Forbidden Bikes released their Ziggy Link to allow riders to run a mullet wheel setup in their current Druid frames, so we found out more.
We wanted to find out how a small brand goes about making rapid changes to an existing bike, so had a catch up with the guys at Forbidden Bikes to see how their Ziggy Link came about.
How much did putting a 27.5” wheel in the rear of the Druid was to satisfy curiosity?
We’d heard rumblings early on that some of the race teams were experimenting with the concept and getting positive feedback from their riders so we naturally wondered if we could apply the same approach to the Druid.
It was initially a case of curiosity, but as we began to explore the benefits of a mixed wheel size bike further, we knew that there was more to this than something for DH racers concerned about buzzing the rears on 29in tyres.
Once you’d decided to try and make it work, what happened next?
From the outset, we did what most people conducting similar experiments have done, and slipped a 27.5in wheel into the back of a 29er chassis. It’s safe to say we couldn’t pedal it very well thanks to the ground-hugging bottom bracket height and subsequent pedal strikes, but hitting turns and linking things up on the trail had us hungry for more.
Our next step was to offset the changes that come as a result of reducing the rear wheel and began testing link variations. The Druid’s Rate Control linkage comprises of two links and we knew that we could redesign the lower link in isolation of the larger upper link. The benefits to this approach are two-fold as the lower link doesn’t contain any bearings and is easy to access and apply revisions to.
What’s involved in that process?
Lots of testing. We’re lucky to have year-round riding from the front door of our base of operations in Cumberland, BC (Vancouver Island) and the nearby Forbidden Plateau. From the first link design, which retained the Druid’s stock geometry, albeit with a 27.5in rear wheel, we wanted to push things a little further and extract as much as we can from a mixed wheel size chassis.
The next link we began testing took things in a more radical direction, dropping the bottom bracket by 6mm and slackening the head angle by 0.5 degrees. Everyone who tried it loved it and that was that; we had what we needed to re-calibrate the Druid from a full-29er into a mixed wheel size, mullet-sporting, corner slayer.
What challenges does being a small brand present in this kind of situation?
We might lack the R&D budgets and vast resources available to the big players in the industry, but we can explore ideas without significant oversight from upper management or company bean counters. It also helps when your founder is a former Rolls-Royce engineer with ten years of experience designing race-winning enduro and downhill bikes.
Taking a concept like Ziggy Link and seeing it through to a rideable prototype is quicker than you’d think. We also have some amazing partners in Asia who can rapidly prototype parts that allow us to have them on the trail in a matter of weeks. If anything, being a small rider owned brand with an engineer on staff like Forbidden, we can do whatever we want, the only caveat is that we try to not get too carried away and give ourselves too many distractions, which can happen with a company full of riders.
How did you weigh up offering a link over a different complete bike/frame?
Essentially, we didn’t have to when we could get the results required by revising the lower link on its own. Had that not been a route we could have taken, but we’d still had enough test data to support the concept, it’s something we would have had to approach carefully. Although most [riders] have been blown away by the Ziggy Link, we know that it won’t be for everyone and some of our testers said they preferred the stock 29er setup.
As far as how well mixed wheel size bikes will be accepted by the buying public, its still way too early to tell. We feel offering the Ziggy Link as an option (for now at least), is a good way to test the waters.
Ziggy Link also aesthetically fits into the Druid as you can see from the photos, which naturally helps, but we also want Ziggy Link to be this fun option for Druid owners who want to experiment and play with their bikes, which for us are what mountain bikes are for.
Check out the Forbidden Ziggy Link and their Druid on their website here.