Whistler is positively brimming with exotic bikes this week, and all it takes is a quick lap around the village to spot everything from Enduro World Series race bikes to one-of-a-kind slopestyle weapons, and everything in between. Even with all that eye candy in close proximity, rolling into the lift line aboard Unno's upcoming downhill bike is a sure way to turn heads.
Unno Ever Details• 27.5" wheels
• 200mm travel
• 63.5° head angle
• 445mm chainstays
• 455mm reach
• MSRP: €5500 (frame only)
Cesar Rojo's carbon creation is simply stunning in person, the type of bike that almost looks too good to ride. Almost, but not quite, which is why I jumped at the opportunity to take a few laps in the bike park, curious to find out if bike's performance could match its looks.
We first covered the story behind Unno
a little over a year ago, when the company began to lift the curtain on the projects they were working on. Born from the creative mind of Cesar Rojo, the brand's goal is to create the best bikes in the world, with no expenses spared. These days, the vast majority of carbon frames are built in Asia, but Unno decided to keep things in-house, setting up a carbon manufacturing facility in Barcelona, Spain. There's a full line of mountain bikes in the works, everything from an XC hardtail all the way to the Ever (short for Everest) downhill bike shown here.
Cesar Rojo, the man behind Unno Bikes.
According to Cesar, they'd hoped to have production bikes already out in the world by now, but a combination of factors pushed that timeline back a little further than originally expected. Little things, like finding the right vendor to produce the cardboard boxes the frames will come in, to deciding who would produce the frame's decals ended up being more time consuming than anticipated. The wait is almost over, though, and the first trail and enduro frames should be available this October, with the downhill bike to follow, likely near the beginning of 2018. What does a handmade, small batch carbon fiber mountain bike cost? It's certainly not cheap – an Ever frame will retail for €5500.
The Unno's integrated bar / stem combo only adds to the bike's futuristic look.
The Ever's distinctive frame shape wasn't done purely for looks – the goal was to build in a slight amount of lateral compliance in order to keep the bike from feeling overly stiff. The woven carbon fabric isn't just for show either; Cesar explained that the decision to incorporate the fabric was done to increase the frame's durability. “The fabric is mainly for strength and impact issues. UD (unidirectional) is aligned fibers, so when you get an impact it's very easy for them to separate. I don't get why the bicycle industry doesn't use woven fabric on the outside – you won't see a Formula One car without fabric on the outside, because it's just much better for impact resistance and safety,” says Cesar.
The Ever uses a dual link design for its 200mm of travel that's been oriented to create a more progressive curve towards the sag point, and then the progression becomes more linear as the shock continues through its travel.
As far as geometry goes, the Ever has a 63-degree head angle, 445mm chainstays, and a reach of 455 millimeters. Once production is underway for this size, the next size available will have a 495mm reach, but that's still a little ways down the road. Cesar doesn't believe that one size will work for everyone, but due to the company's small size they decided to start with a bike that will fit the widest range of riders. Ride Impressions
At this time of the year, the trails in the Whistler Bike Park are rougher than ever, and despite the best efforts of the hard working trail crew, blown out berms and knee-high braking bumps abound. It might be a little harder on bikes and bodies, but that doesn't mean it's any less fun to ride; if anything, it's even better suited for testing out a bike like the Unno Ever.
Cesar is a little lighter than me, but not by much, so I was able to ride the bike without adjusting his suspension settings. The Float X2 shock was set up with 40% sag and no volume spacers, and the BoXXer fork was set to be on the firmer side of things – Cesar prefers to run a stiffer fork in order to preserve the bike's geometry as much as possible in steeper terrain. It's worth mentioning that the bike I was on had a slightly shorter reach than what the production model will have, but the head angle and the chainstay length were still the same. For that reason, my focus was more on how the suspension design performed and less on the exact fit of the bike. With a quick pre-flight checkup completed, it was time to head downhill.
There are plenty of downhill bikes out there with 200mm of travel, but there aren't many of them that can deliver that travel as smoothly as the Unno Ever. Those giant braking bumps seemed to disappear underneath the wheels, and I found myself letting off the brakes for longer than usual simply because of how composed the bike felt. There's a calmness to the way the back wheel dispatches with obstacles, and no matter how big the rock or root the bike was unfazed. Balance is the key when it comes to a downhill bike, and I'd say that's what impressed me most with how the Ever's suspension felt. Not too
plush, and not too
firm, it had that 'just right' feeling that's the ultimate goal for any bike, with plenty of grip to keep the wheels on the ground in the loose, slippery corners, and enough support to keep it from wallowing when a few extra pedal strokes were needed, or for popping off the lip of a jump.
The coil vs. air shock debate is still in progress, but on the Ever the air-sprung Float X2 felt perfectly suited to the bike, with a level of sensitivity that's not always present on bikes equipped with air shocks. And that's without resorting to any special tunes or shock modification; in fact, the X2 on the bike I was aboard is two years old.
The Ever is the type of bike that seems to work its way into your subconscious, convincing you to go even faster, or to send it even farther. The laps I got in on the Ever felt like a tease, like only being able to take one lick of an ice cream cone on a hot summer day, but it was still worth it – this is one remarkable machine. Even though I'll never be able to afford one, I like that fact that companies like Unno exist, producing bikes on their own terms, free to experiment and create exactly what they want.