Before we even start talking (not for the first time) about the Calibre Bossnut, which several of our testers have now spent some quality time on, there are two things we need to cover.
The first is the Bossnut’s listed retail price – £1,299.99 – which magically shrinks to £999.99 on payment of £5 for a GO Outdoors loyalty card. (The retailer ships worldwide, so if you’re reading this outside the UK it’s well worth getting your calculator out at this point.)
Second, yes, local bike shops are a vital part of keeping us on the trails and for most of us were the first leg up into a life of bikes. But there’s no avoiding the fact that big sports supermarkets and online shops are now a major force in the bike business. Totally sorted, incredible value machines like the Calibre make it clear why too.
Sorted contemporary geometry and no weak kit links
The Bossnut chassis isn’t outstanding in any way, but it does everything it needs to very well. The tapered head tube and hydroformed main tubes create a stiff-tracking front end with plenty of standover space. The straight seat tube with QR clamp means easy saddle drop potential until you upgrade to a dropper post too.
Low-slung seatstays are braced by a small kicker link on the seat tube before meeting up with the RockShox Monarch damper to give 130mm (5.1in) of rear travel. The rectangular and square-section back end is equally tidy, with the QR rear axle the only hint that this is a budget bike.
The monarch rear shock uses a relatively firm compression damping setting to keep suspension bounce to a minimum:
The Monarch rear shock uses a relatively firm compression damping setting to keep suspension bounce to a minimum
The geometry is bang-on for technical trail riding too, with a slacker than listed 66.7-degree head angle but relatively steep 73.5-degree seat angle and standard issue 340mm BB height proving Calibre hasn’t just stuck a long fork in an old, out of date frame. Sizing options are limited to small, medium and large though, and the reach is adequate rather than stretched so you may want to size up.
Where Calibre really starts to score with the Bossnut is componentry. Even if you go through the spec with a fine-tooth comb it’s a genuinely weak-link free selection that we’d be content with on a bike at twice the price. The 760mm Ritchey bar gives loads of trail-taming leverage and the matching stem gives a good balance of responsive but not twitchy steering manners for a range of riders and riding.
The confidently slack-steering angles of the bossnut connect with a properly wide bar for maximum control:
The confidently slack-steering angles connect with a properly wide bar for maximum control
The Sektor fork they sit on top of is the same slightly heavy, steel-legged Silver model found on such peers as Boardman’s FS Team, but a 15mm axle gives accurate wheel placement and line-holding in hairy situations. The WTB i23 rims and tyres are tubeless ready if you add tape and valves, and the combination of Vigilante front and Bee Line rear tyres gives a great balance of traction and speed.
A full set of Shimano Deore stop and go gear brings a ton of small but significant features as well as slick 20-speed shifting and proven durability. The shifters use integrated I-Spec mounts for a clean cockpit and the brakes offer decent feel and control. The switchable clutch mechanism on the Shadow Plus rear derailleur increases spring strength to stop chain slap and makes a future switch to a single chainring up front simple.
An all-round blast on the trail
The amazing thing about the Bossnut is that nothing needs upgrading to complete a totally sorted package. While it’s not as stretched out and stable at the front end as Voodoo’s excellent Canzo – a rival for its budget full-sus crown – as soon as you settle in behind the wide bar it feels well balanced and confident. Because the wheelbase isn’t overly long, you don’t have to ‘bus driver’ the wide way round tight turns and even novice riders synced with the Calibre straight away.
This bike is capable enough to unleash your hooligan side:
This bike is capable enough to unleash your hooligan side
It’s mechanically totally sorted too. Deore is a byword for smooth efficiency and the brakes are richly communicative, with extra power from the 180mm front rotor. The through-axle cranks and fast-rolling rear tyre combine with the lightweight wheelset for prompt and enthusiastic acceleration as soon as you press on the pedals.
The rear shock uses a relatively firm compression damping setting so there are no worries about suspension bounce unless you’re really heaving a heavy gear round out of the saddle. It did take us a bit of time to totally dial the rebound in so the damper felt controlled rather than dead but we’d rather have a stable back end than a pogo stick.
The shimano deore shadow plus clutch rear derailleur keeps the chain taut to stop it whipping paint off the frame or jumping off the chainrings:
The Shimano Deore Shadow Plus clutch rear derailleur keeps the chain taut
The Sektor fork runs fine with the recommended pressures printed on the leg, so there’s no need to take a knife to the internals to get a consistently controlled ride on rougher trails. In fact, it’s when you start pushing the Bossnut hard on tougher trails that it becomes clear just what a great all-round, blast-anything bike this is and what an incredible job Calibre has done for the money.