Two rear shocks? It’s a dramatic concept from this New Zealand builder, but it turns out to provide staggering amounts of trail traction, making the 2Stage Elite 9 a storming descender’s weapon.
Founded in 2003, 2Stage’s mission is to produce a rider-actuated – as opposed to a terrain-activated – platform and maintain a truly active rear end. You may have heard the adage ‘two heads are better than one’, so what about two shocks?
Ride & handling: totally gripped
The highlight of the 2Stage El;ite 9’s trail behaviour is the amount of grip it can produce.
With the ability to run different rebound characteristics for both stages of the travel, the rear wheel can track the ground faultlessly using the ﬁrst shock, making you want to hit every turn quicker. When you get into the second stage of travel, big hit absorption is awesome, making this bike a real conﬁdence-booster.
Even before you discover that, this is a bike you feel instantly at home on. The cockpit’s dimensions produce a natural feel and provide plenty of standover height, resulting in a stable but manoeuvrable ride. At 20kg (44lb) it may not be the lightest bike on the circuit, but in motion the extra weight is completely unnoticeable.
This bike screams nimble. Throw it into any turn, jump, rut or root and it’ll ﬁnd its way through. The cohesion between the two shocks is remarkable, with a seamless transfer from one to the other.
The geometry is race perfect, with the all-important head angle coming in at 64 degrees. It’s stable on fast terrain and agile enough to tackle tight and twisty trails.
Frame a game of two pivots
The system is, in essence, a single pivot mounted on a single pivot, producing a total of 228mm (9in) of travel. The shocks work in two separate stages – the ﬁrst shock deals with smaller bump absorption and the ﬁrst 4in of travel for the big hits, while the second takes care of the ﬁnal 5in of travel when things get rough. This is coupled with an unusual chain line which effectively locks out the second shock when power is put down, creating a stable ride platform.
The two stages of travel also move in two different rear axle paths. The ﬁrst is close to the vertical and maintains a near-constant chain line, moving almost perpendicularly to the ground.
The second moves in a more rearward arc to take the sting out of bigger, more square-edged hits. An extensively triangulated 6061 T6 chassis keeps things strong and rigid. Factor in the 12mm rear through-axle – which adds to the impressive lateral stiffness – and a ﬂoating rear braking arm, and you have a beast that stays secure in the rough.
Equipment: ready to race
The Elite 9 is ﬂush with quality, race-ready componentry. The super light RockShox Boxxer World Cup Air fork sits up front, with top-of-the-line SRAM gearing and Avid braking keeping things smooth and under control. Maxxis High Rollers are the tyre of choice here, and they don’t disappoint out on the trail.