2021 Forbidden Dreadnought

2021 Forbidden Dreadnought

Wheels: 29′′

  • Mixed  29″ / 27.5″ configuration possible with interchangeable suspension link

Travel: 154 mm rear / 170 mm front

Geometry: See Below


  • Shimano SLX Build: $5,349
  • Shimano XT Build: $6,499
  • Frame + Fox Float X2 Performance: $3,499
  • Frame + EXT Storia: $4,049
  • Frame + Push ElevenSix: $4,249
Blister discusses the Forbidden Dreadnought
Forbidden Dreadnought XT Build
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Review Navigation:  Specs //  Intro //  The Frame //  The Builds //  Fit & Geometry //  Bottom Line


Forbidden just released the Dreadnought, the longer-travel stablemate to their 130mm-travel Druid. And while the Dreadnought, with 154 mm of rear-wheel travel, does get the longer / slacker treatment that you’d expect, there’s a lot more going on here than just another ~160mm-travel Enduro sled, in a market already full of variants on that theme. So what’s so special about the Dreadnought, and why are we so excited about it? Read on to find out.

(Also, “Forbidden Dreadnought” is now both my early frontrunner for Product Name of the Year, and the name of my soon-to-be-formed metal band.)

The Frame

The Dreadnought frame bears a strong family resemblance to the Druid. Both are available in carbon fiber only, and share a nearly identical silhouette, the most obvious feature of which is a high-pivot suspension layout, with an idler pulley located above the crankset.

The high single-pivot suspension layout gives the Dreadnaught a rearward axle path through the entirety of the travel, which Forbidden says improves absorption of square-edged hits. The idler pulley mitigates the extreme chain growth that the high-pivot layout would otherwise induce, and allows Forbidden to fine-tune the bike’s anti-squat to achieve their desired pedaling characteristics, without resulting in significant pedal kickback.

The leverage curve of the Dreadnought is quite progressive, starting at about 2.65:1 at topout, and reaching 1.825:1 at the end of the stroke. While there aren’t any crazy undulations in the leverage curve, it’s not quite a straight line either; the curve flattens out a bit through the midstroke, and becomes notably more progressive in the last 35 mm or so of travel. Anti-squat sits around 120% at sag, and tails off gradually to around 95% by the end of the stroke.

Blister discusses the Forbidden Dreadnought
Forbidden Dreadnought — Leverage Curve

The shock (a 205 x 55 mm Trunion size) is mounted low in the frame of the Dreadnought, just above the bottom bracket, which both lowers the bike’s center of gravity, and preserves room in the front triangle for a full-size water bottle on all sizes. A second set of mounts underneath the top tube are meant for a tool, a pump, or other such accessories.

The Dreadnought features internal cable routing throughout, a threaded bottom bracket shell, and post-mount brake tabs for a 180 mm brake rotor. The lower two mounts for a standard set of ISCG ‘05 tabs are included (the idler pulley isn’t compatible with a standard upper guide, hence the omission of the top mount) and Forbidden includes an e*Thirteen bash guard and lower guide with all Dreadnought frames and complete bikes. The idler pulley gets its own, integrated top guide for chain retention, and large rubber guards are included on both the swingarm and the downtube.

The stock configuration for the Dreadnought is to be run with 29” wheels at both ends, but Forbidden offers an aftermarket “Ziggy Link” for riders who want to try a 27.5” rear wheel for a mullet setup. The Ziggy Link preserves the stock geometry, and is shared with the Druid if you’re mullet-curious with one of those as well.

Forbidden also notes that the Dreadnought is rated to be run with a dual-crown fork, if desired. While not everyone will want to (or should) take them up on that, I think pedaling a dual crown uphill is a lot more reasonable than conventional wisdom might suggest, and the fact that Forbidden has given their blessing is a welcome option.

The Builds

For now, the Dreadnought is available as a frame only, with your choice of an EXT Storia or Push ElevenSix rear shock. A Fox Float X2 will also be available on Dreadnought frames sometime in Q2 of 2021, along with a complete bike spec’d with a Shimano XT drivetrain. A Shimano SLX complete build is to follow in Q3.

The specs of the forthcoming complete offerings are as follows:

SLX Build ($5,349):

XT Build ($6,499)

The current frame-only offerings are available in either “Stealth” (a matte black finish) or “Deep Space 9” (a glossy black to blue fade). Stealth will be the lone color for the XT build, with Deep Space 9 featured on the SLX bike. A third, frame-only colorway, dubbed “Nerds” (a metallic blue to purple fade) will be available in Q2 of 2021.

Blister discusses the Forbidden Dreadnought
Forbidden Dreadnought "Stealth" colorway
Blister discusses the Forbidden Dreadnought
Forbidden Dreadnought "Deep Space 9" colorway
Blister discusses the Forbidden Dreadnought
Forbidden Dreadnought "Nerds" colorway

Fit and Geometry

Forbidden offers the Dreadnought in four sizes, from S through XL, which reach figures ranging from 440 to 506 mm in 22 mm increments, and their recommended sizing covers riders between 5’2” (158 cm) and 6’6” (198 cm). Forbidden also varies the length of the chainstays between sizes, a move that is growing in popularity, and that we at Blister have been applauding for some time.

Interestingly, the Dreadnought makes far bigger steps between sizes than average, with the chainstays growing by 14 mm per size, from a very short 422 mm on the size Small, through a massive 464 mm on the XL. Forbidden says that they are the “only brand to ensure the same weight distribution across all sizes”, and there might be something to that, at least in terms of the ratio of chainstay length to total wheelbase. The Dreadnought maintains the same ratio across the full size range, a rare thing even for companies that do vary chainstay length between sizes.

All sizes get a 63.5° headtube angle and a 76° effective seat tube angle. Despite varying the chainstay length between sizes, all four use the same swingarm; the chainstay length is varied by moving the bottom bracket relative to the rest of the front triangle. The result is that the actual seat tube angle on the Dreadnought ranges from 73° on the Small, through 77.1° on the XL, making the L and XL sizes the exceedingly rare bikes that have a steeper actual seat tube angle than their effective seat tube angle.

All of that adds up to wheelbases that range from a fairly short (for this class of bike) 1203 mm on the Small frame, through a gargantuan 1325 mm on the XL. The medium frame comes in at 1244 mm. For reference, here’s the full geo chart:

Blister discusses the Forbidden Dreadnought
Forbidden Dreadnought — Geometry Chart

These numbers, paired with its ample (and rearward-arcing) suspension should make the Dreadnought awfully capable when it comes to descending at speed, but don’t seem so extreme as to relegate it to pure bike park or shuttle duty.

Some Questions / Things We’re Curious About

(1) We bet that the rear suspension of the Dreadnought, with its rearward axle path and progressive leverage curve, will feel great when it comes to mowing down rough terrain, but how much does it sacrifice when it comes to poppiness and the ability to gain speed by pumping the bike through rolling terrain?

(2) The chainstays on the larger sizes of the Dreadnought are quite long to begin with, and only get longer as the suspension cycles, due to the rearward axle path. Are they going to feel really long on the trail, or will the Dreadnought feel relatively normal in that regard? And what kind of stance and body positioning will it encourage?

(3) How versatile does the Dreadnought feel as a burly, long-travel Trail bike, and does the idler pulley induce enough drag or noise to be noticeable when climbing?

(4) Conversely, 154 mm isn’t a small amount of rear-wheel travel, but it’s also less than some of the burliest Enduro bikes on the market (e.g., the new Nukeproof Giga). So does the Dreadnought punch above its travel, owing to the rearward axle path?

Bottom Line (For Now)

The Forbidden Dreadnought looks like a highly capable Enduro bike, with some rather unique geometry touches and a high-pivot suspension layout that’s more commonly found on dedicated DH bikes. We’re very curious to find out how all that adds up as a package, and where it fits in among the class of long-travel, predominantly descending-oriented Enduro bikes that still offer respectable performance when the trail points back up hill, and are working on getting our hands on one to find out.

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6 comments on “2021 Forbidden Dreadnought”

  1. I owned the shorter travel Druid for around a year. rode great and It definitely punched above its travel numbers and pedaled well. The rearward axle path also did take some pop out of jumping, etc. My biggest caveat, and the reason I sold it, is I found the drivetrain to be very high maintenence with all the extra pulleys and bearings (top idler pulley and lower chain guide roller) with noticeable drag if I didn’t deep clean and relube the chain after every ride, and clean out the aforementioned upper and lower idlers/bearings every 4-5 rides. I do ride in the desert so perhaps this would not be as big a deal for those blessed with wetter climates…

  2. Really, really like the seat tube angle per size changes. Ditto for the chainstay lengths, although they do seem long overal, I applaud the consistent size increases

  3. So I have a druid, and while there is a hair more maintenance, my experience has been better than Robertsons. That said, i do live in the PNW. I also switched to the MRP SxG which got rid of most of the drag. Mine hasnt been noisy, but I know some folks not using HG+ drivetrains (fools that they are) have had some as the idler is designed for the HG+ chain. I think some folks have also had issues if their chainline isnt dialed. Given the short distance between the idler and the chainring, any misalignment is more noticeable. Suspension wise, its a beast. It also climbs fantastically. Not quite on par with a dw link on a fire road or other smoother surface until you pull the cheater switch, but on any kind of technical climbing the rearward axle path and the anti-squat inherent in HSP designs put it at the top of the pack. Its pretty cool to have high antisquat without the deadspot you get in some counter rotating link designs.

  4. I have a Druid as well – any drivetrain or drag issues were negligible IMO. Wax lube has been my go to for a while now and its basically maintenance free, and is no different on the Druid. I’m wary of the Beta review of the Dreadnought. Guy was lubing the chain mid-ride and complaining about debris sticking to the chain. As others have noted on other forums, the Druid can be run without the lower roller guide at least on the L and XL models if you so desire.

  5. Following up on the above comments. I found it interesting that the Beta Dreadnought review took place in the same Southern California environment as I owned my Druid. The ”soil” here is mostly decomposed granite that is very sticky. Even with other non HSP bikes I found on longer 20+ mile rides if my chain wasn’t freshly lubed it would get draggy/noisy over the course of the ride. This was definitely more noticeable in desert or more coastal trails as opposed to when I was in other areas or up in the mountains. This makes me suspect Beta’s Dreadnaught and my Druid issues are in large part due to the wonderfully terrible dirt we are blessed with down here…

  6. Looking forward to hear more about this bike. At 6’6 I love what they have done to the STA and chainstays on the XL. It seems most bike companies forget about us tall guys when designing their bikes. I do ride a 170/170 while living on the shore and riding park 8-10 days per year…. So my biggest hesitation is losing that extra squish in the rear. Definitely curious if this bike punches above its weight like people say about the druid.

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