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Crankworx 2023 Recap

Photos Deniz Merdano
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Knolly Gen 6 Bikes

Last year at Crankworx we spotted a couple of new bikes with straight top tubes that are a deviation from the Knolly's usual aesthetic. These new lines were well received but information on the bikes was thin.

Walking by the Knolly tent this year, we got to see a couple of more refined and seemingly sale-ready models with the Endorphin name clearly printed on them. The samples on display were full 27.5" and 29-27.5" mixed wheel with what looked like 150-140mm forks. The Fox Float X2 rear shock suggests 130mm+ rear travel and the hub spacing is Knolly's Standard SuperBoost 157mm. The rocker link is a one-piece bridged unit rather than the 2-piece models of the past. The frame also looks to sport bearings in all moving joints. There are accessory mounting points under the top tube and the shape of the tubeset seems to be different from previous models as well.

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Erin is not very tall but her dropper sure is.

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New one-piece rocker.

Erin from Knolly had her size small ride set up with a 200mm dropper, clearly displaying the bike's versatility. Having just reviewed Yeti's SB135LR, a bike with similar intentions, I don't doubt this next gen Endorphin will be a party on wheels.

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Outdoor Research has announced their intention to enter the MTB market, with a big sponsorship presence at Crankworx this year, and a booth showing some great looking apparel.

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This is a lightweight soft-shell that looks perfect for Fall or Spring - or cool morning rides in the mountains.

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Five Ten didn't have any shoe models we haven't already heard about or seen (Pete is currently testing the new Kestrel BOAs) but some of the colors they had on display looked awesome (as long you're, you know, into colours). Here's the Trailcross Clip-In which Deniz loves for use in summer thanks to all the mesh.

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And the Freerider Pro - a classic shoe in a not so classic summer colourway.

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Scor had this super sweet paint job on display. Paint by Tony Baumann / @maderadbytony

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Shapeshifter Trail Tools

Shapeshifter makes proprietary tools for trail building. The tools are welded, painted and assembled in Whistler B.C. They're so well-respected that even forest fire fighters have begun purchasing and using them during B.C.'s worst fire season ever.

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Georgia from Shapeshifter tools, holding a tool that may be new. That tool is holding a Cougar and a Timber Wolf tool, thanks to some crafty design work.

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This will give you an idea of how this works.

An element of Shapeshifter's tools that they claim sets them apart from others is the use of T400 plate steel: "Commonly used for the beds of dump trucks, this hardwearing iron plate gets the job done whether you're picking rocks or tearing through roots. T400 steel also boasts longevity as it fights temperature wear, adhesive wear, and corrosion."

Each tool is made in two versions: full size and lightweight. Aside from smaller dimensions on the tool end, the full size versions use ash handles while the lightweights use hickory.

More info at shapeshiftertools.ca

Riding in the Valley

While Whistler is most famous for its bike park, it's also home to some of the best trails in the world, scattered throughout the valley. We try to get a taste of these during every Crankworx. A favourite of ours is Gargamel, made famous by Tyler Morland in his Collective segment.

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The start of Gargamel involves some technical singletrack climbing.

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The last section of Gargamel brings you out into a huge rock amphitheatre. The final descent is on the northern rim of this incredible geological feature.

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This multi-pitched slab brings you down off the high point of the amphitheatre zone (I'm sure locals have their own name for it) and there are spicier options if you are feeling it. Rider - Pete Roggeman

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Same move, different angle. Rider - Cam McRae

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The beginning of the final descent.

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If you find some intricate rock work on Gargamel, Ken Melamed is likely responsible.

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Another favourite is Bring on the Weekend which is also North of Whistler but on the east side of Green Lake. This rock face was a beauty. Rider - Pete Roggeman.

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Trevor Hansen was returning from a broken rib and a wonky elbow, but he was healthy enough to roll this one.

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Can't wait to get back to Whistler!

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+6 Deniz Merdano Cam McRae bishopsmike Niels van Kampenhout dhr999 Pete Roggeman

Those trail shots are incredible.



Thank you! I need to get back there for more shots. It's a gorgeous aspect of the Whistler Valley


+6 Deniz Merdano DadStillRides BenZ bishopsmike Sidney Durant dhr999

The new Knolly's are looking so good!!

It really is amazing how small changes in design can totally change a bike's look!

Hoping that Endorphin will be offered in a 150 rear end with a 160 up front... and mixed wheels... oh man, that would be my perfect bike!!


+2 IslandLife Skooks

Fully agree,

A mixed wheel, tequila sunrise, short travel, Fugitive with the new frame design, would be stunning!



Hope they will release them one day, maybe they are waiting to sell the current stock :) They look absolutely great, all weak points seem to be gone.



Except trunnion, pity.


+3 bishopsmike Skooks lkubica

Pretty excited about the new Knollys. Not earth shattering changes, but hits basically everything I'd want to improve about my Fugitive LT. Longer on both ends, taller head tube, straight top tube, bearings, one piece rocker, UDH and even a bonus accessory mount. 

3 years, 5000 miles, love the Fugitive, but it needs a lot of love at this point.


+3 IslandLife Skooks lkubica

Those Knollys are doin it for me…definitely interested for my next bike when those straight top tubes come out


+3 Deniz Merdano Cam McRae ackshunW

I love that cover shot. Very cool. Merdano's amazing.


+2 Cam McRae kcy4130

Thank you! I was hoping for a bit more blur with the crowd but still pleased with how it turned out!


+3 Deniz Merdano IslandLife Skooks

Wow I instantly went from hating knolly’s to loving them.


+2 Deniz Merdano IslandLife

Same team - I was seriously questioning why I was suddenly attracted to Knolly's again, and didn't realize it was an updated until I started reading. Crazy how such minor visual tweaks can affect perception.


+1 Cam McRae

Definitely interested in the new hoe / pick combo from ShapeShifter! (The Narwhal?) I've been a big fan of the equivalent of the Orca from Rogue Hoe, but often find that the pick end is too stubby for the times when you actually need a pick, while the broader hoe head is more effective than a standard pick head.



When I saw this tool, I immediately pictured the cartoon version of a roadrunner.


+1 IslandLife

I am glad Shape Shifter has take the designs of Rogue tools and is manufacturing here.  Hopefully it is easier to get ahold of good quality tools in Canada.  Rogue makes great tools but its hard to get access to them and local distributors are usually out of stoke.  Mountain Metal Works are based in the greater Vancouver area but have limited range in product.  Any other tool makers?

For all tool builders, can we get a little more options with fiber glass handles?  I often leave tool stashes in wet places, think anywhere on the coast of van isle,  and wood just swells and degrades.  Rogue makes a handle little hoe with a fiber glass handle and it is awesome.

Hint: if you break your MTN Metal Works rough rake you can use the alu handle from a Fiskars shovel and make an unbreakable tool.



Hoping the new Knollys will have shorter ETTs.


+1 lkubica

Have you ridden them? Knolly has a sort of sensible, sort of goofy way to measure ETT. It makes sense and is accurate, but it's goofy because it's not apples to apples with anyone else's measurements. They ride short, in my opinion, why I'm excited to get a longer one.


+3 hotlapz Andy Eunson lkubica

Remember reading somewhere that they measure their ETT different than almost everyone else... so when I look at Knolly's I look at reach, head tube length and wheelbase to figure how a size will work for me.

They explain their measurement here - https://knollybikes.com/en-ca/pages/tech-offset-straight-seat-tube-design

But... they did a mid-run reach adjustment on the Fugitive 138 taking it from 491 to 485.  So that makes me think that these new bikes may come back a little from their long reaches.  In saying that, their Head Tubes have always been short which meant you had options for effective reach adjustment.  It might have been 491 on paper, but once you're done with spacers getting your stack where you want it, you were generally left with an effective reach somewhere in the 480's.  So if they come back on reach, I hope they also increase stack, either from longer head tubes or adjusted design.



I didn't know they changed the Fugitive V2, do you know when they did that?


0 DancingWithMyself IslandLife

Cool shot Deniz, agree a bit slower shutter speed and you'd have captured what you wanted, but still a cool image that works.

While I think it's cool that that short a person can install a 200mm travel dropper, albeit, slammed to the seatpost collar, I'd be highly skeptical that the tyre wouldn't be slamming into the back of the saddle on full travel, would have been good to see a shot of the saddle dropped all the way and the bike fully compressed to it's max travel.

My quick, down and dirty PSS doodling seems to support my theory, despite Knolly's claim that their straight STs, move the saddle far enough forward to eliminate this problem.


+2 BarryW Lynx .

My 5'1" Son is on a size small Knolly Fugitive with a 180mm dropper.  Slammed, the tire is nowhere near the rear wheel at full travel.  Yes these are new/different designs but it's not about the amount of drop, it's about where the slammed seat is, which could be same for a 125mm dropper as a 240mm dropper.  Also, at full travel, that rear triangle doesn't come nearly as close to the seat tube as your PS job shows.

And I'd bet 1 million dollars that Noel has ensured that a slammed seat does not get in the way of the rear tire... that would be a humongous oversight.


+1 BarryW

Sorry, no Knolly's down here, guess I'm just jaded after the whole Ibis fiasco because their <5' designer has serious Napolean syndrome and tried this with susper short STs, so she could ride a 29er, only to have you not be able to actually slam the longer dropper to the seat collar on a few sizes, or risk having the tyre grind the saddle or worse.

Not sure of the axle path of the Knolly, so wasn't sure how close it came to the ST.


+1 IslandLife

As @IslandLife has already said, the amount of drop has no bearing on it unless the tire will touch a completely lowered seat on full suspension compression. My wife's Polygon has a 170 dropper upgraded from the 150 that came originally, maybe 1cm from completely bottomed out and no issues. 

Seems to me like a bike that will touch the rear wheel to a completely lowered seat is a defective product.


+2 BarryW IslandLife

I've got a size small Fugitive 138 with a 200mm One Up dropper. The seat doesn't come close to hitting the tire, but the post isn't slammed to the collar either.


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