A refreshingly versatile bike that's sure to attract the attention of many a freerider/slopestyler/dowhhiller. After fifteen years of development, Pace's full suspension trail bike is finally ripe for riding. Our exclusive initial rides prove it's been well worth the wait too.
It might look similar to the hugely successful 303 hardtail frame, but butting profiles and wall thicknesses are changed in key areas - for example, the head tube, down tube and seat tube. A vertical web inside the down tube increases lower pivot stiffness by 25 per cent, with curved cross braces and a hollow 'junction box' anchoring sub frame stiffness.
The dropouts are replaceable and there are alloy-capped O-ring seals on the SKF bearings, as well as full down tube cable and disc routing, masses of tyre space (a good thing), Crud Catcher bosses and even light cable guides to keep it super practical.
Pace's patented Free Floater suspension design sandwiches the shock between ultra stiff 3D CNC'd linkages. These combine to bring the back wheel first backwards and then increasingly upwards and round through the 130mm (5in) stroke. They also manipulate leverage on the DT shock for smoother start and end phases but, thankfully, much less mid-stroke 'hammock'.
For now it's a frame-only package (anodised pewter £1,295, white powdercoat £1,195), but a rolling chassis using a DT/Pace fork and DT wheelset is planned.
Having ridden the prototype last year, we were gagging to hit our own benchmark test trails on the production bike. Compared to the proto, the head angle is a degree slacker (68.5) and the BB's 10mm higher. A 73-degree seat angle still nails down front wheel traction, while the mid-length cockpit makes body weight shifts simple for perfect technical handling.
Turn in is immediate and intuitive without tuck or twitch, letting you stick or slide the bike to the absolute cornering limit.
The Free Floater rear end is spot on too, making the DT HVR shock feel fantastically supple. It's smooth enough to stop eye blur on washed-out wooden steps, it rolls easily over square-edged hits without taking a momentum kick to the kidneys and it lands proper drops with a very calm catch. Hit the gas though, and there's an instant muscular surge as the bike charges up climbs or out of corners. There's just enough pedal feedback to push against and feel traction, but enough ground clearance and smooth movement to spin smoothly up rocky, rooty or stepped verts. With a 6.2lb frame giving a 26.7lb bike weight, it's rapid and reactive wherever you point it too.
What makes it outstanding though is the centred stiffness and assured authority, keeping control very tight whether you're pumping and manualling jumps or smudging the rear wheel sideways through corners.
This is a bike that instantly feels dialled in to your riding; immediately flattering your skills, but always encouraging you to push a little bit harder through the next sequence. Sharp, tough, tight, light... it's a truly great all-round trail bike. Watch this space for the 4 and 6in versions too.