2010 Knolly Podium DH Bike Review -Part I
In the RAW color, it’s a thing of beauty. The welds are gorgeous and superbly done, fully exposed, displaying it’s craftmaship and toughness. The smooth, matte finished tubing used are juxtaposed by the precise black CNC’ed suspension links. This is distinctively Knolly (and done for all color ways).
This build included a Cane Creek Double Barrel shock and steel spring. The weight is right around to slightly better than the reported weight of 10.5 lbs w/ Fox DHX coil. There’s definitely room for improvement with a future Ti spring upgrade. The 64° head tube angle is based on a 203mm fork measurement. This might vary if you run a Boxxer fork (at 200mm). I compared my Knolly Delirium T and the Podium side by side; and both head angle looked identical. The DT is fitted with a Marzzochi RC3 Ti fork with the frame in the slackest position. So it was no surprise that I got comfortable with the Podium almost immediately.
With DH bikes, low and long is the way to go. Since this is my second Knolly, the Podium feels very familiar, compact without feeling cramped. The suspension linkage works much the same as with all Knollys and stiffness is still there. Despite the bike sitting lower and longer than my DT, it was like I already knew what to expect.
The one noticeable thing that stood out on my first run is the 83mm-width bottom bracket. The additional 10mm widened my stance, which makes it feel a little weird initially. I can only compare this to changing the stance on a snowboard, where a small change in the stance requires some level of body adjustments and inputs to get the board to behave the same. As trivial as this may sound, coming from a 73mm width bike, it’s something that is exaggerated more for me since I’m not blessed with long legs. I wasn’t fixated on this very for long though, as it became insignificant after I got in a few runs. As what I had anticipated in the ride experience would soon become apparent.
The wide stance combined with a lower sitting bike translates to more stability at speed and railing turns with added confidence and stoke. This is the reason why you hear people say, “the bike wants to go fast.” I’ll surmise what this means in this way… basically, I haven’t reached the capacity of what can be thrown at this bike. I’m actually afraid to find out, since I’ve already taken it on a few bombing missions. This bike is a wolf in sheep’s clothing (a tough sheep). When I let off the brakes and cut it loose, I still feel very much in control. The entire bike is working for my benefit. Its stability, travel, damping, stiffness, tracking… all working in unison, delivering one of the quietest and plushest ride I’ve experienced. It makes my DT sound like a Costco bike I’m sorry to say.
I run about 33% sag on the shock, which I would estimate the BB height being roughly 13″ (dry-weight height is 13.9″). When riding, the bike sits low enough to worry about pedal strike with 170mm cranks. With any new bike, there’s an adjustment period, luckily, I’ve quickly learned when and where to ease off the pedals. Potentially, I can see going to 165mm length crank arms where it would be a benefit for some of the sections I roll through — realistically speaking, I doubt I’m missing out on anything because of this. The bike is ridiculously fun!
Frame: Knolly Podium. RAW (small). 213mm travel.
Shock: Cane Creek Double Barrel 9.5 x 3 (350# spring)
Fork: RockShox Boxxer WC 200mm
Crankset: Shimano Saint M815, 36T E13 chainring
Chainguide: MRP chainguide
Pedals: Nuke Proof Proton
Rear Shifter: Shimano Deore XT
Rear Deraileur: Shimano Saint Short Cage
Seatpost: Thompson Elite
Seat: WTB Devo Carbon / Ti
Stem: Hope Integrated Stem and Top crown 50mm
Headset: Cane Creek XXC flush
Handlebar: Sunline V-One 745mm width, 19mm rise
Grips: ODI Ruffian
Brakes: Shimano Saint Brakes. Hope 203 F/R floating rotors
Wheelset: Mavic 823, Chris King Hubs
Casette: Shimano Saint/SLX Cassette 9 Speed HG80
Chain: Shimano XTR
Front Tire: Maxxis Minion DHF ST 26 x 2.5 – Tubeless
Rear Tire: Maxxis Minion DHR ST 26 x 2.5 – Tubeless
Approximate Weight: 38.7 lbs
Coming in under 39 lbs, it is nearly a pound lighter than my Delirium T. I imagine it’ll come in at 38.25 by the time I put a Ti spring on it. The trend seems to point towards this weight range for most DH bikes offered in the past few years. As you can see, this build is not built up with super light parts; so overall, it could easily be replicated with most components and come within a respectable 38.5 – 40 lb range.
I have spent about 2 months on it, with a few big rides. I’ll do a follow up review after 6 months, which should give me enough saddle time to assess it further. There’s just a lot to learn, tweak and experiment when it comes to a DH bike. There’s different settings for the different kinds of terrain I’m riding. I’ve taken this bike to my local trails that are mostly manicured with smooth features where a firm setting is preferred. In contrast, a more gnarly trail like Project X / Hell Razor where there’s all types of conditions, a plush and damper ride is appropriately welcomed.
While some owners are quick to figure out their shock settings; I’m still looking for that magical combination of HSR / HSC turns and LSR / LSC clicks. Luckily, I’m the type of person where once I find that right equation, I just leave it the hell alone. So the search is still on (it’s not a bad thing though, I’m learning how to use my equipment).
The Podium is the second Knolly bike I actively own and ride; if it wasn’t for an already crowded garage, I’d probably want to own the entire fleet. That’s a testament to how well these bikes ride and perform over a long period of time with little maintenance worries. Knolly’s are insanely well built, durable and a blast to ride — and the 2010 Podium is no exception.
Knolly is a small bike company where you can still find friendly, knowledgeable and professional staff. For more information and perspectives, visit the mtbr knolly forum where you can find Noel answering posts. Need more info? Check out the Knollybikes.com or dial em up at (604) 324-6635.
GOOD: Believe the hype. The guys on the North Shore have another winner. For Knolly owners, it’s an instant favorite. It Rides, feels, and looks like the big brother you never had. Except this one exists and you can actually meet him and have him come live with you. Some note worthy goodness:
1) un-interrupted seat tube, you can run a full length one on here
2) beautiful construction and design
3) solid, quiet and stealthy.
BAD: Demand is higher than supply. Not a bad problem for Knolly. Price wise, it’s still up there. It’s hard to find faults with it at this point. I’ll have more to report at a later date.
Reviewed by Qwan Pham