We were blessed with an early look at the all-new Gen 6 Knolly Chilcotin mountain bike. Named after the rugged Chilcotin Ranges in British Columbia, the Chilcotin is a big mountain 29er built for burly lines and steep trails. A few weeks before the official announcement we had two long-travel, 170mm Chilcotins show up at our Southern Utah shop. Between winter rain storms, we sent OTE employee Cameron Smith out to Church Rocks with Photo-John to check out the bike and get some photos of it in action for this Knolly Chilcotin 6 first ride review.
Church Rocks isn’t as well-known as some other Southern Utah trail systems. But it’s got spectacular red rock scenery and all kinds of terrain, from flowy singletrack to steep technical slickrock. It also holds up really well in wet weather. And we were having a very wet spell when the new Chilcotins arrived.
We’ve been big fans of Knolly bikes from the start. Founder and designer Noel Buckley has an eye for detail and he’s uncompromising about making top-quality bike frames. He’s carved out a special niche for Knolly with mountain bikers who appreciate precision metal frames built for aggressive riding.
The core of Knolly’s full-suspension bike design is their patented FourBy4 suspension. The FourBy4 linkage was inspired by the strut suspension on Formula One race cars and it makes Knolly bikes instantly recognizable. It’s similar to a Horst link but uses two separate links at the top – one to drive the shock and one to control the wheel path. Knolly bikes have a unique suspension feel with amazing traction and an open, plush feel on the descents that makes every bike feel like a downhill rig.
Knolly Chilcotin 6 – What’s New
Knolly says the Gen 6 Chilcotin is an “all new design.” The most obvious change is the straight top tube. It gives the bike a cleaner look and it’s supposed to offer better stand over, as well. The most important changes are updated geometry, new kinematics and expanded sizing. The previous Chilcotin was only available in sizes from medium to XL. Smaller freeriders will be pleased to know they can now own a small Knolly 29er freeride/enduro bike.
Naturally, the Chilcotin 6.0 is longer and slacker. On a 170mm medium bike that’s an increase of just under 20mm of reach and about 30mm longer at the wheelbase. While the head angle is slacker, it’s a tiny change – less than 0.1 degrees on a 170mm bike in the slack position. More significant – the Chilcotin 6.0 now has size-specific chainstays so all sizes should handle the same.
As we mentioned, the soul of Knolly full-suspension bikes is their patented FourBy4 suspension. It gives the bikes their amazingly planted, chunk-gobbling character and makes them perfect for Southern Utah’s technical slickrock terrain. For the Gen 6 Chilcotin, Knolly increased the travel slightly and improved pedaling responsiveness by 15%. Because pedal dynamics and bump compliance are opposing forces, they tweaked the leverage curve a tiny bit to make it easier for the shock to get into the middle of the stroke.
Some other Gen 6 Chilcotin updates are a new single-piece upper link, Enduro bearings on all pivots and SRAM UDH compatibility.
Knolly Chilcotin 6 – On The Trail
The bike we used for this Knolly Chilcotin 6 first ride review is shop owner Quentin’s personal bike. The sparkly pink finish is a limited edition and it’s built to his spec with SRAM AXS wireless drivetrain and dropper post. Former employee Joey Vanstaveren is part of the Knolly Knation grassroots team and he got an early Chilcotin 6, as well. Between Cameron, Quentin and Joey, we got a pretty good feel for the bike.
So, what do the design changes add up to on the trail? In Knolly’s words, the new Chilcotin is “designed to plow down rugged technical terrain.” Our test track, Church Rocks, has plenty of steep slickrock lines along with chunky, technical climbs. Cameron looked comfortable on all of it, from peddling staircase ascents to launching the Chilcotin into rocky landings. After the ride he said it’s one of his favorite bikes at the shop: “The Knolly Chilcotin 6 inspires confidence to test your skills and push outside your comfort zone. The FourBy4 linkage makes the harshest downhill feel like a graded road while still allowing you to climb back to the top. This bike is a blast and I could be in the saddle all day.”
Quentin took the new Chilcotin out to Gooseberry Mesa for his first ride. The first thing he said after the ride was, “It’s everything I love about the old Chilcotin but pinker.” He also said it, “felt more refined with better pedaling;” and the updated geometry has, “better positioning for short, sharp turns.” Longer and slacker with better turning? That’s a neat trick! Quentin said it didn’t feel fast to him but shop manager Pierce Kettering, who was riding with him, said he was faster than usual.
Joey took his new Chilcotin 6 to infamous Bootleg Canyon outside Las Vegas. He echoed Quentin’s thoughts on the bike feeling more refined and called the new Chilcotin, “predictable, fun and confidence-inspiring. He said it feels, “more capable on steep and gnarly terrain than the previous design. As for the suspension… it feels like the classic plush Knolly FourBy4 but more refined. One of my favorite characteristics of the Chilcotin is ripping down ledgy, high-speed terrain. The rear suspension absolutely loves that stuff.”
Knolly Chilcotin 6 First Ride Review Conclusion
The guys who had a chance to ride the Gen 6 Chilcotin absolutely love it. That shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who’s ridden a Knolly, though. They’re fantastic on the steep, chunky terrain Southern Utah is famous for. We’re looking forward to getting the Chilcotin 6 out on some of our steeper freeride trails like the Grafton downhill, Flying Monkey and the nasty lava rock at Brian Head Bike Park. If you’re looking for a big 29er to ride at full throttle on the gnarliest trails, you’ll love the Knolly Chilcotin 6. Don’t take our word for it, though. We have the Knolly Chilcotin 6 for rent right here in Hurricane, Utah. Take it out to the Southern Utah trail of your choice and decide for yourself if it’s the right bike for you.
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For full Chilcotin specs, geometry, more photos and rental reservations, visit our Knolly Chilcotin 6 bike page.