Ancillotti is a small brand steeped in racing history that goes all the way back to the beginning of the 20th century when the family became acquainted with early motorcycles. A huge chronicle of racing and tweaking motorized two-wheelers culminated in many wins and world records.
Fast forward to 1980 and Alberto Ancillotti invented the 'Pull Shock' linkage that's now found on nearly every single motocross bike of the last four decades. After a spell of building motos and around the time of the incoming Japanese invasion, mountain biking was growing. Alberto's young son, Tomaso, wanted a mountain bike as they were fast becoming the latest must-have.
After crafting various bikes, including the claimed first full carbon downhill mountain bike in the world, Tomaso took the lead of the company, and in 2009 they earned the rainbow stripes thanks to the success of Brook MacDonald's Junior World Championship win in Canberra. Read more about their story here.
Alberto, now seventy years old, still cuts and jigs the frames in Florence, Italy, before a welder puts them together. The other half of the company has moved to Ivrea, and their local test track is now the infamous Pila course. Tomaso, in his modest workshop, designs, assembles and finishes the bikes, as well as builds their own shocks.
The small company has no grandiose plans for making it to the big time, content with crafting around fifty frames per year and supporting small race teams
. Their focus lies in building some of what I believe are the most beautiful high-performance frames in the world, in true Italian style.
Frame Details and Geometry
This latest incarnation, the new Scarab Evo, takes its name from the open-winged beetle on their emblem and was the name gifted to their earliest motorcycle. It has been on downhill bikes of past but is now found on this all-mountain chassis. The DHY downhill bike is still available, and the long-travel 180mm Enduro FRY
race destroyer is also still in the lineup.
Scarab Evo Details
• Intended use: enduro / all-mountain
• Wheel size: 27.5" or 29"
• Rear wheel travel: 160mm
• Custom geometry, linkage and shock
• Adjustable geometry
• Handmade to order
• MSRP: €2900 frame only
The geometry is customized and decided by the consumer and Tomaso together, and prospective buyers are invited to visit Ancillotti so they can try out various demo bikes and sizes as needed to help make a decision. Every single bike is made to order, however, and most numbers can be tweaked, along with the linkage ratios and shock tune.
The frames are spectacular in the flesh, with a highly polished raw alloy finish, swooping tubes and machined and turned junctions. Every Ancillotti will be slightly different as there are no standard tubes or off-the-shelf shapes.
The frame pictured here is a benchmark large size. The seat angle is around 75-degrees, the reach measurement is around 460mm, and it has a 435mm chainstay length and a 1215mm wheelbase.
While Ancillotti's other bikes see the shock positioned behind the bottom bracket shell, the new Scarab Evo has its shock moved forward to sit in front of the bottom bracket. This update has been done to allow the bike's chainstay length to stay within size range when using 29'' wheels. Unbolt the front part of the linkage and then rotate it to let the threaded tube fine-tune your geometry and balance.
This particular prototype's head angle can be adjusted between 65 and 63.5-degrees, which also changes the bottom bracket height between 350 and 335mm. The linkage is very similar to the adjuster found on their early motocross bikes, and riders have close to infinite adjustment through the given range.Why a Pull Shock?
First, we should clear something up. Ancillotti using the phrase ''Pull Shock'' may confuse some, especially given that the bike compresses its shock as per normal and that there have been previous designs, like one iteration of the older Yeti/Schwinn Lawwill bike, which have used a pull shock. What Ancillotti is actually referring to is how a section of their linkage pulls on the rocker link that activates the shock. Yes, it is pulling, but the shock itself is being compressed. In other words, Ancillotti's design uses a conventional shock, but it is the swingarm that pulls the linkage to drive the shock.
Ancillotti states two claimed benefits about their design: the linkage's geometry can be easily tweaked to change travel or rates, and the linkage will tend to stay in a straight and true line through the travel. Any system that is being pushed towards the shock will be trying to move laterally due to the forces from the rear wheel, which will rarely be in a perfectly straight line with the frame.
Tomaso isn't a fan of current air-sprung suspension, with him believing that air is great for the masses and for bikes that need easy setup or balance, but not for true on-the-trail performance. He also agrees they can save weight but denies this could be a benefit over the loss of performance and grip.
Each Ancillotti coil-sprung shock is handmade and tuned to suit the rider and bike. If you're not happy with it, re-tuning of the shock is included for life. The shock also has basic external rebound adjustment and a low-speed compression lever to firm the damping for climbing.
For riders who are desperate to change the damper to their preferred
shock, the Scarab does leave space for most available shocks. Ancillotti's other bikes have aways needed their own shock with the reversed piggy-back for clearance.