My reasons to switch to Knolly Warden – In Depth Review

"I wanted a bike that could fill all my needs"

Knolly Warden

Today, I want to introduce my bike to you guys and also give you a little insight on my passion riding mountain bikes. First things first i would like to introduce myself. My name is Marc and i’ve been riding mountainbikes for more than 8 years now. 
My first contact with the two-wheeled machines was, when my parents bought me a BMX bike, with which I started jumping and riding on trails. After some time, I started riding downhill for a view years.

Today, my main emphasis still is riding my bike towards the valley down the hills and mountains here in southern Germany, but also all around the world. But without climbing fireroads and trails, it can get difficult finding the best trails, so you need a bike that can do it all.

Me and my Warden...
... in our natural habitant

If you are looking for a bike which can fill all your needs, it can get a little bit challenging. Especially when you always look for something a little extravagant.

For sure, i could have just chosen a bike by a Consumer-Direct Brand. But when you buy a new bike, you always get some components, which actually do not really fit the other specs or maybe even do not have the performance you are looking for. (just my opinion)

As I was browsing around not really being able to find what i was looking for, I chose the in my opinion best option. I built it up by myself. Sure, it is more complicated and also in some cases more expensive, but in my position it was the best solution.

Well. So here we go. I will now further introduce my bike to you guys and explain, why I chose the parts you can see in the following pictures.

The Frame:

It is the bike’s main part and has the most influences on how it rides. It also has to fit you according to your body dimensions so you can ride it all day long without having any pain issues. It also has to satisfy your needs in geometry and the terrain you are moving your bike. 

Even with the same geometry two frames can feel very different when riding due to different suspension feeling. Every company has their own philosophies and you have to find one that you believe and trust in in every situation.

For me and my playful riding style, I need a frame that is like that. I like playing with the trail and have fun and airtime as much as possible, not always needing high speed stability. That’s why I was looking for a frame with around 150mm rear travel, a modern reach which is not as long as for example pole bicycles, short snappy chainstays like on a Santa Cruz bike but also a geometry, which i can ride very actively or on which i sometimes can just chill in the back riding over rough terrain and rock gardens. The best possibility was to try out some different frames by asking friends and people in bike parks, if i can just try it out on the parking lot. And also, through trying different geometries and different frames, I got closer to what i really want.

After trying bike from Santa Cruz and Evil Bikes, I came across Knolly bikes, a small company straight outta Vancouver, the hometown of freeriding. The Warden had the travel I was looking for. And also the geometry fit all my needs. Furthermore i liked the easy specs as a threaded BB. It has two geometry options which is perfect if you are switching from tour to rocking bike parks all the time.

And that’s it. I chose the medium seize because i like my bike a bit shorter so it’s even more playful.

The Suspension:

When it comes to suspension, everybody has their own perception on how it should feel. Some people, especially Racers like it pretty firm. Others are looking for a really plush suspension to get the most comfort out of it. I am more the in the second group. As you guys know, my main intention is not to chase after seconds, but enjoy the ride as much as possible. For that, i like my suspension pretty plush, but with enough counterhold and pop. I am a pretty light rider, so maybe that’s why I often not really get happy with the setup no matter how I adjusted it. So for me tuning is a very important part.

Rock Shox Pike 27,5" with 160mm travel...
... and Anyrace Goldenride Tuning

The Rock Shox Pike is a really good fork. But I always felt like it could still be better. So I informed myself and found a tuner called Anyrace Suspension in which I could really believe. He is a local and explained exactly what his intentions are about damping and how it should work. The cartridge is built to give much support for my playful riding style, but has an additional shim stack through which the oil can flow while riding over brake bumps and rock gardens. So there comes the comfort from. The cartridge is called Anyrace Golden Ride  and I have been riding it for two years now. Through the season i tried some different forks but my custom one still does an excellent job for my style of riding.

To find the right shock was a little more difficult. I tried many through the last years like the Rock Shox Monach Plus, but also coil shocks like the Fast Suspension Holy Grail. They were both good, but the Rock Shox did not give me all the adjustments i was looking for, and the Holy Grail was just too plush for riding playful or too racey.  Today, I ended up with the Fox DPX2 and I really like it. You can juggle around a little more with the setup without it being too complex in terms of adjustments.

I am still searching for the perfect setup but already being pretty happy with it, I think it will stay in there for longer.

The Fox DPX2 Factory Kashima

The Drivetrain:

For the gear, i chose to go with sram 11 speed. When i built up the bike, 11 speed was fresh on the market and the non plus ultra. The 1x has many many plus points compared to others when it comes to trailriding. It is lighter, more intuitive, and even in rough sections the chain stays on it without necessarily using a chain guide. Furthermore, it nearly gives you the same range as conservative systems. 

Today, i think a little bit different about this topic. But actually, i am still pretty happy with it. I chose the sram, for example instead of shimano, because in my opinion the gear changing is quicker and occurs more fluently. I went with the X1, because it gives you the best of both worlds. It works very well and does not cut a hole in your wallet.

The Brakes:

When it comes to brakes, everybody thinks a little bit different. Some people need and prefer the highest braking power which is possible, some others like their bite point very close to the bars etc. In my case, i do not need the heavy duty stuff. In fact, i am a pretty light rider, and for me the controllability is much more important. I prefer, when the lever gets fast to it’s bite point, while still having it adjusted close to the bars. 

I decided to go with the Hope Tech3 E4, which gives very much control and a pretty hard bite point, while still having enough braking power even in the most extreme situations. I setted it up with 200mm Hope rotors and steel braided brake hoses. This seems the perfect setup for my needs. And en plus, it just looks awesome.

The Tech 3 Lever...
... and E4 caliper plus floating disc

The Wheelset:

The wheelset as well as the tires have very much influence on how your bike performs, While the tires keep you in contact with the ground and generate grip, the wheelset has to be light, but stiff. But also not too stiff so it can find it’s own way through the roots and rocks. 

Tune King/Kong hubs...
... and carbon rims with special Muc Off highlight

In my case, i chose to go with a pretty light setup. Using an aluminium bike frame, you habe to find the right spots to save some weight. And actually, this is the best spot to do it. With a lighter wheelset, the bike feels more active and you can accelerate faster.
So I ended up with some carbon rims and the lightweight tune King/Kong hubs. Connected with the robust Sapim spokes. The weight is fantastic and with the carbon rims, it is still stiff enough to get me save over sticks and stones, over Jumps and through high-speed curves.

I chose to put on the Continental Mountainking tires in 2.35”, which are perfect for both, climbing and trailriding in nearly every condition. They have plenty of grip while still rolling good and are robust and lightweight.

The other Components:

Well, all the other components were chosen by function, looks and also the possibility to just get them for a good price. Like the Enve Carbon bar. I got it super cheap, so why not…, right. I also needed a stem that is pretty short and liked the chrome one from DMR. So I used it. Still had an old Rock Shox Reverb here. So why not using it.

In the end. Everything worked out very well. And now I have a bike which i actually can’t afford ;), which is more capable then I am, which you can take to your local dirt park, heavy downhill courses, but also, with a weight of straight 13 kg that helps when climbing.

What do you guys think about my bike? What do you like, what would you change? Except from the owner haha. 

Tell me. I am curious about your opinion!

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