One look at the mass of reinforcing plates and monolithic tubes of the XTS tells you this is one burly beast of a bike. Sort the shock out though, and it’s a thoroughly enjoyable chaos engine.
Unlocking the DNM shock is definitely the secret to getting any sort of joy from the bike, though. Ours had the rebound dial labelled in reverse and a compression dial that could only be moved with pliers. As a result, it took a while to work out that most adjustments actually locked the shock solid, with only a small window of adjustment somewhere in the middle where it worked okay. We’re currently waiting for a new shock to see if that works better, but the stock spring was also too heavy for our mid-weight test team.
Once we swapped the spring though, the simple swingarm action is intuitively interactive. It stiffens under power to climb or eject from corners, but ease back on the pedalling and it’ll thump off drops and rocks with genuine poise and control.
Slack angles give the XTS an immediate confidence in steep, slow terrain, letting us lean back and leave the bike to get on with tackling the big stuff or push forward for cornering traction. It’s compact enough to move body weight around easily too, although with only one 18in size, that won’t be the case for smaller riders.
If it does fit you, then it’s certainly a robust looking beast, which borrows design cues (multi-sided down tube shape, cantilevered dropouts) from an iconic fruit flavoured UK company and others (hollow reinforcing pipe, lattice swingarm uprights, single pivot design) from an equally iconic Californian one.
It all works fine together though, with plenty of standover clearance, decent tyre room and the right handling angles for its gravity biased purpose. All the welds look fine too, and it’s loaded with reinforcing plates to make sure it stays in one piece whatever abuse you inflict on it. There’s no doubting that it forms a substantial part of the excess overall weight, though.
The shock is obviously a very big potential kit issue, but the Stance forks up front are impressively smooth and capable. Massive 8in rotors give the Shimano brakes loads of stopping and sliding power, while the broad rims and sticky Kenda tyres are excellent heavy duty equipment. Ditto the Hussefelt chainset, WTB Power V bench seat and super wide monkey hanger bars, all helping to make this a bike that really comes alive with gravity behind it.
That said, at over 40lb with its pedals on, fighting against gravity to get it to the top in the first place is a definite labour of love, even with the shock locked out.
The shock was an obvious problem with our sample bike and sorting that out is an ongoing issue. Apart from that, the DBR is a simple but perfectly acceptable freeride bike with some quality componentry and sorted handling for the price. It’s overweight because it’s overbuilt, but for the freeride purpose it’s designed for, that’s better than being too fragile.