Perhaps you’ve heard the rumors of Balfa’s big organizational changes over the last year, perhaps not. Through it all, they’ve managed to tweak their lineup once again into an impressive 5-bike family. The newest of the bunch is the 2-Step 4X. The bike shares its frameset with the 2004 2-Step FR, but uses changed link plates. The plates reduce the bike’s travel from 5.3 to just over 4 inches and slightly rake the head-angle out into a more slopestyle friendly 67 degrees.
Even more importantly, the link plates will be available as an “upgrade” for 2003 2-Step FR owners using their current rear shocks. Speaking of shocks, the FR and the 4-X use Manitou’s SPV 4-way in 2.0 inch stroke guise. The bikes also get longer headtubes and changed gusseting with the addition of RAD style tubing for a reduction in weight with no loss of strength.
On the long travel side of the “freeride” spectrum is the 2-Step HD. No, that’s not a typo, Balfa changed the moniker after numerous complaints from consumers questioning the DH tag on a “freeride” bike. In any case, the bike looks sweet, with 7.5 inches of travel and front derailleur (or chainguide) compatibility. The tubeset has been changed slightly for increased standover clearance, strength and shock clearance (ie: 5th Element).
The big-bad-voodoo-daddy of the bunch, the BB7 gets a 3rd larger size to facilitate bigger riders. The BB7 gets a slightly longer headtube, and the frame loses a few grams through additional machining in the pivot areas. Their show bike was also sporting Balfa’s own chainguide. No word yet on whether the guides will be available aftermarket, but riders wanting a BB7 can spec virtually any chainguide as in the past! Of all the bikes I had the opportunity to ride at yesterday’s on-dirt demo, the Marzocchi 888 equipped BB7 would have to be in the top 3 rides of the day!
Balfa’s XC full sus ride, the BelAir was also given an additional size (now available in 3 sizes) and the Manitou SPV 3-way with a corresponding adjustment “window” machined into the top tube to facilitate access to the rebound knob.
The Minuteman remains unchanged.