The jewel in the Carrera crown in recent years has been the Fury hardtail. The Banshee X is a similar sort of budget hard-hitter, the higher-specced of two 140mm travel full suspension bikes. What is unusual about it, given its price, is that it’s not screamingly heavy.
While it’s not a trail whale, the Banshee X is not really a do-it-all machine like a pricier trail bike would be. It’s hard work on climbs and pedally trails. But if technical descents are the raison d’être of your rides and you’ve got £800, it’s well worth considering.
Ride & handling: A play bike that offers stick-to-the-trail confidence
The words ‘trail extreme geometry’ appear on the frame. It’s not extreme. It’s not even slack. The Banshee X is, however, set up like a trail bike. Its wide bar, short stem, and weight-back stance provide the tightly controlled steering and non-precipitous riding position you want for riding downwards. The suspension is very capable for an £800 bike. An extra 20 or 40mm of controlled travel over most bikes at this price gives you the confidence and ability to hit stuff faster. The fork doesn’t really flex or flounder, and the rear shock doesn’t simply fire back at you. It’s only a shame that the braking is a bit wooden. What it’s not so good at is climbing. It’s not so much heavy as inert. Even on flatter singletrack, it’s a struggle to wind up the pace. So it’s not a bike for big days out.
Frame: Four-bar suspension
The main triangle is built from chunky tubes. It’s braced where the seat tube meets the top tube and reinforced with a gusset at the down tube/head tube joint. This isn’t a freeride bike, though it may well be pressed into service as such by spade-wielding teens in their local woods so any extra strength is welcome. The SR Suntour Epicon air fork is a good price/ performance compromise. Since it’s an easily adjustable air spring, you can take advantage of most of its 140mm travel even if you’re lean. It has a hydraulic lockout lever and rebound adjustment. While the steerer isn’t tapered, Suntour’s 15mm QLoc axle adds stiffness at the fork tips and makes accidental wheel ejection impossible.
The aluminium frame features a genuine four-bar rear end, which neither overreacts to pedalling input nor fails to react properly during braking. The pivots have sealed cartridge bearings rather than bushes and the shock is an adjustable Epicon one. It is rebound adjustable too but it doesn’t match the fork’s performance. There’s noticeable stiction – though it’s less obvious the softer you run the shock. A lockout lever lets you get away with a softer feel (and more sag) by killing pedal bob on climbs, though the locked-out shock tops out with a clunk over bumps.
Equipment: Specced for gravity asisted fun
The 680mm handlebar gives you plenty of steering leverage. Tyres are Continental Mountain Kings in a 2.2in width. It’s a shame they’re not 2.4in, which would fit. The 2.4s are only 60g per tyre heavier and the extra air space would be welcome on rough descents. Gearing is 27-speed SRAM X5, with a bottom sprocket of 32T. Given the 14.25kg (31.4lb) weight, a 34 would have been preferable. One obvious cost saving is the bottom bracket (BB): a Truvativ Powerspline internal one instead of, say, an external bearing GXP, which would stand up better to the drops and hard-riding the Banshee X will inevitably endure. If you kill the bottom bracket quickly, bite the bullet and upgrade it.