Bergamont might not be the best known brand out there, but having just ridden its 130mm Contrail trail bike, I reckon it’s a brand worth a look.
The Contrail is relatively unique these days, with a quick flip of the geometry chip and a lower bearing swap in the headset, it’s designed to be run with either 27.5+ or 29in wheels. The bike comes as a 29er, and for the purposes of this review, this is how I ran it.
Bike of the Year 2020
The Bergamont Contrail Pro is part of our annual Bike of the Year test.
Head to our Bike of the Year hub for the full list of winners, categories and shortlisted bikes, as well as the latest reviews – or read our behind-the-scenes feature on how we tested Bike of the Year 2020.
Bergamont Contrail Pro frame and suspension details
As mentioned, the Contrail Pro has a geometry adjusting chip at the lower eyelet of the shock. This alters the bike between a slightly more upright position to one that’s lower slung. I ran the bike in its lower position for the test because, generally speaking, I’m looking for a slight bias towards descending performance.
The frame is carbon and has 130mm of rear wheel suspension controlled by a linkage-actuated single pivot design, whereby the rear wheel pivots around the main pivot located above the bottom bracket, with a further pivot located in the seatstay by the wheel’s axle. The seatstays drive a rocker linkage that compresses the shock.
Hidden in a compartment above the BB is a nice Syncros ratchet tool. Dan Milner / BikeRadar
Located just above the bottom bracket is a stash compartment with enough room for a tube – handily it also come with a Syncros ratchet tool with various bits included to keep the bike bolted together.
Bergamont Contrail Pro geometry
The carbon frame is well thought out, with a neutral shape that’s very easy to jump on and ride.
It’s not revolutionary, but the 463mm reach (large) and 67-degree head angle are acceptable for a fast-feeling trail bike, but the long 438mm chainstays will make their presence felt on smaller models.
The seat angle sits at 75 degrees. Again, this is relatively neutral, but arguably a little slacker than many contemporary bikes.
The seat tube measures 480mm, which is as long as size large bikes tend to get – this does mean those with shorter legs may have to slam the dropper post in the frame, and would likely prevent ‘sizing up’ should you want a larger frame than normal to boost reach figures.
The Bergamont Contrail Pro surprised us in testing with its capabilities. Dan Milner / BikeRadar
Size tested: Large
Seat angle: 75 degrees
Head angle: 67 degrees
Chainstay: 43.8cm / 17.24in
Seat tube length: 48cm / 18.9in
Top tube (effective): 62cm / 24.41in
Head tube length: 12cm / 4.72in
Bottom bracket drop: 3.8cm / 1.5in
Wheelbase: 1,206mm / 47.48in
Standover: 77.5cm / 30.51in
Stack: 62.9cm / 24.76in
Reach: 46.3cm / 18.23in
Bergamont Contrail Pro specifications
At the back, there’s a RockShox Deluxe Select+ shock with a two-position compression dial and rebound adjustment.
Up front there is a 130mm Marzocchi Z2 fork, which is very similar to the Fox 34 Performance found on many comparable bikes. It features the Rail damper, including a lockout, and rebound adjustment.
A Marzocchi Z2 forks props the front end up. Dan Milner / BikeRadar
The Contrail Pro comes with a Shimano SLX 12-speed groupset that impressed during testing, but it lacks the dual-release shifter of XT and XTR.
I appreciated the four-pot non-series Shimano brakes on the descents too, though the brake levers are long.
The long Shimano brake levers flex, making them feel less sharp than they should. Dan Milner / BikeRadar
However, if I owned the bike, I’d immediately beef up the rubber to offer better cornering traction and braking grip at the expense of a bit of rolling speed.
I’d also fit a shorter stem, dropping from the 70mm unit fitted to a 40mm version, and perhaps a wider bar than 760mm, too. I feel this would improve the Contrail’s willingness to drop into a corner, as it did feel a little slow to do so at times.
Bergamont Contrail Pro ride impressions
Our 2020 Bike of the Year testing predominantly took place in the South West of the UK through winter. This included loops around trail centres, natural muddy and rooty tracks dug in to Welsh hillsides, as well as laps at BikePark Wales.
A number of bikes were taken to Spain for the final set of tests, where we rode on dry, rocky flow trails, super-technical rock gardens and some loamy enduro tracks. Thanks to BlackTown Trails for their help with finding these test tracks.
Bergamont Contrail Pro climbing performance
On the climbs, there was some pedalling-induced bob through the back-end, but the fast-rolling Maxxis Forekaster tyres, in their harder MaxxSpeed compound, and the light wheelset provided zip and acceleration.
Maxxis’ Forekaster tyres roll fast, but lack bite. Dan Milner / BikeRadar
On off-road climbs, the rear suspension seems to dig in nicely, pushing the meagre tread from the tyres into the dirt to maximise the grip they have.
The longer stays mean there’s even more traction possible on steeper climbs because it helps prevent your weight getting too far over the rear axle. Likewise, it helps keep the front-end grounded.
Shimano’s 12-speed SLX drivetrain felt great in testing. Dan Milner / BikeRadar
With Shimano’s 10-51t range on the cassette, there’s a suitable low 32:51 bottom ratio for grinding up the steepest climbs. There’s no doubt that a steeper seat angle would help even more here.
The Deluxe shock from RockShox is easy to set up. Dan Milner / BikeRadar
On tarmac and fire roads the Forekasters roll very well, as expected, and with the lockout flicked on the shock, there’s little in the way of excuses for not setting decent times up the hill.
Bergamont Contrail Pro descending performance
The performance of the rear suspension impressed us all and I wasn’t expecting the Contrail to feel so composed down the hill, but the simple rear suspension offers a nicely controlled, supple stroke that eats up trail-centre chatter beautifully.
There are no surprises, nothing’s going to catch you unawares, it just gets on with the job.
The single pivot linkage actuated shock suspension was fairly neutral on climbs. Dan Milner / BikeRadar
On bigger hits, there’s also plenty of progression throughout the stroke. So, while it is possible to reach the end of the 130mm travel, you’re not bouncing off the shock’s bumpstops.
Fortunately, the shock is easy to tune with volume spacers, should you want a little extra progression later in the stroke.
At the front, the Z2 has proved a solid performer in the past, and while it feels very good for a more ‘budget’ fork, the smoothness of the back-end shone in comparison to the fork.
However, at 130mm the fork doesn’t feel too stretched for its 34mm diameter stanchions, which can twang when being pushed hard at longer travels.
We enjoyed the Bergamont’s fun-loving character. Dan Milner / BikeRadar
It is worth noting that during testing we felt the Contrail is a bike much more suited to trail centre riding and more cruisy days in the hills, rather than rallying round a bike park or stoving through more technical terrain.
That’s partly thanks to the travel on offer and the slightly less hard-hitting forks plugged in at the front. But it’s also thanks to the skinny tyres that don’t help the bike descend. They lack bite in loose or sloppy conditions, and the harder compound doesn’t grip as steadfastly to rocks and roots, even in the dry, as a softer compound tyre.
I’d immediately swap that stem, too. The longer stem felt like it robbed the Contrail of a bit of its agility, slowing the bike’s reactions to steering inputs.
Bergamont Contrail Pro bottom line
In its current form, the Contrail feels like a bike with a lot of potential that’s been tamed down for some reason. With its long stem and sketchy tyres, it doesn’t quite have the all-round performance it could.
With the rear wheel tracking nicely and a neutral shape, the Contrail corners well. Dan Milner / BikeRadar
I did enjoy riding the bike, though, I just had to make sure I rode it in areas where it worked best – trail centre blasts and fast and flowy natural trails. Beyond this and the questions over some aspects of spec became more apparent.
However, I would love to build a bike up with the frame-only option. It could either be a great ‘down-country’ bike or with a rowdier fork, stem and tyres a short-travel hero on increasingly gnarly terrain.