My 2014 Banshee Spitfire

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Riding my 2014 Banshee Spitfire at Post Canyon in Hood River, OR

VitalMTB Review – http://www.vitalmtb.com/photos/features/Tested-Banshee-Spitfire-V2,5572/Tested-Banshee-Spitfire-V2,55266/bturman,109

NSMB Review – http://www.nsmb.com/2013-banshee-spitfire-reviewed/

MTBR forum dedicated to the Banshee Spitfire:

http://forums.mtbr.com/banshee-bikes/2013-spitfire-802889.html

My 2014 Spitfire Build

The 2014 Banshee Spt.  In the slack mode after a great ride at syncline near Hood River, Oregon.

The 2014 Banshee Spitfire. In the slack mode after a great ride at Syncline near Hood River, Oregon.  Before the 2013 season started I was in the market for a new trail/all mountain bike.  I had two criteria.  I wanted it to climb well and also jump well.  These are two traits in bikes that rarely overlap.  Usually the geometry and suspension design that are characteristic of a great jumping bike are the opposite for that of a great climbing bike.  Despite this, I new that there would be a bike out there that could do both.   I was also willing to sacrifice a bit of climbing ability for a great descending/jumping bike, however I regularly do 5000+ feet of ascending on trail rides so the bike had to be adequate for being in the saddle all day.  After searching and test riding bikes, my decision was between a Knolly Endorphin and the Banshee Spitfire.  After more research I decided to go with the Spitfire due to its, in my opinion, better rear suspension design.  After riding several new big name brand bikes in the same category as the Spitfire, I noticed that virtually all of them felt sketchy during high speed technical descents.  The lack of lateral stiffness in the rear linkage designs would cause the bikes to veer off course of where I wanted the bike to go.  Banshee’s patented internally ribbed chain stays, combined with the short links in the KS rear linkage design, keep the rear end from flexing laterally.  This keeps the rear wheel straight and the bike going in the direction the rider wants it to go.  This characteristic inspires confidence on hairy descents and sometimes sketchy jump landings.  Ever get a little cockeyed in the air off of a big jump?  If you have a solid frame/wheel set underneath you, the bike will be able to handle the off axis landing without sending you off the trail.  This is because the engineer at Banshee isn’t willing to sacrifice rear linkage stiffness for weight savings like some other brands.  I love this about Banshee.  Despite the fact that super light frame weights are enticing to some/most riders, Banshee isn’t willing to sacrifice the performance hit even if it cannot be quantified and marketed to the masses.  In my opinion that is what sets Banshee apart from many other bike brands.  They invest in what truly matters.

SRAM 10 spd 1050 cassette modded to fit a 42 tooth OneUp Components cog.  Matched with a medium cage X7 rear derailleur.  Awesome setup minus the x7 type two rear derailleur.  I went through three of these in one month.  The cages kept getting stuck open after riding in a lower gear.  I eventually swapped the medium cage type 2 x7 for a short cage type 2 x9.  The X9 works beautifully.  Its amazing that a short cage covers the entire 11-42 gear range.  STOKED!

SRAM 10 spd 1050 cassette modded to fit a 42 tooth OneUp Components cog. Matched with a medium cage X7 rear derailleur. Awesome setup minus the x7 type two rear derailleur. I went through three of these in one month. The cages kept getting stuck open after riding in a lower gear. I eventually swapped the medium cage type two x7 for a short cage type two x9. The X9 works beautifully. Its amazing that a short cage covers the entire 11-42 gear range. STOKED!

Another shot of the Industry Nine 26" Enduro rear wheel.  Check out those thick spokes!

Another shot of the Industry Nine 27.5″ Enduro rear wheel.  These wheels are light and burly.  The oversized 2.7mm aluminum spokes and wide profile rims result in a super stiff wheel design.  In fact, I tend to run a slightly lower spoke tension to allow a bit more flex in the wheels.   This is unique in that most of the time people are doing everything they can to stiffen their wheel setup.  I’ve put over 100,000 feet of descending on these wheels and they are still as true as the day I started riding them.  The Torch hubs have 120 points of engagement so little is lost when getting on the gas in quirky technical sections or out of corners.  The wheelset came with spare spokes, even though i have yet to break one yet!  The total weight is 1680 grams (front and rear).  That is very light, especially for how stiff these wheels are!

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This year I’m on a Fox 34 Float. The Rock Shox Pike seems to be all the hype this year. I have yet to ride the new Pike but from what my friends say it is a great fork. That said, despite the new plastic internals of the Charger damper inside the bike, Fox suspension products are simply a higher quality product. Their machining tolerances are tighter, therefore their products tend to maintain their high level of performance (when maintained properly) for a longer period of time. Personally, when choosing between Rock Shox and Fox for suspension it is simply a matter of how much time you want to put into tuning your suspension. For a more out of the box set it and forget it solution someone might want to  go with a Pike. If you want the ability to easily tune your suspension to match your riding style and achieve optimum performance like I do, then I would choose a Fox.  2015 Fox 34

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This year I decided to go with the Race Face AEffect saddle.  I was stuck between that and the Race Face Atlas saddle.  I chose the AEffect because I thought it would be a bit more comfortable on long days of racing.  Despite the downhill nature of enduro racing, you end up doing ours of sit down pedaling and this seat is very comfortable with sacrificing much, if any, of a weight penalty.

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The Fox Suspension Float X rear shock!  I love this thing!  After throwing in the second biggest volume reducer, this shock is perfect.  Another great example at how easy it is to custom tune a Fox Suspension product to perfectly match your riding style.  I have great mid travel support and it is very supple.  I ride with a remote lockout and switch between climb, trail and descend mode several times per ride.  During race runs I even quickly switch to climb mode for quick sub 10 second climbs.  I feel I save a significant amount of energy and can climb significantly faster than those without the ability to switch to a climb mode.  Where this shock really shines though are in gnarly descents.  The true four bar design of Banshee’s KS link combined with the Float X CTD gives me that bottomless travel feel when charging through chundery rock and root gardens.

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The Race Face Next SL cranks.  These cranks sell themselves.  The lightest production crankset on the market (road or mountian bike) and they are strong!  Going from my old XT cranks and chain guide/bashguard to the Race Face direct mount narrow wide chain ring and the Next SL cranks I dropped well over a pound off of my bike with arguably a significant increase in performance.  I am also really stoked on the Race Face Cinch BSA 30 bottom bracket that I paired with the cranks.  I have put over 200 miles and 70,000 vertical feet on this setup and it is still pedaling smooth (and those were early season wet mud miles!)

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XT Brakes.  Can’t go wrong.  I’d say if you want to hit the minimum price point for maximum performance you could even order the Shimano SLX brakes.  From my experience I have always been happy with the XT lineup.  These brakes come out of the box dialed, and i haven’t bled them for over 50 hours of riding.

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Race Face 35mm diameter and 20cm rise Atlas Bars and Strafe Lock on grips.  I’ve cut my bars to a 735mm width.  This a bit narrower than many people are riding these days.  However, I feel that I haven’t lost any stability compared to when they were at about 780mm.  I was getting some minor wrist pain earlier in the season.  After cutting my bars a bit the wrist pain has been minimized.  I really dig the fat Strafe Lock on grips.  They are larger diameter than most grips.  They have lasted with minimal wear and offer great grip.  However,  I think my preference is with a normal diameter grip.  I will be switching to some Sniper Lock on grips.

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