Black Market's Killswitch gets put through its paces. Find out if it can hold its own against the usual crew of dirt jump and slopestyle hardtails. Read the test, watch the movie.
Black Market's Killswitch is a 100mm travel slope bike that has been designed to handle like a hardtail, but offer the advantages of a full suspension bike.
Black Market's origins are deeply rooted in BMX; therefore, keeping things simple, clean, and effective seem to be a priority, as portrayed by their newest addition to the family - the Killswitch. In contrast with the Mob or Riot, the Killswitch is manufactured from a 6061 T6 custom aluminum tube set, opposed to the traditional chromoly found in their hardtails. The decision to fabricate the Killswitch from aluminum was a wise one. Although hardtails flow amazingly on flexible chromoly steel tubes, the same is not true for full suspension frames. Aluminum can be stiffer, lighter, and more responsive than steel, which are all essential traits for a full suspension bike.
The first time I rode a Killswitch was last Spring, when Black Market rider Justin Wyper received his prototype. To my astonishment, the Killswitch handled exactly like a hardtail as I rode steep jumps and tall berms. Pivoting around the 12.5" high bottom bracket, the Hammer Link floating suspension system felt like an extremely stiff and responsive rear end that did not hinder pumping or preloading - this is essential to maintaining speed throughout a set, or increasing speed in transitions - all good reasons for the popularity of the Killswitch, not to mention that it is available in black, gray, purple, and the limited edition polished finish that you see here. To create a bike that handles very similar to a hardtail, Black Market set hardtail parameters on the geometry and worked the suspension around that. The Killswitch is available in small with a 21" top tube, medium with a 22" top tube, and a large that uses a 23" top tube.
A zero-stack head tube allows you to go as low as possible with your bars.
Due to the shock choice, geometry, and weight, the Killswitch can be utilized for many genres of riding including slope style, dirt jumping, and even trail riding. However, the bike definitely excels on big jumps that hardtails may not be stable enough to ride. With a relatively steep, 69-degree head tube angle and a short wheelbase, the Killswitch is easy to control and maneuver. In addition, the Killswitch features an incredibly low stand-over height, which makes for great leg clearance over the top tube and offers a bit of grace if you miss the pedals and happen to ball-ride out of a landing. Some other notable features of the Killswitch include an effective industry-standard, 1 1/8" integrated, zero-stack head tube, replaceable horizontal dropouts with derailleur-hanger-optional vertical dropouts, and replaceable Nylock nuts and threaded inserts at all bolt and pivot locations. A Black Market zero stack integrated headset is included in the frame and shock package.
The swingarm pivots concentrically around the bottom bracket.
As slope style events continue to push the envelope with gnarlier jumps and features, riders are demanding small full suspension bikes that can take the punishment. The Killswitch has an ample 100mm of progressive rear-suspension travel, accompanied by the "custom tuned for Black Market" X-Fusion O2 RCX shock (6.5" x 1.5" stroke). The engineers and product designers at X-Fusion collaborated with Carter and Black Market to design a shock which has a large emphasis on high-platform suspension systems.In other words; ensuring that the rider does not initially blow through the travel on the terrain leading up to the jump or feature. Furthermore; the 02 RCX has four compression adjustments and fine-tuned positive and negative air chambers which all contribute to a more stable ride. The adjustability of this slope style machine accounts for its stability.
BlackMarket Killswitch details:
Riding the Killswitch
- • Black Market’s Hammer Link design with 100mm of travel
- • Handmade from 6061 T6 custom tube set with precision cnc’d linkages and yokes
- • Replaceable nylock nuts and/or threaded inserts at all bolt locations
- • Custom tuned X-Fusion 02 RCX rear shock 6.5” x 1.5” stroke (included)
- • 44mm Black Market cartridge sealed bearing headset (included)
- • Travel - 4"/100mm
- • Weight - 7 lbs. 10 oz. with shock
- • Seat clamp - 34.9mm (included)
- • Seat post - 30.9mm
- • ISCG 05 mounts
- • Black Market Bikes
- • $1399 USD MSRP
Deciding upon which slope bike to ride can be a difficult decision - top tube length, shock type, stand over and aesthetics all play a vital role and must be taken into consideration; however, Black Market
seems to have it down pat with their 2011 Killswitch. The Black Market Killswitch exploded onto the scene last year, quickly becoming one of the most desired slope style bikes on the market. This remains true a year later, as shops are continually sold out of the 100mm travel frame. As I discovered, this is probably due to the light weight, responsiveness, and hard tail like geometry that make the Killswitch a complete package.Watch the video of Reece kill'n it on the Killswitch:
The first thing I noticed about the Killswitch, besides the complete build weighing in at very reasonable 26 pounds, was how similar to my hardtail it handled. It is extremely responsive, stiff and agile which makes jumping the 100mm travel bike almost effortless. The Killswitch's X-Fusion O2 RCX shock and Hammer Link suspension seemed very adept at dealing with hard hits from over-shooting landings, while still being supple enough to provide extra travel when needed. The rear end pivots on massive sealed bearings around the bottom bracket which ensures a stiff rear end increased control. This concentric suspension system makes the Killswitch immensely receptive to rider movement and adjustment, similar to a hardtail. In contrast with some other full suspension slope bikes that I've ridden, the bottom bracket pivot design and the bike's geometry seemed to increase the stiffness and pop of the rear end of the bike.
It is no coincidence that the Killswitch has very hardtail-esque lines. The bike has 100mm of rear wheel travel, but is at home nearly anywhere that a hardtail would excel.
The 'pop' created by the bike makes riding the Killswitch a blast! The natural preload that riders exert off of lips, drops, and out of berms is complimented by the comforting pop that the bike provides. This makes tricking drops and steep lips easier than most other slope bikes that seem to do a better job of delaying that vital 'pop' than boosting it. In the past, I often found myself worrying about the predictability of the rear suspension systems while jumping, however, Carter and the rest of the crew at Black Market have dialed in the Hammer Link system to ensure its consistency.
Working with X-Fusion to get the exact tune for the bike's O2 RCX damper surely plays a role as well. This was affirmed the first time I popped a three off a drop and rode it out smoothly. The suspension platform on the Killswitch is indeed dependable and consistent. The short wheelbase and low stand-over make tricking the Killswitch a breeze. I did not encounter any of those stereotypical problems with jumping small full-suspension bikes, such as getting bucked during spinning, kicking my frame during no-foot cans, or hitting my foot on the front wheel while slinging bar spins. Black Market took rider input to create one bad ass machine that can take almost anything riders throw at it.
The Killswitch's X-Fusion O2 RCX shock has been tuned to work with the bike's Hammer Link suspension. The result is a rear end that can swallow landing to flat, while at the same time take out the small chop found on beat up slope style courses.
Over the last couple years I have had the opportunity to ride a few different and unique slope bikes. This has helped to expand my understanding of small travel mountain bikes and develop an informed opinion about what makes a good and not so good slope bike. With this is mind, I can now safely say that the Black Market Killswitch is hands down my favorite slope style specific bike because of its light weight, versatility, responsiveness, and hardtail-like feel. The Killswitch is an incredibly subtle and diverse full suspension bike. I can shred anything from BMX style trails with tall berms and steep lips to large mountain bike style courses with huge drops and mellow lips. Regardless of terrain, the Killswitch transitions nicely between riding styles and can be ridden almost anywhere. It doesn't look like Reece will be giving up his Killswitch anytime soon! Have you ridden Black Market's 100mm travel slope bike? Do you agree with Reece's thoughts?
- Reece Wallace