I’ve been after a 29er FS trail bike since back in 2013 and somehow managed to buy two 27.5 bikes instead. I think I was just waiting for the “perfect” 29er to come along and it was easier to stick with what I knew and roll on the small wheels. Well my interest in trying a 29er hasn’t abated and the good news is that 29er tech has just gotten better over the years. Having gotten rid of my SC Nomad and my Pivot Mach 6 recently I was left with only one trail bike. Gasp! I know one bike is far too risky…I could have a mechanical and miss a ride! So being in the market for a new bike I decided to make 2018 the year of the 29er.
Looking around at what’s available I settled on a Guerrilla Gravity Smash. In no particular order here’s why:
- 150mm fork + 140mm 29er frame is a great do it all level of travel
- handmade in Colorado
- slackish headtube angle
- shortish chain stays
- longish reach
- not too low bottom bracket [I ride chunky terrain]
- dedicated 29er frame with big standard tire clearance [I don’t need plus tire compatibility]
- nice build options [ie. extra water bottle mounts under DT, paint, etc…]
- competitive price
- decent frame weight
- dual-position suspension chip [I like options]
- works with air and coil shocks [more options]
- good use of frame space [water bottle + gear inside frame + reservoir shock]
- easy to use website
- excellent communicators [ie. respond to emails fast with clear responses]
- Smash frames look badass
- Smash frame + a few parts can be converted into a 27.5 Megatrail/Shred Dog frame [more options]
Buying a frame made in North America is cool. Not just because you are contributing to domestic manufacturing jobs, but also because that means you get a level of customization just not possible in a mass produced overseas frame. If you want a large frame with the shorter seat tube of a medium frame GG will do that for you. In my case I really wanted extra bottle mounts under the downtube. With two bottles onboard and room under the shock for a framebag my need to ever wear a pack or fanny bag approaches zero. To me that’s uber rad.
I also really like talking to the people that made my bike and even being able to visit them. It’s not essential to a good bike ownership experience, but it does take it to the next level for me. Owning a product is one thing…having a proper relationship with the folks that made it is another. Usually domestic manufacturing and customization means big $$. In this case it doesn’t the price for a Smash is pretty darn reasonable compared to the competition.
I’m right between a medium and a large for Smash sizing. I decided to go with a medium as it has the same reach as my current bike and a WB that’s about 1″ longer. Since our trails are on the slower techy side I didn’t want to have to manhandle the large which has a WB 2.3″ longer than what I am on now. If I lived someplace with open fast trails I’d give the large a shot.
I spent a bunch of time trying to decide between specing a air shock or a coil shock on the Smash. I think an air shock makes a lot of sense for my local trails that feature a lot of punchy climbing and short steep descents that don’t last super long or reach warp speeds. However, I travel to places with long chunky descents where a coil might be just the ticket and I am intrigued by some extra traction for our often slippery or loose conditions. I ended up going with the coil shock [RockShox Super Deluxe RCT Coil] and I’m thinking if I get on with the Smash really well I’ll pick up an air shock for it later on.
For paint I decided to go with white because it looks pretty sweet with black components and honestly after I saw the photo GG posted [ones I used in this post] I had no choice! I was tempted to stick with raw, which is a bit cheaper, but I already have a raw bike so figured a little variety was a good thing.
GG also has a shorter travel 29er called the Trail Pistol and there are more and more long travel 29ers coming out. Choosing amongst all the options was hard. Since my existing bike is a mid-travel 27.5er I decide not to go with a short travel 29er. It would be too similar. The long travel 29ers give me the most separation between bikes, but I was worried that I don’t ride enough truly gnarly fast chunky trails to make full use of such a beast. In the end going for a 140mm travel 29er with a 150mm fork seemed to be the best of both worlds. It’s capable enough to handle any trail I would ever ride, but doesn’t need to be ridden on Red Bull Rampage-esque terrain to make things interesting.
I ride a lot and I ride a lot of the same trails over and over again here on Vancouver Island. So I really appreciate ways to change the flavour of a bike to make old trails fresh again. I buy nice bikes and use solid builds so I don’t destroy bikes, but after a few years I do get bored of riding the same bike on the same trails. The Smash offers a lot of versatility:
- works well with coil or air shocks
- dual position suspension chip [changes leverage ratio]
- Smash 29er can be converted to a 27.5 Mega Trail/Shred Dog
- MRP Ribbon fork can be converted from air to coil and travel adjusted 140-160mm
- a headset swap makes the headtube angle adjustable
My order is in, but now I have to wait. Because I asked for extra bottle mounts under the downtube I can’t have one of the Smash frames already in production. So I’ll wait for the next batch of Smashes to be born. That’s okay…it will be worth the wait.
2018 will be the year of the 29er for me! 🙂
Here are some GG Smash Reviews:
- Vital MTB Smash Review
- Singletrack Smash Review
- Loam Wolf Smash Review
- Loam Wolf Guerrilla Gravity Profile