Back in college I would spend hours playing on Fanatik’s custom bike builder. Monetary constraints didn’t apply to my endless stream of fantasy custom builds. Industry Nine System wheels, SRAM AXS, Fox Factory suspension, I only spec’d the best components. More often than not, the centerpiece of these lavish custom builds was a Forbidden Druid frame. At the time, the company's slogan “High-Pivot Witchcraft” had fully taken hold of my imagination. Fast forward three years and I find myself working at Fanatik, with the opportunity to ride a variety of bikes, including the Druid. I had built up such high hopes for it that I was partially worried the “High-Pivot Witchcraft” may not live up to the expectations I had developed.
I have ridden the Druid on terrain ranging from meandering Galbraith singletrack to fast double-wide downhill trails. Having spent time on a variety of bikes that share similar travel numbers to the Druid, it was immediately apparent that Forbidden’s high pivot design provides a different ride feel than other bikes on the market. It's axle path moves rearward through the bike’s travel, allowing it to handle square edge hits and large compressions much more effectively. Compared to a traditional axle path that initially tracks upward before working forwards, leaving the rider feeling “hung up,” a 100% rearward axle path allows rough terrain to wash away beneath the bike. Additionally, this rearward axle path causes the wheelbase of the bike to grow as the suspension compresses. This creates stability that inspires confidence through even the harshest sections of trail and is especially noticeable in the pocket of a berm. While I certainly bottomed the Druid out a handful of times, I was never met with the harsh clatter that typically accompanies a bottom out. Instead, the Druid has a very composed feeling deep in travel, making it easier to stay on the intended line in those crucial moments following an aggressive landing.
My time on the Druid culminated in a day of pedaling the Garibaldi zone in Squamish, BC. Having ridden this area multiple times on my Transition Patrol, it provided an excellent baseline for comparing the Druid’s performance on rougher terrain. I rode all the same lines I typically would on my 160mm travel Patrol and quickly found myself up to my usual speeds. While the Druid isn’t a 160mm enduro bike, it certainly feels more similar to one than it does a short travel trail bike.
Druids in the Rental Fleet
Our rental fleet is a fantastic resource for trying bikes before making a large financial investment. While a parking lot test is a decent way to determine initial fit, it isn’t until riding on a trail that a bike's true handling characteristics present themselves. Customers should be satisfied with their decision, so we allow the cost of three rentals to be put towards the purchase of a bike (within a year of their first rental). This way riders can compare and contrast models and sizing, helping to limit any buyer's remorse.
The Druids in our rental fleet are full custom builds with hand-picked components. In short, these Druids are spec'd how we would design our bikes. Based around a Cosmic Eggplant frame, they feature Orange Deity highlights, RockShox suspension, and flashes of SRAM components. Code RSC brakes paired with 203mm Centerline rotors do all the stopping. From the top down, there's not a single component that was overlooked when building up these one-of-a-kind Druids.
Currently, we have a size medium and size large Druid available for rent. At 5’10” I fall directly between these two sizes on the Forbidden sizing chart. While I could ride either bike comfortably, they both have favorable characteristics based on the scenario and terrain. I found the medium to be more lively and easier to throw around, whereas the large was more stable and more comfortable at speed and over rough terrain. I’d urge anyone my height to try both sizes to determine which suits their riding style the best.
The Druid's High-Pivot design provides a ride feel as unique as its appearance. Harsh hits and square edges smaller than a curb wash beneath the bike in a way traditional suspension designs don’t quite manage. Meanwhile, the bike's pre-load characteristics allow for the bike to maintain the expected playfulness of a 130mm travel bike. It is a short travel bike that won't let its numbers on paper confine it to one genre of riding. Forbidden have created a bike that is well suited for someone who wants a competent pedaling bike that won't be outgunned at an enduro race or the occasional day in the bike park. When looking for a bike that is planted in the most rock-riddled sections of trail without sacrificing the pedal-friendly nature of a trail bike, the Druid provides and then some.
Want to give the Druid a go without finding yourself on extremely rough terrain? This easy-going route is the one for you! The route (click to load in TrailForks) starts by climbing the Ridge trail before traversing over to the Cedar Dust jumps. With easily repeatable jump lines ranging from green to double black, you decide how you want to clock their air miles. You’ll then traverse over to the top of SST while taking in the breathtaking views of Canadian mountains in the distance. The ride concludes by descending our sponsored trail, SST. This trail can be ridden by a rider of any skill level. Every rock roll, drop, or gap has a ride-around, marking it a great option for beginners and advanced riders alike.
This is a moderate 10-mile loop (click to load in TrailForks) for intermediate to advanced riders. Starting from Birch St. you will traverse up and over the north side of Galbraith on some of the mountain's best single track. You’ll then descend on Devilcross, a natural trail with plenty of off-camber roots, compressions, and optional rock rolls. The route winds back towards the top of the North Side before the last descent. The final trail, Oriental Express, is a fast tech trail that will showcase the capability of the Druid. The route concludes with a light road spin back to Birch St.
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