WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
We were impressed with the build kit that came on our
Horsethief. With Fox CTD suspension in the front and the rear,
Stan’s Rapid rims on Shimano SLX center-lock hubs and a
Shimano Deore/SLX 2x10 drivetrain, we couldn’t poke a hole in
the spec choices. The Schwalbe Nobby Nic tires handled rocky
terrain well but did wear rather quickly.
One of the biggest standouts was the Deore brakes. We tested
the bike through rocky technical sections and were very impressed
with how well the Deore brakes complemented the suspension
design. Even on long, steep descents, we could not get them to
HOW DID IT PERFORM?
Our very first ride on this bike was a 15-mile descent over some
of the rockiest terrain that Southern California has to offer. Once at
the bottom of the mountain, our first thought was, “This bike can
take a beating.” The slack angles allowed the bike to crawl down
rocky shelves, and the short chainstays felt right at home on tight
switchbacks. After breaking the Horsethief in on technical terrain,
we took it out to some more forgiving trails for general riding and
Moving out: The cockpit made the geometry of the bike feel
tighter than it actually is. The short stem and wide bars gave the
bike an enduro feel on the descents, while the long top tube made
it feel like a cross-country bike on flats and climbs. Testers
found themselves in fairly comfortable positions on the
climbs and flats, but felt a little forward on descents
given the long top tube length.
Cornering: Cornering felt pretty effortless on
winding singletrack but was a little cumbersome
on tight switchbacks. The Deore brakes allowed
us to carry more speed into corners and come
out with little momentum lost. We didn’t experience much (if any) flex from the rear triangle in
Climbing: This wasn’t the best-climbing bike
we’ve ridden, but only because of the weight.
Overall, we were surprised by how well the linkage
worked going uphill. We left the shock open on several
long climbs and felt little bounce from the suspension or loss of
performance compared to being in the locked-out position. On
steeper climbs, the bike was harder to direct than other trailbikes
we have tested. The front tire had a tendency to stray from the
chosen line and required more upper-body work from the rider.
The slack head angle did make it tougher to get over the front of
the bike on steep sections, but the attack angle worked exception-
ally well over rocks on technical climbs.
Descending: Overall, the descents were fun and effortless.
With 130 millimeters of travel in the fork and the 29-inch wheels,
the front end muted ruts and washboard sections of trail. We hit
some kickers along the trail and felt the bike float, defying the
knowledge that we were riding a 29er. The suspension soaked up
bumps and provided a decent pedaling platform through rolling
sections, especially with the Trail setting in place on the fork.
While we appreciated the long top tube on the climbs, it did make
it tougher to get over the rear wheel on steep sections. But overall,
we were pleased with the downhill performance of the Horsethief.
Rocks for days: The
Horsethief likes to float
over rocksy sections and
shelves on the trail. We
were impressed with this
bike’s ability to smooth
out the trail despite its
short travel nature.