High-End Aluminium frames aren’t front and centre for many in the mountain bike industry, with everything needing to be carbon this, and carbon that–but Banshee are looking to change the standards.
The new Titan is a beast: a 29er featuring 155mm rear travel paired with a 170mm fork it sets to deliver the confidence-inspiring ride we all look for. What sets it apart from other bikes in its category is the aluminium frame, a well thought out and cleverly engineered puzzle of parts that make this bike twice as strong as the previous Rune.
First of all, they are using 7-series aluminium which is much lighter, albeit more expensive than other options out there. These tubes are hydroformed with up to four different thicknesses to minimise weight where needed and add strength accordingly. To further create the strength they are after, Banshee utilizes 3D forging in the shock cradle and headtube; in technical terms, this aligns all the particles creating a material stronger than billet aluminium. Using this in the key strength loading areas keeps the bike strong and the weight extremely low. The build we rode with Exo+ tyres and an insert in the rear came in at a svelte 14.4kgs which for any bike, let alone for a bruiser of this calibre, is nothing to turn an eye at.
In keeping with the all new frame design, Banshee spent three years of development to get to this balance of geometry and linkage design. The new KS2 linkage is specific to Banshee itself. This is said to allow for an incredibly supple initial stroke, ramping up as the stroke progresses. Coupled with an already progressive air shock, this provided an incredibly solid and trustworthy platform to launch from.
With geometry heading in all sorts of directions recently, it is nice to see Banshee stick to the numbers that work. Everything about this bike is built to inspire confidence. The head angle sits at a comfortable 64.5 in the Low setting (courtesy of a handy flip-chip in the dropouts), and 65 in the neutral, with the reach at 470mm in the large we tested. These aren’t boundary-pushing by any means, but what is noticeably different is the 452mm chainstays. Banshee’s reasoning behind this was that the longer front-end puts you in a backseat position and begins to unweight the front wheel. With the longer rear end moving the rider’s weight into a more central position, a better attacking position is obtained, which I thought was a pretty clever way of addressing the problem and in turn created an incredibly stable bike. It does mean you aren’t going to manual this girl to the shops and back, as the balance point is now a lot more precarious, but it still maintains the fun factor we all desire; it just requires a little more effort.
Getting on the bike you are instantly aware of its presence. A 29er with a 170mm Fox 36 up front and a 1265mm wheelbase is always going to feel like a big bike, almost intimidating as you know it’s going to be able to go as fast as you would ever like too, and then some. The Ferrari red colour scheme does nothing to slow it down – get ready to let your hair down.
Get it on trail and those preconceptions become very apparent – it does like to go fast. I was instantly intrigued by the longer chainstays as they were certainly is different to anything i’d ridden before. It took a couple turns to get used to the body position. I tend to use the rear wheel to turn, and with it now further behind me it stood me up in a couple of bends. I also noticed that when trying to pick up off small bumps my timing was slightly off. As the day wore on it was soon irrelevant and it became the new norm, because point the nose down a rough section of track and you’re laughing. The attacking position and neutral balance lets the bike work effortlessly underneath you, and you can just hang on for the ride. The 29” wheels also play a vital part in this bump-eating ability.
The Titan is a brute, but Banshee were well-aware the pedalling ability needed to match the downhill performance. With usable sag between 25%-35% and more anti-squat in this range, coupled with a 76.75 seat angle in the low, and a steep 77.25 in the neutral setting, it gives you a fair bit of help on those climbs. I enjoyed pedalling the Titan more than my 150mm trail bike at home, which blew my mind. It’s incredibly light so every pedal stroke is rewarded with a spritely jump forward, the comfortable head angle maintains light steering while climbing, and the seat angle gives a comfortable position to apply the power. It really is a joy to climb.
It’s hard to look past this as a bike for those riders lucky enough to have steep and rowdy terrain on their doorstep, as this is where it thrives. I would be intrigued to see what a coil shock would be like on the back: it would be insane in some sections, but the beauty of the air shock is the support and pop that keeps this bike lively and fun. Each to their own on this one.
The only downside I could really find to the Titan was the cable routing. A little more attention to detail in this area would be nice to see, as the rattle got very loud when the going got rough. But this is an easy fix with a little home DIY.
Frames will be available for $3899, which includes shock and headset, while distributors 3Sixty Sports offer custom builds using all your favourite brands. The one we tested will retail for $9,999, and with every bell and whistle you could ever want it leaves little to be desired.