Whistler is perhaps not the most neutral location for a bike test – especially a first ride review – but I try and pride myself of not being taken in by the hype. And so it was with an amount of necessary skepticism that I swung a leg over the Knolly Warden LT in September for five straight days of riding the trails outside the world’s most famous bike park. Well, 5 days was the plan but we did sneak a day in the park on it, despite being specifically asked not to by Brenda at Knolly.
Sorry Brenda, but it would have been rude not to.
So the bike I tested was a size medium and the Warden LT v2 is a 27.5 wheel size only kind of bike. It’s an all alloy 6066 Hydroformed frame using Knolly’s patented Fourby4 rear suspension design. On this model we have 170mm Fox 36 Factory fork up front and the rear has 168mm of travel via the Fox DX2 shock. A carbon version will be available in the new year.
Reach on this medium is 475mm and the rear chainstays are 431mm. head angle is 65.25degrees but this can be slackened out to 64.5 by moving the lower bushing bolt on the rear shock mount back a notch. There’s an effective seat tube angle of 77 degrees.
The LT comes as a frame only option or in two build options – the difference in builds being basically down to the wheel spec. My test bike came with Industry Nine Wheels and an off spec Fox Factory 36 Fork. The final spec bike which will be available early in the new year will come with a Rockshox Lyric Ultimate RC2 fork.
Knolly sell their bikes in a slightly different way to the mainstream and there’s definitely a custom build feel to the way you order any of their bikes. They do complete off the shelf build options but you can up or downgrade the spec as you go through the order process and end up with a bike that is much more personal. That’s why they quote their prices online as starting prices.
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Buying in the UK
Being based in Vancouver they are naturally set up to sell and distribute into North America. They are working on launching a UK distribution business currently but in the meantime they are well set up to deal direct with customers in the UK and Europe. They’ve sold plenty of bikes direct and globally.
Knolly Warden LT Geometry Table
|Head Tube Angle||65.25 / 64.50||65.25 / 64.50||65.25 / 64.50||65.25 / 64.50|
|Effective Top Tube Length||609.5||635||660.5||684.5|
|BB Height (in Neutral)||348||348||348||348|
|Effective Seat Tube Angle||77||77||77||77|
|Fork Length (incl. Headset)||563||563||563||563|
|Seat Tube Length||360||405||456||505|
The rear FOURby4 patented suspension not surprisingly has four linkages at the back, but if you notice there’s two ‘Fours’ in that title. Four also represents the ride characteristics of braking, pedalling, traction and control. It’s a bold claim to be able to excel in all four areas but Knolly have given it good go.
Have they pulled it off?
Join me aboard the Knolly Warden LT DP Plus as I take it down some classic Whistler bike park trails and out into the mountains around Pemberton. Yeah, I know. You don’t have to thank me. I do this so you don’t have to.
That rear suspension
The suspension action is pretty linear through the majority of the travel but with an upward spring curve at the end. Which translated into ‘feels’ means you get lots of smooth travel that eats up the rapid trail hits but with enough resistance on the big hits (like hucks to flats and other badly judged landings – of which I am very experienced) to avoid bottoming out. In the park I had enough bad landings to safely judge that Knolly have ticked that box.
Everything changes when you sit down and load up the rear triangle with your full weight. The resistance to pedal induced bob is very noticeable and all without involving too much faffing about with the shock. In fact, Knolly claim that the shock is not the main factor in the suspension action, which suits me just fine as I really am a ‘fit ‘n forget’ kind of rider and I’m not one for spending much time fine tuning my shock pressures and damping. The Fox DX2 shock is an excellent shock mind and so to properly test that claim would obviously need testing with a different shock, but there’s no doubt in my mind that at the very least the rear on the LT is well matched to the DX2.
I loved this bike. If you have read issue 128 of Singletrack then you may already be aware of this fact as I chose it as the best bike I’d ridden in 2019. We are in touch with Knolly and as soon as there’s news on the UK distribution setup we’ll let you know. Until then you can check out the bikes on the Knolly website.
Knolly will fulfil orders to UK customers just fine, but there may be some tax and duty to pay at our side of the Atlantic, so make sure you factor that possibility into your budgeting.
Obviously I’m hoping to get one of these bikes to ride here in the UK for a more comprehensive review in the near future.
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