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Propain Spindrift 2017 review – part 2

With the closing of the season in basically all of Europe (not counting the spots that are still open due to lack of snow), I can finally share my Spindrift verdict with you. If you read the first part of the review, you’ll know that I was looking for a “one for all, all for one” bike – a commuter, a daughter transporter, a trailride, the occasional 15 meter gap and a bikepark rig. Did the Spindrift deliver? Let’s find out.

All credits: @RadaczRides

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Suspension

Propain uses a suspension system they call Pro10, which is a quadruple hinge system with a floating rear shock. The Spindrift has 180mm of travel which, when paired with the Cane Creek Double Barrel Air CS, gives plenty of options. It’s equipped with a double rebound setup, a double compression setup, a three-stage Climb Switch and of course the air intake. That’s a lot of buttons to adjust and allows you to tweak the shock to your exact specs, even though it might not be the simplest task in the world when you’re just starting out. It took a couple of park laps to figure it out, but once I did, the Pro10 system and the CCDB Air make a hell of a combo!

I never really felt that I needed more travel or more rebound than possible and definitely ranks up there with the pure DH rigs. The suspension is extremely tactile on uneven ground and once you dial it in, it’s extremely hard to bottom out. Even when hitting gaps I didn’t want to, the landing was soft and I didn’t feel it in my legs. Having the lock-out means that riding singletrails of 40-50km in length with varying degrees of elevation won’t be a problem. The Climb Switch is unique in that it not only functions as a lockout, but also affects the rebound if you don’t full engage the rebound.

One major advantage of the Pro10 system is the low center of gravity, which you will definitely notice when cornering, it really balances out your rig. A disadvantage would be the Climb Switch location, which is positioned very low and in a tight space, meaning that fiddling while riding can become quite a challenge.

The fork for the build is the top of the line Rockshox Lyric RTC3, with 180mm of travel and a lot of options to tweak everything. However, during my first rides it worked a little rough. After taking it apart, it was easy to see that the seals weren’t greased correctly and that the oil level was really low. After quickly fixing this, the Rockshox performed as it should throughout the whole season. I was able to tweak it quickly, to the point where gaps were easy to hit and landings were smooth. The 35mm diameter definitely helps feeling safe as well as light and stiff.

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Geometry

The Propain Spindrift is offered in three sizes, and as I’m 180cm tall, I chose the M. The thing that sets this frame apart is the enormous wheelbase, especially when comparing it to other enduro rigs – the M frame has a wheelbase of 1227mm. A long bike with a 64,5° headset and a 3mm BB guarantees an amazing level of control, whether rocketing downhill or grabbing some airtime. This geometry even puts some of the new downhill rigs to shame. The reach is 445mm and with a 50mm stem, this bike is really long, which sometimes means you’ll be in an extended position, so to say. After changing out the stem to a 40mm one, I found the perfect balance that I was looking for. Propain currently offers a 35mm and 50mm option when building your bike and my recommendation is to definitely take the shorter stem.

I already mentioned the low position of the bottom bracket – a lot of times this is a benefit, but I noticed that while pedaling off-road, I often hit rocks or higher roots. Unfortunately, the Spindrift only comes with 175mm cranks – a 170mm option would definitely be better in this case.

The length of the bike becomes a bit bothersome on steeper, more technical bits and switchbacks, but the ease of riding on singletrails makes it all worth it.

 

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Frame

The Spindrift is beefier than a regular enduro rig, which makes it feel solid and you feel a lot safer from the moment you first get on. The frame is relatively stiff and the suspension is solid and it feels good that it didn’t develop some play over time. After a while, my rear axle started loosening, but after checking it and tightening it, that problem didn’t resurface and the cause remains unknown.

My frame was finished in matte graphite, which unfortunately gets scratched up quite easily, so watch where you put it. I never understood the shiny reflective branding stickers, which also seem to be coated in a scratchproof vinyl – which completely makes it the polar opposite of the matte paint job. What makes this more interesting is that the Propain logo on the top of the frame is painted and it complements the matte graphite. Why didn’t they do this with the regular branding? If you pay attention to these details, you’ll be disappointed by the finishing touches.

Did you notice the rear fender? Super discrete, but it does its job perfectly – keeping out dirt from the rear shock. I love it!

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Components

A very nice surprise were the wheels, built up by using Propain hubs and ZTR Flow EX rims. They’re extremely light and tough. After a full season of trying my best to dent them, it hasn’t happened yet, unlike with my DH rims, which were always fit for replacement after a heavy season. The hubs are stiff, a rotate smoothly. Added bonus (if you’re into that sort of stuff) – the rear hub is loud!

Tempted by my intrigue, I chose the Magura MT5 brakes. Unfortunately, the levers are the worst I’ve ever had, no joke. The levers have a “carbotecture” finish, which looks and feels very cheap and it’s not really userfriendly as the levers are way too long – you know, like back in the late 90s. From the start, the brakes were soft, even after bleeding it. What’s worse – I managed to snap off one of the bleeding screws – which are made of the same “carbotecture”. That’s never happened to be before. Air got into the brakes on a regular basis, which means they required bleeding after every ride. After switching out the levers to some Shimano XT M8000, this problem was solved. As of then, no air got into the brakes and they work properly and it’s become the best brake I’ve ever used, even when comparing it to the Shimano Saint M820.

The seatpost is a classic – the Rock Shox Reverb. It’s been faultless all season long, but developed a little bit of sideways play and even though this happens to most seatposts, it’s still annoying. How is it that we’re about to put people on Mars, but people can’t make a seatpost without sideways play?

My Spindrift has a SRAM GX 1×11 drivetrain, which complements the bike perfectly. Like the seatpost, it’s been faultless all season long. You set it up once and you’re good to go for the whole season. This should definitely be on your parts list! I spent some time wondering whether the X01 would be better and whether the increased cost of 150 euros would be justified? Even though the chainring is a 30T and is combined with a 11-42T cassette, I definitely miss having a heavier gear at higher speeds.

The stock rubber on the build is the Onza Ibex 27.5×2.40, but I quickly switched those out to a Maxxis Aggressor 27.5×2.30 up front and a Maxxis Minion SS 27.5×2.30 in the rear. This is a perfect tire combo for local rides – it rolls fast and has a decent amount of grip. My DH setup is a Maxxis Minion DHF 27.5×2.50 in the front and a Maxxis Minion DHR 27.5×2.50 in the back. An easy choice as this combo has been tested for seasons on end and has not disappointed yet. If the weather turns for the worse, I recommend using the Maxxis Shorty 27.5×2.50. I chose not to go tubeless because of the frequent changing of tires.

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Conclusion

So what is the Spindrift? After a season of riding, I can tell you it’s a freeride machine with a strong DH flavoring, which also perfectly handles even the toughest enduro ride! Your basically limitless on this rig. You can ride across the city to your favorite spot, hit some man size gaps and return home with a smile on your face. Big gaps and high speeds really aren’t an issue for this bike and thanks to the rather daring geometry and the Pro10 suspension, you’ll love taking this machine on plenty of park laps.

I’m sure there are better downhill bikes out there and I’ve ever heard there might be better trail or enduro rigs as well. There’s probably also a better freeride shredder, but this is the best bike if you do all of that and just want one rig. It never failed me or limited me in my riding. If you’re a downhill weekend warrior and you’re looking to play, this is the bike for you.

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