By the time you've finished reading, Dave Weagle will have conjured up another suspension design and Evil will have added another eight links to their latest sled in the pursuit of good performing suspension. They may as well not bother. The Virtual Pivot Point is and has been the best suspension platform ever fitted to a push bike since it's reinvention by Santa Cruz in 2001. How many other bike companies have stuck with the same design for 15 years?
My VP Free was conceived during Santa Cruz's hay day and produced from 2004-2008. There were no Chinese plastic bike options then and bikes were welded with love in either Portland, Oregon or Seattle. The amazing sheet metal work in the rear end was the trickiest ever attempted by SC and delivered by a small company in Southern California. The Free was intended for Freeride and All Mountain use and sported 215mm rear travel and was designed to accept a triple chainring if one so desired. I bought mine used for the purpose of shuttling illegal DH tracks in Portland and the build it came with was a higher end stock option. All of those parts save the Chris King headset have been replaced.
Gone is the Progressive coil shock and Marzocchi 888 in favour of one of the last straight steerer Fox Float Talas and a DHX Air 5.0. A forum thread told me to install a shorter eye to eye shock with a shorter stroke to lower the BB, slacken the head angle and drop the travel to a more usable 190mm... I did, and given the longish top tube already, the geometry feels bang up to date.
This whole "148 Boost axle" business has me perplexed. The intent is to achieve a zero dish wheel while making way for more gears. The VP Free came with a 12x150 rear axle same as the V10, because DH wheels are truly zero dish and why change something that works?
Hope brakes do the stopping and as good as the new Shimano offerings are (and they are really good) nothing stops and modulates like Hopes.
Gunsmoke Hope hubs laced to Spank rims with DT spokes wrapped in our old friend the Maxxis Minion get me rolling. Before you look into selling a kidney for some carbon rims, have a poke around at alloy offerings first as there are some really good quality ones to be had for much, much less.
11 speed sucks. It's too expensive and too fiddly. 10 speed with a Hope T-Rex and SRAM XX rear D doesn't suck. I run a 30 tooth for trail rides here in Alex and swap a 36 when hitting the Gondola.
I've spent 20 years in the bike industry, pedaled many different full sus rigs around and I'm still amazed at how well an old long travel bike like this pedals. It tips the scales at 14kg which for a bike like this is pretty good and starting with something used kept the cost down. I've spent around $3500 including the initial bike buy. I've said that ano purple is the fastest colour and I stand by that. However, orange is the plushest.