Tuesday, September 6, 2016

2016 BH Lynx 4.829 Review - This Mountain Bike is a Carbon Enduro Ripper from the Mountains of Spain

Due to about 4 years of use and 3,000 miles, I needed to replace my 27.5 Blur LTc Carbon with another medium travel trail bike that was less worn out. I had saved about $2600, but would have saved longer had the BH Lynx not shown up on Pricepoint for a screaming deal. As usual, with a bike that is 60% off, you have to do a little detective work to find out what the catch is... Other options were, used 5010s, a niner RIP9 carbon RDO that PP was also blowing out, and a more expensive longer travel Lynx 27.5 that seemed identical in geometry to the Trek Fuel... but with a much better spec but cost more money.

The spec on BH included an XTR 10 speed der, with an XT 2x10 drivetrain, XT brakes, Fox and Stans wheels. Solid. It was fully spec'd in its retail price range of $5,000 on the pre-Pricepoint.com market.

The Fox suspension, featured 120 float CTD up front, which gets mixed reviews, but I have one already and know it is buttery and dependable, (after my early model went back for a rebuild), as Fox is known for. The rear was a Fox Float CTD with a remote. You could not reach down and adjust the rear on the fly without it, as it is tucked in tight to the frame.

I noticed that the cockpit groupo is where they shaved the money with heavy narrow bars, lower end stem, and a stock seatpost. These would all have to go, as I could not picture this bike without a dropper, (which came stock on the highest level version of this bike). Wheels were Stans Arch, solid and decent Stans hubs. The wheels had Racing Ralphs, which I love in drier conditions. Super light and grippy, but the lower end versions are prone to sidewall rips (as expereinced on numerous occasions). They were shipped with tubes, which seems strange as the Stans wheels were tubeless ready. But all good nonetheless. I investigated the suspiciously low price and found out that PP was going out of business and blowing out their stuff. One factor that didn't have anything to do with the bike.

In comparing to the Carbon Niner RDO, which was similarly spec'd descriptions of the geometry seemed like the Niner was dated with long chainstays and top tube, which is a personal peeve of mine. That alone turned me off of 29ers until I got a Chumba HX2 and found out that 29ers with the right geometry could be twitchy scramblers and awesome. In digesting numerous reviews of the Lynx, I discovered it had some of the shortest Chainstays in the industry. It was a design by Dave Weigel, who I guess, is a bike geometry innovator who designed suspensions like the Fuel among others... Also, BH bikes have been around forever, were in the TDF this year and located in Spain. All of that made me more curious.

Knocks against the bike in reviews I read had little to do with quality of ride (except Mountain Bike Action - but what would you expect from them if its not a big advertiser brand?). Concerns were the weak Fox Float fork, relationship of the shock to the rear wheel, (which is disturbingly close), and quick release levers design, which didn't bother me. Reviews also said it could be "twitchy at speed" which is par for the course when you have a short rear end and a shorter wheelbase, that's preference, fit and riding style. It also had a stubby 660mm (I think) bar width, which also could explain the feeling of high speed twitch. I felt like I could modify all of these concerns. The tight shock proximatey to the rear wheel bothered me less when I read longer term reviews that said problems from this never materialzed. I would have thought they'd put a guard there if it was a problem, considering the company and engineering behind the design.

The more I looked at it the more I found things to change and like. First off, I liked that the entire front frame was a single carbon mold instead of epoxied pieces together. Lighter and more durable as I understand. The geometry was spot-on for my riding style, where I need asisstance from short chainstays to wheelie drop effectively. I don't care one way or the other about 650b vs. 29. A great bike is a great bike, and a shitty one is just that. Wheel size in my mind is not a factor, but the 29 meant my garage could eliminate the 27.5 tire size as I would now have 3 bikes with 29, 1 26er, 1 fat, 1 road....

So I took a chance on PP not going out of business until my bike got delivered and pulled the trigger.
It came sooner than expected and was boxed nicely.

There were little to no directions, but luckily, I knew pretty much how everything went together. Challenges included the integrated shift/brake clamp, even though it was my second encounter this summer (Yelli Screamy build for my son), and the dropper post remote internal cable run. The internal cable routing was easy to figure out, it was my first time with it and maybe this bike is different, but I didn't see the big deal. I immediately removed the bars and put on some Race Face NEXT carbons that I knew would feel better. 
BH not 24 hrs. old, built and raced
with expected results, but it was
still better than not racing.
My Tallboy was down and I had a race night the next day, so I assembled it quickly and had no choice but to race this one. On race night I did terribly. I was slow and the bike didn't shift properly. The back end felt sloppy when shifting on climbs. I adjusted the der and cables as I assumed this was the problem, but it still would not sort out on the next couple of rides. The rear end seemed to have a lot of flex, and clicked under duress... I felt like the bike was a lemon. I moved the rear end and the linkage on the end of the chainstays between the seatstay the linage would click in and out. I thought it must be missing a bushing, or it came loose. I tightened it, but I still got about 1/8th inch of play in the chainstay to seatstay, which explained the faulty shifting under duress. 
Once the weekend rolled around, I could dig into this problem. I had emails to Pricepoint and BH Bicycles with no reply from either. I thought I was screwed. So I began to take the bike apart removing the axle dropouts and the dropout holders, from the carbon. The way the linkage in the rear end dropouts are designed, is that one side has a thru axle insert with a smooth hole for the axle to slide through, and the other side holds a threaded insert. The threaded side insert is slightly thinner. First I cranked in the inner dropouts to the linkage almost too tightly. Still there was play. Then on a hunch, I reversed the dropout holders putting the thinner one on the left and the thicker one on the right. The internal axle holders threaded in perfectly. It's great when you find a problem like this and know it is going together right. You don't even have to try it to know it will work. It did. The factory had flip-flopped the rear axle dropouts, (but not the internal axle holders). I put the bike back together and it worked great.
Axle dropout consists of the internal Torx bolt and housing it screws into. This side is threaded, the other chainstay is where you insert the rear axle and screw it into this side. The housing that the Torx screws into turned out to be side specific and flip-flopped making for wiggle in the rear end. It was easily fixed by putting the two dropout housings on their correct side.

Now let's talk about the ride. The name 4.829, I figured out was 4.8 inches of travel, 29 inch wheels. What struck me as it felt like a 160mm rear end. In fact the front 120mm Fox forks almost feel to stubby travel-wise. So I decided to put my Xfusion Slant 130mm/110mm travel adjusts on there. The forks initially felt like shit. I realized it wasn't the geometry but the forks themselves were topping out hard at recommended psi, or not active enough when I let air out to stop the top out. I fixed these by letting all the air out and flipping them upside down and cycling them the full length of travel a few times. I'm not sure if it adjusted air pressure chambers, got more oil where it needed to go or what, but this fixed them and made them super smooth and plush again. 
I'm thankful for the 110mm position when climbing and the 130mm gives me a lot more confidence off things... I know its only 10mm either direction, but at least in my mind it seems to make a difference. I have gotten PRs in some of my favorite trails, (Rockland in Madison, CT) on this setup. One was a DH, and the other was a heavy climb. There seems to be more of a "bob" on the CTD even in locked out but it does provide a plush ride in Descend and a firmer yet moving on Climb... It's just not to the level of my Tallboy on lockout, but on super steep technicals, the back end stays put and is predictable with the advantages and feel of an old school Specialized FSR on ups, vs. a hardtail. In these instances the full suspension is preferable as it holds to the ground better. While I do prefer to climb on a hardtail due to energy conservation, in some instances suspension is hands down superior. This is demonstrated on the BH when climbing through babyheads and boulder gardens with loose pack sprinkled in. 

For railling down,  it has a low center of gravity which is a curse and a blessing. I don't think they have rocks where they design and test my favorite bikes, like Santa Cruz, because both this and all my recent SCBs have BB heights that invite rocks to shred your crank arms and pedals, jarringly, and they have a much harder time clearing logs in the trail. I guess you have to learn to ride differently with the speed advantage, but I hate this characteristic of new bikes, at least for New England old school singletrack. Other than that the bike is light and responsive, the front end comes up easily, yet can be pushed into a corner without any concering washout feeling. 

The graphics are pretty neat, but there's a lot going on. The toptube is white with large letters, the lower part is blue and red. There's some text like Tapered Headtube and PM Direct 160mm that seem kind of corny. Some Marketing-minded Spaniard thought all that English text might help I guess. Overall it's still a good looking rig. 

Cables R Us
My biggest complaint is that with addition of the reverb, cables clutter the cockpit in a big way with a tangle of black spagetti. It's hard to affix a race plate over them. I need to clean up the mess at some point. Another peeve is that the CTD remote for the rear shock keeps jumping out of its holder on the shock. I thought it would have to do with cable length or tension. Nothing seems to help so far. I am trying duct taping the cable to its housing holder now. So far that seems to work, but it has only been one ride. 

As an owner of many bikes in my nearly 30 years of this obsession, there's nothing I can't overcome with this bike and when I think of what I got for under 2,500 dollars, it makes me downright giddy.
It is not an XC race bike, but it is 27ish lbs with a dropper and has more opportunities to lighten itself up, like lighter or smaller than 180mm rotors, however it is a pure trail bike, with an enduro leaning geometry so it is pretty feather weight for this category. I still haven't worked up to hitting more than a 3 foot drop, but I am sure that will come, as I build confidence in the bike and how it reacts to a harsh landing or two. My first jump resulted in a giant snakebite, landing on a single pointy rock, "ting", but the wheels don't seem to have gained a flat spot as far as I can tell.  I would recommend this bike to anyone looking for a good deal for a quality carbon bike, designed by Weigel in the 3,500 range (as the Pricepoint.com deal will not be coming around any time soon). With the addition of a  Reverb, and some good bars, better tubless tires, and optionally a fork upgrade, this bike will show up in a big way in performance and handling that anything most bike companies (my beloved Santa Cruz included) can compare





.














No comments: