I’ve had a stupid amount of fun on the Guerrilla Gravity “Pedalhead” over the last month and a half. Imagine a XC rig mated to a downhill banshee cross-bred with a BMX bike that grew up in the mountains rather than the local skatepark and you start to get an idea. A bike that doesn’t shy away from getting rowdy at the least opportunity, but that will capably take you from one of those opportunities to the next, all day long, up or down.
I’m 5’10” with about a 31” inseam, and the medium frame fit me well, with a 50mm stem and an effective top tube length of 24.35” (613mm). That long reach works very well indeed with a short stem and a 780mm Race Face Turbine bar that contribute to this bike feeling so comfortable and controlled on the steeps.
The Pedalhead can run a fork up to 140mm of travel, and my tester came with the new MRP Ribbon 140, a fork I was definitely curious to try. After getting the positive and negative air chambers dialed in based on MRP’s recommended pressures, it was truly ‘set and forget.’ The Ribbon did everything I asked of it, and did it smoothly, with no fuss and no further tweaking required. It also fits a 27.5 x 2.8” tire with lots of room to spare. And of course, being made in Colorado, the Ribbon just seems like it naturally belongs on a Guerrilla Gravity frame.
As with the Ribbon fork, the KS Lev Integra dropper worked without a hitch, reliably snapping back into position with an audible “thunk” whenever things turned uphill pedaly. The Lev has a solid reputation, and I can see why – it does what it should, when it should, and is easy to install, which are about the only criteria I really have when it comes to droppers.
My test Pedalhead came shod with Maxxis Minion DHF and DHRII 2.8s – a meaty combo truly meant for serious shredding. I’ve been a fan of the DHF 2.8” as a front tire ever since I put one on my own rig at the beginning of last season – it’s a tire that, like it’s skinnier ancestor, let’s you charge hard and corner with ridiculous amounts of confidence. And the DHRII bringing up the rear is a great compliment to that….when you’re mostly going downhill. On more XC-oriented rides, the DHRII felt noticeable draggy, and I found myself longing for a Rekon 2.8” in the back instead. If I owned a Pedalhead, I think the DHF/Rekon would be my standard combo for this bike (along with many other plus bikes I’ve ridden).
Bottom bracket height on the Pedalhead is stated at 12-12.4” (305 – 315 mm), though I found mine to be a bit lower than that, and not surprisingly there were times I wished it was a little higher. The Pedalhead comes with ISCG05 chainguide mounts and if you’re taking this bike into the chunk, a bash guard would be a good idea, as with many bikes that fit into the “long, low and slack” category these days.
As I alluded to in the initial “Spotlight” overview, the Pedalhead was an eye-opener for me in terms of geometry and ride quality. When I was initially checking this bike out online, it was hard for me to get past the 65.5º head tube angle and large amount of rake that had me convinced this bike was largely intended to be a fairly downhill-specific hardtail, but would be compromised as anything else. But after a few rides it was this sporty front end, combined with the 74º effective seat tube angle (75º actual STA) that was the game changer. I’ve ridden lots of bikes with slack HTAs, correspondingly slack STAs (73º and lower) and short chainstays. Yet as many others have noted with such slacked-out fore and aft designs, this combo is great for downhill stability and prowess, but can become a delicate dance when you turn that bike uphill, with your weight far back on the bike and the potential for a wandering front wheel. Not so at all with the Pedalhead. That steeper STA keeps you firmly above the bike when climbing, very much in a XC-oriented position in relation to the center of the bike and position over the pedals, and also helps keeps that slack front end well-behaved when headed uphill. It may only be a degree or two steeper than what is common with STAs today, but it’s significant in its effect on body positioning. Conversely, as soon as you drop that seat out of the way and drop in, you’re on a bike that has instantly transformed into something else. This is a bike that, through a combination of geometry and technology, is deliberately designed with a dropper as an integral part of the equation – a bike that takes advantage of what a dropper can do for you both uphill and downhill, rather than simply taking the more common approach of slacking out the whole bike and shifting the rider’s weight rearward. Seems like a no-brainer when you think about it, right? Yet not that many current offerings are actually being designed this way, with the function of a dropper post as such an intentional part of the design.
It’s also important to mention the unique ride quality of this frame. I’ve ridden a lot of steel frame hardtails, and while it’s hard to put a finger on, the Pedalhead felt unique in this regard from the first test ride. Chalk it up to the square tubing, which Guerrilla Gravity says contributes to a frame with “lateral stiffness but vertical compliance,” and/or whatever mystical and top-secret ingredients might comprise their “Smashmoly” steel, but I’ve never ridden a steel bike that mutes the chatter quite like the Pedalhead. With most bikes made of decent-to-high quality steel, the muting effect is typically subtle. With the Pedalhead, it’s like butter. Combine that wonderful steel design with a 140mm fork and plus tires, and you might not miss a rear shock much at all.
Guerrilla Gravity has produced a really unique hardtail in the Pedalhead, and one that is a lot more versatile than first impressions might imply. A bike that is fully competent as an all-around XC ride, and as downhill capable as your skills allow. It’s an impressive achievement, and if you’re in the market for a real “all mountain” hardtail that can handle anything you want to throw at it, the Pedalhead should be high on your short list.
Check out more from Guerrilla Gravity at – http://ridegg.com/