Everybody seems to be releasing cool new bikes this year, and Knolly is no different. For a little while now there has been a bit of a hole in their lineup where a long-travel 29er should be. Big 29ers are the new cool these days and while 27.5″ still has its place, 29″ wheels are where it’s at if you want to ride fast. The EWS pros have proven that.
Here’s where Knolly steps in with their all-new Chilcotin. The last iteration of this bike ran on 26″ wheels so it’s fair to say that the new Chilcotin has undergone some major changes to bring it up to date. Don’t be fooled into thinking that they’ve just resurrected the Chilcotin name for a new bike though. The Chilcotin has very similar intentions to its previous self. It’s designed with plenty of travel to hit big lines, shred the bike park, and race Enduro, but also to be able to pedal all day. Only time will tell if this all stacks up in reality.
The new Chilcotin frame, like all of Knolly’s current bikes, comes in aluminum only. Rolling on 29″ wheels there are two different travel options – 151mm and 167mm. The frame is identical between both models, using a different shock stroke to get that extra travel. Knolly says that they have designed the suspension kinematics so that the geometry in either mode works well. Activating that shock is Knolly’s patented Fourby4 suspension platform that is said to balance pedaling efficiency with an active ride and minimal brake interference topped off with a progressive leverage curve. Sign me up, I can’t wait to try it.
The new Chilcotin comes with a flip-chip geometry adjuster at the bottom eyelet of the shock with two different positions. This gives a 64.5º or 65.1º head angle, 77.4º or 78.1º seat tube angle, BB height of 335 or 344mm, and 438 or 436.5mm chain stays. The reach is 492mm in a size large and the wheelbase is 1254mm with a stack height of 628mm. In comparison to the Banshee Titan I tested earlier in the year, a bike with very similar travel numbers and intentions, the Chilcotin has the same head angle, a slightly steeper seat angle, 15mm shorter chain stays, a 22mm longer reach, and a similar BB height. Speaking of sizing, the Chilcotin only comes in sizes medium, large, and extra-large.
The frame itself has all the hallmarks of a classic Knolly bike. It’s a solid-looking aluminum frame with that Fourby4 system, an industrial looking raw finish, and that super forward seat tube that puts a big gap between the tube and tire. For that reason, the look can also be a bit polarizing. The offset seat tube not only allows Knolly to achieve a decently steep seat angle, but also means the seat tube can be totally straight, allowing for long-travel dropper posts.
Other frame details include internal cabling in the front triangle that runs externally on the seat stays and still looks tidy. There’s some decent built-in protection on the down tube and chain stay. The rear axle uses Super Boost 157mm spacing, or 157trail as Knolly refers to it. It’s not as common as Boost 148mm but Knolly are sticking to their guns on this, claiming it creates a much stiffer and stronger rear wheel and allows riders to run a wider Q-factor crank. Because why wouldn’t you? There are also two colors available – the raw that you see here, and “Moody Blue” with yellow decals.
The new Chilcotin comes in two component spec levels for each of the two travel offerings. The DP kit is priced at $5,300 and the EC comes in at $7,600, and prices are the same for both travel options. The DP kit is SRAM-based and comes with either a Rockshox Zeb or Lyrik Ultimate on the 167 and 151 respectively. Rear suspension is handled by a Rockshox Super Deluxe shock while the drivetrain is the latest GX Eagle with a 10-52t cassette. It comes fitted with a Rockshox Reverb, Code R brakes, Spank Oozy Trail 345 HEX wheels, a Cane Creek headset, and Spank bars and stem. The EC build kit is Fox- and Shimano-based, and comes with a Performance Elite 38 or 36 fork, and a Float X2 with a Fox Transfer dropper. The drivetrain and brakes are Shimano XT 12sp driving Industry Nine Enduro-S Hydra wheels with a Race Face finishing kit.
Both bikes come with a sensibly-specced Maxxis tire combo with a Double Down Maxx Terra Minion DHR II on the rear and an EXO+ Maxx Grip Assegai on the front. This is my ideal tire combo so kudos to Knolly for nailing that. Also worth noting is that due to current supply chain issues, the spec on the bike I’m riding is slightly different to the production model. This is pretty much limited to the hubs, bars, stem, and rear tire.
Knolly is another of those brands that I’ve admired from afar for a while now. Unlike the mass-produced carbon bikes that can be found at every trailhead, they offer something a little more unique with their all-alloy Chilcotin. I’ve always loved their chunky, industrial-looking tubing, and that characteristic hole behind the seat tube that their patented linkage produces. I like that they’re designed in Burnaby, a city that neighbors the North Shore, by a team of passionate mountain bikers. The new Knolly Chilcotin is a great looking bike with up to date geometry and modern features. Stay tuned to see if it lives up to its burly intentions.