Don’t let the name fool you: the Blue Ryno Carbon mountain bike isn’t heavy or clumsy on the trail. In fact, like an actual rhino, this bike is fast, tough, and enjoys playing in the mud every now and then. Named after Blue’s marketing manager Ryan “Ryno” Barnett, a Cat 1 racer who was severely injured after being hit by a car on a training ride, this FS carbon bike is any serious XC rider’s dream come true.
So what makes this bike so fast? For starters the Ryno Carbon is lightweight – a medium-size frame weighs well under 5 pounds with the rear shock. I actually got to hold a bare XL-size frame (2474 grams) and it was shocking just how light the thing felt, almost like plastic. On the trail that light weight translated into an extra 4-6 inches of air off whoops and joyous, nearly effortless climbs.
Serious XC riders may still worry about pedal bob on FS mountain bikes but as a longtime hardtail rider I have to say the Ryno climbs like a champ. In fact, on a recent test ride at the IMBA Epic Bull Mountain trail system I easily cleaned the entire rooty, eroded climb on the Ryno, something I had never done on either of my hardtails. With 3″ of rear travel the Ryno kept my tires in constant contact with the trail even on nasty short and chunky climbs. The Ryno also includes a front-suspension lockout on the standard built to improve climbing efficiency even further.
Riding the Ryno Carbon fast over rooty, rocky trails was a blast. On the descents at Bull Mountain I barely had to pick my lines and the Ryno suspension kept my wheels glued to the trail. Landing medium height jumps off whoop-te-doos was a cinch and the bike recovered almost instantly each time to keep the flow. The geometry on the XL model I’ve been riding features an extra long cockpit which kept me low and comfortable mile after mile.
The Ryno Carbon features asymmetrical carbon chainstays which may look a little odd at first glance but are actually born out of high tech design. The upshot? Improved rear triangle stiffness and lower weight overall. The stiff rear triangle transfers pedal power more efficiently and helps reduce side-to-side wheel torsion for even more precise cornering.
Like the XC Carbon, the Ryno frame is optimized for vertical compliance and lateral stiffness. This means even without the rear shock you won’t feel every bump in the trail and cornering remains crisp and tight every time. The carbon fibers in this monocoque frame are manually layered which produces a high strength, accurate build every time.
Complete Ryno bikes feature SRAM X.9 components which I found to be smooth as butter throughout testing. The Elixir brakes and suspension set-up produced few stutters or shakes on quick stops while the X9 Trigger shifters were consistently accurate, even in muddy conditions. Mavic Cross Trail wheels, Rock Shox Reba Race 100mm fork, Rock Shox Monarch 4.2 rear shock, FSA V-Drive crank, and Aerus carbon bars round out the component mix.
The X9 build offered by Blue certainly isn’t the lightest possible but it offers a great mix of reliable, quality components. The only choice that seems a little odd is the tire selection: Hutchinson Piranha 2.0s. These skinny tires certainly offer lower rolling resistance than say a more popular 2.2 or 2.3 tire but in this day and age they feel a little undersized. Then again, you can’t argue with fast!
The Blue Ryno Carbon is one of those mountain bikes that’s so light and responsive you can ride it for days without getting tired or beat up. And if think a full carbon, dual suspension mountain bike is out of your price range, think again – the complete Ryno Carbon retails for just over $3,500 (bare frame is $1,500). Blue quickly sold out of the 2009 bikes earlier this year and it’s no surprise – this is an ultra-fast bike at a great value. XC racers, ultra marathon riders, and 24-hour zombies take note: this is the bike for you!