The Bold Linkin 135 protagonist of this test is the latest creation of the Swiss brand that has become famous for its bikes with shock absorbers inside the frame. With the very first version of the Linkin in 2015, the Bold brand came to the attention of the MTB world as a brand with a great spirit of technological innovation. The Bold project aroused the interest of Scott who acquired the brand three years ago by creating both a commercial and technical partnership, combining the know-how of the two companies in a crossover from which both benefited.
The Linkin is available in both 135 and 150mm travel versions. The bike under test is a Linkin 135 that Bold provided me with a custom assembly based on a Pro set-up, the cheapest of the two available in the range, with some components of the Ultimate set-up, the top of the range, and other non-standard components. series. I have used the Linkin 135 for a long time putting it to the test both in trail use for which it is intended and on spicier routes.
Bold Linkin 135 details
- Frame material: carbon fiber
- Wheel size: 29 ″
- Variable geometries: yes
- Front travel: 140mm
- Rear travel: 135mm
- Shock absorber wheelbase: 185x55mm trunnion
- Transmission: 1 × 12 (32t / 10-52)
- Bottle cage attachment: yes
- Declared weight in Pro version: 13.9kg (14.3kg with save the day kit)
- Measured weight: 14.15 kg in size M, tubeless and without pedals (14.67 with save the day kit)
The Bold Linkin is a 135mm rear travel trail bike, as the name reveals, which is paired with a 140mm fork, 29-inch wheels and modern geometry. The frame is made of carbon fiber with rather generous sections and particular shapes that give excellent structural rigidity to the frame. The overall weight of the bike is decidedly high for the trail segment but at least it is positioned very low thanks to the particular suspension system.
This is the Internal Suspension Technology system also adopted by Scott on his Spark, but in this case it is in the virtual pivot version. The peculiarity of the system is to position the shock absorber, and in general the suspension system, in the lowest possible point to lower the center of gravity. At the same time the shock absorber remains hidden inside the frame, more precisely in the lower part of the oblique, giving the bike a unique and suggestive line and protecting the shock absorber from dirt and bumps.
It is a virtual pivot system with short arms, from the same family as DW Link, Zero Suspension and Maestro so to speak, in which, however, the lower connecting rod, which compresses the shock absorber, is concentric with the bottom bracket and hidden inside the frame. Even the upper connecting rod remains entirely hidden behind the wagon itself. This particular design creates the optical illusion that there are no joining parts between the frame and the carriage, as if they were molded in a single piece.
With the shock hidden inside the frame, however, you cannot control sag or the amount of travel used while riding. Bold’s solution is a graduated scale on the outside of the lower connecting rod, the concentric one to the bottom bracket, where the connecting rod itself pushes a magnet on this graduated scale indicating the percentage of excursion used.
The sag problem has been solved brilliantly but the position of the shock implies other difficulties as well. The adjustments are certainly not immediate and require you to remove the lower bumper of the frame that acts as a door to access the RockShox Deluxe Select RL3. The vertically positioned air valve facilitates the work while the tiny lever that adjusts the rebound is not as practical as the classic wheel and it is seriously difficult to set the adjustment due to the very close shots.
For the same reason, in order to operate the three positions of the shock absorber compression, it is necessary to use the remote control on the handlebar. Given that I normally hate handlebars crowded with controls, in this case I find that the Bold TracLoc remote is practical and well studied and becomes intuitive after a short time in the saddle, without creating confusion with the telescopic control, the lowest of the three lever. . The two levers that control the shock absorber are well positioned and easy to operate despite a somewhat long stroke that forces you to detach the palm of the knob.
The Linkin 135 I tested features a FOX 36 Performance Elite 140mm travel fork with 44mm of rake and Grip2 hydraulic cartridge. Rigid and adequately performing, perhaps even oversized as intended use but proportionate to the frame structure.
The wheels are not standard on either version, they are Syncros Revelstoke 1.5 with aluminum rims, robust for the intended use and smooth enough, while I did not find the Maxxis tires chosen by Bold particularly smooth, probably because of the 2.6 ″ width which I find excessive and demanding to pedal. Specifically, it is a Dissector at the rear and a Minion DHF at the front, both with EXO carcass and 3C MaxxTerra compound.
The drivetrain is a SRAM GX Lunar, therefore with a range of 520%, aluminum cranks with 32 chainring and 10-52 cassette. The Linkin has a truly minimal but effective chain guide. It simply takes care of preventing the chain from jumping on the crown and risking falling.
The brakes are those of the Ultimate set-up, of the 4-piston Shimano XT M8120 that clamp a pair of 180mm diameter Ice Tech Freeza CenterLock rotors at the rear and 203mm at the front. They are not standard discs as both versions are fitted with 6-hole disc mount wheels.
The Hixon iC SL integrated cockpit is interesting, only the prerogative of the Ultimate set-up, which combines the 50mm stem and the 780mm wide handlebar and 15mm rise in a single carbon fiber component. Personally I am very critical and demanding on the geometry of a handlebar and I often take a long time to find the angle that suits me, so I was afraid of not being comfortable with a fixed handlebar, instead I appreciated the comfortable position and the dynamic at the same time. The headset manages the entry of cables into the frame for a very clean routing and also allows you to adjust the steering angle by +/- 0.6 °.
The geometry adjustment can also be made through the classic flip chips positioned on the wagon that offer a faster intervention option than the angle set headset and a much greater range, with a difference in the steering angle of 1.4 °. In this way, Linkin offers two very distinct and different configurations, one rather conservative and the other decidedly aggressive for a trail bike.
The absence of the shock absorber and the connecting rods inside the triangle allows to obtain plenty of space for the bottle cage which in fact has no capacity limits for the bottles it can carry. In fact, the space available is so large that I would not have missed the opportunity to be able to place a second attachment for the bottle cage, to carry two bottles with you in the warmer seasons or other objects fixed to the frame.
But Bold thought of something similar by taking advantage of the space inside the frame, as we see often done in recent years. The lower bumper of the oblique, as already mentioned in the shock absorber paragraph, acts as a door and is anchored to the interlocking frame and firmly fixed by means of a screw that can be operated more or less easily by hand or with an Allen key.
Here in Bold offers a real safety kit, which in fact he has baptized Save The Day Kit. Near the bottom bracket we find the seat made ad hoc for the Syncros multitool which remains firmly in place thanks to a magnetic attack and without any noise while riding thanks to the foam backing. From the large hole from which the shock absorber is accessed, we also see the actual Save The Day Kit emerge.
Fastened by velcro to a plastic exoskeleton, the Save The Day Kit is easily removed from the frame and just as easily stored in its place. Inside it contains a false link, a pump, two tire levers and a bag in sturdy tear-resistant nylon that wraps and protects an air chamber. The multitool has 9 functions including the chain tool and inside it Bold ensures a couple of spare magnets for sag measurement.
It does not have particularly high reliefs compared to current trends but the preformed rubber chain guard that Bold has created for Linkin is definitely effective. The chain leaves no marks on the wagon and the bike is silent while riding.
The cable passage is almost completely hidden. We have seen that it enters in correspondence with the headset leaving the cockpit extremely neat and clean, it runs entirely along the down tube and exits towards the intersection with the seat tube to re-insert itself completely in the wagon, on both sides. In the one place where the cables come out, as the photo below shows, the routing still manages to be elegant and discreet.
Apart from a functional (not standard) set-up but rather heavy for the intended use, the Bold Linkin frame boasts an extreme attention to detail and a good dose of intelligent technical solutions. However, not everything went the right way… in the video all the details, together with the riding impressions.
Bold Linkin 135 geometries
Equipment and prices
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