It was only a fling, but Knolly’s Warden left Tom wanting more…
Knolly make rad looking bikes, that’s a fact. I first spotted them in the amazing Life Cycles film a few years ago, and I feel a bit bad that I assumed you couldn’t get them in the UK. I coveted their bikes whenever I saw them in magazines, and drooled over them in the flesh at trade shows. Then one day, the postman brought me one…
The Warden is Knolly’s first bike on the 275 wheelsize, and it’s not a decision they’ve taken lightly, determined to preserve the feel of their 26″ bikes. While most people have got over the wheelsize debate (is calling each other knobs on the internet really a debate?!), the differences remain, and Knolly have tweaked the geometry to make the most of the differences.
The alloy frame features all the usual trimmings, internal or external routing including the options for a stealth dropper and a front mech. Replaceable ISCG05 tabs and a threaded/normal BB keep real riders rolling, no mucking about here! The back end would happily take a 2.5″ tyre, and the bearings and bushes are well protected from filthy ingress. 142×12 a the back end keeps things in line. The shock can be mounted in two ways to drop 7mm of BB height and slacken the bike to a rad-friendly 65.5 degree head angle.
The Warden has a 150mm travel back end designed to remain supple and responsive both on the climbs and on the way back down again. The heart of the bike is the Cane Creek DB Inline shock. After the initial set up the shock performed faultlessly through the test. The back end is refined enough to not bother with the platform damping switch, and delivered tons of grip on rough and slippery climbs without feeling wallowy or sluggish both seated and out of the seat. On the downs it was similarly refined, feeling stiff and flex free even under hard cornering. The Four by Four linkage looks distinctive and keeps the seatstays short to keep the bike feeling springy and playful all the way down. Despite two weeks of shocking weather and the relatively slick rear tyre, the plush back end kept her reasonably well behaved!
I was testing a medium frame, and at 5’11, while the sizing chart said it would be fine, I found it to be a bit small, especially in the top tube, as did a tester who is about an inch shorter. Maybe the trend for longer bikes has affected my “prefered” fit, but I would have liked at least another inch of top-tube really which the large would have provided. With Decade Europe handling the distribution in the UK I’m sure I’ll be able to get a leg over the bigger one soon, the fun ride and superb grip hinted at what could have been awesome, if I was just a bit shorter!
The Warden is available with a Cane Creek DB Inline for £1899.99, and I’m sure the carbon version and perhaps some full builds will follow. Get in touch with Decade to find the best place to get your leg over one.