Category Archives: Mountain Bike Reviews

Banshee Rune 650b upgrade 27.5″

Banshee Rune 26″ to 650b conversion

So, er, with a first impressions and a long term review for Banshee’s Rune a 3rd one could be seen as a bit excessive?!

However, this one will be short as it’s just to give an impression of the ride with 650b wheels compared to 26″.

‘Why make the change?’, you might ask. I’ve long been a supporter of 26″. You can make awesome 26ers. IMO the wheels are big enough & they allow lots of flexibility with geometry and especially with longer travel bikes the advantages of larger wheels are not so great. But it seems the industry is trying to kill it off and I decided to make an economically sound decision for once and sell the 26″ forks while they were in good condition & not yet considered totally obsolete! I’m not against other wheel sizes I just don’t get why we aren’t allowed as many good tyres in 26″ any more!

So, I sold the TALAS 36 160mm forks and replaced them with a set of 650b Rockshox Pikes. There will be a separate post on them, but in a word, great…

Banshee RuneAre there any differences? Apart from the forks performing better, the big positive with the swap over is that the bike is better balanced in the air. It was already good, now it’s extremely good! Handling wise on the ground very little has changed, it still corners, steers and soaks up trails as before. The 650b dropouts are only available in 142mm which is more or less standard & they are slotted for easier axle fitting. It wasn’t that hard before but it’s even easier now. If you’re really looking & you pay a lot of attention to components on, er, all bikes, you’ll notice there’s a 12mm QR instead of the standard bolted one. It’s RS Maxle standard, but not a Maxle. More about that in another post.

The only thing you could call a slight negative would go for any move to larger wheels on a frame with replaceable dropouts. Initially the bike is slightly less keen to manual as the rear axle is further back. I got used to this much more quickly than I expected to. (I did have a quick check to see if the wheels fitted with the 26″ dropouts but no!)

So although there’s not a huge amount to write, I’m pleased with the change. It’s always been a hugely fun bike to ride but it’s genuinely improved as a 650b I think. Also keep a look out for a tyre review of the Vittoria (Geax) Barzo & Goma tyres in the next few weeks/months as well as the One-Up 42 & 16 tooth sprockets & RAD cage.

Banshee Rune Longer Term Review

Banshee Rune a few months in

Banshee Rune…see the Rune first impressions review for info on the frame. This one is concerned with reliability, some differences in the setup between this one & the demo bike I rode & anything else that didn’t occur to me originally. The 2 frames are identical except for…

– the demo was a medium & slightly small for me (although great fun!). This is a large & it fits me well; although it’s maybe more like a medium from other brands. It’s got enough room that I might still go for a shorter stem in the future to improve the steering & chuck-aboutable-ness…
– The demo was a 650b & this one’s a 26er, the only difference being a different set of dropouts
– This one has no climb switch on the shock; more on that later

It’s rumoured that the 26er is slightly better, but I reckon they’re both pretty good. Much has been written about the advantages of the different wheel sizes but here’s my opinion. The 650b feels like a slightly smoother ride on rockier surfaces & the 26er feels a touch more nimble, most noticeable is that it manuals slightly easier. It also rolls faster on smoother surfaces. Both feel just as solid & the differences aren’t huge. It should be a slow bike on the tarmac, not that you’d be thinking of riding too much road on it! However, I do tend to ride from home to the trails & it’s no slower on the boring smooth stuff than a lot of shorter travel mountain bikes.

In terms of this being a longer term review, although I’ve been riding it for 3 or 4 months it was an ex-demo frame from EDS Bikes so it’s had a reasonable amount of use already. In terms of reliability, nothing whatsoever has been an issue.

There are other differences concerning the complete build, mostly not that relevant. Most of the build came from my previous frame, a rugged & dependable Orange 5, but it’s all vaguely similar in type & quality to the kit on the demo bike. Different forks were required, the Five was running some solid but quite low performance 150mm Sektors. This frame came with a set of TALAS 160 FIT RC2 forks which are solid & perform pretty well. They’re a massive improvement on the Sektors I was running! However, the demo bike was running Pikes & they kind of give you extremely high expectations for anything you ride after! I suspect a set of Pikes will transform any bike that needs an AM type fork. They are that good, really plush but also feel properly fast whether it’s rough or smooth.

The lack of the climb switch on the Cane Creek DB air hasn’t been a worry. On some bikes I’m guessing it would be a real help, on this frame I haven’t missed it. It might be just me but it doesn’t seem to need it, even on the smooth. As with the demo bike this one climbs well, better than a 160mm bike has any right to..! I suspect that unless things change drastically, other shocks may well struggle not to disappoint once you’ve ridden a Cane Creek that suits your bike.

I’ve mostly ridden whilst teaching bike skills, but lately there have been some quicker riders so I’ve also had the chance to get some speed. Despite being a fun bike I’ve not had any scary moments or crashes. The frame/shock combo would generate more grip with a more chunky rear tyre, the current one is mostly OK but drifts out well before the front. A better one will give even more cornering speed in the future.

The bike rides quite light & seems to get up most trail centre slopes without complaining. It leaves that to me… It’s only running an 11-36 with a single 34t at the front, but it’s only my occasional(!) laziness that stops it getting up climbs. As in the first post, the downhill speed is noticeably fast! I guess that means it may not be a bike for wheels on the ground XC riders but with a bit of basic technique anyone can have some fun on a Rune!

I don’t really do ‘points out of 10’ reviews of anything, but I guess the following would be lots of stars; I don’t usually own more that 1 bike & since I’ve been riding the Rune I haven’t really had the x=n+1 formula playing on my mind…”

Look out for some video over the next few weeks, providing the weather plays along!

Banshee Rune Quick Review

Banshee Rune First Impressions

Banshee RuneFollowing on from the wheel size post from, er, a bit too long back…
…the Banshee Rune can be run as a 26er or 650b (27.5er). This is good news IMO, if only because it allows a frame upgrade by swapping all the bits from your 26er whilst still giving a bit of future proofing or choice depending on how you see things. To change wheel size you just fit the relevant set of dropouts. The dropout height is also adjustable to give 3 different geometries. The one I rode was in it’s 650b guise. Many forks these days do 26 & 650b with the same fork, which is great for the indecisive!

I got the chance to ride one whilst helping take groups round Dalby’s demo route for EDS Bikes. The Rune is a 160mm travel frame & was set up with a Rockshox Pike fork & Cane Creek DB Air shock at the rear. The shock had the ‘climb’ switch on it, for …climbing, but I left it open all the time & it still climbed pretty well. In fact it climbed easily as well as any 125 – 150mm frame I’ve ridden.

If you’re like me, climbing well is good, but of no use whatsoever if the thing doesn’t descend!

Happy to say it went down one of the black descents faster than I’ve ever been & it seemed happier in the air than anything else I’ve ridden 🙂
This isn’t a substitute for actual jump technique! I’m happy on the jumps, but this frame inspired extra confidence.

The Pike fork was great, although the fork model is up to you. The Cane Creek air shock performed extremely well, the back end of the bike tracked the ground as you’d want it to, although part of that has to be down to the frame design as well.

Although a Canadian brand, Banshee are apparently designed by a Scottish chap. He actually lives in Scotland as well & so the bikes have mud clearance. Yey! Another nice touch is that the bearings are deliberately standard sizes meaning you can use any quality bearings that are the correct size.

When I look at a suspension frame, I tend to look at how a bump will work on the pivot points. On some frames a hit seems to impact a bearing more than rotate it & to my mind this will wear it out quicker. The Rune looks like the bearings won’t be stressed in this way & so I would guess they’d last well. The design seems to give a nice stiff frame laterally which helps keep you pointing where you want & other bits of good design include the stays being built from a kind of rectangular figure of eight cross section to add strength whilst keeping the weight down a bit.

Not sure what the weight was but it didn’t feel heavy to lift & rode a bit lighter than it felt as well.

I always feel I should be honest & say something bad if it needs saying, but in the 4 or so demo laps I did I couldn’t find anything negative! The funnest bike I’ve ridden in a long time & I want one..!

Apologies for the lack of pics, I was riding & my GoPro hasn’t arrived yet! But here’s some video of a Banshee rider trying to break his bike…

Orange Five long term review

Orange Five Long Term Review

Orange FiveThis isn’t so much a detailed review, you just need to Google for tons of reviews & info on how it rides & handles. This is more about how it stands up to long term use. This one’s an ’08 model – not so much has changed for 2010; a slightly lighter/stronger top tube by Reynolds & the head angle is a little bit slacker. I wouldn’t have said it needed it, but it’ll make the bike slightly more stable at speed & help prevent over the bars incidents on the really steep bits.

…back to the bike – it’s lived up to expectations. No major problem’s so far since it was bought in Dec 2007. It was the basic ‘S’ model with factory upgrades where it seemed worth it. Forks were upgraded to Fox TALAS RLC, hubs, brakes & headset to Hope items & a GravityDropper seatpost added by me. Reasoning was that drivetrain stuff will wear out anyway, so why pay extra at the start? Just upgrade if necessary when stuff wears out.

The forks went to MOJO after a year to have the TALAS system sorted, it almost stopped working due to an unsealed system on the ’08 forks that lets in dirt. They fitted the ’09 assembly which has been great – instant travel adjust instead of almost instant, and it’s now sealed. It’s currently the only system that’s so easy to use you can adjust it on the move.

Pivot bearings are still smooth, so well done Orange for quality bearings & a design that obviously doesn’t put much stress on them. Had to change the shock bushings & went for TF Tuned stainless ones which have been good so far, and they sell the tool for DIY purposes. Although it’s nothing to do with Orange as such, the Fox shock has done well. No issues & it’s easy to change seals on the air can & add some float fuid every so often just to be on the safe side. Mojo reckon if you do this you won’t need a factory service as soon.

Most upgrades have been due to wear & tear or personal choice rather than breakages. One exception was a front rim – bent the original WTB item on not too heavy a landing. Replaced it with my current rim of choice, a Mavic EN321 (used to be XM321); cheap, reasonably light & I’ve not bent one yet. I replaced the rear recently with one that became spare from another bike. It’s handy that EN321’s & WTB SpeedDisc AM rims take the same length spokes, so can be swapped without replacing the spokes if they’re in good order. The other major replacement was a set of Middleburn RS7 cranks, due to the Truvativs being required for another bike. Nothing wrong with the Truvativ set, the external bearings don’t last ages, but I got a lot longer from them than from Shimanos I’ve used. The RS7’s are an awesome bit of kit & there’ll be a detailled review sometime.

That’s it really, does everything I need & does it well.

[edit] I am still using this bike in 2014! Obviously components wear out, but the frame is still fine. It’s running on the original shock & has only had 4 sets of pivot bearings & 3 sets of shock bushings so far… #26aintdead