Chumba XCLenté

Chumba XCL Frame Review

Why review a frame from 2008 I thought to myself…

Easy. Having spent nearly 2 years in the saddle and on my 3rd iteration of the bike, I felt like I can get into the details on how this bike has held up and how it has evolved in that time. Plus, the 2010 model has remained virtually unchanged.

Chumba XCL. Black Ano.

Chumba XCL. Black Ano.

First off, The Chumba XCL is a trail bike and not a cross country lightweight. The “XC” in the name might throw you into thinking it’s a Cross Country bike, but weighing in at just a tad over 6 lbs (sans shock) it probably won’t turn a lot of heads with the weight-weenie crowds. If you really try, you can get this bike down to a very respectable weight.

As a trail bike though, you’d be hard pressed to find one as durable, versatile and just plain tough as this. Generally speaking, the tradeoff you make with weight, you gain in responsiveness and shredability.

When I first built the XCL up, I mostly rode aggressive single track mixed with technical descents and climbs.

Chumba XCL - Trail Build.

First Iteration. Original Trail build.

1st Iteration:
Frame: Chumba XCL Black Ano (small) w/ Fox RP23 shock
Fork: Fox Float 140mm, rebound and lockout
Crankset: Shimano Deore XT 175mm
Pedals: Time Atac Ti clip-ins
Shifters: Shimano Deore XT F/R
Front Deraileur: Shimano Deore XT
Rear Deraileur: Shimano Deore XT Shadow
Seatpost: Thompson Elite
Seat: Chumba Racing
Clamp: Chumba Racing
Stem: Thompson Elite X4 70mm
Headset: Cane Creek
Handlebar: Gravity Light Carbon
Grips: Chumba Racing lock-on
Brakes: Avid Juicy 7’s 180F/160R
Wheelset: Stan’s Flow, Hope Pro II with Hope skewers, DT swiss black spokes, blue aluminum nipples
Casette: Shimano XT 11 – 34T
Chain: Shimano XTR
Tires: Maxxis Larsen TT 26 x 2.0 – Tubeless
Approximate weight: 26 lbs.

Built up, the XCL looks like a beast and is designed to take a beating. When looking at how it’s fabricated, from the bigger tubes used, to the front reinforcement plates, down to the beefy welds, you can begin to appreciate the DH racing lineage (where Chumba has it’s origins). The design is honest and straight-forward. Simple, functional and sexy in its own right. It’s a Corvette amongst Porsche’s and BMWs.

SO HOW’S IT RIDE?

COCKPIT FIT
With a head tube angle of 68° and a seat tube of 72.5°, the XCL is stable and predictable; with a top tube length of 22.5” in a small, it feels open and aggressive – perhaps a smidge long for my preference, but not a biggie since it’s easy to get comfortable with the bike.

CLIMBING
This bike wants to wheelie on some of the steeper climbs because of the slacker geo. An adjustable travel fork would give you the option of dropping the front end down if you’re doing extended climbs. This would compensate for the slackness and make it a more comfortable ride up. If you live for the descents (and climbing is a necessary evil), then this bike should be high on your list. It will make every revolution of the cranks up the hill worth it when you come screaming back down.

DESCENDING
There’s a reason for the beefiness on this bike. As soon as you point this bike down the trail, you will begin to appreciate why the bike was built the way it was built. It loves the descents. It’s predictable and tracks well with a solid feel. The rear end is stiff, working seemlessly with the horst link and shock. There’s not much (if any) lateral movement, so it can get into some tricky off cambers without the fear of getting out of control.

HANDLING & PERFORMANCE
This being my first bike, the more I rode, the more my interest in trails and style of riding evolved. After riding on the bike for about 7 months without changing a thing, I came across some mini ladders that I had to hit. They ranged from 3-5 ft high. The landings were flat and just followed the grade of the trail. I was loving these ladders for a dozen rides until I started releasing from my pedals in the air. Tightening the tension didn’t seem to help and tightening them too much was just unsafe. To make it more safe, it was time to ditch the clipped in pedals and go to flats. The biggest trade off was going to be the climbing performance. At first, it was noticeably more difficult to climb as swiftly, but I figure being safe was a good thing and I’d just have to grow some new muscles.

Second Iteration. Heavy Trail Bike. Maintaining factory geometry.

2nd Iteration:
Frame: Chumba XCL Black Ano (small) w/ Fox RP23 shock
Fork: Fox Float 140mm, rebound and lockout
Crankset: Shimano Deore XT 175mm
Pedals: Sun Ringle CNC Octane Mag Pedals
Shifters: Shimano Deore XT F/R
Front Deraileur: Shimano Deore XT
Rear Deraileur: Shimano Deore XT Shadow
Seatpost: Thompson Elite
Seat: Chumba Racing
Clamp: Chumba Racing
Stem: Chromag 50mm
Headset: Cane Creek
Handlebar: Gravity Light Carbon
Grips: ODI Ruffian MX
Brakes: Avid Juicy 7’s 180F/160R
Wheelset: Stan’s Flow, Hope Pro II with Hope skewers, DT swiss black spokes, blue aluminum nipples
Casette: Shimano XT 11 – 34T
Chain: Shimano XTR
Tires: Kenda Nevegal DTC 26 x 2.35 – Tubeless
Approximate Weight: 27.5 lbs

With this new setup, the bike felt more compact with the 50mm stem; I wasn’t feeling like I was riding over the front tire as much on descents.  The flat pedals provided a bigger platform to stand on and the bike was more stable for jumping. Going to bigger tires, I could be more aggressive on lines I had done before. It did feel like a different bike so-to-speak but one that still felt like an old friend. I loved this new setup so much, I kept it like this for a little more than a year.

The redeeming quality of this bike is its responsiveness on twisty single track and berms as well as being able to take jumps and drops. Coming from a BMX background, I started to explore more of what this bike could do. So when the opportunity presented itself (through a few upgrades from another bike), I once again changed up the bike and evolved it into a light freerider. And WOW, what a great decision that was.

Chumba XCL. Third Iteration. Fox 36 Talas. Slacker HTA.

3rd Iteration:
Frame: Chumba XCL Black Ano (small) w/ Fox RP23 shock
Fork: Fox 36 Talas, 160mm RC2
Crankset: Shimano Deore XT 175mm
Pedals: NC17 Suds Pin III Pedals
Shifters: Shimano Deore XT F/R
Front Deraileur: Shimano XTR
Rear Deraileur: Shimano Deore XT Shadow
Seatpost: Thompson Elite
Seat: WTB Devo Carbon / Ti
Clamp: Chumba Racing
Stem: Chromag 50mm
Headset: Cane Creek
Handlebar: Gravity Light Carbon
Grips: ODI Ruffian MX
Brakes: Avid Juicy 7’s 180F/180R
Wheelset: DT Swiss EX5.1, 240S hubs 20mm, 135 x 10mm TA.
Casette: Shimano XT 11 – 34T
Chain: Shimano XTR
Tires: Maxxis Minion DHF/DHR Single ply 26 x 2.35 – Tubeless
Approximate Weight: 29.0+/- lbs

Chumba Trail Riding

It's a fantastic ride. You'll be grinning too.

I only have about a dozen rides with this setup for the past 2 months. With the Talas travel adjust (100/130/160), it’s like having 2 bikes in one. At the 130mm setting, I’m still able to do some of the longer climbs without noticing any performance degradation. For general riding, single tracks, twisty trails, rocky trails and descents, I ride it at 160 fulltime and LOVE IT.

I’ve taken it out to jump trails and it’s a blast to ride. It’s flickable and light under foot. Its predictable and just as peppy with the slacker angle. Coming out of turns, it’s easy to get cranking and power into the next obstacle. With the beefier Fox 36 and 20mm TA, the front is noticeably stiffer and more confidence inspiring. It handles the g-outs with ease where my old Fox 32 (w/ traditional QR) flexed like a ski.

All this new found goodness comes with only one minor thing I must deal with next – which is a new rear shock. Having ridden this bike enough, the Fox RP23 has met it’s limit. This will be my next upgrade and should round the bike out nicely. I plan to do an addendum review once I get a little more time with the new shock.

Having nearly 2 years on this bike in all its iterations, I’m impressed with its versatility, handling prowess and toughness. It’s definitely a fun bike and if it had to be your one “do-it-all” bike, you could feel assured that it can work and grow with you for years to come. Chumba is a small company with great customer service, you can find them at chumbaracing.com or call them directly with questions 714.986.9100.

GOOD: Quality build, affordable price point, burliness, handling characteristics, tough and versatility (which in my case is an understatement).

BAD: Not a lot here. At about a year, I broke the drive side pivot bolt which was replaced for free by Chumba and I haven’t had a problem since then. The linkage bearings are all doing fine and may need to be replaced as the life on them is roughly 2 years.

Reviewed by Qwan Pham

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