Forbidden Druid V2 Review

Words Justin Henehan

Images Boston Bright

Forbidden went back to the drawing board for the second iteration of its groundbreaking trail bike. The new Druid V2 jettisons the high, single-pivot layout in favour of an inverted Horst-link system with a slightly lower virtual high pivot. The wheel arc is still rearward, but less so, the leverage ratio has been boosted, and the anti-rise has been reduced to keep the bike more active under braking.  

The Druid V2 still has 130mm of travel out back and runs on 29-inch wheels, but it gets a range of geometry updates: the head angle drops from 65.5 degrees to 65 degrees, the seat tube angle increases to 77 degrees, and the reach grows 15mm across the range.  

The most interesting geometry number is the chainstays, which grow 14mm to 452mm for the size large. These are long chainstays for an enduro bike, let alone a trail bike, and they lengthen another 12mm under sag.  

The Druid V2 keeps the ability to swap between wheel sizes but requires a different set of chainstays. Bruce from 3Sixty Sports says he has no immediate plans to bring in conversion chainstays, but I’m sure he would if enough people asked for them. 

Components 

We tested the cheapest GX AXS/RockShox build. At $10,815, it comes with a RockShox Lyrik Select fork, Rockshox Deluxe R shock, Sram GX Eagle T-type drivetrain, Sram Code Bronze Stealth brakes, a OneUp dropper post, Crankbrothers Synthesis Enduro wheels and Maxxis Assegai and DHRII tyres, both in EXO+ and MaxTerra compounds. 

It’s not the first new bike I’ve seen with this Sram build package. Sram seems to be pushing its new Eagle Transmission drivetrain into lower price-point builds, and that means lower-end suspension and brakes. However, as we’ve seen with Shimano, low-end components don’t always equate to low-end performance. Besides, with a bike like this you’re partly paying for an ambitious chassis design from a boutique company. 

Climbing 

The Druid has plenty of pep under power, even when pedalling out of the saddle. That firm feel, rearward axle path and long chainstays combine to make the Druid an absolute weapon on steep and technical climbs. Each pedal stroke feels like it puts watts directly into the contact patch, while the rear wheel crawls up and over obstacles with little discernable pedal kick-back or front-wheel lift. It’s easily one of the best-climbing bikes I’ve ridden.

It’s easily one of the bestclimbing bikes I’ve ridden.

Any extra drag from the idler was negligible, but I did notice more rumble through my feet and a lot more noise when the chain dried out or became dirty. 

Sram’s GX Eagle Transmission worked eerily well, regardless of how much load I put through the pedals. There was a weird delay at times between pushing the button and the little robot supplying the gear, but I soon got used to that.  

The Rockshox Super Deluxe R shock doesn’t have a climb switch or any compression adjustments, but I didn’t miss those features when climbing, even on long road or gravel spins.

Descending 

It’s been said that high-pivot bikes feel like they have more travel. That’s because they do, kind of: the Druid’s 130mm of travel is measured vertically, but the wheel moves backwards 22mm to get there.  

Whatever the number, Druid V2’s suspension feels lively but well controlled, deleting small bumps and moving predictably over larger ones. The back of the bike feels so good that the fork sometimes struggles to keep up.  

The 150mm-travel Lyrik Select works well on mellower trails, but less so when things get steep and rough. I found I had to run the fork overly stiff to keep the front end up, which was hard on the body. This was compounded by the Sram Code R brakes and their 180mm rotors, which lacked power. Upgrading to bigger brake rotors would go a long way to fixing this. This sort of riding might not be what the bike is set up for, but the geometry and rear suspension loves it. 

As an experiment, I fitted a 160mm RockShox Lyrik and that extra 10mm of travel made the bike feel much more balanced, despite the 30mm travel difference. It also sat higher in the travel, allowing me to push through my feet more and make the most of the Druid’s awesome rear suspension. If you like riding steep and rough terrain, a longer-travel air spring would be another good upgrade.

You can really rag this bike about, but the responsive suspension means your efforts aren’t wasted.

High-pivot bikes can lose the downside pump of conventional bikes. The Druid V2 mitigates this with its more vertical axle path and its higher leverage ratio, getting into the progressive end of its 130mm travel more readily. 

The Druid V2’s more vertical axle path also mitigates much of the chassis instability you can get with high-pivot bikes. The front-wheel dip you get on high-pivot bikes when unweighting over drops and jumps was barely noticeable on the Druid V2.  

The long chainstays give the Druid V2 a large sweet spot to move in, allowing you to ride aggressively without overcooking things. You can really rag this bike about, but the responsive suspension means your efforts aren’t wasted.  

One thing to note is tyre clearance – it’s tight. Occasionally I’d hear stones scraping through the gap between the tyre and the seatstays. Removing the rear wheel revealed a number of scratches, so it’s something to be aware of if you ride very muddy trails or live somewhere with lots of loose rocks.  

Who’s it for? 

Forbidden has marketed the Druid V2 as a downhiller’s trail bike and that’s not an empty sentiment. It’s a trail bike with the chutzpah to hang with the long-travel crowd; a small bike with big bike energy that, at times, feels like it’s having an existential crisis.  

In its stock configuration, the Druid V2 is a capable trail bike that has the calm assurance of being well within its limits. But it’s also a bike that chafes against its trail bike fetters and wants to ride harder, nastier trails. With a couple of small tweaks, it can do both. I’d happily have the Druid V2 as my do everything bike. 

3sixtysports.co.nz