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Thread: My XCL Review

  1. #1
    nerfherder
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    My XCL Review

    The XCL
    I had the pleasure of spending a week or two with a Chumba XCL recently and I wanted to recap my experience for ya'll. First, full disclosure: I met the Chumba guys through a demo program a year or so back. We hit it off pretty good. We found we had a lot of common experiences and friends. I'm a real big fan of these guys. That said, I don't work for them, get paid by them, or get told by them what to write. I do think Alan wanted me to write something in return for borrowing the bike but I don't remember if that was explicit. Anyways, I would have no matter what.

    I just like these guys a lot and respect them for what they do. Enough of that...



    First Impressions
    BEEFY! This frame exudes burliness. I haven't spent a lot of time looking at welds and frame construction but this thing looked top notch to me.

    The DHX-A was a pain. It was very difficult to get to the main air valve. Even harder to get to the rebound dial. I have long skinny fingers and I still had a hard time trying to adjust the rebound. Good luck if you've got big fingers. This is exacerbated by the finicky nature of setting up the DHX-A. Took me a while to dial it in but once it was done everything felt great. Not sure how the valve is angled on the 08 DHX-A but I do know that the 08 RP23's valve comes out at a new angle and makes it easily accessible. The rebound knob is in a better location as well. And yes, I'm biased towards the RP23.

    The frame has a couple of other nice details. The metal headbadge is a great touch (especially at this price point) and the logos are neatly screened on. No stickers to peel off. The black ano looks all business. The XTR gray ano is to die for. It gives me heart flutters thinking about it. The shiny paint jobs we've been seeing around here aren't too shabby either.



    Build
    I don't want to spend much time on the build. Just give you enough info to know what some factors may have been.

    Drivetrain: XT Cranks, XTR FD, XO RD
    Wheels/Tires: DT 340s/5.1d and 2.4 Mutano Raptors
    Suspension Duties: Pike Coil Uturn and DHX-A
    Brakes: Juicy Carbon, 7 inch front and back

    Fit
    Rider: 5'8", 155lbs, 30 inch inseam
    Frame: Small XCL (I wonder about the medium, though...)

    Geography
    Orange County, CA. Lots of climbs, lots of rocks, and hardpack.

    Handling
    Holy cow, this bike is fun. The geometry feels pretty dialed into the trail bike genre. It doesn't DH like the Evo but sure climbs a lot better. It doesn't climb like a 24 lb XC bike but it sure is a lot plusher then one of those. A great all arounder. Center of gravity felt low and made for snappy turning. The XCL is a singletrack ninja.



    Shortish chainstays probably contributed to this. They also made getting the front tire off the ground real easy with a quick pedal and a rearward weight shift. I'm sure manualling would be easy on this bike, too, if I knew how. LOL. The BB didn't seem that low on paper but I did strike my pedal a couple times on a technical climb that I usually have no problems with on a bike with a lower BB. Go figure. Bad form on my part?

    Climbing
    Speaking of climbing, the XCL easily motors up climbs. I intentionally did a few strenuous climbs with the fork at the full 140mm and didn't struggle too much. But it definitely did make a difference dialing it down for the uphill grinds. The front end tracked straighter and didn't lift as much. I'd recommed a U Turn Pike or TALAS 32. For me, probably the latter so I don't have to be cranking on the U Turn all day.

    The XCL, with the DHX-A's propedal at the lowest setting, bobbed a tiny bit for me. If I didn't look down I wouldn't have noticed or cared. A click or two on the PP dial and that was gone. I also never felt penalized for standing.

    Descending
    I'm used to slacker head angles so I felt a little front weight biased when rolling through rock gardens. Maybe it was the small frame and shorter wheelbase? Maybe I was expecting a little more EVO and a little less XC(L). That said, going downhill on this bike is still a ton of fun. The same nimble handling characteristics that I mentioned earlier make this bike a jack rabbit on the descents. You want to hop to and fro when it's a little bit rough and carve it in deep when it's smooth and winding.

    Let's not forget the burliness. This bike feels solid coming down the mountain. It's very reassuring.



    Concluding Thoughts
    The XCL is like an old friend: predictable, stable, reliable, and fun. The XCL was really easy for me to get on and just go. I didn't have to spend any time acclimating to it. I was just comfortable as soon as I threw a leg over it*.

    Good for
    • All day in the saddle riders
    • Riders who are looking for one bike and don't do anything gnarly (though I have no doubt that the frame would last longer than I would).
    • Riders that don't care about the weight of their bike as long as it's reasonable.
    • Riders that want a bike that is snappy and nimble yet relaxed and stable.
    • Riders that break stuff all the time and need a strong frame.
    • Riders that are big boys or girls (not exclusively, though... remember, I'm 155lbs).
    • Riders who want a company that will provide them with industry leading customer support.
    Bad for
    • XC racers
    • Weight weenies
    • Riders who can't stand it when they're bike isn't the latest greatest thing anymore... because Chumba innovates and puts products in the market faster than anyone I've seen.
    • Haters of e types (I'm reaching here...)
    *Note: I must admit, I hated this bike on my first ride. But it came with a 110mm stem. What's a 110 doing on a small?! I swapped that to a 90mm and it was like magic. Completely different bike. So this review is written completely from the standpoint of the 90mm stem and all rides following that switch.

    And yes, I know. This post is worthless without pictures. Those are coming tonight.
    Last edited by scruffylooking; 06-13-2007 at 10:43 PM.

  2. #2
    Older than I feel
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    Thanks for the review!

    This isn't helping my XCL jones... I just found out mine is on a FedEx truck somewhere, but not here.

  3. #3
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    I just built my xcl, and have been riding it for two weeks. Man what a great frame not to mention probably the best value in frames. LOVE IT... Working on posting pictures but having problems downsizing them, comp tarded. I don't think the Fox Air is as difficult as every one is *****in bout...wa...wa...wa. Just test ride one. So stiff and stable,stiffer and faster into corners than my nomad...so...so...stiff, gotta love that. Precision suspesion articulation and so burly, my girl is already lonley.

  4. #4
    American Made!
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    I wasn't too thrilled with the DHX when I used it at Sea Otter this spring.
    The RP23 is perfect for the bike, in my opinion
    Glad you guys are liking it, I am going to race mine this weekend and see how she handles a XC/Endurance course
    What is thy bidding, my master.

  5. #5

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    Thanks for the thorough review it cleaned up a few questions I have had. Sounds like I bought the perfect frame for my style of riding.

    My frame just arrived at the FedEx hub this evening.... hoping they will deliver it tomorrow. If so I'm cutting out of work to build her up!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by chiselneck
    Thanks for the thorough review it cleaned up a few questions I have had. Sounds like I bought the perfect frame for my style of riding.

    My frame just arrived at the FedEx hub this evening.... hoping they will deliver it tomorrow. If so I'm cutting out of work to build her up!
    Bike should be built tomorrow, I may take it on a short inaugural ride and post an
    impression or two.

  7. #7
    nerfherder
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    Rats, pics aren't available yet. Tomorrow, I promise!

  8. #8
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    Message for all of you...

    Pics, pics, pics, pics! And I'm not talkin about pickin' your nose.
    Extreme stationary biker.

  9. #9
    nerfherder
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    Picture Dump

    Keen Chumba lurkers will recognize the bike as one of the demo rides making its way around the country. It came with red clay on the tires when I picked it up. So not cool to leave evidence of someone else's good time on the bike.

    Big Pics

    Top of the World


    Nice metal head badge


    Purdy ano, clean decals, nice welds...


    More detail...


    Stays and drop out...




    Weld detail... not bad, eh?


    With 2008 RP23


    Love the fact that everything on the RP23 is easily accessible.
    Last edited by scruffylooking; 06-14-2007 at 02:56 AM.

  10. #10

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    Cool you got the chance to ride a prototype. Check out the xcl on the top tube and the crazy cable routing. All that has all changed.

  11. #11
    nerfherder
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    Good clarification...

    Quote Originally Posted by ChumbaJason
    Cool you got the chance to ride a prototype. Check out the xcl on the top tube and the crazy cable routing. All that has all changed.
    Thanks J, I actually wondered about that mess for a while but did some research (looked at newer production XCL cable routing) and found that the model I had was definitely pre production.

    Production XCLs don't require these silver hydro hose guides:


    The guides are built in.

  12. #12
    Nightriding rules SuperModerator
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    sweet review scruffylooking!

  13. #13
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    Just curious, what would make a rider favor the RP23 over the DHX? I have a titus ML with the RP23 and my XCL has the DHX. My riding certainly does not push the shock on either bike to its performance limits. That said, I like the adjustability of the DHX relative to the RP23. There is only one firm propedal setting on the RP23, and on the DHX it can be adjusted with much more precision. Actually, it is very easy to adjust the firmness of the stock on the trail with the propedal knob.
    R

  14. #14
    nerfherder
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    Sorry, just noticed your question here. This is just my opinion but I feel that the DHXA is difficult to set up and is either too stiff or too soft. It's hard to find the sweet spot. This may be attributed to the common complaint that it's got no midstroke support. I've got one now on my Nomad and it's uninspired at best. I would rather have a DHX Coil. As for the RP23 I like the fact that I can completely turn of the PP on the RP23. I typically leave the PP on my RP23 off (Blur 4X). I like active suspension. And I've found the RP23 real easy to set up... Except for the one that wouldn't hold air... oh, and it's lighter.

  15. #15
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    scruf,
    I have about the same numbers as you(height, weight, inseam). Just curious if you would recommend going with the small or medium sized frame on the xcl? I'm nowhere near a dealer so a test ride isn't really an option.

  16. #16
    nerfherder
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    kneedropper, I gotta get back to you on that one. I'm planning on trying out dubjay's medium sometime soon (he just doesn't know it yet).

    The small felt great but the reason I want to try the medium is because I tend to like the longer wheelbases of mediums for a little more stability. But I gotta make sure it's not too big all around.

    I'll hopefully know sometime next week.

    Paging dubjay...

  17. #17
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    knee dropper, I have same measurements as you. I have the small. I have a straight seat post and 100 mm stem. I have the seat pretty far back on the rails and it feels good. I do however like to ride pretty upright. The balance feels great. If you like to stretch out a bit the small may be too small.
    Good Luck

  18. #18
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    Thanks for the replies. I'm still on the bubble. I ride mostly aggressive cross country which would make me go for a medium and play with stem configurations. On the other hand I do kind of like the "up right feel" of some smaller frames I have ridden. Decisions

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChumbaJason
    Cool you got the chance to ride a prototype. Check out the xcl on the top tube and the crazy cable routing. All that has all changed.
    Can't believe I never noticed this thread before. This is indeed the exact configuration of my prototype XCL, crazy cable routing included.

  20. #20
    customized
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChumbaJason
    Cool you got the chance to ride a prototype. Check out the xcl on the top tube and the crazy cable routing. All that has all changed.
    About what time frame were the prototypes manufactured bro?

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