2019 Guerrilla Gravity Trail Pistol

Guerrilla Gravity Trail Pistol

Size Tested: 3

Geometry: (Here)

Build Overview (Ride 1 Build Kit):

  • Drivetrain: Sram GX Eagle
  • Brakes: Sram Guide RS
  • Fork: Rockshox Pike RC
  • Rear Shock: Rockshox Deluxe Select
  • Wheels: DT Swiss XM1501 i30

Wheels: 29′′

Travel: 120 mm rear / 130 mm front

Blister’s Measured Weight: 30.8 lbs (14 kg) without pedals

MSRP: $4,595

Reviewer: 5’9”, 155 lbs.

Test Location: Whitefish, Montana

Duration of Test (so far): 2 rides

Noah Bodman reviews the 2019 Guerrilla Gravity Trail Pistol Carbon for BLISTER
Guerrilla Gravity Trail Pistol
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Review Navigation:  Specs //  Intro //  Ordering Process //  The Frame //  Fit & Geometry //  The Ride // Bottom Line

Intro

Guerrilla Gravity has been doing things their own way for a few years now, quietly producing aluminum frames in Colorado that have gradually developed a cult following. Their bikes have gained a reputation for being no-nonsense, durable, and built for pinners.

That put them into a relatively small category of frame builders that were producing full-suspension frames in North America. Working in that niche — along with reasonable price points on their frames — helped Guerilla Gravity grow over the years. But in the age of carbon wonder bikes and direct-to-consumer deals, it’s tough for a small company to really make a mark.

But this winter, Guerilla Gravity came out swinging with a big press release: they’re going carbon. And they’re producing those carbon frames in Colorado. And their carbon process is stronger. And (the real kicker, as far as I’m concerned) the prices are actually competitive.

Take a second and read that paragraph again. Because that describes something that no one else is doing.

Noah Bodman reviews the 2019 Guerrilla Gravity Trail Pistol Carbon for BLISTER
Noah Bodman on the Guerrilla Gravity Trail Pistol. (photo by Marc O'Brien)

There’s no shortage of small bike companies selling various Asian-made carbon contraptions. Plenty of those bikes are excellent, and some of them are reasonably priced. But there are only a very few companies that are producing carbon frames in North America, and I don’t know of any other companies that are producing carbon frames in the U.S. for a price that’s attainable by mere mortals. Yet, somehow Guerrilla Gravity is doing just that.

And we got our hands on one — I have a few rides in on a brand-spanking-new carbon Trail Pistol. We’ll be putting out a full review in a month or two once we put some serious miles on the bike, but here are some initial impressions.

The Ordering Process

We ordered our Trail Pistol through the normal process on Guerrilla Gravity’s website. So we put in a pre-order on February 19, and then got confirmation that the frame was ready to go on May 10. The bike showed up on our doorstep on May 30.

That timeline may look a bit long, but it was very much in line with what Guerrilla Gravity said it’d be from the outset. So in other words, they delivered the product on the timeline they said they would. This was also the first run of their carbon frames, so I expect that the timeline will be quite a bit shorter in the future.

Noah Bodman reviews the 2019 Guerrilla Gravity Trail Pistol Carbon for BLISTER
Noah Bodman on the Guerrilla Gravity Trail Pistol. (photo by Marc O'Brien)

The bike arrived in two boxes — one with the wheels, and one with everything else. The bike was mostly built; all that needed to be done was bolt on the wheels, rear derailleur, handlebar, and controls. Things were more or less set up — I had to tweak the shifting a bit, and of course suspension and tire pressures needed to be set. But getting the Trail Pistol up and running is a surmountable task for anyone that’s even moderately mechanically inclined and has a set of hex wrenches.

One Frame to Rule Them All

A big change with the carbon offerings from Guerrilla Gravity is that they make one front triangle (in four sizes) for all of their full-suspension bikes. So the front triangle on the 120mm-travel Trail Pistol we ordered is identical to the front triangle on a 145mm-travel Smash or 160mm-travel Megatrail. This is pretty clearly one of the ways that they keep costs down, but it also makes things easily interchangeable.

And Guerrilla Gravity embraces that interchangeability — turning a Trail Pistol into a Smash is as easy as ordering a seatstay kit ($445), a longer-stroke rear shock ($500-ish), and a longer-travel fork (cheap option: $40 air shaft kit). In other words, you can effectively have two separate bikes for the price of 1 ¼ bikes. That’s pretty neat.

Noah Bodman reviews the 2019 Guerrilla Gravity Trail Pistol Carbon for BLISTER
Noah Bodman on the Guerrilla Gravity Trail Pistol. (photo by Marc O'Brien)

One potential downside of that interchangeability is that the frames aren’t that light. On my scale, my test rig weighs in at 30.8 lbs (14 kg) without pedals. While that’s par for the course with a longer-travel bike, it’s a bit porky for a carbon-framed shorter-travel bike. It’s also worth noting that our measured weight is about 2.5 lbs heavier than the “estimated weight” listed on Guerrilla Gravity’s website. Some of that difference comes down to the tires (I upgraded the tires on my test rig to a 2.5” DHF and 2.3” DHR II, but the stock build comes with 2.4” Rekons, which are lighter). But even accounting for the tires, the bike is still a fair amount heavier than the numbers Guerrilla Gravity is stating.

Size By Number

Guerrilla Gravity has abandoned traditional bike sizing, and instead offers four sizes — 1 through 4. And each frame size has a “GeoAdjust” headset, which allows for a bunch of different configurations.

The frame has a massive headtube with an insert that can be flipped around, changing the reach by about 10 mm, and Guerrilla Gravity also offers different lower cups that increase the stack by 15 mm. So really, while there are only four frames sizes, there are effectively eight frame sizes, each of which can be tweaked even further.

Guerrilla Gravity has a handy size suggester on their website where you enter your height and riding style (“all around” or “full throttle”), and it’ll suggest a frame size. I’m fairly average when it comes to height (5’9” ish) and I’m inclined to act like I’m faster than I actually am, so I picked “full throttle.” That puts me on a Size 3 frame paired with a short stem, which is what I went with.

Initial Thoughts on Sizing

The Size 3 Trail Pistol with the headset in the short orientation has a reach of 483 mm, which is by far the longest bike I’ve ever spent much time on. Compared to the size Medium Trek Slash, the reach on the Trail Pistol is over 50 mm longer. Interestingly though, the Trail Pistol’s steep 78.1° seat tube angle, paired with a short 32 mm stem, means that my saddle-to-handlebar distance is actually shorter than the Slash. So that means my seated position feels similar to most bikes I’ve owned in the past, but my standing position is much more stretched out, and thus more forward.

Noah Bodman reviews the 2019 Guerrilla Gravity Trail Pistol Carbon for BLISTER
Noah Bodman on the Guerrilla Gravity Trail Pistol. (photo by Marc O'Brien)

After a couple rides, it’s clear that this will take some getting used to, but it doesn’t feel “wrong.” I like having my weight further forward, but the long wheelbase feels, well … long. While I thought about sizing down to the Size 2 (which is still a decidedly long bike), I wanted to try the long bike / slack angles / short travel combination. In theory, the Trail Pistol will have the pep and pop of a short-travel rig, but still be a stable monster through rough stuff due to 29” wheels, a relatively slack head angle, and a massive wheelbase. It’s a bit early to tell whether the Trail Pistol accomplishes that, but initial impressions are looking promising.

On the Trail — First Impressions

As I said, in a month or two I’ll have a full, in-depth review put together. And these initial impressions are based on slapping the bike together and going for a ride — I haven’t tinkered with suspension settings or anything like that yet. I’m still at the point where I’m fussing with getting the cockpit controls where I like them.

Noah Bodman reviews the 2019 Guerrilla Gravity Trail Pistol Carbon for BLISTER
Noah Bodman on the Guerrilla Gravity Trail Pistol. (photo by Marc O'Brien)

That said, I’m pretty impressed. After reading some reviews of the older, aluminum Trail Pistol, I was expecting a fairly non-supple experience that really wanted to be pinned all the time. And I’ve gotta say, so far, that’s not really the case. For a 120mm-travel bike with mid-level suspension mounted up, I’m actually impressed by how well this thing irons out the trail. And that’s with the suspension set in “Crush” mode — I haven’t experimented with “Plush” mode yet.

Now, to be sure, this is still a 120mm-travel bike, so it’s not a cushy couch. But so far, it seems like it does a surprisingly good job of making use of the travel it has and balancing small bump sensitivity without bottoming out harshly on big hits.

The biggest thing that I’ve found that I’ll need to get used to is finding the balance point between the wheels. The Trail Pistol is a long bike, so there’s a lot of room to shift my weight fore and aft. So far, I still find myself searching around a bit in corners, trying to figure out where I want my body position. On smaller bikes, the answer to that question was usually “forward.” On this bike, I don’t need to work so hard to keep my weight forward because the geometry naturally puts me in that position. So I think I need to retrain my instincts a bit, because the “neutral” position on this bike is already quite far forward.

Noah Bodman reviews the 2019 Guerrilla Gravity Trail Pistol Carbon for BLISTER

That length does, of course, come at the cost of some flickability and playfulness. While the Trail Pistol definitely pumps and pops nicely, in tight corners the fact that this is a long bike is pretty apparent. As with most things, I’m sure I’ll get used to it, and then going back to a smaller bike will feel sketchy and unstable. And ultimately, this is what I wanted — big-bike stability in a small-bike package. But for those looking for a more traditionally maneuverable 120mm-travel bike, going with a smaller size might be the ticket.

Bottom Line (For Now)

I’m really, really impressed with what Guerrilla Gravity has produced. This frame has crossed zero oceans to get to my doorstep, yet it’s still competitively priced and there’s a ton of cool ideas incorporated into the design. I’ll get more into the nuts and bolts of it in the full review, along with some longer-term thoughts on durability, but for now, it’s sure looking like Guerrilla Gravity knocked it out of the park.

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14 comments on “2019 Guerrilla Gravity Trail Pistol”

    • Yeah, I can see a DPX2 working really well on this bike. And yup, I’ll mess around with the suspension a bunch more and report back in the full review. The Smash looks like a rad bike – I might have to get a seatstay kit to convert the Trail Pistol at some point!

  1. I generally have issues with my front tire washing out in soft corners on longer bikes, how is the seated loose cornering stability of this bike? Does it feel like the front wants to naturally wash or is it pretty planteD?

    • So far, it seems fairly planted, provided I stay centered in a neutral position. My instinct is to get forward, but then I’m kind of fighting the geometry’s natural inclination to put my weight more or less where it should be, and the front tire starts doing weird things. My first couple of rides, this felt weird, but the more time I spend on the bike, the more I’m getting used to just staying neutral and letting the bike do its thing, which works really well. For seated cornering, I only really do that while I’m climbing, and I find the front to be pretty planted – the steep seat tube angle does a really good job of keeping weight on the front wheel.

  2. I’m glad to see you reviewing out-of-the-mainstream bikes. It would be interesting to compare it to the new slacked out Ibis Ripley.

  3. Hey Noah, thanks for the review. How does it work for seated jumping? My current bike keeps bucking me, is this one any better?
    How about seated bunny hopping?

    • It’s easily in the top 5 best bikes I’ve ever ridden for seated jumping. I’m still working on my seated bunny hops, but hopefully this bike will help me improve.

  4. Bucking is generally a function of shock’s rebound being too fast. It’ll be a balance between getting good pop and low buck for jumps. Most shocks have a low speed rebound adjustment to balance the traction versus chassis stability, but adjustments also affects high speed rebound. If your shock adjustment doesn’t compensate enough for the bucking while maintaining traction, then you may need a revalve of the high speed circuit. The bucking problem can also be exasperated by running the fork rebound slower than the shock.

  5. Glad you are liking the TP. I’ve been riding a GG Smash since 2018 and loving it. My GF has a 2019 Revved Smash on order. Should be here pretty soon and her stoke levels are reaching all time highs! :)

    We’ll look for your long term TP review.

  6. Hey Noah, great review! I’ve got about 300 miles on my Trail Pistol so far. Although my bike is set up a little differently from yours (140/130 with a coil), my sentiments are very similar to yours.

    One suggestion that I’d make is to try a shorter offset fork on the bike. You’re definitely correct in stating that the Pistol is a damn long trail bike, and that left to its own devices it’s noticeably lacking in the corners. However, switching to a 46mm offset fork was a game-changer for this bike. You get to keep that “big bike” stability at speed, in gnar, and in steep terrain, but the decreased trail number from the short offset really wakes up the cornering and hides the long wheelbase when you need to sneak around the inside of a tight switchback.

    Give it a shot.

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