Spot Brand is best known for its custom steel hardtails, singlespeeds, and belt drive bikes. At least that’s what typically comes to mind when you think of the Colorado-based bike maker. Now, though, they have a new full-suspension bike called the Mayhem that features their own patented “Living Link” suspension design.
Spot HQ is west of Denver in Golden, where steep, rocky trails are just a short pedal from the office. The Spot team all owned full suspension bikes, but with other brand names on the top tubes. With their in-house design expertise, they decided to give designing their own full-suspension bike a shot. The result was the Rollik 557 27.5 trail bike, introduced last spring.
Check out Mtbr’s Rollik first ride review from Sea Otter 2016.
The follow-up Spot Mayhem is a carbon 29er full-suspension trail bike with 130mm of front and rear travel, and clearance for 2.8 tires so it can also be built-up as a 27.5+ bike, too. One of the first things you notice when looking at the bike are the distinctive pattern of TeXtreme carbon. Spot went all out with the Mayhem frame. TeXtreme is only used by a couple of bike makers. It’s very expensive, but has tremendous strength-to-weight ratio. Indeed, Spot is so confident in the durability of the Mayhem frame, they back it with a five-year warranty. Frame only sells for $3199. The top end build is $6999.
The Mayhem is low and slack with a 66.7° head angle and super steep 75.7° effective seat tube angle, making it a comfortable climber and confident descender. What really sets the Mayhem apart from other 29er trail bikes is Spot Brand’s patented Living Link suspension system. The “Living Link” is actually a carefully-tuned composite leaf spring between the front triangle and rear triangle. The Mayhem linkage is comparable to a dual-link suspension system, except the lower link is a leaf spring. It has a different feel from dual-link bikes and the leaf spring also improves stiffness and reliability. Press play to learn more about the Mayhem.
The leaf spring eliminates two sets of bearings, removing one of the main points of wear and play on a full-suspension bike. It’s also much stiffer laterally than a traditional link; for reference, think about trying to bend a ruler sideways.
It’s important to note that a leaf spring is not at all the same as a simple pivot. Unlike a pivot, a leaf spring actually stores energy. The Living Link spring is tuned to give more support in the sag zone of travel, where the rider spends the most time. Combined with the custom-tuned Fox shock (the Mayhem comes spec’d with a 2018 Fox Factory Float DPS Evol air shock), you get a suspension system that’s sensitive at the top of the stroke for traction, but lively and supported in the middle so the bike doesn’t blow right through the travel. That’s the marketing pitch, anyway.
All that technical stuff is great but the important question is – how does the Mayhem ride? In short – impressive. I rode with Spot Brand president Andrew Lumpkin and company designer Andy Emanuel. I started out on the Mayhem’s older, medium-wheeled sibling, the Rollik 557. As mentioned earlier, the Rollik is a 27.5 trail bike that was introduced last year. It has 140mm of travel in the rear and a 150mm fork. The idea is that the Rollik would be a good way to get a feel for the Living Link suspension because it’s very similar to my personal bike, the Felt Decree 1.
Read the Mtbr Felt Decree long-term review.
The first thing you notice on the Spot bike is the cockpit feels short. That’s because of the steep seat tube angle. The good news is, that feeling disappeared shortly after I started pedaling. The steep seat tube makes the bike a super-comfortable ascender, too – especially on hard climbs. I also noticed the suspension didn’t wallow and bob when I stood up to pedal. When I mentioned that to the Spot guys, they pointed out they’re a singlespeed bike company and they like to stand while they climb.
Next I swapped the Rollik for the Mayhem 29er. It always takes me a while to adjust my timing and cornering when I get on a 29er but it only took about three turns before I felt right at home on the new bike. The Mayhem’s geometry is very refined and on the trail it feels almost exactly like the Rollik, except a bit more stable and with better traction. I actually completely forgot I was on a 29er, something that’s never happened to me before.
The Mayhem felt very active and poppy – it likes to be pumped and pushed, but unlike my Felt Decree, which has a very short wheelbase, it feels stable at speed. Pedaling was very efficient, as you’d expect from a dual-link system. But it didn’t have the harsh feel I’ve come to expect on sharp-edged, steppy obstacles. Overall, I think the Living Link system sort of splits the difference between a traditional dual-link and a Horst-link suspension. It has pedaling characteristics similar to a dual-link but it’s more active, even when the drivetrain is under load. I liked it. A lot.
To be fair, though, I only had time for a short ride and the descents at Sea Otter are anything but chunky. I would love to have the chance to ride the Mayhem some more to get a more complete feel for it. I am impressed, though. My initial impressions are very positive and the Spot Mayhem appears to be an excellent all-rounder trail bike. It may even be the first 29er this unapologetic 27.5-lover might be willing to call his own.
For more info pedal over to spotbrand.com.