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DH Field Test: Frameworks DH - US Made & World Cup Ready

Jul 10, 2024
by Matt Beer  


Unless you’ve been living under a rock, any fan of downhill racing has heard of Neko Mulally and his endeavor to create his own frames. What seemingly started as a passion project has grown into the Framework brand that is now complete with a factory World Cup Downhill team.

The aptly-named "DH" frame uses an aluminum front triangle that is welded in the USA by the legendary Frank the Welder. That is connected to a carbon rear triangle via a huge CNC rocker link. Only two frame sizes offered (medium and large) and both run on a mixed wheel setup with size-specific chainstays.

Frameworks DH Details

• Frame: aluminum front, carbon rear triangle
• Wheel size: MX
• 4-bar, Horst-link suspension
• Travel: 200mm (linear) / 205mm (progressive), 203mm fork
• 63.3-degree head angle
• Reach: 455mm (MD), 485mm (LG)
• Chainstays: 450mm (MD), 460mm (LG)
• Weight: 17.5 kg / 38.6 lb (MD - as tested)
• Price: $4,450 USD (frame with DHX shock)
rideframeworks.com
When it comes to purchasing this frame, you may have to be patient, and be willing to pay a premium. The first batch has already sold out, but Frameworks is gathering requests for a second run. The frame alone costs $4,450 USD. There are choices of specifically tuned Fox DHX, Ohlins TTX2, and RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate coil shocks as well.

At this time, there are no build kits available, but Frameworks sent us the exact equipment their factory team is using which includes Fox suspension, Enve wheels, Hayes brakes, and even the chain damping device from O-Chain.




Contents
Matt Beer
Location: Squamish, BC, Canada
Age: 37
Height: 5'10" / 178 cm
Weight: 170 lb / 77 kg
Industry affiliations / sponsors: None
Instagram: @mattb33r

bigquotesWhether you need to be precise or just hammer through sections, the Frameworks DH can handle it all equally well. Matt Beer




Review Frameworks DH. Photo by Tom Richards.

Frame Details

Even though there are minimal logos on the DH, the industrial and unpainted surfaces throughout the frame make this a highly recognizable bike to a downhill racing enthusiast. Just tapping on the large diameter downtube you can tell that the frame construction is burly. Three sizeable gussets lead into the head tube and a reinforced pivot on the seat tube holds the two-piece rocker link steady.

Down in the bottom bracket area, the lower shock mount and main pivot look overbuilt too. Thick ISCG tabs enforce that this frame is built to take some punishment. On the flip-side, at 4.11kg / 9lb 1, it isn’t light and as Henry alluded to, that might not offer enough forgiveness for some riders.

Throughout the rest of the frame, the details are well hashed out. External cable routing, an easily swappable shock, and thorough frame protection are byproducts of mechanic experience at the races. A nifty features is the small aluminum lip around rear axle insert also shields the carbon material from rock strikes.

Frameworks use a standard 250x75mm stroke shock, rather than a trunnion mount, in order reduce the forces going through the shock body. It is necessary to use a shock extender and mount the shock at 90-degrees from normal in order for the reservoir to clear the downtube.

Although not part of the frame per se, Frameworks Racing has installed a few smart aftermarket components. ODI’s fork bumpers clamp on to the stanchions to avoid sliding around. One downside is that they aren’t as soft as the stock equipment and could dent a more fragile frame, but that's not an issue on the Framework's large gussets. The chain feedback is also toned down by the O-Chain device and the cushy VHS Slapper tape that shields the chainstay.




Review Frameworks DH. Photo by Tom Richards.

Suspension

Before launching the Frameworks brand, Neko built two prototype frames that used a four-bar Horst-link design. “Plan A” used a main pivot located around the top of the chainring and “Plan B” placed the pivot slightly higher which required an idler wheel.

Eventually through back to back testing, Neko settled on “Plan A” for variety of reasons covered in his YouTube series, “In Depth”.

The production bike (Plan A), is stated to have 200mm of travel in the linear setting or 205 in the progressive position and the leverage rate moves from approximately 3.3 to 2.3. While it’s not a high-pivot, the rear axle still has a small amount of rearward movement (6mm) before moving 14mm forwards at the end of the travel.

Frameworks has selected the DHX platform instead of the DHX2 which offers more external adjustability. We did find the rebound to be on the faster side, although there is enough adjustment from the red clicker to tone that down if you are uncomfortable with the return speed. With that being said, the tune worked incredibly well to give a supple action to the top of the travel.

photo
Leverage ratios: dark blue = progressive, light blue = linear
photo
Axle path
photo
Pedal kickback
photo
Anti-rise
photo
Anti-squat




photo

Geometry

Size wise, there are two options, a medium with a 455mm reach and the large with a 485 number. Thanks to a huge ZS56/61mm headtube, reach-adjust headsets can sway those numbers in either direction up to 8mm without using external cups which would raise the stack and alter the geometry.

In order to retain some level of equal balance between frame sizes, Frameworks adjusts the chainstay lengths. The medium size receives a 450mm rear center and the large is stretched out to 460.

A 63.3-degree head tube angle isn’t the slackest number on the board, but also isn’t the steepest in this group of bikes either. Through a very low bottom bracket, especially at sag in the progressive setting, the Frameworks DH’s geometry works to claw back some high-speed stability and positions the rider in a tall, strong position.

There’s also an admirable amount of standover height that lends to that low center of gravity feeling and provides plenty of room to move about the bike. As for the steep seat tube angle, I wouldn’t say it ever posed an issue, but it might require sliding the seat further back in the rails than you’d expect.






Test Bike Setup

Neko has worked tirelessly to fine tune this bike and its suspension accordingly. That meant that the bike arrived with specific settings adjusted to parallel the heavier spring weights that Neko was riding.

The fork was set to 86 psi with 5 volume spacers and the clickers turned to: HSC 8, LSC 6, HSR 8, LSR 9 from closed. Out back, the rear shock had a 500 lb spring installed and was placed in the progressive setting. The DHX shock only has low-speed compression and rebound adjusters which were set to 6 and 7 from closed.

52mm offset fork crown seemed to be the norm these days but that was matched with a slightly shorter 40mm stem. The 40mm-tall bars were trimmed to 780mm and the dropped crown had a 10mm spacer underneath it. We rode the size MD with a +9mm reach adjust headset. Lastly, the O-Chain was set to 9-degrees of float with a 36-tooth chainring.





Review Frameworks DH. Photo by Tom Richards.

Descending

In some ways, the Frameworks is a total brute with a strong, stiff frame that can plow through deteriorated tracks with the best of the high-pivot sluggers. Then again, when precision is needed, it doesn’t get bogged down by mega-slack angles or lethargic wheel paths.

The tall stack height and low center of gravity allow the rider to stand tall and ride relaxed, yet stay balanced with their weight placed equally on both wheels. There’s no need to move fore and aft to find grip from the tires when zipping through smooth berms. On top of that, there’s an impressive amount of grip produced by that progressive setting, however, your line choice may be limited as the cranks ride concerningly low to the ground. We struck the chainguide on multiple occasions without expecting to.

A hint of instability does come about when turning through rougher sections of trail though, in a way where the front wheel wanted to tuck. It’s a trait that we found in the YT to slightly display too and this could come from that square stance of the higher bar height and seemingly steeper head angle.

In steeper terrain, the Frameworks DH also gives that similar sense of your hands being directly above or even in front of the front axle and that can be slightly unnerving if you prefer a slacker ride. Some of that tense steering can be initiated from braking too. There’s more influence from those braking forces than bikes like the M1 which remains steadier and left us smirking through those steeper chutes.

Henry felt strongly about the frame being overly stiff, and while I agree that’s true compared to the other bikes on test, it didn’t transmit as much vibration through the frame like the YT Tues did. The reasoning could be split into two parts; the lateral forces that are taken up by the brilliant Enve Dark6 prototype wheels, and the chain damping components that soak up forces from the chain whipping about.




Review Frameworks DH. Photo by Tom Richards.

Technical Report

O-Chain Active Spider: Honestly, we can’t see why anyone would avoid using this component, regardless of the frame’s suspension layout (assuming the drivetrain uses a chain) or bike genre - yes, even enduro and XC bikes. The damped chainring spider reduces chain feedback, whether that’s pedal kickback or oscillating forces on the chain, which in turn, create noise. Of course, it will have a greater positive impact on bikes with larger degrees of pedal kickback, but adds to the Frameworks DH’s uninterrupted top end of travel.

Enve Dark 6 Prototype Wheels: Every other bike in the Field Test arrived with alloy wheels and left with a few dents, some of which led to the inability to hold air. Carbon wheels can be built rock solid but that often leads to a jarring ride and possibly less traction. That wasn’t the case with these prototype Enve wheels, and thankfully so. The compliance was needed from a stiff frame like the Frameworks to keep it tracking straight and not get bounced around.

Fox DHX shock: Less adjustment doesn’t mean less performance. It should come with no surprise as this one in particular was tuned meticulously for the DH and worked incredibly well. There’s a new high-flow piston and clever hydraulic anti-top-out feature. That's something we wished the DHX2 found on the Giant Glory had too, as it returned to full travel with a distracting clunk.




Review Frameworks DH. Photo by Tom Richards.

Pros

+ Progressive setting provides excellent balance of grip and support
+ Geometry creates very centered riding position
+ Good blend of brutish manners in rough terrain and maneuverability on mellower sections

Cons

- Frame could be too stiff for some riders' preferences
- Not as reassuring as other bikes on test in steeper terrain
- Small-batch manufacturing is reflected in the price


Pinkbike's Take

bigquotesNeko Mulally has worked tirelessly to create his ideal downhill bike with the Frameworks DH project and that comes with a particular flavour. While the suspension and geometry aren't out of the ordinary, the frame has a precise, brutish presence about it - think of this as a garage-built race car - it's designed by a racer for their specific needs, and then sold as is. Bringing the Frameworks DH up to speed is the easy part. When going full pace though, the rider will have to be physically strong to hold onto the bike and cognitive of the quicker steering angle.


Matt Beer






Author Info:
mattbeer avatar

Member since Mar 16, 2001
389 articles

107 Comments
  • 166 0
 So the frame works?
  • 13 2
 Being a proud owner of one of these.... the frame works.... very well.... most balanced and natural feeling bike I've ever jumped straight on to and started hitting features and trails on.
  • 45 2
 I'm not mad about it but i bought a raaw yalla like 2 weeks before these came out for sale. Love the Yalla but also would have loved to support Neko even at a premium price tag. At least 27 people asked me if my Raaw was a frameworks last week at Snowshoe. Now if they drop a steel version that is fabbed up by the former REEB fabricator, I'm your huckleberry.
  • 17 0
 Raaw Yalla is drool worthy! Saw a Madonna innthe flesh just recently, what a gorgeous bike!
  • 9 0
 @SimbaandHiggins: rides amazing too! So utilitarian and undeniably German as well.
  • 28 0
 I think Raaw is a small company worth of supporting too.
  • 2 0
 Yeah if he ever sells one with one of those new steel fronts they've been showing off id strongly consider it.
  • 2 0
 Two years ago I brought my Madonna to Morzine, and even Dino stopped to have a look at it. This year there were plenty of RAAW bikes, in my short visit I spotted at least a dozen of them. And not a single Giant except the one of my buddy.
  • 2 0
 I avoided the Yalla because the 2 year warranty inspired very little confidence especially after getting burnt by commencal. And the frameworks DH because they just don't make my size, though the 5 year warranty sounds at least reasonable.
  • 3 0
 @ADHDMI: having dealt with them quite a bit, they seem like the sort of folks that would support a frame failure, regardless of the warranty. frames are also built bombproof
  • 2 0
 @ADHDMI: Raaw is an absolute pleasure to deal with as a business. Owned a Madonna and it was very well put together. I still have a main pivot tool and some shock hardware, from Raaw if anyone wants them.
  • 1 0
 Would also highly recommend a RAAW based on my experience with a Madonna v3. Outstanding build quality and great support. Very refined as far as routing, geo and compression ratio tweaks, etc.
  • 1 0
 @dancingwithmyself: how does it pedal? Considering one but I pedal a lot on my home trails.
  • 40 0
 I know it's not the done thing on the Internet anymore, but I really wanna throw out some praise here. Sorry, had a few beers...

Matt's got so much insight into racing and I really appreciate his opinion, and I think Kaz is the best *writer* of bike reviews there is atm. But Henry you're doing a REALLY great job of being the personality of Pinkbike here, and taking over from Levy in that role. I started MTB and reading about MTB with Levy being that for Pinkbike, and I still really love and miss him for that/in that role. But you're doing at least as well - which is intended as higher praise than it might sound like haha!

Also shout out to Christina for always bringing the vibe, and would love to see something from Tom Bradshaw again too!
  • 1 0
 does anyone have any news about Levy's post-PB life?
  • 1 0
 @nerdymtbiker:

He’s in recent podcast, where he talks about the post pinkbike life, along with some other post punk bikers…
  • 22 3
 Porsche used to struggle in the American market because they didn't have cup holders, the suspension was for racing, and they were really expensive. If you want super plush ride on cruiser trails and a bottle cage... This bike isn't for you!
  • 24 4
 Are you saying this bike is for old rich guys to putt around with?
  • 8 1
 @Dogl0rd: no, cadillacs are for old guys with unhappy wives who need a smooth ride. race cars are for enthusiasts with class. Wink
  • 9 4
 @BermSkid72: This old guy would be more than happy to putt around in a 2025 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing. Again, you'd have to be looking for a car with 660+HP, RWD and a 6 speed manual.
  • 5 0
 Lol. Lots of whp does not equal racecar.
  • 4 2
 @gabiusmaximus: while that’s true, the car he’s talking about is legitimately quick.
  • 1 0
 @gabiusmaximus: but it does equal a shit ton of fun. Smiles per gallon is what matters.
  • 16 1
 Would consider selling my left nut for one.
  • 117 1
 would also consider selling your left nut for one
  • 6 0
 @twonsarelli: already sold @awitt left nut, a doctor I hired on Craiglist should be dropping by soon
  • 11 0
 @twonsarelli: dibs on his right nut
  • 2 0
 I'll throw in a right nut fornone, then someone can have a pair (albeit mismatching).
  • 19 0
 If you sold your left nut is your right nut still your right nut or is it just the nut left? (Tippie joke #59)
  • 10 0
 I think it might be helpful in technical articles when talking suspension set-up, to reference the total number of "clicks" available. The number of clicks is just a relative measure of how far a needle is wound in to the stop.

For example, I personally don't have a fox DHX or 40, so I don't know if it is 9 out of 10 clicks open, or 9 out of 18 open. One would be near wide open and the other mid range.

Thoughts @mattbeer?
  • 9 0
 Steep seat tube inspires dreams of 200 mm travel trail bike.
  • 2 0
 Race bike… NOT a flashy bike park lift line bike that you worry about scratching. Built specifically for racing.
  • 4 0
 My bad. Replied to the wrong post.
  • 8 3
 Agree that an O'chain is a must have. I've had one for over a year and immediately noticed how it quieted the bike. Also noticed more noise when the O'chain was ready for service.
  • 4 0
 Unfortunately they need servicing as soon as you even think about using it in the mid.
  • 1 0
 @Jake-Whitehouse:

Not really... I've had mine for 8 months, ride DH incessantly, and the thing is bloody flawless still!
  • 2 0
 I don't know, I tried one for a ride and not only did a few of the bolts holding it together rattle loose, but I still felt kickback on large hits... If I'm going to add that level of complexity and cost to my bike, it's got to do a better job than that.
  • 1 1
 @Buggyr333: What setting were you in and what bike?

P.S. You should probably do a bolt check when you put new things on your bike
  • 1 0
 @skimtb1:
Tried it in multiple settings.
Transition Patrol
The bolts were torqued, however the manufacturer's recommended 4nm is obviously not enough, and they probably know that which is why it has circlips on the back keeping the bolts from falling out entirely...
P.S. You should probably not assume that I did not check the bolts you dingus.
  • 7 0
 Awesome that Neko gave a testbike to the test!
  • 6 0
 I think this test bike went back to Neko when the teams bikes were stolen
  • 16 1
 @mtmc99: How do you think PB got a bike to test in the first place... Ha ha
  • 5 0
 @mtmc99: 100% the case. I reached out about sending my frame to them and he told me fortunately pinkbike had one ready to go.
  • 6 0
 linkage needs speed holes. Cue in Homer Simpson buying car.
  • 2 7
flag twonsarelli FL (Jul 10, 2024 at 9:24) (Below Threshold)
 'Frameworks has selected the DHX platform instead of the DHX2 which offers more external adjustability' it is just missing some punctuation. Frameworks has selected the DHX platform instead of the DHX2, which offers more external adjustability.
  • 4 2
 @twonsarelli:

No. If you realy want to be picky, it should be as follows:

"Frameworks has selected the DHX platform, instead of the DHX2 which offers more external adjustability"

It is the DHX2 that offers more external adjustment, not the DHX.
  • 1 5
flag twonsarelli FL (Jul 10, 2024 at 10:28) (Below Threshold)
 @gabriel-mission9: i don't think you'd use a comma before a preposition (in this case the word 'instead'). Rather, you'd be using it to separate the independent (DHXvsDHX2 bit) and dependent (adjustability bit) clauses. then again, i haven't been in english class in 20 years, so i'm happy to be proven wrong!
  • 1 1
 @twonsarelli: y'all are on PB debating grammatics... that seems like time wasted not riding... priorities gents LOL

-Sent from the top of the Pneuma climb at Moose Mountain AB Wink
  • 1 0
 @KDix85: sounds awesome! Sadly recovering from busted fingers. No riding for now, hence pedantry (or perhaps an English lesson) in forums haha.
Get a lap in for me while you’re at it
  • 1 0
 @twonsarelli: my first run at Kicking Horse tomorrow is for you Bru!
  • 6 0
 I guess nobody was cognizant of the meaning of cognitive.
  • 4 0
 My bike has cogs.
  • 3 0
 One thing I'd be interested in is the relationship between wheels used in bike development and the resulting frame stiffness. I've been caught off guard before how much wheels can affect ride feel.
  • 2 0
 What causes the rocking horse effect? Is it the suspension layout under braking forces? I have a 2017 bike that is notorious for sending me over the bars and exhibits the same rocking horse motion. This is exacerbated by its short reach, which positions me effectively over the front wheel when I use body movements to weight the front tire. This is the worst place to be when the fork dives, leading to many hard crashes. I hope to get a new bike one day and have considered that a long wheelbase with long chainstays and a slack head angle might mitigate the fork dive. Is the fork dive actually related to the suspension? What type of suspension setup would prevent this issue?
  • 1 0
 more LSC and/or LSR damping assuming spring rate is right
  • 1 0
 Anti Rise, Mid stroke support of the fork, Front and rear balance, All can affect the fork dive. At ascending budget order 1) add more compression damping to the fork and softer rear spring, 2) Coil conversion on the fork or 3 champer air spring from Ohlins/Manitou/EXT. 3) Get a high pivot bike with big enough cockpit space and chainstay length of +35% wheelbase with Coil/Triple chamber airspring fork. Personally I would get a new bike since no other way to get a good confident stance on the bike and that's most important
  • 4 0
 Another bike test article with no mention of frame size that was ridden, and how that perticular size felt in relation to the riders size.
  • 2 0
 I'm also interested in this. As far as I can tell, it was developed primarily as a size large (485 reach) and that's what the whole WC team is on. The medium probably has a slightly different character to it
  • 1 0
 @Struggleteam: I responded to a similar question in RAAW Madonna thread. Check that out and ask any other questions there. Love the bike and what RAAW is doing, so happy to answer answer as best I can. Short answer is I think it pedals just fine for what it is and you should be good as long as you wouldn't really be better off with a bike with different geo and travel.
  • 1 1
 To be honest, best selling frames are not the ‘race approved’ or whatever bs brand have, people buy brand that does well at races however sell average joe bikes like S, or G or any other big brand, they all race inspired however they are designed for people who just ride. All of the frames that are lack of modern features are supe niche , despite being good, the selling strategy is a miss
  • 1 0
 With a Fox 40 I would also use a 63-64 degree HTA. Unless the fork modded to have a very short offset with 27.5 lowers and mojo morc 40. Seat tube angle is missing from the article.
  • 1 0
 Interesting, for the same hands to axle angle, the shorter offset/ slack HA would be much more stable
  • 1 0
 @knightmarerider: I just got my 27.5» lower end assembly. I’m gonna dremel it while cursing Fox fork designers. Then try to fit a 29x2.5 Assegai in there. Rim is i35 so I am optimistic!
  • 1 0
 It is necessary to use a shock extender and mount the shock at 90-degrees from normal in order for the reservoir to clear the downtube.

Is it so hard to adjust frame tubing on newly developed product?
  • 3 2
 $4,450 is steep for a big ol’ metal bike. But I guess it’s understandable being a new brand and them being built in the US.
  • 4 1
 Hand welded aluminum vs molded plastic. My money is on metal all day.
  • 2 0
 @Struggleteam: Hand welded in the US by the #1 name in bike welding. Welder is his literal middle name.
  • 20 0
 @sfarnum: Sorry, no.

His middle name is "the"
  • 6 0
 @Struggleteam: Isn't the entire rear triangle made of this molded plastic you speak of?
  • 1 0
 @Takaya94: yeah it is
  • 4 0
 @sfarnum: I'd rather pay $3500 for one welded by the #2 welder.
  • 1 0
 @Slowpoke502: Marino will gladly make you a custom frame with not-so pretty welds and geometry somewhat close to what you requested for a very affordable price.
  • 1 0
 @sfarnum: Marino's welds are pretty damn good for the money. Super hard to beat that value for a custom bike.
  • 1 0
 @Struggleteam: Honestly the chainstay is the spot I'm normally most worried about on my carbon bikes. I get it for a race bike though in terms of stiffness and response (maybe unsprung mass as well?) and I definitely feel you on the metal bike preference. All I have is Nicolai and Chromag bikes. I like all the metals ha
  • 2 0
 "World cup ready" .... like any other DH bike?
  • 1 0
 FWIW…just got a new V10 and after 10 days in WBP…yea it’s sick, super well made, very playful, good warranty, etc.
  • 1 0
 Strategy behind the different rotors, or no?
  • 2 2
 comes with a paint job for 6K
  • 2 5
 With so many different downhill bike options, it was a waste to give this one of the spots in the field test. You can’t even get one. Would’ve been more useful to test some other bikes that are more readily available.
  • 2 0
 Neko has said they will be doing another run of DH frames alongside selling the enduro bike
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