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ELEVEN Bike Review by Nick Holzem

 

The test bike from Eleven, that I’ve been riding is a dirt jump inspired fatty with a (Made in the USA) aluminum frame and our rig came equipped with a high end parts package that embodies the textbook definition of a supercharged race bike…that , by the way, will also ‘make heads turn’ on the expert jump line at the local bike park. Back in July when I received this machined marvel I had a promising idea where it was going to punish the competition.  It did just that but little did I know its other super ♦♦ powers. There’s a lot going on with this custom build, in case you missed my initial article with all of our test bike’s details check it out here.

At the time of this review Eleven Bike produces one frame model which they make in 3 sizes. Having one frame, gave Eleven time to focus all of their attention, to create this premium product that seemingly will last a lifetime. The frame is designed in North Carolina and fabricated in the U.S. from US sourced aerospace materials. 6061 aluminum was chosen along with a final heat treatment process to further improve quality and durability. Robust tubing, welding, and thoughtful design are the back bone of this frame. Two clean gussets cradle the tapered head tube.  The bottom bracket is 100mm wide and for this build holds a PF30 threaded Enduro TorqTite BB. Another forward-thinking and robust feature is the replaceable rear dropouts. These shiny bits are secured flush to the frame from the inside out with 3 screws. This allows for a wide variety of axle configurations along with ability to be replaced in the event the axle threading becomes damaged. Rear hub spacing is 197mm and the frame has room for tires up 4.8” wide. Eleven bike collaborates with Microbac Laboratories, Inc. an independent certified lab in Colorado to ensure their frames exceed international mountain bike standards (ISO). If all of that doesn’t make you want pull out your full sized American flag and wave it all about, please allow my ride review to confirm your initial excitement.

Eleven has chosen not to publish its geometry (although if you search hard enough it can be found). What I can tell you is this. The head tube angle feels somewhat neutral, falling somewhere between a Pugsley and Farley keeping the steering on the quick side. Chainstay length is quite tidy which allowed for cat-like agility and placement of the rear wheel over terrain where needed. The seat tube angle is somewhat slack but never did I feel a need to drastically move my weight forwards during steep climbing. I should also add this bike came with an 80mm stem and that I switched to a 50mm, at the beginning of testing. The combination of 760mm wide bar and 80mm stem did not allow me to have comfortable forward lean. (YMMV)

First impressions at my local trail, were exactly as predicted. The boldly engineered frame and top end parts package responded with precision and efficiency. Point this rig where you want it to go and it confidently holds the course. Climbing felt very natural and the bike was most confident when descending. The tubeless Jumbo Jims on The Dean carbon rims performed exceptionally well. For this 160-pound pilot, 7.5 psi rear and 5 psi front tire pressure was the perfect balance of grip, steering control, and bump compliance needed for the playful and twisty single track. The biggest challenge was navigating the wide handle bars between the tightly arranged trees. A quick lowering of the stem height, by moving some headset spacers, made for a welcomed increase in steering control. The combination of the semi-compact geometry and top-notch components proved itself as I entered a local (WORS) cross country race and ended up atop the podium in the fat bike division. With a few changes to this build, like swapping out the Bluto fork for a rigid carbon fork, or a narrower handlebar, and lighter duty brakes, you could cut the weight and squeeze out even more speed.

Speaking of speed, let’s take a quick moment to mention the highly sought-after Sram Eagle 12-speed drivetrain. Before riding I had two big questions; would the new system shift crisply and easily into each gear, even the 50-tooth monster? And secondly, are 12 gears too many? The first part is easy to answer, yes. Simply put it all works great. Each gear indexes smoothly across the 500% range even with the non-eagle designed oval sprocket. Not once did I drop a chain through my testing nor did back pedaling step it down.  Secondly, is 12 too many for Eleven? Well no, it pairs well! Although, I must say I rarely found myself in the 50-tooth ring. Except on steep non-technical double track or near the end of an epic long day did I find myself in need of this gear. In the biggest cog, I could spin my legs only fast enough to move at speeds of 2-3 mph which just wasn’t fast enough to carry momentum through technical climbs.

Another first for me was with the 32T Wolf Tooth oval chain ring. By positioning the ring on the crank arm so that the largest radius of the sprocket is aligned during the downward power stroke of the pedal phase I could leverage my bodies naturally stronger extending motion. During out the saddle punchy climbs is where it was most noticeable. On flat terrain, the oblong sprocket did feel weird at first but after a few rides I simply forgot about it.

The most surprising discovery is how capable the bike is in extremely technical areas. On a trail called “Pine Knob” at Marquette Michigan’s northern trail system is a mile-long section of rock garden. We’re talking large, squarish, jagged boulders which often required trial type maneuvers and extreme off the back descending. The overall balanced frame geometry kept me in the game on my way to the bluff of this billy goat type climb. In this case the wider handle bar worked to my favor providing more leverage. And with the assist was the Industry 9 rear hub and its instant engagement. The descent was just as challenging and relentless, offering only a few feet of flat sections to momentarily recover. At the bottom, I stopped to reflect upon the last 15 minutes of non-stop thrill. Even the large 203mm disc of the Hope X2 brakes needed a rest as it pinged and tinged while it cooled off. The frame looked just as fresh as the day I got it. I truly was astonished at how capable this bike was in this rugged country.

To fully complete testing, I felt some, dirt jump, soul searching, was in order. Luckily for me, a new dirt jump park, Sylvan Hill Bike Park, just opened in my hometown; so I went there to check it out. The professionals at Rock Solid Trail Contracting built the course featuring all the required elements to put any bike through the ringer. It took a few runs to dial in my fore/aft positioning on the medium sized dirt sculptures. The sweet spot being right over the middle of the wheels. Once in this central position the bike responded quickly in and out of berms and allowed for easily timed takeoffs and landings. The most gnarly line features a 5-foot drop, long doubles, and bermed step up and step downs all requiring near 20mph speeds to clean. The frame’s stiffness positively managed the forces generated from this wild line. The dirt jump inspired tubing layout and solid frame construction prevailed even when my timing was off…coming up short on a few jumps. Thank goodness for squishy fat tires! As expected, the bike performed great on those sweet jumps and also provoked a few head turns.

Using Eleven’s online configurator, you have the freedom to customize your build to suit your riding, style, and budget. It’s the perfect way to get a one of kind ride that incorporates your thoughts and build plan. The least expensive build starts at $2950 which includes solid components from big name part manufactures. Choose from 30 frame colors, 3 graphic choices, 4 grip colors, and 4 different cable and lines schemes at no additional cost. As you pick the tires, drivetrain, cockpit, etc. the weight savings and cost are shown to help you meet your weight goal or stay in budget. My only wish would have been to see a dropper seat post option for the configurator and on my test bike. Other options like crank arm length and stem length choices could really set them apart from the rest. Top end rides, like the one tested here, will set you back $6150. But at that price you’ll have just about every light carbon hooptie part, that you could ever dream of.

If you’re looking for a high-quality American made fat bike that can do it all , you should consider Eleven bike. The quality and construction is superior. The replaceable dropouts allow for different axle type and drivetrain setups providing great versatility. These features give it the potential to last for decades. The bike handled everything that we threw at it, during our dirt-centric Summer testing. Overall, I give this bike a 4.5 out of 5 gnome rating. 4.5 only for only two minor reasons. One, I didn’t have a chance to test it on snow. And two, it didn’t come equipped with a dropper seat post.

Configure your own Eleven bike today Elevenbike.com.

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3 Responses to ELEVEN Bike Review by Nick Holzem

  1. Brian G September 18, 2017 at 11:17 am #

    Hey Nick,

    I live and ride in NC where ELEVEN brand bikes are based so I had the chance to come across them early on and spec’d out a sweet size S ripper for myself. At this point I’ve got nearly 1,200 western NC trail miles on it and after reading your review it confirms what I’ve been enjoying for about 10 months now, that this bike is FAST, agile and totally fun to ride! Having had lots of other riders come talk to me when they see me on this mount, I tell them first to pick the bike up and when they do their amazed at how light it is! They can only begin to understand the bike’s performance capability by riding it but your article sure captures the essence of it!

    P.S. You mentioned desiring a dropper post via website selection, I’ve found that if one calls the guys at ELEVEN they’ll hook you up with whatever you desire even if it’s not on the site.

  2. ELEVEN September 18, 2017 at 3:05 pm #

    FAT-BIKE.com, Thanks for the great review.

    Once our customers have decided on their basic build, we work with them to fine tune stem length, bar width, saddle, etc. – our goal is to deliver the bike you want – no need to change parts out or upgrade.

    Just like any other component, we are happy to build your bike with your preferred dropper post

  3. thub September 18, 2017 at 10:46 pm #

    It would be really cool to see the Eleven tested on snow. Somewhere like Alaska. Great review Nick!