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  1. #1
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    ... and if we just ... KNOLLY Chilcotin and Endorphin: A 6 month review

    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.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tisser/8351836100/" title=". by tiSS'er, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8221/8351836100_0eab74654a_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="."></a>

    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.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tisser/7898235574/" title="IMG_3802 by tiSS'er, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8455/7898235574_51fa2cbee0_b.jpg" width="768" height="1024" alt="IMG_3802"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tisser/7898238686/" title="IMG_3798 by tiSS'er, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8170/7898238686_48039c8cc3_b.jpg" width="768" height="1024" alt="IMG_3798"></a>

    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.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tisser/8275190025/" title=". by tiSS'er, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8082/8275190025_3c7dc08eb5_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="."></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tisser/8278366299/" title=". by tiSS'er, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8084/8278366299_efd0e3f549_b.jpg" width="768" height="1024" alt="."></a>

    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.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tisser/8351836124/" title=". by tiSS'er, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8236/8351836124_dd5812c05e_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="."></a>

    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.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tisser/8350770683/" title=". by tiSS'er, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8353/8350770683_f8248850a3_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="."></a>

    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.
    Employed by Pivot Cycles - www.pivotcycles.com

  2. #2
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    Nice review and differentiation.

  3. #3
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    cool review
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  4. #4
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    " 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."

    This sums it up for me. While the chilly has more of a DH/freeride feel in and out of the twisties, the endo is a little more nimble and seems to launch itself out of corners like a slingshot.

  5. #5
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    Great write up Brandon.
    If jackasses could fly this place would be an airport.

  6. #6
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    I love my knolly endorphin for the same reasons listed above. I also love my GF's knolly delirium-t when she lets me borrow it (for special favors in return). That bikes rips technical trails and dh/freeride alike.

  7. #7
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    Great review, tiSSer! Proud of my cameo appearance in your pictures

  8. #8
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    Great write up and pics. The 2 and 3rd pics are fantastic and really highlight they type of riding you are describing. I love my dw linked bike, but know that for trails like that, nothing beats a HL type bike.
    On MTBR, the reputation is infamous.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by nybike1971 View Post
    Great review, tiSSer! Proud of my cameo appearance in your pictures
    Those are some worthy trails!
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  10. #10
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    Nice write up!

  11. #11
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    Great Reviews! Thanks!

  12. #12
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    i like the pictures, too many words for me though.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by b-kul View Post
    i like the pictures, too many words for me though.
    Click one of the photos and look at all the pretty pictures you want.
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  14. #14
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    I'll add a couple of pictures showing that Brandon doesn't just pose his bike on those steps up Kiwanis!







    And one downhill for good measure:


  15. #15
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    dude, mucho respect for climbing that!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by b-kul View Post
    dude, mucho respect for climbing that!
    No doubt. That is some of the gnarliest terrain I've ever seen.
    If jackasses could fly this place would be an airport.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vespasianus View Post
    ... for trails like that, nothing beats a HL type bike.
    So true! Love how my faux bar handles for tech riding.

    Question about your Knolly 4x4: do they squat much under very heavy pedaling forces? My soda climbs surprisingly well considering how much bike it is, but it does squat. Not going up tech stuff like in your pics, but for example yamming up a really steep switchback ill notice some squat. having had two mini link bikes in the past that didnt squat at all, this downside is totally worth it for the positive attributes for tech and freeriding

    also, if you could only keep one, which would you keep?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by ride the biscuit View Post
    So true! Love how my faux bar handles for tech riding.

    Question about your Knolly 4x4: do they squat much under very heavy pedaling forces? My soda climbs surprisingly well considering how much bike it is, but it does squat. Not going up tech stuff like in your pics, but for example yamming up a really steep switchback ill notice some squat. having had two mini link bikes in the past that didnt squat at all, this downside is totally worth it for the positive attributes for tech and freeriding

    also, if you could only keep one, which would you keep?
    The 4x4 has a little squat, but not nearly as much as the other horst/faux link bikes I have ridden. For the tech stuff we do, as you mentioned, squat is a very welcome thing as it assists in traction. My Chilcotin has an Avalanche Woodie, which is a super plush DH shock, and the bike has little to no bob. It pedals very, very well.

    Which bike would I keep if I could only have one?...Great question! My initial response would be the Chilcotin, with a lighter build kit. My Chilcotin with current build and an RP23 would start at 31.5lbs. I run Hope V4 brakes, I could save a bunch of weight there, I could save weight on my wheels, etc. I could easily see my Chili weighing in at 30lbs, which would make a great all day bike. Even at 30lbs, the Chili would not be as good as the Endo for XC and trail riding.

    Another thing to consider, a heavy Endo is not the same as a light Chili. Yes, there is some overlap, but the Chili will rule the Endo in the roughest terrain. I don't think adding a bunch of weight to an Endorphin will give it the AM chops the Chili has. What makes the Endo so special is it's combination of weight, agility, and suspension. Trying to overbuild it to accommodate our rough terrain would take away from the magic. I think the best way to sum up the Endo would be to think of it as the perfect Enduro race bike. I think Knolly had the BC bike race in mind when they designed the bike.

    Fortunately, I can keep both, allowing me to build each for it's intended purpose.
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  19. #19
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    RESPECT dude, for climbing those steps!!!

  20. #20
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    Great write up!

    My 2 cents.

    After trying many suspension platforms, the 4x4 feels the best (for me). If you care about "efficiency", the chili is probably not the bike for you. However, if you have the legs, the chili will take you up anything. Gobs of traction, very firmly planted/balanced ascender. Descending is incredible, the bike romps.

    Getting stoked for bike park season and long epics this summer on the Chili!!!

  21. #21
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    Really nice write up...wish that Endo was production when I was in the market last year.

    Love that last photo, if you lose the trail just look for the next big cactus. Some day I will experience riding in that sort of terrain, looks awesome.

    BTW, thanks again for the Fox34 hookup TISS'er....lovin' it.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by rscecil007 View Post
    No doubt. That is some of the gnarliest terrain I've ever seen.
    You've been invited
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    Brother, nice write up! Spoken like a true mountain biker. It's hard for me to read through long posts, but thoroughly enjoyed it. You've definitely got some skills to climb up terrain with tall square edged ledges like that. I'd need my wagon wheeler to even consider doing that with any sort of confidence. Cheers and safe riding.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by drz400sm View Post
    Brother, nice write up! Spoken like a true mountain biker. It's hard for me to read through long posts, but thoroughly enjoyed it. You've definitely got some skills to climb up terrain with tall square edged ledges like that. I'd need my wagon wheeler to even consider doing that with any sort of confidence. Cheers and safe riding.
    Thanks man! We are all products of our environment. In Phoenix we have very few flowy trails, jumps or drops. I'm not too good at those things. Around here, either you ride your bike or you walk it. The group I ride with, we take pride in climbing these features. It makes our climbs quite fun and I always look forward to climbing Kiwanis.
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  25. #25
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    Thanks for writing this up - I've been tossing around the idea of picking up a squishy bike again. Narrowing down the frame selection is hard and both these Knolly's are still on the table. I can't decide if I should get another Covert, try the new Rune V2, or the Chilcotin. Or, the new spitfire or the Endorphin...

    Anyways - thanks again.

  26. #26
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    Nice!

    Those bikes are like bookends on the AM scale. Playful and gnarful.

    P

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by tiSS'er View Post
    You've been invited

    I'm working on it.
    If jackasses could fly this place would be an airport.

  28. #28
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    Thanks for the write up! Ive always wanted to hear more about both of these bikes. If/when I'm in the market for a trail bike, the Endo is definitely high on the list.
    6'5" 230lbs
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  29. #29
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    Great summary of the two bikes and an really interesting read especially for me since I'm currently trying to relocate myself from Sweden to Phoenix and it seems like great time to replace my Meta 5 (which I've enjoyed since 2010).

    The riding looks awesome as well, it's a whole different thing from where I live now and I really look forward to gnarly technical terrain both up and down!

    Both bikes seems like great fun and I think the Endorphin would be a great choice for me. ..or Chilcotin... or Endorphin..

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by pean View Post
    Great summary of the two bikes and an really interesting read especially for me since I'm currently trying to relocate myself from Sweden to Phoenix and it seems like great time to replace my Meta 5 (which I've enjoyed since 2010).

    The riding looks awesome as well, it's a whole different thing from where I live now and I really look forward to gnarly technical terrain both up and down!

    Both bikes seems like great fun and I think the Endorphin would be a great choice for me. ..or Chilcotin... or Endorphin..
    Let me know when you get here. I'll show you around. Depending on your riding preference, I can see it going either way, or both
    Employed by Pivot Cycles - www.pivotcycles.com

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by tiSS'er View Post
    Let me know when you get here. I'll show you around. Depending on your riding preference, I can see it going either way, or both
    Sounds good, will do!

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    Awesome review. Definitely helped me decide which frame I want to go with. I'm thinking pretty seriously about the Chili but was wondering how big you were to ride the medium and what you're thoughts were on sizing. I'm 6' 1" and leaning towards the large. Do you think this is the right decision. Inseam is about a 31-32.

    Thanks

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fastcars12 View Post
    Awesome review. Definitely helped me decide which frame I want to go with. I'm thinking pretty seriously about the Chili but was wondering how big you were to ride the medium and what you're thoughts were on sizing. I'm 6' 1" and leaning towards the large. Do you think this is the right decision. Inseam is about a 31-32.

    Thanks
    At 6'1" I would think you would want a large, but your inseam seems a bit short. I am 5'10" with a 32 inseam and ride a medium with 70mm stem, and I am very comfortable. I would suggest PMing DustyBottoms here and he can get you dialed on sizing.
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  34. #34
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    Yeah, you're height leans you towards one size, your inseam the other. I'm 5'11 with a 33" inseam, and ride a large. Seems to fit me like a glove. Dusty can def help you though as Tisser said.
    If jackasses could fly this place would be an airport.

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    I am 6'1 with a 32 inseam. I've been on a large chili for almost a year and would have to say the medium would probably feel too cramped for me.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by tiSS'er View Post
    Let me know when you get here. I'll show you around. Depending on your riding preference, I can see it going either way, or both
    It took forever, but now I'm here

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by pean View Post
    It took forever, but now I'm here
    Shoot me a PM, we should hook up.
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  38. #38
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    So you all think that a Chil. would work for an all round trail bike?

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    Quote Originally Posted by CHROMAG19 View Post
    So you all think that a Chil. would work for an all round trail bike?
    I ride a Chilcotin as my primary bike. It is not the most efficient climber, but has traction in spades. If you can keep turning the pedals the bike will tractor up the hills. Takes more effort than some of the newer, lighter carbon bikes, but blows just about anything short of a DH rig out of the water on the downhills. I run mine at the Whistler Bike Park and have no problems. I ride the North Shore steep trails most of the time and the Chilcotin is perfect for them. I test rode the Warden recently and loved it. Better climber and good on the downhills, but not as capable on the way down as the Chilcotin.

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