Tag Archives: All Mountain

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 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…

Superstar 10mm QR Through Axle

Add stiffness to a full sus bike with a QR back end

You might be wondering what this item is for. It allows you to run a 10mm axle bolt through hub in a frame designed for a standard skinny quick release. Same as a 15 or 20mm axle fork is stiffer than a standard quick release, this gives a stiffer rear end than standard. Normally you’d need a frame with specific dropouts.
This one works like a normal quick release, and unlike a specific 10mm you don’t even have to remove it completely to get the wheel out. I ride a 2008 Orange Five, which is great, but I was interested to see whether the rear could be stiffened without paying for a replacement Maxle swing arm.

Superstar 10mm QR through axleIf you have a rear hub like a Hope Pro 2, conversion kits are available so you don’t have to replace the hub & get the wheel rebuilt. I’m not sure I’d have bothered if the cost was going to be high, but the Superstar QR is £7.99 post free & the Hope 10mm kit was £20.99, so worth a go.

Anyway, the important thing, does it make any difference? Well just had a quick blast & straight away I could tell it all felt more solid. Sidehops normally show up a bit of flex on landing but with the new set up things were much improved.

This should mean holding lines on rough trails will be better, which is the kind of thing I’m after. 90% sure it will based on the 1st ride. If it ends up making no difference I’ll add a comment.

Middleburn RS7 Crankset (ISIS) long term review

How has Middleburn’s RS7 stood up to the abuse?

Middleburn RS7 Silver cranksetCranks. Pedals one end, bottom bracket the other, 1 – 3 chainrings, make the bike go.

There’s a lot of talk about how stiff various cranks are. These ones are stiff, although it’s rare for even cheap ones to feel flexy. The Middleburn RS7 crankset is also on the light side. They’re made out of quality alloy in the UK. They’re a little bit pricey, with a RRP for the arms & a spider around £150 but you often see them for a fair but less than the RRP. They do have a lifetime guarantee which includes DH & dirt jumping. It doesn’t cover the splines but it’s rare that they would go on any crank in use. I would guess the disclaimer there is to avoid paying out for dodgy fitting. If you want even lighter still, the RS8’s still have a lifetime guarantee but not for DH & jumping.

I can’t think of anything bad. They’re available in square taper & ISIS. Stop, I hear you say, but aren’t ISIS BB’s the worst product ever invented? Well they seem to have a bad rep, but in my experience if you get a quality BB, (not necessarily the most expensive), they last as long as the old square tapered ones. The axles are larger diameter & therefore stronger. The FSA Platinum I 1st used lasted 16 months of hard use before any play developed. It was replaced by a Superstar a couple of months ago, the design of which makes total sense, so I’m expecting that to do well. As a comparison, the best I’ve had from an external type BB is 6 months, the worst is 3 rides! Before anyone asks, yes the BB shell was faced. There are better units available now, however, from Hope, Chris King & others.

Although these have a triple, the spider is removable & you can fit a lightweight XC double where the inner ring is also the spider for the big ring. Uno setups do away with a spider, the ring fits where the spider would normally. Spiders are available in XC & DH versions, and trials set-ups are also available. In the more standard config, you can get various 4 or 5 bolt types including one for XTR cranks to allow you to run your own choice of rings.

Lastly, a word about chain rings. The pic shows Middleburn’s own fitted to my set of RS7’s. I use these because they seem to last better than most. It’s very hard to decide on a longest lasting make of chain ring, because the conditions & the weather make it a bit variable, but these seem to do the job. The granny ring has been on other cranksets, so it’s 2 years old or more, The big ring isn’t showing any signs of wear & it’s about 6 months old & the middle ring (gets the most use) is still going after a good few months, but has some wear. Not enough yet to need replacing, but enough that you can see it. The one on there at the mo is a hardcoat, unlike the older one in the pic.

To sum up, buy a set of RS7’s if you don’t mind shelling out a bit of cash for something that will last. They’re due to release an external set sometime soon, so you may want to wait for that – I’d say there’s no need, this one is fine. Another UK product that works & works well.

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