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Spot Rollik 557 - First Look

Apr 20, 2016
by Richard Cunningham  

Spot Rollik 2017

One would expect that a brand founded upon the simplicity of a traditional steel hardtail and a single-speed drivetrain would define innovation and progressive design within the same framework, like their Gates Carbon Drive cog belt system, a Pinion gearbox, or perhaps a carbon frame. So, the likelihood that Spot would show up at the first bike show of the season with a 150-millimeter-travel trail bike, sporting 27.5-inch wheels, a novel rear suspension design, and state-of-the-art carbon construction is so much of a quantum leap that it made me wonder if they had bargained their souls to the devil in exchange for the most badass trail bike they had ever seen. That stuff actually happens.


Details:
• Purpose: trail / all-mountain
• Construction: carbon front and rear, Boost 148 spacing, threaded BB, internal control routing, "Living Link" suspension
• Travel: 150mm (R), 160mm, (F)
• Shock: Fox Float EVOL Kashima
• Fork: RockShox Pike RCT3, Boost 110 spacing
• Derailleur: Shimano side-swing direct mount or one-by option for front
• Bottle mount on down tube
• Brakes: SRAM Guide RSC
• Sizes: small, medium, large and x-large
• Colors: Red accents or natural carbon
• Weight: NA
• MSRP: $6499 USD complete, $2999 frame and shock
• Contact: Spot Brand Bicycles
Spor Rollik 557 2017
Spot Brand Designer Andy Emanuel poses with the Rollik 557.

Meet the Rollik 557

Turns out, Spot's Rollik 557 came into this world because a number of the folks who work at Spot wanted a longer travel trail bike that could rock the downs near their home in Golden, Colorado. They selfishly designed it to maximize their enjoyment, and in Colorado that means, in addition to descending technical, high-speed trails that often run longer than an hour - it has to climb very, very well. To justify those conflicting goals, Spot chose a novel rear suspension, designed by Avid Brake founder Wayne Lumpkin and adapted for Spot by Andy Emanuel. Called "Living Link," it is a modified dual-link four-bar configuration, with a stiff carbon leaf spring inserted where we would normally find the lower rocker.

Spot Rollik 557 2017
The Living Link is a hefty carbon flex-plate that is rigidly fixed to the swingarm, with a ball-bearing pivot at the frame junction.


Living Link

Reportedly, the stiff carbon flexure boosts the suspension's spring rate both positively and negatively at exactly the right time to enhance the bike's suspension performance, and its Fox shock has been tuned to compensate for that. In addition, the carbon leaf spring sits parallel with the chain, so it can eliminate the effects of chain tension on the suspension's action without adversely affecting pedaling performance. To help get our heads around the Living Link's action, Spot furnished us with an animated GIF.
Spot graphic

The Living Link is not a pure leaf spring, though. For reasons unexplained, it is rigidly fixed to the triangulated swingarm, but is allowed to hinge freely on a ball-bearing pivot where it attaches to the frame's seat tube. There is a noticeable amount of chain growth as the suspension is compressed, which is in keeping with the suspension's instant center, which hovers above the bottom bracket axle near the top of its 30-tooth chainring and then migrates towards the rear wheel near bottom-out.

Spot Rollik 557 2017
Boost 148-millimeter rear hub spacing.
Spot Rollik 557 2017
The signature look of Textreme carbon fiber material.


I spoke with designer Andy Emanuel at the Sea Otter Classic about the longevity of the Living Link's carbon spring. Andy said that during testing, the flex-link outlasted a number of shocks on its way to three million cycles without signs of failure nor fatigue. "That equates to riding every day for 12 years," said Andy.

The frame and suspension bits are constructed by one of Taiwan's best manufacturers, using a carbon fiber fabric from Sweden called Textreme, which was pioneered by Felt. The wide checkered pattern of Textreme is used to reduce layering and weight where omnidirectional loads are present - which is almost everywhere on a mountain bike's chassis.

Spot Rollik Geometry


"Frame geometry is very progressive," says Andy. "We make the seat angle very steep - up to 76 degrees on the extra-large size - and the top tubes are long. That makes climbing much easier and gives us an advantage on the downhills. Plus, you don't have to switch the suspension on or off to make it pedal well, so the Rollik is very playful, and easy to ride."

Production models will arrive with SRAM's time-honored XX1 eleven-speed drivetrain. Wheels are by Stan's - a longtime partner with Spot, while suspension is split between its RockShox Pike fork and Fox Float EVOL shock. Cockpit items are Race Face up front, with a RockShox Reverb dropper topped by a WTB saddle. It's the kind of build that results when the design team are avid riders.


Spot Rollik 557 2017
Spot photo


First Impressions

Spot's first crack at a mid-travel trail bike looks impressive. The Rollik 557 has the right manufacturing pedigree, the right numbers and the right build, so if its Living Link rear suspension can deliver as promised, then all that is left is for Spot to convince its ultra-conservative fan base that after nearly two decades of religious adherence to steel hardtails and single-speeds, that revelation is at hand and their salvation has taken the form of a 150-millimeter-travel, carbon fiber framed, dual-suspension bike, with work-of-the-devil 27.5-inch wheels, and patented monkey motion. So, while Spot is busy working on that magic Kool-Aid, we asked them if they would be kind enough to send us a Rollik 557 for a proper review.





106 Comments

  • 37 3
 In the animation, is it just me or does it look as if the lower pivot is applying the rotational force to the rear swingarm and pulling it upwards like the lower pivot is leading and the swingarm is following. We all know the force is at the axle which I would think would pull the pivot with the swingarm leading and the pivot following. Why does the arch of the carbon link point up and not down? I'm not an engineer so please inform me but I just don't see where the force that initiates the lower link rotation before any other flex or movement happens.
  • 6 3
 I think you are pretty close, the lower pivot actually apply a force that point down so the axel can't just follow normally the upper pivot. I think the carbon link is a resistance that make the swingarm rotate instead of just being linearly guided by the upper one. But yeah, i'm not quite sure.
  • 135 1
 i don't even know what you just said
  • 6 0
 @KottonGin: the upward arching of the "living link" isn't really to do with the rear axle's upward movement. Its a consequence of two things that happen simultaneously as the bike travels towards its midstroke: the upper rocker link's forward rotation lifts the rear triangle by its upper pivot point, and the relative lengths of the upper and lower links hold the rear triangle at a certain angle relative to the frame. Given the rear triangle is being lifted by the upper link while being held at a nearly constant angle by both links, the "living link" has to bend. Notice that the flex is greatest slightly past the sag point and then reduces deeper in the bike's stroke as the rear triangle begins to rotate clockwise. Seems like the flex will effectively increase the bike's spring rate just past the sag point, adding some midstroke support and built-in anti-squat.

My tip is that the bike will pedal very well, but require high shock pressure to prevent harsh bottoming (especially with a high-volume negative spring air can, e.g., debonair), since it looks like it has a falling spring rate in the last third of its stroke. We'll see if i'm right when the review comes out!
  • 5 0
 Well done on the 150mm X 160 but carbon leaf going to take some time and results to convince it's a capable platform.
  • 2 0
 @KottonGin - I thought the exact same thing. the leaf rotates about its pivot more than the force of the rear triangle and you can see that as it bends convexly signalling a counter rotation of the rear triangle. Which is the opposite of what its doing. Very odd.
  • 4 0
 The reason it moves is because the ballistic carbon leaf spring is preloaded.
  • 3 14
flag wolf-amongst-lambs (Apr 20, 2016 at 19:16) (Below Threshold)
 its the same shite as yeti shite, but without fox input
  • 5 1
 @poundsand: Well, it's a good thing that *some* people understand it, or we'd have no bikes to ride.
  • 1 2
 @OrangeGoblin: Same here. I just think it's not a very good or accurate simulation.
  • 1 0
 The simulation is alright. Think of it like this, the carbon bit that flexes is really just an extension of the chain stay. Without the upper link it would be a single pivot since the rear triangle is rigid. By adding the upper link it over constrains what would have been single pivot. The carbon flexure allows it to not be over constrained.
  • 1 0
 @fecalmaster: this is the bike industry - that's what a first production run is for! (They seem on it. Maybe it's sorted...)
  • 3 0
 If stating the obvious was a super power you would be like wonder woman foshizzle.
  • 2 0
 @poundsand: I'm joining your answer. To me it looks rideable!
  • 1 0
 I see it as the swingarm being guided by the upper rocker link, while the lower one simply acts as a shim to space out the swingarm to be a certain distance away from the seat tube. The swingarm moves somewhat straight up, then wants to rotate forward at the end. You probably are just looking at it in reverse, from the pivot first, rather than from the rear axle first, in relation to the shock absorber being compressed.
  • 27 2
 So that carbon frame is made out of T-200 T-400 T-600 T-700 or T-1000 carbon quality ?
  • 3 0
 Textreme usually uses T-800 equivalent however, that is for product here in the USA, Taiwan may be different. I am more curious about the GSM and fiber orientation that is inside.
  • 21 0
 Does it come with a neural net processor?
  • 2 0
 @mooseindahouse: ROFLOL now that's funny.
  • 3 1
 @mooseindahouse: Naw man, thats only on the UNNO, they use T-1000
  • 2 0
 @Smokewag0n: No, that means the UNNO is going to to try to kill John Connor, but the Spot is going to show up with a shotgun in a flower box & say "COME WITH ME IF YOU WANT TO LIVE. NEAAAAAAAAGGHH!"
  • 24 0
 I wonder if they tried cooked spaghetti first...
  • 18 0
 probably lasagna noodles
  • 13 2
 How has no one said that it looks like a yeti sb6c yet?
  • 5 0
 I saw these bikes at otter and it took me a few days to notice because I thought they were Yetis haha
  • 2 3
 @kleinblake: that's what I'm saying
  • 23 3
 Do yourself a favor and get some glasses. It clearly looks like a Session.
  • 2 0
 @southoftheborder: should have gone to specsavers
  • 6 0
 seems odd that the lower link pivot seems to lead the rear swingarm in that gif. as if the rotational force is coming from the pivot bearings to the swingarm, rather than the other way round. It would be good to see an actual video of the suspension being cycled (without the shock fitted would probably be better) rather than just an animation. I also imagine that flexible lower link adding a certain amount of undamped movement to the rear end.
  • 2 1
 The carbon spring is preloaded, opposingly to the shock spring. should make it very supple off the top (provided you still have some preload left after sag.) it hit's neutral load sometime in mid travel, then starts working WITH the shock during the last half.
  • 7 2
 I was lucky enough to have a long conversation with a couple of guys from Spot during Sea Otter, and let me tell you, they are not only awesome, but they put some REAL thought and engineering into this bike. I'm already trying to figure out how to get myself onto one!
  • 4 0
 Same story here. It was fun and interesting getting to hear Andy talk about the bike at sea otter. The Rollik would definitely be on my short list if I were in the market for a new bike.
  • 5 0
 Zilion cycles during few days in testing lab doesn't make the same result as real-life cycles during several years when epoxy gets degenerated. Actually, who from the big CF frame advocacies has ever make stress testing after 4 years of abuse? Everyone wants us just to buy new frames.
Still, definitely very interesting bike!
  • 1 1
 I must have missed it if they say they actually used epoxy there. For something designed to flex so often, I expect they'd have used some thermoplast for a matrix. These often have better fatigue properties. Epoxy is thermoset.
  • 5 1
 So stoked! I've ridden the Spot Rollik test mules a few times and I'm so happy with what they created. Andy and Wayne are both geniuses and this project is their brain child. It is the best climbing bike I've ridden and that was with the shock wide open. That plus less maintenance has me sold.
  • 1 0
 I'm curious has to just how MUCH less maintenance. It still has bearings on the frame end of the lower link. Are they just eliminating one pivot?
  • 2 0
 As I can see in the animation I would bet it works exactly as a singlepivot, read Orange Alpine, SC Heckler... Lots of chain growth but a lot more complicated. I must say that I own a CCDB'd Heckler and love it, except for chain growth and the suspension does not work at all when braking, but when used to it's easy to don't care about.
  • 2 1
 @krisrayner: they are eliminating the pivot that requires the most maintenance. Lower rear on a mini link (maestro, dw, etc) I will still do my normal yearly pivot maintenance but I expect significantly less slop than I've had with other frames.
  • 3 0
 I can see huge potential for this in the realm of featherweight XC bikes. Like a flexing chain stay + carbon fiber link and some kind of minimal damper. As it stands for an enduro bike though, I'm hard pressed to see real differentiation here other than it's new and innovative, which is cool and kudos to Spot for being the first.
  • 5 0
 That bare checkered carbon looks dope! ...and PB I love that linkage demonstration graphic
  • 2 1
 This is sweet! Very cool to see something so innovative that could potentially be an awesome frame design. Spot have always made awesome bikes and it looks like they put a lot of thought in to this, rather than just trying to put out some status quo bike!
  • 5 0
 My heart is still set on getting a JEFFSY...
  • 1 0
 Quote:
"The Living Link is not a pure leaf spring, though. For reasons unexplained, it is rigidly fixed to the triangulated swingarm, but is allowed to hinge freely on a ball-bearing pivot where it attaches to the frame's seat tube. "
End of quote.

If they'd have chosen to fix the link at both ends (so no pivot), it would have behaved twice as stiff. They could then of course just made the material less stiff (thinner) but it may not have lasted as long as they wanted it to. It is a pretty short link for how sharply it has to bend if both ends are fixed.

At least this is what I expect. I didn't make any design choices for them.
  • 2 0
 The fact that it's fixed at one end means that it acts like a normal link while the pivot is rotating, but when the pivot stops rotating it begins to bend—giving the damping effect. If it were fixed at both ends the damping would occur all the way through the travel and not just at the end.
  • 2 0
 @camomatic: The link would only act as a normal link if both ends of the link would have pivots. As one end doesn't, the link always has to bend when the linkage is moving. Or actually, when the linkage is moving all pivots allow for the connected pieces to rotate relatively and the Living Link has to bend simultaneously. So it is not that only starts to bend when the rotation stops.

I haven't read anything about a damping effect of the Living Link, but it does indeed have a spring effect.
  • 1 0
 Having become used to the idea of engineered flex with all manner of flex stays appearing on short travel bikes it can easily be forgotten that not all engineered flex is necessarily a good thing. In this case, I think, the designers may have got carried away - there seems to be a greater degree of freedom of motion in the critical area of the frame than is incompatible with the goal of structural stiffness, which is no less sought after on bikes with flex stays than bikes using bars, eccentrics and rails as pivots.
  • 4 0
 that animation is mesmerizing. it also makes me feel dirty. is that wrong?
  • 4 0
 same here. my wife came into the room and I flipped tabs... and then flipped back.
  • 3 0
 Very cool suspension model animation.
  • 1 0
 Look how close the tire is to the front of the rear triangle on that lower link close-up pic! That would get ugly in the mud.
  • 5 4
 Richard: Says Heat Tube instead of Head Tube. I would throw a -1 cup into it I think. But GEO looks good size wise.
  • 6 1
 Got the chart from Spot, but it can be fixed. Thx
  • 2 0
 ohhh 67 degrees. not quite my 150mm bike, looks interesting though
  • 2 1
 Its like someone BIG at Yeti said "Hmmm, let's lose that expensive Fox stuff", and marketed this
  • 3 0
 Yeti and Spot HQs are literally less than a quarter mile from each other and all their bikes are tested on the same trails.
  • 1 1
 Nice concept! XL looks promising compared to the Race Geo frames of Canyon and others which are simply to small for riders above 1,90m size!
  • 1 0
 its missing something and i can't believe its not on the leaf idea they have there, dam!
  • 6 5
 Nope. No. Never. Nooooooope.
  • 3 1
 Wow this is trippy you put into words exactly what my thought were
  • 1 1
 You ride what essentially is a dogbone-lead URT, what's wrong with some Yeti inspiration?
  • 1 0
 @southoftheborder: I would say because of massive chain growth that design is the furthest from URT I have ever seen. Maverick and GT were close to URT.
  • 2 0
 @iamamodel: I'm just messing around with @KMKAR, I know him and I know he rides a GT Force.
  • 1 0
 @southoftheborder: I see now. Ta.
  • 1 0
 @southoftheborder: at least I nailed the GT reference.
  • 1 0
 @southoftheborder: Ha! Gotcha! Slimshady!
For my defense... I-Drive: Beautiful alu-link // This thing: Rare carbon-flexi-link that freaks me out.

Again. Nope!
  • 1 0
 @KMKAR: dude, GROW UP! Alu is soooo last century... Teh Crabonz is da future!
  • 2 0
 @KMKAR: ditto. They'll have to pry my ALU bike off my cold dead hands before I throw a leg over a pedal-assisted tupperware ;-).
  • 1 1
 I wish i could just ask bike companies to send me their bikes for review..... must be nice
  • 3 2
 Not a fan! I'll pass on this big time!!!
  • 2 5
 Another unnecessary, pointless "breakthrough" technology that rear carbon link is (I might be proven wrong one day who knows). As it stands I will stick with the maestro floating pivot on my Giant reign and keep on riding worry-free down the hills!
  • 2 1
 Yeah, until the carbon link snaps...
  • 3 1
 3 million cycles yo. Broke the machines testing it. Not gonna happen.
  • 1 0
 @Sycip69er:
Yeah....right...! believe it when it doesn't happen....
  • 1 1
 Did anyone else get all moist when they saw that bottom bracket ? maybe its just me .
  • 1 0
 youtube / singletrack sampler www.youtube.com/watch?v=cw5QQyJSyso
  • 2 2
 Would be fun to ride at my local spot.
  • 2 2
 Pretty awesome Yeti 575 throwback right there
  • 1 0
 Yep. Yeit had the little flex pivot on the seatstay by the rear axle.
  • 1 2
 @Fattylocks: never mind " they had".... this is the same kinematics as any current yeti
  • 5 6
 Just another bike company coming out with fad to justify exorbitant pricing.
  • 7 1
 $2999 for a full carbon frame and an amazing shock is competitive with other brands offerings.
  • 2 1
 Hmmm Snap!
  • 2 1
 Followed by a walk home.
  • 1 1
 I think they are a little spot off their customer base
  • 1 1
 an anwer to fox witch infinity ?
  • 2 1
 Weak spot alert!
  • 2 1
 Bolliks!
  • 3 3
 Spot? They misspelled Snap.
  • 2 1
 ewwwwwwwwwwwwwww
  • 3 5
 Looks good except for the STA and do they really need to use another suspension linkage?
  • 5 0
 Always room for improvement man
  • 3 0
 SA is the best thing about it
  • 1 1
 @b26-4-Life: totally agree! I'd trade my hd3 in for this due to the seat angle alone! The suspension resembles a dw link, minus a pivot. But damn boost rear....sadly I'm out....
  • 1 0
 @c-dale99: it definitely depends on the manufacturer, but I've been impressed that Santa Cruz, for one, has kept the heel clearance on boost bikes within a couple millimeters of the 142 bikes, so while it sucks if you have a nice set of 142 wheels, at least there isn't necessarily any performance disadvantages. I'm sure many bikes especially horst-links will get wider tho
  • 1 1
 Spot on!
  • 1 2
 Nice bike, but I see a weak link in that rear end
  • 1 3
 I agree! Cool idea but not sure it's it's practical over a long period of time. How many times can something be flexed before it breaks?
  • 3 1
 @beeboo: 3 million times according to the article...equals riding every day for 12 years
  • 1 2
 Lol. Good luck with that design!
  • 1 2
 that bike is spot on
  • 2 3
 cool idea, but stupid.
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