With Ohio’s first Enduro race about one month away, you might be contemplating what is the best machine for an Enduro race. And even if you’re not, I’m still going to tell you. Mostly because I just happen to be one of the few riders lucky enough to be riding a prototype Banshee Prime 29er trail bike, and I want to brag about it a little bit.
What we have here is a 29er designed for the aggressive rider. It’s got 130mm out back damped by a Fox DHX Air shock and a 140 mm Fox 34 up front sitting at 67.5 deg. 720mm wide carbon bars sit on a short 60 mm stem for a very DH oriented cockpit. Fast rolling but hard cornering 2.4 Maxxis Ardents with the EXO casing are mounted ghetto tubeless for less rotating weight. 180mm rotor XTR brakes from e-bay handle the stopping. And the Enduro racers best friend – a Rockshox Reverb dropper post.
The hard-knocks build does come with a price, mainly more weight. The prototype frame (think non-butted tubes, etc.) also weighs 700g more than the production frame will weigh. Add in the heavy dropper post and I’m coming in at 34 lbs. But all that disappears when the bike is pointed down.
The Ride: Since I’m a tall gangly fellow, I opted for the XL frame size (and a short stem). This sucker is a bit of a limo, with a wheelbase of over 48″. That’s longer than my DH bike. Combined with the 29er wheelsize, it took a few rides to come to terms with what essentially felt like a semi-truck. But on the third ride, something clicked. I anticipated the turns a bit more and started leaning this thing over a bit further, and wow. This thing blows away my 26″ trail bike in the corners.
Point it downhill and the wonders keep on coming. The long wheelbase, lateral stiffness, slack angles, and inherent stability and grip of the big 29 x 2.4 tires translates into lots of speed and lots of control. I’m talking downhill bike levels on moderate slopes. Only when things turn rocky or steep does it start to feel like a trail bike again. Oh, and it jumps too. Better than my DH bike. Just don’t plan to throw any massive whips, because it’s a 29er and it doesn’t like that kind of thing.
Point it uphill and you can feel the weight, but apart from that it’s no slouch. It pedals great and has good acceleration. It’s only on the flat and tight single track that the size of this bike starts to wear on you a bit. It doesn’t like going slow. But we aren’t talking slow, we’re talking Enduro – and what we’ve arrived at is a bike that descends singletrack trails with all the capability of a DH bike. It pedals, jumps, and corners well and offers incredible high speed control…everything you want for your timed stages. And it gets to the top just fine for the next stage.
I had never ridden a 29er before this bike, but I’m converted. The trade-offs are worth it in my opinion, and the Prime has got the geometry and toughness to take everything I can throw at it. There is no doubt I’m faster on this bike. 29ers…they are 3 faster!