The not-so-minor details
BH Lynx 6 8.9
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Great versatility. Excellent descending performance. Geometry is spot on.
Bar is no good. Tyres aren't tubeless.
Spain: a land of long siestas, dark eyebrows and goat’s milk. And also home to one of the world’s oldest bike manufacturers, BH. Beistegui Hermanos – you can see why they abbreviate it – have been making bikes since Adam was a lad, with over 100 years of bike building under their belts. They also made guns during the Spanish Civil War, which is a perfect segue to this absolute weapon of a bike (like how we did that?), the Lynx 6 8.9.
We’ve been fortunate enough to secure one of these bad boys for a long-term test (check out our initial ride reports here), but we thought we’d see how the BH stacked up when it comes to gravity enduro racing too. This exciting, rapidly-growing, discipline is perfect for this style of bike. With its mixture of untimed climbing ‘transition’ stages and timed descents, you need a bike that won’t leave you drained by the ascents and that descends like a B-double with brake failure too.Would the BH fit the bill?
On paper, it certainly appears that way: 150mm of travel front and rear (plenty), through-axles at both ends for stiffness, geometry that screams ‘let the brakes off!’ and a multitude of on-the-fly adjustments to make both climbs and descents enjoyable. Before we hit the trails, however, we made a few changes. First to go was the bar. At 680mm wide, it felt like it was designed for a child’s bike – this bike needs more width! A 730mm-wide Thomson bar added stability and control.
Next, we wanted the security and grip of a good set of tubeless tyres and strong wheels. The Shimano MT68 wheels can be converted to tubeless, but the Continental Mountain King rubber isn’t meant for tubeless use. To be safe, we swapped the whole wheelset for Shimano XTR hoops with tubeless Schwalbe rubber. Other than that, we were happy to ride the bike as it came out of the box.
You don’t have much adjustment with the KS LEV seat post. Our frame was a size small (ideally we would’ve ridden a medium) and we had to run the post right on the minimum insert mark to get enough seat height. We noticed some nasty looking ‘tack’ welds where the shock ‘tunnel’ runs through the seat tube area. Normally you’d expect these to be removed or smoothed over before painting and they mar the look of this otherwise well-finished frame. We’re not overly taken by cheesy writing on the frame, labelling all the different features: we can see it’s a tapered head, there’s not need to write it on the frame! A nice touch is that the frame, even in a small size, still fits a water bottle cage.
To put the Lynx to the test, we rode it at the Flow Roller Coaster enduro race, held at Del Rio resort, NSW. So how’d she go?
You’re armed with a wide range of tools to make climbing on the BH as painless as possible. It’s not the lightest bike at over 13.5kg, but it pedals brilliantly. To ensure a maximum efficiency, the Fox CTD rear shock has a remote lever too, so you can firm the suspension up – almost to the point of locking it out totally – without taking your hands off the bars. We did think this was a bit unnecessary at first (it does add to the tangle of cables on the front of this bike, with the seatpost using a remote lever too) but we actually found ourselves hitting the lever a fair bit, including during the racing when we had to sprint to the finish line across undulating terrain.
With a dual chain ring setup, there’s more than enough gear range for any climb. If this we’re our own bike, and if we were doing this kind of racing often, we’d consider taking advantage of the frame’s ISCG tabs and run a single chain. This drops a little weight, but more importantly, adds confidence, as you know your chain is always going to be in place when you lay down the power. That said, we only had one instance of chain drop, and even then the chain didn’t come the whole way off, it just fell onto the small chain ring. The excellent Shimano XT Shadow+ rear derailleur is to thank for this good drivetrain stability. Before the new generation of ‘clutch’ derailleurs, you’d have expected to drop your chain many times. Should you want to take on really steep climbs, the Fox TALAS fork allows you to drop the front end by 30mm as well. We didn’t really use this feature. In fact the fork was completely set and forget – we just left the three position damper adjustment in Trail mode and get on with it.
Going back down is this bike’s real forte. A 66.5-degree head angle puts the front wheel right out in front of you for confidence at higher speeds or when it gets steep. One of the descents on the Del Rio track has some properly steep chutes, and the slack front end definitely saved our bacon on a couple of occasions. The KS adjustable post was unreal, and the simple, light, actuation provide by the tiny remote lever encouraged us to really utilise the post. We must admit, the sheer number of levers going on up front did take some getting used to, and there was more than one occasion we locked out the rear shock instead of shifting chain rings! Perhaps this is another reason to go with a single ring up front.
Suspension performance is excellent overall. The Split Pivot suspension system is the brainchild of suspension genius Dave Weagle (and yes, it is pretty much identical to Trek’s ABP system). With a pivot located directly on the rear axle, the suspension performance is virtually unaffected by braking, meaning superb traction. Speaking of brakes, while we did have a bit of trouble getting the Formulas to have the same feel between front and rear brakes, they have impressive amounts of power.
The shock itself is sandwiched between a linkage and the swingarm, allowing for precise control of the shock rate. Sensitive over the small bumps, ramping up nicely to handle the flat landings, we couldn’t have asked for more from the Lynx’s rear suspension. The fork was great too, though it did reconfirm our experience with other Fox forks of late, in that we needed to run it in the middle ‘Trail’ setting, rather than using ‘Descend’ mode. In the Descend setting, we found the fork a little to eager to dive into its travel.
With the wider bar fitted, and in conjunction with the low bottom bracket, stability in the corners was great. Despite the slack head angle, we didn’t find the bike too much work in slower, flatter corners. It could eagerly be flicked into switchback or threaded through the sandy corners that filled the middle section of the second Del Rio racetrack descent.
As a gravity enduro race bike, was really impressive. It oozes versatility and adjustability, has great descending manners balanced nicely with climbing prowess. The value for money stakes put this bike up the top of the pile too, though make sure you’ve got change for a wider handlebar. We’ll keep you updated as to how our long-term test bike keeps performing, but for gravity enduro racing, we give this bike a big tick.