The new 996 comprises a monocoque carbon front triangle and an aluminum-and-carbon rear end joined through a pair of short alloy links. There’s 100mm of travel on tap and claimed frame weight is a competitive 2.5kg (5.5lb) for a small frame with the included RockShox Monarch 4.2 rear shock.
We didn’t get a chance to sample the 996 during the official introduction but its beefy front triangle, stout linkages and fully enclosed rear end suggest a solid feel. Unlike the hardtail, the 996 uses a conventional seatpost in the thinking that full-suspension riders might occasionally have the need to drop their saddle depending on circumstances (we’re not sure if this goes along with the modest 100mm of travel but so be it).
Geometry is decidedly cross-country oriented: 100mm forks will yield 69.7° and 72.2° head and seat angles, respectively, while an 80mm fork will steepen things up a bit to 70.5° and 73°.