The Zesty isn’t a new bike, but it has quietly crept onto the hot list since UK distributors Hotlines gave it the outlet it deserves. Its performance in this test certainly put it on the map.
The Zesty has the looks and detailing of a super-bling thoroughbred and the performance to match. It descends and attacks technical trails with astonishing aggression, conﬁdence and poise, but will smoke the legs off anyone heading back up to the top, too.
Ride & handling: Easy, effortless speed machine in every situation
Expectations, benchmarks and fellow test riders were left way behind as we blitzed through our well-worn test trails at genuinely eye-watering speeds. It’s an easy, effortless speed machine in every situation.
Setting up the little red pointer on the seat tube lets you read your sag instantly against the seatstay calibrator while the simple rebound-adjust-only shock leaves no levers to worry about.
The suspension is slightly on the pert side under power, but it never wobbled, jacked up, kicked out or hung up obviously on ﬂat-faced slams. It even took our local 6ft drop on with none of the usual palm and pedal whump we’d expect from a trail bike. So that’s another tick in the plus box for the Zesty, then.
Its speed is enhanced by assured stability and sweetly accurate handling from the extremely stiff, relaxed angle and long wheelbase frame.
A screw-through fork and more tyre bite would make it even more accurate, but even with a quick-release, the Zesty was generally out of sight of pursuers within a few corners or over random rock sections.
Frame: Purposeful design coupled with fantastic detailing
Curvy hydroformed frames aren’t uncommon, but the restrained curves, tapers and ﬂairs of the Zesty stand out with feline structural efﬁciency compared to some of the potbellied pigs out there.
That’s not to say there’s any shortage of custom butting or external shaping, but it all looks purposeful and minimalist rather than shaped for the sake of it.
The integrated head tube keeps the front end low, despite a 140mm fork. Mounts for the long Fox shock are slim but stiff, with a neat little forged X-link tucked into the frame armpit. The seatpost still drops right down for descents, despite a kink at the base of the seat tube.
It’s the back end that’s really interesting, though. Contrary to convention, the stays ﬂare rather than taper to the tips for maximum stiffness.
A long spliced weld seam connects them to big, open CNC-machined triangles with the axle mounts at the rear and the rear pivots on the bottom corner well below the chainline.
The direct chainstay-mount front mech keeps chainring changes sweet, and while mud room isn’t massive there’s plenty of space for a 2.35in tyre.
Detailing on this £1,900 bike is enough to shame many £1,900 frames. The replaceable gear hanger, pivot caps, X-clamps for the continuous hose/cable routing, quick-release seat clamp and sag meter are all red anodised.
Any doubts about the usefulness of the carbon ﬁbre rear mech protector vanished when we gouged a boardwalk savagely in a crash without even scufﬁng the shield or disturbing the indexing.
Equipment: Fox suspension, Formula discs and Mavic wheels are very good for the money
Despite all the attention to frame detail, the kit levels are still very good for the money. You have to trade up to the £2,299 Zesty 514 to get a screw-through 15mm axle, but the 140mm Float RL fork still charges down chaos with conﬁdence. The long-stroke Fox shock is equally capable out back.
We love the little levers on the outstandingly powerful and control-rich Formula brakes, and they’re colour-matched white too.
House brand cockpit and seating kit is all the right shapes and sizes, with a particularly nice Kevlar reinforced saddle for good measure.
After expecting to be on our arse every minute, the Continental Race King tyres were a real surprise too. We switched to a Mountain King on the front a few times (more to remove the obvious speed advantage than anything else) but the tiny tread RKs were far more predictable than we expected, even in the worst mud, green rock and wet root conditions.