Ellsworth’s Dare is 15 years old. This isn’t to say it's dated, though. It's undergone numerous refinements over the years, most recently this winter in anticipation of carrying team rider Jack Reading down the courses of the 2012 World Cup downhill series.
The original Dare ushered in the ICT (Instant Center Tracking) design that now serves as the basis for all of the company’s full-suspension models, and Ellsworth say the latest version (US$2,795/£2499.99) exemplifies the three central tenets of that design. Namely, efficiency; using active suspension to increase control and traction; and using the rider’s position to maximize power and decrease rider fatigue.
“In our 15 years making the Dare, those three things have always been the imperatives that have driven that bike,” Tony Ellsworth told BikeRadar. “[With the original Dare we] achieved a zero energy loss suspension system," he continued. "It doesn’t get any better than zero energy loss – [unless you can] cheat the laws of atrophy and create a positive energy system, where you put in 1,000 watts and get 1,200 – so what we did was to make some subtle changes to make it better.”
The new Dare is lower and slacker than the previous generation frame, and the larger of the two sizes has been stretched to fit taller riders. There's now a tapered head tube up front and the option of a zero-stack AngleSet headset from Cane Creek, which adds 3° of adjustment (±1.5°, in 0.5° increments) from its 64° static point (down from 65° on the previous generation frame). The 30.9mm internal seat tube diameter allows use of height-adjust seatposts.
“We’re calling it the ‘Jack World Cup tune Dare’,” said Ellsworth. “And it’s pretty much aimed at closed-course downhill racing. I don’t think the configuration of the frame would be optimum for freeriding. That’s what we made the Method for; it’s lower, leaner and lighter, so that should take pressure off trying to make the Dare do too many things.”
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Reading spent the winter upon Ellsworth test mules as well as many other competitors' World Cup rigs in order to dial in the Dare’s angles. The bike comes stock with 8in (203mm) of travel but this can be increased to 9in by fitting a different length shock.
“The Dare’s had multiple configurations for years," said Ellsworth. "Because of the Instant Center Tracking you don’t need to lock it into a configuration for it to pedal super-efficiently, so it’s been possible to configure it in 6, 7, 8, 9in configurations for many, many years. Rather than give a bunch of adjustments for the shock, which change the leverage ratio, if you physically change the shock then each shock is dialed in for that specific leverage ratio.”
While carbon fiber is becoming increasingly common on the international downhill circuit, the Dare maintains alloy front and rear triangles, highlighted by the monocoque welded top tube. Ellsworth say this adds dramatic stiffness to the chassis and a low standover height. The company, who have their headquarters in Southern California – which they mention is green powered – continue to manufacture their frames in Vancouver, Washington.
The monocoque top tube adds stiffness and increases standover clearance