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Long Term Review

Spot Mayhem 29 on the North Shore

Words Perry Schebel
Photos Dave Smith
Date Oct 31, 2017
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I've had a solid summer aboard the Spot Mayhem, traversing the Sea to Sky corridor - negotiating Northshore knar, sessioning Squamish slabs, and brapping Whistler bikepark. My typical bike of choice lies on the "Enduro" end of the spectrum, and I was initially wary of how a shorter travel trailbike would fare on the steeper, chunkier trails I typically inhabit, but this thing has put a smile on my face from day one. Punching well above its weight, the Mayhem was a pleasant surprise. Check out our First Impressions installment if you're looking for a bit more detail on component specs. The bike in our hands comes with Spot's top tier "6 Star" build, with a US retail price of $8700. Now let's get on with the review.

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The Mavic carbon hoops balanced stiffness and compliance well. Check out the bladed spokes - so aero. 

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Flexing sidewalls. A capable corner carver is this. 

Wheelset

The Mavic XA Pro Carbon hoops held up well given their light (1590g advertised) weight. I pinged the rims a few times, with no adverse effects, and they retained their tension for the duration of the review. A couple small wiggles developed, but nothing that couldn't be straightened with a couple quarter turns of the spoke wrench. Though stiff, these wheels have a bit of compliance, lacking the harshness of some other carbon hoops I've ridden. While the 26mm internal rim width isn't fat by current standards, they do support your typical trail-oriented tire width just fine. 

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The Mavic tires are fairly shit in the Northwest slop. I like to think they work better in the bike's native Colorado soil. 

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After a couple near death experiences, I swapped the front to a trusty Magic Mary. Tubeless setup on the Mavic rims was a painless process. 

Rubber

I found the Mavic Quest Pro 2.35 tires to be on the light side for our part of the world. While not a terrible tread pattern and compound for moderate trail riding on harder surfaces, there's just not enough knob to provide support when pushed aggressively, and things get pretty sketchy in soft and wet conditions. I swapped the front tire for some proper rubber in short order, and burned through the Mavics on the rear. 

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Archetypical North Shore knar: it warms the cockles of my heart. Which helps offset the cold, wet dankness. A proper soggy temperate rainforest day.  

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I'm fairly fond of the big Eagle cassette. The 160mm rotor doesn't cut it, however.

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Ditto for the 180mm front rotor. I like the Mavic hubs though; they're pretty. 

Brakes

I generally like the ergonomics, power, and modulation of the Guide ultimate brakes, but the 180mm front / 160mm rear brake rotors are simply too small for the extended / steep / hairball descents that populate this part of the world. I'd be dialing in the pad engagement adjustment prior to dropping into consequential lines to make sure I had enough brake for sustained powerfist puckering. To their credit, the brakes never faded appreciably, but upsizing rotors would be on my short list of prioritized upgrades. Of course, if you inhabit flatter topography, this may be a non-issue for you.

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Bling mode drivetrain. Nice stuff, though frightfully expensive for consumable items (I'd live in constant fear of smashing an XX1 deraileur). Evidently I'm not the target market for this spec. 

Drivetrain

Not much to say about the XX1 Eagle drivetrain that hasn't been said before. It's the current state-of-the-art in full range single ring drivetrains, and the gilded gruppo did its job remarkably well. And I'm not ashamed to say I made good use of that 50t cog. Despite the lack of a front chain retention device, I experienced not one chain drop.  

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Low altitude drone buzz, or Dave in a tree, you decide. The Mayhem is well adept at picking through no flow zones. 

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I'm down with the additional cush of the ODI slip on grips. I'm fairly anal about lever positioning and bite point - as such, I'm a fan of the fine tuneability of the Guide Ultimate levers. 

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Though you can't see it here, I like the ergonomics of the Fox Transfer dropper lever. Not fancy, but functional. 

Corporeal interfaces

The seating and cockpit components are pretty dialed. While the Raceface Next 760mm x 20mm rise carbon bar seemed a bit narrow on paper, and the 60mm Raceface Next stem a bit long, both felt spot on in practice. Take note: all the cool kids are running (slightly) narrower bars these days. The ODI Vans slip on grips were a bit of a departure from the typical lock-ons. I actually prefer the additional vibration absorption of a non-plastic cored grip - as long as you can keep them stuck on. These have stayed in place so far, despite not being glued or wired. I have no critiques regarding the the seating dept - the WTB Silverado Pro saddle was decently comfy, and the Fox Transfer Performance Elite (150mm travel) dropper post performed its prescribed duties effectively.  

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Frame bits & bobs

For a first generation design, Spot has the frame details fairly dialed. Hose routing is on point (I like the externally routed brake line), and wear areas have been well protected - with the exception of a bit of chain rub on the swingarm above the chainring. The matte red paint is impressively impervious to scuffing; still looking near showroom fresh after a few months of hard riding. I'm genetically incompatible with packs, so the two water bottle mounts are a much appreciated feature to me. All pivots and associated hardware stayed tight for the duration of the review, with no evidence of undue wear. 

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The wee 130mm Fox 34 was surprisingly happy-making. Like the bike, it's a bit of an overachiever. 

Fork

I was decidedly underwhelmed by the last Fox 34 I rode (a 2015 Float FIT CTD). The current incarnation, the Factory 34 Float with the FIT4 damper, is a different beast. Despite its short 130mm travel, and relatively slim girth (which is somewhat emphasized by the frame's beefy head tube junction), this fork holds its own when things get rowdy. The air spring and damping are on par with the 36 - supple yet well supported, with a nice progressive air spring curve, and a good range of adjustability. I was also impressed by the lack of significant chassis flex despite the big wheel leverage. I set it up on the firm side to keep a bit on reserve for bigger hits, but it never felt harsh. With limited travel, the upper body does get a workout diving into bigger chunk, but the diminutive fork fared much better than expected.

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Neatly tucked away pivots, and the all so critical water bottle mount.  

Shock / suspension

Rear sproinging duties are carried out by a Fox Factory Float DPS Evol shock. The 57mm stroke lies on the lengthier end of the spectrum for 130mm travel, which seems to help thermal management; damping remained pretty consistent on extended pinned descents - fairly impressive for a non piggyback shock. The Float sports a 3 way compression lever, but it stayed in full open for all but road grinding trail approach use. 

The Living Link suspension platform is a short link 4 bar design with a twist - the lower link is comprised of a short carbon fiber leaf spring that pivots off the front triangle, but is rigidly bolted to the swingarm. In lieu of a swingarm pivot, a degree of link flex is required as the suspension cycles through the travel. As I mentioned in the First Impressions article, this arrangement affords a bit more lateral rigidity as well as a couple fewer pivot bearings to maintain, but more interestingly, also allows shock spring rate modification - maximum link flex occurs at around the sag to mid-stroke region, providing additional support. As such, the bike has excellent pedaling characteristics (resists wallowing), and is fabulously poppy. This equates to an energetic, sprightly ride. Really fun, in other words.  

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Acceptable tire clearance. The lower link does carry a bit of mud (or loam, in this case), though not detrimentally. 

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Nitpick - could have used a bit more chain protection on the swingarm. I generally care not about such things, but this bike is so pretty...  

The suspension has a fairly accentuated U - shaped leverage ratio curve - higher leverage off the top, affording suppleness, lower ratio through the middle, providing support / reducing wallow, and an aggressive leverage ratio at end stroke, partially offsetting the inherent spring rate ramp of an air shock, making the last bit of travel more linear than many platforms. For less aggressive riding, this can have the effect of making the bike feel like it has more travel than more progressive designs (this felt subjectively "deeper" than a 135mm travel Stumpjumper I rode recently, for instance). However unless you're running higher pressure and/or larger than stock volume spacers, you're going to be hitting hard bottom on a fairly regular basis on big hits. I'm a relatively pinner 165lbs; with the installed (0.2 CI) volume spacer, and sag on the lower (25-30%) side, the shock was stroking out more frequently than I liked. Doubling the spacer volume to 0.4 CI bumped up the end ramp to more acceptable levels, though the bike still bottomed fairly hard on bigger drops - albeit not frequently enough to motivate me to swap spacers again. I recognize this isn't a freeride bruiser, but the bike feels so generally capable and confidence inspiring, that it's hard not to occasionally venture into that territory. Heavier or aggressive riders may end up sacrificing a bit of plushness stuffing the can full of necessary air and spacers. 

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Looking for a log to hide under to escape the downpour. 

Here's the geometry numbers:

Frame Size Small Medium Large X-Large
Eff. Top Tube Length 22" (560mm) 23" (585mm) 24" (611mm) 25" (636mm)
Seat Tube Length 15" (381mm) 17" (432mm) 19" (483mm) 21" (533mm)
Eff. Seat Tube Angle 75.7°
Actual Seat Tube Angle 73.9° 73.9° 73.9° 75.7°
Head Tube Length 4.3" (110mm) 4.7" (120mm) 5.1" (130mm) 5.5" (140mm)
Head Tube Angle 66.7°
Bottom Bracket Drop 1.2" (30.5mm)
Est. Bottom Bracket Height 13.6" (345mm)
Wheel Base 45.2" (1147mm) 46.2" (1174mm) 47.3" (1202mm) 48.7" (1236mm)
Front Center 27.9" (708mm) 28.9" (734mm) 30.0" (762mm) 31.0" (788mm)
Rear Center 17.3" (440mm) 17.3" (440mm) 17.3" (440mm) 17.6" (448mm)
Reach 16.0" (406mm) 16.9" (429mm) 17.8" (453mm) 18.7" (476mm)
Stack 23.6" (599mm) 24.0" (609mm) 24.3" (618mm) 24.7" (627mm)
Standover 27.7" (703mm) 27.9" (708mm) 28.1" (714mm) 28.3" (720mm)
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Earning turns. Pretty effective self shuttler, this. 

Climbing

As is expected of a 130mm travel bike, this is pretty effective on the ups. The steep seat tube angle places you in a nicely balanced position to put the power down on punchy climbs. This bike has a fairly aggressive anti-squat curve; in conjunction with the additional mid stroke support of the Living Link, It's a ripper when pounding the pedals, generating forward momentum at an impressive rate, while still remaining supple enough to track rooty techgnar. As such, I was never compelled to flip the shock compression lever from the most open setting. The feeble knobs of the Mavic tire was the biggest limitation to this bike's steep climbing prowess. This is certainly one of the better climbing bikes I've ridden.

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Choose your adventure. 

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This vintage line reminded me of the olden days of the shore - we used to ride this stuff on 7-8" bikes that pedaled like shit and weighed 10 lbs more than this bike. Amazing, the progress made.  

Descending

Feeling subjectively slacker than the listed 66.7°, the head angle is a nice balance of stability and precision, and was more confidence inspiring on steep lines than expected. The lower center of gravity of a short travel bike certainly helps. The times I felt under biked, even when riding some fairly committed trail, were surprisingly few. Of course when the speed ramps up and the hits get harder, and you're bouncing off bump stops, the limits of the small bike become obvious, but the bike makes good use of it's limited travel. The low chassis stance also contributes to the bikes' cornering prowess, and the lively, well supported suspension, in conjunction with light weight (28.6 lbs as tested) is conducive to pinning it everywhere. The Mayhem moniker is apropos - it's a bit of a hooligan on the trail. 

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See Spot jump. Mad pop, this bike has. Begging to boost, wherever it goes.

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The shore is littered with century-old logging remnants. Where once people toiled, now we play.

Park

I was expecting to get punished by Whistler's late-season child swallowing braking bumps, but the Spot was more forgiving than any 130 mm bike has a right to be. Big wheels certainly help here. Light weight and mad pop make for a really fun jumping machine with impressive boosting capabilities. I'd feel guilty flogging this thing in the park on a regular basis, but the fact that it's reasonably effective in this environment was a nice surprise.

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It's a pretty silouette. 

I try to refrain from gushing on reviews, but I really like this thing. The fun factor is pinned, which is an impressive task with 29" hoops. It allows impressive feats with small travel, and has really opened my eyes to what smaller bikes can be capable of. It's not going to offer the big hit capability of a long travel enduro rig, but for much of the terrain many of us typically ride, the greater efficiency of something like this makes for an all round more fun and effective steed. Sometimes less can indeed be more as the slightly reduced pace in big chunk can often be more than offset by boosted speed and playfulness everywhere else. Out of the box I'd certainly be swapping tires and brake rotors, but everything else is on point. For the steeper, chunkier terrain I tend to ride, I'd be tempted to try bolting on a Fox 36 fork in 140 or 150mm travel; I think it'd be beastly good, but I'd have a hard time giving the bike back. As it sits this is an impressive debut from a relatively small company. 

The Mayhem is also available frame only from US$3199.

For more on the Mayhem and Spot Bikes click here...

Comments

DemonMike
+1
mike  - Oct. 31, 2017, 6:02 a.m.

Interesting thoughts on the brakes , I just built a 29er and run Guide RS with a 200/180 combo . With the 2.5WT tire I have found , too much braking and have been toying with trying a 180mm up front . Mind you I ride the Fraser Valley mostly so that may play part .

Reply

JBV
+1
James Vasilyev  - Oct. 31, 2017, 8:33 a.m.

bikes in this category can be so much fun and are often a joy to pedal on moderate terrain and climbing tech trails. beefy tires go a long way to inspire extra confidence when at the limits of their natural design parameters. sounds like an awesome bike to match it's looks. on the flip side, you could probably mount up Forekasters and rip an xc or marathon race with this thing and have a good time.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Oct. 31, 2017, 10:05 a.m.

That's a nice amount of travel for an all-rounder for sure. I rode a lot on the TallBoy that surprised me but a little more bounce would have been nice. Like the HT I guess. I may have to saddle this one up now that Perry is done with it!

Reply

cooperquinn
0
Cooper Quinn  - Oct. 31, 2017, 12:41 p.m.

Good luck prying it out of Perry's hands. 

He seems to like this one a bit.

Reply

xy9ine
0
Perry Schebel  - Oct. 31, 2017, 1:49 p.m.

already dropped it off at Cam's, dammit.

Reply

Timmigrant
+1
Tim Coleman  - Oct. 31, 2017, 2:06 p.m.

Awesome well written review as always Perry. And great visuals from Dave. I particularly love the combo shot of Big Smooth ... and that greasy looking root ball in the rain.

On the topic of drivetrains. The XX1 chain and cassette have demonstrated minimal wear on my personal bike this year. It's expensive, but seems to be worth the price of admission so far.

Reply

xy9ine
+2
Perry Schebel  - Oct. 31, 2017, 2:29 p.m.

thanks tim. the cheap bastard that i am - curious how gx eagle stacks up (long term) against the XX1 or X01.

Reply

Timmigrant
0
Tim Coleman  - Oct. 31, 2017, 7:46 p.m.

I too am curious to see what the life of the XX1 is vs. the X01 and GX!

Reply

fluffyreddragon
+1
Kai-Shen Deru  - Oct. 31, 2017, 5:01 p.m.

On the Mavic tires: pretty much no one on the Front Range likes them either.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Nov. 1, 2017, 12:10 a.m.

I actually love them in the dry on the North Shore... but only with Cushcore!

Reply

Boomshakalaka
0
Boomshakalaka  - Nov. 1, 2017, 2:20 p.m.

Nice riding Perry. Also this frame looks awfully similar to a yeti SB x.x, no?

Reply

linden44
0
Spencer Lindenberg  - Nov. 1, 2017, 2:48 p.m.

So what's the difference between the Fox Transfer Performance dropper and the Performance Elite? I thought the only difference between the Performance and the Factory was the Kashima coat on the stanchion and that the internals were exactly the same?

Reply

Dgw7000
0
Dave Wallace  - Nov. 2, 2017, 6:15 a.m.

I really wish he would have demoed the bike with a fox 36 at 150 or 160 Travel. This bike is amazing with a much better fork on the front rather than the fox 34 which is way too wimpy for this bike. The pike also works exceptionally well I’m running my Pike at 160 and I love this bike.

Reply

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