During testing Mtbr reached out to the Ellsworth team with a handful of questions. Here are their key responses courtesy of engineer Joey Stoddard and product development manager Andre Pepin.
Mtbr: How does the Rogue Sixty’s 4-bar linkage differ from other 4-bar bikes on the market? What is specifically unique about the design and how does it affect the ride?
Ellsworth: Whether you are bombing downhill or pedaling up, our tried and true Active Energy Efficient Suspension (AEES), previously known as ICT, revolves around maximizing efficiency and suspension activity throughout the travel. This creates a very neutral handling bike that exhibits minimal feedback to the rider and able to deliver subtle bump absorption just as well as the big bumps. We achieve this with two main design goals.
First, we maximize the amount of pedal force moving through the rear linkage’s instant center. The instant center is the virtual point that the suspension is rotating around at any given point in the travel. The idea here is that you are keeping any applied chain forces in the same direction as the suspension forces, thus optimizing the efficiency of the linkage both with and without a pedal load applied.
Second, we minimize pedal kickback. Pedal kickback is the backwards rotation of the crank arm due to the suspension being compressed. If you have high amounts of pedal kickback, you are essentially fighting your suspension during technical climbs and getting beaten up on rough, chattery descents. Minimal pedal kickback means minimal rider feedback, which means minimal rider fatigue.
Mtbr: What’s the rationale behind the sculpted linkage? Why not use a more traditionally shaped piece?
Ellsworth: In the past, Ellsworth has caught flack for linkages that “look way too 90s” and “have rockers that are two miles long,” to quote some of the nicer ones. The goal with the Rogue project was to design the AEES linkage into a much more compact, svelte package, while keeping the performance benefits of the original ICT design. With a clean slate, we worked to come up with the new look for the brand, and subsequently the rocker link. After countless napkin sketches, solid models, FEA analysis, more napkin sketches, more solid models, and more FEA analysis, we came up with a rocker design that was lightweight, stiff, and had the edgy look that we were going for. Plus, when you have your rockers billet machined in Vancouver, Washington, the sky’s the limit as far as design goes.
Mtbr: What benefits is Ellsworth driving for by making the chainstays so short and the reach so long?
Ellsworth: Based on personal riding experience and analysis of rider feedback on countless bikes in various conditions, we found three things. No. 1, a short chainstay makes for a more nimble and playful feeling ride. Short chain stays are beneficial in technical climbing scenarios, as well as in tight switchback. The short chainstay also makes the bike want to pop off of even the smallest of rocks, roots, or small lips on the trail for quick line changes. Think dirt jumper.
Second, a bike with a long wheelbase, and gobs of reach feels very stable and comfortable through fast, rough, chattery descents. Think DH bike. And third, a bike with a short top tube, with the rider more forward over the bars is very nimble, and is effortless to control on seated technical climbs. Think XC rocket.
With this knowledge, we set out to design a bike with short chainstays for snappy handling, increased reach to keep the wheelbase at a stable length and for a roomier feel on the descents when the saddle is dropped, and a steep seat tube angle to get the rider over the front of the bike for better seated climbing control. Basically, with the new Rogue bikes, we did our best to create our version of a quiver killer.
Mtbr: Why 1x only?
Ellsworth: For all mountain and enduro riding we felt the 1x drive train was on point for market preference.
Mtbr: Given some of the company’s past hurdles, talk about the importance of success for this new platform.
Ellsworth: When we kicked off the design for this new platform we wanted it to be a bold statement; one that redefines the 25-year legacy of Ellsworth and brings to the market a new bike and overall vibe that breaks the mold and re-opens interest in the Ellsworth brand. However, we wanted to stay true to our core AEES suspension which is the real differentiator of our bikes. Ultimately, our success is measured by the smiles and positive feedback that we get from owners of our bikes. That is our mantra to keep looking ahead and designing great bikes.
Mtbr: What kind of rider do you see this bike best suited for?
Ellsworth: This bike is aimed at riders who are looking for a bike that is capable of lift served riding and enduro racing, but is also lightweight and efficient enough to pedal on all day excursions in the backcountry or just for a rip on some local trails. To us, a Rogue rider is someone who goes against the grain, looking for undiscovered lines, riding in seldom traveled places, actually earning their descents.
Mtbr: What’s the advantage of this bike over the Rogue 40? And vice versa?
Ellsworth: Really the difference here is rider preference. The 160mm version will be a touch heavier, and a bit less snappy than the 140mm version, but will soak up big impacts and plow through rougher bits of trail with more composure than the 140mm. If you like to charge rock gardens, huck to flat, boost anything in sight, and don’t like to touch your brakes, then the Rogue 60 is for you. If you like to pick exact lines and quickly change direction, tackle short punchy climbs and slay tight singletrack, then steer towards the Rogue 40.
For more info please visit www.ellsworthbikes.com.