MSC Bikes Zion: First Play

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Last week we met up with Steve from MSC Bikes UK to have a ride on the new Zion at a deserted and almost desert-like dry ‘n’ dusty Llandegla Forest.

MSC Bikes class the Zion as their “All Mountain/Trail Bike”. It has 5 or 6 inches of travel (depending which position you mount the rear shock in the linkage) and weighs about 27.5 lbs. We tested it out in the 6 inch travel setting.

6 inch of travel is not really required for the trails at Llandegla but the Zion didn’t feel too portly nor inappropriately shaped for ripping around a trail centre. The cockpit is suitably roomy and the shortish stem and wide-ish bars keep things fun up front. The geometry is 69 degree head angle and 72 degree seat angle. Although the head angle is arguably slightly on the steep side for a 6in travel bike, we found that the bike didn’t seem to steepen too badly at any point. It felt as though the back end doesn’t extend too readily and could be kept in its travel and so the bike’s geometry could be “kept in check” so to speak.

In a nutshell, the Zion was extremely grippy. It’s this extra traction (and the consequent extra speed you can carry) that can be loads of fun when you’re riding a bike with “too much travel” on trails that aren’t “rough enough”. It’s like having stickier tyres but without the drag. Speaking of rubber, the tyres spec’d on the bike – Maxxis Crossmark – work very well with these conditions. We found that we were using all the travel on a few occasions; namely on landings that go straight into slingshot berms. The bike was great at that sort of hooning. The suspension never did anything odd or unexpected (no “trapdooring” sensation at the back, or chain feedback). It didn’t bob or plunge through rider movement that much at all either – Fox RP shocks really are totally brilliant things.

So far, so good. We’ve managed to keep hold of our test bike and will be doing a full review of it in the near future. In the meantime, here’s a bunch of pics and an ‘ickle video.

2010 Zion RR spec list:-
FOX RP 23 190MM, RockShox revelation SL 150 fork, Avid Elixirs CR 185/160mm, SRAM XO red rear mech, SRAM XO shifters, Truvativ Noir XC 3.3 crankset, Maxxis Crossmark 2.25 tyres, MSC wheelset, MSC telescopic seatpost, weight 27.5lbs, RRP £3,379.

2010 Zion Carbon R spec list:-
Sram XO, Fox TALAS 32 RL 100/120/150mm, Fox RP23, Avid Elixirs CR, MSC teelscopic seat post, MSC 415 wheelset, Maxxis Ardent 2.25 tyres, weight 24.9lbs, RRP £4,399.

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