First Ride: Guerrilla Gravity Gnarvana

Details and first impressions of this US-made long-travel carbon 29er

29er Enduro Pro Reviews

Last winter, Guerrilla Gravity unveiled its line of carbon mountain bikes. In addition to being made at the company’s headquarters in Denver, Colorado, the big news was that the brand developed a modular frame platform that could transform one carbon front triangle into four different models. Guerrilla Gravity is adding a fifth model to its Revved Modular frame platform. The new Gnarvana is the companies longest, slackest and rowdiest 29er to date.


Guerrilla Gravity Gnarvana Highlights 

  • 160mm rear travel, designed around a 170mm suspension fork
  • 63.7-degree head angle, 450mm chainstays
  • Built using Guerrilla Gravity’s Revved carbon front triangle
  • Seatstay tuning kits allow existing Revved model to be turned into the Gnarvana
  • Adjustable reach
  • Frame pricing starts at $2,195
  • Seatstay tuning kits start at $445
  • Complete bikes start at $3,895
  • Visit RideGG.com for more information

The Fifth Piece Of The Puzzle

The Gnarvana is the fifth bike built around the brand's Revved carbon front end.

The Gnarvana is the fifth bike built around the brand’s Revved carbon front end.

The Gnarvana is Guerrilla Gravity’s heavy-hitting 29er intended for enduro racing, aggressive trail riding, and park riding. It’s the fifth model built around the Revved modular frame platform.

 Related Reading: Guerrilla Gravity Revved modular frame platform launched

Rather than investing in a short-travel trail bike, and an enduro bike, and bikes with 27.5 and 29-inch wheels, Guerrilla Gravity sought to create one front triangle that could adapt to multiple uses. Owners can swap between 120, 145, and 160mm 29-inch wheel platforms, as well as 130-140, and 155-165mm models for 27.5-inch wheels.

Longer chainstays bump the Gnarvana's rear travel up to 160mm.

Longer chainstays bump the Gnarvana’s rear travel up to 160mm.

If you already own a Trail Pistol, Smash, MegaTrail, or Shred Dogg, you can turn your existing bike into the Gnarvana with the addition of a seatstay tuning kit and a 230x65mm shock.


A Different Take On Carbon Fiber

Clever manufacturing allows this small company to stay competitive.

Clever manufacturing allows this small company to stay competitive.

Unlike the majority of carbon frames on the market, which are constructed using thermoset resins, Guerrilla Gravity relies on thermoplastics. Thermoset resins are light, stiff, and strong, but also brittle. The manufacturing process is also time and labor-intensive, which drives up costs.

Internal routing (as in under a removable cover) but external to the frame, make it easy to swap parts on Revved carbon frames.

Internal routing (as in under a removable cover) but external to the frame, makes it easy to swap parts on Revved carbon frames.

Thermoplastics have a different molecular structure that allows the material to flex and absorb larger impacts. Guerilla Gravity claims the raw material it uses is 300-percent tougher than the standard modulus carbon sheets used in most bicycle frames. (In engineering terms, “toughness” is the ability to deform plastically and absorb energy before fracturing.)

Thermoplastics are easier to recycle and domestically sourced, reducing their carbon footprint.

Guerrilla Gravity was able to build its molds in-house with its CNC machines. Photo by Justin van Alstyne

Guerrilla Gravity was able to build its molds in-house with its CNC machines. Photo by Justin van Alstyne

Like traditional carbon manufacturing, the Revved process relies on continuous carbon fiber strands, bladders, and molds. Guerrilla Gravity was able to build its molds in-house with its CNC machines. Click the related link below for a deep dive into Guerilla Gravity’s in-house manufacturing process.

Related Reading: The technology behind Guerilla Gravity’s carbon frames


Guerrilla Gravity Gnarvana First Ride Impressions

The Gnarvana is great for full-throttle descending.

The Gnarvana is great for full-throttle descending.

For anyone who has ridden one of Guerrilla Gravity’s four other Revved models, the Gnarvana will have a familiar feel. There are few surprises here: it’s a Smash on steroids. (More on this later.)

After a few loops on my familiar testing trails, I quickly realized that, like similar long-travel 29ers, the Gnarvana comes into its own once you hit a certain speed. Below about 10-12 miles an hour and it feels heavy-handed. But get it up to speed, and the long wheelbase becomes an asset rather than a liability.

The two-position headset cup makes GG's three frame sizes fit like six.

The two-position headset cup makes GG’s three frame sizes fit like six.

At 5’8″ I’m riding the size 2 with the adjustable headset cup in the short position. I found this was better for the tight and rocky trails I prefer to ride. If I were riding the Gnarvana in a bike park or in more open terrain I would opt for the longer reach and extended wheelbase offered by the long position.

The Gnarvana's linkage gives it more end-of-stroke progression.

The Gnarvana’s linkage gives it more end-of-stroke progression.

Unlike other full-suspension models in Guerrilla Gravity’s arsenal, the Gnarvana’s seatstay tuning kit lacks the dual-position “Plush” and “Crush” modes found other models. According to the company, this long-travel model’s rear suspension was optimized for one position with more progression than The Smash in order to handle larger impacts.

Air or coil: the Gnarvana is shock agnostic

Air or coil: the Gnarvana is shock agnostic.

When absorbing harsh impacts, this extra bit of progression acts as a safety net, supporting the bike and rider from square-edged rocks and occasional botched landings. I have yet to experiment with different shocks on the Gnarvana, but judging by feel, it does seem to offer plenty of end-of-stroke support for coil shocks.


Guerrilla Gravity Gnarvana Versus The Smash

The differences between the Smash and Gnarvana are meaningful. The Gnarvana’s head angle with a 170mm fork is 63.7-degrees, which is a full degree slacker than the Smash paired with a 150mm fork. Running a 160mm fork on a Smash will get you in the ballpark. In the rear, the Gnarvana has 160mm of rear travel, compared to the 145mm supporting the Smash.

Beyond the differences in suspension numbers, the real difference in how these bikes handle comes from the Gnarvana’s lengthened wheelbase. The longer front-center resulting from the 170mm suspension fork plus chainstays that are 16mm longer yields a bike that is extremely stable at speed, planted during extended climbs, but reluctant to maneuver through tight and twisty trails. None of this should come as a surprise; the Gnarvana is just more bike.

The slack head angle and 170mm fork are great at speed, but can be cumbersome on mild terrain.

The slack head angle and 170mm fork are great at speed but cumbersome on mild terrain.

If you’re an existing Smash owner and enjoy how it handles as an every-day bike, the Gnarvana probably won’t be for you. If, on the other hand, you yearn for more travel, investing in the Gnarvana kit for bike park riding, and turning your Smash into a short-travel Trail Pistol for everything else could cover your needs quite well.


Guerrilla Gravity Gnarvana Pricing and Availability

Guerrilla Gravity offers a “Have it your way” approach to purchasing its bikes. As previously mentioned, if you already own one of the company’s other four Revved carbon models, you can reach Gnarvana by purchasing a shock seatstay kit, and a 170-180mm 29er suspension fork.

Seatstay kits retail for $445 (shock not included) and are expected to be in stock within two weeks.

Gnarvana framesets will be in stock in 2-4 weeks, depending on sizing. Pricing for frames without shocks will start at $2,195.

Complete Gnarvana bikes will be available in 3-4 weeks. The builds will start at a refreshingly approachable price of $3,885. Guerrilla Gravity offers three tiers of builds (Ride, Rally, and Race). Buyers can further customize their builds from there.


Early Verdict

The Gnarvana is a lot of bike—more than most mountain bikers will need on most trails. The long wheelbase is an asset on screaming-fast descents, but makes it a handful on slow-speed technical trails. The beauty of Guerrilla Gravity’s Revved frame platform is that riders can have their cake and eat it, too. Swapping between the Trail Pistol or Smash for every-day riding and then transforming it into the Gnarvana for enduro racing or bike park days gives riders a range of options with less investment than owning a quiver of mountain bikes.

Join the conversation about the new Gnarvana in our Guerrilla Gravity forum.


 

 

 


About the author: Josh Patterson

Josh has been riding and racing mountain bikes since 1998, and has been writing about mountain biking and cyclocross since 2006. He was also at the forefront of the gravel cycling movement, and is a multi-time finisher of Dirty Kanza. These days, Josh spends most of this time riding the rocky trails and exploring the lonely gravel roads around his home in Fort Collins, Colorado.


Related Articles


Comments:

  • Vik Banerjee says:

    Nice. We’ve got a 2018 metal Smash and a 2019 carbon Smash in the fleet. Amazing bikes. I can just imagine how much fun the Gnarvana would be on the right terrain. 🙂

  • Evan says:

    I wish they would up the thickness of the anodized coating so the linkages would actually come out black and not purple. Ends up looking too cheap that way.

  • falllinemaniac says:

    The customizing on the website is unbelievably cheap. I even got off menu options added with no hassles for basically cost. RideGG basically built my dream Smash for a fraction popular boutique makes would charge.

  • Teleken says:

    Evolution in bike handling is great but with bikes being made to go faster & faster it’s a recipe for trail user conflicts.

  • Karl D Abowitz says:

    Like the review , I just purchased the 2020 Smash . I set the suspension option with DVO front and rear . The bike rips and climbs well . Never rode a GG before , just went with Gut feeling , No complaints -It Shreds and holds a line in the corners . I live in the Denver area .
    This new bike sounds like it was designed to tame the King Kong trail in Virgin Utah .
    GG bikes are worth looking at the price is hands down excellent when you consider what they are and what your buying -Bad Ass Bike – nothing looks cheap or low
    quality , because nothing is . Pride in the work stands out

  • Tyrebyter says:

    Just wish it wasn’t a Horst link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*
*


THE SITE

ABOUT MTBR

VISIT US AT

© Copyright 2020 VerticalScope Inc. All rights reserved.