by Marc Basiliere
August 30, 2013
Sometimes it seems as though there’s little new happening in terms of mountain bike suspension design. Granted, bikes have evolved to be generally excellent, but most designs are variations on a theme. When we heard earlier that Breezer – founded by mountain bike pioneer Joe Breeze and now a sister brand to Fuji – was coming out with their first full suspension bike since the mid-’90s, we certainly didn’t expect anything especially exciting.
What we found, however, was something different. Working with the Sotto Group (engineers for hire who have worked with everyone from Raleigh to Yeti and Moots), the 160mm Breezer Repack makes use of a fairly unique suspension design. In essence splitting the difference between a short link (VPP, DW-Link, Maestro) and Horst Link (Specialized mostly) design, the MLink locates the lowest of its four pivots half way along the Repack’s chainstays. Different- but why?
“Modern full-suspension kinematics have evolved over the years from placing the critical chainstay pivot located near the rear axle – producing a flexy and limited system – to a short link pivot in front of the rear wheel, a high-stress system with long chainstays. MLink™ places this critical pivot in the middle of the chainstay, balancing out these opposing forces for a smooth and efficient system.”
Further, the MLink’s bearings are said to only rotate three degrees- wearing less than those on the short links currently en vogue. Again, Breezer’s press release:
“Compared to long link flexy systems, MLink allows for a rigid, triangulated rear end with riding forces diffused across widely spaced, low rotation bearings – supplying the stiffness essential for full suspension to function at its best.”
Of course, any suspension design can be implemented to ride poorly – and that’s where Joe Breeze’s 40 years of bicycle design experience came in handy. As a man who can take credit for the original dropper post, the unicrown fork, the first hollow mountain bike cranks, and 3D (cowled) dropouts, Breeze certainly knows mountain bikes. Word on the trail is he’s still quite the rider.
While no new bike introduction would be complete without the terms “Enduro” or “27.5,” Breezer are breaking with current trends somewhat, spec’ing a 68° head angle. A bit steeper than on most 6in bikes, this is intended to counteract some of the sluggishness inherent to
big mid-sized wheels and long top tubes (625mm in a large). This head angle (which just a few years back would have been considered slack) also allows the rider to weight the front wheel, allowing committed riders a bit of extra traction. Top tubes are running to the long end of things (625mm for a large) but despite being hinged in the middle, chainstays are a reasonable 438mm for all sizes.
Builds for the three-bike range are refreshingly sensible: an entry-level Repack Expert features a Deore drivetrain, Shimano M445 discs, and an X-Fusion Sweep fork for €2,500/$2,900. Another €500/$700 for the Pro buys a hard-to-beat SLX drivetrain and Fox 34 Float fork, while the range-topping Repack Team gets XT down to the brakes and hubs and Kashima coated Fox suspension front and rear for €3,700/$4,400. Keeping things under control, there are no pricey composites to be found in the frames or build kits and dropper posts are left to the purchaser.
All of the usual claims are present: climbing “exceeded all of our exceptions” and “in our case, we feel we’ve created a bike that sacrifices nothing”. Of course, we hope that Breezer’s claims ring true on the trail. If nothing else, the company deserves kudos for bringing something new and interesting to market. Worldwide availability is scheduled for January – at this point it looks as though Germany and Portugal are the nearest European countries with distribution.