ELLSWORTH ROGUE FORTY TEST
Ellsworth Handcrafted Bicycles was founded back in 1991 by suspension guru Tony Ellsworth. At that time Tony was dissatisfied with other bikes on the market, so he decided to build his own. This soon sparked a fire, creating what Ellsworth is today. For 2017 the company went back to the drawing board to dream up two brand-new bikes that stand out from the rest of Ellsworth’s lineup: the Rogue Sixty and the Rogue Forty. The Rogue Forty is the latest addition to Ellsworth’s 2017 fleet. This trail-oriented bike closely resembles the previously released Rogue Sixty, but features 20 millimeters less travel and a few geometry tweaks. The Rogue lineup looks to conquer trails with modern amenities, geometry and styling.
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
The Ellsworth Rogue Forty was designed for the rider who simply loves to ride trails. It balances climbing efficiency and descending capabilities well while also being fun and playful. Its lightweight carbon frame allows riders to easily toss it around, and its super-short, 16.5-inch chainstays are icing on the cake. The Rogue Forty has a do-it-all attitude, making it a great tool for a diverse set of riders.
Trail-ready: The Rogue’s active suspension held traction well. Our test riders agreed that the Rogue is a do-it-all trailbike ready to conquer whatever a rider would like to throw at it.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
The Rogue Forty was built around a third-generation, 3K-weave carbon frame with 140 millimeters of travel and three 25th-anniversary colorways to choose from. Ellsworth paid close attention to detail when it came to the Rogue’s internal cable routing. The end result is a clean-looking bike that also has the ability to accommodate Di2 electronic shifting. The Rogue uses a mix of modern standards, such as Boost 148 spacing, and proprietary technologies such as a Hex Taper rear axle. The Rogue’s suspension is an old-school but tried-and-true four- bar linkage design with a custom-tuned Fox DPS shock.
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
The Rogue Forty we tested was built with performance and value in mind. First of all, Ellsworth took full advantage of new products, such as the all-new M7000 SLX drivetrain and brakes, along with Fox’s all-new Performance Series suspension. These new components easily outperform higher-end components from just a few years ago. Ellsworth also kept durability in mind with the new Rogue line, using an easy-to-service English threaded bottom bracket, as well as long-lasting, sealed cartridge bearings and stainless steel lower shock hardware.
Smooth and precise: The SLX drivetrain on the Rogue Forty offers impressive performance at an easy-to-digest price. Our testers felt they had a great range of gearing with the 1×11 setup and had no complaints with the shifting quality.
Plenty of power: Shimano’s SLX brakes provided our test riders with ample amounts of power and a comfortable feel out on the trails. The levers had a handy, tool-free reach adjust, and the whole system is easy to service.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Dialing in our Fox Performance suspension proved to be very easy with the help of the tuning guide on Fox’s website. Following the instructions, we set our fork at 20-percent sag and our rear shock at 30 percent. We then turned the rebound knob on our fork 7 clicks from the closed position and added 18 clicks of low-speed compression. The rear shock was turned 8 clicks from the closed position. This base tune felt really good, but our test riders did make a few tweaks to match their riding styles and local trails.
Performance Series: New from Fox is the Performance Series 34 fork. This new fork uses a Grip damper instead of the FIT4 damper that is seen on Fox’s Factory Series forks. The Grip damper delivers great performance and ease of use at a lesser cost.
Active Energy Efficient Suspension: Ellsworth combined AEES suspension with a custom-tuned Fox shock to achieve the Rogue’s plush and efficient feel. The Rogue’s suspension is also built tough with sealed cartridge bearings and stain- less steel shock hardware.
The Ellsworth’s cockpit had a very comfortable feel that matched that of many other modern trailbikes we have ridden. Its 60-millimeter stem and 780-millimeter bars felt very natural. The 75-degree seat tube angle puts your weight more centered over the bike for what feels like a strong and efficient pedaling position. A few of our test riders noticed that their knees would slightly touch the suspension rockers while pedaling, but moving the seat ever so slightly forward remedied the problem.
The super-short, 16.5-inch chainstays grabbed our attention when we first tried the bike, as the Rogue felt incredibly nimble and could easily be thrown around corners right out of the gate.
The Rogue uses Ellsworth’s Active Energy Efficient Suspension (AEES) along with the steeper seat tube angle to help riders power up climbs. Our testers felt the suspension was a little too plush out of the saddle, but seated climbing was heavily rewarded with gobs of traction and forward momentum. Our testers were a little skeptical about how the Rogue’s short chainstays would handle steep climbs; however, the front wheel felt planted to the ground thanks to the steeper seat tube angle. The Rogue seemed to work really well for us on steep, loose climbs where traction is key for getting up to the top.
Fun and playful: The Rogue Forty is a recent addition to Ellsworth’s lineup following its bigger brother, the Rogue Sixty. The Rogue Forty serves as a bike that the average trail rider will thoroughly enjoy, thanks to its dialed geometry, great value and playful nature.
The Ellsworth Rogue Forty is fast, and it railed through corners with ease. The Rogue’s crazy-short chainstays offered huge advantages when tackling sharp turns, and its active suspension held traction well. The 67-degree head tube angle felt well suited to the Rogue Forty, as the bike could dive into corners while still retaining stability at high speeds. The Rogue also benefits from increased stiffness from the Boost hub spacing, further expanding its fun and playful attitude on twisty trails.
Quick and nimble: The Ellsworth Rogue’s super-short, 16.5- inch chainstays allowed our test riders to easily toss the bike around. Our testers also appreciated the 67-degree head tube angle that balanced the bike’s stability and agility out on the trails.
The Rogue Forty shines when the trail points downhill. It may not have the same capabilities as its older brother, the Rogue Sixty, but as a do-it-all trailbike, this thing can seriously rip. The Rogue Forty performed manuals with ease, thanks to its short rear end, and looked for any excuse to bring the wheels off the ground. The Fox Performance Series suspension offers great bang-for-the-buck performance, which, coupled with the Rogue’s lightweight carbon frame, makes for a quick and nimble bike that loves to take the fun lines down.
Shimano’s SLX has long been known as a midrange, affordable component spec, but the all-new M7000 series is next level. Many of our test riders were in awe of the performance of the SLX M7000 brakes. Two-piece rotors, tool-free reach adjust, and an ample amount of power took our Rogue Forty from full speed to a dead stop faster than we could say, “Onomatopoeia.” Of course, other attributes contributed to the Rogue’s braking performance, such as the active suspension system and super-grippy Maxxis tires.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
The Rogue Forty comes in a few build kits other than the SLX version we tested, including builds with Shimano XTR, Shimano XT and SRAM X01. That being said, the Shimano SLX build was more than enough for us. One component we did have issues with was the Race Face Turbine dropper post. According to Race Face, a drastic change in temperature can cause the post to malfunction. On one or two occasions we couldn’t get our post to lock in the down position. Race Face came up with a solution that can be found on their website, but, to be fair, we were foolishly riding on a hot afternoon with temperatures around 100 degrees.
The Rogue Forty is a great all-around trailbike that can climb well and descend fast. Riders seeking a more aggressive enduro rig will lean towards the Rogue’s longer-travel brother, but on the other end of the spectrum, riders looking for a more pedal-friendly rig will be drawn to the Rogue Forty. The SLX build kit we rode offered great value and performance, but the higher-end builds will offer even more. The real question is, how much are you willing to spend? Of course, you don’t have to settle for a build kit at all if you’re particularly picky. Ellsworth is more than happy to sell you a frame-only option for $3300. Regardless of component spec, the Rogue Forty is a trail-ready bike that wants to be ridden hard and pushed to its limit while taking the most fun lines to get there.
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