You'd be excused for thinking that any high-end mountain bike worth its salt has to feature a generous amount carbon fiber and employ some sort of multi-link suspension design. After all, the large majority of the machines I review on this very website tick off both of those boxes, don't they? Xprezo, a company hand building frames out of Bromont, Quebec, thinks differently, and their 150mm travel Adhoc that's reviewed below is a perfect example of how they approach things. The Adhoc is built out of aluminum, and in a world where most companies seem to be aiming to create swoopy looking bikes out of carbon, the Adhoc sticks out like a cat at a dog show. Its bright pink paint certainly plays a part in that, but Xprezo offers dizzying amount of color options and combinations that allow consumers to customize to their heart's content. Want a blue front end, green aluminum plates, and a yellow rear end? It's all included in the price. And how much money does this hand built beauty cost? An Adhoc frame/shock/headset package retails for $2,600 USD, while the complete bike shown here would go for $5,975 USD. However, because all of Xprezo's prices are in Canadian dollars, it does depend on how the exchange rate looks at the time of purchase. No one ever said that being different would be inexpensive. The company also offers an interesting 'New Life Service' package that sees them repaint your frame and replace all of the hardware and bearings for $500 USD.
• Intended use: AM/enduro
• Wheel size: 650B
• Rear wheel travel: 150mm
• Frame materials: aluminum
• Single pivot, linkage activated
• Tapered head tube
• Pressfit 92 bottom bracket
• ISCG 05 chain guide tabs
• 12 x 142mm or 135 QR dropouts
• MSRP: $2,600 USD (frame/shock/headset), $5,975 USD (as tested)
The Adhoc's aluminum front triangle features a tapered head tube that's home to a gorgeous badge proudly touting the frame's handmade origins, and two simple entry points on the down tube make for some clean internal cable routing. Keep in mind that there are no internal cable guides, though, a fact that could make cable changes tricky if you don't know a few mechanic's tricks. The bike's top tube drops down dramatically for both stand over clearance and to make for a cleaner forward shock mount to the gusset that connects the top and down tubes together, while a gusset on the underside of the down tube likely ups the front triangle's strength. There's a set of ISCG 05 chain guide tabs around the bottom bracket shell, and Xprezo went with a Pressfit 92 setup.
Things get even more interesting when you move to the back of the bike, where Xprezo decided to mate the steel rear triangle to a set of aluminum upright plates that connect it to the front end. The two aluminum sections are home to the main pivot, and are tied together to the rear end at the linkage and by large steel bolts just behind the seat tube. Why use two different materials? ''While others will stick with popular materials, we believe that today's technology allows builders to use steel and aluminum's specific advantages to create a final product that's much greater overall,
'' says Xprezo. Replaceable dropouts let you mount either a 12 x 142mm or 135 QR rear wheel
The Adhoc's Suspension Explained
The majority of Xprezo's full-suspension bikes employ a simple single pivot layout with the shock connected directly to the swingarm, but the 150mm travel Adhoc is different in that the shock is compressed by a compact linkage that pivots off of the seat tube. The bike's axle path is still determined by the main pivot's location that sits a few inches up and forward of the bottom bracket, and the linkage allows Xprezo to have more control over the suspension's performance throughout its travel. Basically, this lets the FOX Float CTD shock feel more supple and responsive in the early part of its stroke while still providing enough ramp-up deeper into the travel to prevent a hard bottom out, and it's why so many bikes depend on a linkage of some sort to modify suspension action to the designer's liking. Xprezo has certainly created a cleaner looking package than most, though, as the linkage is nearly hidden from sight and tucked up so close to the front of the seat tube that you'd have hard time sliding an empty energy bar wrapper between them. There are sealed bearings all around, as one would expect, and the combination of aluminum plates and steel rear end gives the bike a unique appearance. The two different materials are bolted together at the linkage and just behind the seat tube, and a set of pinch bolts at the main pivot help to keep everything together. There's no getting around the fact that, for a single pivot bike with a small linkage, it isn't exactly the simplest design out there, but that shouldn't matter so long as it all stays together on the trail.
To be honest, I didn't really expect the pink machine to climb with much vigor, and I anticipated getting to the top of the mountain aboard the Xprezo as being more of "I'll get there when I get there" kind of thing. I know, I'm supposed to go into these tests with a clear mind and no preconceived notions of a bike's personality, and I will often avoid looking over a set of geometry numbers until after the first few rides so as not to skew my opinion, but the Adhoc pretty much performed as I assumed it would. Surprise, surprise, the single pivot, aluminum and steel framed Xprezo doesn't climb nearly as well as the majority of carbon wonder bikes with the same amount of travel, although frame material really has nothing to do with that - it's all in the suspension, and the bike definitely benefits from reaching down for the little FOX shock's CTD lever. Leave it wide open in 'Descend' mode and, while you'll have traction for days, you also might take days to get to the top of your local mountain. It's simply a very active bike that doesn't reward those big out of the saddle efforts unless you hit the shock's cheater switch, but doing exactly that transforms it into something that can motor up a gravel road as fast as any bike with similar amounts of travel. Am I saying that the FOX shock's CTD switch has to be used as a crutch? Yeah, pretty much. The same can be said of many other bikes, of course, but Adhoc does lean on it more than others. Don't want to take a hand off the 'bar? You're far better off staying in the saddle and spinning circles if you're going to leave the shock in either Descend or Trail modes, and that method should keep most riders who prefer 150mm travel bikes happy enough so long as they've never spent much time on a truly efficient mid-travel bike.
Despite all that bellyaching above, it's not all bad news when faced with a long, boring climb, because our large sized Adhoc is about as comfy as it gets when talking about rider position. The roomy front end works well with the bike's stubby Chromag stem, and sitting on the matching Chromag saddle is like getting a taint massage while you're riding. Well, maybe not that good but it's a damn comfortable seat. The agreeable riding position made all day adventures only a matter of legs and fitness rather than putting strain on my bad back and shoulders, a fact that anyone with a ninety year old man's body like mine will really appreciate. Don't know what I'm talking about? Give it a few years.
It doesn't get easier when you take the Adhoc off of the gravel road and onto any sort of technical singletrack, and while a skilled pilot is going to get any bike up most things, it really felt like the bike's footprint was about three feet longer than others in the same class. That's obviously an exaggeration, but I found myself consciously having to place the bike's rear wheel where I needed it to be, which is in contrast to a good technical climbing machine of similar travel that doesn't ask you to do much beyond turn the pedals over and point it in roughly the right direction. No, the Xprezo doesn't let you relax when it gets tight and twisty, even relative to other 150mm bikes, but staying seated and in a slightly lower gear than you might otherwise seemed to be the key to motoring through sections of trail that might trouble those in hiking boots. Momentum is your friend and keeping it is the goal. My test bike came with an adjustable travel Pike RC3T - RockShox refers to it as Dual Position Air - that I ended up taking advantage of far more often than I have on other bikes. Dropping the fork down by 30mm is key to your success on the Adhoc, as is running the shock in 'Climb' mode for any extended pitch, and making those two changes while on the move will have it responding better when you need maximum effort to get both wheels up and over a mess of roots or steep wall.
|The Adhoc and a tandem bike have a lot in common when you're on the subject of climbing tight trails, although that task might be easier aboard the tandem...|
I know that there is a large group of riders out there who place a bike's climbing abilities roughly above who won Big Brother 13 and below what Kayne wore to the Grammys on their list of important things to take note of, and there's certainly nothing wrong with that sort of thinking. Yes, we all know that climbing makes you fit, but so does eating green stuff and stretching but no one likes to do that stuff either. Nodding your head? Then move on and read about what the Adhoc is like when things get fun. Downhill / Technical Riding
Are you familiar with the movie Rain Man? Dustin Hoffman's character in the movie, Raymond Babbitt, is an autistic savant who, long story short, struggles with a lot of everyday tasks yet excels at a few others. Well, I often found myself referring to the pink Adhoc as my own Rain Man due to how it frustrated me in a lot of everyday situations yet managed to make other 150mm travel machines look a bit silly when it came time to get rowdy on the downhills. That, and calling it Raymond Babbitt seems odd, doesn't it? The Adhoc is, without a doubt in my mind, the most stable and confidence inspiring 150mm bike that I've ever pointed down a hill, which is the sort of temperament that leads one to do things that they might otherwise not be inclined to consider on other, less rousing bikes. Do keep in mind that it's a good 50mm in the back and three or four degree up front away from being a downhill bike, but I wasn't thinking about those limitations when I was on it, with my thoughts usually focusing one two points: "Holy shit, I'm still alive," and wondering how Xprezo was able to get so much performance out of the itty bitty FOX Float CTD shock that it comes spec'd with. There is so much suppleness and control at the back of the Adhoc that, assuming I could navigate down the trail while blindfolded, I might have guessed that the bike was running a high-end coil-over rather than a shock we commonly see on pure cross-country bikes. I'm not going to pretend to know how Xprezo has managed it, although it's obviously got something to do with that tiny linkage and a perfectly matched shock tune, but the back of the bike tracks the ground in a way that will make even the most unwitting of riders take note. The traction that comes from that is mightily impressive, and it really does allow you to not only take more chances, but also get away with it in a way that you will realize has more to do with the bike than luck or riding skill. Lets not gloss over the Pike RC3T fork, either, because it's the entire package that makes it such a potent machine on the downs and the fork is a big part of that.
While the Adhoc's rear end is impressive, it's the bike's handling that really allows it to excel on rough downhills. No, it's not a lively machine that will have you thinking out of the box, and it needs a more assertive rider to get the most out of it, but those who feel comfortable riding at 9/10ths will be able to throw the Adhoc around as it should be. And that's the key to getting the most out of the pink bike: being able to wring its neck a little, especially around the corners, will have it slicing through singletrack like an electric knife through a still warm turd. All the traction out back helps, of course, but its angles and attitude make you feel like you can just keep leaning it into the bends until it stops biting... except it doesn't want to stop biting. Much like your crazy ex, the Adhoc just doesn't want to let go, and while it stops short of keying your car if you piss it off, the bike feels as if it's willing to do just about anything you ask of it. This is multiplied tenfold on steep terrain that makes you rub your ass on the back tire, although how the bike's rear suspension firms up noticeably when on the brakes does somewhat negates this.
|This travel bracket is literally jammed full of bikes to pick from that can literally be ridden everywhere. Want to go to the bike park? No problem. All day man-ride with monster climbs? Sure thing. However, you might say that most 150mm bikes are decent at everything but awesome at nothing. But the Adhoc truly is awesome at something: hauling ass down scary trails.|
Things become a little more difficult as the trail tightens up, and its those stalling speed, wheel-pivot type of corners where you might find the Adhoc to be a bit of a handful. My advice? You're best off letting it roll when you can rather than depending on circus tricks to get you around switchbacks, but you're always going to lose ground in these type of situations relative to more nimble machines. You might not care one bit once you get back on faster, rougher ground, though. I certainly didn't.
Going into orbit aboard the Adhoc is a strangely calm event, much more so than on most bikes of similar travel. Maybe it's because you know that the bike's suspension is so good that you feel like you could literally land on your buddy who's ahead of you and still roll away, or possibly because of the inherent stability off of lips that it seems to have. Either way, the bike doesn't have a lot of built-in pop but it does give you the confidence to roll into any takeoff like you own it, with little care for what the landing looks like. Those who come up for excuses as to why they didn't hit a certain jump or drop won't be able to blame the bike if they're on the Ahoc, which could be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it. Technical Report
• I did take note of what I thought was a lot of flex coming from the back of the bike, but it turned out to be a number of important bolts that managed to back themselves out slightly. Not a huge deal - I tightened them and they weren't repeat offenders - but it does highlight the fact that a bike doesn't need a load of pivots to require maintenance, only a load of bolts.
• The Adhoc's Chromag cockpit felt spot-on - I wouldn't change a thing if it was my personal bike. The saddle is softer than I usually prefer but it seemed to work hour after hour, while the short stem and wide handlebar simply make a load of sense for how one needs to ride the Adhoc. Installing a longer stem or skinnier bar on this bike would be akin to putting spinner rims on your 911. Just don't.
• The Pike RC3T's Dual Position Air feature lets you drop the fork by about 30mm by turning a dial atop the left fork leg, and while I'm nearly always of the opinion that one should get used to how a bike handles and go from there, it really is an indispensable trick when it comes to the Adhoc. I'll happily backtrack from past statements and admit that, without the fork's DPA dial, I likely would have been walking much more than I did during my time on the bike.
• There's not much to dislike about SRAM's 11 speed drivetrain but we'll keep grumbling about the derailleur's pulley wheels that feature the same narrow/wide X-Type tooth shaping as the group's chain ring. The problem? They pick up massive quantities of mud and grime, much more so than a standard pulley wheel, and the upper one can sometimes come out of time with the chain so that the narrow/wide profile doesn't match up to the chain's inner and outer plates. It doesn't happen all the time, though, just enough to be annoying.
• I wasn't the biggest Highroller II fan before I threw a leg over the Adhoc but my time on the bike has me re-thinking my opinion on them. They don't roll quickly, which surely doesn't help the Xprezo in the climbing department, but holy hell do they grip. No flats for our tubeless conversion, either. Pinkbike's Take:
|The very large majority of 150mm travel bikes on the market seem to strike some sort of polite middle ground that, much like a Toyota Corolla, allows them to be pretty decent at most things. That's boring. Do you want your bike to make you feel like you're driving bang on the speed limit to the corner store to pick up pack of smokes for your wife, or do you want a machine that lets you feel like you're driving some sort of foolish sports car at irresponsible speeds? Sideways. With your stripper girlfriend in the passenger seat. Sign me up for the latter, thank you very much. Beige colored Corollas and strippers aside, the Adhoc isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea - it's simply too focused on the downs for me to recommend it to most riders as a 'do everything' kind of bike - but those who are looking for a 150mm rig with the soul of a downhill bike might just find their ideal partner in crime with the unique looking Xprezo. Major kudos to Xprezo for being brave enough to not build a beige colored Corolla of a bike, even if it would sell much better than what they have created.- Mike Levy|