When I opened the box, I was a little intimidated. The beefy, murdered out frameset looks mean. Black anodization, subtle black logo, and even blacked-out pivot hardware makes for a stealthy, don’t-F-with-me look. Fortunately, I had an all-black Shimano XT kit ready to hang on it.
The bike built up well. Headset cups went in smoothly, as did the threaded bottom bracket. Cheers to Knolly for using a standard bottom bracket—I’m not a fan of the new press fit options.
This was my first bike with a 142x12mm thru axle, and I dig that, too. The wheel drops in and out easily, and the thru axle just makes sense on a bike that is so stiff and meant to be ridden aggressively.
Early impressions of the bike so far justify that: It is wicked stiff and loves to be ridden aggressively. When I once tried to describe the first Knolly I ever road, the original Endorphin, in 2009, I initially wanted to use the word “scalpel.” But scalpels, though precise, flex and break. So instead I described it as a Samurai sword. A Samurai sword is precise and powerful, a trait that is continued and enhanced from the OG Endorphin to the Chilcotin.
One interesting thing about the Chilcotin is that it has adjustable geometry. Switch the lower shock mount bolt from the forward position to the rearward hole, and head angle goes from 67 degrees to 66, and the bottom bracket drops from 13.8 to 13.4. Though I may have to hand in my Internet-tional Bike Shredder card, I have to admit to preferring the steeper, taller geometry at this time. I am going to spend some more time in the low/slack position before rendering any final verdicts, however. But anyway you look at it, the easy adjustability is nice.
My initial gripe with the Chilcotin was its weight and rather sluggish pedaling manners. But looking back, my first rides on it were after five weeks of doing absolutely nothing while I recovered from three broken ribs. I was also coming off the Nomad Carbon, one of the best pedaling 160mm bikes out there.
Over a month later, I’m getting back to form and am not feeling nearly as slow when climbing or accelerating. The folks at Knolly will admit as well that the Chilcotin was optimized for traction, both climbing and braking/descending; with that comes a slight sacrifice of drivetrain/suspension efficiency.
I’m still getting to know this bike and even feel like I’m still breaking in the Fox suspension, but every ride I find myself enjoying it more and more. After a few more months of riding, I should have a complete review ready to go.
You can now read Eric Melson’s full review of the 2013 Chilcotin.