About a decade has passed since the guys from Hope raced Rotwild downhill bikes in the UK and they’ve dropped off the radar since then. This year sees the return of the German brand with an impressive range of bikes.
Ride & handling: German trail tamer that isn’t afraid to be pushed to the limits
The R.X1 FS range includes three models and we took the cheapest of the lot out to see what it had to offer. The ﬁrst thing you notice when you begin to wind on the power is the Comp’s light, nimble feel. It’s easy to get up to speed thanks to the stable pedalling character produced by the suspension linkage conﬁguration and Fox RP2 shock.
Flick the ProPedal platform damping lever, lock out the fork and the R.X1 climbs well when seated. Out of the saddle, there’s some inevitable pedal-induced bob, but the RP2 shock does a good job of taming this. Both fork and shock work in sync together, keeping the wheels well planted on either slippery slopes or loose trail.
Hitting the singletrack and getting the opportunity to really open the bike up was great. As the trail tightens, the R.X1’s agility shone through with a willingness to be thrown into turns and whipped in different directions at a moment’s notice.
On the descents, the R.X1 was very capable but the combination of 685mm bar, 90mm stem and 68.5-degree head angle meant things could get a little twitchy. A wider bar with less backsweep would beneﬁt the R.X1 no end.
The only other point of note is the limited rear tyre clearance through the seatstay arch. It was ﬁne in the sloppy conditions we rode in, but it could cause problems. A skinnier tyre would certainly solve this.
rotwild r.x1 fs comp: rotwild r.x1 fs comp Russell Burton
Frame & equipment: High quality finish, sorted suspension setup and cohesive spec
The semi-hydroformed tubeset keeps the look crisp, with bulges in all the right places, ensuring weight is kept to a minimum without affecting strength. The 145mm (5.7in) of rear travel comes care of Rotwild’s XMS (Cross Mountain Suspension) system.
This features an axial adjustable sliding contact bearing system and Niro full type ball bearing system. Thanks to the close proximity of the pivots, the rear end is extremely stiff and more than happy to take some sideways pounding in the corners.
The complete bike weighs just under 13kg (29lb), which is spot-on for all-mountain riding. The Fox 32 TALAS 150 RL fork has 150mm (5.9in) of travel, boasts a 15mm quick-release axle to keep ﬂex at bay and is very adjustable.
The transmission is taken care of courtesy of the solid, reliable Shimano SLX, and Formula’s RX20 brakes bring the R.X1 to a rapid stop. Meanwhile, the Fizik Nisene III saddle is super-comfy for those all-day slogs and the Continental Rubber Queen tyres may be a little slow-rolling but offer good all-round grip and are capable of tackling uglier terrain.
The rear end is stiff and can take a pounding: the rear end is stiff and can take a pounding Russell Burton