The Sled was always going to be an exciting bike. Ever since I got wind of the new machine last year, it was clear that DMR were not going to be messing about. There are obviously a couple of aspects about this bike that makes it stand proud from the rest of the DMR fleet. Firstly it is their first aluminium bike, and secondly, it is considered their first 'proper' full suspension bike. Sure the Bolt was well received and still exists, but it wasn't designed as a bike to compete in the modern trail and enduro category.Buy Enduro Bikes on
Those of us a certain age will have grown up with DMR being a part of the fabric of mountain biking and they have a place in the heart of many a rider. Now a lot of those mountain bikers are older, wiser, more broken, but still hit the trails and get loose in the woods. What if they still want to engage with a brand from their youth but want more than a dirt jump bike? In slides the Sled sideways, onto the scene.
So reputation is not enough, what backs up this new frame to make it special? So it's a 160mm trail/enduro/insert-latest-label-here bike. It's aluminium in construction and features some modern numbers, with a long reach, short seat tubes and slack head angle. More importantly, it features a fresh looking suspension.
The Orbit Link is the heart of the Sled, taking the concentric bottom bracket pivot from the Bolt, but adding a linkage instead of a single pivot. This Virtual Pivot design takes the suspension performance up a notch to compete in the high performance world of linkage driven suspension.
The build tested here features the frame suspended on a Monarch rear shock and a 160mm Pike up front. I would, however, expect a Lyrik up front on a hard hitting bike like this but the Pike is still a solid performer. Having gone to SRAM for some of the kit, the rest comes 'in house' from UK distributor; Upgrade. SRAM does the braking and shifting but is supported by the DMR AXE cranks.
DMR takes up many of the other parts of the bike, with bars, stem, cranks and wheels all coming from them, giving a burly and substantial build. The DMR Zone wheels have a 24mm internal width which while not super wide give a good tyre profile and are a solid performer.
A dangerously lightweight set of tyres finish off the build which obviously helps to keep the overall mass down on what is unashamedly a robust bike and confidence inspiring bike.
Jumping straight into the sort of terrain the Sled should enjoy, I'm hit with a sense of calm. Not from within, but from what's happening beneath. The Sled is very hard to unnerve, giving a real ground hugging feel as is takes you to some rapid speeds. It tells me clearly that I'm going to have to try harder to stress it out. A lot harder.
Zooming in on suspension performance, It's noticeable how supple the system is, and also how stiff. Pedalling results in some small bob, but it's super smooth and I had no real need to stiffen it up with a switch other than on roads. What is striking is the square edge hit performance when climbing, allowing you to pedal through rough terrain with ease. This gives a feel I would expect from a DW link perhaps, but these are some of the advantages gained by using their new system.
This supple depth of travel is what keeps it calm, combined with the slack and low geometry set up. If anything, the rear end starts to show up the limits of the fork, and I wonder if a Lyric would be a better match.
Stiffness is there in spades, but so it should be given the hardware involved in the linkages. Seeing the internals for the linkage is impressive, and this is definitely in the 'built to last' category of frame manufacture, but I would expect nothing else from DMR.
Pedalling into this stiff back end gives a great platform for power, and I was consistently impressed with the climbing capabilities of the bike. I moved the seat forward despite the relatively steep seat angle to keep me over the front and It just kept trucking up and up. The bike may feel a bit heavy to lift out the van, but it doesn't ride 'heavy', it's burly but has a lightness and subtlety to its ride quality.
That ground hugging plushness doesn't anchor the Sled to the floor, however, and leaving the ground is definitely part of the the Sled's repertoire. It holds up to all I would imagine a trail bike from DMR would be, strong reliable and a huge amount of fun to ride. Although I'm sure it could be piloted to many an Enduro podium, it's a good times and party lines type of bike. Think skids, wheelies and hucks rather than racing lines and aero tucks.
With such a low standover it's easy to slam the seat out the way and get a hugely maneuverable bike, hiding nice and low behind the big bars up front. Unfortunately, the short 125mm drop post meant I kept a 4mm handy for the start and finish of all descents, but fear not, X-Fusion has a 150mm post ready to er... drop, very soon. And on a plus side, the operation and reliability of the post have been excellent, the lever is now great!
The low and long frame sizing is great and will allow riders to size on length rather than seat tube length. I feel however it would have been nice to see DMR push the boat out a bit on numbers and go even longer in the front.
The Sled has arrived and shown that modern suspension and a solid pedigree is a fine combination for making dangerously exciting bikes. Exceptionally stable, calm and capable, this may be more bike than many of us need. However, when it climbs and sprints so well, it shows itself as a great all rounder with a desire to go dangerously fast. True to form this is a wild bike and a worthy successor to those bikes that have come before.
This review was in Issue 48 of IMB.For more information visit DMR Bikes
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By Ewen TurnerEwen Turner is a self-confessed bike geek from Kendal in the Lake District of England. He runs a coaching and guiding business up there and has a plethora of knowledge about bikes with an analytical approach to testing. His passion for bicycles is infectious, and he’s a ripper on the trails who prefers to fit his working life around his time on the bike.
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Dan, Joe and Edgar