Ellsworth Joker review£699.00

The Joker of the pack has been Ellsworth's budget big hit bike for years now, but it's still a viable campaigner especially with some super aggressive new pricing.

BikeRadar score4/5

The Joker of the pack has been Ellsworth's budget big hit bike for years now, but it's still a viable campaigner especially with some super aggressive new pricing.

It uses the same extruded front end design as the other Ellsworth frames here, but with a tougher thicker wall draw, and a long gusset under the throat of the neck end. The curved top tube also keeps standover height reasonable despite its long travel shock. Big D section tubes and CNC keystone sections are shared with the Isis and Distance frames, and again you'll need a CamelBak as the only bottle cage mount is under the belly in the filth. The Joker also uses the same rear swingarm with its extruded and CNC'ed components. The fact you're likely to be using a 7in travel bike with fat rubber also makes tight tyre clearance much more of an issue than with the shorter travel bikes. The bearings are exposed again too yet the stylish and tough laser etched anodised finish is a definite bonus.

Sizing is also restricted to the one 17in size but that's actually a relatively stretched chunk of frame. Full length seat tube means achieving a proper pedalling seat height for the climbs isn't a worry either.

The Romic Twin Tube shock makes light work of dialling out any pedalling bounce and, considering that normally costs £280 on its own, the complete bike is a bargain.

There's also the option of using a shorter shock in a rising rate position. The relatively long frame and slack 67 degree head, 69 degree seat angles mean it can feel slightly ponderous in tight twisty terrain, but it's lovely and stable at speed or clattering through boulder sections. Inevitably there's some kickback and brake/ pedal interruption from the swingarm suspension, but at least you get plenty of feedback about what's going on at ground level below.

Guy Kesteven

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 44
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster tfhan the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK
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