Squamish, BC, is where I call home, with Whistler only 30-minutes up the road and North Vancouver's rooty, twisty trails 30-minutes in the opposite direction. As you can imagine, short-travel bikes with race-y intentions are outnumbered a-thousand-to-one in these parts by well-used enduro rigs closer to 40 than 20 pounds. And for good reason; much of the local terrain aims straight down, is full of pointy rocks waiting to punch holes in your ultra-light wheels, toilet paper-sidewall tires, and Lycra-covered skin, and it's often covered with anaconda-like roots. It's definitely wet, too.
The Spot wasn't made for those try-and-maybe-die chutes and slabs, but a skilled pair of hands and good line choices will see the red bike through most of it without issue. Remember, the Ryve is about as cross-country as a trail bike can be without you needing to wear bib shorts and a visor-less helmet to ride it. In other words, me telling you that things get a bit wild on the scary stuff is about the same as a breaking story on the homepage about how an enduro bike is a real pig at cross-country races. Don't put it past us.
Sure, bigger rubber, a 130mm fork, and some other changes could help the Ryve on the scary stuff, but I'd argue that you'd be better off on a different, burlier machine than diluting the Spot's sportiness in search of confidence. There are all sorts of bikes to pick from if that's your jam, but the Ryve isn't one of them.
Dialing back the terrain from f*ck-no to more-flow allows the 115mm-travel Ryve to come into its own, with the peppiness that makes it such a great climber also making it a blast on the descents. My closest riding area is a local hill known as Valleycliffe, a small mountain crisscrossed by a confusing maze of endless rolling trails, many of which require work to get the most out of. It's here where the Ryve makes brawnier trail bikes like the Tallboy and Optic feel slow and muted in their responses.
One of my favorite bits sees a long section of singletrack angled downward slightly, but not nearly enough to be called fast, and I'm usually taking careful stabs at the pedals for more speed while hoping I don't catch a rock or root and get scorpioned so hard that my shoes come off. Again. I've ridden this trail on pretty much every long-term test bike I've had over the last couple of years, but it was an entirely different experience on the Spot - it was way faster. The Ryve responds to pumping the terrain and using backsides in a way that softer, slacker, more forgiving bikes can only dream of, and the effect is a lot of speed. The Tallboy, Optic, and Hei Hei all require less effort in those settings than longer-travel rigs, but on the Ryve, it's as if the trail is covered in speed-boosting arrows from Mario Kart and those other three are stuck in axle-deep mud.
The faster you're going, the faster you need to think, and that's especially true on the Ryve. The steering is more cross-country than trail bike, but it's far from being nervous. While some quick-handling machines can feel as if they're just waiting to toss you out the front door, the Spot manages to offer a needle-precise front-end without you constantly being in fear of it knifing to one side unexpectedly. It also gives it the maneuverability that other trail bikes can only dream of. If you love nothing more than a well-timed manual, nose bonk here or there, or silly-but-fun line, you'll get more than your fair share of laughs from the Ryve.
The bike's rear-suspension isn't nearly as active and forgiving as the back of the Hei Hei, and rocky ground will knock the Spot around a bit. Tire choice can make a big difference here, though, and the stock, low-volume Schwalbe rubber leans more towards less rolling speed than more traction. Because of this, a light touch on the brake levers is needed when it's wet or dusty to keep the bike from sliding too much. Or maybe sliding just the right amount, amirite?
I settled on a standard 25-percent sag number and never once felt a clang at bottom-out, despite some questionable line choices, so there's certainly no need to run it any firmer. And what about Spot's claims that the carbon fiber Living Link suspension can supply additional pop to help get off the ground? I'm not so sure, but I can't argue that the Ryve does have that energetic personality that can make a short-travel bike so much fun.
So, what does all that mean, and where does the Ryve sit in the world of short-travel bikes? If you're looking for a new-school ripper to send off the jumps while keeping up with your buddies on longer-travel bikes, the Spot isn't for you. This is a bike made to cover ground quickly and efficiently, and it's far more interested in snagging those uphill KOMs than going fast down rowdy descents. But that also means that it's a demon of a bike on rolling terrain and downhills that don't look like EWS stages, which is a hell of a lot of the world.