Years ago, Last were gracing the pages of Dirt Magazine, with superlative things being written about the performance of their Herb bike. More recently, the brand saw a bit of a re-birth with their Fastforward steel hardtail. Many members of the industry grabbed one of these beautiful frames, I was one of them.
The German brand has been coming out with incredibly well-engineered full suspension aluminium frames coming in at under the 3kg mark for the past few years. But with the launch of their new bike, the Tarvo, Last sought to drop that weight dramatically to improve upon their already proven performance while maintaining a reliable and easy to ride bike. In doing so, they may have just made one of the lightest enduro frames in the world.
Last Tarvo Details
• 160mm rear travel (170mm with the MX conversion)
• 170mm fork travel
• 2.08kg frame weight
• Geometry and suspension adjusted per size
• Bike park approved 5-year warranty
• Developed and made in GermanyMore info: Last Bikes
Construction & Details
The incredible low frame weight is one of the biggest headlines about the Tarvo. Last already felt that their current bikes had a high level of suspension performance, and so then looked to the weight to improve the overall performance of the bike. But this couldn't come at a cost to the reliability of the bike or the ease of riding, as Last also wanted to create a fast and easy to control bike. It tips the scale at a claimed 2.08kg, which includes all pivot and shock mounting hardware plus the cable routing parts and frame protection on the down tube and chain stay.
The Tarvo is a carbon fibre composite construction with a machined aluminium linkage. The front triangle and rear triangle are moulded in single pieces to avoid the increased material and glue needed when gluing separately moulded parts together. That lack of joints also offers Last slightly better control of fibres around the frame structure without the need to transmit forces across the joints. Their composite also uses a resin with increased impact resistance and is UV stable meaning the raw carbon frame would not react or degrade when out in the sunlight.
Also conscious in their responsibilities to source and manufacture sustainably and ethically, the raw fibres come from Japan where they are then converted into pre-preg in Italy with the laminating being done in Germany at All Ahead. Frame painting is done in Germany, so too is the frame and complete bike assembly. This supply chain location also lends itself very well to an increased level of control on quality available to Last as well as the ability to react faster to any issues that may have presented themselves during development or production.
To drop weight, and to take advantage of the ability engineer in flex into the structure, Last removed the rear pivot on the seat stay. Instead, the seat stay itself flexes to provide the necessary movement for going through the suspension travel. Not something new, as other shorter travel bikes use this method, but not something so commonly seen on longer travel bikes.
There's an optional upgrade of a down tube storage compartment, costing €199, which sees a modified layup to accommodate the hole but apparently causes no compromise in frame stiffness. So, if you'd like some added frame storage then you're covered with the accompanying bag to go inside the down tube. Frames use internal cable routing with moulded tubes inside that actually act to stiffen the downtube.
Frames use the UDH from SRAM and utilise a threaded BB for reliability and to hold in the optional ISCG tab if it's needed. There's even captive shock hardware at the link to stop any washers falling out when you take the shock out. The frames are tested at EFBe in Germany to the ASTM 5 standard, allowing Last not only the chance to label the Tarvo as bike park approved, but to offer a 5-year warranty that extends past the first owner to any subsequent owners. There's even a further 3-year crash replacement scheme and Last are also keen to say they are able to repair composite damage if possible. Spare parts are of course available and they include the front and rear triangles. And any composite parts that need replacing can be taken care of by Last and recycled into fibre reinforced thermoplastic parts.
The Tarvo is designed as a long travel bike for aggressive riding, and as such uses a 64-degree head angle combined with nice reach numbers for each of the four sizes ranging from 429mm to 518mm. The sizing is based around the typical rider sizes of 165, 175, 185 and 195cm tall.
Last change not only the chainstay length per size, to have a good front to back balance, but also the seat angle. Larger frames get a steeper seat angle to adjust the rider's weight between the contact patches when sat. BB height for the smallest 165 size is 5mm lower than the others. This was done as Last uses a shorter crank length for those smaller riders and saw that they could take advantage of the increased ground clearance on that frame.
Seat post lengths should play well with long dropper posts and the head tube lengths are generous enough to put the bars in a good position for aggressive riding without needing a mountain of stem spacers.
Last's Flex Pivot takes advantage of the ability to engineer flex into the carbon structure and provide a pivot at the rear of the bike. The kinematic design minimizes the amount of deflection needed in the seat stays so keeps the stress and strain at a low level.
Last have always used very progressive leverage ratios on their bikes, something that they say contributes to those glowing reviews of the Herb back in the day. The Tarvo retains this same philosophy and has an overall progression of 55% (when looking at how much of percentage is the final ratio from the starting ratio), but Last tend to use their progression percentage from the sag point onwards, which in this case is 34%. So just be aware of that when comparing bikes on paper.
Last recommend using, and spec, shocks with damping adjustment rather than with a lockout switch. This gives Last and the user more adjustment options to dial the bike in for their weight and riding.
Not only did Last adjust the geometry of the frame dependant on the size, but they also altered the kinematics. Leverage ratio stays the same but the anti-squat and anti-rise are tweaked to bring the acceleration and deceleration responses of the bike closer together, giving a more consistent ride feel between sizes and adapting to the changing CoG heights of the different riders.
Last's anti-squat graph compares the bikes at sag changing through the gears on the cassette. In the biggest climbing gear, all the frame sizes share the same anti-squat values and are even very close as you go to a mid-cassette 24-tooth cog. It's only further out at the 10-tooth extreme is there a bit more variation in the frame sizes. For comparison, the grey lines on the graph show the anti-squat values if Last hadn't adapted each frame size and show a much bigger spread in values between the frames.
The same is true of the anti-rise, where all frame sizes show the same values and will then share the same characteristics. Not many brands change their geometry, like chain stay and seat angle, per size, and even fewer change their suspension characteristics. So for Last to do both is a show of how focussed they were on every part of the Tarvo in its role in the bike’s performance.
Also available is the MX option. Using only a different link the Tarvo can be converted into a 170mm travel, 27.5" rear wheeled bike. The MX link adjusts the suspension and geometry for the smaller wheels, increased travel and change in dynamic sag. Inside Last they have found that generally their larger riders prefer the larger rear wheel and the smaller riders prefer the smaller rear wheel, but it's also an option they wanted to offer to everyone to give the freedom of movement that the smaller rear wheel offers.
Builds, Pricing & Availability
The Tarvo comes in a raw carbon finish with the upgrade to the painted blue matte metallic available for €399. Custom colours are also available at a €799 upgrade.
Frames cost between €4038 and €4158 depending on the choice of Fox X2 shocks in coil or air or Superdeluxe Ultimate RCT shocks in coil or air. You can also purchase the frame without shock if you have your own 205 x 65mm shock for €3599.
Complete bikes are available with a customer by customer dialogue to determine the best parts for your needs based on the many options
Last have. Complete bikes start at €5799 and can be built as light as 12.4kg.
International shipping is available, but if you can visit Last in Dortmund, Germany they will offer a set up and guided first ride to get the bike settings fine-tuned. Test sessions are also available to try out the Tarvo and other Last bikes with details are available on their website.
185 and 175 frame sizes are available right now with 165 and 195 available in August.