These are the very first pictures of Pace’s long-awaited full suspension bike. And when we say “first”, we mean it – the Pace guys finished painting and assembling this prototype frame just hours before Saab Salomon Mountain Mayhem. We mean it when we say “long-awaited”, too. The “real soon now” status of the Pace FS project has acheived legendary status, with something due to appear within the next 12 months for about the last 12 years. But it’s real, and it’s here. This is the Pace RC400 Full Floater.
Well, nearly. This is a prototype (although an admirably well-finished one), and there’ll be a period of test riding on this and another proto frame before the finer manufacturing details are sorted out. Production frames are due in Spring 2007, and we believe it – Pace has already got its manufacturing sorted out for the well-received RC303 hardtail, so getting the FS bike on stream shouldn’t present too many difficulties.
But never mind all that, what about the bike? The family resemblance with the RC303 is clear – the front triangle is all-but identical, and the stays and dropouts are pretty much the same too. Cover up the linkages and shock in the middle and you could be looking at a 303, albeit one with a cool white paintjob.
The stuff that joins the two halves together, though, is what makes the difference. At first glance it looks like a short-linkage, solid rear triangle rear end along the lines of Giant’s Maestro and others. But a closer look reveals that the shock is mounted between the two links rather than between the upper link and the frame. We’ve seen this idea before – Fusion and Iron Horse bikes use it – but as with all designs, small changes can make a lot of difference. Pace’s Adrian Carter says that the system is inspired by a Suzuki GP motorcycle of days gone by. The idea is that driving the DT HVR shock from both ends allows much finer control over rate curves than having one end fixed, thus allowing Pace to exactly mimic the feel of its own fork at the back end for a super-balanced feel. The curve is said to be essentially linear, but with a very slight hump part-way through the travel for pedalling stability and a hint of progression right at the end for bottom-out resistance. The rear axle path looks like following the fairly popular pattern of generally vertical, with a hint of backwards at the start of the stroke for small-bump sensitivity and a degree of forwards at the end to minimise pedal kickback over bigger hits.
And as if there wasn’t already enough to like about the RC400, the price is set to be very agreeable too – Pace is aiming for “under a grand”, which we kind of take to mean probably £995, but time will tell. It certainly looks worth waiting for…