Forbidden is a small company that has the freedom and agility to develop the products they want to ride, with no pressure to follow mass market trends. They don’t have a colossal marketing budget or a grand scheme for global MTB domination. What they do have is a damn good bike, and its performance speaks for itself.
The Druid is a 130mm travel 29’er that offers something truly unique in a market that is increasingly monotone. While high single pivot has been used for many years on downhill bikes (the Commencal Supreme, Norco Aurum HSP, GT Fury to name a few), the implementation of this platform on trail bikes is almost non-existent...until now.
The Science Behind The Witchcraft
The most obvious feature of the Trifecta suspension system is the high pivot point and the resulting rearward axle path. Unlike some other designs that talk of a rearward portion to their axle path, the height of the Druid's main pivot within the frame structure means the axle path takes a completely rearward trajectory throughout its travel. This rearward motion allows the rear wheel to move with, not against, any size of impact. This in turn allows the bike to maintain its momentum through rough terrain. The lengthening of the rear-center during compression also exhibits the advantageous trait of stabilizing the chassis during bigger impacts. Imagine a weight bias that is playful when high in the travel but inherently more composed when you need it the most; that’s what a high pivot can bring to your trail riding experience. Anti-rise is a term often discussed and often misunderstood; it is the term used to describe the effect braking has on the suspension system. Significant anti-rise used to be seen as a negative trait. However, as Forbidden's understanding of chassis dynamics has improved, and more importantly as riding styles have evolved, it is now seen as a useful aspect that can be used to further tune the ride handling of the bike. The level of anti-rise in Forbidden's system helps counteract the inevitable fork dive associated with the heavy braking loads often encountered with modern, aggressive trail riding. This results in a more consistent chassis stability under these heavy braking situations.
The beating heart of Forbidden's Trifecta suspension system, the Rate Control Linkage, is used to manipulate the leverage rate as the suspension compresses. In recent times they have seen a somewhat all-encompassing search for more progressivity. This is an understandable by-product of modern mountain biking. It stands to reason that as trail speeds increase and impacts become larger, the need for more mid stroke support and end stroke resistance is ever present. However, the compromise to this is that with too much progression the suspension system’s ability to absorb impacts can be negatively affected. By employing relatively small links that see a dramatic change in velocity, Forbidden can independently tune the critical stages of the shock’s compression. Supple off the top, their goal for the Druid’s mid stroke was to provide adequate support when pushed on, yet remain open enough to absorb repetitive hits with no harshness. The end stroke sees a further increase in the rate of change and is all about that bottom out resistance required to absorb the big hits and landings that come out of nowhere. The final result is a mid-travel trail bike that can outperform bikes with significantly more millimetres on their spec sheet. A bike that seems to generate grip and pop almost simultaneously while offering an unworldly ability to absorb the big hits. Don’t just take their word on this, read the reviews.
The size and position of the idler pulley is critical in giving the Druid its efficient pedaling ability. By carefully positioning the pulley, offset from the main pivot, Forbidden was able to fine tune the Anti-Squat characteristics. The Druid exhibits what they have determined to be the ideal amount of Anti-Squat at sag to deliver a very stable pedaling response. Unlike traditional, non-idler equipped designs, Forbidden can achieve these levels of Anti-Squat with virtually no pedal kick back. This means the suspension remains fully active during pedaling efforts and in turn affords the Druid perfect traction on technical climbs.
Geometry - The Philosophy Behind The Ride
One of Forbidden's core philosophies is that everyone who rides their bikes should experience a similar ride characteristic. To this end they have put extra effort in to their geometry and sizing. One of the major contributing factors to a bike’s overall ride feel is its weight balance. The term weight balance refers to the relationship between the rear-center and front-center and the resultant position of the rider’s center of gravity between the tire contact patches. How each tire is weighted, directly affects the grip characteristics of the bike; furthermore, this weight distribution will also have a profound effect on the bike’s agility/stability. Many brands talk about their bikes having a balanced geometry, yet they only use a single rear-center (chainstay) measurement across all sizes of bike. If rear-center remains constant as front-center changes with size, then it stands to reason that each size of bike will see a different weight distribution and therefore a different ride characteristic.
At Forbidden, in an effort to ensure a consistent ride experience across all sizes, they employ a scaled rear-center measurement for each individual frame size.
A Better Fit
Forbidden's commitment to geometry and ride handling doesn’t end with their scaled rear-center lengths. They take great pride in every detail of their geometry and frame fit. Forbidden experimented with the extremes of the new school longer, lower, slacker trend and decided to come back to what they feel is a well-rounded geometry that suits a variety of riding styles and terrains. With the Druid, the goal was to create a capable and fast bike but also a bike that is fun and entertaining to ride on any trail.
A challenge on all modern bikes, especially those with 29” wheels, is the relationship between effective and actual seat angle. Forbidden is extremely proud of the fact that their actual seat angles change with each size and get steeper as frame size increases. Thus, ensuring taller riders have a better seated position than that of their competitors. Our commitment to a better fit for all riders also led them to larger than normal increases in head tube length that better suit each end of the size range. They feel that these small but extremely important details ensure that you, the rider, will feel instantly at home on the Druid.