Heller Shagamaw GX1 first ride review

All-mountain hardtails are here

Heller's Shagamaw GX1 represents a new breed of nicely capable, non-race focused bikes. With a carbon frame, 130mm fork, and most importantly some big 27.5+ tires, this hardtail brings some not-so-serious, rowdy fun to the dirt.

Heller's Shagamaw GX1 elevates the hardtail to all-mountain charger
Heller's Shagamaw GX1 elevates the hardtail to all-mountain charger

Heller Shagamaw GX1 spec overview

  • Lightweight carbon fiber frame with dialed geometry
  • Internal cable routing for a clean look
  • Internally routed dropper post
  • Powerful 4-piston hydraulic disc brakes for more control
  • 148x12 Boost spacing
  • WTB Bridger 27.5+ x 3.0 tubeless ready tires
  • WTB tubeless compatible rims
  • RockShox Yari 130mm suspension fork
  • SRAM GX1 1x11 drivetrain

Heller Shagamaw GX1 ride impression

My first ride impression of the Shagamaw was that this thing is sweet. I was as shocked as anyone having ridden a few 27.5+ bikes before and coming away with mixed feelings on the handling and performance. 

The full carbon frame has clean, smooth lines throughout
The full carbon frame has clean, smooth lines throughout

The 67.6 degree head angle is on the steep side for all-mountain, but works well with the 130mm RockShox Yari fork. The fork is a bit of a budget item to keep costs in line, but it works well and is plenty stiff.

...the bike industry is finally switching from racer focused everything to creating bikes that everyday riders actually want to ride

The stem could be a tad shorter and wider bars would be welcome. But all that stuff is personal preference, what matters is the frame and the ride and that's where the Shagamaw surprised me. 

The carbon frame felt stiff and quick to respond to inputs on the bars. The chainstay length isn't all that short at 17.3in, but it sure tosses the front end up when called upon. Leaning the bike over was met with solid tracking and getting back on the gas was rewarded with zesty acceleration. Good, fun riding, it's a playful rig that seemed to encourage goofing around on the mountain side. 

It's a tight fit, but it lends a playful, responsive feel and it can run a front derailleur
It's a tight fit, but it lends a playful, responsive feel and it can run a front derailleur

I kept thinking about how plus-size tires really open up the door for hardtails. It's a whole new world for hardtails again thanks to the huge grip, uphill traction, downhill cornering, and braking power. And oh, the braking power, it's just insane when you load those big tires by pressing all your weight down through the grips and through the pedals with dropped heels. Plus tires bite, and bite hard.

On the Shagamaw, not knowing the trails, I came into some switchbacks way too hot and panic squeezed the four-piston TRP disc brakes. Thankfully (luckily) instead of skidding on the loose rocks, the 3.0in WTB Bridger tires grabbed and hauled my speed down. 

Heller Shagamaw GX1 pricing and availability

$2,599 and in-stock now (UK and Australian pricing not available)

Heller Shagamaw GX1 vs the competition

The 27.5+ category is still relatively new and bike companies are still tweaking the formulas. The Shagamaw's carbon frame fares well against some of the other aluminum plus bikes out there from Specialized, Kona and others. No matter what brand, in my opinion it's fantastic that the bike industry is finally switching from racer focused everything to creating bikes that everyday riders actually want to ride. 

Heller Shagamaw GX1 early verdict

The Shagamaw GX1 was a real surprise, honestly. I've played around with 27.5+ bikes before and was left wanting something more. The Shagamaw was fun; plain and simple. The short rides on it had me pondering how I could exploit the traction in the corners and made me wonder how fast I could romp through techy terrain before smashing on the brakes. A longer review might see me getting into trouble. 
Russell Eich

Tech Writer, US
Russell fell head over heels in love with bikes in the '90s, and has been involved in the bike industry ever since. Between wrenching in bike shops, guiding professionally, and writing about bikes, Russell has honed an appreciation for what works, gained knowledge of what doesn't, and can barely contain his enthusiasm for what comes next. His two-wheeled passion continues in the Rocky Mountains high above Boulder, Colorado.
  • Age: 39
  • Height: 6'3"/190cm
  • Weight: 175lb/79kg
  • Waist: 34in/86cm
  • Chest: 42in / 107cm
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: High altitudes, forgotten singletracks, bike parks, roads without cars
  • Current Bikes: Custom Meriwether steel hardtail, Specialized S-Works Enduro 29, Kona Jake the Snake, Trek 69er, and a bunch more
  • Dream Bike: Yeti SB5c, Intense Tracer 275C, Black Cat custom road
  • Beer of Choice: Gin + Tonic
  • Location: Rollinsville, CO, USA

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