The Banshee Prime will be a new addition to the Banshee range probably for 2012, although testing will start as soon as we feel ready to run a full batch of 50 frames to be tested. This frame will go through a similar testing and feedback program as the Legend MkI was used for.
If you want to be a tester of this frame, keep an eye on the blog over the next few months. I'm not going to start taking names until we have some prototypes made and tested to make sure we have no major issues. So please don't send me e-mails yet!
There are a number of full suspension frames with this range of travel (130mm) out there, but I feel that most of them are too steep and often flexy to give you real confidence when riding aggressively or on steep technical terrain.
The Prime is a strong, stiff and planted 29er designed to excel in all elements of true all mountain riding. 29ers don't need as much travel as 26ers for coping with square edge hits due to the larger wheels rolling over obstacles easier, so the 130mm travel of the Prime will generally 'feel' like more travel (150-160mm) if you are used to riding 26ers.
Some details on the frame at this stage (subject to change before production as a result of testing and feedback).
Geometry.... the aggressive seat angle and relatively short chain stays make the Prime a bike that is playful, but with optimised weight distribution for control during technical climbs and the slack and low geometry offers stability and control on high speed descents.
The suspension linkage I've used on the Prime (which I may call the KS link...) uses the best elements of the VF4B link, but almost eliminates the rotation at the shock DU bushings for a more supple suspension action, and can be more finely tuned and offers more space for geometry manipulation for less compromise. The pivots will all run on fully sealed INA bearings on grade 5 6Al4V titanium pivot axles and bolts.
The linkage for the Prime has been optimised to work well with smaller chain rings for the 29er user, and the frame structure has been stiffened slightly to ensure that there in minimal frame flex even with bigger wheels.
The Prime geometry can be easily adjusted by a single chain ring style bolt at the dropout (likely to be titanium). Changing from the steep to slack setting drops the BB by 12mm (0.5") and slackens the head angle out by 1 degree without affecting suspension characteristics. We will also offer the frame with 2 dropout types (135x10mm and 150x12mm) to suit all riders needs.
This model is actually using over sized 29x2.5" tires to give you an idea about the all important tire clearance. As you can see there is bucket loads of clearance around the rear tire (compare to that of the same tire in a Reba 29er 140mm fork)
As is standard for Banshee, we will be using 7005 alloy which will be T4 then T6 heat treated for better overall frame strength. The tubes will all be triple butted custom hydroformed for maximum strength to weight ratio. The seat and chain stays are both internally ribbed for extra strength and stiffness for minimal weight increase.
The frame will only be compatible with direct mount front derailleurs (we will do the testing so you don't have to) . ISCG 05 tabs will allow use of chainguides or Hammerschmidt, and there will be cable guides for the latter system. there will also be cable guides for adjustable seatposts.
As always, the proof will be in the pudding, and so this bike will be used, abused and tested globally, then refined and redesigned where necessary before public release, so that we can ensure that the final product is as good as it can possibly be.
Please let me know your initial feedback to both general design and geometry. My ears are aways open, and I'm here to design your next bike, so I need to know what you want!