We test the exclusive Bold Linkin: love at first sight
When it seems there is little left to discover and the biggest innovations are limited to geometric adjustments, here comes a bike like the Bold Linkin with new concepts and stunning aesthetics. Following the company's partnership with Scott, the Linkin model adopts the best technologies from each brand to create one of the most impressive trail bikes we've ever seen. We have tested it thoroughly for a while and here you can find out its secrets.
Bold Linkin, much more than an integrated shock
When you first look at the Bold Linkin, it's captivating. Besides its integrated shock, it's impossible not to think that the one-piece swingarm lacks articulation.
If we look closely we can appreciate the two connecting rods that join the swingarm to the main triangle and form a virtual pivot rear suspension. In the case of our test unit offers 150mm of travel, although there is another version with 135mm.
The lower linkage has one of its pivot axes concentric to the bottom bracket and is the one that, in its internal part, is anchored to the shock. It is a very small linkage but with huge oversized bearings, transmitting great stiffness to the swingarm. The upper linkage is very integrated and hidden behind the shapes of the swingarm, with a very striking aesthetic result.
The shock, in the case of this Bold Linkin and unlike its previous version and the well-known Scott Spark, is in a horizontal position, just in front of the bottom bracket. In this way the center of gravity is as low as possible.
For sag adjustment, we have a percentage scale next to the bottom bracket and an indicator rotates as the suspension is compressed. Also included is a small magnet that records the maximum compression reached, although in our test unit we did not have it.
For shock adjustments we only have to remove a protective cover at the bottom of the frame and we have access to the valve to vary the pressure and rebound adjustment. To manipulate the remote control cable we do have to disassemble the shock but, as we will discuss later, it is a tremendously simple operation, more so than on most bikes with an external shock.
Bold's partnership with Scott means that bikes under both companies' signatures mutually benefit from each other's technologies. For example, in the Linkin we have a frame made with HMX fibers, used in Scott's high-end range.
We also have a Fox Nude shock that, along with the famous TracLoc control, gives us three very different operating modes.
In the open position it offers 150mm of travel with all its sensitivity and absorption capacity. In the intermediate position, it not only closes the hydraulic compression, but also modifies the positive camber so that the suspension travel is reduced to 100mm and, more importantly, the sag is also reduced, which slightly modifies the geometry, making the Linkin more of a climber.
The third position is the lockout which, although not total, is very firm.
In this case the control is not the TwinLoc, since the Fox 36 fork with the Grip2 cartridge does not have a lockout, but what the TracLoc control does include is a third lever for the dropper seatpost.
Continuing with the technologies shared with Scott, we find a front part of the frame without any holes for wiring, and it shares with the Spark the steering system with the wiring entering under the handlebars and, not only that, but it also has cups that, with a 180º turn, can vary the steering angle by 1°.
This change of angle with the rotation of the cups is not the only geometric adjustment that the Bold Linkin allows. There is a flip chip at the junction of the upper crank with the swingarm, which can be inverted to change the bottom bracket height by 6.3mm. This change also slightly modifies the steering by approximately 0.4°.
There are a few details of the frame to highlight, before focusing on the geometry.
For example, it is worth mentioning that its down tube is straight almost in its entirety, which offers the possibility of accommodating long seatposts with plenty of travel, so size S comes with no less than 150mm, M with 170mm and L and XL with 200mm of travel in its dropper seatpost.
The Linkin swingarm comes with excellent quality chain impact protection on the chainstays.
The Linkin also adopts a removable rear axle lever that hides two sizes of Torx wrenches and a 6mm allen key with which we can adjust a large part of this bike.
And as a culmination to the studied design of the frame there is a detail that is increasingly common, and it is none other than to reserve a compartment in the frame to store some tool. But in Bold everything that is integration seems to be taken to the extreme, and behind the protector at the bottom of the frame, not only do we have access to the shock, but we also have access to the "Save the Day Kit". This very complete kit consists of a spare inner tube, a pump, a pair of disassemblers and a space to place a chain connector. In addition we find a very complete multi-tool.
The latest Trail geometry with customization options
The new Bold Linkin follows the latest trends that have proven to improve MTB performance in recent years. But also, thanks to the slightly off-center cups that we find in the steering and the flip chip we have in the anchoring of the swingarm to the crank, we can modify it to finish adapting it to our personal taste.
Thus, the Bold Linkin 150 has a steering angle ranging from 64.2° (with the steering position in the forward position and flip chip in Low) to 65.6° (reversing both settings).
We have a generous reach of 460mm for size M and 490mm in size L which, combined with the angle so launched gives us a length between axles of no less than 1216mm in size M and 1253 in size L. Also the bottom bracket height can be modified with the adjustments that we have from 340mm to 348mm.
The seat tube is extremely vertical at 77.4°, which will benefit us greatly on climbs at the expense of a somewhat less natural position when pedaling on flat terrain.
As we can see, it is a rather aggressive Trail geometry that seems to indicate that the Bold Linkin is going to find its ground on technical trails and speed.
Bold Linkin 150 Ultimate: an unbeatable set-up
It's that simple. We can't think of a better way to dress up a bike like the Linkin than with this combination of the best of Fox, DT Swiss, Sram, Shimano and Syncros as its own brand and with spectacular components.
In the fork we have a Fox 36 Float Factory with Grip2 cartridge that, with its 150mm, offers outstanding stiffness and absorption. The shock, as already mentioned, is a Fox Nude, also in Factory version.
The drivetrain is provided by the spectacular Sram XX1 AXS in Rainbow finish. A groupset that we have already tested on many occasions with flawless performance and that continues to captivate us with its electronic and wireless operation. In this case we have a 32-tooth chainring and a 10-52 cassette.
Normally we prefer the 10-50 version on the cassette so we don't have that last jump so accentuated, but on this bike the 52 fits perfectly, with which we can climb really steep ramps.
In the brakes, Sram is replaced by Shimano to mount the spectacular XTR M9120 with 4-piston calipers.
In the wheels we have another safe bet. Nothing less than the DT Swiss XMC 1501. Wheels that combine the famous 240s hub with carbon rims with 30mm internal width.
The rest of the components are signed by Syncros with a high level of quality and finish, highlighting the integrated handlebar Hixon iC Carbon, which in addition to its spectacular shapes, facilitates the entry of the wiring through the steering.
First impressions live
When we received the Bold Linkin 150 Ultimate the first feeling was that we were looking at one of those "Concept Bikes" that are presented at shows but never go to series production.
The absence of a shock in sight and the compact swingarm, whose connection to the main triangle cannot be seen until you take a closer look, make this bike visually unique.
The first thing we did before putting pedals on it was to put it on the scale and it gave us the figure of 14.18kg which, although it is not bad for a bike of these characteristics and in size L, is not the reference that should be taken into account when valuing it, since inside is the mentioned "Save the Day" kit, which is so complete that in total there are exactly 500 grams hidden in its frame destined to solve any breakdown.
After the weighing we made the first adjustments of position and pressures, for which we had to remove the cover and access the shock, a task that is really easy. The sag of the rear suspension is as easy to adjust, or even easier, than on a bike with an exposed shock, as the scale next to the bottom bracket is very practical and useful. Of course, not having the small magnet that records the sag, someone else helped us.
With the adjustment formalities completed, we set off on the Bold Linkin Ultimate.
It must be said that our test unit was a size L, and we normally fit better in a M. Even so, we were very comfortable in terms of position on the Linkin because, although a 490mm reach is a lot for us, the integrated handlebars with a 50mm stem length and the very forward position of the saddle relative to the bottom bracket meant that we were upright enough.
We started pedaling on favorable terrain paying attention to the contamination of the suspension and the difference in the positions of the TracLoc. And we were surprised by the tremendous pedaling efficiency for a bike of these characteristics. In the open position of the TracLoc we didn't notice excessive oscillation, in fact it's hardly noticeable if you don't pay attention to the fact that the sag guide next to the bottom bracket moves slightly. No doubt the successful virtual pivot design has a lot to do with it.
When we move to the intermediate position of the TracLoc, the small oscillations with pedaling are almost completely attenuated, but what is more noticeable is a lower overall sag of the suspension. We stay a little more above the bottom bracket, in a very optimal position for pedaling uphill.
We used the more closed position mainly on asphalt climbs where, with this practically total lockout, we were able to pedal standing up and feel a progress more typical of bikes with a marathon orientation than of a bike as aggressive as this Bold Linkin.
The Bold Linkin hides much more
It didn't take us long to get onto our favorite trails to see how far the Linkin would let us go, and the sensations were outstanding. We are not surprised at this point by the good performance of the Fox 36 Float Factory, a fork that we have already tested on many occasions and that gives us an unmatched sensitivity in the first millimeters of travel and, at the same time, a brutal support and absorption capacity from the first third of travel.
In the case of the rear suspension we did not have so many references, but the design of this virtual pivot, together with the Fox Nude shock, has proved to be at the height of the magnificent front suspension. The sensitivity to small impacts is extremely high and allows us to trace and steer the bike very easily to face major obstacles with the best disposition. And here, too, it shows a very high absorption capacity.
As we did not have the small magnet to record the travel we had no reference of the maximum sag we reached, but we noticed a perfect balance between both suspensions and we did not have at any time the sensation of reaching the top of the rear.
Aside from the tremendous absorption of its suspension, the Bold Linkin 150 Ultimate has shown incredible stability and poise at high speeds. Its geometry gives it these capabilities. In addition, the fact that we used a size L gave our unit even more poise.
Due to the size, we had some doubts about how it would behave in more twisty and technical areas. In our first tests we noticed some lack of support in tight corners on the front wheel, but we solved it by removing some spacers under the handlebars. After this operation things improved a lot and, despite the length of the Linkin in this size, we enjoyed a very agile bike that responds incredibly well to changes of direction. Here we clearly noticed its low center of gravity, which is one of the keys of the Bold Linkin, and we even dare to say that it is its greatest advantage. On the road the Linkin feels like a much lighter bike than the figures indicate.
Although we adapted very well to the Linkin as it was configured geometrically, with the steering in the most launched position, we wanted to try in one of the outings to turn the steering cups and feel the change from removing 1° to the launch of the steering.
We noticed the difference in behavior very clearly. The bike became a bit more lively, and in all those areas where we are not going at high speed the Linkin becomes more easy to handle.
For a variety of Trail routes, where we not only climb as a link to look for the next descent, but there are technical areas both uphill and downhill, this configuration is more advisable. But if what we want is to get the greatest capabilities of the Linkin on downhill trails, the more launched steering gives us that extra security at high speeds.
As for the swingarm flip chip, we tested it in the High position at all times, which is how it came. The bottom bracket is low enough to have a lot of stability and lowering it further in our test area would mean touching the pedals on more occasions than desired. But for areas of very clean trails and pure riding or for Bikeparks it's good to know that we can lower those 6.3mm and further enhance the tremendous stability of the Bold Linkin.
As for the components that dress our Bold, we can't put the slightest fault, the performance is fantastic and 100% reliable.
Special mention should be made of the XTR M9120 brakes, which have all the possible virtues: great power, exquisite feel, great ergonomics in their lever, light weight and also (although this is personal) a very successful aesthetic.
We only had one operating problem and it was caused by the seatpost cable. Being such a thin sheath you have to make sure that the internal routing is as clean as possible, because due to a very tight turn the sheath gave way and we had to access it. With this excuse we disassembled the shock to see better and we could check in first person that it is a matter of a couple of minutes. Once the problem was fixed we enjoyed a smooth and precise operation on the Syncros seatpost.
After our rides with the Bold Linkin 150 Ultimate it has become clear to us that it is, above all, a very unique bike. Both aesthetically, which is obvious, and in its versatility.
The fact of being able to vary its geometry makes it very close to an Enduro-type behavior, getting very close to the capabilities that specific bikes can offer, but with advantages in terms of lightness and pedaling (both for its virtual pivot system and for the TracLoc control and what it entails).
But it also performs well in a more touring use, especially by varying its steering angle, and allows us to ride for miles on a bike that feels agile and light.
And one thing that can't be denied is that it's a stunning, eye-catching bike, so riding the Linkin, whether you like it or not, is all eyes on you.
Bold Linkin 150 Ultimate: specifications and weight
- Frame: Bold Linkin 150 / Carbon HMX
- Fork: Fox 36 Float Factory Kashima / Grip2 / 150mm
- Shock: Fox Nude 5T Factory EVOL Trunnion, 150-100-Lockout
- Rear derailleur: Sram XX1 AXS
- Shifter: Sram Eagle AXS
- Crankset: Sram XX1 Eagle DUB, 32T
- Chain: Sram XX1 Eagle
- Cassette: Sram XX1 Eagle, 10-52
- Brakes: Shimano XTR M9120
- Handlebar: Syncros Hixon iC Carbon
- Seatpost: Syncros Duncan 1.5 / 34,9mm / Size S 150mm / M 170mm / L & XL 200mm
- Saddle: Syncros Tofino Regular 1.0 / Carbon rails
- Wheels: DT Swiss XMC 1501 Spline CL
- Tyres: Maxxis Minion DHF 2,5” EXO Tubeless Ready
- Weight: 14.18kg (including Save the Day Kit)