Last Coal V4 review

by and 4

Last Coal V4 vital stats: full 29er, 180mm fork, 165mm rear, 490mm reach (on this size 1.85M), 63° head angle, 77.1° effective seat angle, 438mm chain stays. How does it ride?

  • Brand: Last
  • Product: Coal V4
  • Price: from €4,714
  • From: Last Bikes
  • Tested by: Ross & Benji for 3 months

Pros

  • Excellent long-travel trail bike
  • Beautifully made
  • Extremely engaging ride character

Cons

  • Not an enduro plough (if that’s what you’re after)
  • Not cheap
  • Chainstays on the short side

Who’s Last?

As is common with Last bikes, this 165mm travel Coal V4 shares some frame with another model. Namely the 150mm travel Last Glen, which uses the same front and rear triangles as the Last Coal. It’s the links in between the triangles that do the changing.

Last are arguably most well known for their striking – and very weight conscious – carbon Last Tarvo. The Coal V4 is about 1kg heavier. Which, in our opinion, is neither here nor there in the grand scheme of things. It’s the ride feel of the differing frame materials that is important. We’d much rather ride a nicer-feeling but 1kg-heavier bike thanks. Especially if it costs €2,000(!) less.

Part of the cost saving is actually down to good ol’ wages; conversely to what you may think (and how the rest of the bike industry usually does it) the carbon Last bikes are made Germany and the alloy Last bikes are made in Taiwan (albeit still finished/milled in Europe).

Further backing up the quality of Last bikes is the fact that the Coal is rated up to Cat 5 gravity riding and has passed EFBE testing. The frame comes with a six year warranty, a three year crash replacement scheme and any required frame parts are half-price during the warranty period. Which is all just nice to know isn’t it?

Fundamentally, Last Bikes is a small operation and you’re always going to pay something of a premium purely because of scale.

Sizes and science

The 1.85M size we tested (which you can pretty much take as a Large) came as a full 29er, as does the larger size (1.95M). The two smaller sizes only come as mullet bikes with a 27.5in rear wheel. The differing wheelsize bikes use differing links so as to retain the suspension kinematic and the overall frame geometry.

Talking of rear suspension, the back end of the Last Coal V4 is a single pivot affair that uses a rocker as compact push-rod to actuate the shock and do all of the leverage curve science stuff.

The science stuff being mainly significant in terms of a relatively low overall progression. 18% progression, even when measured form sag like Last do, is pretty modest. And we think that’s a good thing. Bigly progressive designs are very ion-trend and all that but all too often they just make for a bike that is vague at sag and never gives you full travel until you jump of a bungalow.

Geometry stuff

The geometry and thus things like anti-rise (which is a thing that gets far more attention than it deserves but hey) alter depending on the frame size. The chainstays range from 430mm to 447mm. The (actual) seat angles range from 69.7° to 74.2°.

A quick word on the seat angle. Yes, we thought the actual seat angle looked worryingly slack. It turned out to be perfectly acceptable on the trail. Sure, we ran the saddle pretty far forward on its rails, but what’s wrong with doing that? The Coal V4 surprisingly proved itself to be a nicely efficient place to be when climbing all but the steepest of ups (which required a bit off hunkering down chest-to-stem to prevent wheel lift).

We try not to talk too much about stack height as a measurement, mainly because we’re not sure if very many people out there know what stack height is and what ‘their’ stack height should be around. So we tend to use head tube length when discussing the front end height of bikes.

Anyways, the stack heights/head tube lengths on the Last Coal V4 are pleasingly appropriate, especially in the two larger sizes. The head tube length on the 1.85M and 1.95M sizes are 130mm and 150mm respectively. To whom it may concern, the stack heights are 651mm and 669mm. Fundamentally this meant, for once, we didn’t have to swap out to higher rise bars from those specced. Kudos to Last.

Changing tack, let’s look at the tubes that are low slung. This 1.85M size Last Coal V4 has a super short seat tube of just 430mm. And even then, the top tube is slung even lower. Such an impressive amount of clearance plays a huge part in how confident one feels when attempting various unwise ‘mad tekkers’ terrain on this bike.

How it’s made

The Coal V4 is impressively designed and fabricated and finished. The rubber frame protectors are well done. The trunnion pivot bolt has captive washers. Full complement tainless steel Enduro Bearings (which are fully filled with grease). M15 bolts are used on the front and rear triangles as well as on rocker and pushrod. The outer C-lock rings of the bearings have an integrated overloaded rubber seal. Stuff like that is where your money is going. As well as the sheer niceness of the welding and frame finish.

If some insane reason you don’t want this raw brushed aluminium finish (what is the matter with you?), the Coal V4 is also available in anodised matt black (yawn) or dark blue powdercoat (which is admittedly quite lovely).

On the trail

It pedals more than reasonably well. It pedals well full stop. We wouldn’t complain about the seat angle being a degree or so steeper, but generally the Coal is happy to be pedalled, rather being more of a winch and plummet bike.  It spins along nicely and roads, tracks, fire roads and other undulating climbs are dispatched easily and comfortably. Push on the pedals there is almost instant forward motion, no wallowing or energy sapping bobbing, just nice efficient power transfer.

When things steepen up the Coal does a good job of scrabbling up techier climbs although the shortish stays do occasionally help the front lift slightly on properly steep climbs but a bit of a shift of body weight gets it back down. It might be a big bike, and need a bit more input on tight switchbacks due to the slack head angle, but it feels much more like climbing on a trail bike than an out and out enduro bike. The weight and good pedalling manners definitely help to keep you feeling fresher at the top of a hefty climb than most long legged bruisers. 

But, the Coal is very much into enduro bike territory, so what’s it like going down? Well, similar but different to climbing. While there’s no denying that this is a long travel enduro bike, like when climbing, it feels a bit more versatile than an out and out gravity bike. It may well have a 180mm fork and a slack head angle, but the supportive yet active suspension make it fun and engaging to ride on trails that aren’t just the realms of the stereotypical enduro bikes. 

The Coal has a lightness to the way it rides, it doesn’t feel overly plush and wallowy, but more sprightly and supportive. It’s easy to manoeuvre on flowing trails, and encourages you to preload the supportive rear and make the most of small lumps and bumps to gap sections, while allowing you to pump down slopes for free speed without soaking up all your input. 

But that’s not to say it isn’t plush. The rear end hoovers up small bumps, whether that’s carpets of roots or repeated rocks, it flutters over them nicely, and tracks well across off cambers and rough sections. Big hits are also handled well, and there were plenty of times that I’d get to the bottom of a descent and the O-ring was off the bottom of the shock shaft yet we hadn’t felt any harsh bottom outs.

Turn things up a bit though and the Coal really comes alive. That big fork and plush suspension let you charge hard into rough rocky tracks as fast as you like and just keep going. Get off the brakes and let the bike run and you soon remember you’re on a longer travel bike. It’s fast and confident and while you can smash your way through most things at full chat, and due to the good weight and supportive rear it’s also easy to use small lips and rocks to gap sections, and it feels nicely balanced in the air.

Get it into the steeps and it again feels at home. The good front centre and chopped out head angle give you bags of confidence to drop into anything, and stay in the middle of the bike. Over the past year or so we’ve much preferred longer chainstays on longer travel bikes (for a load of reasons including stability and cornering) and while the chainstays on the Coal aren’t the longest, generally they work well and feel pretty good snapping round turns (and no doubt add to the ‘trail bike’ feel in certain situations). A longer length may make you feel a bit more ‘centred’ on the bike, and potentially break loose less on tight and fast turns, but the Coal goes round corners well and is properly fun to slap rutty turns on.

Overall

The Last Coal V4 is a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde of a bike, but for all the right reasons. It can be happily pedalled, is light and climbs well. Yes, it’s pretty long and slack but it’s much more rounded than a pure, race bred enduro sled. It can be ridden on mere mortal tracks and trails without feeling dull or muted. But put it in some proper terrain and open the taps and it’s fast, fun and capable.

Last Coal V4 specification

  • Frame // Last Coal V4 Alloy 165mm
  • Shock // RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate 185x55mm
  • Fork // RockShox Zeb Ultimate 180mm
  • Wheels // Newmen SL A.30
  • Front Tyre // Maxxis Assegai 29×2.5in
  • Rear Tyre // Maxxis Minion DHR II 29×2.4in
  • Chainset // SRAM GX Eagle
  • Brakes // SRAM Code 200/200mm
  • Drivetrain // SRAM GX Eagle AXS, 10-52T
  • Stem // Reverse Black-One D-2 35mm
  • Handlebars // Reverse Base 790x18mm
  • Grips // Ergon G10 Evo
  • Seat Post // BikeYoke Divine
  • Saddle // Ergon SM 10 Enduro Comp
  • Weight // 14.9kg

Geometry of our size 1.85M

  • Head angle // 63°
  • Effective seat angle // 77.1°
  • Seat tube length // 430mm
  • Head tube length // 130mm
  • Chainstay // 438mm
  • Wheelbase // 1,297mm
  • Effective top tube // 639mm
  • BB height // 23mm BB drop
  • Reach // 490mm

Review Info

Brand: Last
Product: Coal
From: Last Bikes
Price: from €4,714
Tested: by Ross & Benji for 3 months

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Orange Switch 6er. Stif Squatcher. Schwalbe Magic Mary Purple Addix front. Maxxis DHR II 3C MaxxTerra rear. Coil fan. Ebikes are not evil. I have been a writer for nigh on 20 years, a photographer for 25 years and a mountain biker for 30 years. I have written countless magazine and website features and route guides for the UK mountain bike press, most notably for the esteemed and highly regarded Singletrackworld. Although I am a Lancastrian, I freely admit that West Yorkshire is my favourite place to ride. Rarely a week goes by without me riding and exploring the South Pennines.

More posts from Ben

Viewing 4 posts - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)
  • Last Coal V4 review
  • bikesandboots
    Full Member

    As is common with Last bikes, this 165mm travel Coal V4 shares some frame with another model. Namely the 150mm travel Last Glen, which uses the same front and rear triangles as the Last Coal. It’s the links in between the triangles that do the changing.

    Seems the geo of both bikes might be compromised by this. e.g. slack seat angles, reach numbers that seem to be in between other bikes.

    A quick word on the seat angle. Yes, we thought the actual seat angle looked worryingly slack. It turned out to be perfectly acceptable on the trail. Sure, we ran the saddle pretty far forward on its rails, but what’s wrong with doing that? The Coal V4 surprisingly proved itself to be a nicely efficient place to be when climbing all but the steepest of ups (which required a bit off hunkering down chest-to-stem to prevent wheel lift).

    Would be nice to have better than that, given the price. Perhaps it’s difficult or constrained by the suspension design.

    Lovely bikes, but some bits of the geo and sizing would make me want to try before buying.

    dc1988
    Full Member

    I think showing stack measurement is very useful as the headtube itself doesn’t tell the full story. I think stack is something we will see increasing a bit in the next few years as it’s not high enough on large sizes and head/seat angle and reach seem to have found the sweet spot already.

    bruneep
    Full Member

    I have the Last Glen/Coal V2 Bought it blind, I’d buy again. A few posts on here about it https://singletrackworld.com/forum/topic/last-bikes-2/   Buying from them wasn’t the easiest covid time and the German way seems to differ from a UK way of buying.last

     

    noeffsgiven
    Free Member

    Nice to see decent length headtube on larger sizes, separated top and downtube welded at the headtube makes a change from the usual conjoined twins hydroformed bulge, I expected to see some form of gusseting in the area though considering a big fork up front.

Viewing 4 posts - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)

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