First of all, I would like to make it clear that I am not using the bike for intended use. In this article, I am treating the bike as a dh bike and judging it as one. It's a little project that my sponsors and I thought would be interesting to do. The RUNE is supposed to be an all mountain bike with good descending abilities, so what better way to prove that then put it in my greasy little hands. Most of the riding I have done is in the UK, with a bit back home in Malaysia. Many dh tracks from both countries do suit smaller bikes.
The frame it self isn't new, it has been used for a whole season as an all mountain bike before it was placed in my care. The build for the bike came from parts from my previous dh bike, just a couple new parts here and there. A couple things work mentioning is that I am running a dhx coil, and a 10mm bolt on rear end.
Up front, the 40s are set at 7 inches of travel. I could run 7.5" or even 8" happily, but just trying to keep it fairly balanced with the 6 inches in the rear. Also, a 40 set at 7 inches is just under the axle to crown height of a fox 36. I didn't want to go nuts and totally screw up the geometry to start with
I am quite a light rider; I weigh 140lbs/10 stone. I am running a purple spring in the 40s and a 300lb/in rate spring in the rear. Ideally I would want a bit more sag in the rear, getting 30% dead right now.
Damping wise, I am nearly running full compression up front, 6 clicks from full in on HSC, 4 clicks from full in on LSC. Rebound 3 clicks from full open. On the dhx, rebound is full open and so is propedal. Boost valve pressure is set at 130psi, chamber size screwed in all the way.
Prior to actually riding the bike (or even knowing much about it) I was a bit worried about the geometry, but it turns out its nearly spot on for dh riding. It has nice long chain stays, low bottom bracket, and a fairly slack head angle. I never felt the head angle made the bike twitchy, but a slightly slacker head angle would allow you to get over the front more aggressively, which would be nice.
Excuse me if I do go on a bit about the differences I feel between a single pivot and the four bar system. I spent my last 3 seasons on a well known single pivot dh bike and was very at home on it.
First thing I noticed is how the bike moves forward, it's an absolute rocket. Not that my old bike bobbed much, but that did come down a bit to a pushed dhx which had a load of LSC. The Rune however doesn't bob at all. It was a very different feeling for me, where I was used to the bike squatting under power and staying there, the rune doesn't squat or extend, just moves forward. Lets you sprint very aggressively, weight behind the bb and pulling on the bars.
It does skip a bit more under power if you don't weigh the rear wheel, but that's down to the bike having less sag then a full on dh bike, meaning less travel to drop into holes to keep the wheel tracking. It was only noticeable when I was sprinting over the front, which isn't the best way to sprint, but is inevitable when you are tired half way down a dh run.
Braking wise, suspension remains active and it tracks the ground well. It just works and it's something you don't really notice it until you really think about it or brake where you aren't supposed to.
Again, being designed as an all mountain frame, it definitely doesn't have the ramp up that is needed on a dh bike. I do have the boost valve chamber screwed in all the way to prevent hard bottoming, but it's definitely not the same as having a nice ramp up from a spring that is designed into the linkage.
Summing up, it's a very very pleasant ride. The best way I can put is that it lacks all those little annoying things that will make a great suspension design a mediocre one. It just quietly goes about doing its job with out complaining.
At 7.2lbs with shock claimed weight, it is a very light frame. I certainly wasn't expecting it to be as stiff as it is. I did feel some flex when I was running a QR in the rear, but that was only where I was forcing a drift to square off a berm in very grippy conditions. Now that I am running a 10mm bolt on, it has become a non issue. Guess those internal ribbings really do get the job done.
Two issues I had with the bushings. First one was the bushing between the top link and rear triangle had some play in it. The bushings there seem a bit small, and talking to other rune owners, they are the first to show any wear. Took 5 minutes to change them out and so far after 3 months of muddy UK riding they still are going strong.
Second one was on the bottom bushings, when I took them apart to clean and re-grease them I noticed that they have developed a thread on them, an imprint of the grooves from the axle which is there for the grease to flow. Of course this probably came about from me casing a few jumps that the average trail rider won't be doing anytime soon. I have been told that the legend has done away with the grooves on the main pivot axle so wont have this problem.
As a test of the bushing system, I rebuild them 3 months ago, and haven't touched them since. Banshee does recommend that you squirt some grease in the grease ports every so often or after wet rides, but I wanted to see what it would be like in a 'worse case scenario'.
They did get a bit sticky, probably due to some fine mud caking them up from a previous ride. But that went away as the ride went on. This is only being anal as I could only feel the difference pushing down on the saddle. Besides the two small bushings that I replaced, everything else has been going for two seasons already. There was some wear on the anodizing on one of the axles when I rebuilt them, otherwise, still going very strong. Banshee does include a care package which consists of 4 spare bushings, two bolts for the suspension and a spare hanger. Annoyingly, the only parts I have needed so far were the two sets of smaller bushings that are not included. Overall, they have been very impressive.
With 2.5 wet screams on the back, there isn't much space left there. With most tracks, its fine, but it just so happens I have a local track which is hell for bike with little clearance. With 2.5 high rollers on, it's not a problem. Not that this is ever going to be a problem for any trail riders.
Well, no surprise here, tuning range of the rebound damping goes from fairly fast to insanely slow. Of course most of that range is useless and going to be way too slow anyways. It's at full open already, but I want it faster. It does pack down on very fast sections with fairly big bumps, will probably crack it open and reshim it when I have the time. Again, a non issue for most riders.
IF and that's a big 'if' I had it my way, I would drop the bb just a bit, and slacken the head angle a degree or so. I have raised my 40 crowns an inch to slacken the head angle and raise the bars up a bit and that has worked very well. I might try out some offset inserts to slacken the head angle out and will see how that goes.
The RUNE, set up the way I have is not going to be replacing a full on dh set up anytime soon. Big tracks require big bikes, simple. Where it does come in is in not so 'manly' tracks, and maybe tracks that lack elevation. I have been on a few xc rides, along with a xc race, and already know of its all mountain capabilities, my experience on it for the past few months goes to show that it also shines when you are ready to take it down hill. What I can say for sure is that it's a very fun set up, a very light bike which is easy to throw around, yet still very capable. I for one am not going to be replacing my RUNE anytime soon.
Fakawi | Banshee