What is a Quiver Killer?
The Quiver Killer has become the term used to define… ONE BIKE THAT DOES IT ALL.
Our Criteria when searching for the Quiver Killer:
- Can ride it all over the country XC to DH
- Large suspension that can handle technical sections and brake bumps at high speeds in berms
- Nimble. We want a big travel bike but one that’s just as playful.
- Quality components that are going to perform and be reliable
- Ease of Service. As we travel we need to stay with components that we can get warranty work on or be replaced anywhere.
- Most Importantly…….A Bike that is Fun!
Looking for a New Ride
Kelly and I already had good bikes, both sporting All Mountain Kona’s. If I only biked cross country trails in the SE my Process 134 would have been a great bike; nimble & playful, good amount of travel and not a budget breaker. However we found ourselves needing more bike when riding downhill parks and just some of the rougher and steeper stuff all around the country. Since we can only have 1 bike each, A Quiver Killer was needed!
We started looking at tons of bikes online to see what was out there and noticed right away that 2018 was a redesign year for most companies. The 2018 bikes had all new technology in frame design and a complete new line of products by Sram & Fox. It was actually very exciting. Although, soon we became very overwhelmed by what bike had what on it so we made a spreadsheet!
If you look closely at the spreadsheet below you will see we picked $4,000 as a price range for bikes. To people that don’t ride bikes this seems like a crazy amount of money, to those that ride all the time it seems very middle of the road with bikes easily in the $6,000+ range.
The range of what’s available in mountain bikes today is astonishing. We researched aluminum vs carbon frames, shocks & forks, brakes, droppers, wheels, etc. A common thing we came across was weight or less weight to be exact equals a good bit more money. So, you have to find that balance of quality, reliability and of course performance. With that a carbon frame was the first thing we decided to remove from our choices saving us $1,000+ right there. Now most quality bikes fell into the $4,000 range.
On to the Demo Stage
Next up it’s time to ride the bikes we’ve picked and see which ones we like. This is of course the biggest reason to by a bike (because you like it) and it’s the most fun. First stop was the Pisgah MTB Festival in North Carolina. The terrain ranged from rough to fast and flowy. Here we got a chance to demo the Transition Patrol, Santa Cruz Bronson and Cannondale Jekyll 3 that were in our price range. We also tried the Ibis Mojo HD 4 and the Intense Tracer that were out of our price range but carbon. We were curious if carbon frames rode better and were worth it.
- You could point the Transition Patrol downhill and it would eat anything in it’s way. It also screamed through flowy turns and with the Eagle 50 would climb anything.
- The Ibis Mojo HD 4 and Intense Tracer climbed like rockets. These are carbon and designed with racing in mind. The Tracer was very nimble but just not made for the punishment you could put the Transition Patrol through.
- The Santa Cruz Bronson and Cannondale Jekyll 3 were DOA. Kelly hated both of them as soon as she hit the trail. They rode rough downhill bouncing all overand did not instill confidence.
The clear leader after the festival was the Transition Patrol GX but I hadn’t been able to put it through all my testing criteria that weekend. The trails we happened to ride didn’t have any drops, it was put into the “Needs More Testing” category and the others were cast aside.
Next Up Cyclofest
The following weekend we got to test 3 more bikes on our list. We spent the day before the festival finding a good trail to ride. We came up with a short loop that had some climbing, tight spots, rocky spots, a punchy ditch and a small drop. Nothing to big but good enough to get a preliminary feel.
More Bike Testing
Up this weekend was the Pivot Mach 6, Rocky Mountain Altitude and Norco Range A1.
- The only Norco Range A1 to demo had the Devo Shock which Kelly didn’t care for and she thought it was sluggish climbing compared to the Rocky Mountain Altitude and Transition Patrol.
- The Pivot Mach 6 climbed really well but rode rough and seemed limited in it’s downhill capability compared to the Transition
- The Rocky Mountain stole the show at Cyclofest. Super nimble, lightweight, great climbing.
The terrain wasn’t as rough as we would have liked it so we put the Rocky Mountain Altitude with the Transition Patrol into the “Needs More Testing” category.
The Real Rocky Mountain Demo
We met Brent from Twisted Spokes in Atlanta while at Cyclofest and he arranged for us to really demo the new Rocky Mountain Altitude. There is a small DH Park at the Big Creek Trail System in North Atlanta and Brent and the Rocky Mountain Demo Team met us there.
I knew the Altitude was nimble and fun but what I really wanted to know was……”Does it like it rough!”
I got comfortable on the bike with some small table tops and then proceeded to some smaller drops and jumps as I shredded through the gully. We knocked out about 4 or 5 runs getting a little more comfortable with the bike and pushing it a little more and more each time. On our last run down I decided to take it over to a gnarly rocky section of trail I had yet to ride on the Rocky Mountain Altitude. I had ridden this section on my Process 134 once before and gone slow but now it was time to see if this bike could handle some true gnar. I came in a little faster than I wanted, pumped with adrenaline as the bike had been slaughtering anything I put in its way. It plowed through the steep rough terrain! The bike proved capable, but didn’t instill complete confidence.
Direct Order Bikes
We originally had YT Capra on our spreadsheet to demo, but since they are direct order they were proving difficult to demo.
We heard that warranty issues with YT took a long time so we went to their website and found this: “All bikes sold in the USA and Canada will hold a Warranty and be serviceable from our headquarters in San Clemente, California.” We live on the road and do not always have a spot to ship an item. So, shipping things back and forth to California would not be realistic for us. That’s a week plus any warranty work. While the Capra looked great on paper the difficulty of demoing, buying and servicing while living on the road full-time made it not an option for us.
DECISION TIME – Sedona March 2018
This was it. It was our last testing grounds and we were ready to make a decision and get new bikes! The Kona Process 153 and the Transition Patrol GX were the only bikes to finish demoing.
We arrived 2 hours before the festival opened and still weren’t first in line! When the gates opened we quickly made our way (ran) to the Transition booth near the front. Quickly there were 10+ people behind me waiting to get a bike. Kelly had grabbed a Rocky Mountain at the booth directly across so they could be tested back to back on the same features.
Shredding the Red Rock
We had scouted the bike trails the day before to make sure we had a place to put the bikes through the tests we wanted and Grand Central worked just fine. We sessioned a few small drops and climbs rotating bikes. Then I opened up the Transition and it just flew through the terrain. My concerns of how easily I could get it airborne and control disappeared as I flew off drops and around corners. I even bunny hopped it going uphill over a log with ease. Kelly said it looked like the bike just flew into the air.
The Transition Patrol with a slightly longer wheelbase provided a bit more stability than the Rocky Mountain Altitude and the increased travel let us plow through chunky sections with ease and confidence.
It’s Kona Time
My last two bikes had been Kona’s and I had heard nothing but good news about their new 153 models. I ended up demoing their Process 153 CR 27.5 and the Process 153 AL / DL 29. I demoed the 29er first as the 27.5 was out. Unfortunately I have nothing good to say about the 29er. I thought it was heavy and no fun to ride. Kelly even said the back wheel just dropped off the drops I was hitting, I couldn’t get it off the ground. I tried so hard preloading once my foot came off one side and I almost wrecked. It also didn’t climb any better being a 29er. I noticed on the road (heading to the trail) that it rolled a little quicker like a 29 should but that’s it. I almost didn’t demo the 27.5 because the rep said “it’s the same bike, geometry, etc just different wheel size”
Anyways I’m glad I did ride the Kona Process 153 CR 27.5 because it was nothing like the 29 model. The bike was nimble, responsive, and flew through the air like I expected it to. The downside was that Kona had built and priced their bikes in the middle of everyone else’s builds. What I mean is the Process 153 27.5 AL/DL is $3599 but comes with a lower quality fork and rear shock than both the Rocky Mountain or Transition. Suspension is one of the most important things in a big travel full suspension bike. We also didn’t want a carbon frame. The Carbon Process 153 27.5 comes with the upgraded Lyric Fork but still keeps the same rear shock and comes in at $4,799!
Is there Really a 2018 Quiver Killer?
The Answer is YES and it’s the 2018 Transition Patrol GX !
Transition Patrol GX – $3,999
This is a confidence building machine that can tackle the toughest and steepest terrain while still being playful, very playful. Dollar for Dollar, Feature for Feature this bike simply outperformed every other bike in every category we were testing. We loved the bike, the demo experience, the employees, and everything Transition represents. We are beyond excited to get our bikes!
If you’re looking for an X01 drivetrain or a Fox Fork the X01 Build comes in at $4,999 and delivers both!