PRODUCT REVIEW: BIG MOUNTAIN LIBERATOR TESTED IN TROPICAL JUNGLE
IS THE GUERRILLA GRAVITY MEGATRAIL THE ALL-ROUNDER ENDURO TANK THAT IT'S TRYING TO MAKE US BELIEVE?
Guerrilla Gravity came into the scene with a bang in the international market. Locally, in Singapore, it went through a somewhat similar introduction. Imported by Yap Bicycle Compania, the bikes soon see lots of action in races around the region, and to satisfactory results too. Thanks to the great work of its distributor and local race team, Guerrilla Gravity gained attention with the local riders pretty quickly.
We got our hands on the MegaTrail and tried to abuse its versatility – trashing it around the trails and then continued with more punishments after some recommended upgrades. Read on for our findings on this maverick bike.
A LITTLE ABOUT THE GG
Guerrilla Gravity came into existence with a tall order for themselves. Besides their core business of manufacturing bikes, they wish to further serve the community through efforts of improving trail access and increasing ridership. On the design department, their philosophy is to make bikes that go fast, are built to last and easy to work on/customize. I hear voices quickly retorting "That's pretty much riders' owned companies' objectives". To us, it boils down to how this drawing board ideals translate to real tangible products.
Still on the topic of design. The branding direction of Guerrilla Gravity is very likeable. It sounds militia – from the company name, to the product names, right down to the tangible products themselves – the bikes. With names like The Smash, Trail Pistol, Shred Dogg, potential customers would get the vibe readily.
To illustrate our point further, here's their current weapons lineup:
The Smash – Surface to Surface Missile: 29" 140 mm travel
MegaTrail – Big Mountain Liberator: 27.5" 150/165 mm switchable travel
Trail Pistol – Single track Flyer: 29" / 27.5"+ 120 mm travel
Pedal Head – Adventure Hardtail: 29" / 27.5"+ 140 mm max fork travel
The MegaTrail is currently their most aggressive and versatile bike. Naturally, we would expect it to be the most popular amongst the local gravity-loving riders.
THE GUERRILLA GRAVITY MEGATRAIL
Bike frame design and branding messages are very important to any bicycle brand – especially new ones. Some brands would adopt the sleek and fast image while others go for the tough and rough persona. Guerrilla Gravity bikes invoke feelings of tongue-in-cheek humor and military-grade toughness put into sports usage. The decals, marketing messages, and bike frame shapes gel together really well to create this masculine image.
The MegaTrail is a duo-personality bike. In many past instances, riders were apprehensive about getting these Jack-of-All-Trades bikes, lest it is a Master-of-None. But on the other hand, such bikes also mean the rider is insured with a bike that can tackle a very wide spectrum of terrain – from the flowy to the gnarly. As much as there are doubts from nay-sayers, there's as many supporters too. Such bikes would always have a market.
The MegaTrail can be tuned in 2 modes: Trail and Gravity, with just a switch of position on a single bolt. The Trail Mode gives the bike 150 mm of rear travel, 13.4" bottom bracket height and a head angle of 66.2 deg. The Gravity Mode changed the bike to a 165 mm rear travel, 13" bottom bracket height and 65 deg head angle gravity beast.
To achieve the ride quality that Guerrilla Gravity designers were aiming for, they developed the Freedom Linkage, a derivation of the Horst Link. This linkage works great! More about it in the review section below.
Other notable and thoughtful features on the frame includes the NUTS Bracket (Necessity Under The Saddle) – a space for storing one tyre tube and patch kit, water bottle mount and Premium Enduro Maxx cartridge bearings. These bits added to the quality and thoughtfulness of the frame design. A medium size frame would weigh about 3 kg without shock.
As with majority of present day all-mountain bikes, these bikes are built long and low! A medium sized MegaTrail build has a wheelbase of 1207 mm but a 427 mm chain stay! The cockpit area is comfortably spacious with low standover across all sizes. The MegaTrail can be matched with forks ranging from 150 mm to 180 mm. Every 10 mm change on fork length would change the bottom bracket height by 3mm and head angle by 0.4 deg.
BUILDING THE MEGATRAIL
All Guerrilla Gravity bikes comes in 4 build options – Ride 2: the most entry level build, Ride 1: medium budget build, Race: High-End build and Custom: Which sells the frame set and let you decide what other stuff you want on your rig. The price difference along this budget spectrum differs by approximately USD2000.00
We tested the MegaTrail in 2 stages. We spent some time with the Ride 2 build to get acquainted with the bike first. And then we added the upgrades.
THE RIDE 2 SETUP
To list it briefly, the Ride 2 build includes components like: SR Suntour Aion RC PCS 160 mm fork, Rock Shox Deluxe RT rear shocks, SRAM Level T brakes, SRAM NX drive train, (30T Chain Ring on Raceface Aeffect cranks matched to SRAM 11-42T, 11 speed) and DT Swiss M 1900 i30 Wheelset.
The first impression that came to us when we ride the MegaTrail is its flickability and "playfulness". The steering feels responsive and agile and it is relatively quick entering and exiting corners. But the Ride 2 build soon show its weakness. At higher speed (when we let the bike bomb down some sections), be it descents or flowy sections, the bike felt more twitchy than what we would expect. It seems like the Suntour Aion fork was pushed near its limits. The nervous handling of the bike was slightly compensated by the stiff wheelset and wide Vittoria Martello tyres. Similarly, the Rock Shox Deluxe showed its limitations quite early during the ride. We tried adjusting the Rock Shox Deluxe RT to a slower rebound but there was only so much we can do to mute its less than optimal plushness. That said, we felt that the Trail Mode offered more mid stroke linkage/suspension support throughout the ride compared to the Gravity Mode. This translate to a more efficient pedaler and would be good for both regular and extended trail rides.
With a simple switch of the bolt position, the bike switched its personality – from Trail to Gravity Mode. The change in riding feel is obvious. In Gravity Mode, the bike felt more markedly more stable and planted. At the same time, the rear end took on a more "plougher" personality. This makes the bike harder to flick but give us a little more confidence that it would grip the trail more firmly than before. We would say that this mode give the rider more confidence at doing crazy stuff. This less rowdy, more composed personality verified its strength when we tackled the more bumpy features of the trail, like rock gardens and rooty sections. The bike was able to soak up the bumps and carry speed out of the section in a much smoother manner than when it was on Trail Mode. In this ride mode, the MegaTrail has a lower center of gravity, remains stable at speed, and exhibit a plusher overall suspension behaviour. Definitely an enduro or mini-downhill contender here.
OVERALL IMPRESSION ON THE RIDE 2 BUILD
The MegaTrail Ride 2 build is suitable for new-comers of mountain biking who wish to experience the trail with different bike setup. With its duo-personality, riders would be able to experience the same trails with 2 suspension options. What benefit would that do for new riders? That would mean they can now tackle the trail with more options and discover their own style faster.
For more experienced riders, We recommend going for the other higher priced build options, which uses Rock Shox Lyrik RC 170 mm fork and Rock Shox Super Deluxe RC3 resr shock. We love the MegaTrail frame. The Freedom Link is a commendable development! Derived from the Horst Link, it seemed to have elevated some of the Horst Link's ideal characteristics – good control on anti-squat and a marked reduction on brake squat. Given the right setup, this frameset would fly with the rider!
We notice that the short chainstay could be a double-edged sword for the bike. Firstly, it is extremely fun to push this bike into corners and exit with speed. For those who like to manual out speed bumps or berms, this bike makes it almost "easy". While the experienced riders would love its flickable personality, this could be a little too agile for beginners, especially when the Ride 2 build could likely be the choice for most beginner riders.
We took another Ride 2 build and swapped the shocks, tweaked the cock pit position further and went back to the same trails. Wren Suspension fork and Push Industries ElevenSix Coil Shock were fitted onto this second MegaTrail with Ride 2 build.
The cockpit is specced with Raceface Atlas handlebar and 35 mm stem – a typical optimal setup for present day long and low bike frames that resulted in quick steering from frames with slack head angles. The short stem also provides some compensation for the long top tube and reach of the bike.
The SRAM NX drive train remains unchanged from the Ride 2 build. The drivetrain had proven to be reliable and out performed its perceived price-to-value impression. The SRAM Level T Brakes were also taken from the Ride 2 build. The KS eTen Intergra were swapped to Raceface Turbine Dropper Post with Wolftooth lever.
SPOTTING THE DIFFERENCE
We credit the 2 main upgrades for a vast improvement in the ride quality of the bike.
The Wren Suspension Fork provided the stiffness and comfort at the front end. The added plushness also mean trail feedback was greatly enhanced. This makes the bike felt like it took a caffine jab and was suddenly more alert than before. The small stuff became more distinctive in the trail, yet were all soaked up with the fork's movement. Lovely feeling.
During climbs, when we mashed our way up the slopes, the Push Industries ElevenSix would show its sensitive characteristic with lots of movements and feedback, more sensitve than typical air shock. Then came the descends. This is the Push Industries ElevenSix's department! It was stable, confident and totally enjoyable! The Dual Valve system provides 2 sets of Low Speed / High Speed compression settings ( although there is still only 1 shared setting for Rebound). We did not experience any spiking throughout its use.
With the 2 settings on the Push Industries ElevenSix, rider can change the bike from downhill plougher mode to firmer pump track/jump mode depending on occasions and trail. Add that to the MegaTrail's 2 riding mode and you have (2 ride modes x 2 shock mode) 4 permutations of ride personalities!
To read more about the Wren Suspension Fork, check out out earlier article here.
MINOR LOVES AND PEEVES
We really like the MegaTrail frame. It is indeed built like a tank, worthy of its military styled image, and very versatile when it comes to customizing.
Another point to sing about the good frame design is that this bike is very easy to wash. There are few (if any) hard-to-reach spots or places to trap dirt.
The Freedom Link is well designed and seems to bring out the best bits of the Horst Link concept.
We highly recommend the Wren Suspsnsion Fork and Push Industries ElevenSix should budget allows. The upgraded fork and rear shock added to the competence and look of the MegaTrail.
On the other hand, some minor stuff caught the perfectionistic eyes of our test riders. They noticed that the decals on the bike could be peeled off easily and this could be worsen further with frequent washing. Some decals are not pasted as accurately as they should be.
The water bottle mounts would be rendered useless if the Push Industries ElevenSix are installed as the bottle would resrtrict the Dual Valve System's switch.
ARMS DEALER IN SINGAPORE
All said and ridden, we love the humor, the military style, the toughness, the versatility and the Freedom Link of the Guerilla Gravity MegaTrail. Guerrilla Gravity bikes are available at Yap Bicycle Compania, 8 Jln Batu, #01-03, Singapore 431008. Visit them or call them at +65 9111 3130 for more information, test rides, ideas on how to customize your Guerrilla Gravity bikes.
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Photos by Bikezilla
Click here for Wren Suspension website
Click here for Guerrilla Gravity website
Click here for Push Industries website