Cornering and descending ability
This is where the Moonshine excels as the Horst Link rear suspension is dialed and it is complemented nicely by the RockShox Pike fork with a 67 degree head angle. The rear is quite supple, as it handles big hits and square edge bumps well. We’ve tried the bike with the Cane Creek Double Barrel rear shock and the RockShox Monarch Plus. Both take the big hits well with the Cane Creek much better at the small bump compliance and the RockShox better at pedaling efficiency.
The 13.3-inch bottom bracket height is perfect and drops even lower at the sagged position. So it does corner and carve rather well. The 17-inch chainstay length with Industry Nine wheelset gives it a quick and laterally stiff rear end for agile singletrack performance.
Climbing is good as this interpretation of the Horst Link rear doesn’t bob too much. And with the mid-stroke support of the RockShox Monarch Plus rear shock, we were able to do big climbs in the wide open position. At times, we forgot we were riding a 160mm travel aluminum bike because it felt nimble on rollers and climbs much like a lightweight trail bike.
On rough climbs, this bike really shined. Traction was excellent and the suspension remained active under power when climbing stair-step style rocks. Our only niggle is the front end is high and we had to really work on fit and stem angle to get the handlebar position low enough for our liking.
Looks and styling
It is not an orange carbon bike available with matching grips, wheel decals and six different color combos. It is more of a raw, industrial looking bike available in nude or orange finish. So it’s not for everyone. But the discerning buyer looking for a well thought-out U.S. made bike will be pleased.
Details and fit
We’re not jazzed that there’s no water bottle mount inside the front triangle. This bike was really optimized for frame shock position and that took up all the real estate.
The head tube on our small frame was quite tall too, and that made the handlebar height high for our liking. We adjusted it with a negative rise stem. This is less of an issue with the larger sizes.
And finally, the curved seat tube effects the saddle position and the maximum dropper post height allowed. On the small size, we were able to install a 125mm dropper. The good news is Estes and crew will expertly guide you through the fit and the best options for you. Their customer service is superb.
This is a unique, American-made bike that really looks out for the mountain biker and the local economy. Every component is chosen for a reason. With a bike this good, we think these core values will resonate with a lot of riders.
For more information visit durangobikecompany.com.