Guerrilla Gravity Smash Long-Term Review

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My Guerrilla Gravity Smash…

It’s been over a year since I got my Guerrilla Gravity Smash. This post will circle back to my 2018 review and discuss what’s changed in terms of my opinion of the bike, parts and setup. If you haven’t read that review give it a look as I won’t be repeating what I said there.

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I’m still in love with this machine…

General Thoughts

The Smash is a very versatile mid-travel 29er. It strikes a great balance between climbing well, being efficient for long all-day rides and hammering hard on the descents. Perfect for a one-bike-to-rule-them-all quiver. My dual coil Smash build has been slacked out with an angle adjust headset and built on the burly side without punishing me when the hours of saddle time and elevation start adding up. It’s a very relaxing bike to ride because no matter what comes around the next corner I know the Smash is going to handle it just fine.

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Low on maintenance…high on fun…

Damage

Despite a lot of challenging riding on Vancouver Island as well as Pemberton, Whistler, Squamish and Bellingham the Smash has not suffered any serious mechanicals or real damage. I had a grand total of 2 flats in the time I’ve been riding this bike. Both pinch flats because I got lazy with my tire pressures and then slammed into rocks at speed. I was able to throw plugs into the holes and wear out the tire. A few small scratches in the powder coat and on the bash guard are the only indication of all the adventures this bike has been on. Well that and a pretty constant coating of dirt!

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Riding to the trailhead…

Maintenance

As far as servicing the bike all I have done is:

  • Moved front Conti Trail King to rear and added sealant.
  • Installed new rear Conti Trail King on the front and added sealant.
  • Dropped lowers on the MRP Ribbon Coil to clean and relube.
  • Sent RockShox Super Deluxe Coil RCT to Vorsprung for a full service and tune.
  • Partial bleed SRAM Code RSC brakes and new pads.
  • Replaced two SRAM Centreline front rotors.

All in all nothing unusual or unexpected give how much I’ve ridden this bike in challenging terrain. Okay the SRAM rotors shouldn’t have needed to be replaced in this time frame. I’ll put that down as a fail and discuss below under component changes.

When I was at the Moab GG Meet Up in Oct 2018 I picked up a full bearing kit for the Smash. So far everything is still tight and moving smoothly so I have not bothered messing with the suspension hardware, but I wanted to have spares on hand so when they are needed I could throw them in without any delay.

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Works Components -1 deg Headset…

Works Component -1 deg Headset

After my trip to Whistler/Squamish/Pemby last summer I came back looking to amp up the Smash’s DH capabilities. After tackling a lot of steep challenging rocky loose trails I decided to get a -1 deg headset. I figured the slacker bike would give me more confidence when things got zesty without affecting the geo the way a longer fork would. Some people love the Smash with a 160mm or 170mm fork [I’m running a 150mm fork] so that would be another option.

The headset install was a little finicky as you have to align both cups with the front of the bike and they want to rotate as you slide them into the frame. Thanks to Mr. Melo my local Works Component guru for his help putting them in. Once in this headset has been quiet and trouble free so I think it’s worth the hassle vs. other options that are easier to install, but that can start to squeak.

The -1 deg headset does make the Smash handle less amazing than it did stock on tight slower trails, but when things get scary I am happy to have the slacker bike. For the most part I have adapted to the change in steering and I can get the bike around the slower speed techy sections of our trails just fine, but the handling is not as nice as it was when I got the bike in that terrain.

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Vorsprung custom tuned Rockshox Superdeluxe coil shock…

Vorsprung Tractive Tune – RockShox Super Deluxe Coil RCT

The stock Super Deluxe shock was a good match for the Smash. Easy to setup and it performed well. I tried the shock with a 450lb and a 500lb spring. I liked the small bump compliance of the 450lb spring and the bottom out support of the 500lb spring. I really was kind of torn as to which one to ride with. One thing I didn’t like about the shock was the climb switch was so aggressive it was almost a lock out and that made it less useful to me since I rarely want to lock out my shock.

At the end of the summer in 2018 it was time to service the shock so I sent it to Vorsprung to service the damper and I asked them to reduce the compression tune so the shock would move more freely when run open and so the climb switch would add some compression damping without locking out the bike. Since I needed a service anyway the cost for the damper tune was quite modest.

Once I got the tuned shock back I was able to use the 500lb spring since there was so much less baseline compression damping. I got the nice small bump compliance and all the bottom out support I needed. The climb switch is a nice way to add noticeable compression damping on the fly, but it’s not crazy aggressive like it was stock. So all in all that was a win.

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760mm Deity Highside 50mm rise bars and KOre 35mm stem…

Deity Highside Bars and Kore 35mm Stem

I’ve cycled through a few handlebars since I got the Smash. It came with some 35mm Race Face Next R carbon bars that I thought were a bit stiff. So I moved to a Spank Spike Vibrocore bar and a 31.8mm Race Face Atlas stem in 50mm length. I rode that for a few months and like the bar, but wanted to try some added backsweep for ergonomic comfort so I put the Stooge Cycles Moto bars on. I liked them a bunch, but wanted to try a few more options so I moved the Moto bars to my bikepacking bike. I’m now on some 760mm wide Deity Highside bars [50mm rise] and a short 35mm stem. This combo of bar and stem has really improved the handling of the Smash with the -1 deg headset.

I’ve also raised my bar up during this time and cut them down from ~800mm when I got the Smash to something like 760-770mm. I’m glad GG left some extra steerer for bar height adjustment. The narrower bars are more comfortable for my elbows despite having wide shoulders and I’m faster through tight treed section since there is far less chance of hitting my hands on a tree.

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Shimano XT Rotor…

Shimano XT Rotors

I had two SRAM Centreline 200mm front rotors come out of true and start howling at me. No impacts that I recall and when I tried to straighten them I made them worse. I hate a noisy bike so I had to get a new rotor and I was tired of dealing with the SRAM Centrelines so I bought Shimano XT rotors and threw them on. So far they are quiet and true, but we’ll see what happens when 2020 rolls around.

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Backcountry Research Super 8 Strap…

Backcountry Research Super 8 Top Tube Strap

This strap is small and when not needed stays out of my way, but it’s rad to have a spot to stash a wind vest or some extra energy bars. I love the fact I can ride without a pack on my Smash due to its framebag and mounts for two bottles. But, that means I don’t have a pack to stuff anything extra into. The Super 8 strap takes care of that for me. It’s secure when loaded and I forget about it when I’m not using it.

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Fabric cageless bottle mounts…

Fabric Cageless Water Bottle

I love being able to carry two bottles on my bike, but I don’t always need the second bottle. That left an empty cage hanging under my downtube looking goofy. So I took it off and replaced it with a Fabric water bottle. This bottle mounts with small studs so when I don’t need the bottle downtube looks clean. When I want additional water the Fabric bottle goes on easily and is 100% secure.

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Frame protection…

All Mountain Style Frame Protection

I added some fresh protective tape to the Smash. I debated between clear and one with a print then settled on this abstract pattern. I figure it gives the bike a fresh look and in a few years I can peel it off and replace it with something else when I want a change. These tape kits are well made, but even the XL size kits need to provide a lot more tape sections to cover all key areas…like double the amount of tape. Especially since the kits are not cheap.

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My Smash on the trail…

The Future…

The Smash has earned a solid place in my fleet. It is well setup for me and just keeps rolling with minimal maintenance. When my GF decided she wanted a new 29er it didn’t take long for her to order a Guerrilla Gravity Smash in the new Revved carbon construction. Her bike should be here this week so we’ll be a two Smash household soon. Although the new carbon GG frames look amazing my metal Smash is not going anywhere. It’ll be a long term bike in my fleet. I’d like to break my current record of 9 years for longest owned mountain bike that my old Santa Cruz Nomad Mk2 hit before I sold it. I think the Smash has the potential to make it to 10 years!

As for future upgrades and changes I’m mostly happy with the bike as is so I don’t see anything too major happening. I’ll probably swap in a couple more bars [SQ Labs 12 deg and 16 deg high rise bars] to pursue the dream of perfect ergonomics, maybe some different tires just for fun and I do have a stiffer spring for my MRP Ribbon Coil fork I’ll install at the next service. None of these tweaks seem really vital so they may not stick, but on the other hand they could make a great bike even sweeter. Only time will tell.

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Two of my favourite things…

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