Hey everyone. Well, Iíve been riding my Claymore for about four months now, and I feel like Iíve had enough time in the saddle to write a proper review. First of all, a little information about the bike: Itís a 2011 Claymore 1, which is the top specíd of the bunch. Itís got XO/X9 drivetrain, XO brakes, a Talas 36 fork, and the proprietary Fox Dyad rear shock.
I traded my Kona Operator for this bike. I got big into downhill, but I couldnít pedal the DH rig up hills at all, so anytime my friends wanted to go for a trail ride, I had to pass. I decided to look for an all mountain bike. The so called ďquiver killerĒ. Friends, I am here to tell you that this bike delivers on that nickname, and then some.
The bike is specíd very nicely, so I wasnít concerned about any issues with the components. What I was concerned about was the weird proprietary pull shock on the back. Yes, a pull shock. Instead of the normal push compression that you see on the standard rear shocks, this one gets all its travel from negative resistance. Itís very weird, and Fox made this shock only for Cannondale, and only for two of their bikes. The good part about the shock, though, is that with the flip of a switch on my handlebars, the rear travel goes from a stiff 110mm of travel for XC and climbing, to a plush 180mm of squish that feels almost identical to a good coil shock like the Van R on my old DH rig. Combine that with the adjustability of the Talas fork from 140mm to 180mm and this bike really can do it all.
It wonít climb as fast as your XC friends on their hard tails and short travel FS bikes, but it is more than capable to handle any ascent you throw at it. There is practically no pedal bob, the seat position is right where you want it to be, and in granny gear you can just go and go. Iím not in that good of shape, and I donít even use clipless pedals anymore, but I was still able to ride up features that I used to have to walk up on my old Spesh Enduro.
Where this bike really shines, though, is when the trail starts to point downward. Without having to get off the bike at all, I can switch the suspension travel in the front and the back, and thanks to the Reverb dropper post, I can drop the seat to the frame, and I have an extremely capable downhill sled. I like that I can keep the travel at 110mm for moderate downhill, but when I see a drop approaching, I can switch the travel at the very last second, and absorb the drop with no troubles at all, and then switch right back to the short travel. This rear shock really is amazing. The Mavic CrossMax SX wheels wrapped in Maxxis Minion rubber are lightweight, strong, and the Minions grip the dirt and hook up in corners like nothing else. The already low BB height makes cornering a breeze, and if you want it lower, you can drop it even more, which changes the geometry slightly and even rakes out the front end another degree. Personally, though, I found that this setting was a little too low for my tastes. Pedal strike was a major problem in this position.
Iíve taken this bike on several XC trails in my area, and on many shuttled and lift serviced runs as well. Admittedly, I get funny looks from the hard core DHíers, and even the standard XC guys look at my rear shock with slack jawed disdain, but I donít care one bit. This is by far the most versatile and fun bike Iíve ever ridden. It feels just as good planted on the climb as it does in the air. At 31 pounds, itís a good 9 pounds lighter than my old DH rig, which I can feel when I need to change lines suddenly at speed, and the fact that it pedals uphill at all, let alone with ease, is head and shoulders above my Kona Operator.
So now that Iíve ranted and raved about the good thingsÖ hereís a few of the bad. First, the rear shock, while awesome on the mountain, is a ***** and a half to get tweaked properly. I am a bit on the heavier side of most cyclists. I tip the scales at about 185 pounds. To set up my rear shock properly, according to Fox, I need to put 350psi in the positive air chamber of the rear shock. First of all, I had to buy a new shock pump, since my old one only went up to 300, and second, I donít know if youíve ever pumped up a shock that high, but it is a severe pain in the ass. From 0-200psi, the pump is a breeze, and I can make use of the full stroke of the pump. After that it is a test of human endurance, strength and will, and takes about ten minutes and everything Iíve got to pump it up the rest of the way. All this could be solved with a high quality floor pump for shocks, but alas, I havenít found one yet. That being said, adjustability on this rear shock is almost infinite. You can play with the recommended settings to increase or decrease sag, and there is a rebound knob for both short and long travel settings, both of which provide noticeable change. And once the desired pressure is finally reached, air pressure loss is relatively minimal even after a full day of hard DH runs.
The other problem with the shock is serviceability. Because it is a proprietary shock made only for two models of bikes, there is no bike shop on Godís green earth that knows how to service these bad boys. To get mine serviced for this season I had to send it back to Fox and pay them 130 bucks for a full overhaul. Not the end of the world, because they do a great job, and Foxís customer service is actually damn good. But stillÖ Iíd rather just give my LBS the business.
The other issue is the switch that controls the travel adjust on the rear shock. It is a bulky lever that sticks out on top of the handlebars. Itís not ideal, since you have to take your thumb off the handlebars, and move it above them to work the lever. It also makes mid-trail bike maintenance a problem since you canít really turn your bike upside down onto the handlebars for tire changes or chain maintenance. I found a simple fix for this, though, and so far itís working out nicely. Since the lever simply pulls a derailleur cable which is attached to the shock, any gear shifter setup will do the same thing. I swapped the stupid lever for a grip shift control I found on Ebay for ten bucks, and now my cockpit is cleaner, and switching the shock travel is easier than ever. I recommend the same tweak for anyone who rides a Claymore or a Jekyll, which is the other model that this shock is standard on.
Overall, I am insanely happy with this bike. For a XC trail bike, itís heavy, but can certainly keep up. For a downhill bike, itís lightweight, maneuverable, adjustable, and planted. If you can afford three or four high end bicycles, than by all meansÖ get one bike for each style of riding you do. But if youíre like me, and youíre wife just doesnít understand why you would possibly need to spend four thousand dollars on one bike, let alone three, than this is the one bike that you need. It really is a do-everything, balls-to-the-wall downhiller with the right geometry and specs to get you back up to the top again too. I couldnít be happier with my choice, and I would recommend this bike to anyone looking for a ride in this category as well.
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