Monday, July 7, 2008

Bike Review: The Banshee Pyre

Bike Review: The Banshee Pyre PDF Print E-mail
Written by Joe Adnan
As mentioned in an earlier post, I had the occasion to borrow the Fakawibikes demo Banshee Pyre, which I rode during the last hash .

The conclusion: it’s a very efficient suspension design, with little or no bobbing during climbing. Banshee describes the suspension system as a “virtual floating 4 bar pivot”. To my untrained eye, it looks very much like a DW-link. Whatever the genesis of the design, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Not only does it climb well, the bike is also very neutral under braking, with no stiffening of the suspension under hard braking. Standing up on the bike or getting off the saddle in descents also does not appear to affect the activeness of the suspension.

With 4.5 inches of travel, it’s more than adequate for everything short of “freeriding”. (I’ve only just become accustomed to the schisms between the various forms of the sport. For an old fart like me, the spectrum goes a little like this: roadbiking >> mountainbiking >> fallingdown >> goingtohospital.) In fact, it’s described by the designers as tending towards a “trailbiking” rather than “all-mountain”. However, seeing as how the designers of the bike hail from the British Columbia, you can safely assume that the bike is more than adequately burly for its intended application.

One similarity that Malaysia has with BC is rain, which when mixed with dirt gives us mud. This small coincidence makes the Pyre particularly suited for Malaysian trails, as the frame has gobs of mud clearance and is designed for full-length gear cable housing.

Gobs of clearance on the frame. It can fit 2.5" tyres, if you were so inclined.

The pivots of the bike also use bushings rather than bearings. I must say that I’ve always thought that bushings are low-cost alternatives to bearings, but having read the reasons why Banshee have gone for bushings, I concede that the arguments appear well made. Best of all, there are grease ports in the pivots, which allow you to inject fresh grease every now and then into the pivots.

The argument for bushings goes something along these lines: bearings are great for rotational movement, but a suspension pivot faces angular movements, rather than high speed rotations. With bearings, the force will be borne by 3 or so balls at any one time. Bushings allow the load to spread more evenly, due to the larger contact area. I would thought that bushings, for the same reason, would also bear torsional loads better.

Needless to say the suspension was squeak-free during the whole ride, despite the various dunkings the bike took in the streams that we crossed. This is I suppose unsurprising, given that it’s a new bike, but I’ve heard of many bikes that squeaked right out of the box.

So, will I buy one? I’ve not decided yet, but it’s certainly on the short list of the stuff to get, if I can get the budget approved by the Minister of Finance, Home Affairs and Matrimonial Harmony. The problem is several fold: Nikon has just released my next camera. Ricoh, with its incredibly customer-centric photo division, has just released the GX200 *, which has fixed whatever shortcomings the GX100 had (RAW buffer, flash exposure compensation, manual flash, rear curtain flash, mercury switch for automatic orientation of photos etc.). And to top it all off, there is the small issue of an impending world recession.

I installed a vintage Syncros post (with a proper 30.9mm shim of course) as a nod to the founder of Syncros and Banshee, Pippin Osbourne. In my formative years of mountain biking, every other bike component brand was simply something you used until you could afford Syncros. Oh, and if you had to test a full-suspension bike, what better saddle to use than a Flite without the unnecessary leather cover and padding?

*Possibly the best thing about the GX200 is that it is virtually identical to the GX100 in appearance, leading to the possibility of an upgrade that flies under the radar of the missus.

Image -Joe Adnan (check out Joe's blog )