2017-2018 Banshee Rune
Size Tested: Small
- Drivetrain: Shimano XT
- Brakes: Shimano SLX
- Fork: MRP Ribbon
- Rear Shock: Cane Creek DBAir
- Wheels: Industry Nine Enduro-S
- Seatpost: Race Face Turbine
Travel: 160 mm rear / 160 mm front
Blister’s Measured Weight: 31.5 lbs without pedals
Reviewer: 5’2”, 125 lbs.
Test Location: Moab, UT
MSRP: $1709 for frame with DB Inline shock
We swung through Outerbike in Moab a few weeks ago to hang out, ride some bikes, and partake in the good times that happen when bike people gather together in the desert.
If you don’t already know about Outerbike, you should; it’s a great opportunity to demo new bikes on some great trails. There are three Outerbike events throughout the year — Moab in the spring; Crested Butte in the summer; and Moab again in the fall. Each event lasts 3-4 days, and you can get more information at outerbike.com.
So we had three days to ride some of this year’s new bikes on a smattering of Moab’s best trails. And while it was a great opportunity to learn a good bit about a number of new bikes (including the one reviewed here), we only rode these bikes for a few hours each, so keep in mind that this isn’t our normal full-scale review.
The Rune is Banshee’s 160 mm all-mountain bike made for charging down technical trails. While most companies have waved goodbye to 26 inch wheels, Banshee offers three of their bikes — the Darkside, Spitfire and Rune — with either 27.5 or 26 inch wheels. Different dropouts are used to make the frames compatible with different wheel sizes. And with those different dropouts, riders can also choose 142×12 or 148×12 spacing in both wheel sizes. This feature is particularly great for riders who have a wheelset that has become obsolete with the ever-changing standards.
Fit and Geometry
I rode a size Small Rune, which seemed to fit very similarly to a size Small YT Capra. With an effective toptube length of 565 mm in a size Small, at 5’2” I felt very comfortable on descents. On seated climbs I was a bit stretched out, but didn’t have any lower back pain.
I rode the bike in the “Neutral” mode, giving the bike a 65 degree headtube angle, 74.5 degree effective seat angle, 345 mm BB height, and 424 mm chainstays. The “Low” mode changes the geometry to give the bike a 64.5 degree headtube angle, 74 degree effective seat angle, 338 mm BB height, and 427 mm chainstays.
The Neutral mode was plenty aggressive for the technical Moab trails so I didn’t ride the Rune in the Low setting. I can only see riding in the Low mode for steep, technical trails that are accessed via some form of motorized travel. It could be very useful for riders who spend a lot of time in bike parks, but I would keep the geometry in the Neutral setting for most trail rides.
The Rune I rode was not stock and was outfitted with an XT drivetrain, SLX brakes, RaceFace cockpit and dropper post, and a 27.5 inch Industry Nine Enduro S wheelset. No complaints there, and everything worked as expected. The build was rounded out with a Cane Creek DBAir shock and MRP Ribbon fork, which are both highly tuneable.
The Rune won’t ever win any awards in the climbing category, which is not surprising for a slack, 31.5 lb size-Small trail bike. But it gets up hills without wasting too much energy. The suspension stiffens up nicely under pedaling, and I was pleasantly surprised how well the bike climbed up the technical sandstone trails of Moab given its weight and geometry. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this bike is perfect for “long days in the saddle,” as Banshee claims, but its pedaling efficiency helps make up for its weight.
The Banshee Rune really starts to excel once turned downhill. The bike feels supportive throughout its travel and performs well on flat drops, steep rock rolls, and harsh compressions, and its long and slack geometry helps it to hold lines through technical terrain at high speeds.
However, the Rune did not eat up square-edged rocks as well as other bikes in its class, such as the YT Capra or Liv Hail (which has a similar suspension design to the Giant Reign). I was able to keep the front wheel of the Rune planted through chunky sections of trail, but the rear end of the bike did not feel overly plush and instead got caught up by square-edged rocks. This stiff feeling was exacerbated with braking. The Rune maintains its geometry and stiffens under braking forces, making for a harsher ride than I would expect from a 160 mm travel bike. The Rune would most likely be great on jump trails or in smoother technical areas, but it is not the ideal bike for a place like Moab, where 90% of the trails have square-edged rocks sticking up at awkward angles.
The Banshee Rune is a sturdy trail bike that shines while going fast over big features, but does not handle square-edged rocks as well as other bikes in its class. With the Neutral and Low geometry settings, the Rune could be great for riders who want a beefy trail bike that pedals well for its weight and can hold its own in the bike park. And the options of running dropouts for 26-inch or 27.5-inch wheels with 142×12 or 148×12 spacing could also make the Rune appealing to those looking to run specific wheelsets.