We take a look at the Labyrinth Minotaur downhill bike, a bike that is chasing World Cup podiums with the likes of Sabrina Jonnier and Remi Thirion.
DIRT ISSUE 125 – JULY 2012
Words by Steve Jones. Photos by Steve JonesFIRST THOUGHTS – Low and long with hallowed damping, this bike is fast
And white, very white. With weight kept down low the Labyrinth holds itself well visually with all the engine room componentry tucked around the low bottom bracket area. The bike features a connecting rod/rocker link system based around a single pivot design that’s always a relief to see. That said, I did flinch when I saw the words ‘multi progressive shock stroke’.
Big pivot bearings and even beefier Shimano Saint groupset…this bike comes as a solid package. Sizing appears pretty good on the large, with a nice head angle, good wheelbase and space for moving around the cockpit area. All good basic groundwork done efficiently it seems, with adjustable chainstays and internal cable routing completing the picture. In terms of suspension design the linkage–driven single pivot gives three distinctive stages of travel, here’s what Labyrinth have to say about it:
“In the first 3.6″ of travel it has a very low leverage ratio to react and absorb small bumps and have greater grip. The middle part of the stroke (3.6″ to 7.2″ travel) is linear. This is for small to medium impacts and helps isolate the pedal action from the shock. Finally, the last 0.8″ is very progressive to give a bottomless feel and prevent bottom–out on large drops.”
On her maiden voyage the Minotaur comes across as a fast operator, although initially found myself struggling for stability and grip up front. At first I put this down to cheap rubber, but subsequently Roger Estrada from R53 (BOS distributors) pinpointed this to lack of oil in the fork. Even though we got a considerably better performance, eventually mixing a RaRe damper with standard Idylle (non hydraulic bottom–out) was something the guys at BOS thought was at odds. The Idylle is a good fork, but the RaRe is better.SECOND THOUGHTS – Imbalance with the dampers
Although the theory appears straight forward, the Labyrinth proved slightly harsh on the rear end. BOS rear dampers have proved slightly hard in compression in the past and it’s possible this is still the issue here. Certainly on the rocky southern France tracks I’d be looking to spend a bit more time on set–up to soften the rear a shade. The first part of the travel offers excellent grip, it just needs smoothing out through the stroke when setting up.
Saint brakes are not known for their subtlety and are certainly not one of my favourites. Halo wheels appeared to be speeding along at some knots, although the front wheel spacer business had me tied up on many occasions – spacers went out years ago, why bother! The rear fender, although a nice touch, didn’t last long and the wheels came loose before even getting ten runs in the bag. I guess riders will be looking at frame only or frame and fork options but even then frame and shock is a thousand pounds more than a Nukeproof Scalp.CLINCHER – You might want to consider one of these
Some negatives, yes, but holy shit does this bike ride well. The speed and poise on the Minotaur is superb, the bike allows you to ride loose without compromising posture. The shape of the bike is of pure downhill breeding and the bike once fitted with a Idylle RaRe put the bike where it should be for the price tag. Pedal and pump is totally to hand in an instant. The feeling of speed on the Labyrinth was exceptional, the bike always allowing you to push that bit extra. In terms of price I’d be looking for something above and beyond what’s currently available – getting a RaRe fork to match the rear but I can only imagine that would push the package over 4K.
It might well be half man, half bull in its original spec, but the Minotaur is unique, efficient, fast and balanced. Buy as a frameset and don’t cut corners in the build set.
Frame Only (no shock) : £2095.00
Frame and BOS Stoy Shock: £2549.00
Frame, BOS Stoy RaRe Shock, Extra Dropouts, Cane Creek Angleset: £3125.00
Frame, BOS Stoy Shock and Idylle Fork: £3799.00
R53 Sport 07785 292 082
Labyrinth Bikes www.labyrinthbikes.com