Looking for some exotica? Want to be the only person on the mountain, or maybe in your country, with your bike? Then you might want to take a look at what Antidote have been cooking up in their factory in Krakow, Poland, where each and every one of their frames are manufactured. Antidote combines carbon fiber with vectran, a material that's known for its abrasion and puncture resistance - and also its relatively high cost - to create the 205mm travel Lifeline DH frame that you see here. The finished product sports some very unique diamond shaped tubing up front, a matching carbon fiber swing arm, aluminum suspension links that can be anodized in a number of different colours, and it's all joined together with titanium pivot hardware. The 6.6lb frame (without shock) retails for 2,999 EUR, which converts to $3,653.69 USD at today's exchange rate, and another 400 EUR gets you the Cane Creek DBair that you ours came with. Exotic equals expensive, right? Other shock options include BOS and DVO, with pricing for those TBA.
Lifeline DH Details
• Intended use: downhill
• Travel: 205mm
• Wheel size: 26''
• Material: carbon fiber, vectran
• Aluminum links, titanium hardware
• Hub spacing: 150mm
• Bottom bracket: 73mm, threaded
• Head tube: 1.5'', semi-integrated
• ISCG 05 chain guide tabs
• Frame weight: 6.6lb (w/o shock)
• Complete weight: 34lb (custom build)
• MSRP: 2999 EUR (w/o shock)
The Lifeline DH's front triangle is manufactured as a single piece rather than different sections that are cooked up and then bonded together, and Antidote has combined the carbon material with vectran during the process. The result should be tubing that's more resistant to rock strikes than if they had left the vectran out (and likely more expensive
), but it also makes for a lightweight finished product that comes in at just 6.6lb without a shock, an impressive number considering that there are some mid-travel frames out there with similar weights. Weight aside, Antidote is confident enough in the frame's ability to shrug off abuse that you won't even find any of the down tube protection that's pretty much par for the course on carbon downhill bikes these days, although I suspect that some owners might add their own stick-on solutions. And speaking of down tubes, that's where you'll find the Lifeline's cables to be externally routed, which isn't ideal for over-the-tailgate shuttling.
There's a 1.5'' head tube up front, and Antidote has stuck with a threaded 73mm bottom bracket shell rather than going for a pressed-in job, while a set of ISCG 05 chain guide tabs are located on the lower suspension link. The carbon swing arm matches the front end in beauty, and there's both plenty of tire clearance on hand and an international standard brake mount to be found. Given the (good
) decision to stay with a threaded bottom bracket, it's not surprising to see that Antidote has also gone with a 12 x 150mm rear end, complete with their own lightweight aluminum axle, rather than jump up to a 157mm width. A plastic shock guard that's held in place with zip-ties, much like the now common front fenders that you see everywhere, is included with the frame, although it's not pictured here. Given how amazing the frame looks, I feel like there should be some sort of bespoke carbon fender included. The Lifeline DH's Suspension Explained
The 205mm travel Lifeline DH uses Antidote's FDS linkage layout, which is an acronym for 'Floating Damping System'. As the name suggests, the bike's shock is attached to both the upper and lower rocker links rather than bolted to the frame, which isn't a new concept by any means, but it is one that is said to allow for a lighter weight front triangle due to it not needing to deal with having one end of the shock attached to it. With the ability to tweak the pivot locations of both the upper and lower links, it also gives Antidote another variable to play with when it comes to tuning the bike's kinematics to their liking. The two CNC machined 7075 T6 aluminum links are counter-rotating, compressing the shock from both ends rather than the lower link moving away from the upper as found on some other similar looking designs. The bottom link actually rotates concentrically around the bike's threaded bottom bracket, with a massive set of sealed bearings located outside the shell, and a set of ISCG 05 chain guide tabs are found on the drive side of the link that allow the chain guide to move with the bike's travel.
It took a bit to get the Lifeline's rear end close to where I wanted it, with the Cane Creek shock requiring lower air pressure than I would have first assumed, and I therefore found myself backing out the shock's adjusters to avoid an over-damped feel. While there are bikes that come off as being very coil-like with an air shock, the Lifeline isn't one of them. The level of forgiveness on small, fast repeated impacts was just a touch harsher than I would have expected, even when running around 35% sag and with relatively open shock settings settings. It was also hard to use all of the bike's travel, despite running quite a bit of sag, although the flip side is that it swallowed up flat landings and massive impacts like that were nothing more than another bump on the ground. I suspect that it would be a different story had the bike been running a coil-sprung shock that would provide a more linear stroke and possibly a more active ride. It was also very difficult to get at the Cane Creek shock's adjustments, which is something that made the tuning process a bit more frustrating than it should be.
|It just goes forward, plain and simple, with none of that wishy-washy suspension action that usually seems par for the course when travel numbers get this high. |
That supple, active feel might not be there, but the rear end did sit somewhat high in its travel, which allowed the bike to not feel bogged down in its own suspension on faster, smoother trails. This was true even when running the shock too soft in an effort to see what it would take to reach the end of the bike's travel, with the Lifeline being one of the few downhill bikes that doesn't present slow and sloppy handling at such times. While I never felt like I got the back of the Lifeline as active as I should have been able to, I also believe that there are few, if any, downhill bikes that can pedal as well. It just goes forward, plain and simple, with none of that wishy-washy suspension action that usually seems par for the course when travel numbers get this high. And what happens when you get on the brakes? Essentially nothing, as there was no noticeable difference in how the suspension behaved or a change in the bike's attitude. Handling
The Lifeline felt like it was going to be a lot of bike when I first threw a leg over it, but that initial impression turned out to be about as wrong as I could get. There are a number of downhill bikes that have a tendency to lose their shine when you're not wringing their neck or on ground that would make a lot of riders nervous, yet Antidote has managed to inject their 205mm travel machine with enough life that it was a joy to ride in places that it simply shouldn't be. Numbers aside, it can be darted around tight switchbacks with relative ease and without asking too much of the rider, and unlike a lot of long-travel sleds that have had me feeling like I'm leg pressing a small hatchback when I try to put the power down, the Lifeline almost jumps out of the corners. That combination - the speed that the bike can carry through tight corners that double back, and the exceptional pedalling - makes it one of the quicker downhill bikes that I've spent time on when the trail closes up. That impressions was only backed up further when I took two other bikes (GT's Fury and an NS
) down the same trail back-to-back and found that they both took more steering input and body English to get through the same sections, and there was no doubt in my mind that I was slower on them than when I was on the Antidote.
That lively personality makes itself even more obvious when you stop trying to race the clock and instead focus on just having a hell of a good time. This is a bike that loves to go inside and for you to take your foot off and let it slide, and it was pretty obvious after a few runs of being clipped in that I'd be far better off (otherwise known as having more fun
) with a set of platform pedals installed and a disregard for the lifespan on the rear tire. And the manuals! Those who have struggled to keep the front of their downhill bike up in the air for any length of time will feel like a superstar when on the Lifeline. Just in case you haven't gotten the picture yet, the Lifeline poses that rare-for-a-DH-bike attitude that will allow you to have fun in places where riding other downhill bikes can feel like a chore. As far as chassis rigidity goes, I never took note of any unwarranted flex at any point during my time on the bike, which is impressive given the frame's light weight.
Does that Lifeline's frisky ride have it giving up anything when it comes time to put your balls on the handlebar and see how fast you can really go? Not in my books, with it feeling every bit as confident inspiring as a true downhill race bike should. Traction was near endless up front, thanks to the tacky Bontrager G5 rubber and supple Marzocchi fork, and while I could feel the back end moving when things got slippery, it never came around on me. There was also none of the nervousness at speed that sometimes comes from a bike that's so agile, making me think that Antidote have really done well to balance the best of both a bruiser and a nimble package. Technical Report
• You'll be able to read a full review of SRAM's X01 DH drivetrain in the near future, but the gist of it is that it performs exactly how you'd hope a downhill-specific group should. Less gears but the right gears, and less shifting because of that. There's no chain guide pictured on the bike because I chose not to mount one, although the Lifeline does sport ISCG tabs for exactly that, and I didn't drop a chain once. I was impressed with that, but I'd still not recommend forgoing a chain guide, especially if you're paying money to race or spend time in the bike park.
• Bontrager's G5 is among the best downhill tire that I've ever used. Great braking traction, even when leaned over, and their wet weather performance has me recommending them as top notch all-rounders for someone who's looking for a set of do-it-all rubber. Don't expect them to last too long, though, as their predictability comes at the price of durability.
• I used ENVE's 800mm wide DH bar on a shorter-travel bike earlier in the season and found it too stiff and unforgiving in that environment, but it felt ideal on the front of the Antidote. I guess that makes sense given that it's a relatively burly handlebar designed for downhill use. The carbon bar, in combination with the company's carbon fiber Direct Mount 50 stem, made for a cockpit setup that had more than a few onlookers drooling, but it also felt bang-on and gave me no troubles.
• The long awaited review of Marzocchi's 380 C2R2 Titanium will go live next week, but here's the gist of it in the meantime: the new 380 isn't just a viable option when compared to the best from Marzocchi's competitors, it's arguably better when talking about small bump compliance and smoothness, while also offering more adjustments and a coil-sprung feel at a weight that's still extremely competitive. That makes it sound pretty damn good, doesn't it? And it is a top performer, no doubt about it, but the overall feel is still very unique compared to a BoXXer, 40, or anything else out there, and is still very much Marzocchi-esque. That's to say that it's quite active and isn't shy about using its stroke, but downhillers who are after that, and those who aren't afraid of knobs and know what to do with them, are going to love Marzocchi's new 380.Pinkbike's Take:
|Antidote has created a downhill bike with a very unique personality, and unique is probably what a potential Lifeline DH owner will be looking for if they're considering the Polish-made machine. It manages to make some bikes with two inches less travel feel uninspiring, which is quite a feat these days, and it wouldn't take much to have a complete build sitting close to 30lb flat. Exotic is the name of the game with the Antidote, but with a switch to Cane Creek's coil-sprung shock, it also has the performance to back up its unconventional pedigree. - Mike Levy|