North Vancouver-based Banshee Bikes are now known as Mythic Bikes over here after a name dispute with a UK retailer. The gothic graphics remain and most of the range imported by Freeborn bike shop in Horsham are sold as either frames alone or complete bikes. The 'freeride-lite' Wraith is an exception because it's only available as a complete bike. It's a cool looker, available in silver or black and it reflects the imagery of Banshee's big drop rigs. But it's lighter (35lb) than the huckers and well equipped for fast XC as well as more radical work.
Compared to the other bikes, the frame tubes and suspension configuration are very straightforward. The top and down tubes are triple-butted, light-gauge, RAD-styled pieces and they're substantially beefed up behind the head tube. The shock and rocker mounts are gusset reinforced for extra strength too. Cable and hose guides run underneath the dropped top tube and there's a single set of bottle cage bosses. Internally ribbed seatstays and chainstays produce a very stiff back end, there's loads of room for big treads, and there's plenty of mud room at the rear.
The four-bar back end, with a pivot on the seatstays and the main swingarm pivot level with the middle chainring, produces about 130mm (5in) of progressive, well controlled travel through a Fox Vanilla R coil-sprung shock. The frame comes in three sizes (we tested the Medium) and the geometry caters for forks with up to 130mm travel. Our test bike was fitted with Manitou's Black Super fork. This features 90- 120mm (3.5-4.5in) of adjustable travel, Fluid Flow damping and excellent rebound damping adjustment. There's also a big stack of washers under the stem, which means there's bags of ride position adjustment.
Despite SRAM's growing marketplace strength, it's still unusual to find a bike without at least a few Shimano parts. The Wraith has just one - the LX front mech. The rear mech is a SRAM SX-5, the shifters are SRAM X-7 triggers, the crankset is a Truvativ Firex with big outboard bearings, the hubs are Formula and the brakes are sturdy Hayes HFX-9 discs. The wheels are well built with stainless black spokes, tough Alex DP20 rims and big 2.35in Kenda Nevegal treads - not exactly fast rollers but very much at home when the going gets nasty, and great traction is more crucial than fast rolling on a bike like this. The other finishing components are all pretty good too. Truvativ supply a 25in riser bar and a double-clamp stem, the seatpost is long enough for riders up to about 6ft on the Medium bike and the saddle is a cheap but comfy WTB Pure V.
The Mythic tips the scales at 3lb more than the Marin, so it'll never be a sprightly climber. But that's not what these bikes are about. While the Marin is one of the lightest in the allmountain genre, the Mythic is a middleweight. In pure fun terms, what you lose on the ups you gain on the downs. It's a great high-speed descender and it's pretty good on the fl at too, especially when the going gets rough. The grippy deep-traction treads conspire with the frame's super-effi cient pedalling character and bump-taming mannerisms to carry you through the gnarliest singletrack with the sort of confi dent fl ourish that's often lacking on lighter bikes. You'll feel the 35lb heft when accelerating out of fl at corners, but it's a price worth paying for the fun to be had elsewhere on this bike.
Much is claimed about the advantages of vertical rear axle paths on four-bar linkage bikes with Horst Links (at the end of the chainstays, like on Specialized rigs), but shocks have improved a lot in recent years and bikes like this (and Turners and Konas) have other advantages. The rear wheel path of the Mythic is initially up and back before it moves into a forward arc. This results in good square-edge bump eating at low speed, similar to Marin's Quad-Link, but the extra travel is rarely challenged by big hits and the stiffness of the frame and wheels shines through when you're wrestling lines on raggy drops. Few riders can get the best out of rigs that are heavier and have longer travel than the Wraith. Your nerve expires before you reach the bike's limits. This combo of cross-country ability, if you're willing to work hard, and latent big drop capacity is a joy. Riders who get close to the bike's limits will already know they need a rig weighing closer to 40lb.
Effective rear axle path
The rear wheel axle path of the Mythic Wraith is initially up and back before it moves into a forward arc, like the Marin's, but with a much more progressive shock feel. This results in extremely good square-edge bump eating at low speeds but a bombproof feel as the terrain gets more radical.