In February of this year, I made the decision to purchase a full suspension mountain bike. Given the time of year, most cycle-shops were running old-stock sales to make way for the 2019 models and this meant there were some fantastic deals on the marketplace.
After browsing a good number of available bikes, I decided that I was going to target bikes worth between £2,000 and £2,500, on sale at between £1,000 and £1,500. With finance needed to cover about 50% of the purchase price, this further reduced the options available.
My search took me to Rutlands Cycling (not the greatest experience, but we will revisit this later in the review). They had some stonking sale prices and finance to match.
I started to look at the Marin Hawk Hill 3 (with it's higher end components) and the Attack Trail 7. The Attack Trail immediately grabbed my attention due to the more stylish geometry and engineering, bolder colour scheme and just generally being pretty swanky for a Marin (previously known for being as exciting and attractive as porridge).
The initial problem I faced was availability - I could get 0% finance on the Hawk Hill 3, which was priced at the exact price of the Attack Trail 7. They had a range of sizes whereas the AT7 was only available in a 20inch.. I was right on the cusp of a 19/20 inch frame, but was ideally looking for something to jump, had originally been thinking of a smaller frame.
I decided to bite the bullet after reading reviews of other 5'11 riders who had the 20 inch AT7 and had no issues riding at all. I was slightly concerned at picking Xfusion suspension over RockShox, but the frame was a higher quality so I figured that over time I could upgrade the suspension and components.
When the bike arrived, it looked the part. The wheels are fat as hell, the Schwalbe tires looked mean and grippy, the forks looked like they could take a beating and the stance of the bike was aggresive.
The bike was delivered 'ready to ride' which led me to arrange a full days riding on the day of delivery. In hindsight, this was a huge mistake. I've since learnt that if you want something doing properly, you bloody well do it yourself.
The bike arrived with no oil in the rebound damper leg of the front fork. This is no exaggeration at all the fork felt plush to compress but rebounded quickly with the force of an agitated rhinocerous. There's some go pro footage of me almost backflipping a table-jump accidentally as my fork pushed out to full extension before getting anywhere near the take-off lip.
This was addressed with Rutlands, who paid for a courier to take the shock to the service centre where they repaired it under warranty. The shock is returned and we prepare for a trip to Bike Park Wales.
Upon arrival, I assemble the bike and notice that almost every nut, bolt and bearing is finger-loose! The entire bike could be disassembled by hand, even down to the cranks. A half hour spent tightening everything up ensured I didn't die on a mountain in Wales, but the fact that this was sold as ready to ride was starting to piss me off.. Both errors were dangerous.
Finally, I start to notice a jarring click when landing jumps. After a quick google search, I take my fork out and disassemble my headset. At this point I noticed that the Stem had been cut to long, or at least hadn't had an appropriate amount of spacers fitted, and because of this the top cap wasn't compressing the headset, but instead just pushing down on the stem. This looseness has caused my headset to damage and requires replacement (The bike has done under 100 miles).
Whilst almost all of these issues sit with the retailer and not the manufacturer, this hasn't been the satisfying feel-good new-bike experience I was hoping for.
With a lot of the niggles ironed out, this bike is truly fantastic. The suspension is responsive and has enough adjustability to ensure you are ready for any type of riding, whilst still remaining simple enough to be an appropriate first-time fullsus. The wheels and tires are like 27 and a half inch guardian angels gluing me to the track and tearing through dusty berms, and the dropper post (a new experience for me) just feels so luxurious!
The bike has been crashed a few times, with a few flips and bounces down the trails and yet the frame has held up remarkably. The components, whilst not household brands, are reliable and easily maintained. Over time I will likely upgrade the suspension but I stick by my decision to buy based on frame and not components.
Considering I was looking into a 2017 Calibre Bossnut, at £900, I'm very glad I went for a higher RRP bike available in the sale.
This feels like a £2.5k bike (RRP £2,250) but when bought for under £1,300 comes with the extra satisfaction of riding a bargain.
I'm biased, having genuinely fallen in love with this bike (Which has now taken up residence in my living room) but I'd give it a solid 9/10, with a point deducted for cost cutting on components.. But you can't have everything in life!
If you're a fan of Downhill Dreams, or our content and wish to support us, please head over to our Patreon to find a variety of different ways you can get involved!