Mountain Bike Action Bike Test: Esker Cycles Elkat
Esker Cycles Elkat
It’s no easy task to launch a new mountain bike brand, especially when the upper echelon of our sport is filled with corporate giants; however, the folks behind Esker Cycles weren’t afraid to dive headfirst into this challenging business environment. To ensure the greatest possibility for success, Esker, a rider-driven company, enlisted the help of suspension guru Dave Weagle. Esker tossed all its eggs in one basket, designing a full-suspension model known as the Elkat. The only other model to grace Esker’s line is a bike known as the Hayduke, a versatile hardtail with a wide range of uses. The Elkat, Esker’s only suspension bike, features 150mm of travel and 27.5-inch wheels. This month the wrecking crew got its hands on this lesser-known brand to see how it stacks up against the corporate big shots.
The Elkat doesn’t exactly use old-school geometry, but its numbers are not quite as long and slack as other bikes we’ve seen on the market. Esker went with a more reserved yet proven geometry that keeps the bike-short and playful. Esker then bucked the trend of 29er wheels for a pair of 27.5-inch wheels—a bold decision by Esker to prove that 27.5-inch wheels are every bit as capable as 29-inch ones.
Some of our test riders felt the need to size up to achieve a progressive, long, slack, low fit, while others found the smaller sizing combined with 27.5-inch wheels offered a sporty feel.
The Elkat is a carbon only frame offered in multiple color options with modern features, like Boost hub spacing, a threaded bottom bracket and internal cable routing, albeit with an exposed rear brake hose.
It’s cool to see a rider-driven brand like Esker supporting other small companies such as Industry 9, Wolf Tooth, and OneUp Components. One look at the Elkat shows how passionate Esker is about riding since it looks more like a custom build than an off-the-shelf bike. Some of the parts to capture our attention were the Wolf Tooth seatpost clamp, headset and stem cap. A OneUp Components carbon handlebar was another nice touch, and so were the Industry 9 wheels. The suspension was handled by Fox via Factory components, and the drivetrain is affordable yet proven SRAM GX Eagle kit. Esker then went with Shimano XT brakes and wide 2.6-inch Terrene Chunk tires.