Ellsworth Rogue Sixty review

Enudro ready 27.5 battleship with 160mm of well-tuned suspension

27.5 Enduro
Ellsworth Rogue Sixty Review

High speed chunder is the Rogue Sixty’s happy place. This is a true point-and-shoot enduro weapon.

Lowdown: Ellsworth Rogue Sixty

For a quarter century, Ellsworth has been making high-performance mountain bikes for the masses. Along the way, the company has endured its share of ups and downs, at one point enjoying a cult-like following with all manner of mountain bikers, but more recently suffering though a spate of customer complaints that saw the brand fall out of favor.

Ellsworth Rogue Sixty Review

Meet the Ellsworth Rogue Sixty. Our size XL tester weighed in at 30.6 pounds and retails for $6500 with a Shimano XT drivetrain and Fox Factory Series suspension.

But following the most recent change in ownership, which has allowed namesake Tony Ellsworth to return his focus to bike design rather than day-to-day business, it appears Ellsworth has righted the ship. In 2016, they launched a pair of modern-looking mountain bikes, the trail oriented Rogue Forty and the enduro race ready Rogue Sixty.

Ellsworth Rogue Sixty Review

The Rogue Sixty is a surprisingly nimble climber, thanks in large part to its 74-degree seat tube angle.

Mtbr spent the last couple months testing the longer travel offering. Keep reading to see how things went — and be sure to check out page 2 of this post for an exclusive Q&A with the Ellsworth brain trust. First though here’s a rundown of parts spec on our test bike, plus our review rating, and pluses and minuses.

Stat Box
Frame: Carbon w/alloy chainstays Stem: Race Face Turbine 35mm
Fork: Fox Factory Series 36 160mm Dropper post: Race Face Turbine 150mm
Shock: Fox Float X Factory 160mm Saddle: WTB Volt
Wheels: DT Swiss M1700 Grips: Lizard Skins Charger
Tires: Maxxis High Roller II 2.3×27.5 Headtube angle: 66 degree
Brakes: Shimano XT Chainstay length 420mm
Rotors: Shimano 180mm/160mm Reach: 490mm (size XL)
Shifters: Shimano XT Stack: 638mm (size XL)
Front Derailleur: n/a Seat tube angle: 74 degrees
Rear Derailleu: Shimano XT BB Height: 13.74”
Cable routing: Internal Weight: 30.6 pounds (size XL)
Crankset: Shimano XT 32t Sizes: M, L, XL (tested)
Chain Guide: MRP Colors: 3 options including Foxy Orange
Cassette: Shimano XT 11-46 MSRP: $6500
Chain: Shimano Rating: 3.5 Flamin' Chili Peppers 3.5 Chilis-out-of-5
Bars: Race Face Atlas 780mm

Pluses
Minuses
  • Long, low and slack geo
  • Finicky dropper post
  • Boost spacing
  • Slightly mushy shifting
  • Claws up techy terrain
  • Must work to lift front wheel
  • Planted front wheel on ups
  • Not exceptionally nimble
  • Supportive pedaling platform
  • Wide rocker link
  • Stable in straight line chunder
  • Could use wider tires
  • Buttery Fox suspension
  • 1x only frame
  • Rowdy enduro race ready
  • Tool needed to remove rear wheel
  • Wide bars/short stem spec
  • Occasional pedal strikes
  • Stiff rear end
  • Rear can hang up at slow speeds
  • English threaded 73mm BB
  • No size Small frame yet
  • Stainless steel shock hardware
  • Occasional chain slap
  • Rocker link’s look (if that’s your thing)
  • Rocker link’s look (if not your thing)
  • Reasonable weight for big bike
  • Old school carbon weave aesthetic
  • Easy internal cable routing
  • No internal cable rattle
  • Will accommodate Di2 shifting
  • Large pivot hardware less likely to strip
  • Chainstay and downtube/BB protection

Review: Ellsworth Rogue Sixty

Besides the lengthy bullet point lists above, the most important thing I can tell you about the new Ellsworth Rogue Sixty is that it is just what you’d expect from a 160mm travel bike. This is a big bike meant for aggressive riding, and it needs to be ridden aggressively to fully realize its potential. Honestly, I think it’s more bike than most mountain bikers need. But I’d say the same thing for all the other longer travel “enduro” rigs on the market. But if your tendencies lean toward truly rowdy riding and even a little bike park action, your interest should be piqued.

If, however, you’re actually in the market for a trail bike with equal uphill and downhill capabilities, best give a closer look to the Rogue Forty or one of the many other capable 140mm bikes that have flooded the market in recent years. That is not to say the Rogue Sixty can’t go uphill. On the contrary, one of this bike’s biggest surprises was its ability to claw up techy terrain. Thanks primarily to the frame’s 74-degree seat tube angle, slow-speed seated climbing was not the expected exercise in front wheel stabilization. Instead the front end was fairly well mannered, tracking precisely up and over a variety of step-ups and chunky rock problems. You can definitely ride this bike all day without the aid of a chairlift or shuttle vehicle.

Ellsworth Rogue Sixty Review

Though not the world’s most playful bike, the stubby chainstays mean it’s easy to snap the rear end around tight turns.

What this near 31-pounder doesn’t like so much is out-of-the-saddle climbing, which activated a fair amount of suspension bob even when the custom tuned Fox Float X Factory 160mm rear shock was in its firmest setting. But again, you’re not buying this bike to chase KoMs. It’s for smashing downhill at reckless speed, thus the 66-degree head angle and burly Fox 36 fork up front.

In straight line attack mode, the Rogue Sixty is supremely confidence inspiring, forgiving all manner of mistakes and encouraging its pilot to push for more and more speed. Indeed, with its well-executed anti-squat properties, you can actually pedal through rough sections that you might normally coast. This is thanks to what Ellsworth calls AEES (Active Energy Efficient Suspension), which aims to provide a supported base while pedaling but remain active for traction. Just remember to keep a sharp eye out for sleeper rocks, as the 13.74” BB height is well within the window for pedal strikes. Get your line right, though, and the back end sucks up all manner of hits, allowing you to maintain and even increase speed through the chunderest of chunder.

Ellsworth Rogue Sixty Review

The Ellsworth Active Energy Efficient Suspension (or AEES) aims to provide a supported base while pedaling, but remain active for traction.

This steadiness at speed is further enhanced by the bike’s long’ish wheelbase. Our size XL was a rangy 1241mm long, including a generous 490mm reach. This yielded battleship-caliber stability, but also made getting the front wheel off the ground a little tougher. Despite the stubby 420mm chainstays, playful or poppy just aren’t words I would use to describe this bike. It’s almost as though the bike says to rider, “I don’t have time to mess around with such frivolous endeavors. I want to go fast and that’s it.”

But while it wasn’t a manual machine, the Rogue Sixty did a solid job of whipping in and out of corners, the short rear end allowing the back wheel to zip out of bermed turns without extra effort or encouragement. The bike is also 2-by-4 stiff thanks in part to its alloy chainstays, oversized pivot hardware, and boost hub spacing front and rear.

Ellsworth Rogue Sixty Review

This bike is most comfortable on rowdy terrain, the steeper the better.

Of course, no Ellsworth bike review would be complete without at least mention of the rocker link, which in this case is sculpted aluminum that’s billet machined in Vancouver, Washington. I’m on the fence about the look. On the one hand it’s a truly beautiful piece of metal. On the other hand I question whether its look is up to date by modern mountain bike standards. But at the end of the day, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What I will say is that on several occasions I managed to knock my knees against this wider-than-usual rocker link. This was remedied by scooching the WTB Volt saddle forward a bit, but remains something you should definitely be aware of.

Component Conversation

For the most part, the spec on this bike was just what you’d expect from a $6500 machine, reliable, consistent, durable. Special props to the wide bar/short stem combo, plush Fox suspension, and stiff DT Swiss M1700 wheels. Shimano XT braking was also smooth, predictable and evenly modulated.

Conversely, while I’m a fan of Maxxis High Roller II rubber, the stock 2.3 tires felt a little narrow for a bike with this much horsepower. Instead I’d love to see a slightly wider rim (say 28-30mm) paired with one of Maxxis’ new 2.6 offerings. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the Shimano 11-46 cassette. That last jump is just so big, and shifting was a little sluggish at times. The later issue might have been due to the fact that our test bike definitely had some miles on it before reaching Mtbr’s Colorado HQ. Presumably a brand new bike and drivetrain will deliver crisper shifting performance. But either way the long chain paired with a standard length rear derailleur cage means a little extra chain slap. Thankfully, the Rogue Sixty comes stock with a chainstay protector (and noise deadener).

Ellsworth Rogue Sixty Review

Up front are a boosted 160mm Fox Factory Series 36 fork and Maxxis High Roller II 27.5×2.3 tires. Obviously you could go a little wider.

Lastly, I have to take issue with the quirky nature of the Race Face Turbine dropper post, which had occasional bouts of won’t-stay-down’itis. This could usually be solved with cable tension adjustment, but that often also meant a little unwanted play at the lever.

Bottom Line

Based on our experience, deciding whether or not to seriously consider buying the Ellsworth Rogue Sixty all comes down to intended use. If your cycling season goals consist of serious enduro racing, or you’re looking for a rig that can bridge the gap between rowdy backcountry adventures and the occasional bike park or shuttle day, make sure this bike is on your test ride list. It’s a terror at speed, is superb at maintaining traction, and climbs better than you’d expect. But if your riding pursuits are more balanced between ups and downs, and you want a super playful bike, something a little shorter in both travel and wheelbase will likely be a better option.

Ellsworth Rogue Sixty Review

Race Face handles cockpit duties with Atlas 780mm bars held by a Turbine 35mm stem.

For more on the suspension technology that drives this bike, check out this Interbike video featuring Tony Ellsworth himself. And be sure to click over to page 2 for an extended Q&A with the Ellsworth design team.

Continue to page 2 for a Q&A interview with the deisgners of this unique bike »


About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympics, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner, who joined the Mtbr staff in 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying life with his wife Lisa and daughter Cora in and around their home in the MTB Mecca of Crested Butte.


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