Chapter 1: The Build and the Honeymoon

Forbidden Bicycle Co. Multi Part Review

Photos Deniz Merdano
DSC06269_druidforbidden_ch1 1.jpg


Homebrewed in Canada

Forbidden Bike Co, Druid v2 Long Term test platform

Forbidden Bike Co.'s products, at the time of this article was written, are available as a frame and shock only option. Which makes it a perfect platform to test various components and products in an expansive frame of time. I hope to write about my experience of living with the parts that clad this beautiful frame in a few chapters.

Chapter 1 - Introduction and a bit of a glamour photography show off.

Chapter 2 - The Shimano XT Components

Chapter 3 - Fork performance

Chapter 4 - Could just be me telling dad jokes – but we should probably talk about how the bike actually performs

I took possession of the frame in February. It took a couple of weeks to gather the necessary parts to build up the bike which also coincided with moving and pretty much life as we know it coming to a screeching halt.

Chapter 1 - The Build and the Honeymoon

  • OH MY GOD nice Druid
  • WOW! What is that frame?
  • Nice Bike. Is that a Santa Cruz?

These are some of the comments I get to hear riding this thing around. It sure is a conversation starter. But just look at it!! I stare at it sometimes for a while and admire all the pretty lines.

The Build

Frame : Forbidden Bike Co. Druid, Medium, (with updated linkage more on that later)

Rear Shock : 2020 Fox DPX2 Performance Elite 210x55

Fork : 2020 Marzocchi Bomber Z1 Coil 29, 160mm

Handlebar : Enve M6 31.8 780mm

Stem : Deity Copperhead 35mm 31.8

Headset : FSA Orbit 44/56

Grips : RaceFace Gedda Grip 30mm

Brakes : Shimano XT M8120

Shifting : Shimano XT M8120 12sp

Chain : Shimano XTR 12sp Hyperglide

Derailleur : Shimano XT M8100 12sp

Chainguide : E13 Forbidden Bikes Custom top and bottom guides and bashguard

Cranks : Shimano XT 170mm

Pedals : Time Speciale 8 Enduro

Front Wheel : We are One Union 29, Industry Nine

Rear Wheel : We are One Union 29, Industry Nine Hydra Microspline

Cassette : Shimano XT 8100 10-51

Tires : E13 TRS+ 2.4 Skinwall

Seatpost : Oneup Components 180mm

Saddle : Ergon SM Pro Large

Protection : Bike Shield Gloss

Weight : 32.2 lbs with pedals

Forbidden also sent a package that included a new suspension linkage assembly and an updated idler pulley.


Enve M6 Carbon bars have been comfortable in rough terrain.


Deity Copperhead stem is a treat for sore eyes


First Things First - installing the v2 linkage

It took a hell of an effort to get the v1 linkage out of the frame. The Ti shock bolts were incredibly easy to access and remove but the undeniably beautiful Titanium hardware squeezing the frame to the linkage had nearly welded itself together.

I had to reach out for the frame straightening tool jokingly called the “dog killer” to get enough leverage.

Once the old linkage was out it was a fine moment to compare the new design and figure out why the changes were made. The biggest difference is the construction of the units. The v1 was two machined halves bolted together with Ti bolts and sleeved end caps that slide in to the main pivot bearings. The massive Ti pivot bolt then slid through the entire assembly.

The v2 is a one-piece machined unit with 2mm larger diameter Aluminum pivot bolt that replaced not only the Ti one but also the sleeved end-caps that probably did not do much for lateral stiffness. The new unit allows for larger bearings in the linkage and a bigger bolt to fasten everything to the frame. I am told it also solves a creaking issue on the v1 linkage. I have zero kms on the first version but the v2 linkage has been trouble free since the day I installed it.

I have to say I miss the look of the Ti bolt heads that sit perfectly flush with the carbon frame but I’ll happily take a creak–free frame over, well... a creaky one.


I have been informed by guys at Forbidden that the frame hardware is all Stainless Steel and not Titanium like the article mentions.

It fooled not only me, but the boys at Forbidden too.. Shock bolts however are Titanium..

Screen Shot 2020-04-26 at 22.01.03.png


Old and New all together


2pc V1 linkage on the Left, 1pc V2 Linkage on the right


Aluminium v2 bolts and titanium V1 bolts.


DLC coated pulley wheel on the right. also plays well with Shimano 12sp




Clean cable routing and noise free cockpit


Aperture and Focus ring headset spacers were a gift from Joe Murray during our Peru trip.

The Build Process

Smooth as butter. Rubber cable grommets are fastened to the frame by more titanium goodness and rear brake hose and shifter housing is routed through the top tube. Easy to fish through and uneventful. The dropper housing goes through the downtube and loops in front of the BB and through a side channel on the shock tunnel. Magically, the plastic frame protector is bolted on by more Ti bolts and opens up to reveal a big cavity to fish the housing through and store a spare 29er tube. F’in brilliant.

On a size Medium frame, 126 links of Shimano XTR chain was right on the money for length. Larger sizes will need a link or two extra for a 12sp drivetrain, but may not if you are running a cassette without a dinner plate-sized granny gear.

Remember that new pulley wheel they sent me? Well it is designed to play nicely with the new Shimano Hyperglide drivetrain and is fully compatible with SRAM chains as well. It also has a DLC(diamond like coating) on the aluminum pulley wheel to increase life span and reduce friction. Forbidden offers a stainless steel version for monster pedalers out there who don't mind the extra weight.



Stout front end with the WR1 wheel and I9 Hub combo


The new Marzocchi Z1 Coil is a heavy hitting chunder tamer


With the routing the chain takes, pedaling and suspension relationship is as separate as it gets.


No pedal kickback, consistents Anti-Squat in all gears and rearwards axle path


We Are One Union Rims have been a stellar match for the Druid


The New XT brakes are a little underwhelming thus far, but more info is needed


It's ok, you can keep staring

Pre-ride checks and Introduction

I have 18 rides on this bike so far. That is eighteen, at the least 800meters of elevation gain, 17km+ rides. No shuttles. That is around 320km of pedaling and around 16.000meters of climbing. Days before the Covid-19 restrictions and recommendations came into effect, I had just moved my residence conveniently to the foothills of Seymour Mountain. Solo rides starting and ending back at the house have been the norm. Within 2 city blocks, I can dip into the trails and pedal as fast or as slow as I want to explore not only the new neighborhood but also the life on the Druid.

But to give perspective on ‘what I do on the Druid’, you’ll need to know about me. I have a long history of doing silly things on bikes and it all started and evolved around Flatland BMX. Spending days and years in empty parking lots perfecting tricks were the norm for me. Bikes were heavier and built smaller than we wanted them to be. I competed in the small North American flatland scene and documented it vigorously turning myself into a photographer of bikes in the process.

I got hurt a lot, so I stopped playing on little bikes. I stand 5’9” tall and 150lbs out of or on the way into the shower. Shorter legs and longer torso, and dangly arms. Size Medium helmets fit me well and I stand somewhat off balance in size 42 shoes.

I have been riding clipped in for the past 2 years and for how much I move around on the bike, I could not get along with the shimano pedal system. The XT pedals spit me right out whenever I wanted to get the bike sideways in the air. I know its not the SPD’s fault but Time pedals were happy to lend me the freedom to do less than ideal moves with my knees and not clip out mid air. Part of the reason I started clipping in was because I could not stay planted on my flat pedals in rough trails with less than ideal suspension designs on the bikes I rode. Pedals were finding their way to my shins more frequently than the soles of my shoes and enough was enough. Clipping in also made the heavier bikes seem lighter and less effort to move around. I am a smaller guy and somewhat lazy on the bike.

I took a bootcamp with a local bike guru to enjoy pedaling uphill and I can now hang with the best riding uphill all day long and shredding some sketchy lines on the way down. I ride with my hips a lot and like to skip holes and compressions using all of the trail, jumping from side to side.


No problem picking the finest lines and micro correcting half way in


Druid loves the speed and is very playful

Suspension Setup

The Forbidden Druid comes from the factory with a light tune Fox DPX2 Performance Elite shock. It is a brilliant little shock. You can however run just about any coil or air shock of your choosing. When I gear up to about 165lbs of stuff, I initially set the shock to 150psi air for a 30% sag.

It just did not feel right at first… I tried getting along with it for a few rides and unless I was riding at a race-pace, it felt too harsh for the promised suspension performance. The low speed compression was wide open and rebound compression was 3 clicks from full pogo.

Easy rides showed full travel on the o-ring with a strange feeling under my feet that I can only explain as, dead.. Then I had a chat with Owen Pemberton, the man behind the brand. He let me in on a setup tip that changed everything.

When he designed the Druid he wanted the ride height to remain low and the shock to recover fast for the next hit. He also needed the pedalling platform to be supportive and ground tracking, and damping control to be as unrestricted as possible. Which meant that the shock air pressure influences the ride height of the bike more than how it goes through its 130mm travel.

Down went the air pressure to 140psi in the shock and in went the grey volume spacer for more bottom out support. The bike settled nicely into 35% sag and rebound was set 1-click from full pogo and LS compression 2-clicks from open. With the Coil-sprung 160mm Marzocchi Z1 up front, the head angle slackened to a Shore worthy 65 degrees and everything started making sense.


This bike will make you a cornering god


See.. 180mm dropper is perfect for this

The stability this setup gives me on the downhills has been an eye opener, considering the 130mm travel on tap out back. Because of the Druid's geo numbers, I was initially hesitant to take it into steeper terrain. I rode easier trails faster and faster and PRs started coming in. I was in my element. I have been happily riding terrain you’d reserve a 170mm bike for the last few rides and the agility of the Druid makes micro corrections with much less effort than a plow bike that needs commitment to the line. Z1 Coil holds me high up in the travel and does not fatigue me in a way the air sprung counterparts do.

The Druid can climb up anything. You point at it, It’ll climb it. There's more than enough traction out back for any uphill shenanigans as long as your pedals clear said obstacles. There is some noise from all the things the chain is routed through, but no noticeable drag. People I ride with hear it, but I don’t; it is white noise.

I can out corner my previous self. The low bottom bracket plays a role in this, no doubt. I’ve never cornered this well on any bike before. The closest cornering performance has to be from the New Pivot Switchblade, which I think is a great head to head comparison bike to the Druid. We'll save that for another chapter. 180mm OneUp Dropper is the other part of this story. Clearance is king.


Tons of traction on all surfaces

Riding the druid has not been intuitive. I had to adjust the way I use the brakes and trust the traction at hand. Under heavy rear braking the bike will sit into its travel and have a hard time recovering. The head angle will slacken but the feedback under your feet will be increased. I had to remind myself to practice late braking and finding support on the corners to push off of at higher speeds. Too much front brake and the rear will sit high up in travel. The best option is to brake hard, late and commit through the obstacles. The suspension does everything it is designed to.

Looking further down the trail has also been on the menu more. It is fantastic advice regardless of the bike but finding the smallest bumps to air off of has been a major point of every outing.

Next chapter we'll tear the bike apart and see how everything is surviving...

to be continued...

Deniz Merdano



Playful, lively riding style

Photographer and Story Teller

Lenticular Aesthetician


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+2 Pete Roggeman Andrew Major

Nice write up and awesome pics, Deniz. I’m glad they redesigned that link. The bike ride incredibly well and the only reason I sold it was that I sounded like VPS day at Whistler... I also rode it (unknowingly) with a 160 mm fork on it for a while and it was awesome. When I realized it, I asked the guys at Forbidden and they said it would void the warranty. Did they change things?



It does or doesn't void the warranty, I am not sure. But I have been told the frames haven't been stress tested with a 160mm fork. Forbidden is however working on changing that so they have accurate data as to what a 160mm fork does to the frame. 

With a coil fork thats so supple that it sags on its own weight, I am not too concerned.


+2 Deniz Merdano Pete Roggeman

Can you stop making the things I can't afford seem so desirable? Jeeeeeez.

I love these bikes.


+1 Pete Roggeman

How does one get to only write about the hottest bikes on the market?
You have a cool job, man!


+4 Pete Roggeman Sanesh Iyer satn Psyops

It's a tough job.. but someone has to it.. :)


+1 Pete Roggeman

Very excited to hear more about this bike. I would love to demo one someday!


+1 Pete Roggeman

Lovely bike, ridden one briefly in the UK.

Just one thing I am curious about, presumably the very rearward axel path is great for the rear wheel to get out of the way when it impacts something, but it does have to return and then may be returning at the point of impact of another item, surely this leads to a “choppy “ rear ride in short sharp chunder, or am I missing something?!!


+1 Pete Roggeman

Even the most rearward axle path is still more or less just vertical. Fast rebound seems to be the key to the success of this suspension design. It would be interesting to see how it works in a longer travel application. Seems to be working well for the commencal downhill bike.



The druid is like 20% rearward axle path! And there's no loop back forward. 

There's certainly some interesting math to be done with impact at speed and force vectors to see if it matters. I bet for a bike as rearward as the druid it helps. I do wonder if it causes suspension to pack up (hence fast rebound). 

Sounds like a project for tonight.



I own one and can say this bikes performance in rough choppy sections outperforms my prior Horst link bike that had 150mm of rear travel. What you say makes sense in my head but there’s clearly something to the rearward axle path. On a “traditional” axle path bike, the wheel still has to move forward to get over the bump so maybe it’s less about the initial impact and more about what the wheel does to move out of the way...? Side benefit of the rearward axle path is that it also increases the stability of the bike when you need it (ie deep in the travel, under stress).


+1 Deniz Merdano

I love this bike, except the seat tube just looks weird to me.  Does it look as odd in person as it does in pictures?


+3 Cr4w Pete Roggeman JVP

Everything about this bike is odd and it's perfect...



The best things are.


+1 skeptatstic

Where can I get your comparisons between this bike and the switchblade?  I’ve been riding this bike for a month but may change to the switchblade for a slightly longer cockpit.  I’ve got a super long torso and feel kinda cramped in my XL Druid.  

Which is absolutely killing me because I have never ridden a rear suspension that feels as good as this bike.  




Would love to read a comparison of these two bikes as well. Luckily, it looks like there will be Pivot demos in my area soon, barring some unforeseen madness. Lookin forward to it! I'll likely never get to demo a Druid, but I am in search of the quintessential all-rounder, if such a thing exists haha.


+1 Pete Roggeman

I *need* some of those headset spacers! Oh, and beautiful bike and great pics as well.


+1 Deniz Merdano

Bootcamp? I assume that was riding lots with James.



Once you know, you can't un- know.


+1 Deniz Merdano


great review. Can´t wait for the next part.

I also just bought a druid, and have 4 rides in so far.

When u say "i set rebound 1 click from full pogo", do you mean 1 click from open, or 1 click from where it becomes "pogo" for you? How many clicks rebound from full open u running on those 140 psi? I run 145 psi with 3 clicks rebound from open, which is pretty fast, but on this bike it feels great so far. Tracks the ground pretty good it feels.

I´ve never run that fast rebound on any bike so far, so i´m thinking if this will be good for the future, especially when hitting bigger and lippy jumps?

EDIT: Did some bikepark laps today on the druid, here in Germany. Needed to go from 3 to 4 Clicks Rebound, otherwise it would kick on highspeed jumps n stuff. Compression also felt best when completely open. Unfortunately could only make a few runs, a massive headache made me stop the testing : (

Braking definetely is different on this bike. Hard to explain, need to test more.



Off topic but...How do you find the fit of the bike? Does it feel short?



I've been playing with slowing the rebound down a little. The summer trail speeds have required calming the bike down. Big compressions needed 5-6 clicks of rebound damping.. 

If jumps are in the menu, I go 6. if chatter is the name of the game, 5 clicks of rebound..



Did part two get written? I can’t find the next parts with search. I’ve got questions but don’t want to hit you up with them if they’re answered in another instalment!


+1 Deniz Merdano

VERY nice bike! I am looking at buying one myself. I am also 5'9". How did you find the fit of this bike? I am wondering because I am coming off of a Yeti SB130 with a 460(ish) reach which was the suggested size by Yeti but Forbidden puts me on a Medium with a 445 reach.



The fit of the medium feels great still. I'm sure I would also like a large but I get to ride the medium like a big BMX.



How do you find the medium on long tech climbs? I personally felt like it was SUPER short, it almost felt like the bike shrinks under meas it points upwards!



man, rumour has it that there is a longer travel version due. if the longer travel version is as good as this, then I'm sold.



Lately I've migrated back to 27.5s, it just feels right. I'd love to see a 27.5 HSP bike released soon. The rearward path works well with smaller wheels, offsetting the steeper angle of attack nicely. I first experienced this on my old Corsair Maelstrom 26er. Granted that was 180mm travel but the back end gobbled up bumps so well. Zero pull or hanging up of the back tire over repeated hits.

Forbidden, feel free to make a 27.5, 140-160mm travel HSP frame called the Hefin. Alban Hefin is the Druid Festival of the Summer Solstice. Loose translation,  ‘The Light of the Shore’.



I have been wondering about this bike since first seeing it in the shop. Great write up and interested to hear more!



Nice review of a very special bike, that makes me curious for part 2! By the way, how do you like the E13 tires?


+1 Psyops

The tread pattern is bang on. The compound however left me with little confidence in the wet.

I'd love to try the MoPo compound at some point. They are slow rolling but resisted flatting quite well.

Ran them at 20-22 psi

Couple of pounds more than  I usually do due to the light casing. Got one hole that a stans dart plugged up nicely for about 3 months.



The Deviate Highlander looks like a longer travel version of the Druid.  Are all HSP bikes the same more or less?  Any thoughts on the Highlander?  There can be only one! (obligatory cheeky humor.)



I'm super keen to try a deviate. I know a guy with one. I wonder if he'd bike swap for a day



Any interest in trying the new Cascade Components link for the Druid? Would be interesting to see if the increased travel and progression comes with a down side of some sort!


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