First Look: Knolly's New Warden Carbon - Eurobike 2015

Aug 26, 2015
by Mike Levy  
Knolly Warden Carbon



Knolly's First Carbon Bike


Knolly's range of aluminum bikes have a bit of a cult following, especially where the company is located in south western British Columbia, but the demand for high-end aluminum is surely in decline these days compared to the appetite for carbon fiber. That fact has spurred Noel Buckley, the man behind Knolly, to debut the company's first carbon fiber bike: the 150mm travel Warden Carbon. You might be thinking that Knolly is late to the party, and you'd be right, but it's easy to forget that the investment required for the development and moulds to manufacture a carbon frame is by no means a small amount of change, which is why Buckley said that he didn't rush and got things right the first time around. He also admitted that the company was close to pulling the trigger on a carbon fiber version of the 130mm travel Endorphin a full three years ago, but the near-industry wide switch to mid-sized wheels meant that it didn't make sense to pour money into a 26" wheeled carbon platform that would have likely been viewed as passé by many after only a year or two.




Warden Carbon Details

• Intended use: trail / all-mountain / enduro
• Travel: 150mm
• Wheel size: 27.5''
• Brand new carbon fiber frame
• Aluminum chain stays
• Same geometry and suspension as alloy bike
• Fourby4 suspension system
• Internal or external cable routing
• Internal Di2 battery storage and routing
• ISCG 05 chain guide tabs
• Threaded bottom bracket shell
• 12 x 142mm thru-axle
• Frame weight: 6.25lb (claimed)
• MSRP: $3,395 USD (w/ DB Inline CS or FOX Float DPS)


Knolly Warden Carbon
  Knolly will offer six different cable entry ports that will look after every conceivable setup.


So Buckley waited rather than jumping on the carbon wagon, and there's no doubting that the aluminum bikes he designed in the meantime rode extremely well, but there was also the obvious need to take another step forward. That step is the bike you're looking at here, which is still distinctly a Knolly in more ways than just its appearance. One of those points is where it's manufactured. Knolly moved production of their aluminum frames to Taiwan awhile back - Buckley told us last year that the quality of the Taiwanese factory he uses is just as high as anything he had produced in North America - and that's where the new Warden Carbon is also manufactured, unlike much of the competition's carbon bikes that come from Vietnam and China.

Buckley insists that the quality of his new carbon creation is second to none thanks to not only where it's produced, but also the very non-cost conscious but high-caliber manufacturing technique of using an EPS foam mandrel system. Employing EPS foam mandrels to manufacture bicycle frames has been in use for years now, but it's a technique that's usually only applied to high-stress and complicated areas like the bottom bracket or pivot junctions. With the Warden Carbon, Buckley says that the entire frame is built by using EPS foam mandrels that are shaped to match the inside dimensions of the frame before expanding to provide pressure to the carbon on the opposite side of the mould, thereby squeezing out air and voids that could create weak points. The benefit over using a more common and less expensive bladder moulding technique is that the EPS core is able to provide much more exacting tolerances, which is said to yield a stronger finished product, and also one that's a full pound lighter than its aluminum predecessor - 6.25lb versus 7.25lb.


Knolly Warden Carbon
This nearly invisibly port allows access to the cables, but also serves as a Di2 battery storage location.
Knolly Warden Carbon
The Di2 battery zip-ties to the inside face of the port's bolt-on door.


The company's founder also stressed that the last thing he wanted to do was to create another "me too" carbon frame, but rather offer a unique product that would stand the test of time. Future-proof, if you will. The new bike has a threaded bottom bracket shell that, when questioned about, Noel simply said, "We're not f*cking around.'' Fair enough. There's also a port that acts as home to a Di2 battery should the owner want to go that route, and it can be accessed by first removing the bolt-on down tube guard and then unthreading three T25 torx screws. The same port is said to make it simple to route the internal cables that pass down the down tube before travelling up the seat tube and out a specially sealed gland that's tucked up beneath the Fourby4 linkage. Buckley has even made sure that the gland's opening is large enough to allow a SRAM hydraulic quick release to pass through, and the drive-side seat stay also features an internal tube that makes it simple to pass a new cable through. Up front, the cable entry ports can be fitted with one of six differently shaped rubber openings that can accommodate for every imaginable cable routing scenario, even including the 2mm wires required by Shimano's Di2 drivetrain.


Knolly Warden Carbon
  The bike's 150mm of travel is controlled by Knolly's Fourby4 system.


The Warden Carbon's geometry and suspension layout are exactly the same as what's employed on the less expensive aluminum version of the bike, but the switch to carbon gave Buckley an excuse to fine tune the execution of the latter. Yes, the pivots are all in the same location, but the linkage itself looks much more refined and sleeker, and it's mounted to the seat stay in a slightly different fashion due to how the carbon stay in manufactured. When I asked Noel if he had considered any changes to the Fourby4 system, or even a wholesale switch, he answered with a definitive "no" that left zero doubts as to if he was happy with the system's performance. Fourby4 is distinctly Knolly, he explained, and he's tuned the system to perform exactly how he wants. ''The Warden Carbon still rides like a Knolly,'' he said, regardless of the switch in frame materials.

The Warden Carbon won't be available until the first quarter of 2016, and it will cost $3,395 USD, which is exactly $1,000 USD more than the aluminum version that's gone down in price slightly.


Knolly Warden Carbon
The linkage functions the same, but it's more refined than in the past.
Knolly Warden Carbon
The internally routed cables exit through a sealed gland at the back of the seat tube.


MENTIONS: @KNOLLYBIKES




134 Comments

  • + 159
 "Noel simply said, "We're not f*cking around.'' Fair enough"

Legend.
  • - 21
flag MmmBones (Aug 26, 2015 at 21:45) (Below Threshold)
 then adds ridiculous internal routing
  • + 12
 12x142? Check!
Threaded bb? Check!
They really mean it when they say no f in around!
  • + 61
 OMG I think my next dream bike just changed! Knolly have been creating some of the best alloy machines in existence, so no doubt this thing is going to flat out kill in tight latex clothing! The Di2 integration is also brilliant and well ahead of the competition! Well done! Threaded BB FTW too!
  • + 12
 Maybe this is the warden of the MTB.
  • + 1
 @starship303 You're not wrong, my Endorphin was one of the only bikes i never bust.
And John at Shorelines (Knolly UK) is an absolute top man.
  • + 1
 @pigman65 - Sadly he's no longer importing them.
  • + 1
 That sucks,one of the most helpful guys i've dealt with
  • + 50
 SO sexy until I read Boost....oh wait!!!.... until I read PF BB... Oh wait !!....she's a winner despite the price tag!!
  • + 35
 ....sweet baby Jesus. I just woke up, changed a diaper, sipped some coffee and saw that my child's education fund will be short this year.
  • + 13
 My morning followed similar routine, now how can I balance the books so the wife doesn't notice this purchase.......
  • + 13
 Pretend you have a gambling addiction, she'll feel bad for you.
Then when she notices the new bike, play the "oh, that old thing" card
  • + 1
 Very nice, but this must be setting a new benchmark for the most expensive trail bike frame right?
  • + 5
 Not with the new SB45c
  • - 1
 My morning was the total opposite. I woke up and shat, went back to bed. I later logged into pinkbike, jerked it to new Evil bike, went back to bed again. Repeat that last sentence 3x and that has been my day so far. Maybe I'll finish with this Knolly next?
  • + 22
 Loving how many companies are sticking with/going back to threaded bottom brackets!
  • + 20
 That is a thing of beauty
  • + 17
 Man I like Knolly's . They are friggin beautiful, and this carbon is ON !!
  • + 2
 99% of it looks great. However, the exit port for the cables at the back of the ST look like inevitable *entry* ports for everything flung off of the rear wheel.
  • + 4
 It says multiple times in the article that the cables exit out of a "sealed gland."
  • + 14
 Would love the details on the new Delirium? Would be awesome to see a carbon version of that.
  • + 30
 We'll be showing that soon. Knolly was waiting for the built kits to arrive.
  • + 1
 Any more Carbon Knollys in the wings?
  • + 12
 Now to find $3400, anyone looking for a kidney only lightly used?
  • + 29
 I'm starting to become a bit sceptical of these comments I keep reading.
Pinkbike please do a poll, to check if really 50% of the mountainbikers has sold a kidney.
  • + 12
 My aluminum Warden laughs at me, asking "Is that all your skinny ass has got?!"

I can't think of a better riding mountain bike. It's no gravel road hammer, but point it up and down the steepest sketchiest shit you can find and it WILL make you a better rider.
  • + 7
 I've bought a couple - they go very well with a nice Chianti; not too much into fava beans though.
  • + 18
 Pb needs to do "shootout" style reviews; this bike up against other 150mm dream machines like the 6c, Bronson, enduro 29, and Process.
  • + 5
 This, I wish their reviews had more direct comparisons between similar products. Otherwise how will I chose between them if they're all well reviewed. I think the last comparison I saw on here was when they compared the Capra to the Nomad.
  • + 6
 Agreed absolutely fantastic machines. Had the warden for a couple seasons and was just incredible. This will definitely be at the top of my list for my next ride! If you haven't tried a knolly your missing out
  • + 3
 Three main reasons to buy a Knolly:
1. The ride. We can assume that this rides every bit as nice as all the aluminum Knollys.
2. Beauty. Pictures don't lie.
3. Durability. Time will tell. Noel could have gone the route taken by Yeti, or he could have gone the route taken by Santa Cruz. I'm guessing/hoping he's leaning toward durability.
  • + 7
 Well done Noel's! Fanfukintastic!!
  • + 6
 FML. Sudden and serious contemplation going on in my brain about returning my girlfriends engagement ring.
  • + 5
 Beautiful, BEAUTIFUL frame. My favourite bike just became better. My Reign Advanced is giving me squint looks...
  • + 6
 A gland?
  • + 1
 Looks like Noel incorporated the alternate shock mount to change travel and head angle also just like the old Chilcotin. Very impressed with to well thought out design for future upgrades. I will never be able to afford one though.
  • + 1
 I've known about this for a while and I've waited patiently with my (awesome) 26er Endorphin. I am stoked to hear that Noel took care of the details that other carbon frames were lacking - and should have that patented Knolly dependability. I imagine these won't be readily available until summer 2016 - just enough time to save my pennies (or Loonies and Twonies - or is it Toonies?). No - with the exchange rate, I think I'll use US $. Thanks Noel! Did you adjust the head tube length for us 6'4" guys?
  • + 4
 Wait, what's happening on here? No bitching about the cost? The frame is at least $400-500 more than other carbon frames.
  • + 7
 Still less than a Mojo / SB6c. MUCH prefer one of these.

Plus - it's a Knolly. That's enough reason.
  • + 1
 Carbon frames are not all the same, this is a cut above a lot of others.
  • + 4
 None of that matters and you know it, this is Pinkbike bitching about anything and it's cost is mandatory.
  • + 3
 And guess what - you've just perpetuated that bitching. Well done. Bravo. Go get yourself a cookie
  • + 1
 I want chocolate chip, got one
  • - 2
 Show me anything that proves this.
  • + 4
 @cptmayhem Less than a Mojo? In what country? The HD3 frame is $500 less than this Knolly in the US.
  • + 4
 It has a threaded bb and no boost. I'll pay more for that, as would most PBers
  • + 1
 Stoked! I freaking love this Warden!!! I'm still shocked I haven't broken my Endorphin. Made the switch to a trail bike from downhill but didn't stop riding downhill! It's like it wants me to Ride it hard... Sadistic bitch, ohh sorry, got distracted... uhh, nice bike!
  • + 3
 Looks like a really small shock - is that 200x57? And super skinny chainstays.

(Yes, I still want one)
  • + 1
 it's 150mm. 57 is the norm and seems to be plenty of stroke for all the other 150 - 160 travel bikes.. Agreed the chainstays appear pinner.
  • + 4
 Congratulations Noel...Awesome!
  • + 0
 What is the rear wheel spacing? Wonder if it will be adjustable for different hub sizes.

Love the threaded bb / cable guide options and Taiwanese manufacturing. Great attention to detail.

Looks like chain stays (at least on non drive side) are aluminum, and seat stays look carbon. Odd because I always thought metal was stronger in compression (primary force on seat stay) than carbon, while carbon is stronger, or at least as strong in tension. Explanation?

Looks like an amazing bike. Wonder how it compares to the old ibis HD in its climbing ability.
  • + 1
 Both chain stays are alu, the weld can be seen, bit out of focus. They are alu because of higher probability of rock impact (and similar events) there, anyway thats what manufacturers are saying.
  • + 5
 12x142 according to the spec sheet Knolly posted
  • + 3
 Thank god.
  • + 3
 Also chainstays are a more complex shape than seat stays, so they are typically aluminum to keep costs less unreasonable.
  • + 6
 Here is a quick Study Guide for BOOST, which category do you fall into?
(From the sound of it, everyone is #4 and this is going to be the biggest sales year ever for the bike industry)

1. I am not buying a new frame or bike. Boost doesn't affect me in any way at all and I don't need to keep harping about it.
2. I am buying a new bike and it's Boost. Good news! It comes with wheels. I am good to go and I don't need to keep harping about it.
3. I am buying a new frame and it's not Boost. Rad. I'll build her up with my components and go ride. I don't need to keep harping about it.
4. I am buying a new Boost frame/bike and I want to use the SickwheelzTM that I already own. I am going to have to rebuild the rear wheel and maybe buy a chainring. I am pretty sad about this and I do have a valid reason to harp about it.
  • + 11
 Here's Kevin's response to why alloy chain stays over on mtbr Knolly forum.

"We kept the stays alloy for a very specific reason(as you mention): typical MASSIVE Knolly tire clearance, clearance for 38t enduro front chainring, and clearance for front derailleur. All this in a chainstay at 16.9" means you can't squeeze a bladder int the skinny space on the yoke to do carbon. Weight savings on a carbon stay does not overrule these other mandatory features, in our opinion."
  • + 1
 It needs to be released with the option of colour coordinated double barrel shocks. My buddy has a warden and got green cane creek stickers and it looks so much better
  • + 3
 $4450 CAD for the frame. Next!
  • + 3
 Yeah kind of ridiculous ? The Range is $3,750
  • + 1
 Heck, nice bike... wish they would have focused more on getting the endorphin out. I couldnt wait any longer for the 27.5 endorphin so I bought a Transition.
  • + 1
 Like to try this bike! Look forward to seeing the other colours, not into neon. If money wasn't a concern, this would likely be top pick.
  • + 2
 What about that CC rear shock? Has it been sorted or is there still problems with it?
  • + 3
 FWIW: I've read that the problems with the inlines was specifically some step in the assembly process was being botched, & was causing a seal to be installed incorrectly (I got the impression it was either leaking, or ripping.) Additionally, most of the shocks with this poor assembly were sent to Specialized (they probably got most of the first shocks produced in order to get 2015 frames out to dealers.) Specialized filled warranty claims on the shocks with units from the same batch, with the same assembly problem, which is why people went through multiple shocks.

All hearsay, but this is what I've heard on the subject.
  • + 2
 Have there been problems beyond the ones for Special-Ed? No personal experience, I hear CC has been great about working out warranty issues.
  • + 2
 There have been others discovered to have the problem, but the vast majority seem to be with Specialized. Before the root cause was discovered, people were actually speculating something about the suspension curve of the specialized bikes was stressing some part inside the damper beyond tolerance. Even saw a some of this speculation in a PB review of one of the Specialized.
  • + 2
 @groghunter Wasn't it the forward shock mount on the enduros not being able to pivot under load causing the internals of the shocks to tweak and then crack? I thought people were saying their CTDs and Monarchs were experiencing the same thing.
  • + 2
 It's all hearsay, but that doesn't explain people who had problems that weren't riding Specialized, or that the problems seem to have largely been taken care of. this kind of thing has a "long tail" of course: people who don't ride much probably haven't blown up their first shock yet; but I don't see nearly as many people complaining anymore.
  • + 2
 True, I dont see many inlines anyways so I havent asked around to see. Usually when I see an enduro it has an Ohlins on it anyway. Im sure a lot of that stuff is rumors and hearsay like you pointed out.
  • + 7
 I have a 2015 Enduro with CC and the issue was with a batch of shocks... mostly sent to Specialized. The bladder was installed incorrectly. The good guys at SuspensionWerx got me sorted out and the shock has been flawless (8 months).
  • + 2
 @jaydawg69 Good to hear man^^^ Did they deal with CC for you?
  • + 4
 @MTBCAM They are a CC authorized service center so no worries on my part. Excellent guys to deal with.
  • + 1
 I think a Carbon Delirium (which from reading these comments I hear is on its way) would be the only bike I'd feel 100% comfortable spending $7000 USD or more on...
  • + 2
 $3400? I'm gonna have to think about it...
  • + 1
 For $700 less, I'd much sooner have the Evil Insurgent. Not to mention a slack as hell seat angle. No brainer.
  • + 1
 Do yourself a favor and read up on the seat angle design of Knolly bikes.
  • + 2
 Both bikes likely use an effective seat angle. Knolly ESA likely will be steeper given past Evil and DW frames.
  • + 2
 Congrats Noel....sweet looking ride! Can't wait to see it in action.
  • + 1
 HOT DAMN
but my "old" warden still looks hot and endo is on it way so no plastic for me in the near future
  • + 2
 Literally JUST bought the aluminum version. Seriously Knolly...?
  • + 10
 That's life bud, I was thinking the other day.. If they keep releasing new stuff so regularly, you could literally never end up buying anything, because there's always something new to wait for. Just have to accept that newer stuff released just after you've purchased whatever you've chosen... Is always gonna piss you off. It's the same in the classifieds, you buy a bike then woe betide you if you keep looking in the classifieds.. It's assured that you will see something 'better'. Best tactic? Buy a bike, then stop looking at new bikes. But that's a bit like saying get a girl then stop looking at girls. Easier said than done.
  • + 4
 Realistically you're not going to see these until later in 2016, and then it's going to be impossible to get one of the first ones anyway... enjoy the crap out of your new Warden and there'll be a nice carbon version that's easy to find in a couple years.
  • - 4
flag hgrenade (Aug 26, 2015 at 14:17) (Below Threshold)
 had the same exact thing with an 2014 alloy Bronson. 45 days later they released their cheaper carbon frame and it was a $200 difference. Yes, I lost about about $2000 when I sold it because everyone wants carbon. Love Santa Cruz but I wont buy another one after that bullshit.

When Apple does that they send me a gift card for $100. Santa Cruz just acted like they could care less when I wrote them. Tough luck buddy.
  • + 1
 I'm super excited to ride the hell out of my current Warden (read: Endurobro). Can't be too upset at the fact there's a carbon version out. Maybe sometime in the future we'll see some pretty awesome stuff come from them (Podium Carbon?). All about how you look at it!
  • + 1
 I sure hope that I've saved enough money by the time it comes out in the spring (so much want). Time to return the empties.
  • + 1
 standard issue battery ports now eh
  • + 1
 coming to a whistler near you. in their thousands.
  • + 1
 Damn! I just paid off my Podium. Now this! back in debt....
  • + 1
 Looks like my Norco Sight 7.2 carbon. Me gusta Smile
  • - 1
 love this bike. but the pivot from the swingarm looks so small ans that cable routing near the rear tire is very srange and dangerous, if the ziptie fails will be an acident
  • + 1
 So nice! Congrats Noel. The new Warden looks great!
  • + 1
 Ohh my god that is fit. Time to whip the calculator out
  • + 1
 so many nice bike coming up!!
  • + 1
 Looks nice at 1st, then I seen the linkage and was sick in my mouth
  • + 1
 Can i run a sram shifter with my d2i mech?
  • + 1
 I think I need to change my pants
  • + 2
 Beautiful routing
  • + 1
 That is a lovely looking thing. Lol'd at the threaded BB comment!
  • + 2
 The chainstays look a little iffy but man....what a sick bike!
  • + 2
 You would actually be surprised how stiff it is, More so than some DH bikes.
  • + 0
 I'd gladly swap a testicle for that. Left or right, I'm not bothered.
  • + 0
 Well, I think knolly just raised the bar. Perfectly executed.
  • + 1
 Gucci just got Guccier
  • - 1
 I know it's his thing, but I really wish Noel would drop the fussy 4x link and give his bikes proper seat tube angles.
  • + 2
 Plenty of other bikes out there for you to choose from if that's your thing, Knolly is Knolly.
  • + 0
 Suuuuuuper clean!
  • - 3
 "Yo dawg, I heard you like rocker linkages, so we put a rocker in your linkage so you can rock when you link"
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