Iím one of the few lucky people to own both a Knolly Chilcotin and Endorphin and have been fielding quite a few questions lately about the bikes. Even though the bikes are very similar in appearance, they go about doing their jobs very differently. I thought I could put something together to help you understand the differences.
My Chilcotin is a medium, specíd with a Lyrik Solo air (with an Avalanche Cartridge), Avalanche Woodie rear shock, and a mix of King, Hope, and XT parts. My medium Endorphin is built with a very nice kit, primarily SRAM XX build kit with Raceface Next SL cranks, a Revelation RCT3 150, Hope brakes and wheels. My very ďaverageĒ Chilcotin build kit with coil rear shock weighs in at 33.08lbs, and my Endorphin comes in at 27.5lbs using light weight components where sensible and burly components where needed. My Endorphin weight 27lbs prior to replacing the XX brakes with Hope M4s.
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I built these bikes to have very different purposes, and rarely do I question which bike I should choose for which ride. Living in Phoenix, AZ, we have a variety of terrain to choose from, most of which is very technical and unforgiving. Our trails are built on solid granite with sand, stones and cactus. I prefer to ride trails that are very technical with ledge filled climbs, and jarring descents.
The Chilcotin is my go to bike for the roughest, most difficult trails Arizona has to offer. Technical climbing with the Chilcotin is simply amazing. The Knolly 4x4 suspension provides incredible traction, control, and comfort. When climbing Kiwanis trail (see images below), which is nothing more that steps and ledges of varying sizes, the Chilcotin has proven to be the best bike I have ridden. Climbing steps, the 4x4 absorbs the very abrupt square edge hits exceptionally, allowing me to maintain forward momentum. When reaching the apex of the ledge, the Chilcotin continues to provide traction where other bikes Iíve ridden slip and spin. Knollys have always been known to be very laterally stiff, and this is true with the Chilcotin as well. The bike maintains a straight line well with no deflection. This is important for my type of riding as we often have very small windows in which we need to hit to complete a section.
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When descending, the Chilcotin really shines. I think the term ďmini-DH bikeĒ is a term that is over used, but I canít find a better term. The bike is so stable; the suspension is so smooth, that I am faster now that I was even on my previous DH bikes. With its incredible stiffness, the bike carves, and all I can do is smile. Never have I felt a bike that is so supple on the small stuff, yet has incredible mid and end stroke. One trail feature we have plenty of is square edge, tombstone rocks that are seemingly placed on the most inconvenient places. These rocks destroy rims, cut tires, and brake chain stays. The 4x4 just soaks these rocks up without hesitation. The ride is so smooth that you can focus of your lines.
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The Endorphin is altogether different from the Chilcotin, even though the geometries are very similar. The Endorphin is certainly geared more toward the trail riding crowd. My weekday rides includes a trail system which is very different from my weekend romps on the Chilcotin. These trails are faster, more flowy, and although technical, not as burly the trails I ride the Chilcotin on.
From the first time you sit on the Endorphin, you know this bike was built as a trail ripper. The front triangle tubing is visually smaller than the Chilcotin, but somehow the stiffness remains. The Endorphin uses the same 4x4 suspension as the Chilcotin, but is in tuned differently. The Endo has a bit of platform at the top of the travel which causes you to rocket forward with each pedal stroke. The platform does not hinder suspension performance however, the Endo smooths the trail with speed and finesse. Where the Chilcotin devours up the chunky rough stuff, the Endo happily skims along the surface, staying on top of the trail. This helps acceleration, maintaining speed, and is flat out fun. The Endo is very lively and poppy. With the Endo you feel like you are catapulted out of corners. Iíve never had so much fun or confidence throwing a bike in a corner. Not only does the Endorphin hold its own when the trail gets rough, but it is a bike you can ride all day long and never wish for more bike, no matter what the trail throws at you.
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With the rise in popularity of the Enduro racing, the Endorphin is a no brainer for me. Itís built for speed yet tough as nails, and sporting some of the lowest and slackest geometry in the 140 trail bike class: 67* on a 150mm travel fork. The bike explodes forward upon request and holds your line thru the rougher stuff.
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Although they look similar, these are very different bikes that excel in their respective weight class. Please feel free to contact me if you have any other questions.
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