ABOUT: Noel designed his first V-Tach frame back in 2002 and the Warden evolved as their trail/enduro offering. They have it in both aluminum, and most recently in carbon. Known for their grip and active front end I raised an eyebrow at the design and got a hold of one for myself this year. Curiosity enveloped the fuss about the arguably unique link that claims a cloud like ride. Such that would promise ride comfort a lot like how a 40 mile epic ride would be set up with overly pampering sag support and burrito carts at every mile marker.
DESIGN: It uses patented link technology called FOURby4 where the rear wheel travels independently of the shock stroke. What’s cool is that it is a four bar linkage that connects the rear swing arm to the seat stay and also connects to another shock linkage. Watch anything by Vorsprung Suspension on suspension engineering concept and if you only watch one of their 23 videos their Tuesday Tune Episode 5 Low and High speed compression adjustment will get you good info. Noteably, the uniquely linear suspension rate curve requires less resistance on the shock so it maintain its performance over longer service intervals. In other words, it does not need to be serviced as often. That could be good for the girl who thinks that bike shop workers are someone other than young dudes fresh out of their mom’s basement who have an innate attraction to eating Cheetos, and might feel intimidated going to a bike shop. PSA most bike shop mechanics will go out of their way to help explain a shock sleeve service. Less service intervals are welcomed like a coffee shop who gives you a punch card and rewards you with a free tenth drink.
The head tube angle is a slack 66.5 and adjustable one degree to 65.5 using two shock mount holes between the frame and bottom bracket. Competitive with other trail/enduro bike head tube angles on the market, it is stable enough so that the only excuse for its geometry is whether or not the rider points the handlebars true over the trail cropping. As far as stability, the Warden is active because of a forward instant center. It’s a nerd engineering term for rear suspension designs as the point connecting two points from the rear link and suspension that applies power or lift. The bike tracks smoothly around tight slow speed corners because the wheels and shock still move when braking forces are applied. On the longer end of 1133mm wheelbase the bike is flickable around little lips and with a pretty long front and center. It’s still stable on the straights.
Photographer: Jeremiah Newman
FIRST RIDES: After taking it on a few rides I immediately noticed the suspension had low pedal kickback. The term is the return force generated against the pedals from the ground not absorbed by the suspension. This reduces leg fatigue, especially conducive to women riders trying to maximize their performance over an Enduro course. It uses a shock-platform philosophy where it relies on the lock-out shock setting to activate the anti-squat or pedaling efficiency. This is good how it allows the bike to be more supple on the descents and still be efficient on the climbs. The key is that the rider will have to remember to lock out the shock on uphill sections and click it off before the descents. One part of the FOURby4 link is essentially a cage across the seat tube from the swing arm. It is strong that provides lateral stiffness although it is designed a bit wide and does get in the way of the pedal swing on the Warden Small frame. I shifted the saddle rails a bit forward, temporarily helping the fit.
Take: It gives a bottomless feel on jumps and as a female rider there is no need to swap the suspension with a lighter shock tune. The rider sets the PSI and rolls the bike to their favorite trail. That is the Knolly for me.