In a time, where a significant number of bikes from different companies optically don’t differ too much from one another, Bold’s Unplugged is a sight for sore eyes. With its rear shock fully hidden within the frame, all that remains are sleek curvy lines of carbon tubes and a small inconspicuous linkage behind the seat stay.
Having introduced the Unplugged Volume 1 at the end of last season, Bold is now launching the Unplugged Volume 2, a trail or all-mountain machine with 150 mm of rear-wheel travel. As there still remain enough differences in suspension and geometry of the Unplugged Volume 2 to the Linkin Trail or Linkin Trail LT, those models still remain a part of the lineup as of now.
The Swiss company’s bikes are sold directly online through their website boldcycles.com and are
Unplugged Volume 2 Details
• Intended use: trail / all-mountain
• Wheel size: 29", 27.5" or 27.5+
• Rear-wheel travel: 150mm
• Carbon frame
• 64.1°-66.9° head angle
• 432mm-443mm chainstays
• Frame weight ( w/shock): 2.680g
• 12 x 148mm rear spacing
• Sizes: S-L
• Price: $4,790 to $9,030 USD (€4,200-€8,865)
• Weight: 13.6 kg (w/o pedals)
• Colors: Stealth black, Alpine blue
shipping worldwide. The Volume 2 is already available for order at this point. We were able to ride the new Unplugged Volume 2 for a few weeks before the actual launch date to get a good idea of what the bike is about. As our test model was one of the first frames available, its blue highlight color will receive a slightly different shade in final production. A Stealth black version is also available.Frame Details
Similarities to the 165 mm travel Unplugged Volume 1 are not coincidental, as the main triangle of the Volume 2 is sharing the same frame mold, but implementing a different carbon layup to save some weight. Also, the linkage is more compact and the chainstays, a tad shorter. In the end, the full carbon frame, made from Japanese Toray strands and built using the latest production technology, saves 90 grams over the Volume 1. It hits the scales at 2,680 grams without a shock.
Thanks to the Internal Suspension Technology (ISP), with the shock hidden away entirely inside the frame, protection from the elements is second to none. It should result in longer than usual lifespans for all parts, especially the seals. The frame can also house smaller shocks with external reservoirs, like the RockShox Super Deluxe RT - that, and the DT Swiss R 535 are optional shocks that the bike can be equipped with.
The shock can be accessed by removing a cover at the lower side of the down tube. The cover also protects from debris whirled up from the front wheel. It is held in place by two special bolts that, theoretically, can be unscrewed by hand, but due to the flatter head of the top bolt, it proved necessary to use an Allen key to securely tighten or easily remove that fitting.
From a mechanic's point of view (as anyone can imagine), it takes extra effort to remove and insert the shock from its encasement inside the seat dome and the first time you do it, some swearing might or might not be involved. A removable cover at the side of the seat dome gives access to the top shock mount.
Even changing the air pressure or settings of the shock requires removing the shock cover on the down tube. But, considering that once the setup is complete, you’ll seldom or never touch those settings again (unless you’re a racer or constant tinkerer). So, while those factors can be neglected, accessing the pedaling platform lever of a high-end shock is out of the question without a remote control. Ergo, if that feature is important to you - which to most people it will be - there’s no way around running an extra lever on your handlebar. Of course, the internal cable routing for remotely accessing the shock is in place.
Bold has prepared the Unplugged frames to work with the KS integrated Genesys dropper seatpost system. Over the past months, Bold has been closely working with them on prototypes to perfect the overall function and the system should become available this summer. A Race Face model for this system will also be available.Geometry
Luckily, the Volume 2 features the same geometry adjust system as the Volume 1 does. Well-hidden geometry chips, dubbed Variotec, are located at each dropout pivot. Two different offset chips allow for 4 setups to change the frame angles as well as the bottom bracket height, chainstay length (432 to 443 mm) and wheelbase. Most of all though, the so-called settings of level 1 and level 2 are recommended for 29” wheels, while level 3 and 4 cater to 27.5” hoops, consequently, giving you the option to set up your ride according to your definition of which wheel size is best, without compromise. In detail, suspension travel between the level 1 setting and level 4 setting also changes slightly (from 147 to 150 mm in 1 mm steps), but you’ll be hard-pressed to notice a big difference in that regard.
The headset features Newmen’s Double-Spin offset bearings and (depending on the dropout chips used) varies the head angle between 1.6 and 1.7 degrees. There is also an option now to drop in a bearing with zero offset, adding yet another option to match your fancy.
Depending on tire choice, and since by adjusting the head angle independently, all angles still get slightly affected, it is possible to play with the geometry chips beyond the recommendations for wheel sizes to further trim the bike’s handling.Specifications
There are numerous options for almost all components to pick from, which can be configured online, and you also can purchase the frameset only. Prices for a full build start at 4,200 euros and go all the way up to 8,865 euros ($4,790 to $9,030 USD).
Aside from DT Swiss' 535 suspension, there are builds with RockShox options including a Super Deluxe RT shock, as well as the Fox 36 Float Factory GRIP2 fork (with 44mm offset and 150 mm of travel) or the 36 Float Factory FIT4 (with 51 mm offset and 150 or 160 mm of travel).
I chose to equip the bike with DT Swiss’ latest all-mountain-ready suspension. The R 535 One shock features a large negative air chamber with a three-position on-the-fly compression setting. Up front, the F 535 One fork comes with position-sensitive damping, a mix of coil (during the first 30 mm of travel) and air to individually control beginning, mid- and end-stroke travel.
The forward drive of my test rig, with a weight of 13.6 kg without pedals, wasn’t spectacular. That was probably due to a component pick that catered more to the descending portions of my rides rather than the uphills, but the Volume 2 is a great climber. With its front end solidly sticking to the ground, the real highlight stems from its steep seat angle. I tend to crawl towards the front of the seat or at least move around constantly on bikes with slacker seat angles, looking for the most efficient pedaling position. With about 77 degrees of steep goodness, my position on the Volume 2 felt more than solid to put the power down and it kept me happily planted in the sweet spot on the saddle.
Having the shock tucked away inside the frame made it necessary to run a handlebar remote to actuate suspension modes. While that cluttered the cockpit somewhat (especially with the DT Swiss setup, that had cables which locked out both fork and shock), at least l never had to take my hand off the bars to switch between settings.
Most of the time, however, I didn’t feel the need to run the shock other than its Open mode. With DT Swiss’ F 535 One fork and shock tracking the ground nicely, the Volume 2 efficiently covered ground over all kinds of obstacles without the suspension giving the impression of dipping into the travel unnecessarily. Even in fully open mode, it was hard to notice any pedal-induced movement from the rear end while being seated. The arrangement of linkages seem to do the trick, as I’m used to seeing more bob from bikes with a Horst Link type rear dropouts. Kudos.
Ultimately, the Volume 2 doesn’t feel like a couch on wheels, which matches the needs of an all-mountain bike admirably. In the same accord, only when trying to push hard for the top of the mountain, mashing the pedals out of the saddle, or on smooth fire road climbs, did it feel worthwhile to tap the handlebar remote to actuate the so-called Drive or Lockout modes.
As soon as speeds pick up, the suspension really comes alive. It stays glued to the ground when you want it to. As a matter of fact, the harder you seem to push, the more capable the bike appears, putting a grin on your face in situations where other bikes would induce the gritting of teeth. The big-hit-performance of the F 535 fork is commendable, and the rear end follows in style, although, if I had the choice, I still wouldn’t put its performance above the function of Fox’s GRIP2 damper at the moment, and would suggest ordering order the bike with one of those forks.
At times it feels like the 150 mm of travel with 29" wheels are more capable of taking the bite out of rough trails, than the numbers suggest. I appreciate an abundance of travel, but I have a feeling that this bike might even show up at one or the other Enduro event or brutal trails around the world. I for one never had the feeling that I was limited in my choice of trail due to the general categorization of the bike and took it down all the paths that I’m used to ride on my bigger bike, without ever feeling out of control.
Having ridden an early version of the longer-travel Unplugged Volume 1 a few months ago, and having commented on its linear suspension curve, the Volume 2 doesn’t share that trait in the same way. Bold has added progression to the suspension linkage setup, compared to the Unplugged Volume 1, and it's a good decision. I have to admit that I was running the Volume 1 in a bikepark environment with certain stunts that weren’t part of my runs with the Volume 2 (and probably shouldn’t be), but even hitting some decent-sized drops with the latest model and using all the travel didn’t result in harsh bottom-outs that would throw you off track.
If a very high level of progression is important to you, opting for the RockShox Super Deluxe shock with extra tokens (Bold will send extra tokens with your order) might be the way to go. After playing around with different setups for sag, I settled on 35-percent for a nice mix of comfort and bottom-out resistance for bigger hits. Pushing it out towards 30 percent will probably please followers who are looking for a more cross-country-oriented feel (or extra support to hammer down trails like a maniac),
Those worried, that the unique design may be affecting the suspension in a negative way can be rest assured that the Unplugged can keep up with the best. will the shock be affected by higher temperatures on long-lasting descents, due to a lack of cooling air flow? I can’t answer at that, but with the elaborate damping system technologies of today, I have a hard time imagining, that it would. Is Adjustable Geometry for You?
Next to a solid suspension, overall performance heavily relies on a geometry you can trust, and in that regard, Bold’s Unplugged series is probably one of the better options on the market. With the possibility to run 27.5”, 27.5+ or 29” wheels, then fine-tune the angles with the chips at the rear end and then make adjustments to the head angle, it’s not about what Bold thinks geometry should look like, but what you
want geometry to look like. There are, however, only three reach settings to chose from, due to the limited size range.
Having run the setup with 29” wheels and Maxxis High Roller II 2.5” tires - as well as the slack head angle setting most of the time - throwing the bike into corners was a blast, picking up speed wherever possible. The low standover height offers plenty of leg room for leaning the bike over and helps to actively balance your body.
One of the very few drawdowns however, (which will only affect smaller people), is the limited room inside the seat tube to run longer dropper seatposts. I’m used to sporting a 150 mm drop and will soon be able to jump to 170 mm on my new ride. With the Unplugged Volume 2, however, only a 125 mm version seemed to be the maximum I could use.
Due to the better acceleration and higher playfulness of 27.5” wheels I’d probably still lean towards running the bike with the smaller wheels. I can’t deny the appeal of the bike’s added stability and grip in the rough with 29” wheels, but that decision ultimately comes down to personal preference and it’s great that Bold’s Unplugged series allows for both, without compromise.
Flipping the offset bearings to the steeper setting was quite noticeable. Not everyone is looking for the slackest ride out there, so the chips are also a great way to trim the Volume 2 from a speed demon to a nimbler breed of bike.First Impressions: