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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Lenz Sport Mammoth -- the new standard?

I had the opportunity to ride a new Lenz Mammoth this past weekend for an extended singletrack adventure and I was not left wanting.

The Mammoth is a new model from Lenz, and there are only a couple demos/prototypes out there yet.  It's purpose was to fill a niche between the more cross-country driven Leviathan (80 or 100 mm travel) and the more all-mountain Behemoth (140 mm travel).  You could say alternately the goal was a burlier Leviathan or a lighter, quicker Behemoth.

Devin Lenz succeeded in this quest, no matter which side of the fat wheel crowd you view from.  The bike is certainly lighter than the 'Moth -- the size large test rig I was on was about 28 pounds and some change -- and definitely more capable in the chunk than the Lev.  But I'm getting ahead of myself....first more about the bike.

The Mammoth is not in between in travel -- it's a full 140 mm like the Behemoth, but that travel is accessed so differently than either of it's predecessors.  It has a tapered head tube, what appears to be a Behemoth top tube, and seat stays, with a Leviathan down tube and chain stays, a brand new seat tube configuration (which is direct mount front derailleur compatible), and 135 mm rear spacing.  Essentially the top half of the bike is Behemoth and the lower half is Leviathan, but again, I think that is extremely simplistic view based on the amount of sweat that went into designing this bike.

My ride on Saturday was for the better part of 3 and a half hours, with lots of singletrack, some climbing on a road initially followed by consistent ups and downs all day, in varying degrees of smooth trail, and messy western Colorado chunk.  I was riding with MC and we switched back and forth between the Mammoth and a Behemoth.

Succinctly, the Mammoth was.......remarkable.  I certainly couldn't hammer down heavy technical trail at the speeds I was doing so on the Behemoth, but the difference in fork and tires (the Behemoth had bigger, heavier components on it) likely played a bigger role on that than in any short-coming of the Mammoth.

I actually think it climbs every bit as good as any Leviathan I've ridden (or any other cross country bike I have ever ridden for that matter), and feels as "flick-able" as well.

The rear linkage is, I think, clearly the best that Devin Lenz has designed, and if you've ever ridden one of his bikes, you know this is not any small compliment.  It feels deeper and smoother, from the first millimeter until you knock the O-ring off the rear shock. 

In fact, on this particular ride, we purposely hit a few small ledges and drops to test out the full range of the suspension.  On the final one of the day, I re-set the O-ring up onto  the rear shock and took the 2 foot drop with a little more, shall we say, prejudice (I kinda goosed the landing a little to try and get the bike to bottom out).  To my surprise, I never felt the bottom.  There was never any harshness on the landing, just a nice smooth, and what felt like a very linear compression.  I looked down at the rear shock, and the O-ring was completely off -- I had gone through every millimeter of it's travel, and it never ramped up, clanked, or harshened.  Needless to say, I was impressed.

In the words of MC, it also feels like you're sitting higher in the travel even when you're just pedaling along.  Does this translate into being able to access more of the travel?  I don't know, I can't say with scientific certainty, but it sure felt like that.

To round out, the Mammoth has the signature geometry of a Lenz -- slacker head angle, higher bottom bracket, short chainstay -- and, again the BB  height and chainstay length fall comfortably in between the Leviathan and Behemoth.  (Lenz bikes are unique and, I believe, vastly superior to just about every other full suspension 29er out there in this regard -- the major manufacturers have really screwed up here.  You can read more about it in my article about what makes a good full suspension 29er.)

I'm sure the Leviathans and Behemoths will continue to roll out the door at the Studio here, but the Mammoth provides another "can't miss" option for riders to enjoy.

Lenz Mammoth frame
Chris King Headset
White Brothers Loop 140, QR15 fork
SRAM X.0 drivetrain (21/33 and 11-34)
Hayes Prime Pro brakes
Stan's 355 rims, DT Swiss 240s hubs
WTB Vigo carbon saddle
Maxxis Ardent (rear), Schwalbe Knobby Nic (front) tires

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