Over the Christmas break I had a chance to put together a new DJ bike after retiring my older Opus. This year I decided to go with the Banshee AMP after a great season of riding the Banshee Legend. Calling up Banshee and ordering an Amp frame in black was an easy decision.
I had to wait a while as the company was completely sold out at the time. Thankfully, the guys were cool enough to ship it out immediately after it arrived, since I was seriously stoked to build it up!
The AMP can be purchased as a frame-only or as a complete bike. I opted to go with the frame-only and build it the way I wanted with a mix of black, red, and white components. With gear from Answer, Manitou, SunRingl, Twenty6, Loaded, Cane Creek, and Syncros, I was good to go.
The AMP frame is tight with some unique features. It’s been designed not only to be a good jumper, but a great park bike as well. With a relatively low bottom bracket (12.4″ with a 100mm travel fork), a 68.5 head angle, and a 69.5 seat angle, this is a tight turning, flickable bike.
As I looked over the frame I could see right away what Keith and Jay had in mind when designing this bike: simple, strong, and lightweight. Every effort went into making this ride as stiff as possible without compromising weight. The internal ribbed rear chain stays (same idea in the Legend) add strength without much weight, and are mated to tough vertical drop outs and a reinforced bottom bracket shell. With a 100mm fork installed you have a short 1024-1049mm wheel base (small size) and a stand-over height of only 24.5″ (625mm). This is achieved in part by using an integrated headset for the most compact stack height possible.
Pictured above is the packaging for the complete Cane Creek 40 Integrated headset. You can only imagine how small the actual headset is. I even ordered the tall carbon cover so I could get some height to my stem without a stack of spacers.
I decided that because of the riding I do (mostly the indoor bike park in the winter and dirt jumps in the summer), I was going to make sure I could stop, climb over obstacles, and get the bike up to speed quickly. To do all of that I needed to make it light. I also took into consideration some of the things that I will not be doing (20 ft. drops or 360-degree back flips) and opted out on some features.
Unpacking the bike took a bit of time. I first installed a seatpost (a simple 30.9mm post I use just for service is shown) and started cleaning the frame so I could install the decals.
I decided to run the Manitou Circus Expert this time around. I loved using the Circus Comp on my old bike, and after a service it is still running strong. But I wanted to build this DJ bike as light as I could, so the Expert was the way to go.
Installing the Cane Creek headset is pretty easy. Since all you have to do is install the lower crown race and the bearings (no need for cups), the only difficult thing is cutting the steering tube to the correct height.
Establishing the correct height is easy enough, especially when you follow Cane Creek’s video instructions.
The next thing I was looking for was a balance between weight and strength in the parts I chose. I looked at what I had on hand, and the Syncros Fric stem that I reviewed not too long ago was first on the list. The Fric is lightweight, and at 45mm it is the perfect length for this application.The unique design of the Fric makes this unit friendly to the *anatomy*: close-fitting, without any bulk or sharp edges.
The drivetrain on a DJ bike is pretty dead simple. I needed a crank and a single cog for the rear. Up front I had to consider both strength and cost, as cranks on DJ bikes tend to take a lot of abuse. I also wanted something to match the bike’s colors. Again, going over the parts that I had on hand, I chose the Respond cranks from RaceFace. With a 165mm crank arm length and single ring compatibility, this was it. I just had to install the bottom bracket and toss on a 32T e*thirteen chain ring and life was good.
In the photo above you can see that the AMP comes with ISCG 05 tabs, which is great, but I am opting not to add a chain guide. It’s an option for a future change if needed.
The AMP does come with two spare derailleur hangers, in case I choose to run the bike as a 1×10 or 1×9 (for 4X or as a speedy park bike).
Lastly, I wanted fairly strong wheels but not totally beastly ones that would hinder the light, flickable feeling. Running a set of Charger Pros fromSunRingl was just the ticket (in case you’re wondering, I used these all season last year on my FR bike). The myriad adapters available for these wheels and the addition of the SunRingl 135×12 conversion axle make these a great set for this project. The addition of the axle allowed me to use bolts to tighten these down. (It is a much better option than a quick release when dealing with vertical drop outs.)
People usually install just a rear brake on dirt jump bikes. I’ll use this bike for a variety of riding conditions, so I decided to run both front and rear brakes. I had a set of Formula The ONE’s on hand, and while they’re totally overkill, these are just the ticket for stopping on a dime with minimal weight. The only concern here is that the wheel has to be set properly on the chain stay so that the rotor does not contact the caliper.
Speaking of rotors, Ashima was nice enough to send me a set of their new prototype lightweight rotors. At 67 grams apiece, these are stupidly light.
I finished off the bike with Twenty6 pedals, a Loaded seatpost and bars, and a SilveradoSyndicate saddle from WTB.
I was ready to rip.
I took the newly-built AMP to my favorite place to ride this time of year: Joyride 150. It’s a great spot for testing out a DJ bike. I have written about Joyride before, and the fact that they continue to improve the place never fail to impress me. With a bunch of refinements to the intermediate skinnies and the jumps, Joyride always feels fresh. The XC track has been also been improved with some additional skinnies and more challenging features to really add to the excitement.
Right off the start I could tell that this ride was significantly lighter, faster, and more responsive than other DJ bikes I’ve owned. I found that the bike sailed over table-top jumps without a problem. I could literally do them all day long. The very low weight also made it easier to handle while in the air. Speaking of air I found a new love for the foam pits. Spending days at the foam pit with the AMP, I had a great time learning how to do 360’s and tail whips. Did I actually land them? Not yet but getting close. In the air I found the buttery smooth headset really allows me to spin the bike very fast while attempting to whip.
Not only was the bike a great jumper, it handled very well on skinnies. I found that even on the gas pipes in the advanced skinny section I had decent control.
The MSRP for the frame is $675, but I am sure you can grab one for a couple of dollars less than that. A complete bike build like mine may cost around $2,000 if you find deals here and there on components. The great thing about a frame build-up is that you can make it as nice or as economical as you like. Half the fun is putting the bike together and choosing the color palette.
The other half, of course, is the ride.
Bottom line: The AMP frame, in my opinion, is definitely on the top of the food chain as far as hardtail dirt jumpers are concerned. With its outstanding performance on skinnies and pump tracks and its amazing flickable feeling in the air, the AMP really makes me smile whenever I’m aboard it!
If you’re planning on hitting up the dirt jumps or buying a park bike, check out the Banshee AMP for yourself!
I would like to thank the folks at Banshee for setting me up as well as the folks at Manitou for the Circus DJ up front. A big thanks to the folks at Joyride for keeping up the great work and providing a fun, safe place to ride!