Model: Methanol 29.2 FS Shimano XTR/XT 2x10
Frame: FS 100mm 29" full carbon monocoque, 4-bar linkage, PF30
Rear Shock: Fox Float CTD 165/38mm
Fork: Fox 32 Float 29 CTD Evolution
Shifters: Shimano XTR 2x10
FD: Shimano XT
RD: Shimano XTR
Crankset: FSA SL-K Light 38/24T
Cluster: Shimano XT M771-10s 11-36T
Chain: FSA Team Issue
Brakeset: Formula RX
Wheelset: Fulcrum Red Metal XL
Tires: Vredestein Black Panther 29
Stem: FSA SL-K
Bar: FSA SL-K
Seat Post: FSA SL-K
Off the Bike
Bike Porn, this bike looks sexy. It is sleek, it is slim and the Matt Black touched subtly with the Bianchi Celeste Green just works. Many full suspension bikes tend to look bulky and complicated around the rear suspension area but the Methanol looks simplistic and if you stand back and have a good look you get a clear idea of how the various pivots will work.
Still clean and shiny the Methanol I rode weighed in at 11.7kg without pedals.
On the Bike
The bike is fitted with a FOX CTD F29 with remote lock-out so the front and rear suspension work together depending on the CTD (Climb/Trail/Descend) setting chosen. On the first ride I hadn’t taken the time to check and set up either of the shocks properly before the ride so I found the bike a little spongy on the climbs.
My first descent on the bike was down a steep fire road covered with marble like stones, the backend of the bike sat firmly and turning into the corners it felt like it was on rails. The Formula RX brakes seemed to lock up a bit quickly in my opinion but lets rather call that a lack of time using that particular brand of brakes.
Staying in Trail mode I ventured into a rock garden and I found the bike rolled over rocks and roots easily enough, the nature of the rock garden called for some swift gear changes and I got what I would expect from the XT/XTR components. The stiffness and power from the SLK crank set in the BB30 bottom bracket prevented any unwanted stalls through the tricky slower sections.
Take 2: With a proper setup and I could still feel a difference between hardtail and FS but only just. The suspension was super stiff on the climbs in comparison to other dual suspension bikes I have ridden, the overall feel of the bike even with an aggressive setup was really comfortable.
The Fizik Tundra saddle was not uncomfortable but a little hard on the I.T. (sit bones) and I felt contact points the next day when I rode again, however I would be interested in giving the Tundra another go over a longer period of time.
After a few days of riding and getting into the feel of the bike I came to realize that the bike just wants to go fast. It is quick and nimble on corners and when descending on jeep track or single track the bike pulls the trail in underneath it and gives a soft smooth ride. Put enough pressure on the front end into a cambered corner and you pop out the other side wondering where the extra speed came from and for the limited period that I had the bike I felt confident taking it into drop offs, stepped descents and technical climbs.
I don’t want to get overly technical in this review but its worth mentioning the 442mm chainstay length which for a dual suspension bike is short and quite close to what is expected on hardtails. What this translates to is a bike that is highly responsive and able to swing around tight corners or switchbacks quickly and easily. The head tube angle pushes out at 71⁰ which is standard for cross country bikes so nothing out of the norm on that.
I want it, I want it, I want it. This is an incredible bike that will probably give you the ride of your life and will take (bar some terrain that Greg Minnaar would be found on) just about anything you decide to ride it on and fast if you so wish.
In my opinion there is only one small fault with the bike and that is when fitted with the CTD remote the bottle cage in the frame is not easily accessible and I found myself jamming my fingers up against the adjuster when removing a bottle. On larger frame sizes this may tend to be less of a problem but on a medium there is not much space in there.
The FS version of the bike comes in 3 models with the same frame and different component builds, none of them cheap however. The Bianchi FS range starts around R54,000 and the top end touches on the R90,000 range, noting that I would not consider any of the models to be mid range. So if you are looking for a top end bike that is resilient, responsive and aggressive yet still comfortable then this would be the bike you are looking for.