27.5″ or 27.5+ wheels? A slacker or steeper head angle? Longer or shorter chainstays? This 145 mm-travel trail bike, the ROTWILD R.X1 FS EVO, rocks up as one of those brilliant rare breeds, sporting a build that can be tuned for multiple purposes. For the past season, we’ve dialed in all the settings on the EVO to see how the various set-ups fare across this high-end build and pick our favourite for the trails. Keep reading for our thoughts on the R.X1 FS EVO.
Ever since mountain biking erupted as a sport, everyone has longed for a bike that’ll be capable of taking on everything – terrain, conditions, gradients, you name it. We’re inching closer and closer to that elusive dream too, just think of the continual investment into progress and technology and you’ll get a grasp of what’s available these days. The current crop of bikes are more versatile and competent than ever before, but experience still confirms that even the best geometry has a limit and you’ll be forced to compromise in certain respects. ROTWILD are aware of this, so that’s why their R.X1 FS 27.5 is built around a frame that offers variation. There are six combinations in total, with choices down to wheel size, head angle and chainstay lengths.
The ROTWILD R.X1 FS – the ultimate do-all?
It takes some tinkering in your shed but the classic angle headset allows you to alter the head angle by +/- 1.5°. In a much shorter time frame, the chainstay lengths can be altered in under five minutes thanks to the well-thought out adjustable dropouts. It’s such a simple and rapid procedure, and one that’ll reap the benefits to adjust the bike to suit the type of ride you’re doing on that day. The 27.5″ wheels that come delivered can be ridden with both the short 422.5 mm chainstays, as well as the longer 435 mm setting. If you change to the 27.5+ wheels, then you’ll have to be satisfied with the longer setting due to space issues.
Geometry R.X1 EVO
|Top tube length
|Head tube length
|Head tube angle
|Seat tube angle
The ROTWILD R.X1 FS EVO and its spec
Even beyond those set-up options, the ROTWILD R.X1 is built around a super sophisticated-looking frame, internally routed cables, a high-end finish and hardwearing bearings. ROTWILD haven’t pushed any boundaries when it comes to the spec, instead choosing to rely on first-rate FOX suspension, a 2x Shimano XT drivetrain, powerful Shimano XT brakes, stable DT Swiss rims, a cockpit courtesy of Crankbrothers and a Kind Shock seatpost. Considered as a whole bike, the €4,999 price tag on this great frame with its solidly built spec strikes us as a fair deal.
After our first ride we went home smugly satisfied with everything but the stock Continental Mountain King Racesport tires, which we swapped for a model with a more aggressive tread to make sure our fun on the trails wasn’t going to be limited. Moreover, to the satisfaction of anyone (like us) who’d prefer a 1x gearing set-up, ROTWILD have renounced the second chainring on the 2017 model of the R.X1 FS 27.5.
Fork: FOX 34 FLOAT LSC Factory Kashima 140 mm
Rear shock: FOX FLOAT 3-Pos DPS Evol LSC Factory
Brakes: Shimano XT
Seatpost: Kind Shock Lev Integra 150 mm
Stem: Crankbrothers Iodine 1
Bars: Crankbrothers Cobalt 11 Carbon 780
Wheels: DT Swiss XM 481 Rotwild Edition
Tires: Continental Mountain King Racesport 27.5 x 2.4
Weight: 13.59 kg
Price: € 4,999
The ROTWILD R.X1 FS EVO on the trail
Super balanced and central, the riding position has been well calibrated to get sufficient pressure over the front. Thanks to the long frame, the ROTWILD is super smooth even when you’re riding it in the shorter set-up. Then once the head angle goes to the 65.5° slack position and you move the dropouts to ‘long’, the ROTWILD is transformed into a beast for the descents, throwing itself down the burliest trails without a flicker of hesitation. It’s just a case of going with the bike and letting it do its thing through the gnar and letting the speed build up. When the trail dropped really steeply we’d have liked a slightly higher front, but you can just switch the bars to ones with more rise for some respite.
Put the geometry setup to one side and let yourself be putty in the hands of the suspension on the ROTWILD R.X1 FS 27.5+ EVO. Even with the shock open on climbs, there’s very little pedal bob and it’s fully neutral in trail model. The generous gear range on the double chainring set-up and efficient riding position help on long and steep climbs, but there’s a fair bit of weight to grind up the hills as the total bike weighs in at a not-insubstantial 13.59 kg. If you’re willing to shell out an additional € 1,000, ROTWILD offer a carbon version, the R.X2, with the same geometry and around 800 g less in weight.
The ROTWILD dishes out extreme traction on the trails and pushes you to ride harder and faster, getting airtime whenever there’s a hint of possibility. In the longest set-up with the long wheelbase (long chainstays, slack head angle), the X1 can rival the majority of 160 mm enduro bikes. There’s less comfort admittedly, but (almost) the same speed – not bad at all for a 145 mm trail bike!
A season with the ROTWILD R.X1 FS 27.5″
On top of the quasi-obligatory post-work rides on the fairly innocuous trails around Stuttgart, the ROTWILD had a packed season ahead of it with some major challenges in store. We’re talking uplift-supported pursuits of vertical metres on the EWS tracks in Samoëns and La Thuile, a shuttle-supported holiday in Finale Ligure as well as the odd bike park visit. Months later, we can state that the R.X1 FS 27.5 came out on top with barely a scratch. The rear shock bushings, bearings, paintjob and wheels are all still virtually intact. The Kind Shock seatpost now has a tendency towards a slight kink, and it needs a skilled touch when using it. The suspension – particularly the fork – is definitely ready for a service after the beating it has taken this season. We rode the ROTWILD predominantly with the slack head angle, and used more robust tires than the stocked Continental Mountain King ones. We changed the length of the chainstays repeatedly.
After this past season we’d definitely describe the ROTWILD R.X1 FS 27.5 as a reliable all-rounder, with balanced geometry and superb suspension that lends itself to climbing and descending with equal ease. Irrefutably versatile, the geometry choices are a brilliant addition to render it even more suited to the diverse range of riders out there. For those who take a precious approach to their bike’s weight, then we’d suggest taking a look at the carbon version, the ROTWILD R.X2 FS 27.5.
For more information about the R.X1 FS 27.5+ head to rotwild.com!
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Words: Aaron Steinke Photos: Christoph Bayer