Durango Blackjack 29er/27.5+ - Review

Jun 7, 2016
by Vernon Felton  




Durango Bike Company rolled out the Blackjack last season, at Sea Otter 2015; the fact that it didn’t make big waves in the process is a bit of a mystery. Hot on the heels of the Evil Following, Durango created an aggressive 29er capable of tackling the kind of terrain normally dominated by bikes with a couple more inches of suspension. What’s more, the Blackjack was one of the first bikes of its kind designed to play nice with both 29-inch and 27.5+ wheel and tire combos. That kind of thing seems practically de rigueur today. When the Blackjack debuted, however, it was a rare bird indeed.

Durango Blackjack Details

• Intended use: trail/all-mountain
• Wheel size: 29" and 27.5+
• Head angle: 67.5° (29er)
• American-made aluminum frame
• 73-mm threaded bottom bracket
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL
• Weight (w/o pedals): 30.73 lbs. (13.93 kg)
• Price as tested: $5,900 USD
durangobikecompany.com

The Blackjack is actually still a bit of a rarity: There aren’t, after all, hordes of Made-in-America, full-suspension bikes roaming the range these days. Durango offers the Blackjack as a frame (w/ Monarch RT3 shock) for $2,495 USD and in a variety of complete-bike kits, ranging in price from $4,800-$7,400.

Vernon Felton testing the Durango Blackjack on the trails surrounding Hood River OR.
Durango says their aluminum is of domestic origin, including the billet from which they machine the frame's small parts, such as the head tube, shock linkages, dropouts, etc. Mitering and pre-weld frame prep are also handled in Durango. Welding, heat treating and powder coating are completed out-of-house, but remain stateside.
Vernon Felton testing the Durango Blackjack on the trails surrounding Hood River OR.
There's no avoiding overseas parts when it comes to assembling a quality drivetrain (we opted for SRAM GX on this build) but Durango does spec a lot of American-made components, including Chris King headsets, Thomson cockpit components and Industry Nine's new Enduro 305 wheelset.

Frame Details

The Blackjack mates a low-slung, swoopy front triangle with a compact rear end and a downtube-mounted shock that helps center the mass low on the chassis. Though aluminum may seem decidedly retro these days (at least on high-end, full-suspension rigs) there’s plenty of thoughtful hydroforming on display here. The Blackjack is not a nostalgia bike. Not by a long shot. A size Medium frame equipped with a RockShox Monarch RT3 shock tips the scales at an impressive 6.2 pounds. Jeff Estes, the president, designer and guy you’ll find mitering most of the tubes on these bikes, claims that all of Durango Bike Company’s frame materials, fabrication and finishing is done stateside—a decent chunk of it in Durango, Colorado.

Durango is a small-batch company and that means frame and component customization is an option for riders interested in one of his bikes. What kind of havoc does that wreak on the price tag?

“Right now there is no extra charge if we are extending a top tube or head tube or shortening a seat tube,” says Estes. “We build to order, so we just make these simple modifications when we set up….there is typically a six to eight-week build time, depending on where you are in the queue.”

Vernon Felton testing the Durango Blackjack on the trails surrounding Hood River OR.
Healthy tire clearance for both these 29x2.3 Maxxis Aggressor tires and the 27.5x2.8 Maxxis Rekon plus-size tires I also ran. The Blackjack sports beefy, full-complement Enduro bearings in its suspension pivots.
Vernon Felton testing the Durango Blackjack on the trails surrounding Hood River OR.
Not a deal breaker, but I was less than stoked on pulling out my hex wrench to change the rear wheel. Side note-this was the first new bike I've seen in a while with "International Standard" disc brake mounts.

A few points worth noting...readers with keen eyesight might have noticed that the Blackjack we tested lacks both ISCG and water bottle mounts. The good news is that Durango will add those items to a frame as part of the customization process. Though the Durango is configured around a Boost 148 rear end, there isn't much breathing room between the SRAM 30-tooth chainring and the Blackjack's drive-side chainstay. While I never encountered any clearance problems with that 30-tooth ring (which is what I run on 29ers anyway), I imagine riders who'd like to equip the bike with larger chainrings (Eagle anyone?) may have a hard time of it.

Geometry

Estes says he wanted the Blackjack to ride like a longer-legged version of Durango’s 27.5-wheeled Moonshine. He wanted a bike that was capable, but playful. To that end, the Blackjack features notably short (16.7-inch/424-millimeter) chainstays and a tight wheelbase. A size Large frame, for example, runs 45.3 inches (1150 millimeters) from axle to axle.

Interestingly, Durango bucked current trends and went fairly lofty on the bottom bracket height—13.8 inches (350.5 millimeters) in 29er mode. That’s a good half-inch (or more) taller than other bikes in this class, such as the Evil Following, Specialized Stumpjumper 29er and Santa Cruz Hightower. That bottom bracket height drops to 13.5 inches when I slapped on a set of 27.5 wheels shod with Maxxis Rekon 2.8-inch tires. Perhaps Durango was accounting for the extra sag and slightly smaller outer diameter of the plus-size option. By the standards of a few years ago, the Blackjack sports a healthy top tube. By today's standards, it's conservative. A size Large sports a 24.3-inch/617-millimeter effective top tube in stock trim...though, again, you can have the reach lengthened a bit at no charge if you want a roomier cockpit.

Last but not least, while most companies have spent the past few years steepening their seat angles, the Blackjack rocks a fairly slack 70.5-degree seat tube.


Durango Blackjack




The Big "Why" With Blackjack Designer, Jeff Estes


Vernon Felton: There are people who will look at this bike and think, "Nah, if it's not carbon, I'm not interested." So, why did you choose to stick with aluminum?

Jeff Estes: First, let's look at how the bike rides- I can only speak for my brand and there is no ride quality difference/feel on the trail with this aluminum frame vs any full suspension carbon frame in the 120 to 130-millimeter family. There is no vibration or loss of frame rigidity with our high quality aluminum, so in terms of what the rider is looking for on the trail and the ability to offer a long term warranty, the aluminum exceeds carbon. We build these bikes the way we want to ride...hard, fast, carefree...maybe a little reckless...carbon doesn't fit the bill if I have to worry about what I might hit and the long term investment life cycle.

Vernon Felton: Are there other reasons that you didn't go carbon for this frame?

Jeff Estes: We handbuild as much as we can in our facility; that enables us to not only control the quality, but also make any modifications clients might want--you can't do that with carbon frames because the carbon-fiber molds are set.... I also don't want to hand over our intellectual property to a competitor or foreign country. I have made some pretty cool advances to the Horst link design, I don't want to see a bastardized version of this coming out the back door.
Vernon Felton testing the Durango Blackjack on the trails surrounding Hood River OR.

At the end of the day it is about integrity. Integrity for what we do but also who we are as riders....sending our designs and bikes overseas for strangers to build isn't doing it the right way in our opinion...carbon fiber isn't a play for us because we don't believe it exceeds aluminum's performance, reliability, or durability.






Specifications
Specifications
Release Date 2015
Price $5900
Travel 120-millimeter rear travel
Rear Shock RockShox Monarch RT3
Fork RockShox Pike RT3
Headset Chris King
Cassette SRAM GX1
Crankarms SRAM GX1
Rear Derailleur SRAM GX1 11-speed
Chain SRAM
Front Derailleur None
Shifter Pods SRAM GX1
Handlebar Thomson
Stem Thomson
Grips Durango
Brakes SRAM Guide RS
Wheelset Industry Nine Enduro 305
Hubs Industry Nine
Spokes Industry Nine
Rim Industry Nine
Tires Maxxis Aggressor 29x2.3
Seat SDG Bel-Air
Seatpost RockShox Reverb

Vernon Felton testing the Durango Blackjack on the trails surrounding Hood River OR.





Setup

For the first few rides, I ran the RockShox Monarch RT3 shock at 25-percent sag—in keeping with the whole trail bike vibe. Up front, I chose to run a bit more sag (30 percent) since Pike forks tend to ride fairly high in their travel and (with the right amount of Bottomless Tokens) don’t get all divey when you hit the front brake. That was the right call on the fork setting, but the Blackjack’s rear end wasn’t feeling the love on small to medium hits. I soon wound up running 30 to 33 percent sag on the Monarch shock as well--a much better match for the bike's strengths.

This was my first go on Maxxis’ relatively new 29er Aggressor tires, which are supposed to be the next-big-thing-in-Enduro or some such thing. Since my first rides were on some of the rockier trails around Hood River, I opted for higher pressures than I normally use on a wide (30-millimeter internal width) rim. Once back home, I wound up airing the tires down to between 23 and 24 psi. The 27.5+ Rekons felt right about 15 psi up front and 16 to 17 psi in the rear. As with all plus-size tires, small changes in the Rekon's air pressure yield crazy-big changes in ride quality…it pays to fiddle.


Vernon Felton testing the Durango Blackjack on the trails surrounding Hood River OR.
Spoiler alert--the Blackjack climbs well. Really well.

Climbing

Let’s dispense with the obvious—you’re looking at a Horst Link bike. The day Specialized’s patent on that four-bar rear suspension design expired was the day a whole lot of companies breathed a sigh of relief and started cranking out versions of their own. It’s a design that has stood the test of time for a reason: It can be built reasonably light, resists pedal kickback on technical climbs and still feels pretty good when you are simultaneously slamming the rear wheel into crap while deathgripping the rear brake lever.

Having said that, there are plenty of bikes with chainstay pivots in front of and below the rear axle that ride very differently from one another. Anyone, for instance, who’s ridden similar-travel Norco and Specialized bikes can tell you: The back ends of different Horst Link bikes “feel” very different in the rough stuff and they certainly don’t all climb the same. A single pivot placement, in other words, doesn’t define a bike.

I say all this because if you've come to the conclusion that Horst Link bikes don't climb well without you reaching down to flip some levers, a ride on the Blackjack will dispel that notion. Even with the shock in its open mode, the bike motors up climbs. It's no XC bike and there are models out there that boast better traction on rocky pitches, but for a bike with serious descending chops, it climbs surprisingly well. I did find myself riding the nose of the saddle a fair bit on particularly steep pitches (I'm guessing the relatively slack seat angle might have something to do with that), but aside from possessing a sorta grumpy taint on big-climb days, I have no complaints.


Vernon Felton testing the Durango Blackjack on the trails surrounding Hood River OR.
The Blackjack is a good all-rounder, but if it has a bias, it's towards the descending side of the spectrum.

Descending

I wasn’t immediately blown away by the Blackjack—I was coming off of rides on lighter 29ers that played in the same slack, aggressive and rowdy corner of the sandbox. Those bikes were lighter, lower, and at slower to medium speeds, they responded easier to both steering inputs and body shifts.

When the speeds picked up, however, the Blackjack truly shone. For starters, the bike’s suspension feels surprisingly deep without being so rampy that you have to beat the hell out of it to get full travel.

The bike also has a solid, take-no-crap feel to it. It’s a stout little package that’s a good choice for heavier or harder-riding types.

So far, it probably sounds like the Blackjack is some kind of gravity barge. It isn’t. That tight wheelbase and short rear center get the credit here. There’s a downhill trail on our local mountain that’s fairly steep, definitely rocky and has a few sections that completely lack flow. Or, at least you think those sections lack flow when you are on other bikes. On the Blackjack, you’re suddenly able to snake through corners that always feel too tight on other bikes. At speed. While cackling. It’s a very good thing. When I outfitted the bike with Industry Nine's BackCountry 450 27.5 wheelset and Maxxis Rekon 2.8s, the bike retained all of its nimble and playful feel, but now also offered ridiculous amounts of traction and a velvety feel in root and baby head sections. Which is the better option? Again, that's entirely dependent on the rider. I have a bias towards the steering feel of the 29-inch wheel, but also enjoyed cleaning some tech sections with the 27.5+ tires that normally frustrate me. While the Blackjack doesn't feel tippy when shod with 29er hoops, I did prefer the slightly lower bottom bracket height achieved by the 27.5+ configuration.




Vernon Felton testing the Durango Blackjack on the trails surrounding Hood River OR.
Maxxis' new Aggressor strikes a balance between the grip of the Minion and the easy-pedaling of the Ardent. I've only ridden it on fairly loose over hardpack conditions, but am impressed so far.
Vernon Felton testing the Durango Blackjack on the trails surrounding Hood River OR.
The Blackjack sports the usual internal dropper post routing, but routes the rear brake and derailleur lines along the top of the down tube. It's not the most aesthetically-appealing choice, but it is simple to work on.

Component Check

• Completely customizable: Everything from the frame's powder-coated finish to the grips on the handlebar can be tweaked to the customer's size, riding style and preference. Durango offers the Blackjack with several build kits, but is open to outfitting each bike with any mix of drivetrain, suspension fork or cockpit component. To that end, our test bike deviated from the norm, via the addition of the SRAM Level brakes.

• GX Drivetrain: We could have shaved some weight from the Blackjack by going with a higher-end drivetrain, but we opted for the more cost conscious SRAM 1X kit. True, you can feel the difference on the upshifts, but if it means lopping several hundred dollars off the sticker price, it's a no-brainer in my book.

• Industry Nine Enduro 305 Wheelset: I9's latest burly 29er wheelset bears checking out. There's the usual quick engagement, but more importantly, the new rim is easy to install and seat tubeless tires on and provides plenty of support for larger tire casings. It's a solid, yet lightweight, package. I'll be holding onto these and their 27+ BackCounty 450 counterpart for a long-term review.


Vernon Felton testing the Durango Blackjack on the trails surrounding Hood River OR.



Pinkbike's Take

bigquotesDoes it matter that the Blackjack is made in America? That's a personal call. You might love the fact that the bike flouts convention that way. Then again, you might be all about carbon...maybe an aluminum frame leaves you cold at this price point. Or perhaps you live in Oslo or Osaka and you don't give a damn one way or another if this bike was built by real apple-pie eating cowboys descended from George Washington himself.

At the end of the day, the one thing most people want to know is this: Does the bike hold its own? Yeah, the Blackjack does. As with most bikes, it could also be improved with a few tweaks. I would, for instance, like to see the Blackjack equipped with a slightly lower bottom bracket and a steeper seat angle. But did I have fun on the thing? Yes, I did. For the person who is interested in getting a custom, hand built rig that pairs a proven suspension design with progressive geometry, the Blackjack is an intriguing proposition.
- Vernon Felton




Visit the high-res gallery for more images from this review




About the Reviewer
Stats: Age: 44 • Height: 5'11” • Inseam: 32" • Weight: 175lb • Industry affiliations / sponsors: None
In 1988 Vernon started riding mountain bikes—mainly to avoid the people throwing cans of Budweiser at him during his road rides. At some point, roughly when Ronald Reagan was president and Hüsker Dü was still a band, he began loving mountain bikes on their own terms. Vernon Felton spends most of his time riding bikes, thinking about bikes, thinking about riding bikes and then riding some more on the wet and filthy trails of Bellingham, Washington. If it has a greasy chain and two wheels on it, he’s cool with it. Except for recumbents. Well, okay, maybe those too. Nah, forget it. No recumbents.



186 Comments

  • + 74
 Bike seems fun enough, but looks like the engineers had a hand in those graphics. Yikes!
  • + 12
 Glad I'm not the only one that found them a bit hideous!
  • + 18
 Im engineer and i can do better than that Wink
  • + 12
 It never made big waves after the owners acted like children and berated a customer with legitimate claims over on MTBR. Sorry guys, not if you treat your customers like shit. Next.
  • + 4
 Those i9 wheels are sooo big pimpin.
  • + 5
 I'm also an engineer, and I approve this message.
  • - 3
 Killer bike!! thanks @pinkbike for shinning some light on a cool company.
  • + 7
 I hate to say it, but its not just the graphics that are ugly on that thing.
  • + 5
 @Boardlife69: Link or context? These things are good to know...
  • + 2
 Right on time, the fashion police arrive. Maybe you got lost on your way to your favorite style website? While you're here, may I suggest riding a mountain bike?
  • + 3
 @Boardlife69: another request for the link to them berating a customer please
  • + 2
 @onemind123: I'm sure you daw this after your comment, I know I did. Just beneath our requests someone had already linked it. Oh man. Enjoy all 6 pages.of that thread. The first page or two are.pretty good!
  • + 0
 Down tube isn't straight. I wonder if it's strong as slash
  • + 6
 @VwHarman: Get some popcorn ready.
forums.mtbr.com/27-5/durango-moonshine-problems-917365.html

edit. guy below posted already.
  • + 2
 @Boardlife69: cheers! That was good stuff. Pretty lousy way to reach present your brand!
  • + 1
 Or represent....eff.
  • + 1
 That weld on the bottom bracket is not just ugly, it's sub standard! it appears the torch was running too cold just heating the filler rod and not penetrating the base material resulting in a globby mess. Simply running the tourch over the weld a second time and quickly buffing it back would have improved the look dramatically without any warping. I'm not saying it wouldn't hold but how could you let that leave the shop?
  • + 1
 @oldfaith: No kidding! Especially when so much of his marketing efforts seem to be banking on the high-quality craftsmanship associated with made in the USA products. He wants to bank on that cache, but those examples don't at all represent that look. Like you say, the weld likely will hold fine, but it looks like a grade 11 metal shop weld.
  • + 1
 @Boardlife69: Best post of the week , thanks Smile
  • + 2
 @Boardlife69: This is one of the main reasons why I chose Guerrilla Gravity over DBC. That and the fact that they are designed by people with engineering experience and built by trained and talented fabricators. Not to mention the $3500 entry level price for the GG.
  • + 50
 Ummm...

"There was an issue with the spacing on your bike, we investigated the anomaly with your bike and had it remedied within 72 hours...let me know if your Taiwanese Norco could do that. We are are handbuilding each one of these bikes, if the welds bother you then don't buy it. We offer a lifetime warranty on the frame...you want a pretty weld, have a cute little girl in Taiwan do it for you."

forums.mtbr.com/27-5/durango-moonshine-problems-917365.html

The Internet never forgets.
  • + 18
 Thx for that I won't be buying.
  • + 18
 There is 2 type of American pride, one "proud to made things domestically", and there is "Trump cockiness and crude humor", I think there is leaning more towards the latter.
  • + 9
 wow just read that.....very informative and gives pretty good insight into the companies presidents morals and values...somewhat racist to refer to a little Taiwanese girl in a derogatory way in order to make a point that was not necessary to make......TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT.
  • - 14
flag jackalope (Jun 7, 2016 at 7:28) (Below Threshold)
 ridegg.com

USA made - check (which btw is not to say everything from overseas is sh!t, some great bikes come here on boats)

USA sourced materials - check

Great CS - check

Bikes ride supremely well - check (even without a contrived, technical sounding name for the suspension)

They can make specific geo - check

They still offer a 26" wheel option - check

Owners are not self-aggrandizing blowhards - check (hell, they even like Slayer, Motorhead, and Iron Maiden as evidenced by their T-shirt designs - which makes them radtastic IMO).

Pretty sure no one at the company would vote for f*cking Donald Drumpf - check
  • + 7
 Saw that thread back in the day. Infamous.
  • + 15
 Wow...for the head of a company to talk like that is an INSTANT turn off to their brand. What a joke that Jeff guy is. And his bikes look like shit too.
  • + 12
 Yeah I remember this. Tbh, it would be great for Durango to address this more directly here and talk about what steps they've taken to improve weld quality, frame alignment, customer support, etc. It's been a while so it's totally possible they've made some big strides.

The pics in that thread look like an absolute nightmare, and if I had $6k of my money tied up for months in that mess I would definitely be steering others away.
  • - 4
flag AlexS1 (Jun 7, 2016 at 8:55) (Below Threshold)
 I would buy if its of good quality regardless of who made it and if its made by a cute Taiwanese girl, I'll make sure I'll be a good boy and clean my bike every ride. I'll try to google who made my Taiwanese Spicy tonight...
  • + 6
 @jackalope: Met the GG guys last year at a local bike festival: Rad guys. thinking a Pedalhead might be in my future. Also, the Megatrail is seriously impressive, I was expecting a lot less than it delivered. I'm so used to single pivots compromising on climbing or braking, but it does neither. Seriously good bike, stands out compared with other AM bikes I've ridden.
  • + 4
 Yeah We didn't handle the "forum" well 2 years ago. The guy threatened if we didn't give all his money back BEFORE returning the bike he would do that. We made it right for him financially within 6 hours of receiving the bike and then he posted the hate anyway. He rubbed us the wrong way when we tried doing everything to make him whole. There are alot of threads saying we are an OK bunch of gear heads...we rushed through his bike to make things right 2+ years ago and it failed but sh*t we tried...haven't had the issue again and there is plenty of love and cetainly no comments about taiwanese welders. We were sorry for the taiwanese comment didn't mean it as a TRUMP supporter but that is funny comparison now we have to admit...there are alot of good guys behind the scenes working their ass off including veterans who welded for that guy with the best intentions for him...we were more defensive of how hard our guy worked than the taiwanese girl. We had his back and we would hope other employers would stick their neck out on the line for their workers and no it was politically correct an emotional response we should have walked away from.
  • + 0
 @durangobikecompany: we all make mistakes..... Like, actually voting Trump in. Why would anyone do that?!?
  • + 2
 @durangobikecompany: glad you posted. What do you chalk the actual frame issues he had (misalignment, weld quality) up to? Growing pains, inexperienced welders, insufficient equipment, rush job, etc? Did you guys make any QC changes afterward?

Just curious as I work with factories and assembly issues on a regular basis. Crises like that one suck for everyone involved... but we almost always learn a lot from them.
  • + 12
 @bkm303: The guy had a trip he was going on and had to have the bike. We offered paying for a rental bike for him while on his trip and what they had available didn't meet his needs. So we rushed and I swapped two fixture spacers in the rear end before welding which caused the misalignment...we then rushed the frame to welding and heat treating and then rushed to overnight shipping-we didn't catch the spacer issue until bike came back to us. Alot of people stepped up to the plate to get the rush done for him so he could have it ASAP and it was a royal fail. The worst part was that this was his second bike because FEDEX crushed his box on the first shipment. FEDEX paid the claim in full recognizing they screwed up.

We were more sensitive to the fact that we all rushed to do the right thing, we had no issue making him 100% financially right for his frustrations we just needed the bike back. He was most pissed that we wouldn't refund his money before we received the bike back which was a weird request. We're old school, we have alot of people working hard to do the right...we just weren't emotionally prepared for someone to do that so we responded the old fashioned way which was stupid. I would like to invite that guy to come out and shred with us in Durango...bring any bike he wants..anyone who thinks we are A$$holes, come meet us before you say that. Life isn't always politically correct, running a business and risking everything isn't always politically correct...you just keep working at it, trying to get better.
  • + 2
 @durangobikecompany: good on yeah, honesty and accountability is always the best practice, best of luck with your business
  • + 13
 @durangobikecompany: I'm sorry, this is still not something I would expect as a reply from a director of a company acting in public. Yes, you acknowledge your shortcomings and I welcome and respect that, but you're language and tone is way below a professional level, even if you try to be all "bro-come-hang-with-us".
  • + 0
 @durangobikecompany: We are all humans with emotions and make mistakes. Next time take a breather before posting anything that was written with emotion.
  • + 2
 Sailors have a saying. In rough waters it's good to be in a big ship. If one disgruntled customer from two years ago is still some sort of an issue than your company must be a very tiny boat.
  • + 4
 @durangobikecompany: blows me away that you guys spld that frame to a customer. Yhe allinment wasen't even close. If you want perdect welds a little taiwanese could do it?!?! Welds from asia look good not great. Welds from here should look perfect. I am a welder, not hard to make welds look near perfect with practice. Look at cove bikes alu welds. All done here. Look perfect.
  • - 10
flag SlodownU (Jun 8, 2016 at 13:04) (Below Threshold)
 @Waldon83: I guess as 12 year old sitting there in New Zealand you would know a lot about US politics, and life here in general, huh? There are a lot of reasons to vote Trump in, yea I said it, A whole shit load of people here agree too. Down vote me all you want. Bitches.
  • + 2
 @durangobikecompany: I'm a Joiner, you can never rush a job, i'd rather be late and lose money than pass on an inferior product. I applaud your Patriotic angle and hope you do well.
  • + 5
 @Brklss: I agree. Their tone is still not up to professional standards. If that's how they roll, no matter how chill they are in person, I don't want anything to do with them.
  • + 5
 @SlodownU: racist prick.
  • + 6
 @SlodownU: I don't want to say 'typical american' because I don't wan to disgrace the other 90% of your population that have a clue.

YOU appear to be in that 10%, ignorant enough to not even know a flag outside of your stars and stripes.

Did you know in Canada, they live in igloos... and here in Australia (where I'm from, and live.... which is not New Zealand) we have pet Kangaroos and we ride them to work.

No seriously, I'm wasting my time.
  • - 6
flag SlodownU (Jun 8, 2016 at 17:52) (Below Threshold)
 @paulclarke: Right, because I believe in a country with borders and putting my citizens first (who happen to be from all backgrounds), I'm a racist prick. Go do your homework now junior.
  • - 4
flag SlodownU (Jun 8, 2016 at 17:54) (Below Threshold)
 @Waldon83: My bad on the flag. But seriously, your country has some of the toughest immigration laws on the planet, but your gonna give me shit for wanting the same? Go throw another shrimp on the barbie.
  • + 3
 @SlodownU: Again, you're lack of cultural intelligence doesn't surprise me, though that assumption is completely general and biased. Although I'm not a political 'guru', and I also don't debate that you want tougher laws within 'Mericaa', there are better, more intelligent people that can create a better place rather than someone that has power, only because they have money.

I'm not proud that my country of origin turns back people in need of a better life than their previous, however it has also helped us keep gun toting massacres at bay, just with a simple law.
Neither of us are going to 'win' this conversation, but I just hope that the U.S.A re-evaluate their laws, and their legislations, and start using some of the smartest people of the country (in which there are an abundance) to start making the US a better place.
  • - 6
flag SlodownU (Jun 8, 2016 at 20:01) (Below Threshold)
 @Waldon83: I realize that you are still butt-hurt that I got your flag wrong, after all, the difference is one star between you and New Zealand, how dare I, but I digress. The US is an awesome place (not that you'd know, wise keyboard warrior), and part of what makes us great is that we aren't as quick to give up our civil liberties as you are. It's because of all of us gun-toting rednecks in "Merica" that your launguage is still English.
  • + 0
 @SlodownU: you support a man who has stated he wants to kick muslims out of the country. If youre saying that he is not a racist then you are just the average american i guess.
  • + 3
 @SlodownU: Again, I'm not shocked that you got my flag incorrect for a second time..... unfortunately you are a stupid American. Sorry if I offended anyone else from America.
Also, I don't know how well you know history, (obviously not at all) but Australia was colonised by Sri Lankan and Indonesian heritage, then they were murdered by the convicts of Brittain.....
I don't recal in my 32 years of living, Australia being colonised by English Speaking Gun Toting American Rednecks..... I guess I'll have to do some more reading.

And just so you don't get my flag wrong again Australia has the southern cross in white, and a larger star that represents our 5 states and 2 territories....

The NZ flag has the southern cross in red, and does not have the main star...

They both have the Union Jack representing our British (not American) colonisation


You're a flog
  • - 5
flag SlodownU (Jun 9, 2016 at 4:26) (Below Threshold)
 @Waldon83: It's called WWII, happened before your 32 years of living. For the record, I love Australia, but you are a twat.
  • + 0
 @paulclarke: Your a below average Canadian.
  • - 5
flag SlodownU (Jun 9, 2016 at 4:32) (Below Threshold)
 @durangobikecompany: You shouldn't really need to defend yourselves against a bunch of entitled pussies who just whine anonymously behind their keyboards. If you haven't noticed, that's about all that happens here, whining. You employ vets, make a good product, and clearly don't give a shit what about what a bunch of keyboard jockeys think. Keep on doing what your doing.
  • + 3
 @SlodownU: ignorance + entitlement = stereotypical American......very sad for you sir, to be so angry in the land of the free home of the brave.....now the land of the entitled and home to the cry babies!!!!!!!! By the way it is not your country it was and legally, still is rightfully own by the first nation tribes and the Mexican people. You my friend are the immigrant. So before you start throwing around your white privlidge maybe think about going to your local reserve or a Spanish neighborhood and be so brave with your white washed words....you are the keyboard warrioir.

American`s and their first world problems!!!????
  • + 6
 @SlodownU: you love Australia? You don't even have a clue what our flag looks like, and you think we were colonised after WWII by Americans..... You're an absolute flog.
I lived in Oregon for 2 years and moved to Canada for 3 before returning back to Australia. So I do enough to know that you're certainly the minority, and what some people would consider as mentally retarded.

Luckily, I know that not all Americans are complete stereotype flogs like you.
I feel sorry for the people that have to be around you.
  • - 3
 @bryan46: Look, it was two years ago and one unfortunate incident on a different frame model. If you have other incidents to show a pattern of consistency then lets see them. I'm not aware of any though. Maybe you lived a perfect life and are one of those special people with the right to hold a grudge for life over an exchange that got a bit emotionally overheated and cast the first stone. Otherwise everyone screws up on occasion. Having worked in almost every level of manufacturing in my life there's always a human element to deal with that once in a while ends with a 'sh-t happens' label. Good luck having a successful family life with that kind of attitude though. Otherwise the internet might also not forget you acting like a self-righteous fcuking pr1ck either.
  • + 3
 @paulclarke: Im an average American...This @SlodownU guy is whats wrong with our country. Im coming up to B.C. in September and it's gonna be very hard to go back to the states im sure Frown
  • + 2
 @Bird-Man: Not all of us are like him. Most of us aren't that ignorant. Although I have always felt like I should have been born Canadian...
  • + 1
 @TheUnknownMTBR: Although the quality of the bike was a huge issue, I think the issue most of us had was how big of a ass the head of the company is. Every manufacturing line has issues no matter how big or small, but that's no excuse to act like a child when a customer complains about your welds...
  • + 0
 @MTBCAM: so then you have nothing else to back up your claim than one instance from 2 years ago, yet you insist that it still defines him today? Do us a favor, don't come back.
  • - 1
 @TheUnknownMTBR: Didn't you read his reply above? Still unprofessional as FU*K! Why don't you do ME a favor and go waste your money on this piece of shit, have a weld break, sit on the broken seat post and spin. I bet you work for this Jeff a*shole with how much you're defending him and his ugly, broken bikes.
  • + 0
 @MTBCAM: I didn't read it that way at all and I have zero affiliation with any brand, owner, or even anyone employed by one that I'm aware of. Might consider buying a frame except the geometry is yesterdays business imo. Otherwise I'm not sure where you get off calling anyone else out as an ass or childish other than your critical mind's eye must go blind when it comes to evaluating yourself.
  • + 16
 Never ever heard of Durango, but now i know the president seems like an absolute dick and i've burnt 30 mins in work reading about their bad welds - awesome!
  • + 18
 its like a covert and a sb66 mated.
  • + 1
 So true.
  • + 6
 New mega had a part in it too.
  • - 1
 ..
  • + 5
 I think my covert is slightly better looking than the Blackjack but maybe I'm biased.
  • + 2
 @briceps: Agreed, so is mine. I went from the 29er wheels to 27.5+... It is too much fun. Can't wait to do park days on both wheels.... 1/2 the day 29, the second half 27.5+ just to have fun!
  • + 7
 Don't you compare the beautiful SB66 to this pile of crap.
  • + 13
 From the manufacturer. .........."there is no ride quality difference/feel on the trail with this aluminum frame vs any full suspension carbon frame in the 120 to 130-millimeter family. There is no vibration or loss of frame rigidity with our high quality aluminum, so in terms of what the rider is looking for on the trail and the ability to offer a long term warranty, the aluminum exceeds carbon."

Now i haven't ridden the bike so im only going on experiences with other "high quality aluminum " frames i have ridden but that statement is incorrect when comparing aluminum to carbon. Especially in telation to the vibration. ????
  • + 17
 That quote is a prime example of 100% marketing bullshit.
  • + 3
 Idk, I've only ridden a few carbon bikes but I really don't understand how people claim to feel vibration and 'ride quality' of the frame through tubeless tires and full suspension, and plenty of Al bikes are more than stiff enough for me. On a road bike I can absolutely feel the ride quality difference, but if I take the same Al and carbon road bikes and deflate the tires down to 50 psi or so there goes the difference.

Now the weight and price differences, those usually are quite noticeable Razz
  • + 16
 What he should have said (translation=the truth) is "We are a small company that can not afford to invest in carbon molds and high production numbers in a top shelf overseas factory and we believe aluminum works quite well for a number of reasons" ........ that would have sat better with me
  • + 5
 @DARKSTAR63: Spot on.
  • + 11
 "Let’s dispense with the obvious—you’re looking at a Horst Link bike. The day Specialized’s patent on that four-bar rear suspension design expired was the day a whole lot of companies breathed a sigh of relief and started cranking out versions of their own." - And a lot of Euro companies started importing their frames to the USA when that patent expired.
  • + 4
 YT, Canyon, Rose, Rotwild, Radon, Robot Bike Co, etc. Basically, if you are a Euro company making mountain bikes, your company should begin with an "R" and you should use a horst link.

GT also uses a horst link now on certain models.
  • - 2
 Lot of specialized bikes rolling around with funny names on them.
  • - 2
 @ka-brap: is the horst-link the same as virtual pivot point?

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_suspension
  • + 1
 @javijavi: No they are not the same thing, if you are talking about the suspension platform known as "VPP". A horst link does create a virtual pivot point (rather, an instant center) that the suspension functions around, but to say that that a horst link is the same thing as VPP would not be accurate.
  • - 1
 Can you ride a bike? I have ridden all platforms and find ability to outweigh technology. Pick a platform and love it,,,, they all have good features but enjoy the ride and focus on technique. Analist's could argue till they miss the whole season.
  • + 12
 But I do think it's cool they do so much in house and use stateside materials
  • + 6
 It's not really too much more expensive compared to other bikes made in Asia
  • + 8
 @DonkeyTeeth: $2500 for frame and shock is competitive. But this is a semi-custom build. And made in Durango Colorado, well mostly. Durango has a long history of frame manufacturing, and some amazing trails.
Looks like a killer ride!
  • + 10
 @vernonfelton is your face in the descending photo the "bass mouth" you referenced in your Opinion - The Camera Never Lies blog?
  • + 16
 @soobawoo you'd have to ask @meagerdude about that. I think it's 35 percent Largemouth Bass and about 65 percent Perplexed Monkey, but it's hard to say.
  • + 3
 @vernonfelton: just read your Bio. Husker Du ... No there's a band that I have not heard in awhile. Great write up! I love my Following?
  • + 2
 @Satn69: I am waiting for Husker Du to reform as I missed them back in the 80s. Great band and many great albums.
  • + 3
 @fartymarty: Ain't that the truth. Big Husker Du fan. There's plenty of great music happening right here and now, but there was something truly awesome in the water back in the early 80s, somewhere left of the dial (also a Replacements fan).
  • + 1
 @fartymarty: no doubt that would be pretty cool if they regrouped! And then there's Ministry!,
  • + 7
 I wonder why the tester had an issue with the fork riding high? Isn't that better to keep the geometry truer to what's intended? 20-25% sag is the norm for forks. I can imagine 30% would feel unsupportive like one of them fathers from Maury's show.
  • + 1
 But didn't he mention he put in extra tokens to offset brake dive and create more "ramp up"?
  • + 1
 I don't have an issue with it riding higher in its travel. It's one of the things that I like about the Pike--that I can run it close to 30 percent sag on an all-mountain bike and not have it wallow about or blow through its travel (the volume spacers help there, as well, of course).
  • + 3
 @vernonfelton: Oh I see, that does make sense. I have a Pike as well and to get 20% sag for me the psi has to be set pretty low, like 40 (I'm a stick figure). I'm a little worried that even though I'm getting 20% sag that because the pressure is so low the fork might be divey so I add a click or two of LSC. I had a token there before, but after studying that graph Rock Shox had about what tokens do to the suspension curve, I realize that I'm better off without any.

Thanks for the insight btw.
  • + 2
 @uphill-blues: Sure thing. Rider weight and riding style play such a huge part in fork settings. I know guys who weigh the same as I do, but ride with a whole lot more emphasis on getting air and who require much more progressivity from their set up. The cool thing, of course, is that Fox, RockShox, etc. are giving riders easy tools to tweak spring rate to suit our different needs/styles. It's easy to get caught up in the latest stanchion treatment or axle hoo-hah, but things like ease and effectiveness of adjustment have so much more impact on what you actually feel out there on the trail. Adjustability just doesn't sell nearly as well as a bullet point on a website or brochure, so it gets less play. Sadly. Cheers.
  • + 6
 Two of my mates have broken three all-mountain aluminium frames made by a well-known 'boutique' bike company. The frames weighed +3.5kgs each. To be fair they were made in Taiwan, but I think we need to put-to-bed the notion that aluminium is more durable than carbon.
  • + 10
 Agreed, and for sure aluminum has it's place. But stop playing the "aluminum is better than carbon" card, especially when you are a manufacturer that only makes aluminum bikes. Of course you are going to say that aluminum is better- your entire business model depends on it.
  • - 1
 I guess it also depends on the type of AL alloy (6061, 6066, 7005, etc). To break an AL frame it must be a massive crash, AL is strong.
  • + 3
 @javijavi: Not true. To "break" an AL frame can just be a hairline Crack. You could have no idea when or how it happened. But frame is toast at that point.
  • + 1
 For me, it's when rocks get kicked up into the downtube that I cringe for my carbon frame.
  • + 1
 @groghunter: one of the nice things about a carbon fiber frame is that the manufacturer can make the bottom portion of the downtube significantly thicker than the other walls of the tube. I remember when Specialized launched the first carbon Demo that they said the downtube was 6mm thick on the bottom side. That simply can't be done with aluminum, without making the other sections of the downtube overbuilt as well. So, it partly depends on how thick your manufacturer made that portion of the downtube. I would say most (if not all) are well aware that that section of tube needs to be beefier in order to withstand certain amounts of impact damage.
  • + 4
 @javijavi: I've broken an aluminum frame, (USA made Intense Tracer) but haven't broken my Chinese carbon Intense yet. Just sayin'
  • + 4
 @ka-brap: Oh, I'm sure it's well designed, Devinci doesn't seem to have a reputation for a lot of broken carbon, Their frame weights aren't on the anemic side, & the spartan has a big aluminum plate on the bottom of the downtube.

Doesn't stop me from cringing though, this being my first carbon bike, & Tucson riding tending to kick up rocks the size of my head reasonably often.
  • + 5
 man oh man, i hate this bike. my 1st "custom" bike was an american bike manufacturing M16. 1988, the welds were flawless, the silver anodizing and polish were faultless. maded me proud to own a piece of american craftsmanship. compared to this pile of crap, save your money and buy an ARKTOS from ALCHEMY.
  • + 6
 "modern geometry" without publishing effective seat angle or reach? woops. The wheelbase figures indicate it's not too far off, but still, these are the measurements that allow bikes to actually be compared by the numbers.
  • + 4
 Effective seat angle is listed in the geo chart that I included. You're not the only one asking for reach. I'll measure it and include it from here on out. Thanks for the input.
  • + 1
 @vernonfelton: It didn't look at slack as 70.5 in the photos so I assumed actual; I appreciate the clarification.
  • + 3
 @b26-4-Life: No sweat. I meant it about the reach figure as well. I'll start including it. The bike industry is all over the map on that one (by which I mean, whether or not to use it), but it does give a better indicator of fit, I agree. Cheers.
  • + 4
 The option for custom frame geometry tweaks at no extra cost gives aluminum an edge on carbon fiber competition, especially at 6.2 lbs. And a 13.8 in BB sounds just about perfect...no more pedal strikes. The moonshine is probably more to my style, but this is nice.
  • + 3
 I like what they're doing and i'm totally interested in getting a bike from them, but that seat angle sounds awful, especially since i'm 6'4" and ride my saddle pretty high up and that's a curved seat-tube. It's all trade offs though, let's them have a super short wheelbase for the other geo numbers
  • + 2
 My first Mountain Bike-like bicycle was the Back Traverse from 1995. Proudly kitted with Shimano Altus group, useless wheels and some awful Kenda tyres. The crude finish of this Durango reminds me of that simple machine I used to abuse.
  • + 3
 It is crudely finished. Those bearing caps look like they were bought at a hardware store and the linkage looks like I could have made it.
  • + 3
 @stumpymidget: easy now. That there is the best USA quality work, far superior to ANYWHERE else.
  • + 6
 I'll stick with my over seas reign for half the price thanks
  • + 6
 That's a pretty low tier buid for 6k
  • + 2
 Only in regards to the drivetrain. That's VF's fetish.
  • + 5
 I imagine the I9 305's is what pushes price...Worth every penny tho.
  • + 14
 @scottzg: Well spotted. Low end drivetrain (in exchange for killer wheels and suspension) is kind of my thing. True.
  • + 6
 @camcoz69, the base level price is $4,800. The up-spec wheels and a few other bits drove up the price tag on our test bike.
  • - 1
 @vernonfelton: Low end is certainly a matter of perspective, too, as GX is certainly a smoother, better shifting & more durable drivetrain than anything we rode in 2005.

Curious about your statement about slower shifts: what part do you attribute that to, the cassette?
  • + 5
 @groghunter: "Slower" may not be the best adjective. They are certainly less crisp and defined at the shifter, which I always attributed to the shifter internals. In truth, many of the components in SRAM's various 1X groups are identical or nearly so (at times made with heavier materials). The performance is still, I agree, quite close and world's better than the good stuff from back in the day. For what it's worth, GX (and XT) 1X groups are what I've bought when I built up my own frames. I can afford that stuff (the XT pricing is crazy low these days), it works and then I can save my money for a better set of brakes, wheels or, frankly, good tires (the latter of which is the most underrated and most important component on a bike, imo).
  • + 1
 @vernonfelton: Absolutely agreed. I usually attribute it to shifter internals as well(though far less so these days, I remember low-end shifters literally exploding inside due to their cheapness)

The reason I asked is I have GX, & was wondering if there was some weirdness with shift ramps on the GX cassette vs the more expensive ones, or if the old "spend money on shifters" adage still rang true. GX shift pod isn't bad at all, but I can tell it's a little cruder than the Saint it replaced.
  • + 3
 @groghunter: Aside from being significantly heavier (it's a whole lotta pins holding that GX cassette together), I think the GX cassette performs well and is, frankly, within my financial reach. If I were trying to get a more precise-feeling shift out of the lever, yeah, I'd just go with XO1 shifters. But then again, this is all splitting hairs--GX shifts just fine. In the long term, regular maintenance on the drivetrain will have the bigger impact on overall performance than a shifter upgrade. An old toothbrush, some Simple Green, a conscientious bit of lube on the chain's rollers and an annual cable and cable housing swap always go a long ways towards shifting bliss.
  • + 1
 @vernonfelton: Being able to replace just the big aluminum cog on the XO1 when it wears out instead of having to replace the whole cassette with GX makes the XO1 cheaper in the long run. Upgrading to the 44T Wolftooth cog while you're at it is a nice bonus.
  • + 1
 @vernonfelton: Cable and Housing swaps may be the least performed "upgrade" to a bike there is. So many people continue to fight the same 4 year old frayed cable in a gummed up housing and then complain that they have shitty lever feel/response and poor performance. Appreciate the insights you have added in the comments here as well, interesting to get to ponder the thoughts behind the review, and the reasoning behind set up choices. More context is always good! Cheers!
  • + 1
 @VwHarman: Interestingly enough, I just read an article on what Jerome Clementz carries in his pack, & a spare cable is on that list. Kinda a head smacking moment for me, as it may not be something I've had a lot of problems out on the trail with, but it sure is a solution to a lot of headaches if you need it(and as someone who sweeps rides fairly often, I carry more gear than just what I usually have problems with.)
  • + 2
 @VwHarman: Thanks for the feedback. Yeah, I've ridden with guys who complain about how crappy their XTR or X01 drivetrain is. I get on the bike and, yeah, it's shit. Then I replace their cable and housing for them. Bingo. Damn near perfect. It's the little things....
  • + 2
 @groghunter: that is interesting, thanks! Plus, the cable can be used to lash shit onto your bike to make it back to the truck hacks and bodges style!
  • + 1
 @VwHarman: That was exactly my thought as well, useful in more than one way. He had some other fairly clever setups too, like taping a quicklink to the brake hose, & a tire plug ready to go, stuffed up the bottom of the steerer. Gets a flat in a race run, whips it out & tries to seal the leak quick enough that he can still ride fairly fast for the rest of the stage.
  • + 5
 All these pictures of VF, I was hoping to see "Dick Face". No luck....
  • + 1
 The seat tube angle "Looks" much steeper than 70.5^. I may not have a finely tuned eye, but it appears to be much much steeper than the Evil I owned. Is the measurement actual instead of that virtual measurement crap most bikes come with? seems every bit as steep as a Stumpy.
  • + 2
 The fact they don't list the reach or stack in their geometry makes me concerned they don't understand modern geometry. The fact the bb height is 13.8 inches confirms this.
  • + 5
 Looks like Walmart bikes
  • - 1
 With how much this guy touted this bike's manufacture being done solely in the U.S., he gives the impression that he might think that this is the only bike manufacturer that does that, when in fact a LOT of niche bike companies do everything here. Heck, Intense manufacturers their aluminum bikes here, and what's more, they do everything themselves. Granted, these companies might just be the last 'factories' still on American soil, but the point is that if you want an American MADE bike, you have more than one choice.
  • + 3
 I think I just heard Intense will no longer be making aluminum frames...
  • + 3
 Alloy Tracers are now Taiwan made.. They needed to keep up with demand and be competitive with pricing. .
  • + 1
 not that I can afford it but my buddies carbon Session's both have "made in waterloo" stamped on the chainstay. It would be nice if there were more options though.
  • + 2
 VernonFelton : wearing matching bright blue/yellow lid and gloves.

Never go full enduroooooo!
  • + 4
 No goggles, ergo, not full enduro.
  • + 2
 Got to relaunch that bike with a proper color scheme... someone dropped the ball on what is otherwise a winning bike.
  • + 3
 Needs super boost. Seriously.
  • + 4
 Why make the tooling change when super boost+ is right around the corner?
  • + 2
 One thing I can say for sure is no other website had the quality of reviews that Pinkbike does.
  • + 2
 That wheelsize combo tho ! Doesnt look bad ! But maaan these i9 hubs... !!!
  • + 2
 Durango building bikes are akin to me building a Lego toy. All the real skilled work was done by someone else.
  • + 1
 Great to see another made in the USA bike company get some love! Nice work as always Jeff and Wendy!
  • + 1
 my old coach had one of these and it seemed sweet except for the totally exposed pivot bearings.
  • + 1
 External cable routing....thank you!!
  • + 1
 Can't understand why the bikes from and in US are so expensive
  • + 1
 Durango bikes are legit! I do agree the graphics need an update though.
  • + 1
 Robo-bike and it's absolutely rdiculous price tag be f'ing d@mned ...
  • + 1
 Didn't sorta grumpy taint open up for slipknot a few years back?
  • + 1
 14 kg!!!!! the heaviest thing since... master of puppets
  • + 1
 Kudos for being American made. I love the looks of it.
  • + 1
 Gimme a 330mm BB height and I'll try it.
  • + 1
 America! F*ck yeah! Coming again to save the mother f*cking day yeah!
  • + 2
 I see a duckface!
  • + 1
 Great review, sounds like an awesome bike
  • + 1
 For that price I'd want a better drivetrain and a better rear shock
  • + 1
 What is "better"? Lighter?
  • + 1
 @sanjuandirtjunkie: yes for the drivetrain,and something that is better suited for the descents.like a vivid air or monarch plus at least
  • + 2
 @mtbakerpow: I think I'd take I9's, Chris King, RS brakes, Debonair and GX drivetrain over monarch plus or vivid all day long get a little of everything good everywhere...curious build for sure.
  • + 1
 @sanjuandirtjunkie: i just see the Yt jeffsy models coming in for half the price without the I9's and I'd be very happy with that.the other 3 grand would be a really sick summer vacation haha
  • + 3
 @mtbakerpow: Agreed on the sick summer vacation...not sure I have seen the 3k Yt in the flesh yet might be like big foot.
  • + 4
 @sanjuandirtjunkie: Bigfoot is real,no joke
  • + 6
 @mtbakerpow: You won't find a stronger supporter than me of the right to spec whatever the hell you want, but a Vivid Air for 120mm of travel? Haven't heard that one before.
  • + 3
 @mtbakerpow: Those i9's are worth as much as a small car. I think that this is a very neat build, put the money in the wheels and save on the drivetrain.
You are right, it isn't a YT and it isn't trying to be.
  • + 3
 @Bluefire: I guess you have now huh
  • + 0
 @NickBit: haha,never said it was
  • + 3
 @NickBit: my small car cost more than those I9's,I wish I had your small car hookup
  • + 1
 @mtbakerpow: Your small car is obviously nicer than mine! (Spend too much on bikes!)
  • + 2
 Looks like nukeproof
  • - 3
 Looks JUST like a nukeproof. My first thought.
  • - 2
 I have ridden this bike a few times and it is indeed a sweet trail bike. The only time I felt uncomfortable was on super steep -30% chutes.
  • + 1
 Not bad at all.
  • + 0
 "Grumpy taint " FTW
  • + 0
 Pos
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