The look of the Canadian brand’s frames may divide opinion but it’s the ride we care about. Its new UK importer means riders on both sides of the Atlantic should now be able to get a sample more readily than before.
There’s no getting away from Knolly’s eye-catching Fourby4 suspension system. With so many pivots involved in this dual-linkage design, Knolly’s designers have done their best to ensure lengthy maintenance intervals by using angular-contact cartridge bearings on all the main pivots and Igus bushings in lower-stress locations.
Knolly’s dual-linkage fourby4 design is all about maximum traction: knolly’s dual-linkage fourby4 design is all about maximum traction
Knolly’s dual-linkage Fourby4 design is all about maximum traction
The traction-focused 150mm (5.9in) of rear travel is controlled via a Cane Creek DBInline shock, with low- and high-speed compression and rebound damping and its effective Climb Switch. Twin bolt holes on the lower shock mount let you alter the head angle by a degree and BB height by 8mm.
The guys at Decade Europe who specced our test ride were keen to do the pricey frame justice so they bolted on some impressive components, including lightweight Mavic wheels and an 11-speed SRAM transmission. It’s a shame our Warden didn’t come with a dropper post though – it’d be the first thing we’d add to the bike.
After trying both geometry settings we settled on the lower of the two, which left the BB a respectable 335mm off the ground and kicked out the head angle to 65.4 degrees. It took some serious fettling to get the DBInline shock feeling as lively as we wanted it to, but once we found the sweet spot the Warden came alive.
Technical descents, tight turns, jumps and awkward drops helped highlight the Knolly’s inherent nimbleness and zest for being flung from side to side, manualled, pumped and popped.
The warden is well up for some airtime: the warden is well up for some airtime
The Warden is well up for some airtime
Though the rear end proved itself capable of handling a serious battering in a smooth, controlled manner, as speeds picked up we didn’t feel quite as stable aboard the Warden as on some other big-hitter trail bikes we’ve ridden recently. We think this was partly down to the suspension balance between the front and rear of the bike – though the Manitou fork was smooth, it just didn’t feel quite as capable as the rear end.
Climbing is a pleasant enough affair aboard the Warden, with plenty of rear wheel traction on tap for those really loose, awkward sections. Out of the saddle, we found ourselves constantly hitting our knees on the huge loops created by the cable routing, which could do with a little tidy-up.
The cockpit isn’t the longest (our medium frame had a 606mm effective top tube), which means that on really steep ascents you get some front wheel lift. It’s not a dealbreaker though, and doesn’t detract from what’s otherwise a seriously fun and agile ride.
Spec as tested:
Frame: 6066 alloy, 150mm (5.9in) travel
Fork: Manitou Mattoc Pro, 160mm (6.3in) travel
Shock: Cane Creek DBInline
Drivetrain: SRAM X01 (1×11)
Wheels: Mavic Crossmax wheels
Tyres: Mavic Crossmark Charge 27.5×2.4in (F) and Roam 27.5×2.2in (R)