Back in 2019… before the Covid19 upheavals Banshee released the new Titan… their long legged 29r aimed at big mountain,enduro and all around Tom-foolery for the big hoops…. and I managed to get one in the first release. I did an initial review based on a few limited rides and was properly impressed with the initial ride qualities. Fast forward nearly a full year, plenty of trail riding, a few trips to our only open gravity fed, shuttle lift access park and I have a new appreciation for this Beast!
Lockdowns and travel restrictions meant riding local was the only real option for most of the season, and around here in southern Ontario that means mainly flat trails, minor elevation that is usually just short and steep and not a huge variety in terrain. However, what it does offer is tight riding, plenty of exposed roots and rocks and when it gets a little wet, depending on where you are riding (Niagara in this case), slippery surfaces. All can be really fun and challenging to ride at speed… i have a few crashed this season that prove that!
Before we go any further, here is a spoiler alert, and you can choose to read further, or take the spoiler as Titan Ride Gospel. This bike is the only bike you need in your stable of bikes….
BIKE SETUP/RIDER DETAILS
The bikes Numbers…. And how it seems to work some Greek God levels of magic!
When you look at the numbers on the Titan, in particular the chainstay length with the headangle it doesn’t seem to make sense for tight and twisty slower flat trails. Let’s just say… I was pleasantly wrong…. get into that further down.
The headangle at 64.5 in the lower setting (65 high) seems to favour the idea of the bike being pointed down, and while park riding certainly is one terrain where this bike absolutely excels, the overall layout of this bike when taken together gives you an amazing package able to transition between Flat Trails to Gravity Thrills! I will say this has to do with the combined modest reach number, the lengthened chainstay length and in my case, running it with a 50mm stem to pull you out front a little more.
Now, about the chainstay length. 452mm. Seems long doesn’t it? I spend a lot of time riding a 432mm chainstay on a few other bikes I get to keep around, but what marginal gains you get in the shorter chainstay snap I feel you loose in the all out stability and corn-a-bility (is that word???) you get with the Titan. My other go to bike from another brand has a slightly longer reach, but much shorter chainstays. It is fun to ride, don’t get me wrong, but the Titan just hauls ass with less drama.
I think the three things on this bike, Chainstay length, Reach and Headangle have been well balanced to blend together a bike that is both nimble when you want it to be, and stable when you push it.. a bit of Bruce lee with a heavy helping of Rambo thrown together!
Tight Trails to Gravity Thrills!
As mentioned before, because of the local covid restrictions I was forced to spend a lot of time on the bike riding local, more XC type trails. But, this worked to the bikes favour because I spent a lot of time trying different tires, wheels and travel options. Done in an effort to to get the most out of fun days riding up and down, to long days pedaling around with the XC crowd on their 2.25 29rs. What I discovered is that with a few changes the Titan becomes extremely versatile and actually had me riding faster over long pedal sections compared my previous lighter weight, lower travel, skinner tire’d bikes of the past!
First things first, I have to get this out of the way. I never insulted this bike by slapping on anything less than a 2.35 tire on it, nor did I ever count grams when changing things. Weight was never a consideration, ride stability and fun were the only deciding factors when swapping things up. With that out of the way, forgetting about weight and putting more consideration on ride stability, ability and the “FUN” factor when swapping things out you may find you ride faster, longer and have a lot more fun than counting grams will ever give you.
I first noticed this on a long 4min flat and twisty section of local trail. Riding Wild Enduros front and rear on the Titan consistently resulted in me riding faster than any bike previous. 100% this was due to how much more entry and exit speed the bike and the tires produced. I replicated similar results on a different bike with the same tires, however felt a little bit more at the limit of traction. This likely due to the more balanced front to rear layout on the Titan.
So I took it a little further and swapped down to a 2.35 Trail tire on a 27mm internal width WeAreOne carbon wheel and things changed even further. This bike has an amazing ability, just from switching the wheels and tires to completely change and increase the range of ride possibilities of the bike. The change just resulted in a setup that felt great to pedal all day long and offered great corner and climbing characteristics for trail days. But, just swap back up to heavier wheels, gripper tires (Wild Enduros) and it feels and acts like a proper gravity day machine.
Most of these changes were done leaving the fork at the recommended 170mm travel. But I will say this, if you own this bike, do yourself a favour and swap in a 160 air setup, or change the coil spring configuration down to 160mm and go for a trail ride… Holly-Snikies! Just that little change, that little headangle change, the slightly shorter front centre and the slightly steeper seatangle really make this thing a great trail bike. I waited too long to do this. The Titan was already a great sit down and pedal climber, but with that change, noticeably less effort to work the bike up those short and punchy climbs, and just as easy to sit and pedal up the long ones. The added and awesome effect of the shorter travel fork was the general trail ride confidence. I seemed to be able to put a little more weight over the front and the balance was much changed in such that flat corners felt more effortless.. and we have a lot of them around here.
Crap.. almost forgot to even talk about this bike and how it rode once it was used for lift access… what is wrong with me? Let’s blame it on Covid forcing me to spend 90% of the time riding this bike on local trails.
I was able to get up to Horseshoe bike park a few weeks in a row to really let loose on this thing. It took a few runs, and a tire swap to get use to it, but when I did I found myself hunting down PB’s. I blasted past previous ones from my younger years and if not for a crash (not my fault… I will add some video links), I likely would have seen another PB though line perfection and knowing this bike had more speed to offer in the corners.
The Titan had no issues handling some of the tight line changes, holding a line at speed and even with just 155mm of travel took a few overshoots to flat with little drama. A lot of the trails had some deep sand, but with the tire swap and a healthy amount of credit to the longer chainstay and balanced reach the bike soared through with little drama. I like control and staying in it, no desire for me to shralp through berms and corners, the fastest line for me is the one where control is maintained. 170 upfront, 155 out back and for me this bike rides just as well at the park as any big travel bike I have had in the past, geometry, balance and smart suspension help this bike excel on lift days… but will also let you ride back up to the top and pedal 20kms to get back home if that is your flavour.
So here is the deal…. this bike can be the one bike you keep in your car for traveling and riding everywhere. Keep an extra wheelset handy, if you are confident enough to alter the forks travel, keep those parts handy too. You can have an all day trial friendly bike and a lift access bruiser all in one with just a few changes when the day warrants it.
Don’t let the numbers freak you out. Yes it looks longer than most of today's flavour of bikes (although that is changing with the praise and success of other bikes. I am thinking Pole, Nukeproof, and the Grim Donut [LOL]) but it certainly does not make it any less of a playful bike. It can handle tight switchbacks and snappy berms just as well as others, but the flip side is it holds a line better, feels more confident at speed and when you get tired it allows you a little more body position errors and still escape out of the other side. I used to comment that the bike felt slower in corners, but the reality is that it handles them more confidently, and what I was mis-diagnosing for slower was actually the bike riding faster because it had a larger range of stability on tap in those situations.
This bike has been an emotional rollercoaster for me this year. I acquired it on the belief that it would ultimately let me ride faster in my Master Enduro dreams, covid messed that up this season, and because of that I initially didn’t give it as much attention as it deserved. Partly because of Covid, but also because I was more emotionally drawn to another bike in my stable. I wanted that other bike to be faster and fun’r to ride, but every time I got back onto the Titan I was rewarded with more speed and more control…. sometimes not as fun, but the racer in me likes the speed and the control. The Titan will ultimately let me build upon that and hopefully when we all can get back to racing, help me slay a few personal Enduro goals in the coming seasons.
Thanks for reading….
Titan on a few HOrseshoe Runs in Ontario, Canada