'07 XCL Proto Test Ride - Long- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    '07 XCL Proto Test Ride - Long

    We got our hungry hands on a gorgeous black '07 XCL prototype earlier this week. We will post pics soon, including some action pics I hope. Ours has the great looking textured black ano finish with laser etched graphics (no decals on ano finish, yay!). The headbadge looks like a piece of pewter jewelry held in with two rivets. The shock mounts and swing links (Chumba likes to call them bell cranks) feature lightening cut outs and machining while the swing link itself has one of Chumba's signature ribs for strength. Ted (Chumba's frame designer) has come up with similar ribs on the EVO yokes, for example.

    Ours is a prototype bike and build. The real complete '07 XCL will feature Chumba brand parts like wheels, grips, saddles. We don't have our hands on those yet. Our bike does feature the Pike fork that Chumba will spec on the production bike. The prototype differs from the production bike in a few ways. Number one is the straight gauge tubing. The production bikes (due in a month or so) will have butted tubing and feature a nice weight reduction. The frame also needs revised cable routing and some of the shock mount hardware has to be sorted out. But that is about it.

    The DHX Air is a nice shock for this frame, we think. The rider who is looking for the added strength this frame has to offer will probably appreciate adjustable compression damping. I set mine up a little firm but dialed the Propedal just about off. I did not take any big hits so I did not play with the bottom out setting much. Much tuning is possible.

    OK, out to the trail. The XCL, compared to the EVO I also ride, has steeper geometry and is a lighter more nimble overall bike. It is the kind of bike I would use for most of my rides, and I would save the EVO for extremely steep or technical trails, shuttle runs, chair lift days, etc. The XCL is a natural climber. If Chumba can drop the weight as much as they say they can on the production bike they will have a very popular bike on their hands.

    My local trail starts with an extended fire road climb featuring some steep pitches that get all nasty and rutted. I dropped the Pike and made relatively easy work of them on the XCL. No bob to speak of, the XCL has the kind of suspension that stays out of your way on a boring smooth climb, then jumps in to smooth out those rut crossings for you, then lets you get back to the pain of grinding out a long grade.

    At the top I stopped extended the Pike U-turn. The Pike is nice, it is a coil with adjustable travel and a 20 mm thru axle in a 140 mm travel package. No one else makes that combo and it makes the Pike a winner all by itself. But being a coil makes it very linear, plush, and it has a bottomless feel for a 140 mm travel fork. You have to stop to change the travel on the U-Turn coil, but as long as you know the trail and think about where you want to stop and change the fork, it works out OK. The bike would be fine with the fork just left at 140, and on unfamiliar trails that is what I would do.

    My local trails have loads of hard pack off camber single track. Way off camber. I am used to slowing down through the really slanted stuff. I dont know if I should give the credit to the bike handling, tires, suspension or what, but the XCL was totally confidence inspiring in these sections, I just let it fly. Descending on a bike like the XCL is different from the EVO I ride. The EVO descends like a couch. And I mean that in a good way. Just relax, lean back, and let the bike do all the work. The XCL is more like a precision instrument. You can finesse it more, it responds to your input more quickly, and is less likely to wash out in front. If you set the bike up wrong or get nervous, you may interpret that as twitchy, buy for my preferences, the XCL does a nice job of having fast reflexes without going into the realm of a twitchy XC race bike.

    While descending, the suspension stayed invisible to me, which is also a good thing. No firming up under braking, no taking bumps two or three times (credit a lot of that to the fork/shock), g-outs were fun and predictable, the bike held a line with no hint of noodliness.

    I guess that the only thing that remains is a test of the production model. If all goes well it will just be a weight loss program with no affect on stiffness. I have little doubt that will happen, butted tubing is nothing new in the bike biz, frame designers like Ted and manufacturers know where to make tubing thinner for max benefit.
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  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by DirtDad



    I guess that the only thing that remains is a test of the production model. If all goes well it will just be a weight loss program with no affect on stiffness. I have little doubt that will happen, butted tubing is nothing new in the bike biz, frame designers like Ted and manufacturers know where to make tubing thinner for max benefit.
    No, I'd say pics still remain as well.

  3. #3
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    I am a little surprised by the weight loss program for the xcl. The frame weight with the DHX-air is not very heavy when you consider how beefy the frame is. With the RP23, the weight comes down a lot more and is only marginally heavier than a similar looking motolite with the same shock.

    Hopefully the overall frame strength remains the same with the butted tubing and other changes being made.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by ronny
    I am a little surprised by the weight loss program for the xcl. The frame weight with the DHX-air is not very heavy when you consider how beefy the frame is. With the RP23, the weight comes down a lot more and is only marginally heavier than a similar looking motolite with the same shock.

    Hopefully the overall frame strength remains the same with the butted tubing and other changes being made.
    If the butting is done in the right places, as I'm sure it will be as Ted comes from an
    engineering background, then you don't have to sacrifice strength/stiffness, and you can
    still make it light enough to be an all purpose trailbike that wont feel sluggish on
    the climbs.

  5. #5
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    Doh!

    Quote Originally Posted by blackagness
    No, I'd say pics still remain as well.
    Sorry, I had to hand the bike back (more like get it pried out of my hands) to Chumba before I could take pics.

    Our shop has a pre order in already (I am guessing the black ano will be the popular color), and I will take pics when we get the real things in. If they are not all claimed by mail order before they get here, that is.
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