First Ride: Crestline & Cascade Components Team Up to Create a Virtual High Pivot Downhill Bike

Sep 26, 2022
by Matt Beer  


You may have seen a few photos of Crestline and Cascade Components’ RS 205 VHP bike floating around this summer, and we were lucky enough to rally some laps on this bike even before it made its first public appearance. Before you roll out the “looks like a Santa Cruz” comments, this bike uses a virtual mid-high pivot point with an idler and can accommodate either a 29 or 27.5” rear wheel.

A speedy production method meant that Crestilne and Cascade brought the project to fruition in less than one year. Final prices and shock options are still to be confirmed, but the RS 205 VHP will sell through the Crestline website for a retail price between $3699 - $4199 with or without a damper (international customers are asked to contact info@crestinebikes.com for shipping details).

The whole project is a conglomerate of ideas like Crestline’s desire to build a downhill bike, but then also their affiliation with Jimmy Davis of Cascade Components, a specialist in virtual pivot tuning.

American downhill racer, Neko Mullaly, was also pulled into the picture when he contacted Cascade to manufacture the links for his Frameworks project. Even though Neko was too deep in the design process to partner with this duo, he shared a breadth of knowledge gathered from his successful downhill racing career.

RS 205 VHP Details
• Frame: Carbon
• Wheel Size: mixed (29" compatible)
• 205mm rear travel
• Aluminum CNC parts by Cascade Components
• 480mm reach
• 445mm chainstay
• Straight 56mm diameter head tube
• 148 Boost rear wheel spacing
• Raw carbon finish
• Frame only pricing: $3699 (no shock)
• Fox DHX2 or Ohlins TTX22M shock options
crestlinebikes.com


Branching off from their VPP eMTB, Crestline happened upon the opportunity to produce a downhill bike relatively quickly thanks to the guidance from carbon frame manufacturer giant, VIP. The RS 205 VHP will be limited to fifty units initially because the frame will be produced using a “prototype mold”. What that means is the turnaround time from CAD drawings to pulling a carbon triangle out of the sarcophagus is cut down compared to higher volume production runs, however, the number of frames that this mold can handle is reduced before its integrity is compromised.


Frame Details

VPP is Cascade Components' suspension design of choice for its tuning capabilities. Minute pivot placement changes can alter the kinematic traits like progression and axle path. The RS 205 VHP was built with a mid-high pivot location so the rider’s balance wasn’t upset by a continually lengthening rear center. There is some rearward movement at the start to alleviate small bump chatter, but on larger impacts, a linear-progressive leverage curve kicks in to reduce bottom outs.

Even though the RS 205 VHP is labelled as a DH-race bike and there are no dropper post cable guides in the frame, a steep seat tube can accommodate a wireless Reverb AXS post. Adding to the adaptability of this 205mm travel chassis, the interchangeable dropouts can fit either popular wheel size. The whole package isn’t too far off of Norco’s Range, although, Crestline and Cascade offer the custom parts to everyone. Did you spot the water bottle and tool bosses inside the front triangle? If this rig is going to double as a park slayer, why not have those resources on board?


Chain growth is only a factor up until the sag point, but a two-position idler is placed on the mainframe and can change the amount of anti-squat the rider is looking for. Part of the reason for the multiple positions is to allow for the use of a wide-range cassette.

In total, Cascade manufactures the raw aluminum, counter-rotating links, pivot hardware, idler wheel, and dropout, highlighting the exclusivity of this frame. Other finishing touches include a shock eyelet bearing guarded by a fender, and chain protection on the stays and under the curve of the downtube.



Geometry

The head tube, which sits at 63º, uses a straight 56mm diameter opening so that 480mm reach can be adjusted in either direction by up to 10mm. Of course, there’s the option to play with the head tube angle there too and mount either a single or dual-crown fork safely.

The 445mm chainstays mesh well in terms of front to rear center balance for the majority of rider’s preferences, but as always, custom CNC’d dropouts could take those numbers further.


Ride Impressions

Considering that we only had time to ride the S 205 VHP in the downhill configuration, Whistler Bike Park’s jump trails and rougher tracks were the obvious choices for the testing grounds.

Troydon from Crestline Bikes was incredibly helpful in delivering the bike with not one, but three shocks; a Fox DHX2 and two Ohlins TTXM22s, all with different spring rates that allowed for quick changes and experimentation. After playing with all of those options and receiving some advice from Jimmy, I settled on the Ohlins damper and the 480lb spring rate.

Jimmy and Troydon kept the geometry and kinematics from me, which is certainly the most honest way for each participant to test a bike, but getting up to speed on the RS 205 VHP didn’t take more than a lap or two. I’d put that down to the stout feeling of a tall stack height and progressive kinematic that was well supported through heavy compressions.

I’ve ridden a large library of bikes now, but there were two highlights that I wouldn’t have guessed correctly: the 63º head angle and the mid-high pivot location.

Much like the Intense Tracer 279, that was recently featured in a Field Test and also uses a VPP design, the RS 205 VHP seemed to ride a degree steeper. Under braking though, the RS was much more collected. Changing out the spring for a softer 457 lb option, I though the bike might settle further into the travel and ride a touch slacker, but that wasn't the case. On the trail, it felt almost identical to the 480 spring, but used the first half the travel much sooner. Despite what the number said on paper, I still wished that the front axle was further in front and leading the charge into the bike park bomb holes.

What I did get along with was that the RS 205 VHP didn’t have a forward weight shift as it moved through the travel, like some high pivot bikes do. Still, the bike retained excellent small bump compliance. Under braking, the RS stayed steady and didn’t rise out of the travel which made it predictable to pull hard on the brakes and slam into a tight corner quickly.

As for the finish and overall package of the RS 205 VHP, Crestline and Cascade have put together a solid bike that begs to be ridden lap after lap. All of the hardware stayed firmly in place and no chains were lost from the idler, however, more noise cancellation could be added to the rear triangle. That’s something that Troydon spoke to and added the option to purchase VHS tape and STFU chain dampers along with the frame.

Otherwise, the clean lines and fine CNC-work round out a bike that’s ready to take on tons of bike park action. We’d love to get our hands on an RS 205 VHP for a longer term review when there is time to play around with the full gamut of wheel and suspension configurations. It’s certainly a bike that could be modified to be raced on Sunday and still play in the bike park.







122 Comments

  • 326 3
 Looks like a Santa Cruz session
  • 38 3
 This guy gets it
  • 5 1
 Its technically most similiar to that steel steampunk high pivot Pinkbike reviewed recently.
  • 6 1
 I believe you meant Santencal Session
  • 15 1
 That spartan with the 40 up front looks dope
  • 2 3
 You win Pinkbike today.
  • 117 1
 Crestline came out with the new V10 before Santacruz did!
  • 126 0
 Don't worry. In a final thrust of irony Santa Cruz will issue an aftermarket linkage.
  • 3 0
 SC back to single pivots, you heard it first XD
  • 2 0
 @alexsin: Not gonna lie, that would be absolutely awesome. Especially if it gets more progressive.
  • 4 0
 @iiman: BRING BACK THE SUPER 8
  • 3 0
 @BEEner We love you!
  • 56 0
 Happy to see Crestline finally unveiling their bikes to the world. I remember riding my local trails in LA as hard as I could, checking Strava on my way to the car, and seeing Troydon in the top 3 of every single legit trail I could find. Never met the guy, but to me Troydon means “absurdly fast”.

It is clear to me now that if I buy his bike I will be able to match those times.
  • 16 1
 That's the secret ! All those people telling you it's about training, fitness and technical skills... Pffft !! Show them it relies solely on the bike ! As the saying goes: It's the bike, not the rider ! Wink
  • 15 0
 @Aksel31: It was Lance Armstrong who said "it's not the bike, it's the rider" in his book and look how trustworthy he was.
  • 9 23
flag deadmeat25 (Sep 26, 2022 at 15:13) (Below Threshold)
 @ruckuswithani: About as trustworthy as literally every other top rider in the field at the time i'd say... I'm sure you know this but just wanted to continue ragging on him anyway despite the millions and millions he raised for charity through his live strong campain among others, but i bet that pails into insignificance next to your social contributions right..?
  • 9 0
 @ruckuswithani: well his bike wasn't cheating...
  • 8 1
 @deadmeat25: lmao oh no, a Lance Armstrong joke, I should be cancelled for dragging his name through the mud after all this time. You must be built different to have never made fun of anyone before, please teach me your ways man who has definitively never been a hypocrite. All jokes aside, I get it, you saw your chance to look cool on pinkbike by being super serious guy.
  • 2 0
 @deadmeat25: Also, Jeremy Clarkson made the joke first so you better go tweet at him or something Smile
  • 2 0
 I’ve had the pleasure of riding with Troydon and he is the real deal… a class act who rips!
  • 2 0
 @Aksel31: The guys who designed this bike have legit riding skills and are passionate about the little details that add up to an awesome bike.
When someone like that is the one designing a bike and absolutely flogging it during testing then it may well make YOU a better rider Smile
  • 21 1
 I think it's time to add another pivot or two. Doesn't matter where. Just on the bike somewhere. Maybe on the stem.
  • 3 0
 Downtube
  • 3 0
 No mention of flexstays, I'm out.
  • 2 0
 @jrocksdh: It's cool, I bought a $300 carbon Hyper from Walmart that has seat stays like this, they flex...
  • 1 0
 Tbh if those stem pivots don't have ceramic bearings and titanium hardware, why even bother?
  • 16 0
 Bike looks sick but what about warranty frames? If there’s only 50 frames before the mold goes to shit and all 50 are going to be sold does that mean they are making a new mold for warranty parts or will the warranty parts be out of spec?
  • 11 1
 Presumably these factors are already built into the 50 number. Perhaps the mold could make a 100 or 200 frames safely but to be extra safe, only commit to producing 50 and that leaves some leeway if you need to make a few more for warranty replacements. Also I doubt the mold "goes to shit", probably the surface finish begins to tail off and you get more flashing that needs to be cleaned off and that kind of thing.
  • 28 0
 @DirtyHal Good question! We have taken this into account and will have a small percentage of extra front and rear triangles over and above what we will sell. These will however be put aside primarily for any potential manufacturing defects (which we've done our utmost to make sure will be avoided) and then after that for crash replacement on items that are broken beyond safe repair by the factory. I hope that helps! There are definitely challenges in trying too bring a boutique frame like this to market but we have also done our best to plan for unforeseen situations that may arise. @tom666 Also makes a number of good points! Thanks Tom
  • 20 1
 I need more progression, do they make a link for it?
  • 11 0
 Cascade components probably would, wait a minute ...
  • 5 0
 @souknaysh: I would LOVE one of the big manufacturers to make an aftermarket link for this
  • 3 0
 I heard the aftermarket link improves ALL aspects of the suspension performance
  • 8 0
 The photos do not do this bike justice. It's absolutely stunning in person and fits the "look good, feel good" saying perfectly.

If you are lucky enough to get your hands on one of these, you'll have the statement piece of 2023.

Congratulations, Troydon!
  • 6 0
 Troydon is also a talented house music producer. Check out his releases on the legendary OM label. I don't know him but it's been been cool to see his evolution from music producer to the bike industry. As far as I can tell he's a hell of a rider. And the Crestline stuff is looking great.
  • 2 0
 Yo thanks for the recommendation! Listening to his stuff now; it's great. Tons of groove
  • 8 0
 Big ups to Troydon and Jimmy for pulling this off, looks like a wicked fast machine!
  • 6 1
 Troydon is also a very decent house music producer. Check out his releases on the legendary OM label. I guess he's left that world to focus on bikes. I don't know him personally but it's been cool to watch his evolution from music into the biking industry with Crestline. Seems like a hell of a rider too!
  • 5 0
 I love to look at pictures of these bikes and write witty comments about how it sucks. But reality is, i ride a trail bike on flat single track and have no clue what i'm talking about. I bet it pedals uphill slowly.
  • 3 1
 So rad! Love to see the innovation, have used cascade links on a few different rigs over the years and they are fantastic. Hate to be the alloy guy but I gotta say it since this looks like a rad park rig that I'd maybe buy someday...I'd be pretty into an alloy version of this
  • 2 0
 Also. Love the flexibility from straight 1.5" head tubes. I'm pretty surprised there aren't more standard adjustable headsets that would slot into that format.

Reach adjust - I haven't found one with more than +/- 6mm from works, maybe someone else has found one? Especially with straight steerers on dh forks, seems like there is plenty of space to get 8-10mm of adjustability.

And...headtube angle adjust. Something like what's on an SJ Evo but could fit into any standard 1.5" headset that could easily tweak head angle by a few degrees. I'd buy one of those in a heartbeat. Probably before any reach adjust version. Future cascade offering? Wink
  • 2 0
 Works Components make a 6mm and a 10mm reach adjust for a DH fork because it has a straight steerer. We have some available on the website!
  • 3 1
 Wow sure does look nice. A virtual pivot with an idler seems kinda strange though. I know a VPP configuration benefits the axle path but doesn’t it help w/chain growth too? It almost seems kinda over kill but, more than likely just clarifies how much I don’t know about kinematics and all that goes w/it
On another note, it’s pretty undeniable it resembles a SC but, at least they steered clear of SC’s FU color scheme. Flat black w/raw links looks pretty ace imo. Might look even better with an ohlins or Extoria. 2 cents
  • 6 0
 All SC bikes have a predominantly forward axle path. With an axle path that is predominantly forward, chain growth is not as large regardless of what platform is used. With this layout being half rearward and then half forward axle path, chain growth numbers are quite high if you remove the idler.
  • 3 0
 Your feedback is greatly appreciated Sir Ive allways thought the the primary focus of a VPP was to help eliminate forward path so thanks for the clarification. It’s allways nice to hear from somebody that knows the facts. The bike looks awesome @CascadeComponents:
  • 1 0
 With a single pivot you can see where...well, where the pivot is. With two links the instant center - the point around which the rear tri is rotating at a given instant - does not have an obvious location. If you design your twin link design so that the IC stays very nearly still, then placing the idler at the point has more or less the same effect as a high single pivot w/ idler.

Having said all that I don't know why you'd use two links at that point. Maybe patent issues? Or maybe just to reduce (but not eliminate) chain growth issues.
  • 3 0
 @WaterBear: Anti-rise benefits a lot from having it be linkage driven. With a single pivot anti-rise starts high and slowly drops. With the two small links it starts at a similarly high place, but then drops much quicker. This is what gives it the predictable braking characteristics.
  • 1 0
 @Crankhed: someone being respectful and asking questions? in a pinkbike comment section? this is impossible
  • 6 0
 Congrats troydon!
  • 3 1
 If more dh bikes were boost 148 I think they'd sell more dh bikes. Spesh does it so why not everyone else? Bruni and Finn don't seem to have any issues with rear wheel strength/stiffness from the narrower flanges.
  • 5 1
 The real question is how are Cascade Components going to justify selling an aftermarket linkage to make it better now?
  • 1 0
 Two points:
1. You didn't say if was progressive enough @mattbeer?
2. The geometry is almost exactly my preference... for a trail bike. And I don't say that as a negative, just it's marvellous where we've got to with MTBs now, eh?
  • 2 0
 Bike looks awesome and I would look at snatching one up if there a was a smaller size.

Maybe next batch you guys can do a 450 reach version with the +/- 10mm headtube that would cover another group of
smaller riders.
  • 1 0
 This looks amazing and I’m a little bit tempted!

The head angle on paper doesn’t ring any alarm bells to me but interesting to see that “it feels like it rides at agree steeper”. Can an angle set be fitted if needed?
  • 2 0
 You can easily get that axel path from a mid-pivot bike that doesn't need an idler. I'd like to hear why they went with an idler.
  • 11 2
 You can't get a total of 3mm of chain growth without using and idler. If you have that axle path and don't have an idler there is way more pedal kick.
  • 6 2
 @CascadeComponents: Don't come around here with your 100% true facts and common sense! This is the Pinkbike comments section, you'll get beat up if you keep talking like that!
  • 5 0
 Huck it to flat, please!
  • 3 0
 I think we should call it what it is.. A mid pivot
  • 2 0
 Troyden is the man. And he absolutely rips. This bike is gonna be a good one
  • 1 0
 Looks like the original grim donut linkage from the first sketches. High pivot and VPP!
  • 3 5
 Beautiful, elegant matte carbon finish that gives it that truly priceless look...only to be slathered in 82lbs of custom trimmed helicopter tape the instant the dentist purchases it and parks it in the garage to be forgotten about for a decade.
  • 1 0
 I doubt these guys are looking to sell to your average dentist. This isn’t your average group of engineerds trying to make a fancy product… it’s serious riders building what they want to ride.
  • 1 0
 @Eatsdirt: Oh, they can build what they want to ride all they want. But the more Gucci they make them look...and I mean...it looks damn fine...the more dentists will want to hoard them in the garage.
  • 3 0
 Looks dope.
  • 2 0
 I want to see the non-drive side.
  • 1 0
 Us too!
  • 1 0
 I just wanted to say that I can see your high pivot. So maybe it isn't virtual so much.
  • 1 0
 Where is it then because I personally have no idea
  • 3 0
 Yeah Troydon! Congrats
  • 2 0
 A virtual high pivot bike? Can I have a real one as well?
  • 2 0
 Can't wait to ride and test this bike! Pumped to hear some reviews!
  • 2 0
 So is the warranty void right out of the shop?
  • 2 0
 Beautiful bike, hope I get a chance to throw a leg over one soon
  • 1 0
 Any option for a rear fender - that poor shock is going to take a beating....
  • 2 0
 There is one on the Crestline site!
  • 4 0
 Pinkbike had one of our very first prototypes when they tested it. The frame comes with a fender and the new idler pulley which has a built in chain guide! Please check out the site for the production version of the frame!
  • 1 0
 Someone needs to make an aftermarket link for this, it doesn't ramp up quick enough
  • 1 3
 Is this a first ride or a press release? Does Mat Beer work for Crestline? How on earth have you convinced yourself compatibility with wide range cassettes on a dh bike is a positive?

I have many questions about this article....
  • 1 0
 I love it! Can't justify DH rig nowadays, but wow, it simply looks fast and fun
  • 1 0
 Deleted photo> this intrigues me more than the rest of the article!
  • 2 0
 Noice!
  • 1 0
 There's gotta be something I don't understand, how is this a high pivot?
  • 5 0
 It’s a virtual pivot, meaning the rear axle doesn’t pivot around a fixed point on the frame, as it would with a single pivot style design. Although it looks the same as a standard VPP system this linkage is configured so that the virtual pivot point is higher than that found on a Santa Cruz for example, hence the need for an idler.
  • 2 0
 @seatsniffer4: Oh duh, I forgot about the whole virtual pivot thing. Thanks for straightening me out!
  • 2 1
 the 2022 Santa Cruz session mid pivot....
  • 1 0
 You will soon see the merging of DH and Enduro bikes. With the right kinematic and seat tube angle you can climb a DH bike quite comfortably. Obviously you need a wide range cassette and dropper and spec it preferably not more than 36lbs
  • 3 6
 "There is some rearward movement at the start to alleviate small bump chatter, but on larger impacts, a linear-progressive leverage curve kicks in to reduce bottom outs."

Ok, sure, probably good things. However, those 2 characteristics are unrelated. Having a rearward axle path at any point in the travel does not preclude usage of specific leverage curve. Should have used "and" instead of "but" in that sentence.
  • 2 1
 A dropper post on a dh bike?
  • 7 0
 Ejection seat.
  • 1 0
 @k2theg: Tired of buzzing your saddle on hard landings? Try the new DH dropper, extend it mid air to keep that buzz to a minimum!
  • 2 2
 axle path ain't all that rearward, that's basically a v10 minus pedal kickback
  • 5 1
 The axle path of a V10 is about 5mm rearward between 0 and 65mm of travel and then 23mm forward over the remainder of travel. That is very different.
  • 1 1
 @CascadeComponents: so, according to your previous comment, a v10 has a lot of edalkickback ?
  • 1 0
 @CascadeComponents: which v10? i'm about 2011 v10.4. that has much more than 5mm rearward otherwise pedal feedback would be imperceptible
  • 2 0
 @baca262: I'm talking about the current version, which I believe actually has less chain growth than that version. Unless you incorporate an idler, pedal kick is perceptible up until a very large amount of forward axle path. To have no net chain growth, the V10 would need to have 65mm of forward axle path over its 215mm of travel. There is no net chain growth when the axle path is approximately concentric to the BB.

@hitarpotar: make what you want of it. That's just the general motion of the axle path.
  • 1 0
 If the axle path is concentric to the bb, there will be net (-ve) chain growth.
  • 1 0
 I was so excited for the new forbidden dh bike to come out. Looks like one
  • 1 0
 it's not similar at all to the forbidden tho
  • 2 0
 Speed and Power.
  • 1 0
 props for using the word sarcophagus
  • 1 2
 So is the cascade link as stock mean they just didn’t bother to design their suspension and just submitted to the “our link makes your bike better” overlords?
  • 5 0
 All hail the overlords!
  • 1 0
 That nomad with the 40 up front looks dope
  • 1 1
 is thsi the new lovechild from santa cruz and nukeproof?
  • 1 0
 Supermad
  • 2 3
 So what is this doing that the Canfield Jedi isn't?
  • 3 4
 Looks like 4k doesn't buy you rust proof bolts.
  • 2 2
 Another high pivot copy
  • 2 4
 Are you f*cking kidding me ?


That’s a Dreadnought
  • 2 0
 A VPP Dreadnought with waaaay more travel….
  • 2 0
 Name one thing about it other than the idler that is the same as a Dreadnought specifically
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