Big wheels and a bit less travel might be the new all-mountain recipe but, as I said above, it's also that middle ground that doesn't really slot into any specific category. And that probably doesn't matter, besides underlining how "cycling journalists" always feel the need to classify bikes, including myself. But much like how Netflix has made documentaries relevant and cool, it's bikes like the Smash that are going to make not too long-travel but not too short-travel setups relevant and cool, largely because many riders will be better served with the Smash's well-sorted 140mm than they might be with an extra 20mm tacked on.
The Smash could be the 'Making a Murderer' of our dirty world, but with fun and singletrack replacing the murdering and body disposal.
The Smash proved to be just as quick over rough ground as bikes with 20mm more cushioning, but it's more tiring to ride at that pace than an enduro bike.
The Smash is able to go head-to-head with of a lot of 160mm-travel bikes, with timed laps proving that it's just as quick on most descents as anything with more travel and slacker angles. If I'm honest, I'm not a big believer in timed comparisons as there are just so many variables, and us humans want to just look at the result and use that to decide if something is better or worse. Regardless, it's something that the Smash can more than hold its own, and some of the times were put down on seriously steep, difficult trails. It just tells me that Guerrilla Gravity has wrung every bit out of the bike's suspension, and backed it up with great handling.
If there was a bike that deserved to be 'over forked,' it's probably the Smash - because the back of the bike isn't about to slow anyone down, the front-end can see a lot of pressure. If you're considering a Smash, also consider jumping up in fork travel when you're configuring your bike on Guerrilla Gravity's website - a 150mm-travel MRP Ribbon only requires an extra $50 USD.
This is a jack of all trades kinda bike that can be ridden harder than its travel and geometry might have you assume.
The ride isn't as forgiving as a 160mm bike, of course, so while the Smash can be ridden just as quickly as anything else with a bit more travel, it's going to take a bit more out of you over the long-run. But the bike's Horst Link system literally gives me nothing to moan about; it's relatively supple off the top, offers more than enough support, and there's plenty of ramp-up to keep the shock from clanging off the end of its stoke. And it's efficient to boot, which definitely adds to the Smash's ability to really cover ground on descents that are closer to being level than pointing straight down.
I'd describe the handling as being middle of the road, without the low-speed clumsiness that can sometimes come from combining longer numbers with tight trails and tight corners, but also being happy at speeds that would make a trail bike feel nervous. That said, it's not a purebred corner carver, although running 35-percent sag sure as hell helps that cause. Instead, the steering has a bit more of an on-point way about it that's just the ticket for a rider who likes technical trails that call for skill over the balls it takes to try and 'bar drag through a banked corner.
The more forgiving Plush suspension setting was the go-to for most of the test.
And while it can be ridden as quickly as a true enduro rig in a lot of settings, there are times when the slightly quicker handling will remind you that no, you're not on an EWS-focused machine. It also takes more out of your body on really rough, steep stuff, but that's to be expected as it's not all that fair to rate it directly against slacker, 160mm-travel bikes. Besides, the Smash would win as soon as we started talking about what type of bike is more fun.
The Smash's two suspension modes, referred to as 'Plush' and 'Crush,' are interesting in that there's essentially no change to the Smash's geometry between the two, which isn't usually how it's done. Not being a fan of adjustable geometry, and far preferring to get used to how a bike handles and learning how to get the most out of it, I like how Guerrilla Gravity has essentially isolated the change in suspension action.
There's a noticeable difference between the two modes, with 'Crush' offering the more supportive, firmer feel as advertised. It's best suited to berm-infested trails, or the type of terrain where pumping can trump pedaling. It delivers more 'pop' for the same reason - there's more mid-stroke support to push against. It's also not as supple on the small, high-frequency stuff, so it's not a stretch to assume that more traction will come from the 'Plush' mode, along with more forgiveness.
It's not like the softer of the two settings steals the bike's playfulness, either, and it's a sporty feeling ride to begin with, so the very large majority of the time on the Smash was spent in the 'Plush' setting.