Bike

UNTETHERED

ESKER ELKAT | $5,900 WITH UPGRADES

A SMALL-WHEELED HOVER-BIKE THAT STANDS OUT IN A CLASS DOMINATED BY BRUISERS.

We probably shouldn’t be too surprised that Dave Weagle is still coming up with new linkage designs. It’s kinda what he does. He probably even has a couple more warming up in the bullpen as you read this. What should surprise us is that those new linkage designs are still really really good.

The newest is called Orion, and it debuted alongside the Esker Elkat. It’s essentially a dual-link design, but the lower link pivots around the bottom bracket. That made some of our veteran testers wince a bit. Most pivot/bottom bracket cohabitations we’ve seen have made compromises to durability and simplicity. But Esker has a pretty nifty system going. The threads that lock in that pivot are reverse, so it’s self-tightening. And the locknut that holds it all together is itself locked in by the bottom-bracket cup. And it’s not the kind of bearing that requires preload adjustment or attention. If it’s tight, it’s tight. And every Elkat will come with its proprietary socket wrench if you should ever need to open it up.

The idea behind Orion is to optimize for the forces associated with wide-range one-by drivetrains. But because most bikes are designed around one-by, the idea was to do it better. In no uncertain terms, it does. And by “better” we mean that it perfectly isolates drivetrain and suspension forces. When mashing out of the saddle on our test loop’s many sharp and shelfy gut punches, the rear wheel never hung up, no matter how poorly timed the mash. That’s in contrast to the Santa Cruz Bronson, which still has some of its firm-under-load VPP DNA. We’ve had the isolated feeling before on DW-link bikes, especially on the Ibis Ripmo. But the Esker is a 27.5-inch bike, it’s the very first go at the Orion platform, and still, each tester felt the same thing without needing exhaustive setup or any trial and error. It’s too soon

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