Test Logbook: Not half long enough to answer all the questions this bike poses, but we hit Nidderdale’s best rocky technical rise and fall 4-40mph trails for as long as the light let us.
Need to know
Paul Turner sets up Rock Shox, makes fortune making suspension forks near enough obligatory. Decides to get out and down size to an ultra cool, money no object, best damn stuff you can buy operation, with a bunch of like minded individuals. He calls his new company Maverick. www.maverickamerican.com
Starting from a blank sheet of paper with a hotline to all the leading innovators and manufacturers in the industry such as Easton and Fox they designs their first bike and Klein get to work on a limited edition frame building run.
It’s immediately obvious that the quality of the building is at least on par with the best we’ve ever seen – as you’d expect from Klein. Welds are text book, the cast linkage unit is super crisp and touches like the separate polished seat clamp sleeve, and headbadge with it’s engraved individual date of manufacture and name (we rode ‘Odin’ ) just ooze unspeakable attention to detail. At $3,500 for frame, custom tuned fork and front mech. you’ve a right to expect that. What’s nice is that they go the extra step, with a signed owners manual with each stage of the construction signed off (like Raleigh used to do) plus a goodie bag with shock pump, Maverick socks and a Maverick beanie hat. Not a great deal in terms of added value, but a lot in terms of that warm fuzzy welcoming feeling you need to have when you’ve spent this much cash.
Keen Maverick spotters will also have noticed that this isn’t the Copper-Slip colour that we’ve seen over here so far, it’s a new gold finish. For those who fancy their finishes a bit more whimsical then check out the ‘some sort of very clever printing’ technique they use to create intricate floral Laura Ashley patterns for those summer singletrack meadows.How does it work then?
The bike sits somewhere between a linkage and a URT (unified rear triangle) by putting the bottom bracket on the single ‘Monolink’ linkage piece between the front and rear triangle. The custom built Fox shock (coil with an air assist spring) forms the fixed front (think seat tube like) member of the rear triangle.
The back end is otherwise conventional although of course beautifully executed with full disc mounts on the dropouts and cable guides on the stays. The front end uses a custom built Easton tubeset that essentially looks like Rad tubing the wrong way round with the square end at the seat tube. The seat tube curves up and back just like the old GT LTS / STS bikes which means that as you increase the seat height you increase the effective top tube length. Can’t remember any problems that the GT’s had with that and the Thomson seat post should be plenty strong enough to cope with the increased lay back .
No! Not the boring pipe and post stuff, how does it ride?
At first ‘sit’, the bike is almost underwhelming as the suspension just doesn’t seem to be doing anything at all. Then you realise that the lumps you’re riding over aren’t doing anything to the bike either and realise that the little ‘half a fork leg’ shock out back is quietly processing the trail without bothering to ever tap you on the base of the saddle or the pedals to tell you about it. It’s only when you jump back onto another bike to try and ride up the thing you just cleaned so smoothly that you realise how totally planted and smooth the Maverick is. No waving the front wheel in the air (despite a high front end), no spitting rocks out the back, no tugging on the pedals or wallowing, just smooth forward motion and traction. There’s a stiffening of the suspension as you stand up but it’s not as obvious as a pure URT and just helps stabilise the sprinting platform – which we reckon is a good thing.
The secret to this is the minimal movement of the bottom bracket in relation to the rear wheel. No ‘chain growth’ to drag the back wheel down as you pedal and little change in bottom bracket height as the suspension compresses through it’s 4.5″ path. GT’s I-drive’s did manage a similar effect in their later versions but this is achieved much more simply and elegantly than all those eccentric and dog bone devices. There’s a great little animation clip on the site to show it working too.
If you want to know how it charges downhill then I’m afraid we’ll have to disappoint you. The bike we blagged for a quick blast had the Hope Mini disc brake levers set cack handed US style and we had to ride well within our limits on the loose rocky descents. It also needed a bit more work balancing shock pressures and damping adjustment front to rear before we could comment fairly. Don’t get us wrong it feels great – stable, planted, laterally stiff and accurate – like all good gravity fiends should, but we just didn’t have chance to really let rip and that’s were we reckon it’ll show it’s true colours.
Verdict so far: First impressions of the Maverick are excellent in terms of totally controlled pedal power delivery and suspension smoothness, while the finish is faultless. We’d certainly love to get one in on a long term basis to wring the best out of it, and finally get to the top of all those climbs that have eluded us since we started riding.
Our only slight worry is with the longevity of the suspension, and it’s a point first made by our occasional suspensioneer Formula One (and Ex-Whyte bike) specialist Adrian Ward when we showed him the proto pictures proto pictures.
For a start all those uneven, twisting pedalling loads are fed through the linkage and the bearings at either end, rather than cradled directly in a main or sub frame. Secondly although the suspension should rotate around the main frame pivot and feed stresses into the shock from below, the shock also has to resist rotational forces from the rear triangle coming in at a right angle to the upper bushes, which is about as bad as it gets for a telescopic system.
Obviously only time will tell whether this turns out to be a wise long term investment of serious capital, but for now we’re happy to say the ride was superb.
Latest news from Maverick is the planned launch of an XC bike the “Reposado” which uses a lighter gauge tubing and a full air shock rear strut. Here’s what Maverick told us last night. “frame set weighs 5.2 lbs; “V” or disc brake; 80 mm travel front
and rear; I built up a large for the show that came in at 23 lbs, and a medium that came in at 22.8 lbs., so it is pretty light (that’s an understatement – Ed). The ML7 comes in at 26 lbs and the frame set weighs about 5.8 lbs.
For more technical details or to buy your very own Maverick, mail the men themselves at [email protected].
Big thanks to Russ for letting us play with Odin on it’s first UK outing and sorry all that lovely red Moab dust is now under a black layer of Yorkshire cack.