Review: 2023 Bold Unplugged – Tracloc, Hidden Shock, and two smoking barrels

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I love interesting bikes, and this Bold is a very interesting prospect. Can it go well enough to fend off the gimmick doubters? Can it harness the promise of its aggressive geometry and translate that into a bike that truly thrives on downhill? In short, yes, but it’s more complicated than that.

The more you give this bike, and the more you stick forward the bigger your reward. This, for good and bad, will make some people absolutely love it and leave some people in no-man’s-land as they struggle to get enough traction on the front wheel to make it feel positively through the turns.

Its long, blocky geometry excels at higher speeds. In fact, the combination of geometry and suspension that shrugs off big hits means this bike thrives on speed when hit with honest riding style. While quality isn’t off the list and its rear end gives this bike a fair amount of maneuverability for last-minute picks as the trail hurtles toward you, it’s definitely a bike that likes it. She is pushed hard with little regard for her well-being. The suspension does a great job of giving a stable, controlled platform through the roughest trails, which means that even when the bike slams into the depths of a fall or hits rocks, it doesn’t really suffer from propulsion. The suspension also does a great job of smoothing out bottoming really well. These characteristics pair very well with Ohlins mounted at the front of the bike as well.

The bike’s position keeps you balanced and safe as you fall into steeper turns, too. However, the shock that conquers all rudeness could do with being a little more accommodating as you roll through the trash. Suspension is always a trade-off, and this is a system that gives you a lot when you’re going fast and holds up high speed after high, but that means it’s less forgiving when it comes to slow technology. However, each system has its compromises. This is not so much a defect as flavor.

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Turning the bike around, I still felt that this aggressive geometry would do well to balance out a taller rear end. You drop in line, and eventually find yourself loading your inner hand through turns as you try to keep the bike headed where you want it to go. However, sometimes this can be stressful and requires conscious consideration. What you do is intently up to you, and the more scruff of the neck you ride this bike, the more thank you.

On the brakes, you feel completely neutral. In addition, your ability to prepare for the high front with all your might means that it is effective with a calm, silent style. Mass transfer is not pronounced, and it is as if your weight has been handled without a doubt due to trauma.

On the lower bottom bracket setup, which is also a slacker, the story is a little different. First, you feel more inclined to wash the front part. I don’t think this is due to just the weight distribution, but also when you hit the brakes, the lower BB with less weight up front can leave your weight swinging through the cranks and overwhelming the front tire on looser ground. It’s not a big deal, but it’s a contradiction that I’d rather do without. Plus, its setting of 63.6 degrees in High mode is significantly soft for me. Perhaps if I rode on steep trails I’d revisit the Slacker, but on the Squamish I found it preferable both to descend and to climb.

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