What a year for the bike industry. This year Banshee launched a newly redesigned range of bikes with the brand new Titan at the helm. Given the boom in bike buying, they couldn’t have chosen a better time to do so. While the last gamut of Banshee bikes were a good looking bunch, they admittedly were due for a redesign. Rather than slowly trickle them out, 2020 was the year that Banshee decided to release their entire range of bikes with the newly redesigned KS2 suspension linkage.
The Titan sits at the top of Banshee’s pedal-bike lineup, leaving their Legend, Darkside, and Amp models for shuttle and dirt jump duties. With 29″ wheels, 155mm of rear travel, and a 170mm fork, the Titan is a big bike for getting things done. With modern geometry and long travel numbers, the Titan falls solidly into the enduro camp, but is it able to put its money where its mouth is?
Offered as an aluminum frame only with a Fox Float X2 shock, the Titan frame will set you back $2,349USD. This puts it in line with the likes of Guerrilla Gravity, while it’s a little more expensive than a Giant and less than a comparable Specialized.
Banshee has long been producing some amazing looking aluminum frames. Back in the early days of freeride, their bikes had huge gussets and tube walls that wouldn’t look out of place on a motorcycle. I like that they’ve chosen to stick to what they’re good at with aluminum, only now they’ve replaced chunky gussets with CNC’d links and yokes, and chunky tube walls with beautiful hydroforming. Let it be known that I’m a fan. The Titan is a stunning looking frame.
To further clean up their look, Banshee incorporated all manner of modern frame details. For the first time, the cabling is all internal, with large, neat cable ports. Though the cables are not internally guided, the ports are large enough to fish cables through without much issue. Anodized aluminum inserts clean the look of the ports up once the cables are in place.
The pivot hardware is all super chunky CNC’d aluminum with the torque spec laser-etched into the bolt heads, so there’s no need to go trawling through online documentation to find the right torque for a loose pivot. A couple of things really set the looks of the Titan apart: the finish and the 3D-forged shock cradle. Forged as one piece to supposedly make it stronger and stiffer, the other consequence is that it just looks great and really sets it apart. The finish on the bike is a clear gloss lacquer, which really helps bring out the grain of the aluminum tubes, and leaves the bare welds for all to see.
Other frame features include a semi-integrated headset, room for a large water bottle inside the front triangle, a threaded BB, flippable dropouts for geometry adjustments, and a nice chunky headtube badge. The chainstay is also protected by a molded and ribbed chainstay protector to keep things quiet, and it works pretty damn well. The Titan is a quiet bike. Aside from these things, the Titan is a no-nonsense frame with little to hide and very few complications.
The bike has a 64.5º head tube angle, with the seat tube angle at 76.75°. The reach is 470mm on the large that I tested, for a 1265mm wheelbase with 452mm chainstays throughout the size range. These measurements are with the bike in the ‘low’ setting, where most riders will likely ride it. It’s safe to say that it’s long, low, and slack enough. When compared to the current Specialized Enduro the Titan’s head tube angle is about the same, the seat angle is a little steeper, the wheelbase is shorter, reach is a good amount shorter, and the chainstays longer. At six feet tall, this adds up to a fairly intuitive feeling ride for me with a comfy cockpit and confidence-inspiring geometry.
Let’s get this out of the way early: the Banshee Titan is not a bike that was designed for its climbing prowess. The modern enduro bike has come a long way in the last few years, and bikes now both climb and descend much better than they ever have. However, anyone swinging a leg over a bike like this knows that it’s optimized for the descent, rather than the climb. The Titan is no exception.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that the Titan won’t go uphill. It will, it’s just not an XC rocket. It’s more of a winch-and-drop sort of bike, and it’s at home climbing fire roads and dropping into steep descents rather than pedaling technical climbs. The KS2 suspension platform is great and doesn’t really bob much under pedaling forces, even when standing, but it does sit pretty deep in the travel. Combined with the weight, the bike feels a little slow uphill. This build comes in at 36lbs. with Maxxis Double Down tires and a Cushcore insert.
When accelerating off the line, the bike seems to lack the immediacy that some others in this category have. The plush suspension platform absorbs a lot of energy rather than converting it to forward momentum. I found the climb switch on the Float X2 pretty useful and would use it for most climbs. It firms the suspension up nicely while leaving a little bit of give so that it’s still useful on singletrack.
One thing the Titan does have is lots of grip. On a technical climb, it feels like driving a monster truck. It’s not fast but you find your pace and stick to it, and the super grippy rear end will just winch its way up all kinds of chunder and roots. I did lay down a personal record on one of my big local singletrack climbs aboard the Titan. It was a pretty solid effort for me. It just goes to show that no matter how the bike performs, climbing prowess is 99% down to the rider.
The descent is what we’re all here for, right? The Titan might be a little lazy uphill, but when it came to the descents it had me grinning like an idiot. Set up with 30% sag, the rear suspension is very plush, but also lively and responsive. The Titan favors the steep and fast trails most. It feels super capable when you point it down something steep, but the bike easily allows you to put it where you want it and to move it around. It’s not quite a point and shoot downhill sled, but point it down a steep chute and it eats it up with little complaint — with extra room for some creative line choices.
The geometry on the Titan is up there with most other modern enduro bikes with a long wheelbase and lengthy chainstays, and it feels super stable on fast and rough terrain. It’s comfortable once you get it up to speed and rather than feeling twitchy like many bikes can, it feels confident and planted, not easily deflecting off line. You can achieve some eye-watering speeds on this bike if you’re feeling up to it.
The Titan’s inherent stability also translates to jumps. While it might not ‘pop’ quite as easily as some smaller bikes, the speed it generates helps it get airborne and it feels as stable and comfortable in the air as it does on the ground. I found myself doubling up trail features that I might normally take one at a time because the extra speed allowed me to. This almost got me into trouble a few times, but thankfully the plush rear end is pretty forgiving and it lets me get away with some silly mistakes.
As mentioned earlier, the bike tends to sit pretty deep into its travel and has a linear feel to it. This is nice because it feels very plush, a lot like an older downhill bike with plenty of grip. However, it seems to ramp up a little at the end, with no harsh bottom outs. This does affect the pedaling, and while it doesn’t bob a whole lot it does tend to suck a bit of energy from the pedals. I found that rather than sprinting into a descent as I usually do I would often just roll into it and let the bike pick up speed and just lay off the brakes instead. The ramp-up at the end of the travel means that I find myself hitting much bigger trail features than normal, and though it doesn’t always end in success, I got away with a lot and definitely felt like I was reaching the limit of my ability rather than the bike’s.
Despite the lengthy chainstays that give the bike its stability, the Titan corners well at speed. Thanks to the low-slung shock which drops the bike’s center of gravity, it’s easy to initiate a turn at trail speed. Simply lay it over and — thanks to the impressive amounts of grip — it tracks superbly. Things get a little tricky on slower trails such as those on Vancouver’s North Shore. While it handles the steeps comfortably, the slower tighter corners can be harder to navigate, as well as the mid-trail up-and-over type obstacles. I occasionally find myself stalling out in a section where you need to quickly stamp on the pedals where I might clean it on another bike. I’ll give the Titan some credit though, there are few bikes out there that can handle every situation that the North Shore throws at them.
The Titan is an interesting bike. It’s not exactly what I’d call a purebred enduro race machine, and it’s not as refined as something you could buy from a larger manufacturer, but that’s not a bad thing. The Banshee Titan has character. It’s not something you’ll see everyone else riding out there and for some people, that’s reason enough to buy one. Add to that the stunning frame and nice details without being over-engineered with tons of proprietary complications, and it’s a great bike to look at and own.
Trying to work out who this bike would best suit is an interesting one. It’s so sturdy and comfortable on big lines that it’s almost a freeride bike. It’s the sort of bike that you own if you don’t care about how you get to the top. At the same time, you can rally it down as hard as you like without worrying about it. It’s a bike that feels at home on the roughest and rowdiest trails, and you could also take it out for a day-long pedal to try and keep up with your buddies. The Titan has a bit of a double personality and while it doesn’t necessarily excel in any one category, it’s a super fun bike to ride, especially when things get fast and rough. The Banshee Titan is best described as a party bike; it’s all about the descent!