SPOT RYVE 115 REVIEW—A SPOT-ON CROSS-COUNTRY MOUNTAIN BIKE

The spicy side of cross-country

SPOT RYVE 115 REVIEW 

Spot started as a small Canadian brand focused on single speeds but changed course when it was acquired by the Lumpkin family in 2009 and moved to Golden, Colorado. If the Lumpkin name sounds familiar, it should, because Wayne Lumpkin founded Avid–the brake brand that was sold to SRAM. After developing the Center Drive belt technology that they later sold to Gates (now called Gates Carbon Drive) and dabbling in commuter bikes, the Lumpkins turned their focus to mountain bikes and the innovation of their patented Living Link suspension system.

This dual-link system relies on a rather unique leaf spring for one of its pivots and is a system that the wrecking crew has historically been quite fond of. Spot’s latest bike is a second-generation Ryve 115 cross-country bike with a long list of updates that puts it at the forefront of this category’s rapid evolution.

In addition to the stealthy Matte Black color we tested, Spot also offers the Ryve 115 in flashy Matte Hot Tomato red.

 

FRAME

Spot only offers one version of the Ryve 115 frame—with carbon front and rear triangles that are backed with a lifetime warranty. The lower shock mount lies inside a square-shaped window in the lower downtube that Spot calls the DoppelBox. Spot says that it creates a double-box structure for increased frame strength and stiffness that centralizes mass lower on the frame.

Other features include internal cable routing, a threaded bottom bracket, Boost axle spacing, and a single bottle-cage mount inside the frame and another on the bottom of the downtube. A low durometer chainstay protector is designed to both keep things quiet and prevent damage to the stays, while a downtube protector guards against rock strikes and other impacts.

One of the most significant updates to the new frame is more aggressive geometry. The head angle is more relaxed, going from 68.4 degrees to 66.2 degrees, and the reach is extended to 475mm for our size large. The seat tube angle changes with most sizes. The small and medium have a 75-degree seat angle. The large has a 76-degree seat angle, and the extra-large offers 77.3 degrees. Chainstay length comes in at 435mm across the size range.

The Ryve 115 feels confident at high speeds and in steep terrain that makes XC race bikes nervous.

 

COMPONENTS

Spot offers the Ryve 115 in four different builds, starting at $5599 for the 4-Star SRAM GX-based level and going up to $8999 for the SRAM XX1 AXS build we tested. In addition to the wireless SRAM 12-speed drivetrain, this bike also features Industry Nine’s Trail 280 wheels with We Are One carbon rims laced to I9’s Hydra hubs with aluminum spokes. Test riders had nothing but good things to say about these wheels. They are quick, can take a beating and look great. Schwalbe’s Wicked Will tires also earned high marks from the wrecking crew with a great combination of low-rolling resistance and decent overall traction.

We expected to be disappointed with the SRAM G2 Ultimate brakes, but they performed surprisingly well on this lightweight bike. The cockpit is set up with a short (for an XC bike) 50mm Race Face stem, OneUp carbon bars and Ergon GXR grips. The grips are old-school slide-ons and offer more cushion than lock-on-style grips. We liked these a lot. A long-travel (for an XC bike) 170mm SRAM Reverb AXS post and Spot-branded saddle round out the rider compartment. The saddle is surprisingly comfortable and feels more like a high-dollar modern seat than a cheap OE spec.

The Ryve 115’s Living Link is made of titanium and takes the place of a traditional pivot found in other bikes.

SUSPENSION

Spot’s 115mm-travel Living Link suspension is similar to other short, dual-link designs on the market but with a unique twist—a leaf spring in place of a traditional pivot. In fact, if you were to put an actual pivot where the leaf spring attaches to the swingarm, it would be very similar to a dw-link design. Spot claims that this leaf spring has many advantages over a traditional pivot. It’s said to be lighter and simpler with zero maintenance required. Packaging constraints are also reduced, allowing this lower link to be incredibly short. The leaf spring is made of titanium that Spot says can support two full-size pickup trucks and has endured 3 million flex cycles in the laboratory without failure, or the equivalent of riding seven days a week for 12 years.

A unique characteristic of Living Link compared to traditional pivots is the fact that the leaf spring is neutral and relaxed at full extension and compression but offers spring force that peaks in the middle of the stroke. Spot says the system stores and releases energy when you need it most. An update on the second-generation Ryve includes a 25-percent increase in progression, as well as the Living Link leaf-spring mounting-system improvements to provide more lateral and torsional stiffness over previous designs. A revamped rocker link with larger bearings and thru-axle pivots offers more stiffness and durability than the previous version.

Spot specs a Fox Factory Float DPS shock and a 130mm-travel Factory Float 34 with GRIP 2 damper on the 6-Star-level build we tested.

 

ASSEMBLY AND PACKAGING

Spot sells its bikes direct to consumer, and we received our test bike just like anyone else would. The main parts of the bike—the frame and fork—were zip-tied to a piece of cardboard, and so were the wheels, handlebars and rear derailleur. Assembly is slightly more complicated than some others we have built because you have to install the chain, derailleur, bars and levers, but from there everything was tuned to perfection and needed no further attention. We especially appreciated the lack of excess packaging with their box and packing design.

Going up: Whether you are looking to make climbs easier or faster, the Spot checks the all the boxes.

CLIMBING

As progressive as this XC bike is, it still does its best work on the climbs, conquering them faster and easier than any trail-focused bike we’ve ridden. The suspension feels firm underfoot and resistant to body movements. Hit a bump, however, and it responds, keeping the rider in the saddle and powering the pedals. This not only keeps the rider planted, but also maintains rear-tire traction. In fact, this is one of the best bikes we’ve ridden up technical climbs. It’s light, quick and has just enough suspension to maintain forward drive. A few of our more XC-race-oriented test riders occasionally wished for a fork lockout, especially for out-of-the-saddle efforts on smooth fire-road climbs.

We experimented with running 25- and 30-percent sag, and found that the lower sag numbers were favored by the pedal-hungry crowd and higher sag numbers made the gravity crew smile. We were also able to achieve similar results by running the Fox shock’s compression adjuster in the soft number-one position or firming it up to number two for a more traditional XC feel. Overall, we were very pleased with the standard tune and didn’t feel the need to mess with volume spacers.

Test riders were very impressed with the Ryve 115’s pedaling effeciency and capability on a wide range of trails.

 

DESCENDING
Given how well this bike climbed, test riders were a little surprised by the Ryve 115’s descending prowess. It craves speed and feels somewhat comfortable in steeper terrain that makes many XC bikes flinch. Small-to-mid-bump performance is also a pleasant surprise. Considering its low amount of wheel travel, it does a very good job of keeping the tires on the ground and clawing for traction. We can’t say that the Living Link offers any kind of distinct benefit, but we can say that this is a very dialed-feeling suspension system.

It’s not until you get to bigger hits that you are reminded that you’re on an XC bike. Although it’s sufficiently progressive, control and comfort suffer as you run out of travel, so mental and physical adjustments have to be made to get through the rough effectively. You have to pick your lines and soak things up with your body that longer-travel bikes plow through. There is more dancing with the trail than pointing and shooting; however, more often than not, we were impressed with what the Ryve could get away with. The Fox 34 fork with its GRIP 2 damper plays a big part in the bike’s capability. It works incredibly well given its short-travel numbers.

Geometry is spot-on (pun intended) for XC-style riding. This bike is really at home on traditional cross-country-style trails and rips the tight and twisty stuff with nimble finesse.

Cornering is neutral, and the short stem combined with a slack and long front end extends its comfort zone in steeper terrain. The 170mm-travel dropper post also played a positive role in our ability to confidently ride the XC bike well into all-mountain-style trails.

ON THE RIDER:  Endura MT500 MIPS helmet ($240), 100% Norvik glasses ($195), Fasthouse Speed Style Ridgeline gloves ($36), Hyperthreads Santa Clarita MTB Team custom bibs and jersey, Bontrager XXX shoes ($420)

WHAT DID WE LOVE?

This bike is very good at harnessing your efforts and turning them into speed. Going fast is fun, and this bike is fast on everything but the steepest, roughest parts of the trail. The rear suspension is very dialed in, allowing us to make slight adjustments in sag and compression to obtain different results. We could add plushness, or we could firm it up for more of a traditional XC feel. Both settings are very good. We also like how the lower shock mount allows water and dirt to pass through the frame and not collect in a recess or require a drain like some others do.

WHAT DID WE HATE?

While it doesn’t technically pose a problem, we didn’t really like how the flat leaf-spring lower link created a shelf for mud and muck to build up on. We did, however, notice that small rocks would get stuck between the forward part of the link and the seat tube, creating scratches. We would like to see Spot offer some sort of protector for this gap like other brands do.

BOTTOM LINE

As the cross-country category evolves, each new model seems to be more capable than the one before, and the Ryve 115 is no exception. In fact, it’s a perfect example of what a modern cross-country bike should be. It flies uphill like a traditional XC bike and then charges descents right on the heels of its longer-travel, slacker trail cousins. No, it does not live up to the cliche of pedaling uphill like an XC bike and descending like a downhill bike (no bike does), but the Spot is blessed with a wide range of competence.

If you want a bike for pedaling and climbing but you don’t want it to come with a major penalty on the descents, the Ryve 115 is right up your alley. Plus, with more aggressive tires, you can shift the performance to the trail side of cross-country riding. As the Ryve 115 is delivered, it’s right on the money for longer, aggressive XC rides. If we were to take on an event like the BC Bike Race, the Ryve 115 would be very high on our list.

 

SPOT RYVE 115 6-STAR AXS

www.spotbikes.com

CATEGORY: Cross-country

WHEEL SIZE: 29″

SUSPENSION: 130mm (front), 115mm (rear)

Price: $8,999
Weight: 26.6 pounds (without pedals)
Sizes: S, M, L (tested), XL
Frame tested: Carbon, 115mm travel
Shock: Fox Factory Float DPS
Fork: Fox Factory Float 34 29”, GRIP 2 damper, 130mm travel
Wheelset: Industry Nine Trail 280
Tires: Schwalbe Wicked Will 29 x 2.40” front and rear
Seatpost: SRAM AXS wireless (170mm travel)
Saddle: Spot MTB
Handlebar: OneUp carbon, 780mm
Stem: Race Face Turbine, 50 mm
Grips: Ergon GXR
Headset: Cane Creek 40
Brakes: SRAM G2 Ultimate, 6-bolt rotor
Rotors: SRAM Centerline 180mm (f), 160mm (r)
Rear derailleur: SRAM XX1 AXS Eagle, wireless, 12-speed
Shifters: SRAM XX1 AXS Eagle
Crankset: SRAM XX1 Eagle
Bottom bracket: SRAM DUB
Cassette: SRAM XG1299, 12-speed, 10-52t
Chain: SRAM XX1 Eagle
Chainrings: 32-tooth

 

GEOMETRY SIZE LARGE

Head tube angle: 66.2°
Effective seat tube angle: 76°
Reach: 475mm (18.7”)
Stack: 616mm (24.3”)
Bottom bracket height: 338mm (13.3”)
Chainstay length: 435mm (17.1”)
Wheelbase: 1215mm (47.8”)

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