The SB45, is one of the more well-rounded bikes getting around on the trails right now – Not quite an XC Racer and not quite an Enduro Machine. An excellent climbing bike almost exceeded by its descending capabilities. If you could only have one bike in your stable this would be our top pick. However, like all “do everything” bikes it does stretch itself thin in areas.
Without a doubt it’s an efficient pedalling platform with no need to play with dials or switches to get the best out of the bike. It tracks well up rocky and rooty climbs, is nimble through switch backs and getting nips over obstacles on the technical climbs. The Switch infinity is certainly the business. On the descents you would be totally forgiven if you didn’t know it only had 114mm of Rear Wheel Travel – yup, just a shade more than your average XC bike. Its only real drawbacks – it lacks a little suppleness and small bump compliance. Also, in the real rough stuff, while capable, it’s more of a hang on till you get through it experience.
Enter the coil. Yes, its back to the future. For this type of bike there are very few options available, we landed on the Cane Creek Double Barrel Coil IL CS Shock with an appropriate Valt Spring for the rider (a bit heavy…Double Choc Tim Tams are the flavour of the month).
We were a bit sceptical at first. Were we building this bike with a coil because it looked cool? Did we talk so much about the good ol days and become so misty eyed we just wanted to be 16 again riding around 20kg boat anchors because that’s when we had “real bikes?” Or did we just want to be like Jared Graves and ride around with a coil.
The answer is yes. Well, probably 50% that and the fact we just wanted to see if we could make a capable bike expand its horizons. In the hands of a pro rider there is no doubt the stock SB45 is fast, we just wanted to make it fast for the common rider (the 2 pack of tim tams a day rider).
The outcome? Rad. Much better small bump sensitivity and when the going gets rough, the coil just keeps on giving back. A quick run through a rock garden and we instantly noticed much better rear wheel tracking resulting in more control and better braking without the chatter. Even on the climbs in open mode we noticed more traction over roots and rocky sections. The Bad? Well not much, there is definitely a weight penalty but that was only noticeable on the work bench. We will say that the SB range of bikes is known for the lack of pedal bob but the coil being more supple will bob a tad more, but the switch infinity link definitely keeps it to a minimum. Also, once you throw the switch into climb mode, it goes back to feeling like a standard 45 with an air can. Set up was a easy. Once we got the right coil, we downloaded the app and ran through a couple of parameters and it gave us a set of factory settings that were more than adequate.
We built this bike with the Aim of a true all rounder. The SB45 is a great do all bike to begin with but we wanted to give it a bit more ammo for the descents. The Coil is a killer little upgrade that really changes its descending ability – albeit at a slight weight penalty (only really felt on the work bench). Hope E4 Enduro Brakes provide the stopping power – single finger braking with HEAPS of power and amazing modulation. We picked the Rovals which in our opinion are unmatched on price and reliability. With a 30mm internal width, and XC weight rim, they are a killer set of hoops. The XX Eagle is finished off with the PRAXIS LYFT crank set. Why? The Cranks weigh less than a set of SRAM Red22 Cranks without the rings!
Overall, we have created an absolute trail terror. Climbs like a mountain Goat, descends like Homer Simpson riding a frozen corpse down The Murderhorn.
Here is the skinny:
Frame: SB45 Turq Series Medium
Shock: Cane Creek Double Barrel Coil IL CS Shock w/ Valt 500 Spring
Fork: Ohlins RF36 150mm Travel (Pike fitted in picture)
Driveline: XX1 Eagle w/ PRAXIS LYFT Carbon Cranks
Brakes: Hope E4 4 Pot w/ 180mm & 160mm Rotors
Wheels: Roval Traverse SL Carbon Wheels
Tyres: Front – Onza Ibex 2.4 Rear – Specialized Slaughter Grid 2.3
Bar: Renthal Fat Bar
Stem: Specialized MTB 65mm
Grips: ODI Vans Lock Ons
Post: KS Lev Integra 125mm Drop w/ Specialized SRL Dropper Lever
Saddle: Specialized Henge 155 Expert
Total Weight: 12.88KG