Maskinen is a small Danish direct-sell firm that specialises in fat bikes. After getting in touch with BikeRadar, Maskinen arranged for us to try out its latest model, the Prodigy R1 27.5+.
The Prodigy 27.5+ shares its carbon frame with Maskinen’s fat bike models. But it swaps out the fat hoops for an own-brand 650b carbon wheelset that’s dressed in slimmer (albeit still plus-sized) 3.25in treads from Vee.
As a brand Maskinen is all about customisation, and so should potential owners not want one of the six spec levels the firm offers on its website then this frame can be built from the ground up. Our test bike gets a spendy spec sheet including a full SRAM XX1 drivetrain, a RockShox Bluto suspension fork and SRAM Guide Ultimate brakes.
The traction held by those big volume Vee tyres isn’t necessarily obvious when you first ride the bike, but come across the correct terrain and you’ll be rewarded with heaps of grip. Climbing over loose and rocky ground on a familiar loop was dramatically easier than on a regular 650b hardtail.Those balloon treads aren’t great everywhere though, and – perhaps unsurprisingly – we found ourselves struggling for grip in sloppy mud. Still, the fat bike origins mean that clearance is never an issue.
We particularly liked the Prodigy's down tube detailing
More tyre also means more suspension, and over smaller bumps you end up with a bike that buzzes rather than chatters.We found that the additional suspension you get from the tyres allowed us to run a harder fork too, and popping more air into the RockShox Bluto seemed to make for a more efficient and faster ride. The trade off to the bigger rubber is a slightly more vague feel beneath your contact points and a draggy, sluggish feel for any tarmac sections you may encounter. Another point with this bike, and it’s widely known across most users of plus tyres, is that getting the correct tyre pressure is crucial.
Something else worth mentioning with the Prodigy is its weight, or rather the lack of it – extensive use of carbon plus a wallet-rinsing build makes for a total figure of just 11.47kg (25.29lbs). When you combine the smooth riding characteristics of those wideboy tyres and the low overall weight you end up with a bike that really excels on longer distance rides.
3.25in Vee Trax-Fatty tyres offer heaps of grip but a slightly muted feel
The frame's geometry is on the old-school side though, with the largest size available offering a stubby 428mm reach figure. The 70.5 degree head angle is steep considering the 120mm fork up front and keeps the bike feeling agile if a little nervous on the steeper stuff.
At speed the Prodigy is surprisingly confident though, something that the lengthy 468mm chainstays no doubt contribute towards. The fork will feel familiar to anyone who's spent time on mid-range parts from RockShox, and thanks to its Solo Air spring and straight-forward external adjustments it's quick and easy to get it running sweet.
We found that the chain line meant a lot of 'interaction' between the chain and the frame’s chainstays – leading to quite a loud bike when riding rough terrain in higher gears. This is nothing a homemade chainstay protector couldn’t sort, but is worth a mention nonetheless.
Old-school geometry: a relatively stubby and steep front triangle sits forward of a lengthy rear end
Most of the components on the Prodigy will be well known to BikeRadar readers, so it's hardly a surprise that SRAM’s XX1 drivetrain and Guide Ultimate brakes performed brilliantly. The same couldn't be said for Maskinen’s own-brand cockpit though – a lengthy stem and a handlebar on the wider side of narrow saw us switch these parts out almost immediately.
In this plus configuration the Maskinen proved itself to be a fun and capable companion that excels on longer rides. Considering it's a part-time fat bike we were impressed with the ride in general – although if you're a more aggressive rider, or you're used to bikes with progressive geometry, you may want to look elsewhere.