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Ridden and Reviewed

Riding the 2021 Knolly Warden LT V2

Words Tim Coleman
Photos Deniz Merdano
Date Nov 13, 2020
Reading time

Knolly Bikes is based here in Greater Vancouver, about 8 minutes from my house. The Warden has been in Knolly's lineup for a while, but they recently released three new bikes based on the same frame: the Warden (160 mm travel), the Warden LT (168 mm travel) and the Delirium (175 mm travel). The different travels are achieved by using the same eye-to-eye length shock, but with varying stroke.

Knolly Warden LT V2 Key Features

  • Intended Use: All Mountain / Enduro
  • Rear travel: 168 mm
  • Frame material: 6066 Aluminium
  • Wheel size: 27.5"
  • Suspension layout: Knolly FourBy4
  • Two geometry positions: Steep and Slack
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The new Knolly Warden LT V2.

The Knolly geometry comes with fairly modern reach numbers packaged within a compact wheelbase. I'm testing a size Large, which has a 500 mm reach, with a 1,252 mm wheelbase. The compact wheelbase is due to a relatively short stack height and snappy 431 mm chain stays. The Warden LT has an adjustable head tube angle from 64.5° to 65.25°, and a fairly steep effective seat tube angle of 77°.

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Knolly Warden LT V2 geometry chart

The Warden LT uses Knolly's Fourby4 rear suspension technology. This is essentially a Horst link four-bar rear end with an additional linkage to the rear shock. Knolly claims the additional linkage allows them to better fine tune the leverage curve of the rear suspension. Large angular contact bearings are used in all of the rear end pivots, with a couple bushing pivots in the upper linkage, all running on titanium pivot hardware.

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If this was a conventional Horst-Link the green link would be used to compress the rear shock. However with the Fourby4 Knolly uses the black links to give more options to tune the leverage ratio.

Build Kit

From a high level I think the build kit on this Warden LT is well thought out. Knolly has picked excellent suspension components, and generally placed premium products in locations that make the most difference. The Fox Float X2 shock and Fox 38 are great examples. The XT brakes with appropriate-sized rotors seem well placed. It's hard to complain about the 12-speed XT drivetrain with a 30-tooth chain ring, which makes even the steepest of climbs seem manageable. I was stoked to see the RaceFace Turbine R seat post, with a 175 mm drop. It's finished with top shelf Industry Nine Enduro-S wheels, wrapped in Maxxis EXO+ MaxxTerra tires front and rear. Knolly made a conscious decision not to include a bash guard on the Warden LT, which I would have liked to have seen included. There are mounts for a guard, however, so you can add your own.

While I think most of the build kit was well thought out, the big miss in the Warden LT build is the tires. With normal tire pressures in the Maxxis EXO+ tires I got a flat on my first ride. I increased the rear tire pressure, only to get a flat on the third ride. I increased pressures again, but got a third flat. I was starting to run low on tire plugs, and the tire was constantly leaking air. I had to run high tire pressures to prevent flats, and that made the Warden LT harsh and skittish. I was spinning out constantly on wet technical climbs, and the back end was nervous or harsh when descending. I think the MaxxTerra-fying compound on the front is too hard a compound for the slippery roots and rocks on our local trails. Before I get crucified by the keyboard warriors, I think the unusually sharp bead on the Industry Nine Enduro-S wheels might be a contributing factor to the pinch flats. I haven't had as many issues when running EXO+ tires on some other wheels. Regardless, the EXO+ MaxxTerra tires proved inadequate on the Warden LT on the slippery local trails. After discussion with Knolly I fitted a DoubleDown MaxxGrip Assegai on the front, and a DoubleDown MaxxTerra DHR II on the rear. This allowed me to run my normal tire pressures, with a soft sticky tire on the front. This transformed the bike, and we were back in business.

Ed note: it's worth pointing out here that Tim has a very solid DH race pedigree that makes him much more demanding of tire spec than the average rider. While many of us haven't had issues with the amount of sidewall support offered by EXO+ tires, there are others for whom it is not enough. As for MaxxTerra vs MaxxGrip compound on the North Shore in fall conditions, well, we all run MaxxGrip on our personal bikes - at least on the front. Suffice to say that if you know what you need, you can relate and likely would need a tire swap if you're considering a Warden LT. If this doesn't seem significant to you, you're probably safe to start with the stock spec and see how you go.

Ride Impressions

Once a set of good tires was installed I was able to start riding the Warden LT properly. Unfortunately the bike was also particularly noisy to start with. The seat post creaked in the seat tube on each pedal stroke on the way up. This was rectified with a bit of grease. But then to prevent the seat post rotating, the clamping force prevented the seat post from returning to full extension. Then on the way down the cables seemed to rattle inside the frame, and there was creaking from the front end. With some zip ties, additional stem preload, and faffing around I was able to rectify most of the unwanted noises when descending. Then on the third ride the left crank fell off. No idea what happened here, but Knolly was great about getting me a replacement crank to get back up and running. Ok now we're ready to review the Warden LT, for real this time.

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With the MaxxGrip Assegai up front, steeps like this were much more manageable.

Final bike setup

Fox 38 Fork:

Air Pressure - 103 psi // 3 Volume Tokens

High Speed Compression - 5 clicks out // Low Speed Compression - 6 clicks out

High Speed Rebound - 4 clicks out // Low Speed Rebound - 4 clicks out

Fox Float X2 Shock:

Air Pressure - 185 psi // Max. Volume Spacers (how many?)

High Speed Compression - 7 clicks out // Low Speed Compression - 13 clicks out

High Speed Rebound - 8 clicks out // Low Speed Rebound - 10 clicks out

Tire Pressure:

23 psi front, 28 psi rear.

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Blasting through the local green room.

I liked the relatively steep tube angle on the Warden LT and generally liked the climbing position. The cockpit felt smaller than the 500 mm reach would suggest, but I was able to keep my weight forward when on the way up, which kept the front wheel planted. However I think a longer rear center might have helped with some climbing situations. Overall efficiency was reasonably good for a 170 mm travel bike. There wasn't a ton of suspension movement with the shock open, but the Warden LT definitely pedaled more efficiently when the firm setting was used. So, while the Warden LT certainly isn't an XC whippet, it is perfectly capable of longer pedally missions without being a slug.

On the way down the bike continued to feel shorter to me than the reach numbers on paper suggested. The short stack height meant I had to add 25 mm of spacers under the stem to get the bars up to a comfortable position, which shortens the effective reach. In combination with the short 430 mm rear center, this size Large Warden LT feels on the compact side for a modern 170 mm travel aggressive enduro bike. This choice from Knolly means the Warden LT is snappier and more agile than most of the other 170 mm travel bikes I've ridden. The compromise to this is that the Warden LT felt a bit nervous in the bike park, particularly on the faster, rougher trails. But on a slower, steeper, technical trail, the Warden LT was great fun to ride. Devouring big impacts, and easy to maneuver through the North Shore's infamous tech-jank.

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The playful nature of the Warden had me looking for bonus features off the sides of trails.

I haven't ridden a bike with a rear center this short in a while. It took me a little while to adapt to get the most out of the compact package. The short rear center makes getting the front end up easy, and the bike is eager to rotate into a corner. It was great fun just chucking the Warden LT into a tight bend, and I was often surprised by how quickly I could get it to turn. The compromise is that I had to move my weight forward to get the front end around properly, and then move my weight back for any jumps to prevent getting tossed over the bars. It took a more conscious effort to move my weight around appropriately than a bike of similar wheelbase with a longer rear center. So, while I grew to appreciate the short rear center on the Warden LT, on balance I'd personally prefer a longer chain stay.

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But for sections like this I'd appreciate a bit more wheelbase under me.

Even with the Fox Float X2 shock filled with spacers I wished the Knolly was a bit more progressive. With the right feeling around sag I got through the travel quicker than I'd like, and bottomed the bike out frequently. Maybe I should eat fewer cookies? When I added pressure to reduce bottom out, the bike felt too stiff around the sag point. I ultimately picked a compromise between the two. Initially there was friction from the bushings in the linkage, but the unloaded friction in the bushings freed up over time. I suspect the friction in the bushings might still be significant when heavily loaded, but thankfully the excellent Fox Float X2 shock had the tuning range to open up the damping a bit to compensate. I don't think the Warden LT will win any bump eating contests, but the suspension did offer a fun and sporty feel on the trail. The Warden LT never felt mushy or benign, and was always eager to spring skyward off small features.

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A swift yank on the bars, and the Warden LT gleefully gains altitude.

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The Warden LT was really fun through here.

The Knolly Warden LT comes in aluminium only, and I don't think that's a bad thing. I felt like the Warden LT offered a stiff and precise chassis. Pushing the bike hard into a corner produced little flex in the rear end. Not once during my time testing the bike did I think, "if only this was carbon." Maybe it'd be a touch lighter if it were, but once out on the trail I don't think I'd notice a huge difference.

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The Warden was always urgent to get in and out of corners like this.

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Fresh technical trail is where the Warden comes alive.

Unfortunately the test period came to a premature end when the XT derailleur mysteriously exploded on a trail. The derailleur had been nudged on a few things over the test period, but nothing drastic. I found the extra width of the 157 mm rear end meant that I clipped the derailleur just a bit more than normal. The derailleur had started shifting poorly from the top three gears, but the cable was frictionless. Not sure if it's related, and hard to say now with the derailleur in multiple pieces. This is particularly unfortunate as I really liked the shift quality, range and function of the 12-speed XT Shimano drive train otherwise.

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Delicious corner slashing.

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Knolly Warden organic corner material removal services.

For a bike coming out in late 2020, the geometry feels a bit dated, but that doesn't make me think the Warden LT is a bad bike. While my cup of tea is a long, slack, bump-eating enduro rig, there are a lot of those bikes already on the market. I like that the Warden LT is different. I think it's a fun freeride bike that couples ample suspension travel in a playful package. There are plenty of folks that don't want a super long, aggressive enduro sled, and for them, something like the Knolly Warden LT might be just the ticket.

On some of the steeper, tighter, more technical trails, the Warden LT was absolutely brilliant. I loved how eager it was to dive into any corner and wheelie out - it's a really fun bike to ride. Pedaling-wise, it's not going to win any races to the top of the hill, but it wasn't a chore to get around on either. The frame is nicely stiff, beautifully made, and proved durable over the test period. At roughly $7,000 CDN you're getting a generally excellent build kit, with fantastic suspension. The Warden LT almost feels like a modern take on the freeride bike from yesteryear. It's got travel to adsorb some bigger hits, but still fun and playful, while not taking itself too seriously.

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Comments

luisgutierod
+3 Sean Chee Pete Roggeman IslandLife
luisgutierod  - Nov. 12, 2020, 10:46 p.m.

I understand bike geometry needs to be compared with other current ones.. however I feel like there is a range that should be declared "acceptable modern" as it all depends on personal preference (pro riders included). A frame in L size with 500mm reach is long.. by no means dated, (in my books... ).. shortish CS length at 431mm? (it's a 27.5 bike after all) Dont ever try a Canfield balance then. ; ) . 

Knollys have been "balanced" bikes all the bike (geometry wise), but the shortcoming is the linkage... when clean and fresh bushings there, it works great.. let mud/grit/much sit there and you have a friction sh*t-show against you. I had a previous gen warden, I loved the way it handled descents, tech riding, definitively not an enduro race bike (the no pedal kickback was amazing feeling on the downs)....But the linkage required too much maintenance to be smooth and keep the suspension acting freely with the shock.

Reply

Timmigrant
+2 DMVancouver Andy Eunson
Tim Coleman  - Nov. 13, 2020, 9:09 a.m.

My feeling riding the Warden was that it felt shorter and more agile than a reach number of 500 mm suggests. My remark about the geometry feeling dated is that many of the bikes that came out this year are longer and slacker for the same size. The Warden in some ways has made me re-evaluate how I think about bike sizing. I had two size large test bikes this year that were 500 mm reach and they couldn't have felt more different on the trail. So instead of looking at Reach, I now look at the Wheelbase, the Rear Center, Head Angle, and BB Drop. This tells me where my wheels, feet and hands will be in the bike. Ultimately I think Reach can be a misleading as a small stack height will effectively reduce the Reach as you add stem spacers, head angle plays a big factor in the front center length and rear center plays a big factor in how a bike feels on the trail.

Reply

cooperquinn
+3 Andrew Major IslandLife Tim Coleman
Cooper Quinn  - Nov. 13, 2020, 9:35 a.m.

"Wheelbase, the Rear Center, Head Angle, and BB Drop" 

Don't forget stack.

Reply

Timmigrant
0
Tim Coleman  - Nov. 13, 2020, 9:46 a.m.

You don't really need stack with this method since you can adjust the bar position using spacers. Unless the stack is so tall that the bars wind up higher than you'd like. That's never happened with me before though.

Reply

xy9ine
+2 Luix mrbrett
Perry Schebel  - Nov. 13, 2020, 10:08 a.m.

i've always liked downtube length metric for meaningful (real world, tape measure in hand) apples to apples comparisons.

Reply

MikeMc
+2 luisgutierod mrbrett
Mike McArthur  - Nov. 14, 2020, 10:33 a.m.

Yes, you can add spacers and high rise bars, but then your reach gets shorter (as you point out above). So I think the geo geek bike nerds here are saying the bike media is guilty of leaving stack out of the conversation when they just talk about reach. If all large enduro bikes used roughly same stack, it would be a non-issue...but some, like Knolly, aim for lower stack despite 95% of owners using 30mm+ of spacers (or highrise bars and 20mm of spacers). So your write up is good to highlight to Warden buyers that the on-paper reach spec doesn't in fact feel as long as it would on another bike brand.

Reply

D_C_
+3 Tim Coleman Skyler mrbrett
DMVancouver  - Nov. 13, 2020, 12:01 p.m.

Reach and headtube length (a proxy for stack) give some idea of how long the front end of a bike will feel. With a short headtube/low stack, you end up losing effective reach with headset spacers. So if you have two bikes with the same listed reach but one has a longer headtube, that one will fit bigger.

I agree that two bikes that appear to be similar in size on paper can fit quite differently.

Reply

flattire2
+1 Tim Coleman
Brian Tuulos  - Nov. 14, 2020, 4:51 p.m.

It’s silly how bike journalists are ignoring stack and just quoting reach numbers... and then surprised that bike A is short compared to bike B. Reach /stack were invented as a combination metric. Glad this article highlights that.

Reply

craw
+3 Pete Roggeman Luix mrbrett
Cr4w  - Nov. 13, 2020, 11:15 a.m.

People on "older geometry" bikes like to point out growing reach numbers without acknowledging the change to cockpit that result from a steeper ESTA.

500mm of reach with a 74' ESTA is one thing. A bike with 500mm of reach with a 77' ESTA has a significantly smaller cockpit.

Reply

flattire2
0
Brian Tuulos  - Nov. 16, 2020, 11:02 a.m.

Drawing your example out in cad, About 34mm ETT difference given my seatpost extension at 5-11”.   But by sliding the saddle all the way forward you can almost make up the difference.  People tend to forget saddles have a Large range of fore aft adjustment that allow you to tune the ESTA

Reply

happycamper2020
0
happycamper2020  - Nov. 15, 2020, 9:07 p.m.

This comment has been removed.

andrewbikeguide
+1 Cr4w Agleck7 Nologo
AndrewR  - Nov. 13, 2020, 12:21 p.m.

431mm chain stay on a large which is designed for a 6' tall rider, coupled with a FC that gives a 500 mm reach, is dated. I find it interesting that the same engineer is happy to wax lyrical about the benefits of his suspension design but then over look the constant moment that is created during every second of the ride by placing a large (ie tall) rider on a medium chain stay.

As a 6'2" rider this is obviously an area of personal interest and, based on recent experience, I wouldn't consider buying a FS bike with less than 440 mm (nor will I consider 27.5" wheels other than as a wheel size appropriate for medium and smaller riders). There is a place for a 431 mm chain stay for a large frame and it is on a 29" hard tail.

Reply

momjijimike
+12 Sean Chee Pete Roggeman Agleck7 AJ Barlas Tim Coleman Christopher Daniel Mammal Cr4w LWK Skyler Mike McArthur goose8
momjijimike  - Nov. 13, 2020, 2:05 a.m.

Compliments to the team I like your tests and your honest opinion's. NSMB is my first choice for reviews that I trust. :)

Reply

Timmigrant
0
Tim Coleman  - Nov. 13, 2020, 8:35 a.m.

Thanks! That's means a lot to us.

Reply

andrewbikeguide
+2 Tim Coleman Pete Roggeman
AndrewR  - Nov. 13, 2020, 12:22 p.m.

Best test ever. Levels on honesty not witnessed in quite some time.

Reply

jdw103
0
Jason West  - Nov. 13, 2020, 3:11 a.m.

Balance this bike does not have. When will they learn...

Reply

agleck7
0
Agleck7  - Nov. 13, 2020, 7:44 a.m.

Maybe all the test riders are short?

Reply

Timmigrant
+3 Andrew Major Mike McArthur Skooks
Tim Coleman  - Nov. 13, 2020, 9:17 a.m.

I think having the rear center grow with increasing sizes makes a lot of sense. I really liked how both the Santa Cruz V10 I reviewed last year, and the Canyon Sender I'm currently reviewing, had longer rear centers on the larger sizes, and both had a rear center adjuster. But like I said in the article, I'm sure there are plenty of folks that will like relatively short rear center on the Warden LT.

Reply

craw
0
Cr4w  - Nov. 13, 2020, 11:16 a.m.

Plenty of *short* folks.

Reply

andrewbikeguide
+1 Pete Roggeman
AndrewR  - Nov. 13, 2020, 12:27 p.m.

Rob Roskopp is on record as stating it is something that he wished SCB had adopted early in their development despite the additional expense and complication with either design (ie Norco building the CS difference into their front triangle) or parts management (if the rear triangles are different sizes as well). 

The flip chip system is a simple, effective and cheap way of offering some adjustability (long and stable for that kind of rider and shorter/ more playful for the jibber). 

I think that RAAW have got a solid & precise system with their Madonna V2 where the rider can adjust the CS length with a drop out and a specific brake mount adapter.

Reply

Bad-Sean
+7 Pete Roggeman Vik Banerjee Tim Coleman 4Runner1 Nologo Luix IslandLife
Sean Chee  - Nov. 13, 2020, 4:49 a.m.

I do appreciate that long travel 27.5" bikes are still a thing. Some of us really enjoy them. I hope to see more in the future.

Reply

Timmigrant
0
Tim Coleman  - Nov. 13, 2020, 8:33 a.m.

Me too Sean. I like both wheel sizes, but can appreciate how some folks are squarely in one camp or the other. I also hope folks keep making longer travel bikes with the 27.5 wheel.

Reply

Vincent66
0
Vincent66  - Nov. 13, 2020, 5:44 a.m.

Could anyone compare this bike to Transition Patrol ?

Reply

Vikb
+2 Tim Coleman AndrewR
Vik Banerjee  - Nov. 13, 2020, 7:20 a.m.

I had a Knolly Endorphin and my GF had a previous generation Warden that got ridden year round on the BC coast. The 4x4 system held up well given the wet weather. We rarely had to do anything to it and the bearings/bushings lasted years. 

I wish they hadn't gone Superboost across the whole line up. I just got my fleet standardized around 29er wheels and 148mm hubs so I don't want to mess with success!

Reply

Timmigrant
+1 Vik Banerjee
Tim Coleman  - Nov. 13, 2020, 8:50 a.m.

Thanks for the feedback Vik. I was a little concerned about wear and play in the bushings over time. But they were solid over a decent length review period. Good to hear you had a similar experience over a longer time. 

And I agree on the rear end width. I get that it makes for better clearance of Plus tires, but I feel that's a trend that is waning. Since I don't ride Plus tires, the upsides of the 157 rear end are minimal to none for me, and would prefer a rear end with the more normal 148 width.

Reply

Vikb
0
Vik Banerjee  - Nov. 13, 2020, 9:32 a.m.

Other companies do plus tires and short CS with 148mm hubs so that is not an actual benefit of Superboost.

Reply

dangerfoot
+2 Tim Coleman Pete Roggeman
Justin Vaughn  - Nov. 13, 2020, 10:15 a.m.

FWIW, while I do live in a drier but much dustier place, I ride hard and put them away wet.  I've never really had a problem with bushings, mine lasted 2 seasons on my previous knollies, which is pretty good IMO!

Reply

GladePlayboy
+3 IslandLife Pete Roggeman Andrew Major
Rob Gretchen  - Nov. 13, 2020, 11 a.m.

You guys (actually Andrew) penned an article on NSMB on Superboost plus 4 years ago.. link for reference... maybe time for an updated perspective.    I've ridden multiple bikes with Superboost plus and I can't say I've ever had anything negative to report.

https://nsmb.com/articles/super-boost-plus-better/

Reply

knollybikes.com
+4 IslandLife Pete Roggeman Rob Gretchen Skooks
knollybikes.com  - Nov. 13, 2020, 11:44 a.m.

Thank you.  While obviously biased, we agree :)

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Rob Gretchen
Andrew Major  - Nov. 13, 2020, 3:16 p.m.

Keep up Rob, I’ve been pushing the new-new 172x12 Axle Standard since February.

Trail157SuperBoost has two major issues. #1 It’s almost half a decade old and #2 (sorry Knolly, Pivot, and Devinci) no major player has adopted it.

Trek is responsible for mainstreaming tapered steerers, Trunnion mount, pressfit BB’s, the 44/56 headtube, and Boost 148. I feel they have what it takes to revolutionize mountain bikes 172mm style! Now if they’ll take my calls...

Reply

GladePlayboy
0
Rob Gretchen  - Nov. 13, 2020, 3:29 p.m.

Damn.. I am behind!!   Totally missed 172x12... must have been out of town.    I sell both Pivot and Trek so no more comments... ;-)    Oh you missed Evil bikes in that list BTW.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 13, 2020, 4:15 p.m.

Did I?! Huh... have you measured a back end to see that it’s 157 or is that just what it says in the geo chart?! (Ba-Dum-Tissss)

I actually had (have?) a standing bet on whether Trek or Specialized will be first to change to 157. A side bet on the number of years it will take Giant to switch if Trek is first. And, a side-side bet on whether Cannondale can just jump on the 157mm standard without f***ing with it. 

It feels more and more likely now that everyone is just going to sit on 148?

slimshady76
0
Luix  - Nov. 15, 2020, 4:08 a.m.

So there you have it, we need to kill Trek before it lays eggs. Preferably with fire.

Reply

Jotegir
0
Lu Kz  - Nov. 15, 2020, 12:07 p.m.

This year I finally had to say goodbye to my Stache because I realized I'm never going to solve my heel clearance issues with that bike. It's never going to be rideable comfortable at mach chicken on fast stuff because of my heel/ankle slamming in to the bike over stuff. I have huge feet which is why my ankles end up coming in contact with bike back there sometimes. The problem was compounded with an injury which made me adjust my foot position slightly this spring, and I fought it all year, but even before it was never awesome.

Certain bikes I jump on due to chainstay shape, it's always going to be a problem. Now, the main problem with the Stache was the elevated chainstay and the part where it clears 29x3 tires, but it's happened on other rides too. 

I can only think more boost is going to make things worse on bikes. When my cranks are level, my back foot is always going to make it way closer to the back of the bike than most riders.

Reply

knollybikes.com
+11 Cr4w IslandLife Tim Coleman Pete Roggeman Vik Banerjee Metacomet AlanB luisgutierod goose8 Skooks Derek Baker
knollybikes.com  - Nov. 13, 2020, 11:44 a.m.

Hi Tim!

Hope you don't mind me jumping into the weeds here :)

re: 157: our decision to move in this direction is that we did NOT want to just jump on the bandwagon for 148 when it was released. My position has always been that 148 was a "half step" technology wise, based around existing 2x10 drivetrains at the time, pushed by one very large brand that was having issues with low cost 29" wheels. 142 and 157 existed at the time and both were well supported throughout the industry. Fast forward a decade and while 148 is for sure the dominate standard, 157 continues to generate increasing interest. Crank offerings from all major crank vendors exist now (SRAM, Raceface and Shimano) across their entire mid and high end product ranges which means there is enough demand industry wide for them to support this product spec. I suspect we'll see it continue to increase and possibly be driven by e-bikes as they are starting to have their own complete range of products designed to deal with the higher loads and weights that e-bikes generate.

Where the real benefits of 157 show are in 29" bikes: they are simply less precise (more flexy) by nature given the increased spoke lengths of 29" wheels. The rear wheel carries the large majority of aggressive cornering forces given that the crankset is closer to the rear wheel than the front wheel (also the fork will "twist up" a bit, reducing load on the front wheel): certainly more than a frame should. We feel that 157 offers a performance advantage in this situation. Having it throughout our product line ensures consistency with drivetrains and our supply chain.

Additionally, our heal clearance is excellent and better than the majority of 148 bikes on the market currently due to our dropout and pivot designs.

Cheers!

Reply

craw
+5 IslandLife Tim Coleman Pete Roggeman Timer Nologo
Cr4w  - Nov. 13, 2020, 11:46 a.m.

It's too bad the industry didn't just go straight to 157 and stick with 20mm through axles up front and save everyone a lot of headache. We had effective standards already in place that would have served better than these half measures.

Reply

Timmigrant
+2 Pete Roggeman Metacomet
Tim Coleman  - Nov. 13, 2020, 1:41 p.m.

Don't mind at all, I think it's a good perspective and valid input. I can see the benefits you've mentioned, that makes plenty of sense. But as a counter point most of the benefits listed don't pertain to the 27.5" wheeled Warden LT. So when balanced off the negatives of 157 being less compatible with the wheels most folks have at the moment (myself included) and more chance of clipping the derailleur, I'd personally prefer to see a 148 mm hub on the Warden LT. But those negatives are only based on 148 being more common at the moment. If more folks adopted 157 I'm sure my riding would adapt, and I'd have plenty of compatible wheels.

Reply

slimshady76
+1 Lu Kz
Luix  - Nov. 15, 2020, 4:11 a.m.

157DH creates symmetrical spoke angles. SupahDupah157Boost™ doesn't. It's a gimmick trying to solve the inherent weakness of 29 inch wheels, and it fails to do so, adding also a wider rear end.

Reply

LWK
+1 Pete Roggeman
LWK  - Nov. 13, 2020, 11:11 a.m.

I understand the Wardens are the same frame (different shock) but the Delirium is a different frame, isn't it?  I am pretty sure it was around before the current gen Warden's.

As a former Knolly owner and bit of a fanboi, it pains me to say this but the seat tube, creaking and cable rattling issues are unacceptable. Especially for a brand that tries to market itself as taking an engineering first approach to its business and positions itself in the premium end of the market place.

as others have stated, its nice to see NSMB continue to provide thorough and honest assessments of the bikes it reviews

Reply

knollybikes.com
+9 LWK Vik Banerjee 4Runner1 Metacomet goose8 Skooks thaaad Derek Baker IslandLife
knollybikes.com  - Nov. 13, 2020, 12:28 p.m.

Hi LWK:

Thank you for your "fanboi-ism"  :)

I think I can say with all honesty and integrity that we had a challenging time getting Tim set up properly for this review: this has nothing to do with Tim himself per say (who has always been professional), but without doubt this particular review was by far the most difficult that Knolly has managed in our history.

I've known Tim for close to two decades and to put everything in perspective, the review "started" with me dropping off the review bike with him and then the two of us sharing a bunch of beer and whisky, chatting bikes, engineering, industry stuff, beer, whisky, etc...  We've always been on good terms and that continues to be the case.

Knolly "chose" Tim to review this bike because we know he's a hard hitter with an extremely solid riding pedigree and has a history of brutally honest reviews.  I despise the "shill reviews" that are so common across this industry, though perhaps that's just bad marketing on our part.  I also knew that the Warden was not exactly "Tim's cup of tea" because he's been focused on racing for as long as I've known him: The Warden is a "raceable" bike (especially set up as a mullet) but it's not a "race first" bike.  It's a precision play / park bike first, designed to handle (particularly in the Delirium configuration) the most extreme terrain possible without having to get into dedicated DH bikes.  It's designed to be aggressive, predicable, nimble and stable, and to have the ability to maneuver around the frame in the most awkward, technical situations.  It's also designed to be FUN.  It's certainly raceable, but not every bike on the market needs to be the most "Enduro" bike out there.

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knollybikes.com
+10 LWK Pete Roggeman Vik Banerjee 4Runner1 Metacomet goose8 Skooks thaaad Derek Baker IslandLife
knollybikes.com  - Nov. 13, 2020, 12:28 p.m.

Now, that being said: we started this off with a pre-production bike that we quickly realized was not in the best shape for the review. This was 100% Knolly's fault as there was a push to get the bike out for review, because we were close to starting to ship production units. Literally 2 weeks after getting the initial bike to Tim, Covid 19 hit in March and, well, I probably don't need to say more, but there were a lot of distractions and life became extremely messy. This was followed by the Fox MY21 product release which was a substantial change to their product line: we wanted to get these parts on the bike for Tim. All of this, followed by the impending rush on production capacity a few months later caused our support of this review to linger and drag on. Long story short, we were not able to support Tim correctly through the review until recently and were able to start addressing some of his concerns, particularly the tires. Contact points on bikes are tricky to spec: they are incredibly personal and what works for one customer will not work for another customer. We have no ability to custom order tires, grips, saddles for each individual customer, etc... so we have to spec what we think is the best overall solution for the product application. We have also grown as a company and don't just "sell to the North Shore": our products are all over North America now (and beyond) and a lot go to places like Colorado or Utah where Maxx Grip is just not required. But we do recognize that in some cases a more serious tire is required, and we actually spec the Delirium version of this bike with Maxx Grip front tire and both front and rear tires with Double Down casings.

So, hopefully by the end of the review, we had the bike working fully as expected, but it was certainly dragged out by the need for our business to focus in different areas since the start of Covid. I'll leave it at that right now and if there are any specific questions, I'll be happy to answer them in the comments :)

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pete@nsmb.com
+9 Tim Coleman Rob Gretchen Timer 4Runner1 Metacomet Cr4w goose8 Skooks IslandLife
Pete Roggeman  - Nov. 13, 2020, 2:03 p.m.

Thanks for offering your candid and honest insights to this process, Noel. I think it's refreshing to have a bike company owner and designer be willing to engage in conversation in a forum like this, particularly in the comments of a review that had the talking points this one did ;)

We value what Knolly brings to the table as a boutique bike designer and really appreciate your ability to both be honest and accept honest opinions and feedback.

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jt
+1 4Runner1
JT  - Nov. 13, 2020, 2:14 p.m.

I am hoping they keep 27.5 alive and pop out a new Endorphin. This is rad and all, but it's more travel than I need for my area of the country, but still want the pop and play of a smaller wheeled rig. About sizing, I've been migrating back to ETT measurements to get a handle on what I can expect the cockpit to feel. From some demo bikes I've been on this has worked better than looking at reach measurements. Going from a bike with a modest SA of 75 to the more aggressive angles on newer rigs, reach measurements may be the same, but man can it make you feel you're about to take a knee to the chin. Comparing ETT at least puts the hands and hips to a similar distance. I tried the methodology that Peter Verdone uses, but that seemed much more appropriate for the custom geo crowd. Plus manufacturers don't offer all the info necessary to calc with his method, at least not easily.

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craw
+1 Tim Coleman
Cr4w  - Nov. 13, 2020, 2:26 p.m.

No single measurement will tell you everything you need to know. You need to consider all of them as a system. Reach tells you about the bike's length when you're standing. ETT tells you about the bike's length when you're seated.

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jt
0
JT  - Nov. 14, 2020, 7:44 a.m.

Absolutely right on all accounts, but I've been finding with steeper seat angles ETT's been a more useful reference. A better Cliff Notes if you will.

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jt
0
JT  - Nov. 14, 2020, 7:44 a.m.

This comment has been removed.

knollybikes.com
+5 Tim Coleman Cr4w goose8 Luix IslandLife
knollybikes.com  - Nov. 13, 2020, 4:52 p.m.

Well, given that we sold through the Gen IV (Previous Gen) Endorphins this year, you can probably put 2 and 2 together and get 4  :)

We recognize that this is currently the "least sexy" product category in the bike business, but also one that a lot of customers probably should be on.  Also, not every rider is a 181cm / 5'11" EWS racer: there are people that just want to ride bikes.  And we fully agree on the fun factor of 27.5" wheels: as much as it's a total pain in the ass to plan for two different wheel diameters in terms of purchasing, we hope the industry stays this way.

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AndrewMajor
+4 Cr4w goose8 Luix IslandLife
Andrew Major  - Nov. 13, 2020, 5:05 p.m.

By this time next year most riders are going to be claiming they’ve been #hotformullet since 2016 (Foes Mixer? What’s that?!), and every brand will be fully onboard with 29/27 bikes except Giant who will now have a full fleet of 29” bikes even for riders who are 5’ tall.

Ship the new Endorphin with a EC56mm headset cup and 150mm fork for 27” and a ZS 56 headset cup and 140mm for for 29” = BOOM, instant best seller.

Add in the classic Knolly 3-bolt sliding dropouts for the adjustable chainstay length - heck offer two lengths on top of that - and let the good times roll!

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knollybikes.com
+2 goose8 IslandLife
knollybikes.com  - Nov. 13, 2020, 5:36 p.m.

Andrew:

You are reading our minds :)

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AndrewMajor
+2 Andy Eunson IslandLife
Andrew Major  - Nov. 13, 2020, 5:45 p.m.

Or I’ve been sneaking into the office while Noel and Cavan have their lunch time nap and whispering sweet everything’s into their ears?!?!

Let’s go with your version. The truth is kind of creepy.

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knollybikes.com
+2 Andrew Major IslandLife
knollybikes.com  - Nov. 13, 2020, 6:21 p.m.

As long as you sanitized your hands and wore a mask, we're cool :)

AndrewMajor
+1 IslandLife
Andrew Major  - Nov. 13, 2020, 6:26 p.m.

Always.

craw
+1 Tim Coleman
Cr4w  - Nov. 14, 2020, 7:40 a.m.

Oooooh. The original V-Tach dropouts were awesome. That bike was way way ahead of its time.

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Timmigrant
0
Tim Coleman  - Nov. 16, 2020, 3:20 p.m.

I remember ripping Noel's prototype V-Tach around the carrel at the bottom of the Whistler Bike Park. That was many moons ago!

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luisgutierod
+1 Tim Coleman
luisgutierod  - Nov. 13, 2020, 10:51 p.m.

Noel, thanks for jumping on these forums. I will have a Knolly again in the future when I deserve it ;). I have lusted over a few bikes, carbon warden when I had my alloy, podium, delirium. Etc. With that said, I think you nailed it withthe term "raceable" bike, that's how I used my Warden for 3 seasons..

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Vincent66
0
Vincent66  - Nov. 13, 2020, 6:17 p.m.

I've been riding on a warden since 2016 and really like it ; I'm very curious about the new one, though.

Is it possible to test ride one ?

I'm also interested in any comparison with Transition Patrol.

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knollybikes.com
+2 hotlapz Luix
knollybikes.com  - Nov. 13, 2020, 6:27 p.m.

HI Vincent66:

Thanks for the compliments!

Please send us an e-mail at info@knol****kes.com: we can work with you directly or through one of our dealers.

Cheers,

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RAHrider
+2 Vincent66 Luix
Reed Holden  - Nov. 14, 2020, 4:13 p.m.

Hi Tim,

I almost feel like you were on the wrong size bike. I'd be interested to know how you like the XL. I appreciate your honest review and it's great that this bike is being reviewed by someone who can put it through it's paces. I also thought you focused on a lot of small little things that didn't suit your riding or were more a nuisance than a real problem with the Warden. It sounds like Knolly was not keeping this bike in good repair based on all the loose bits and creaking, which is not good for a review bike but at the same time, I don't think that even needs to make its way into the review let alone centre stage. It sets a poor tone for the rest of the review and is more indicative of a bike that's been ridden a lot than a poor product. You wrote more words on tire choice and noisy cables than almost any other aspect of the review. Also, exploding XT derailleurs and failing XT cranks are not par for the course, and should not reflect on the Warden product. I was surprised at the reasonably positive summary at the end given the overall tone of the article where it seemed like everything was wrong with the bike (which is a bit surprising given a pretty solid build curated by Knolly .

On the other hand, I am definitely biased as a Knolly owner/lover and don't love reading poor reviews on one of my favorite brands. So you can take my comments with a grain of salt....

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Timmigrant
0
Tim Coleman  - Nov. 16, 2020, 3:17 p.m.

Thanks for the feedback! Unfortunately an XL frame wasn't available at the time of the review, but I'd been riding bikes of a similar wheelbase so I was happy to try the Large rather than no Warden at all.

To be clear Knolly gave me a brand new bike, so in terms of keeping the bike in good repair we can't point a finger at them. Maybe just the crank coming off was due to an issue with initial build, but I've heard from bike shops that this has been seen a surprising amount this year. I'd also say that the part issues I had didn't take center stage. There was far more Ride Impressions in the paragraphs and captions than discussion of parts issues I had with the bike. 

Furthermore I felt the need to mention the parts issues with the Warden, because I was reviewing a built bike, and not just a frame. I think the part specification is a large part of how a bike rides and performs. But to your point I didn't want the issues I had with the parts to entirely colour the review of the bike. So I tried my best to share the issues I had, but also share my overall impression of the bike as a whole.

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skooks
+2 Tim Coleman Luix
Skooks  - Nov. 14, 2020, 6:14 p.m.

I really appreciate the honest, no BS review Tim, and the straightforward, no excuses feedback Noel. I wish more bike review were like this. My riding style is quite different from Tim's  (much slower), and I absolutely love the way the Knolly bikes handle on steep technical trails. So much traction on the way up and so much fun on the way down. I think they are great bikes for riding the shore and S2S trails.  The Fugitive is such a versatile bike. It's my 4th Knolly, and it won't be my last one.

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Timmigrant
0
Tim Coleman  - Nov. 16, 2020, 2:42 p.m.

Thanks Skooks, we really appreciate the feedback. I'm with you that Knolly's response and feedback on this review speaks volumes about them as a brand.

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dbozman
0
dbozman  - Nov. 15, 2020, 5:28 a.m.

I recently took a chance on a new XL Fugitive from a great local shop in Phoenix. I knew about the low stack coming in. I had a sore back within 10 minutes of the first ride. 30mm of spacers and a somewhat ridiculous-looking 40mm rise bar has taken care of that.

I, too, have A LOT of creaking and cable rattle. The internal routing is nice, but it is LOUD. A bunch of cable ties and stuffing the down tube with bubble wrap hasn’t yet solved it.

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RAHrider
0
Reed Holden  - Nov. 15, 2020, 6:04 p.m.

Weird, my carbon warden has been one of the quietest bikes I've owned.

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dangerfoot
0
Justin Vaughn  - Nov. 16, 2020, 9:31 a.m.

That's wild, my L Fugitive is quiet.  I keep the post greased and pull the cables taught during setup.

As for fit/low stack...25mm spacers and a low rise bar is my sweet spot, doesn't look funny and keeps me weighting the front wheel.

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VinnyT
+1 Tim Coleman
Alvin Tan  - Nov. 16, 2020, 4:38 a.m.

I just got a used Warden V1 frame and I definitely have no regrets. Honestly, I just got it for the looks (raw, curvy aluminum, extra linkage). I came from an older Yeti 575 and while that bike was awesome for what it was, the Knolly just made me a better rider. I have it on slack for now and have no problem climbing whatsoever. The uphill traction was life-changing for me since I came from a single pivot bike. I have used it on high-speed enduro-ish and technical DH trails and it didn't skip a beat. Although I may have to try setting it up as a mullet to really open up its potential at the same time be cool at the coffee shop.

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Timmigrant
0
Tim Coleman  - Nov. 16, 2020, 3:18 p.m.

I also want to try a mullet bike!

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grimwood
0
grimwood  - Nov. 18, 2020, 5:03 p.m.

Interesting review Tim. I've had some of the same thoughts about my Delirium, but I think we differ in a few spots. 

Geo. I'm not sure I would necessarily agree with Noel that this is a race(able) bike. While it's certainly not slow, I feel there are other bikes out there that are much more settled at full speed, probaby due to rear center lengths. However, I think the Delirium is one that many people will hop on and feel comfortable right away. And now having a Geometron in the shed next to the Knolly, I can tell you that they are different on the trail, but both very fun to ride (in different ways).

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grimwood
0
grimwood  - Nov. 18, 2020, 5:04 p.m.

What I've loved about my Delirium so far. Very easy to ride, especially at slow to medium pace. It fits an angle set, a water bottle, can fit a massive dropper (even on small sizes, this is awesome, and I think often overlooked), 275 wheels for that ass-to-tire clearance, and has a properly (effective) seat tube angle. I know the STA looks slack, but even at full pedaling height, it is great (steeper than my old Yeti SB150). And it pedals really well (not sure if that's due to position on the bike or kinematics or both).

Wishes. Lower (so I could run a mullet set up with a BB lower than 360 mm). Adjustable chainstays, it would be fun to try something longer. Slacker? At least it fits an angleset, so people can go that way (I did). And probably less chain growth. The bushings work, but if I had my choice, I do away with the bushings and go all bearings.

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grimwood
+1 Tim Coleman
grimwood  - Nov. 18, 2020, 5:05 p.m.

Last thing; Knolly's awesome support. Broken Trunnion bolt while everything was closed in March when everything was closed, Cavan dropped off a bolt 'while he was in the neighbourhood', at my house. Toasted bushings, they managed to scrounge them from somewhere. And those are just the recent examples. Top notch support from Knolly.

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Timmigrant
0
Tim Coleman  - Nov. 19, 2020, 12:03 a.m.

That's great to hear about the awesome support from Knolly!

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