle ride tonight will be a good indicator. 

Another interesting one is the DH casing minion SS (In 2.5WT). I think they only come maxxgrip though. I have not decided if that is good or bad. Maybe it makes it the best of both worlds by extending its usefulness when things get damp. Or maybe putting a fast wearing slow rolling compound on a semi slick makes it the worst of both worlds. For that tire I could probably skip the insert.

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AndrewMajor
0

Casing-wise, I've seen great results with Schwalbe Super Trail. Generally, I see, around here, all compounds being equal that EXO (60tpi) is better than legacy EXO+ (120tpi) but I'm excited to see how the new EXO+ (60tpi) holds up when they hit shops.

Super Trail, with the superior sidewall support of a CushCore insert, and, while there's always an exception, I think the vast majority of hardtailers would be happy. 

I'm not sure about MaxxGrip on a semi-slick, sounds like a recipe for a very disappointing tire life. 

I'd be keen to try the new 2.6" Grid Trail Slaughter. The sale prices I've seen are excellent and it's a 60tpi casing with additional reinforcement like the EXO+ will be. T7 should hold up well even with it being micro-knobs.

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AndrewMajor
+1 jgoon

I'd been generally a big believer in <150mm forks for hardtails for ages for the same reason. With the bold geometry changes that a hardtail experiences, I ended up setting them up such that I never used the end of the travel anyways. It turns out that this was largely down to not riding head angles slack enough (static) and even comparing at sagged geometry on flat ground. It makes sense that the fork on a hardtail is going to sag more the steeper terrain gets and the more travel someone is sticking on the front of their hardtail the steeper terrain they are likely planning to ride. 

As part of a piece I'm working on called Game Of Forks, I've been riding my Marinster Truck significantly over-forked (+20mm more than the maximum covered by warranty) with both my SR Suntour Durolux and We Are One's Zeb Ultimate. In both cases setup so I do find the bottom of the fork on occasion. The static head tube angle is about 61° (also mulleted) and it's rad. 

-

Running it mulleted with a big front tire, and knowing my preference for shreddy single-speeds I think 120mm will work awesomely with the playful, pouncing nature of the Enigma.

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kurt
+3 Andrew Major Blofeld Lynx .

2007 XL Paradox still going strong east of the Rockies as a winter bike and commuter in Edmonton. King hubs smooth as, and simplified 1x Advent X drivetrain. Elixer brakes still grabby cause they've never gotten hot enough to suck. 180 mm XT cranks. Never giving those up. One major dent in the top tube from a burly crash. Keith told me to stop riding it, but I didn't listen. This was the first winter it didn't get ridden, as I picked up a proper fatbike.

Would love to try an Enigma. No size XL or XXL?

Trying to upload a photo. First comment ever. Can I not upload from my hard-drive? URL only?

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niels@nsmb.com
+1 Andrew Major

Kurt, you can upload photos to your profile, then embed them in comments using the URL.

We hope to make the experience more user-friendly in the near future but for now that's how it works. If you need assistance, don't hesitate to shoot me a message.

Reply

kurt
+1 Andrew Major

Thank you Niels, got it.

Here's a photo of the Paradox mentioned above. 2007 Banshee Paradox XL kitted for winter in Edmonton 2021

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AndrewMajor
0

I think the way the industry has gone most brands are not seeing demand for dual-27" rigs above a size small, or maybe size medium, frame and mullets are largely occupying the medium-to-large spectrum. 

There are exceptions I know - both in terms of brands and riders - but for trail bike applications XL+ generally is clearly thought to be the realm of the dual 29'er, so in Banshee's case that would be an Enigma customer.

I'm generally writing about balanced bikes and rear-centers that grow in proportion to front-centers and I think from a performance perspective that's still a solid goal for trail bikes, Enduro bikes, etc. That said, this thing is just shenanigans, so I could see tall folks enjoying it for the same reasons I do.

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velocipedestrian
+2 Andrew Major Blofeld

>I'm generally writing about balanced bikes and rear-centers that grow in proportion to front-centers and I think from a performance perspective that's still a solid goal for trail bikes, Enduro bikes, etc. That said, this thing is just shenanigans, so I could see tall folks enjoying it for the same reasons I do. 

Less 'Performance Bicycle' , more 'Entertainment Bicycle'. An ethos to get behind.

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AndrewMajor
+3 Velocipedestrian Blofeld Tremeer023

I'm throwing around the idea that my ideal N=2 (never more, never less) fleet is compromised of two rigs. 

1) A playful but capable rigid single-speed along the lines of the Enigma that can quickly (thanks to having a second wheel and a split race) be converted to a 120mm forked rig. 

2) Something like my Walt V2 out back but with a 61° HTA and a 180mm Dorado, Boxxer, etc. (I love direct mount stems) upfront. Multi-speed most days, with the option to single-speed it when I'm going through one of my phases where gears are for other people.

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velocipedestrian
+3 bushtrucker BadNudes Andrew Major

That N=2 pair is certainly playing into your stereotype (no bad thing, embrace it!).

Cargo/commuter/utility bikes don't count. Otherwise the N gets murky around which belongs to whom.

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AndrewMajor
0

Can’t count the commuter, skinny tires, front rack, etc. As nice as it is it’s for utility not a toy - even if it was previously a toy before being converted to a life of toil.

morgan-heater
+2 Andrew Major Ddean

I'm in the n=2 camp, and agree with your first selection, but the second bike needs to be FS and have all the travel.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Morgan Heater

This is a hard point for me to speak to since I do often have access to full suspension bikes for review stuff. Like I’m personally N=2 right now but there’s a caveat that I’m also riding an Arrival 170.

If I didn’t review bikes anymore and could only ride my rigs would I have two hardtails for my N=2? Probably, but I can see why most wouldn’t. I do also like the look of that new Slayer aluminum and could see one being a good compliment for my rigid one-speed.

morgan-heater
+1 Andrew Major

Ah ha, your N=2 is a lie! Oh the privilege. ;-)

Ddean
+2 Morgan Heater Andrew Major

Im n=2 also with a custom steel hardtail and a Spire, with all the travel like you say. The Spire is more versatile than the hardtail as it pedals great for what it is. In fast rough stuff there is just no way to make the hardtail work but I can do slower techy stuff on the Spire just fine if I can manage pedal strikes. I ride the hardtail more than the Spire though!

morgan-heater
+1 Andrew Major

If I had to make the so depressing N=1 decision, it would be a hardtail though. I can still ride all the same trails, just much slower.

AndrewMajor
+1 Morgan Heater

HAHAHA. The worst part is that it's not even a privilege I appreciate the way every other bike reviewer seems to?! 

I prefer to ride my own bikes - love testing 'stuff' on them - but just when I get a review bike feeling like it's my own bike (which sometimes requires swapping a lot of stuff) SWISHHHHHHHHH away it goes. 

The one exception ever is probably the Arrival 170 actually. I only just got it rolling (two short rides) and I need to figure out the cockpit still, install some inserts, etc. From a price point, and even from a profile, it's not the sort of bike I could see myself ever buying, but I really do feel at home. A strange departure from my always-foreign experience with the Arrival 152. 

All that and jokes aside, if I was left to my own devices I'd have two hardtails with very interchangeable parts. Both mullets. One rigid single-speed. One multi-speed with a suspension fork. Enjoying the Marinster Truck a lot, but I think with the right geometry a 180mm dual crown could be very fun.

AndrewMajor
+3 Morgan Heater Velocipedestrian Lynx .

I tried N=1. I had so many contingency parts I actually found it was simpler to have two bikes built up.

Lynx
+1 Velocipedestrian

Hum, could I do an N=1, if I had to, yes I could, but I'd have to have 2 wheelsets at least.

As to the bike, that's a hard one between the Unit and Phantom. Instinctively I'd say the Phantom these days because it honestly so versatile, I can run from 650B 2.8" up to 29x2.6" comfortably and I can firm up the suspension for smoother or more pedaly rides, but then have it normal for hard trail rides. On the other hand, the Unit is super capable and can run the full gamut of tyres sizes as well and has that certain "feel" to it that anything with sus just doesns't - hard one.

All that being said, with the cost of a Unit frameset and the fact that pretty much anyone who's like me, been into MTB for a while, has a load of extra/spare parts to build up a second bike, so I think it's really N=2.

AndrewMajor
+2 Morgan Heater Velocipedestrian

@Lynx, that’s it though right - start with a second wheelset. I have to have an extra pair of brakes ‘because hydraulics’ and a spare fork because I’ve seen riders have so much downtime due to suspension. Need an extra post (fixed post at least). Definitely a second pair of pedals.

Then after one of my crankarms fell off the other week (and I ended up standing on my BB cups to ride down | the issue was the steel washer chewing through the alloy crank bolt #singlespeeding), well now I need to have spare cranks too. 

I keep stuff as interchangeable as possible on my own rigs, so at some point having a second frame to hang it all on just makes sense.

morgan-heater
0

I think true N+1 is more about simplification, enjoying a bike that is imperfect in all situations, but still entertaining. When something breaks, you just patiently wait until you fix the broken thing, etc.

Lynx
0

@AM - Nah, just the second wheelset so you can have a lighter set of wheels with faster rolling tyres for smoother/longer pedaly days/trails and the a second, burlier wheelset with burlier tyres for hitting the Gnar. 

Other than that, not worried about my brakes, since I switched to Shimano life has been so much better, mostly a quick lever bleed is about all that's required. Only thing brake related I'd keep spare is some fluid and brake pads, that's it.

@Morgan - You sir are a heratic, that is absolute insanity, not being able to ride because a part is broken and why it really is N=1+the parts bin rigid ;-)

morgan-heater
0

@Lynx - When your N=1 bike is broken, you must sit quietly before it, and internalize the impermanence of all things.

Kenny
+1 Andrew Major

I'd say performance vs entertainment is a good thought. 

Rode the enigma  on a social lap of eagle yesterday, IMBY up to eastbound and down, then hammertime and out blue line, which IMO is a pretty decent lap for getting a sense of what a bike, especially Hardtail, is and is not good at. 

I never had any moments where I felt like I "had the wrong bike", it was just fun. 

It's wierd, because full suspension Enduro bikes are just so highly evolved now. It cannot touch my crossworx in terms of performance, even at almost 10lb heavier, that bike gets up the IMBY climb with less... fiddling about. But hey, sometimes you want to fiddle.

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AndrewMajor
0

It's funny, the other bikes I'm riding right now are the We Are One Arrival going back and forth between A130 & A170 builds and my El Roy, going back and forth between different forks as I swap between the Arrival builds. 

The A170 pedals fantastically and goes downhill like I know what I'm doing. The El Roy, especially over-forked, is surprisingly DH fast and capable for a hardtail, but I still reach for the rigid Enigma all the time. I never feel like I have the "wrong bike" and I basically ride them on the same trails. 

As you say sometimes you want to fiddle, but the jig I'm dancing when fiddling on the Enigma is uniquely fun.

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mrbrett
+2 Andrew Major Niels van Kampenhout

Andrew, do you have a source for the Love is Love decals? Or is it totally custom?

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AndrewMajor
+3 Niels van Kampenhout mrbrett bushtrucker

Absolutely, I found them on Etsy at ThirstyKittenThreads. They even donate their proceeds to Calgary Pride.

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BadNudes
+2 bighonzo GB

I really felt the bit about your Minuteman. My bike lineage comes to my current aluminum RSD w/steel fork, steel bar from an aluminum xc bike from a local shop brand in Ottawa (made by DeVinci in Canada I believe!) with a Kona P2 fork, and steel hi rise city bike bars. There is clearly the same spirit in both bikes which you can only feel when riding, but it seems silly to compare them because they're so different; the new one is so much more confident without really giving up anything.

I think I'll always love short chainstays, but I have more "challenge myself" rather than "scare yourself" trails around me, where playing around is the whole point. I'll tweak my SS ratios to hit the magic chainstay number (420, obviously bro).

People will "double diamonds don't flex!" all day, but in the real world those diamonds have bends, and need some way to attach a wheel for example. Very cool to see some nice pics of the forgings. IME there is definitely enough flex in hardtail frames to be able to feel and compare. My RSD is flexier than my Stylus. I think it's all in the dropouts in this case, so I'm very curious about the Chromag Surfer Voyeur with silders. That said, most of the time I'm noticing frame flex it just means the disc is periodically rubbing during out of the saddle climbing...

Anyway, where was I, oh yes, sick bike, great read, thank you! Any idea how big you could go on the rear of that Edward Nigma? 27.5x2.8? 3.0? 29x2.1? 

*edit: sorry, just found the clearance listed in the chart. Do you trust it or could you make a judgement on wiggle room there? Kinda stuck on 2.8s...

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AndrewMajor
+1 BadNudes

Ah, riddle me this... the E.Nigma will clear a properly knobby 27x2.6" so I suspect most semi-slick 2.8" rubber will clear without needing to self-clear. I note here that I'm just spit-balling here and haven't tried larger. 

I always keep my eye open for used MinuteMan frames in good shape. I don't need another bike, but I'd love to build a rigid-forked 26" cruiser. But yeah, the Enigma is that bike x1000.

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velocipedestrian
+1 Andrew Major

>Enigma's front end looks to be recycled from one of Banshee's full-suspension bikes. Okay. 

Very OK. Heaps of brands seem to share partial tubesets between models. 

Bike looks like a hoot, I like the big head tube, and that the brake line stays external the whole run. I'm pondering rear tyres and like the look of the RR, but 29... Do you have any time on the Wicked Will? Slightly less slick looking, but similar layout.

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AndrewMajor
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Yes, Pivot is my go-to anecdote but all the companies doing nice aluminum frames are doing a lot of frame component sharing. Min-Max!

I’ve not ridden the Wicked Will though many folks have suggested it. I suspect that even being designed around the wider rims XC racers are running these days the volume would be much smaller than what I’m looking for outback of a hardtail?

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velocipedestrian
+1 Andrew Major

Schwalbe say it's 62 or 65x622. If it comes up a little narrower than stated the 2.6/65 might fit in the Rifty?

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AndrewMajor
+1 Velocipedestrian

I expect it will fit the rear of the Rifty all around with no self-clearing required. 

Don’t quote me though, thank you. Haven’t seen the WW in person.

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Vikb
+1 Andrew Major

418mm that rear end is tucked...even for me! I had a Paradox in mind at one point in my hardtail journey. Lovely looking frames.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Vik Banerjee

16.5” stays… it’s been a long time. Thanks to the 27” rear wheel it even almost manages to preserve the straight seat tube aesthetic I love.

You were the first person I thought of on the maiden voyage. The bike is not balanced at all in terms of the rider between the wheels, which is something I chased from V1 to V2, and feel I achieved. But I’ve got a stupid grin on my face after MOST rides and its playful nature balances out the other bikes I’m riding right now.

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Vikb
+1 Andrew Major

Just checked and with my sliders pulled back a touch to allow clearance for 29 x 2.6" rubber I'm at 430mm CS. Makes me feel pretty average now after reading about your tuckedness!

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AndrewMajor
+2 Vik Banerjee Tremeer023

430-435mm rear center seems to be the agreed upon norm for a dual 29’er these days. One more reason to embrace mullets?!

Hahaha 

#HotForMullets

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morgan-heater
+1 Andrew Major

That's pretty much exactly what my Stanton Switchback rear end was, and I loved it for a hardtail. I use my hardtail as my slightly mellower terrain bike, and am generally looking to gap and feature everything my limited skills will allow, so being able to manual and jump with less effort is key. I rode a friends full 29r hardtail with a 475mm rear end, and it felt amazing once I dropped it into the corners, but manualling, bunny hopping, and techy little gaps were a chore. In particular, bunny hopping any significant height was nearly impossible. My new hardtail is a little more inbetween, probably about 435, set up mullet, and it's a nice compromise, but I miss the BMX backend for sure! I also find I ride the fork a lot more on a hardtail anyways, and the rear end just sort of follows along pinging through things, so I'm not really sold on the stability idea from the long rear end. It almost feels like it's a little easier in chunkier terrain with a shorter rear end because you can move it around obstacles more quickly and with less effort. Also a blast on smoother jump lines because it's so easy to get in the air.

Edit: looks like the Rig is closer to 460mm rear end, rather than the 475 I thought.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Blofeld

What bike did your friend have with a 475mm rear end? Custom? What kind of Reach and HTA?

The Enigma is so much sillier to get the front wheel up compared to my V2 it's a bit hilarious. I've only looped out once though (thus far!).

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morgan-heater
+2 Andrew Major Velocipedestrian

It was a RigV2, super cool pinion hardtail made by Nicolai. Roughly 500mm reach, and a 63 degree HTA, if I'm remembering right.

I picked up a used Nordest Lacrau, and it feels pretty amazing, I'm not sure if it's TI, or the tubing profiles, but it is drastically more compliant than previous hardtails I've ridden. I didn't think I'd be able to tell, but it's pretty significant. Not to mention roughly 480 reach, 63.5 HTA, 160mm fork, mullet, pinion, etc. Very niche, but crazy fun so far. I went with a 24t front, and a 30 tooth rear, and the gearbox has 600% range, sooo, spin to win.

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AndrewMajor
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Neat! Trust the folks at Nicolai to always be up to something RAD.

Pics of the Lacrau?! Sounds amazing.

morgan-heater
+2 Velocipedestrian BadNudes

https://nsmb.com/photos/view/22647/

https://nsmb.com/photos/view/22648/

Technically, the Rig is someone else's passion project, but manufactured by Nicolai. He has another version made by Marino. Anyone who likes long hardtails should check them out:

https://www.4130.fi/rig-v2c-frameset/

AndrewMajor
0

That's quite the rig alright! I used to be very gearbox curious but now, along with massive battery-storage-sized downtubes, it's an aesthetic that I find hard to buy into. Still stoked that folks are chasing their no-dangle dreams.

Ti frame looks great! It's a Pinion setup? Are you using a twist shifter?

morgan-heater
+1 Andrew Major

Yep, C1.12 pinion with a grip shifter. Works great. So tidy.

Lynx
+1 Andy Eunson

16.5" stays :eek: With my experience with both the Monkey and Paradox V1&2 with 16.9", I don't think this would be the frame for me, more so I'd do the new V3 Paradox and mullet that and be able to safely fit a 650Bx2.8" in back to better match the 2.8-3.0" I'd run upfront and have a bit better weight balance F>R.

Like you, since getting my Unit with sliding drop outs, I've come to appreciate a more balanced feeling of the longer stays and the minuses are few compared to the pluses. The Paradoxs were definitely fun, instant power put down and so easy to move/flick about, but on those loose/steep/tech climbs, the longer stays win out. I'd be curious if you could get ahold of a V2 Paradox and compare it's "compliance" against the Enigma.

Looking forward to seeing the follow up piece(s) on this.

On the subject of mulleting - since my 9point8 FallLine went down and I got the Phantom ressurected and had to use a straight post, I've combated the too steep for me STA by over forking it, so the HTA sits somewhere around 66.5 and I've gotten quite accustomed to it, but was feeling quite a difference swapping between it and the Unit with it's 67.6 HTA and so in playing the other day, I decided to try a 650B+ in the rear. Short of that is, I'm accustomed to slacker, so the now roughly 67* HTA feels quite nice, but haven't gotten a chance to take it on some full rowdy stuff yet to see. Lucky for me I build my own wheels, so after stealing one from one of my Paradox fleet bikes, I swapped over my rear from i39 29er to i40 650B and had a nice 3.0 WTB Trail Boss.

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AndrewMajor
+3 Allen Lloyd Lynx . Andy Eunson

I don’t love running a notably wider tire in rear than the front - I find my bike corners strangely in steep & smooth turns. On the other hand, running a massive tire up front with something narrower in the rear is never an issue.

As to balance. My V2 delivers that like no other hardtail (or rigid bike) I’ve ridden. The Enigma is an opportunity to play with something very familiar in terms of how it fits but also some at the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of rear center.

The Paradox is a nice looking bike and owners all seem to enjoy them but I’ve ridden plenty of bikes with similar geometry. The Enigma is something more unique.

As to SSSTAs (Super Steep Seat Tube Angles) my Marinster Truck has that in droves and I’ve been experimenting with a lot of different setups to be able to write more about the trend. Certainly still glad not every company is chasing the perpendicular aesthetic.

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Lynx
+1 Velocipedestrian

Will be curious to rear your thoughts on the SSSTA thing and possible alternate solutions to the rapidly growing problem.

On rear vs front tyre width, I more look for overall grip characteristics, so say if it's on one of my Paradoxs, I'm running a less knobby 2.8" in the rear and more knobby 2.5-2.6" in the front so the front end has more "bite". On most of my personal bikes I will run a bit smaller rear than front or matched, but less knobby, or less sticky compound etc, so the front end has the "bite"

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AndrewMajor
0

I'm avoiding the term 'solutions' but at least I've come to grips with making the super-steep El Roy rideable. It's even enjoyable to climb in very steep terrain. 

Aside from testing bikes, I'll still be chasing slacker setups for my own rigs.

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velocipedestrian
+2 Lynx . Andrew Major

No solutions, just acceptable compromises.

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Bondseye
+1 Vik Banerjee

Looking forward to the full write up. I own a Paradox and have been enigma curious because of the ability to run it in mullet, but I’ve been hesitant because of the short chain stays. if i had more flow trails, pump tracks, and jump parks nearby I'd be all over it, but here in North Carolina roots, and rocks far outnumber smooth berms, and machine built jumps. 

One thing I’ve noticed on the Paradox is while the rear end is definitely compliant, the front end feels very stiff. I can definitely get a sharp arm jolt on bigger hits even with a 130mm fork.

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bighonzo
+1 Andrew Major

Thanks for the writeup and I'm really looking forward to the review. Do you know of any boutique, maybe even made in N.A., chain tensioners that would complement the Enigma's frame? I feel like a Singulator would look too cheap on this.

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AndrewMajor
+2 BadNudes bighonzo

That’s a hard one, all tensioners look like tensioners to me. Actually I have a buddy with an old Rennen one that I thought about stealing for this build. Might be worth checking out?

I’m running a Trickstuff BSA eccentric. It’s not faultless but it works with every BSA frame and looks clean. Easy to change bearings, and its smooooooooth.

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bighonzo
+2 Andrew Major Lynx .

Thanks, an eccentric BSA would open up a lot of sweet hardtail options. Could even fix a too-slack STA. I can't find much about that particular model so if you ever do a teardown for service I'd be very interested in reading about it.

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AndrewMajor
+2 bighonzo Lynx .

It's a small adjustment but slackening a 'modern' seat tube angle is generally a win for me, for sure. 

I'll dig up some photos for you in a bit.

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AndrewMajor
+4 Lynx . bighonzo Andy Eunson BadNudes

Trickstuff BB photos, as promised. Just a note, not that I have enough experience yet to recommend it anyway, that this is mine, not a review product. 

If someone decides to go down this trail, do note that they do not play nice with cranks with granny tabs, or with Race Face cranks, so you'll need to budget for some Shimano 24mm axle cranks at the same time if you're not already using them.

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bighonzo
+2 Andrew Major Lynx .

Thanks so much, that looks like it belongs on the Banshee. Definitely way cleaner than any tensioner.

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AndrewMajor
+2 Lynx . BadNudes

It's clean and straightforward to use, but the adjustment is not quite as easy as some folks might lead you to believe as the system, once tightened, doesn't love to loosen. I back off the screws and use a small punch inside their heads to tap the stainless discs free so that the aluminum eccentrics can spin. 

That said, zero slipping or other issues thus far and it doesn't take much longer to adjust than sliders.

BadNudes
+1 bighonzo

Have you seen Paul Component's Melvin?

Still looks like a tensioner, maybe a little chain-slappy (?) But would do the job of boutique MINA chain tensioner

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AndrewMajor
+2 BadNudes bighonzo

I own a Melvin. It was great for my dingle-speed and tringle-speed front-derailleur projects and it's very well made. For a hardtail, I'd prefer a tensioner that doesn't use a spring. 

The Rennen Rollenlager for example. Unfortunately, they never updated it for thru-axle bikes.

ALTHOUGH.... with all the UDH bikes out there now maybe there's a future product opportunity? Could sell tens of tensioners that mount off UDH.

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bighonzo
+2 BadNudes Andrew Major

That would definitely fit the bill. I had an all bronze and Wolf Tooth Espresso color scheme in mind but there's nothing wrong with purple on raw allu too.

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DogVet
+1 bushtrucker

Peter Vedone geometry

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Ride.DMC
+1 Andrew Major

Now your previous article about frame material and compliance etc. makes sense.  I thought you had some deal with Trek where they were paying you by the word written for or about the Roscoe you reviewed - but now I see you were prepping us for this.  Well played!

And shout out to the Balfa Minuteman in clear over raw finish no less - that was my absolute dream hardtail for many, many years. Never managed to get my hands on one though.

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AndrewMajor
+3 bighonzo BadNudes Andy Eunson

Hahahaha HAHAHA… yeah, after the bags of cash from writing positive things about Crankbrother’s Highline dropper post dried up I had to switch to cheap beer for a few years there, but with the Trek Roscoe money I’m back lapping up local luxury liquids. 

Mine was a team frame that I bought used. It even had the True Temper stamp. I wish I had photos.

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kurt
0

.

First Gen 2007 Banshee Paradox XL kitted for winter in Edmonton 20212007 Banshee Paradox XL kitted for winter in Edmonton 2021

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0

Great Article! Can you tell me which size Chainring would fit this bike? 34 or 36? Maybe even 38? What do you think? You would help me alot to decide on my next frame :-)

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