A place has been reached with wheel size where all the shouting has been done. No longer does the volume have to be turned up, for the message has been hammered out loud and clear. Amplification, having settled just above the mean of what it used to be, earplugs can now be removed, everyone happy with the new equilibrium, even the neighbours. A glance back will soon reveal 26” as a land where time forgot and 29” a place where many fear to go – 650 (27.5”) the great half way house, slightly louder, slightly better, which is good…
From Dirt Issue 139 – September 2013
Words by Steve Jones. Photos by Roo Fowler.
One euro under €5000, the Rotwild R.E1 FS 650B offers up 160mm travel front and rear and is available in small, medium and large. Interestingly Rotwild offer a similar R. E1 FS in 180mm travel as well but with smaller 26” wheels. This bike however comes with important detail such as ISCG, 142mm axle, stainless steel headset and replaceable drop out inlays. The overall finish is A1. Adjustable seatpost, a good gear range and solid Shimano XT complement the package.
Some of the cruder detail is in the wheels and suspension. The noisy freehub is maybe not such a massive issue but the wheels flex too much and are too close to the top part of the seatstays rubbing on many occasions. She dances well however, and has the soul of something a bit longer in the saddle too, it’s good for a multi–hour ride. Stability in the rocks is achieved through good angles, but she needs some muscle in the scrawny air shock to bolster the charging mindset. I can’t help but think how much better this bike would be with a coil or an air–can that’s had more love. It’s a shame that such items have gone out of fashion for many companies.
Whilst the E1 does not have internal routing of the cable it does nonetheless have a military neatness about its business. The lacquered raw frame has been faultless in its reliability, the bearings and pivots all good too. The bike comes with a small amount of soundproofing, all round the noise on the E1 is reasonably low but could certainly be improved. Standover is low, heel clearance is good, although at the expense of tyre room both on seat and chainstays (the former isn’t helped by the incorrect dish on the wheel).
Elsewhere a quick tour reveals an always reliable KS adjustable seatpost which replaced the Crank Bros Kronolog was limiting leg movement due to its tall upper chamber. Schwalbe Hans Damf tyres front and rear came with Trail and Pace compounds respectively. It’s a good mix for all–round riding but the harder rear tyre does compromise a touch the control of the bike. Crank Bros bar and stem got replaced early doors too.
The E1 suspension link has a good pattern to its ride character but simply isn’t helped by the piss poor shock and fork. The rear developed a mild knock and the Fox 34 fork is now well established as one of the poorest 160mm forks on the market. It needs more compression and support, a bigger axle and maybe chassis for the work that’s asked of this long travel bike. This season a RockShox Pike or Marzocchi would put some bollocks back into the front end. Like wise the rear needs that boost which has already been mentioned.VERDICT
Clear the decks of the crap bolted to this bike and you will find a true performer. Not only have Rotwild boldly taken the move to 650 ahead of almost everyone else (this bike has been out since last year) but they’ve managed to get their numbers right on the geometry creating a bike that can be driven hard uphill and left to skip through the harder gravity business without fear.
She’s a beaut’ visually too. The Rotwild has individuality without being plain weird and the quality on show here is genuine. It’s certainly not a bike that’s given us a working over with aggressive marketing, in fact Rotwild are refreshingly modest in their claims. It’s a good weight, drives hard all day. If you’re in the market for a 150/160 bike that plays down the middle without being biased to trail on one side or uplifting on the other, this is one such option.
|FRAME||Rotwild R.E1 FS 650B|
|SHOCK||Fox CTD Factory Kashima|
|HEADSET||Rotwild 1.5 tapered|
|FORK||Fox 34 Talas 160 FIT 650B Kashima|
|BAR||Crank Bros Cobalt|
|CASSETTE||Shimano HG 81 11–36T|
|BRAKES||Shimano XT 200/180|
|WHEELS||E13 TRS 650|
|TYRES||Schwalbe Hans Damf Trailstar/Pacestar|