The idea behind the Kalula was to create a little sister for Morewood’s Makulu downhill bike – with matching staggering performance, and just a little less travel. We swung a leg over a new full-build Kalula and took it out on the hill.
Ride & handling: You want fun? You got fun...
Morewood’s design and testing of the Makulu downhill bike have obviously rubbed off in a big way on the Kalula. The geometry is nearly perfect – it’s a little shorter than an all-out downhill race bike and slightly steeper, but it’s stable and leaves room to move around in the cockpit when styling it up is on the menu.
The Spank stem is stiff, complementing the tapered head tube setup, and the Fi’zi:k Tundra saddle is comfy and doesn’t get in the way when you want to move the bike around in the air. The 180mm-travel (7.1in) Fox 36 Van fork took a while to bed in, but it works well and is supportive throughout the travel.
We had to experiment with it to ﬁnd the right settings, but after a day of ﬁddling we found the bike performed best with minimal compression damping. The travel remains responsive throughout the stroke, progressive towards the end.
The Kalula pedals amazingly well too, comparable to some 160mm-travel (6.3in) bikes. Small bump sensitivity is still supple, and the big hit-eating ability is totally uncompromised. This bike really is so much fun.
Frame: Stiff, stable and responsive
Although the Kalula is under the ‘freeride’ heading in Morewood’s book, it’s also been designed with fast downhill performance in mind. It has 7in (178mm) of rear-wheel travel, provided by a Fox RC4 shock (the BOS Stoy is an option).
The linkage-actuated single-pivot is designed to be progressive towards the end of the stroke. The 65.5-degree head angle, combined with the 180mm-travel fork, gives great stability, and the handling is fast but by no means twitchy.
The steering is kept responsive and stiff by the 1.5in to 1.125in tapered head tube. A 150x12mm spaced rear end, 83mm bottom bracket and a rather large tubeset prove the frame really does mean business. We love that the rear brake is post mounted too.
Equipment: High-end kit from Acros, Fox, Shimano and Spank
The full-build Kalula is built from a mix of high-end parts from Acros, Fox, Shimano and Spank. Shimano’s Saint groupset sits on the Kalula nicely, with an e*thirteen LG1+ on chain-retention duty. Formula’s RX brakes do the stopping.
The super-high-end German-engineered Acros headset and seatpost ﬁnish the build off nicely. The only downside is the freeride-inspired Spank rims’ internal width of nearly 30mm. It results in a balloon-like tyre proﬁle, especially with the stock Schwalbe 2.5in Muddy Mary tyres.