The not-so-minor details
- Price: AUD2,450.00
- Weight: 13.00kg
- Complete build as tested: $6400
- Size tested: Medium
Light, nimble and durable.
Perhaps a little too much travel for those planning on doing more cross country oriented riding... that's what their Endorphin model is for!
Flow’s downhill test crew are not ones for the whole 650b/29er debate, nor are we too concerned about chamois cream, lycra or who has the fastest Strava segment at spot x. We ride our bikes down the trail, get a lift back to the top and then do it all over again. Rinse and repeat, an endless buzz. There comes a time however, where we feel the desire to do things a little differently… Go for an explore in the bush, do some cross training or even dial in some lines that we are struggling* through on our longer travel bikes (*read, plowing). These times require a different steed… Enter the Knolly Chilcotin.
For those of you unfamiliar, Knolly are a small rider owned company based out of North Vancouver producing some big time bikes. Team riders include James Doerfling and Bearclaw’s bigger brother (Ryan Berrecloth), both making a mark on the international Freeride scene.
Knolly have a unique approach to the development of their bikes, and don’t take the manufacturing process of their bikes lightly. All models are designed from the ground up, rather than being picked off a rack and later tweaked, as is so common with a vast majority of products in this day and age (not just in the bike industry). Their company philosophy is “to design and manufacture the highest performing products that they can — bar none — and to support each and every customer with the highest levels of service.”
We like that over here at the Flow camp, and we were really excited when this little 160mm rig arrived at our doorstep. Our first impressions of the Chilcotin were really positive. It felt really responsive, maneuverable and light whilst still looking tough and strong.
We first took the Chilcotin to one of our flatter local downhill tracks and on the trail it felt just as we anticipated it to- like a mini version of our downhill bikes… Sweet! For a do it all type rig it’s slack and low, which is just how we like our bikes.
The head angle is adjustable between 66/67 degrees via a shock chip, but Knolly included a 1.5 inch head tube so you can run just about any headset or fork you want to, including an angleset to slacken or steepen the head angle should you feel it necessary. We ran ours at 66 degrees, and the bike felt really predictable and stable at speed. The wheel base on the medium (the size we tested) sits at 1143mm and effective top tube length is 598mm. This provides for a stable, manoeuvrable ride that performs over a wide variety of terrain, be it uphill or down.
On the descents, the Chilcotin is awesome. We’ve found it’s the kind of bike that needs to be ridden aggressively and within it’s travel, when we backed off and cruised was when we were caught out. There’s loads of mechanical on offer grip thanks to Knolly’s patented Four by Four linkage system, and coupled with the 142x12mm rear end, the bike feels stiff whilst cornering. It’s easy to control slides when the rear end steps out, and when the time comes the Knolly will rail a corner just as hard as our downhill bikes.
Come the uphills, the Chilcotin is well up to the task. We aren’t going to make the cliched call of it “climbing like a cross country hardtail” but it’s well up to the task of making it up sharp pinches and longer ascents alike. Knolly include external cable routing points for a dropper post if you’re that way inclined, which is a really nice finishing touch on the frame and aids in climbing. The bike we tested didn’t feature the dropper post, but we’d definitely recommend adding one to your build kit as they definitely enhance the overall performance of the bike.
On the whole, we’re really impressed with the performance and ride qualities of the Chilcotin. The bike is really well thought out and is a credit to Knolly’s design process and philosophy. If we were allowed to own only one bike, the Chilcotin would definitely be a contender, especially coupled with a dropper post. As a secondary bike to our downhill rigs, the Knolly has proved a worthy steed. It’s helped our riding technique and line selection, and we actually found ourselves grabbing it more than our downhill bikes. The point is often made that a full 8 inch travel downhill bike isn’t necessary for the majority of Australia’s downhill tracks and after spending time on the Chilcotin we’ve warmed to this concept.
Overall, the Chilcotin is a dialed package that won’t leave you disappointed. It leaves us with a post ride buzz every time we throw a leg over it, and it’s more than capable of handling any terrain it’s faced with.