Spot Mayhem 29er/27.5+ first ride review

Living Link suspension, attention to detail make this trail bike a contender

29er Sea Otter Classic
Spot Mayhem first ride review

Spot Brand designer Andy Emanuel demonstrates how poppy and fun the Mayhem 29er’s Living Link suspension system can be.

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 Mayhem first ride review

The leaf spring in the Spot Mayhem 29er’s Living Link suspension system improves mid-stroke suspension support, eliminates a set of bearings for improved reliability, and increases lateral stiffness.

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.

Spot Mayhem first ride review

Spot president Andrew Lumpkin giving’er on the Mayhem 29er trail bike.

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.

Spot Mayhem first ride review

Thoughtful design and attention to detail on the Spot Mayhem are impressive. Case in point is the easily-serviceable 73mm threaded bottom bracket.

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.

Spot Mayhem first ride review

The composite leaf spring is at the center of Spot’s patented Living Link suspension system.

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.

Spot Mayhem first ride review

The Spot Brand guys all ride singlespeeds as well as full-suspension bikes, meaning the Mayhem 29er had to be a great out-of-the-saddle climber.

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.

Spot Mayhem first ride review

That checkerboard pattern isn’t just for looks. Spot are so confident in TeXtreme carbon that the frame comes with a five year warranty.

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.

Spot Mayhem first ride review

The Spot Brand Mayhem comes with the latest and greatest Fox suspension components: the custom-tuned 2018 Fox Factory Float DPS Evol shock seen here and a 130mm Fox Factory 34 Float 29 Boost fork up front.

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.

Spot Mayhem first ride review

The top-of-the-line “5-Star build” Spot Mayhem 29er we rode features a SRAM XX1 Eagle drivetrain.

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.

Spot Mayhem first ride review

The Spot Mayhem frame has internal cable routing with external rear brake mounts for easier brake servicing.

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.

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About the author: John Shafer

John Shafer, a.k.a. Photo-John, is a respected photography expert and adventure photographer. He’s been an Mtbr forum member and contributor since 1999 and you can find his writing and photography across the Web, in mountain bike magazines and on his own Web site, John loves big mountains, rocky singletrack, low-visibility powder days, 6-inch trail bikes, coffee and tacos. Look for him pushing his bike uphill, carrying an inappropriate amount of camera gear in an overloaded backpack.

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  • Jwilli says:

    What weights are we talking about?

  • Gator says:

    Large 7+ pounds

  • todd says:

    With Eagle XX1 build, It came it at 28 pounds roughly. I was holding in on my home scale. pretty amazing for this well built of a bike!

  • Gator says:

    I’m hoping to build it up at 25.5 pounds, 26lbs at the most. XX1 11 speed. Enve stem and bar, Shimano XTR brakes, XTR pedals, carbon saddle, Race Face dropper. Light Bicycles 30mm carbon rims with DT Swiss 240 hubs. Fox 34 140mm fork, black. Maxxis 29×2.35 Icon tires. Race Face Next SL crank, 32 tooth AB oval ring. Going to order frame only with black Fox shock, no gold for me!!

  • Gator says:

    Large frame was 7.06 lbs

  • AbsoluteMayhem says:

    I just picked up my 6-Star build Mayhem 27.5+ in the stunning Hot Tomato paint. Although I’ve only ridden it twice now, but I must say I’m very impressed. Granted I rode this bike in a different build for 24 hours in Mt. Crested Butte. So I knew how it would handle, but no it’s my bike on the terrain of my region and local trails. I’m in north Atlanta so the trails are 100% XC. Surrounded by trails with quick descents, rolling to long climbs, dry, rooty, rocky, tight single track. So trying it out on my trails was the true test. The R&D for the rear linkage is no joke. On several climbs the back almost felt locked out. It was amazing. The front shock wasn’t to much on climbs too… very tolerable. The small bump\hit compliance of the rear end is truly shocking. It just works! Everything about the bike is predictable and comfortable. I’m getting use to the short rear end and steeper than what I’m use to headtube angle, but it just all comes together very well. Again I’ve only got two rides in, but so far it’s very promising. Oh and the weight. This XL is lighter than my alloy Niner Jet 9 Large bike. By several pounds! I really can’t wait for this weekends ride!

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