With our sister magazine What Mountain Bike running their Bike of the Year awards in one months time here's what has been floating the boat of our testers in 2007. Here Steve Worland gives us the lowdown on why he's been spending so much time on the Ellesworth Epiphany this year.
I spent a year riding the slightly longer travel and heavier duty Ellsworth Moment before settling on the 5in travel Epiphany. I swapped because I like to feel I'm riding as close as possible to the latent abilities of a bike and my nerves wouldn't allow me to do that on the Moment, as it was simply too much bike for me.
It's good to have a little in reserve for those times when everything feels great and you just want to throw caution to the wind on a raggedy drop, or mash a big gear through bouldery singletrack. The Epiphany allows me to do just that with a lot more confidence than the shorter travel Superlight.
While I really like the slight pedal-to-shock feedback that the best single-pivot full sus frames offer, I can still fully appreciate the sofa-plush permanently active ride of the best four-bar linkage frames - especially on the sort of terrain where you want to carry on pedalling hard and fast, even when the going gets really rough. Single-pivot frames, especially short travel offerings, can become a handful in such situations because the suspension becomes slightly less mechanically efficient as you put more pressure on the pedals.
Ellsworth's ICT (Instant Centre Tracking) designs have always felt to me like the most efficient four-bar frames out there, to the point where they rarely feel in need of the stifling effect of platform-damped shocks. A lot of sofa-plush permanently active four-bar frames have suffered in the past from weight shift induced wallow/bob under power. Stamp on the pedals and the weight shift compresses and/or extends the shock. This is at its most noticeable on stand-up climbs, and that's where 'intelligent', or 'platform damped' shocks can keep things steady.
I have the same Fox Float RP23 shock on the Ellsworth as on the Superlight. On the Superlight I have the Pro Pedal platform set to minimum, while on the Epiphany I have it on the middle of the three settings - on other four-bar linkage bikes I use the strongest setting. In all cases I only flick the Pro Pedal lever on for long climbs, as I prefer the better traction of a fully active back end on short, bumpy climbs.
Componentry wise, all my longterm bikes tend to be test beds for whatever comes along and needs distance putting into it. The Ellsworth has a mix of old, new and quirky, like ten-speed Rapidfire flat-bar road shifters and a Dura-Ace 10-speed cassette. I love them, mainly for the close gear ratios and trim mechanism on the front mech.
The Epiphany frame only weighs about 0.6lb more than the Superlight, so I keep it built with lightweight kit. It's a hard riding cross-country bike, not a downhill machine.