First Ride: Bold Unplugged Volume 2

Mar 27, 2019 at 12:16
by Ralf Hauser  


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
www.boldcycles.com
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.

The shock cover can be removed by loosening two bolts.
The shock's three-position damping adjust gets actuated by a remote lever.

Nice detail: the cable support/anti chain-slap guard.
Speaking of guards, keeping the rear end scratch-free.

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.

Cables are organically integrated into the head tube area, no rubbing against the frame at any angle.
The rear will accept a 180mm rotor without adapters.

The frame is prepared for a KS integrated Genesys dropper post.
There's room for up to a 29 x 2.6" tire, or 27.5 x 2.8" widths.

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.

The offset chip for adjusting the geometry is well hidden.
Inconspicuous offset headset bearings can adjust the head angle by up to 1.7 degrees.

Easy to set up sag, thanks to an index on the link.
The Bold's suspension is magnificently compact.

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.

The Volume 2 is a solid climber, even up technical and steep sections.


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:
bigquotesMy initial impressions aboard Bold's new Unplugged were very positive. The selection of parts didn’t leave anything to wish for on the downs, but that kind of build may not suit everyone. If you lean towards XC, adding some skinnier tires, lighter brakes and shifting components (its carbon wheels with tubeless setup were already on the light side), should make it possible to trim the weight of the bike closer to the 13 kg-mark and enhance its overall climbing prowess. That said, Bold's Unplugged Volume 2 was designed with trail and all-mountain pilots in mind and as such, it's sure to be a great all 'rounder with any type of spec.Ralf Hauser







92 Comments

  • + 90
 Hiding the shock inside the frame... It's a bold strategy, Cotton.
  • + 16
 Let's see if it pays off for them.
  • + 88
 Bike mechanics "inner cable routing is a pain in the ass".
Bold guy "hold my beer"
  • + 6
 They should have waiting and premiered this in Las Vegas, A city built of hot sand, broken dreams and $5 lobster
  • + 13
 @zede: Bold my beer Smile
  • + 1
 I would be afraid of crushing my bolds on that huge top tube.
  • + 8
 #rippaulaston
  • + 76
 That bike is so beautiful i'd even consider letting it take a turn on top once and a while
  • + 1
 Mm those curves
  • + 37
 It is a nice looking bike, but I don’t think having the shock visible is a bad thing. Why hide it? I’d rather have the easy access
  • + 23
 Easy access, knob twisting. I 'll just leave that there.
  • + 19
 Also, I don't think shocks look bad at all.. I think they add something cool to the bike
  • + 71
 its so Specialized cant sue what they cant see
  • + 13
 After owning a SB-66 I don't want to ever own a bike with internal components again. The flip side of "protected from the elements" is that its also protected from view. When gunk DOES get in there - and it will, somehow - you won't see it.
  • + 3
 @twozerosix: That 'somehow' will be, I imagine, what's been destroying bottom brackets for the last few decades - the water dribbling down your seat tube and pooling in the BB shell.
  • + 9
 So you fit in better with your friends riding e-mopeds?
  • + 4
 Wait....so it's not a hard tail?
  • + 4
 @mikeyrides I'm with you on this. Good looking bike but I prefer to have the shock visible and easily accessible. Shock adjustments, pressure checking, etc. are all common occurrences so its nice to have the shock right there. Plus shocks are sick looking these days anyway.
  • + 1
 @barbarosza: No it has a Hidden Mount.
  • + 2
 @twozerosix: my SB-66 had the rear chain stay break way before there was a chance of any parts wearing out.
  • + 14
 I am sure it's a pain to adjust/work on the rear shock. However, that is a really good looking bike.
  • + 6
 I agree. I like the small rear triangle, looks aggressive. But I side with others that the more stuff that moves inside the bike, the less I want it. I like Santa Cruz's solution of leaving the rear brake hose external and having the 'cables' internal. That's the best compromise in my opinion.
  • + 2
 @foggnm: the Megatower changes it, brake hose internal...
  • + 1
 Pretty slick indeed
  • + 13
 How many cables did we decide was too many again?
  • + 2
 Three. At least that's what Sram wants us to think
  • + 1
 Sram says 1
  • + 2
 @sspiff: running just a front or just a rear brake?
  • + 1
 @Klainmeister: brakes don't have cables, they have hydraulic housing..
  • + 1
 It's must be 6. Cuz I had 4 and just added a 5th(put 2x back on)
  • + 7
 I have to admit, the amount of adjustability in the frame is an odd contrast to how difficult it is to adjust the shock. I do really appreciate Bold letting riders choose how they want their bike, it really makes it feel more fair for handing over that kind of sum
  • + 11
 Nursing a semi . Not gonna lie
  • + 1
 Ya I like it alot but $3300 for frame and shock.
Also if it would fit a Cc DB inline coil I'd start looking around my house for things to sell.
  • + 6
 If people are going to think I'm on an ebike anyway then I'm just going to buy the new YT. Might as well get an actual boost on the climbs to go along with the trailside scorn.
  • + 3
 likely why they called it the "unplugged"
  • + 4
 Carbon bike in general are just a waste. they were made to be strong yet light. The frame weights with no shock vs an aluminum frame is no shock is 1-1.5 lbs. You can get a higher priced aluminum frame very close to carbon weight. The bike industry is just ripping people off at this point. Same thing goes with carbon rims, they are pretty much a waste in performance gains vs price gain.
  • + 1
 I think people have worked out that carbon rims are a waste of time now, would be interesting to see some tests for ride quality of the same bike in carbon vs ally and actual weight differences, have to say carbon bikes still have it for looks (just) even tho ally frames are looking so good nowdays
  • + 1
 Not really that’s what poor people say!!! Haha carbon has a smoother ride and vibration dampening plus is way stiffer .I’ve had both.aluminum is good ,but carbon is so much better!
  • + 1
 And press for bottom brackets are the worst
  • + 3
 Once I get my suspension dialed I kinda leave it be but I love to play with wheel sizes etc. This alone makes me want the bike. On top of that it's one of the most beautiful bikes Ive seen in a while. Now if only someone could make an e-bike like this where you can pull the batt and the motor together and have best of both worlds....
  • + 1
 That is a stellar idea!
  • + 3
 I’d love to spend some time on one these to see if they ride as good as they look. Confused by review though. With geometry numbers like that and 150mm of rear travel, why does it come across like the bike wouldn’t be suited for bike parks/enduro racing? Lots of shorter travel, steeper, and shorter bikes are consistently raced in the EWS. Is it something about how this one rides that makes it feel less agressive, than a stumpjumper or a sentinel?
  • + 2
 Absolutely beautiful bike. I almost bought one last Autumn, but was a bit put off by the 165mm of travel tied to only a 55mm shock. This new shorter travel version takes care of that (almost wonder if they came to the same conclusion that it was too much leverage). Pretty damn satisfied with the Ransom I ended up getting, but I'm still in love with this bike, would just need to remove the excessive chainstay graphics.
  • + 3
 Seems like you could put the pedal lever somewhere down near the shock and avoid another lever and associated cable on the bars.
  • + 6
 THAT is a beautiful bike
  • + 2
 I'd love to know how much hotter the shock gets on a long descent. Seems like it'd be a big deal. But it also seems like if it was a big deal, they would have had issues before getting this far.
  • + 2
 They’ve got some vents that allegedly handle that
  • + 1
 they tested it, and there was a difference of about 3°C compared to "normal" bikes. They even tested different shocks. next to the holes for the internal cable routing there are more holes which allow airflow through the frame.
  • + 1
 This has to be one of the most interesting bikes I've looked at in quite some time. I'm not sure about the shock but all of the other touches are just awesome. I think it is surprising that the comment section is just not going off about it. I've looked at the pics each at least three or four times and read about the built in geo changes, which most of which we've seen before but never worked to this level of finish. WOW! Pinkbike should be all over this. Need more info.
  • + 1
 Its looks like interesting bike, nicely setup-able and good to muddy GB/Can conditions?
But that dirt catcher on chainstays?! When it fill up with mud and litle rocks, it wil grind off that black paint...
It should be attached on the front triangle and probably be from rubber to move the bottom part with chainstay to seal the bearings... or put there just double sealed enduro angular bearings and greaseport and then u dont need to desight some dirtfenders...
Also what about overheating in summer desert conditions?
  • + 2
 Ebikes trying to look like trail bikes and now trail bikes trying to look like ebikes, my head hurts !! I do like it though
  • + 2
 Reminds me of rc planes where tou have to pull covers off and jam your fingers in a tiny compartment to get at anything, why someone would want that on a mtb beats me..
  • + 1
 I think putting the shock in the frame is脱裤子放屁(doing things without achievements).We can't put a big shock like float x2 inside and it's hard to turn the knob especially people with strong fingers.
  • + 4
 Good looking bike, but Id rather hide the rear derailleur
  • + 1
 funny but sooo true
  • + 2
 My god the writing in this article is painful to read. I know most PBers are interested in content over form but good lord.
  • + 3
 I'm liking this Ralf guy- solid review!
  • + 3
 What's really interesting here: who is Ralf Hauser? Paul, is that you?
  • + 3
 So it weighs the same with the shock as without? Proofread
  • + 2
 Beautiful lines in design. Not quite sure about those remote adjustments. I hate clutter handlebars.
  • + 3
 Beautiful bike, review read like it was put through Google translate.
  • + 2
 Internal shock + gear box
  • + 1
 Beautiful bike but not being able to adjust rebound or air pressure is a big hells no thanks.
  • + 2
 Once they get to Vol 4 I will consider one. Has to be black & yellow
  • + 1
 After reading enough German magazines on Google Translate, I could tell this writer was German after just a few sentences.
  • + 2
 Nice looking rig for a change.
  • + 1
 Super busy cockpit with all those cables, negates the clean hidden shock look imho
  • + 0
 It nice but little too e-bikeish looking thing Wink Hidden shock looks nice but like most of the people I prefere to have outside with easy access.
  • + 1
 Looks amazing!! But not pratical, specially if it is like my monarch debonair that drops some psi every two weeks.
  • + 1
 How would one take out the rear shock for servicing or other stuff like that?
  • + 2
 Bold with the Trust Message, now that would be epic!
  • + 2
 Looks like an e-bike, but doesn't have a motor. Genius!
  • + 1
 Hides the shock, then creates a bird nest of cables up front to compensate. Makes sense.
  • + 2
 This is a pretty Usain looking bike.
  • + 1
 I love the geometry adjustments, anesthetic, and design cues. Well done!
  • + 1
 @nr22 What shirt and shorts is that? Digging the look.
  • + 1
 it's big, it's gorgeous, it's unique. the name is whack.
  • + 1
 What a sweet bicycle! Love the geo options and it looks great too.
  • + 1
 If I'm bald may I use the bold?
  • + 0
 Dt still make forks. Who knew?
  • + 0
 cracked bottom bracket?
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