The Cove Hustler was born on Vancouver’s notorious North Shore way back in 2002. It celebrated it’s twelfth birthday back in 2014 with a revamp and transition to 650b wheels. The Hustler is available as a frame only offering for back room tweakers or as a complete bike with Cove’s handpicked build kit; here we’re testing the latter. Where previously there was linkage driven single pivot, the 150mm frame now sports a tweaked and tuned Horst link rear end and a mission statement of all mountain, tech gnar, enduro and “putting some hustle in your ride”.
Angles and reach place it firmly midway in the ballpark of modern geometry trends. With the supplied 160mm dual position Pike fitted, the Hustler ends up with a 66.5 degree headangle. Combined with the 595mm top tube and 330mm B/B height we’re more in long’ish and low’ish territory than at the extreme, and I suspect that’s going to be a comfortable place for many riders.
Perhaps surprisingly, given its remit, the 150mm travel the frame offers is managed by a Fox Float CTD Boost Valve shock rather than one of its piggy back reservoir’d bigger brothers. It’s a shock that’s fine for trail riding duties but given the terrain the Hustler is designed to deal with I’d have liked to see something a little more burly squeezed in there – more on that later.
The build kit Cove offer to complete the Hustler is a mix of mainly SRAM and Race Face parts. SRAM supply the business end of an X01 eleven speed drivetrain which is matched to a set of Race Face Turbine cranks. The bike is shod with SRAM Roam 50 wheels which were quickly switched to tubeless with the supplied parts. I’ve got to admit the supplied Maxxis Ardent didn’t last more than the initial ride; a 2.25 tyre up front is doing the capability of the Hustler a disservice. Once a more suitable tyre was fitter up front – in this case Onza tyres superb 2.4 Ibex – it was easier to get the Hustler up to speed and onto trails more suited to it’s capabilities.
The other area that’s crying out for change is the steering department, sure you’re all familiar with the standard short stem and wide bar journo swapout, but with the 725mm wide bar and 60mm stem I think we can all agree something needed doing.
All built up the Hustler weighed in at a sprightly 28.5 pounds, which is commendable for a 150mm travel alloy full suspension bike. The weight combined with decent suspension tweaking had the bike positively spinning up local climbs with the Fox Float in descend mode and very little hint of any bob. Even on steep climbs I had no need for the lower travel option on the forks, and like other recent test bikes I’d have preferred the option of a Solo Air instead where suspension tuning is a possibility.
Point the bike downhill and it’s a competent descender, in tight and twisty drops it’s easy to throw the bike around and it’ll handle everything in a workmanlike fashion. The frame has a decent amount of standover clearance which makes threading it through technical terrain a relatively painless experience and the suspension works well when the going gets choppy. Get some decent rubber on the Roam 50s and there’s little that can beat them; they match the performance of the frame well.
While it copes fine on traditional trail style descents, on long downhill sections it was easy to reach the limits of the shock’s performance however, as it tried to deal with repeated big hits. As the shock heats up performance gets a little inconsistent. If you’re intending to race enduro or head to the mountains it may be worth considering an upgrade to a Float X in order to get the most out of the frame’s potential.
All in all the Cove Hustler is a competent all round machine that lives up well to Cove’s tradition of turning out bikes that shine in technical terrain. It’s not the most stand out of this years crop of all mountain/enduro 150mm bikes on offer but it quietly gets on with the job and doesn’t disappoint. It handles climbs well and will transfer whatever power you want to put out into what seems like effortless motion, it descends well soaking up everything you point it down while giving plenty of standover to manoeuvre, and on flat and twisty terrain it’s a lively bike that’ll still give plenty of feedback.
The only niggle is really with aspects of the build kit which seems at odds with where the bike is headed, it’s crying out for better tyres and a bar width that helps supply the throwing around the frame is asking for. When everything else seems so well thought out it’s an odd compromise to make but once it’s sorted the Hustler is a bike that’ll deal with the chat while you get on with the ride.
- Frame: Alloy 150mm travel
- Fork: Rockshox Pike RCT dual position
- Shock: Fox Float CTD Boost Valve
- Wheels: SRAM Roam 50
- Tyres: Maxxis Ardent 2.25
- Shifters: SRAM X01
- Mech: SRAM X01
- Crank: Race Face Turbine
- Saddle: Cove WTB Rocket
- Post: RockShox Reverb
- Brakes: SRAM X0 Trail 180mm rotors
- Grips: Lock On