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When Scott Sports acquired Bold Cycles a little over two years ago, we weren’t sure what would happen. Bold continued operating, but when the Scott Spark was released earlier this year, featuring Bold’s signature in-frame shock placement, it seemed like the days were numbered for the innovative brand. But today, we learned that nothing could be further from the truth. The new Bold Linkin was just released, and it’s got new geometry, new linkage, new shock placement, and a list of new features.
The previous Bold models, meaning the first-generation Linkin and Unplugged V1 and V2, were built around a Horst-link platform, but the new Linkin uses a dual-short-link concept that would be similar to DW link, but one of those links rotates around the bottom bracket, making it actually more similar to the Orion Link, used on Esker’s full-suspension bikes, including the Rowl. Except in the case of the new Linkin, that lower concentric-pivoting link actually compresses the shock similar to how the lower-link compresses the shock on a modern Santa Cruz.
The result leaves more room in the seat tube for longer dropper posts and lower standover, and furthers the illusion that there’s no rear shock on the bike, since the down tube is already thick enough to fit a shock. It also happens to be thick enough to store your stuff, and Bold is taking a unique approach to this. Remove the plate that hides the rear shock, and you’ll find a compartment that slides out just like some e-bike batteries might, but instead hides what seems like a sort of “cartridge” that carries a spare tube and a hand pump.
The new Linkin has a somewhat traditional flip chip in the upper link, and a not-so-traditional head-angle adjustment, which functions by rotating the upper and lower headset cups 180 degrees for one full degree of adjustment. And speaking of adjustment, the Linkin features probably the biggest, most accurate, easiest to read on-bike sag indicator we’ve ever seen, integrated into the bottom-bracket concentric lower link.
There are two versions of the Linkin, a 135mm-rear, 140mm-front-travel version and a 150/150 version. All models include what Bold is calling Tracloc, which is similar to Scott’s Twinloc. The three-position remote lever both firms up the compression damping like a traditional lockout lever, but on the Fox Nude-equipped models, also steepens the spring curve, essentially shortening or, in the third position, nearly locking out the travel. There’s no room for a piggy-back shock in the Linkin’s frame, so all are using either the Nude Float shocks that Fox designed with Scott, or a traditional remote RockShox Deluxe shock.
The geometry is as progressive as you might expect from a brand producing frames like this. 490mm reach for a large, 77.7-degree effective seat tube angle in the shorter-travel model and as low as a 64.4-degree head angle in its slack setting. Except for the “entry-level” RockShox-Pike-equipped Linkin 135 Pro ll models come with 36mm-stanchion forks, whether it’s from Fox or Öhlins, so the Linkin appears to be aimed at the aggressive trail / all-mountain market.
There’s a lot of mention in Bold’s press release about good small-bump sensitivity and mid-stroke support, but we need to wait until we get our hands on one to confirm that. Our experience with the Bold Unplugged V2 and the recently released Scott Spark was that these bikes tend to feel rather linear. There’s very little room inside a frame to play with linkage lengths and shock position, so Bold and Scott only have so much freedom in determining the bike’s leverage curve. But lower-link designs have made for great-feeling bikes from Santa Cruz and Specialized lately, so we’re optimistic that this bike is a step in the right direction.
We’re just not sure if it’s a step in our direction. Bolds have been pretty difficult to get a hold of in the U.S., so it remains to be seen where you’ll be able to buy these. For now, pricing is only listed in Euros.
LINKIN 135 ULTIMATE: 8.499 €
LINKIN 150 ULTIMATE: 10.999 €
LINKIN 135 PRO: 5.999 €
LINKIN 150 PRO: 6.999 €
LINKIN frameset: 4.999 €