Note: These are not reviews but are simple ride impressions based on the demo tech set-up. All bikes were ridden on the Bootleg Canyon demo loop. Keep in mind that a short ride is not a review, but merely gives us, (and you out there), some idea of what we’re looking at here.
Breezer Repack Ride Impressions- by Grannygear
When the Repack was shown to the public around Eurobike time, it was no real surprise as it was rumored that Breezer was working on an full suspension bike. What was interesting was the wheel size and travel choice, that being 27.5″ and 160mm, but even more interesting was the all new rear suspension designed by the Sotto Group for Breezer Bikes.
The “Mid Link” approach is unique looking for sure, what with that pivot in the middle of the chain stay, but compared to many new bikes rolling out of the factories these days, the Repack is actually quite good looking. It has nice lines and a compact design and, according to JT Burke at Breezer Bikes, should be kinder on the pivots/bearings than other short link bikes.
Now you may have already been shouting to your computer…not that it cares anyway…”Hey, 29″.com…this is NOT A 29″er!“. Yes, yes, I know that. We can count too and add up complex numbers, calculate diameters, circumferences, etc. But if this design was to be rendered in a 120mm travel 29″er, would THAT be interesting to you? Hmmm?
So for now, it seemed prudent to ride the Repack and see how it did on the trails at Bootleg. And I have no axe to grind on 27.5 stuff, especially in this much travel as it makes sense to me. So, off we went on a 21″ version. The Repack Team bike was pre-production so it had no water bottle bosses on it (should be there on the final models, except maybe the 17″ size). I was given a 31lb weight as it sat and the production frames will be lighter.
Pedaling up the bike path and onto the pavement to the trail head, the MLink suspension was dead neutral, even in ‘Open’ mode on the CTD Fox rear shock. Standing or sitting, I could see that pure pedaling forces were not having much of an effect at all on the linkages and such. As well, this is a stiff chassis, at least in the rear triangle. Grabbing the top of the rear wheel and the saddle and pulling them apart showed almost no twist from the rear axle to the rear shock.
I left it in the ‘open’ position for the rest of the ride. On the dirt the bike was acting odd like the rear suspension was not rebounding. That was because it was not rebounding…much. The shock was nearly closed down with the rebound control knob and so was the fork. That may have been why the bike pedaled so calmly on the road. I opened things up and that was an immediate difference. Now I could preload the suspension and get more action of it it although it still felt very neutral to pedaling forces. The bike felt smaller and firmer and tighter then I expected a 160mm bike to feel. Settings were set by the Breezer tech and I did not adjust shock pressures, but the MLink was not floaty or super cush. End to end it felt balanced and very maneuverable, something the 27.5 wheels are good for. The few drops I did were nothing even close to pushing my limits or the limits of a 160mm bike, but it landed well and sucked up all the nonsense I tossed at it. I will have to let others take it to the rev limiter on steeper trails and see how it works there.
In fact as a general trail bike, it would be very acceptable to me, even if I was climbing on it for long periods to time, etc. All Mountain means all of the mountain, right? Pedal up it, ride down it, even if it rough and steep. Climbing up some ledgy, nose of the saddle stuff seems to show a bit of a firm feel there too, like it was giving me just a bit of resistance to move up and over things. By comparison, the next bike I rode, the Niner RDO RIP 9 was smoother here under the same conditions.
Did I love it? Not quite and I am not sure why. Maybe I am expecting too much from a 31lb, longer travel bike and I have pretty much no real trail time on bikes like that, but it had a bit of a stodgy pedaling feel to me. It just felt kinda’ uninterested in stepping out when I called for pedaling speed. Might have been just me that day or it might have been the weight or set up? It was not the wheel size as I think that was a good thing for this bike. I noticed a bit more impacts from chunk in the trail with the smaller wheel, but it was not a big deal. I wish I could have had more time on it to sort out the ride and handling bit more. I think that Breezer is on to something here with the MLink. It is unique and the MLink should impart less stress on the pivot bearings, unlike the latest crop of eccentric pivot equipped bikes. And if nothing else, it makes me excited for what I think might be coming next.