A new bike has been making waves this past week as a completely new suspension design has arrived. New designs are few and far between and this one is even more intriguing because it has a high pivot design, an engineering geometry that has not been successfully marketed in this arena in many years.
Headquartered in Cumberland, British Columbia, in the shadows of the infamous Forbidden Plateau, Forbidden Bike Company is a small, rider-focused brand. Their small size allows them the freedom and agility to develop the products they want to, with no pressure to follow mass market trends.
Their roots in the core mountain bike scenes of Canada and the UK have defined their acute vision for mountain bike performance. Uniquely, for a company of their small size, they have established a dedicated UK office and warehouse to facilitate an operation in the UK and Europe. They don’t have a desire to become the largest most dominant brand in the industry, but they do have a commitment to making quality products which reflect their passion for mountain biking. And now the bike.
Meet the Druid
It’s time for high pivot technology to make the leap from world cup downhill tracks to your local trail network. At 130mm of rear wheel travel, the Forbidden Druid is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. With geometry that balances stability and agility, the Druid is adaptable; nimble enough to hammer out trail rides after work and burly enough for weekend shuttles. Its high pivot Trifecta suspension platform has the ability to generate grip and pop almost simultaneously while offering an ability to absorb the big hits.
After two years of development, compiling 20 years of mountain bike tech, the Druid is heading the direction of modern trail bikes. Their development process for the Druid left no stone unturned, with careful consideration of maintenance needs, rider feedback, and desire to push the boundaries of bike design.
The Druid is built around a 140mm or 150mm fork with 130mm of single pivot rear wheel travel. The goal with The Druid and its Trifecta suspension design was not to achieve its downhill capability through larger travel numbers, but to work smarter with the travel numbers that make sense for everyday riders.
Pricing and Availability
The Druid is available now in Canada, USA and the UK/EU. Druid frame kit pricing is $2,999 US, and comes with a custom tuned Fox DPX2 performance elite, custom e-thirteen chain guide system, and seat collar. Frame kits can be ordered directly from Forbidden Bikes for shipment on April 12, or through select dealers after April 12. Matte Carbon and Gloss Moss colorways will be available in three sizes, small, medium, large.
High Pivot Design
The most obvious feature of our Trifecta suspension system is the high pivot point and the resulting rearward axle path. Unlike some other designs that talk of a rearward portion to their axle path, the height of The Druid’s main pivot within the frame structure means the axle path takes a completely rearward trajectory throughout its travel. This rearward motion allows the rear wheel to move with, not against, any size of impact. This in turn allows the bike to maintain its momentum through rough terrain.
The lengthening of the rear-center during compression also exhibits the advantageous trait of stabilizing the chassis during bigger impacts. Imagine a weight bias that is playful when high in the travel but inherently more composed when you need it the most; that’s what a high pivot can bring to your trail riding experience.
Anti-rise is a term often discussed and often misunderstood; it is the term used to describe the effect braking has on the suspension system. Significant anti-rise used to be seen as a negative trait. However, as understanding of chassis dynamics has improved, and more importantly as riding styles have evolved, it is now seen as a useful aspect that can be used to further tune the ride handling of the bike.
The level of anti-rise in our system helps counteract the inevitable fork dive associated with the heavy braking loads often encountered with modern, aggressive trail riding. This results in a more consistent chassis stability under these heavy braking situations.
Rate Control Linkage
The beating heart of the Trifecta suspension system, the Rate Control Linkage, is used to manipulate the leverage rate as the suspension compresses. In recent times we have seen a somewhat all-encompassing search for more progressivity. This is an understandable by-product of modern mountain biking. It stands to reason that as trail speeds increase and impacts become larger, the need for more mid stroke support and end stroke resistance is ever present.
However, the compromise to this is that with too much progression the suspension system’s ability to absorb impacts can be negatively affected. By employing relatively small links that see a dramatic change in velocity, you can independently tune the critical stages of the shock’s compression. Supple off the top, the goal for the Druid’s mid stroke was to provide adequate support when pushed on, yet remain open enough to absorb repetitive hits with no harshness.
The end stroke sees a further increase in the rate of change and is all about that bottom out resistance required to absorb the big hits and landings that come out of nowhere. The final result is a mid-travel trail bike that can outperform bikes with significantly more millimeters on their spec sheet. A bike that seems to generate grip and pop almost simultaneously while offering an ability to absorb the big hits.
The size and position of this bike’s idler pulley is critical in giving the Druid its efficient pedaling ability. By carefully positioning the pulley, offset from the main pivot, they were able to fine tune the Anti-Squat characteristics. The Druid exhibits what they say is the ideal amount of Anti-Squat at sag to deliver a very stable pedaling response.
Unlike traditional, non-idler equipped, designs we can achieve these levels of Anti-Squat with virtually no pedal kick back. This means the suspension remains fully active during pedaling efforts and in turn affords the Druid perfect traction on technical climbs.
One of Forbidden’s core philosophies is that everyone who rides their bikes should experience a similar ride characteristic. To this end they have put extra effort in to geometry and sizing. One of the major contributing factors to a bike’s overall ride feel is its weight balance. The term weight balance refers to the relationship between the rear-center and front-center and the resultant position of the rider’s center of gravity between the tire contact patches.
How each tire is weighted, directly affects the grip characteristics of the bike; furthermore, this weight distribution will also have a profound effect on the bike’s agility/stability. Many brands talk about their bikes having a balanced geometry, yet they only use a single rear-center (chainstay) measurement across all sizes of bike. If rear-center remains constant as front-center changes with size, then it stands to reason that each size of bike will see a different weight distribution and therefore a different ride characteristic.
At Forbidden, in an effort to ensure a consistent ride experience across all sizes, they employ a scaled rear-center measurement for each individual frame size.
Forbidden’s commitment to geometry and ride handling doesn’t end with scaled rear-center lengths. They take great pride in every detail of geometry and frame fit. They experimented with the extremes of the new school longer, lower, slacker trend and decided to come back to what they feel is a well-rounded geometry that suits a variety of riding styles and terrains. With the Druid, the goal was to create a capable and fast bike but also a bike that is fun and entertaining to ride on any trail.
A challenge on all modern bikes, especially those with 29” wheels, is the relationship between effective and actual seat angle. They are extremely proud of the fact that actual seat angles change with each size and get steeper as frame size increases. Thus, ensuring taller riders have a better seated position. That commitment to a better fit for all riders also led to larger than normal increases in head tube length that better suit each end of the size range. They feel that these small but extremely important details ensure that you, the rider, will feel instantly at home on the Druid.
To learn more about the Forbidden Druid head over to www.forbiddenbike.com.