Sunday, December 23, 2007

Installation Lap: 2008 Banshee Rune

So I had been looking to get a new frame for the last couple months to replace my aging Heckler. Something new to get me up and down the hills. There were a few different bikes I had been looking at lately and when I was told I was going to be waiting quite a while for a particular frame (Norco Fluid LT) I decided it was time to look elsewhere. I happened to be on a popular website BB forum and noticed that Banshee had redone their website and as it turns out, the bike on the intro page of their site was just the bike I was looking for.

The 2008 Banshee RUNE. It offers the stand-over I am looking for, the travel I am looking for and the weight I am looking for. So I decided to bite the bullet and purchase a new frame without ever seeing the frame in person. I was very pleased when the frame arrived at my local shop (Maple Ridge Cycle) within 1 day from Banshee and I was really impressed by the fit and finish of the frame. It included an extra mech hanger, seat-post and a seat-post collar (plus a few extra pieces of swag.....t-shirt and stickers). As it turns out, I have the very first Rune purchased in North America.

The next day I stripped my trusty Heckler of all its parts and built up the Rune. When lifting the bike I could tell was noticeably lighter than the Heckler using the exact same build.

This then brings me to my ride today. I was at The Woodlot bright and early and I was the first one to ascend into the rain forest. My route up was the skidder to Stovetop to the powerlines and up to Krazy Karpenter.

I normally have a bit of a hard time climbing very first part of the hill because it is so steep and in the past the front of my Heckler tended to lift. On the Rune there was a noticeable difference. I was not fighting at all to keep the front end of the bike down which made the climb much easier. So from the get go I was impressed. The Heckler kind of bobs when you climb and you know when the suspension is moving up and down. With the Rune, the suspension is invisible. You don't really feel it moving at all. The trail is simply smoothed out without the suspension letting you know it is doing it's job.

On the Rune I chose to go with the Manitou ISX-6 Evolver rear shock. It is my first air shock and it likely will not be my last as I am really quite impressed with this shock. As my initial set-up, I went with 150psi in the main chamber, 75psi in the bottom out and set the high and low speed compression settings a little shy of wide open. The bike felt really good, but I know I can tune it to be better.

As I stated, the climb was much easier on this bike than my normal climb. Unfortunately half way up the hill I ran into snow on the trail that I really was not expecting. I say unfortunately because it began to get so deep that I had to dismount and push my bike as I neared the top. I paused to snap a few photos of my new steed and then began the descent on my new bike.

Krazy Karpenter was the trail where the true test for the bike was to happen. I was not disappointed at all. Plush is the word, super plush. In the past when I grabbed the brake on a descent I would feel the suspension stiffen and squat but on the Rune it simply floated over the gnarl of the trail. The bike was really snappy in tight corners between trees and over rocks. The head angle was just right for riding steep sections of trail without getting even a hint of a flip flop front end. The angles and mechanics of this frame are spectacular.

After Karpenter I rode Upper and Lower Toadstool and found that it railed the turns with ease. The Heckler sometimes felt like it would wash out on some corners where the Rune stayed hooked up and on line. The lower section of Lower Toadstool has tight smooth switchbacks that can cause problems with poor steering bikes. I had not an issue.

At the bottom of Lower Toadstool I raised the seat of the Rune and pedaled over to Snakes and Ladders. The climb, effortless, the descent, dreamy. Once again I stopped for a photo at the trail head and ripped the trail top to bottom taking my usual lines. This bike makes riding fast far easier and way more fun. On choppy sections the trail is smoothed over by the fluid suspension and because of that, you then ride faster and look farther and farther down the trail to pick the fastest line popping off any little rock or hit you can find.

On the last section of Snakes on the the new line there are 2 corners that when railed in succession give me a feeling of exhilarating because you get shot from one to the other. On the Rune this feeling of getting propelled out of the corners is amplified when compared to the other bikes I have ridden. It rails really well, especially in the tight spots.

I then headed to Shotgun where I ran into Ewan who was doing some maintenance on the trails. I said hello and I was on my way. Shotgun was a total hoot. Not a single complaint from the bike and not a single complaint from me about the bike. My initial impression of the bike is that I am blown away by how good it feels. It is light, snappy fast and smooth. I am really impressed with the performance of the bike right out of the box.

I am sure I will remain impressed with it in the future and I am sure I will get a lot of use out of my new bike.


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