Review – Spot Mayhem 29
Ready to wreak havoc on your local trails
Spot Brand is a family-owned bicycle company located in Golden, Colorado, that is passionate about high-level engineering. The family founded Avid in 1991 and grew the component company into one of the largest brake manufacturers in the world. After selling Avid, the family founded Spot Brand. What sets Spot apart from other bicycle manufacturers is its patented Living Link suspension system that eliminates traditional piv- ots and replaces them with a leaf spring. Yes, you read that right. Spot looked outside of the bicycle industry and to the automotive world for design inspiration. Spot soon realized the benefits of leaf-sprung suspension systems, which are used at the highest levels of automotive racing, and decided to incorporate the technology into a mountain bike. According to Spot, Living Link suspension has a few major benefits, such as additional lateral frame stiffness and a slight boost at the end of the spring curve that helps riders power over rocks and roots or boost off jumps. After taking a minute to educate ourselves on the history of the leaf spring, we were ready to take the Spot Mayhem 29 out for a ride. Our testers wasted no time with this one, strapping on their gear and rushing out the door with a mission to see how much havoc they could wreak on the trails.
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
The Mayhem might sound like a complex piece of machinery, but while it has many advanced features, it’s a bike designed for the rider who wants to avoid routine maintenance. In fact, the carbon composite leaf spring that replaces the cartridge bear- ings is manufactured with a process similar to that used to make ballistic military helmets. Spot tested the Living Link up to three million flex cycles, which is comparable to riding seven days a week for 12 years. The Mayhem is clearly built for, well, mayhem. Featuring 29-inch wheels and an advanced carbon frame, along with 130mm of travel, this bike is designed to take on just about any local trail.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
When designing its first full-suspension bike, the Rollik, Spot sourced a carbon fiber fabric from Sweden called Oxeon TeXtreme. The Mayhem benefits from the same frame material, which is said to have an excellent strength-to-weight ratio, thanks to a construc- tion process that uses more carbon fiber and less epoxy. Spot confidently backs the Mayhem’s frame with a five-year warranty.
The Mayhem’s full carbon frame features a slack 66.4-degree head tube angle, short chainstays and a steep seat tube angle. The bike has Boost hub spacing, a threaded bottom bracket and features full internal cable routing with the exception of the rear brake hose that runs down the non-drive side of the bike. The externally routed rear brake is a feature mechanics will love, but the exposed cable running down the side of the bike does detract from its clean and sleek look.
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
The Mayhem is sold in multiple versions with the choice of a 27.5-plus or a 29er wheelset. Each wheel size comes in three build kit options, ranging from four to six stars. We tested the five-star build, which includes Fox Factory suspension, a SRAM XO1 Eagle drivetrain and Stan’s Arch MK3 wheels. Our test bike came with a BikeYoke Revive dropper post providing 160mm of travel. Size-small and -medium frames feature a 125mm-travel post. Spot spec’d the Mayhem with a Race Face cockpit and includes ODI Vans grips for an old-school BMX feel. The bike features SRAM Guide RSC brakes and has a comfy WTB Silverado Pro saddle.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Setting sag: Dialing in the suspension on the Mayhem is similar to any other bike. We started with 25 percent in the rear and 20 percent up front. We then adjusted our rebound and compression according to the recommendation from Fox. This initial setup gave us a great base tune to work with. The Mayhem’s Living Link suspension is designed to let the carbon leaf spring relax when the suspension is at rest. Once the bike is roughly halfway through its travel, the leaf spring reaches its maximum flex and then begins to relax again as the suspension continues to compress. This clever design is what gives the Mayhem the feeling of an extra boost on the trails.
Living Link: The Mayhem features Spot’s Living Link suspension, which uses a carbon leaf spring in place of bearings. This is said to reduce maintenance and give the bike a more lively feel.
Moving out: The Mayhem is designed with a balanced feel, thanks to its long reach and steep seat tube angle, which places the rider’s weight between the axles. Extra-large frames feature an additional 8mm of chainstay length in order to provide taller riders with more stability. Our size-large test frame fit our riders well, providing them with a modern trail bike feel. The slack head angle further provided stability during fast or steep descents, and the short chainstays offered a nimble feel.
Climbing: Whether the climbs are long and sustained or short and sweet, the Mayhem cruises up the trails with ease. The front end feels glued to the ground even on steep, punchy climbs, and the Living Link suspension seemed to give us a minor boost when we needed it most. While the effects of the leaf spring relaxing are only slightly noticeable, it does seem to be an advantage over a more traditional suspension system. The bike supports the rider well in its mid-stroke and only has a small amount of movement while climbing. This gave us the ability to run the shock wide open for the majority of our test rides.
Cornering: Due to the carbon leaf-spring design, the Mayhem has a stiff rear end that allows riders to get aggressive on the trails. The composite spring used in the Living Link is designed to be vertically compliant but ultra stiff laterally. On trails, this added stiffness, along with a stiff carbon frame and Boost hub spacing, gives the bike a controlled and predictable feel. The Mayhem’s modern geometry also gives it a quick and precise feel. Some of our testers would have preferred a slightly wider tire, but that need will ultimately be dictated by the type of terrain you ride.
Descending: To avoid prejudice, we often wait until after the first ride or two to look at a bike’s geometry. The Spot could have easily convinced us that it had more travel than it really did. While the front end felt true to size, the rear soaked up big hits with ease and had a nice supported feel towards the end of the stroke. The bike’s geometry aids its descending prowess, providing riders with confidence when the trails get rough. This isn’t a bike we’d bring to a bike park, but it uses its 130mm of travel well.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
Spot offers three build kits for the Mayhem, and they all come with top-quality parts. Our middle-of-the-line, five-star model didn’t disappoint. With Fox Factory suspension, a SRAM XO1 Eagle drivetrain, and a decent wheel and tire package, our bike was ready to rip right out of the box. Riders will likely want to convert to a tubeless setup in order to reap the benefits of lower tire pressures, and all riders will need to spend some quality time getting familiar with the suspension adjustments.
Spot is run by people who enjoy riding their bikes as much as their customers do. The Mayhem’s attention to detail is proof of that. The bike is built for longevity, thanks to its maintenance-free carbon leaf spring. The externally routed brakes are a mechanic’s dream, and the high-level components spec’d on the Mayhem are built to last. The Mayhem 29 blends modern features with a unique suspension design, providing riders with a bike designed to go the extra mile. If you’re ready to stir things up on your local trails, then the Mayhem might be the bike for you.