First off I would like to say thank you to Breezer bikes, ASI and our Breezer rep steve nagelkerke for this opportunity to demo the repack. Also I am in no way affiliated with ASI or Breezer nor was I in any way paid to do this review so now that that is out of the way let's get to it.
As most of you know if you are reading this, the Breezer Repack is an all new dual suspension 650b/27.5" 160mm Enduro/Trail bike that Breezer will be offering in their lineup for 2014. When they first announced this bike I have to say I was skeptical. First off they haven't done any suspension stuff and they were jumping into a brand new proprietary suspension design that has a link in the middle of the chain stay. All I thought was "wow is this thing going to be flexy" but when I found out that the suspension design was being engineered by Soto group, the guys behind some of the best suspension designs around it kind of set my mind at ease before testing. Also If you have to ask who or what the Breezer brand is well just look up their storied history online because i don't have the time or energy to post all that. Now I am not a professional reviewer, you could probably tell that already by my poor writing skills but i will try to be as detailed as possible. I am a bike guy, I have worked in the bike industry for the last 12 years and have ridden or owned everything from big box brand bikes to smaller what I like to call "craft" bike brands and have had good to very poor experiences on quite a few different bikes. Now I have been a riding 29" wheeled bikes for the last 5 years so getting on something smaller(at least to me)again was intriguing.
The spec on the Breezer Repack team is respectable, full and I mean full XT components from top to bottom, they even used XT hubs and XT center lock ice tech rotors to round out the build. Now some things that were changed from the original spec were as follows: The handlebar that was specced was a Ritchey and it had an unusual rise and sweep so it was changed out for an Easton haven carbon, the stem was changed from a Ritchey to an Easton havoc aluminum stem in a 0 deg 65mm length, that was done because we have a few different guys demoing this bike so some of us shorter people(i am 5'9 on a good day)could use a shorter stem. The seat post was a standard aluminum non dropper seat post, that was changed out to a KS LEV courtesy of our Breezer rep Steve(thanks a ton Steve!) also before I forget to mention this, the frame we were demoing was a size Large or 19.5". Now on to the ride report.
After installing my trusty M780 XT pedals I was off to ride a spot I know best, Ute Valley park. Now for those of you that aren't familiar with Ute valley it combines rocky technical trail with fast fire road twisty switchbacks which I find appropriate for demoing the Repack. The first thing i noticed about the Repack is that in its current iteration it is a pig at about 32 lbs. with pedals but this is a pre production model and the Breezer reps have assured us that it will be lighter in the production model when it is released early next year. Let me say that for a 6+ inch travel bike this thing climbs incredibly well, and not just for a 6' bike but just period, it is very stable out of the saddle, no pedal feedback and zero and i mean zero flex from the rear suspension. The rear shock is a 2014 fox CTD Kashima coated shock which I have not been a fan of. I have the same shock on on my current trail bike which is a 2013 tallboy LT. What I noticed is that I did not have to ride this shock in the climb mode at all, it remained stable even when doing step ups I did not feel any feedback from the suspension. This was nice because I didn't have to constantly reach down to adjust my shock for different ride types, and like most everyone I always forget to change my shock back to open during descents. Cornering was a plus as well, I attribute this to the 27.5" wheels more than the bike itself because my current ride is not the best at railing corners because of the sheer size of it. You can really put weight in corners with this thing and the 2.35" nobby nic tires that came stock on the bike keep the rubber connected with the dirt phenomenally well, now I do have a couple issues with nobby nic tires and this is purely my opinion but they don't make a very good front tire, they wear quickly and they rebound way to fast so running them at a low pressure is key. Now it does make for one of the best rear tires around because of the grip they provide and they really dig in while climbing. One thing I did notice is that the steering is a little twitchy probably because I was riding a large and had to run a shorter stem but it is worth mentioning.
Descending on this bike is where the true magic lies, it is very stable and efficient. The M link suspension never felt slow or sloppy, it felt connected and controlled around and over every rock and root. Pick a line, point the bike and enjoy the ride, it doesn't ride a straight line quite as well as my tallboy mostly due to the larger wheels and the VPP suspension being so damn smooth while descending but it doesn't feel like a typical 6" travel bike, it just doesn't and I mean that in a good way, it is light, nimble and highly flickable even for it being 32 Lbs. The magic also happens in the XT brakes, it comes setup with 180mm rotors front and rear so their is plenty of stopping power provided. One thing that i noticed as well is that Fox finally did their homework because the 2014 float feels a lot smoother and has much less brake dive than its predecessors but that being said a Rock Shox Pike would have been nice(just saying!)So i guess to sum it all up, I would say that I really like what Breezer has done here, the geometry even for a bike that was larger than what I would use was spot on, it climbs, corners and descends remarkably well which not many bikes do.
Below are my pros and cons:
Pretty good build spec for this price point(also listed in cons)
Very efficient climbing platform
No flex from the rear suspension when being pushed to its max
Heavy, but being resolved in the production model.
Handlebar, stem, front tire and seat post selection
A little twitchy while cornering(again probably my setup)
Maybe a change to Rock Shox suspension
A carbon model(not really a con but I could imagine how sweet that would be)
Thanks again Breezer bikes for this opportunity!
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