Considering a Knolly Fugitive- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Considering a Knolly Fugitive

    Hi all,

    I've been riding a custom built 2016 Niner Jet 9 for the past few years and I'm starting to get anxious for a new bike. The trails around me are XC type trails. There's not much elevation change and no rocks. It's just rooty dirt trails with mostly short punchy hills with equally short downhills. I do travel some and ride more aggressive trails from time to time. I'd rather not have a quiver of bikes, but one bike.

    Would a Knolly Fugitive or Fugitive LT serve me well, even on my relatively mild trails? I'm in the Memphis, TN area. Or, would I be better off with a different bike?

    I'm just not a fan of Niner anymore. I've never felt overly comfortable on my Jet 9. The bike has you sitting too high feeling on the bike. It's a fast bike that turns great, but downhills aren't always it's best suit. I have outfitted it with Rockshox debonair monarch rear shock and a Pike upfront that was tuned with a Vohrsprung Luftkappe.

    I have a lung disease and so I struggle with big uphills. I do need a bike with good climbing abilities. This is an area I don't need to compromise in very much. I do want a more trail worthy bike though.

    What do y'all think? Fugitive? Fugitive LT or something else?

  2. #2
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    I am using the Fugitive in the LT version and can‘t speak about the ST version. The LT -in my view- is a great do-it-all bike that punches above its weight when you are heading downwards. It is a respectable but not the fastest climber and certainly not a lightweight.
    For your trails I am not sure if you are not better off with a lighter short - travel rig (downcountry these days:-)) - if the ST version is that bike, I don‘t know. If you want to move more into AM territory the LT is a very good choice.

  3. #3
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    As stated above, the Fugitive is a great all around bike. If you are really interested in a high quality aluminium frame, it doesn't get any better than Knolly.

    Some of the positives with the Fugitive include: Adjustable geometry. Ability to change it up with different stroke shocks and forks if you want to play with it. Easy to clear mud/debris from the frame. (the only place that is slightly difficult to clean is the drive side around the ISCG tabs and the main bearing on that side if you are running a bash guard) Easy to work on the linkage when needed. Raw finish is awsome! (salty sweat, scratches and time will make it patina nicely) ((or get out the polish and go nuts)) 157 rear hub. (already future proofed)

    So far I have not heard any complaints on how the Fugitive fits different riders. I am running 45mm rise bars on mine, but that is just how I roll. For me it is one of the most comfortable bikes I have ridden. It has just enough suspension travel to get really rowdy, but not so much that you get overwhelmed by it. It works just fine for cruising around, but amazing when at speed.

    Negatives: It's not light. (but I don't notice it due to the big grin on my face) Tire choice is more important to how a bike feels than frame weight in my opinion.

    Would I own a Fugitive if I had to move back to the mid west? Yes. Keeping in mind that I like climbing, but I like descending and cornering more. (actually, a lot more)

    If I was more interested in getting to the top as fast as possible and have a great time on mild to moderate trails...Ibis Ripley. Knowing I would have to give up many of the things I like about the Fugitive.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by jebcamaro View Post
    Hi all,


    What do y'all think? Fugitive? Fugitive LT or something else?
    Fugitive in ST should be a ripper, I run an LT and ride pretty aggressively. I love the adjustable geometry/build quality and ride characteristics.

    I hate to ask though...have you considered an e-bike? I have a hard time even asking that, but if your lung condition is limiting, a motor might be helpful.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by CharacterZero View Post
    I hate to ask though...have you considered an e-bike? I have a hard time even asking that, but if your lung condition is limiting, a motor might be helpful.
    I can breathe well enough that an e-bike isn't needed. If I were out riding stuff like Moab, then yes I would need something like that if I were to continue to ride. However, the trails around me don't warrant such. Thanks for your thoughtfulness!

  6. #6
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    What are the characteristics like in the Fugitive with a 120mm rear shock?

  7. #7
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    Anybody?

    I'm starting to lean away from Knolly. This seems to be a very obscure brand with very few out there that can offer any advice.

    I'm looking to hear from people's experiences. I don't care about what your opinion is. I appreciate those looking out for me, but I'm not interested in your suggestions. I only want to hear about other's experiences. Pros and Cons

  8. #8
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    Noel designed the Fugitive so he could race in the BC Bike Race. That should tell you everything you need to know about the bike. As a brand, my Warden never seems to let me down. The frames are really easy to maintain compared to Giants Maistro suspension and Ibis's DW suspension. I'm an ex smoker, so standing and mashing blows me up real quick. Let me sit and spin and my Knolly gets me to the top nicely.

  9. #9
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    My Niner hasn't ever had any maintenance issues to deal with. As a matter a fact, the only component I've had to deal with is replace the chain. It seems I usually go through 1 or 2 a year.

    BC has more extreme trails than is around me, but the trails around me do have a lot of similarities to the BC trails.

    Thanks for the excellent reply.

  10. #10
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    Niner blows.

    Knolly is great company, I ride one, but I can't give a huge endorsement for climbing.

    See if you can demo Knolly (unlikely) , and try to ride a DW Link Trail Bike.

    Sent from my moto x4 using Tapatalk

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjsb View Post
    Niner blows.
    See, that's your opinion. If you want to make a statement like that, then back it up with real world experience.

    I ride a Niner and I would NOT say they blow. In fact, they are quite good and very capable bikes. Mine is based on older geometry and so I want to move into where the market is now. I've ridden slacker bikes before and liked them quite a lot.

  12. #12
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    "so he could race in the BC Bike Race"

    I haven't heard that before, and I kinda doubt that as the bike's purpose. That would largely go against the design motivation for all Knolly bikes... they've always designed them as bikes they would want to ride. I know Noel did *want* to go in the BC Bike Race, and he built up a Fugitive for that purpose (as he wrote about it on the Knolly site), but if that was the primary motivation for it, I think you would have a very different bike from what it is. I'd say it's more accurate to say he designed a bike that *could* ride the BC Bike race (reasonably successfully), but still be able to ride the bigger hits and jank you find on a typical weekend.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by jebcamaro View Post
    Anybody?

    I'm starting to lean away from Knolly. This seems to be a very obscure brand with very few out there that can offer any advice.

    I'm looking to hear from people's experiences. I don't care about what your opinion is. I appreciate those looking out for me, but I'm not interested in your suggestions. I only want to hear about other's experiences. Pros and Cons
    Obscure? If by obscure you mean "small" and "less common", then I suppose. Plenty of reviews out there, from individuals and bike sites. If you look at other's experiences of riding and owning Knolly's, you'll find they're overwhelmingly positive. I personally can't say much about the Fugitive since I've never ridden one, but my used, 2016 Warden Alloy's amazing -- soft on the top, plenty of support deeper in the travel, solid as a rock, grip for days.

    Also, how many bike brands' owners regularly respond to questions on threads like this?

    If you want more specific details, might help to provide more specific questions, and to provide some kind of reference point. Plenty of good bikes out there, but they all have their pros and cons.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by jebcamaro View Post
    Anybody?

    I'm starting to lean away from Knolly. This seems to be a very obscure brand with very few out there that can offer any advice.

    I'm looking to hear from people's experiences. I don't care about what your opinion is. I appreciate those looking out for me, but I'm not interested in your suggestions. I only want to hear about other's experiences. Pros and Cons
    Pros: Fourby4 suspension is active and uses compression damping to fine tune the ride characteristics instead of entirely relying on antisquat

    Cons: Fourby4 suspension is active and uses compression damping to fine tune the ride characteristics instead of entirely relying on antisquat

    So, I've had several generations - keep coming back for more because, for me, nothing rides quite like their bikes. The Fugitive is quicker to accelerate then some previous models, definitely the most efficient to date, even more so than my Endorphin. My average summertime ride is 10mi with 1k climbing, all technical or loose-over-hardpack. I do longer rides in other seasons and get closer to 2000 vertical feet when the weather doesn't cook me (thanks TX!) so climbing efficiency isn't holding me back.
    I don't like pedal kickback and I prefer progressive linkage. I'd rather fine tune a shock than make compromises in braking traction and pedal characteristics.
    Did I mention the low bb on this frame? I LOVE it - makes it feel like a real sled, you can drive turns harder with your feet. I don't have any problems with catching the pedals.

    As for ST vs. LT, I cannot speak with experience to that - I've considered picking up an ST shock for some fun, but have had other priorities for my money. The LT is no joke - climbs well, descends wonderfully.

    I think you'll find that MTBR forums have somewhat been replaced by other social media outlets - the knolly forum seems to have suffered from that. It is a smaller brand with a less active forum, hopefully b/c everyone is out ripping

    Really though, hope you get some feedback as their bikes are top-notch ride quality (balance and suspension).

  15. #15
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    Yes, the Fugitive ST would be a great bike for the kind of riding you describe. It has a nice pedaling platform yet still stays active over all those roots and rocks you have where you live. I have a Fugitive LT and have ridden the ST extensively. I rode it all over the Hurricane/SG area over the course of 3 days and found it super fast and responsive to pedal imput, yet still very capable in some pretty technical and steep terrain. I think for smoother, faster, xc type trails I would definitely got with the ST but I think you gain some BC-like trail ability in some much rougher terrain than some other bikes in the same short travel 29er class. It's a fast, trail slayer.....

    Would other bikes also be good for this type of riding? Of course. Here's what I love about Knolly (I'm on my fourth).

    1) Small company run by some really cool, personable folks who are easy to talk to, ready to answer any and all questions you may have, and are all passionate riders like you and me.

    2) Built to last. The Knolly design philosophy is to over design and over build so that the bike holds up to what you throw at it, stays flex free, and wobble free for a loooooong time. Noel will not cut corners to make a bike a lighter if he feels like it will sacrifice durability and stiffness.

    3) Really effective suspension design that allows them to control pedaling and braking suspension action independently so that you get plush action while coasting and braking and firm yet still active action while pedaling.

    4) Really cool part-of-a-family dynamic with fun group gatherings and support from other users here and on their FB page.

    5) Not like everything else at the trailhead. You'll be unique. When you know, you know. You know?


    No, I don't work for knolly. Just a very satisfied customer.
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  16. #16
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    Hi jebcamaro!

    Thank you for your interest in the Fugitive ST!

    Other forum posters - thank you for your support!

    One of the best reviews that we've had on the Fugitive in terms of "describing the bike accurately" came out in the Radavist last year: coincidentally, it's for an ST version 120mm rear and 140mm front travel: this review is bang on in our opinion and really gets the "essence" of the Fugitive:

    https://theradavist.com/2019/06/the-...d-of-the-game/


    Smaller companies like us can take a lot of risks that the larger companies can't. They are all trying to essentially "sell the same bike": the bike that represents what the "center of the bell curve, average customer who walks into a dealership wants". Companies like us can focus on niches and explore product designs years ahead of big companies and be the vanguard of innovation.

    The Fugitive is one of these bikes.

    My BCBR build (mentioned above) is about as light duty as you'd want to build the Fugitive: it was 30 pounds on the money with clipless pedals and a Fox 34 140mm fork.

    Please let me know if there are any questions I can help you with - cheers!
    Noel Buckley
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  17. #17
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    Thanks everyone! I'll be soon purchasing a Fugitive ST frame and starting the buildup

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by jebcamaro View Post
    Thanks everyone! I'll be soon purchasing a Fugitive ST frame and starting the buildup
    That's exciting jebcamero - what kind of spec are you putting together for it?

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    I will say one thing and this isn't about Knolly specifically, I would suggest riding a new bike with a steep seat tube angle before buying any frame with one.

    I'm guessing you ride similar terrain to me - rolling without long climbs or descents. The newer steep STA tend to put more weight on your hands. I fell for the hype and bought a Ripley V4. No matter what I did I just couldn't get comfortable on it. It put more weight on my hands and I started having hand/wrist pain. I'm not the only one I've seen to find this to be an issue. I ended up selling it after 4 months.

    To me I see steep STAs are good for long ups and downs , I don't think they're good for a flat-lander.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by jebcamaro View Post
    Thanks everyone! I'll be soon purchasing a Fugitive ST frame and starting the buildup
    Sweet! Looking forward to hearing what you think of it.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by jebcamaro View Post
    Thanks everyone! I'll be soon purchasing a Fugitive ST frame and starting the buildup
    Hey Jebcamaro, may I suggest calling the fine folks at Knolly? They can definitely take some time to chat with you about ideas and your needs.
    FWIW, my first Knolly was a 2008 Endorphin.... loved the bike. Now on a Fugitive LT. I was on the fence on which option would work for me and the chats helped me decide on the LT vs the ST. I'm more west coast, sierras type riding. I'm 6'4" so need a bike that fit my big ol carcass. The Fugitive has been solid over its first year with me. Almost too much bike for my local trails but I don't need another bike when I go play in the mountains n rocks. And... +1 to what KRob said above!
    Don't harsh my mello

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoTone View Post
    I will say one thing and this isn't about Knolly specifically, I would suggest riding a new bike with a steep seat tube angle before buying any frame with one.

    I'm guessing you ride similar terrain to me - rolling without long climbs or descents. The newer steep STA tend to put more weight on your hands. I fell for the hype and bought a Ripley V4. No matter what I did I just couldn't get comfortable on it. It put more weight on my hands and I started having hand/wrist pain. I'm not the only one I've seen to find this to be an issue. I ended up selling it after 4 months.

    To me I see steep STAs are good for long ups and downs , I don't think they're good for a flat-lander.
    This is a really interesting point and something that I agree with 100%. I think there is a TON of copy cat frame design going on right now, where every bike has to have the steepest ST angle possible with the slackest front end. Sure they will sell, but the bikes get incredibly single purpose.

    My opinion (and how we design our bikes) is that these 77 degree seat tube angle bikes absolutely are ideal for BIG BIKES which have a ton of rear wheel travel and hence sag a lot and are predominantly designed for climbing up followed by going down. However, the super steep ST angles present two problems when doing a lot of "in the saddle pedaling" on fairly level terrain with a shorter travel bike:

    • Firstly, they put a lot of weight on your hands as TwoTone mentions above.
    • Secondly, they really move your pelvis forward and this can mess up the knee / BB relationship by moving your femur too far forwards.


    You will see that our shorter travel bikes run ST angles that are not quite as steep as the bigger bikes. Take the Fugitive and the Warden for example: at maximum travel, the Fugitive has 135mm rear wheel travel and the Warden 175mm. That's 40mm difference between the two. When climbing the rear shock will sag around 50%: that difference in travel alone will equate to a 1 degree difference in effective STA. Also, there is a bigger chance that the Fugitive is going to be doing a lot of mixed riding (climbing, traversing and descending) and we have to be conscious of that when designing the bike.

    Cheers,
    Noel Buckley
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  23. #23
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    Good post. Being honest I was a bit worried about the reach and STA of the Fugitive before I bought it - but there was no drama at all. No hand pressure, I do not have to weigh the front wheel for proper front tire grip - the bike is just easy to ride and I felt comfortable from the first minute I rode it.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by wg View Post
    Hey Jebcamaro, may I suggest calling the fine folks at Knolly?
    I've been in contact with them already. I wanted some experiences with the bike from people outside of the company. Nothing against talking with the company and listening to their great advice, but at the end of the day they are trying to sell bikes.

  25. #25
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    The buildup I'm thinking of doing is a Fugitive ST obviously with a Rockshox rear shock. Possibly put a megneg on it and get it fine tuned to my liking. A silver Pike ultimate fork. Industry Nine hubs, Raceface Next SL crankset, Raceface Next bars, Shimano XTR 1x12 setup, Shimano XTR 4 piston brakes. Wheels and tires are undecided. Something strong and light as possible. Not sure on what dropper post, but one of those for sure as well.

  26. #26
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    That sounds like a damn good build for a not-too-heavy-but-still-pretty-solid build! I've seen a lot of We Are One rims/wheelsets on Fugitives.

  27. #27
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    I just pulled the trigger on a large Fugitive LT frame in raw aluminum. Ken over at Knolly helped me out and answered all my many questions. Great company to deal with and I'm looking forward to many more years working with them. Can't wait to get this frame and get it built up.
    Ken basically talked me into going with the LT over the ST. I don't think I'll ever feel I went the wrong route.
    Thanks for everyone's help on here and thank you Knolly!

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    Rad, post up about when it comes in.

  29. #29
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    Interesting, what was his reasoning for that? What travel fork are you going to run?

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by David R View Post
    Interesting, what was his reasoning for that? What travel fork are you going to run?
    He essentially told me that going from the 120 to 135 you are losing some pedal efficiency, however it's really negligible. Also, I will gain that much more in the downhill traction and handling with the slightly longer travel. He said that 90% of their Fugitive sales are LT. We talked about some of the trails I ride, Bentonville being one of them and he says people out there are riding the LT or longer travel bikes. I never found the trails there to be overly aggressive for a long travel bike. There are some steep climbs though. I believe I made the right choice.

    I'm going to run a Rockshox Pike Ultimate set at 150mm

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by knollybikes.com View Post
    This is a really interesting point and something that I agree with 100%. I think there is a TON of copy cat frame design going on right now, where every bike has to have the steepest ST angle possible with the slackest front end. Sure they will sell, but the bikes get incredibly single purpose.

    My opinion (and how we design our bikes) is that these 77 degree seat tube angle bikes absolutely are ideal for BIG BIKES which have a ton of rear wheel travel and hence sag a lot and are predominantly designed for climbing up followed by going down. However, the super steep ST angles present two problems when doing a lot of "in the saddle pedaling" on fairly level terrain with a shorter travel bike:

    • Firstly, they put a lot of weight on your hands as TwoTone mentions above.
    • Secondly, they really move your pelvis forward and this can mess up the knee / BB relationship by moving your femur too far forwards.


    You will see that our shorter travel bikes run ST angles that are not quite as steep as the bigger bikes. Take the Fugitive and the Warden for example: at maximum travel, the Fugitive has 135mm rear wheel travel and the Warden 175mm. That's 40mm difference between the two. When climbing the rear shock will sag around 50%: that difference in travel alone will equate to a 1 degree difference in effective STA. Also, there is a bigger chance that the Fugitive is going to be doing a lot of mixed riding (climbing, traversing and descending) and we have to be conscious of that when designing the bike.

    Cheers,
    You forgot to mention that the STA is adjustable with the high/low shock position. It is minor, but I can tell the difference in hand pressure between the two settings on longer rides.
    Portland Off Road Navagators

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by jebcamaro View Post
    He essentially told me that going from the 120 to 135 you are losing some pedal efficiency, however it's really negligible. Also, I will gain that much more in the downhill traction and handling with the slightly longer travel. He said that 90% of their Fugitive sales are LT. We talked about some of the trails I ride, Bentonville being one of them and he says people out there are riding the LT or longer travel bikes. I never found the trails there to be overly aggressive for a long travel bike. There are some steep climbs though. I believe I made the right choice.

    I'm going to run a Rockshox Pike Ultimate set at 150mm
    Welcome to the Knation. Nice build.

    Easy to switch to ST if you decide the LT is too much. I doubt you will as there’s no weight difference (unless you also spring for a lighter 34 or Reba fork and simple non- piggyback air shock).


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