So, as a late X-mas gift, I got myself a new toy .
Bold Unplugged Volume 1. Spec: Saint, GX, Deity cockpit & pedals, E1900 wheels (had to save a bit of money somewhere, plus, the crappy wheels on my trail bike have lasted for 5 years now…), KS lev Integra, RS Super Deluxe, one token. The fork is a Yari in name only since it was fitted with a Charger damper tuned to my weight and riding style by the fine folks at Akira Tuning. Bike is in the longest/slackest setting.
Uphill: You’ll never mistake it for a trail bike, but I’ve ridden long-travel bikes that climbed a lot worse. Gets you up the hill. Tech climbing is actually pretty good, I even managed to clean a section that I’d never cleaned on flats before. Whenever I timed climbs I was actually going quite fast, it just felt like I had to work for it. The longest ride so far has been a little over 3.5 hours, but all-day rides should pose no problem.
Downhill : I have to work on my cornering technique. Haven’t really gotten the hang of quick cornering yet, but I’m adapting. Needs more input and more movement and of course a more aggressive position. Managed to get around even the tightest switchbacks around here w/o problems. Straight lines are scary fast, steeps seem less steep. Suspension setup still needs some work. This bike begs you to go harder, steeper, rougher.
Two things I find hard to quantify: Line choice in tight switchbacks is very «intuitive», i.e. I seem to «see» the right line and be able to follow it easily. Demo’d a few other bikes that gave more trouble in such situations. Another thing is, I feel like I have more time to react in steep, tech situations, even though I’m probably going just as fast or faster than before.
No, this is not a cheap bike. OTOH, at MRSP of last year’s Reign Advanced 1, I got a custom tuned fork, the brakes, tires and cockpit of my choice, 175mm dropper and an otherwise similarly specced bike (Reign has slightly more expensive wheels but lots of house-brand parts and only a Fox Performance shock). So, I guess I’m trying to convince myself that it’s not THAT bad. Do I think it’s a ridiculous amount of money for a toy ? Sure. Do I think it’s money well spent ? You bet.
All my contacts with Bold were very pleasant. Emails to inquire about my saddle height, so they could cut the cables accordingly, a phone call that they would start building up my bike and had I seen their new colourway and would I prefer that one ? Sending my fork to the tuners free of charge, being more than willing to spec parts that are not officially listed on their website etc. Patiently answering questions about tokens in the shock, fork travel, you name it. Oh, and it’s nice to have a chat over coffee with the designer of your bike when you pick it up.
Other thoughts : While the L frame fits me well (I’m 1,90m and sitting position is very comfortable), I think I would prefer an XL if they made one. Especially on steep climbs and fast downhills (and fast is the name of the game with this bike), I wish for a little more TT/reach. Not an issue on tamer climbs/slower descents. Will put a 50mm stem and a slightly higher rise bar on the bike and see if it makes a difference. I think I’d like an even steeper seat angle. Bike is quite stiff, which I like. Also, large screws on all the frame pivots.
So, to end my ramblings, I’ll quote my wife when she got her new Reign: «Can I have my old bike back? All the trails have gotten so boring.» Yep, the Unplugged does make a lot oft hings seem easier/tamer.