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As I mentioned in my initial review article on the Megatrail, this bike is a handmade, versatile, long travel bike designed for riding fast, sketchy lines. After several weeks on this all mountain rig from Guerrilla Gravity (GG), I was really impressed.

The media bike I received was very similar to the “Race” build that is listed on their website, with a few small modifications, coming in at at 31lbs. This bike was tested in the Colorado Front Range; Salida, CO; Trestle Bike Park, Winter Park, CO; on the Western Slope of Colorado; and in Moab, Utah.

MT2-4

Component Testing

  • The RaceFace Turbine cockpit was an excellent choice for this bike. Similarly, the Turbine 170mm cranks kept pedal strikes to a minimum, and were easily removed to swap out the chainring.
  • The SRAM X1 drivetrain was flawless throughout testing, even after a hundreds of miles in dry, dusty conditions.
  • The RockShox Reverb performed as expected: perfectly, with no mechanical issues.
  • The custom DT Swiss hubs laced to Spank Oozy rims complimented the downhill characteristics of this bike well, and held up despite a few dings in the rims from hard riding. A lighter wheelset would undoubtedly make this bike more nimble.
  • The tire choice was not a standard one for GG, who provided a Schwalbe Magic Mary 2.35 in the front and a Maxxis High Roller II in the rear. I have used both of these tires extensively, and I am happy they were on this bike. My only concern with the Magic Mary is the price tag and the fact that they never seem to last very long due to soft rubber… but they have infinite traction and are really light.

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There are two components, the fork and shock, that I wanted to dedicate more time to discussing in this review.

MRP Stage Fork

The 170mm MRP Stage fork was a first for me, and I was excited to test it, although the staff at GG offered to allow me to swap it out for a Pike and/or a Fox 36 throughout the course of testing for a comprehensive assessment. I declined. The fact is, I wanted to test this fork. It is a component that you don’t see every day, a fork that is competing with the “big boys,” and one that is made locally in Colorado–an ethos that GG takes pride in.

Descending the Barr Trail at Pikes Peak on the Megatrail

Descending the Barr Trail on Pikes Peak aboard the Megatrail

To be completely honest, my first impression of this fork was not very favorable, but I blame that on my haste to use it before I had it fully dialed in. I picked up the fork one afternoon at GG headquarters, and drove early the next morning to test the bike by riding down the Barr Trail on Pikes Peak (a very technical, rocky bit of singletrack starting at 14,100ft). The bike felt ok when I set it up, but once I started down the trail I knew something was not right. Two bike mechanics were with me, and an hour of fiddling only allowed me to limp down this epic descent using just 80mm of 170mm of travel, which also felt stiff and harsh.

jkldouglas tests this bike on Dakota Ridge

jkldouglas tests a different Megatrail on Dakota Ridge

The next day, however, the guys at GG talked me through a few things, and I figured out how to set this fork up, which is radically different from Fox and RockShox forks. For starters, there is a bleed valve nipple on the crown that you let air out of. You can only put air in the standard schrader valve on the bottom of the lowers, and you can only let air out using the bleed valve nipple. If you try to bleed air from the schrader valve, it will get trapped, and the fork will feel harsh. Also, you have to actually pull on the fork, separating the uppers from the lowers, as you are inflating the fork with a shock pump. Seems cumbersome? Yeah, it is… but you really only have to do it once, and then you are set.

The fork also has a couple of other features that are unique: a ramp up control and a proprietary thru-axle. It also has compression damping and rebound, of course, and is very adjustable.

The bottom line is that I wound up loving this fork and rode it harder than any other fork through some really, really technical terrain on local trails and at Trestle Bike Park, shattering many of my PRs. So, there’s that.

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Cane Creek DB Air

The Cane Creek DB Air 160mm shock, in my opinion, was the icing on the cake for this bike. GG swapped out the DB Inline for the DB Air given my weight and riding preferences, and it complimented the linear spring rate of the suspension in a unique way. The Megatrail suspension has to take most of the credit for how active it is, but the CC DB Air climbed well and felt immeasurably plush and smooth on both small and big hits. It was my favorite thing about this bike: rolling off something huge, or flying through some chunky bits at warp 9, and feeling like I was riding in a Cadillac with Ferrari handling.

At 12,600 feet on the Canyon Creek trail

At 12,600 feet on the Canyon Creek trail

The Megatrail Frame

Although components make or break how a bike handles (and the manufacturer has a big hand in what is spec’d on a bike and what the frame is designed around), this review is ultimately about the bike itself.DSC_3419

Living just half an hour from where Will, Matt, Kristy, and the gang who labor to piece the Megatrails together, I occasionally see one of the GG bikes out on the trail. Every rider I see on a Megatrail is smiling, and they are always eager and willing to talk to you about their bike and the GG company.  When I was testing this bike, I too was stopped several times to answer questions. The Megatrail stands out, and there are not that many of them around… yet. Here is what I can tell you about the Megatrail:

MT7-4

Moving Out

This bike, equipped as the 27.5in version, was quick to accelerate and got up to speed fast. On downhills, I could barely bang though the gears fast enough because it seemed to just want to go downhill as fast as possible.

Climbing

At 31lbs, this bike was no wispy XC climber, but it rarely felt heavy either. It took a little extra effort to pedal it up steep pitches (but not much), and the slack geometry never really wanted to wander, which was impressive. It had a lot of traction, and the longer wheelbase helped it monster truck through some chundery uphill sections I dread on other bikes.

Pedaling

This bike seemed to pedal very efficiently thanks to the firm suspension support and the CC DB Air in Climb mode. Even when fully open it seemed to pedal well, but I can tell you first hand that climbing with the DB Air fully open is an exercise in masochism.

Descending

This bike was designed to be a one-quiver, all-mountain ripper, but it is no secret that its primary emphasis was to destroy trails when pointed downhill. I typically don’t like terms like “mini-downhill bike,” but I think it describes the Megatrail accurately when you put it in Gravity or Super-Gravity mode, open up the fork and shock, drop the saddle, and hang on.

I’ll be honest: I don’t think I’ve ever been as impressed with any bike as I was with the Megatrail in places like Trestle Bike Park. This rig soaked up big hits and allowed me to increase my speed considerably with total confidence. You can drop off a 4-foot drop at 30+mph and hardly feel it… the Megatrail just blasted through it and reset before the next obstacle or drop came along. The faster you push it, the better it seems to handle, and it loves to gobble up roots and rocks at ridiculous speeds. You can’t ask for much more than that.

MT4-2

Concerns

No bike is perfect, and there really isn’t one bike for everyone. Aside from my initial fork setup issue, I had no mechanical issues despite the abuse I dished out. The bottom bracket became pretty creaky near the end of my test period, but I lacked the RaceFace BB tool to unthread it and re-grease it, which I am confident would have fixed the annoying creak.

As I mentioned, this bike climbs pretty well, but it does not feel light. It takes a strong set of legs and lungs to pedal the Megatrail up steeper sections–a lighter build would certainly help this, so if you have the means, spring for carbon galore. It does not climb well at all in Gravity or Super Gravity mode, even if the shock was in climb mode. The geometry is too slack, and the pedal strikes increase considerably. This would not typically be a big deal since the geometry is adjustable… except that if you ride a lot of steep up and downs, you’ll find yourself having to pull over and swap out the bolt to adjust the geometry often.

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Swapping the bolt out was hit or miss. Sometimes I could swap it out in 30 seconds; other times it took several minutes, which was burdensome. The rear was easier to swap than the front. I noticed that the notches machined into the bike to aid in shock placement were pretty worn, so a newer bike may not have this problem. Still… if you own a Megatrail, how long before your bike starts to do this?

Despite climbing well in slow, chunky, uphill terrain, I felt that the Megatrail was a beast to maneuver through similar terrain downhill. Several times I was so nervous about the bike I got off and walked sections that I typically clean with ease on similar bikes. I am not exactly sure why this was, but I think it is related to the long wheelbase (it is four inches longer than my Mach 6) and the relatively high standover height. All of the other geometry on this medium bike frame felt perfect, except for the tall top tube.

The wheelbase and standover clearance definitely contributed to my only real problem with the Megatrail: its inability to negotiate tight switchbacks. Despite repeated attempts on familiar tight corners, I simply could not get this bike to make a tight turn without putting a foot down and picking the bike up to change its direction. It was a real bummer, considering all of the other outstanding attributes of this bike, and even after I returned my test bike I marveled at how easy those same switchbacks were on my personal bikes. Maybe if I didn’t have such short, stubby legs and a 30in inseam…

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Overall Impressions

As I mentioned in my first article, this bike is made for strong riders who like to go fast and ride hard, but anyone could enjoy a bike like this. I know two riders who own a Megatrail and love it, and their positive reviews prompted me to reach out to GG. I personally requested to test the Megatrail because I think it is a bike with a lot of style designed for riders like me, with the versatility to take it on lunch rides, in the backcountry, or to the bike parks and resorts. It is also handmade in the USA, in Denver, and it the amount of dedication and mastery that went into engineering and building these frames is obvious. Despite a couple of small problems I had with the test bike, I cannot say enough about how amazing this bike is.

If this concept appeals to you, contact GG about a build–they work closely with all of their customers who want both stock and custom builds. I look forward to seeing what else they have in store for future bike projects!

Race Build MSRP: $5,495

Frame-Only MSRP: $1,925

jkldouglas testing a similar bike riding Apex

jkldouglas testing a similar bike riding Apex trail

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Paul stumbled upon mountain biking in his twenties after upgrading his rigid purple Roadmaster to a shiny yellow Cannondale Super V900 . He resides in central Colorado, where he preaches the gospel of the (true) fat tire and he's been known to ride excessive amounts of wheelies. He is known for being surly, is opinionated, delights in run on sentences, and probably doesn't care what you think. He believes in following the rules. He frowns on people who don't do the right thing, or people who take themselves too seriously. His biggest pet peeve are Subarus that creep along slowly in the left lane. His best conversations are often with himself. When he is not riding, he appreciates exotic espresso, craft libations, Led Zeppelin, and making excuses. He's been known to jump out of perfectly good aircraft and pet sharks underwater (simultaneously). His fat bike is more prepared for the zombie apocalypse than you are. When he is not trying to be funny, Paul also likes traveling the world, photography, being a dad, and chronicling his crotchety shenanigans. Platypus. That is all.
 
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# Comments

  • Chip Monk

    I am not a fast rider. Let me repeat that. I am not fast. I know, I know, compared to the likes of Gwin, who is fast? That’s not the point though. The Megatrail is a bike that doesn’t care who you are. I love that. Some bikes I demo feel like they’re made for pros and amateur racers. But what does that do for a guy who quit his job to run a small business and has no time to ride? It just reminds me that I haven’t been riding my bike as much as I want to.

    Not on the Megatrail though. Don’t underestimate the value of a “familiar” cockpit. Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a lucky stiff who can shralp 8 days a week, this bike welcomes you back, time after time. You know who this bike embodies? That good friend you had in college. You know, THAT guy. He was awesome. He could drink more than you could, get any girl (or guy if that’s your thing), but never made you feel bad about it. He was stoked you were there, making a memory. The Megatrail isn’t here to remind you of what you’re not; it exists to make you feel good about who you are, and who you could be (with practice).

    This bike deserves a lot more praise, and it will get there. For too long we’ve been lead to believe that our current bikes “aren’t enough”. Funny acronyms, sick edits, flashy parts – it’s enough to make you ask Pamela Anderson if she’s considering a boob job. Aren’t you sick of that yet, America? Aren’t you tired of chasing the carrot on a stick? Ride a bike that loves you back. Ride a bike that makes you believe in yourself again. Handmade. Built tough. Badass. That’s what you are. That’s what Guerrilla Gravity is.

    • captainspaulding

      Goddamn Chip, you nailed it, I have a Megatrail and totally agree with you on the good friend from college analogy.

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