I can imagine that when Porsche designers moved the engine to the back and hit the race track they went... DDAAAAMMMMMNNNNN! That is exactly the thought that went through me head when I got on the New Prime V3.
I have had the pleasure or riding all of Banshees new 29rs, the Phantom, the Prime and the Titan. Usually I am a medium but on my first go around with the new Prime V3 I found myself riding a large. At 5 foot 8 and one solid half.... on a good day, riding the large for most everything was not an issue. In fact, when I took it for some gravity days the overall length and running a 35 mm stem made the thing amazing. Not Titan territory amazing, but one bike to have in your stable amazing for sure. There was one issue though, I could not get around the stack height. Being a little shorter the only trouble I ever had was with flat corners when I really had to lean the bike over. I found it a little more difficult to weight the front wheel. Be it the stack height, the 35mm stem or a combo of both. So.... I got a medium sent, slapped on my preferred 50m stem, hit the trails and DDDAAAMMMMNNNN!!!!!
Instantly I felt like I was always riding right in the middle of the bike, 450 back end, 50mm stem at 65.5 degree head angle, this thing felt perfect. Every corner felt stable and effortless, every launch felt controlled and with no drama, I felt comfortable and in control of this sled!
Ok, with that excited rant out of the way, let me talk about some riding impressions here.
Climbing: You can't fault that seat angle, when you set the sag correctly based on Banshees millimeter recommendations (13.5-15.0) the back end remains stable, sits high enough to preserve a nice over the pedals feel and it moves up the trail like a little Billy Goat. No lie, this thing has managed climbs I could not do on lesser travel (different suspension system) bikes. It finds traction, hugs the ground and keeps you in a fantastic spot to just power up. Now, it is no timed hill climb champion, but the fact you can get up so much and also have a comfortable and efficient position for longer fire roads is damn amazing!
Suspension: First off... do yourself a favour and try this bike with a coil, wowzers! I did however spend most of the time riding it with the stock air setup, a Fox DPX2, and that option strikes a nice balance between control and a playful nature. The Coil just turns that 135mm's of travel into a traction factory of speed and awesomeness.
I'm not gonna use those odd "more travel than it comes with feel" jargon everyone likes to push out. Its a 135mm of travel, well used, and offers an incredible feel across a wide variety of terrains and impacts based on how you tune your shock. Here is what I observed...
That 450mm rear end: Everyone is so concerned about having short rear ends. I don't think you will even notice it(the 450 rear end) in the way you think you will. But, spend enough time riding it and you may realize you are carrying more speed through corners, have more control, climb better and feel more stable and controlled at speed. 450 rear ends in my opinion... are the way to go. Especially with the reach lengths growing and us running 35 to 50mm stems. You need to balance the bike, you need that back end to handle some of the weight reduction from the front wheels on trail bikes of today.
Conservative reach numbers....: Or helping you strike a perfect balance?: Reach has been getting long, and rightly so, I love the open cockpit when descending and cornering, it gives you confidence, but here in Ontario and maybe even the East side of the country we are not always riding steep tech. We have a lot of flat trails, narrow trails, punchy climbs and we like to ride them fast. 35mm stems and super slack head angles force you to really pull over the front end, so a slightly conservative reach lets you run a 50mm stem, and that lets you produce a wee little more weight over the front end. Combine that with the 450 rear end and as how I started this rant... DDAAAMMMNNNN the traction is great. Not only that, it feels like a very natural and neutral position on the bike.... especially when you are getting tired. Super short stems on longer reach frames forces you to really place your weight over the front, you have to think about it and do it. On the Prime V3 is just feels more natural, when tired, you are naturally in a better position when you stand up for that corner or that steep chute.
So, if you have made it this far you can probably guess I am in love with this new Prime V3, it is the benchmark for geometry now when looking at other manufactures frames to try. From here on out...everything will be compared to this bike from now on... that is until this bike gets better!
Oh, and one last thing.... it always helps to let the bike choose its name. In this case, Optimus Prime seemed only fitting. I swear it rides #MOREAWESOMER when you theme build it, and there isn't much more awesome that Optimus Prime!