Guerilla Gravity Pedalhead: Front Range weapon?
Guerrilla Gravity says “The Pedalhead is an adventure hardtail built for everything from crushing singletrack miles, getting rad around town, or as an all-around play bike.”
I just spent a day on one, and here’s what I say:
As a guy who’s written promo copy for more than 30 bike companies, I know how to spew bike bullshit. I will try to dispense none of that.
Transparency: GG loaned me the bike. I did not pay for the privilege, but I did fight traffic between Denver and Boulder, so I guess I have skin in the game.
Made in Denver, CO, USA: This is a big part of the GG story. They fabricate their bikes in their small but tidy shop right next to Mile High Stadium. When you buy a GG bike, you are supporting CO families. I like that.
Steel yourself. The Pedalhead is made from square profile steel, and steel is reportedly real. More real than aluminum? Certainly more real than carbon! My test bike was right around 30 pounds. With some smart parts picks Kevin Stiffler had his Pedalhead under 26 pounds, over a pound lighter than my aluminum Specialized Fuse, which annoyed me.
Wheels: You can fit up to 27.5×3.0 or 29×2.6 tires. That’s a lot of meat. My test bike had 29×2.3s, which made it feel quick and nimble. I’ve seen and ridden this bike with 27.5×3.0s, and in that format it is a bad ass trail bike for skilled riders.
Being a plus hardtail, the Pedalhead is also awesome for more beginning and timid riders. My wife and girls all ride plus hardtails because: 1) Huge amount of fun for the money. 2) Crazy versatile. 3) Some extra cushion. 4) Lots of traction. Things that are sketchy on little tires … aren’t so sketchy on big tires.
What the fork? You can run up to 140mm. My test bike wore a 120mm Pike. The Pike worked as Pikes do. Just fine. But it’s not a FOX 34 or 36. Sorry, but it’s true.
Sit and spin: 74 degrees is the effective seat tube angle, and that’s on the steep side, and you see this on more and more enduro bikes. It’s supposed to place you over the pedals rather than behind them, especially when climbing.
Stay chain, stay: Pedalhead chainstays are 419mm, which is short, especially with such big tires. My beloved Specialized Enduro SX, which is the sickest slalom bike on earth, has 419mm stays. Yes, these bikes have the same junk in the trunk.
Low slung: Depending on tire size, the Pedalhead bottom bracket is 305-315mm off the deck. This is low. How low? As low as or lower than my Enduro SX! What we’re starting to see here is a bike that is laid out for all-day pedaling but, from your feet to the back wheel, feels like a slalom race bike. Uh huh. Seat up ride to the bike park or trails. Seat down shred like crazy. Seat up back to civilization.
Slack: With a 120mm fork, the head angle is 65.5 degrees. That’s in the enduro bro category, and it’s pretty darn slack for a hardtail. This slackness says, “Dude. I am a hardtail, but I am made for shredding.” See the above paragraph.
Reach for it: GG bikes (and all modern bikes) tend to be long in front. The small Pedalhead I rode has a reach of 420mm. The leverage ratio between the front of the bike and the back of the bike is high. What does this mean? It means every pound of handlebar pull gets multiplied into mega rear-wheel smash. That, my friends, makes a bike pump, manual, hop and (if you know how to corner) corner with a ton of power.
Not Gary Fisher’s 29er: When you combine the steep seat angle, short stays, low bottom bracket, slack head angle and long reach, you get a bike that checks all of the aggro/enduro boxes, but that happens to be a hardtail.
I rode the Pedalhead at Valmont Bike Park, which I know like the back of my hand.
10 laps on the dual slalom track (up the dirt road, down the slalom, switch lanes and repeat) is my standard test of fitness, strength and bike ride-ability. That’s 500 feet of climbing, 60 corners and 180 bumps which can be pumped, manualed and jumped in myriad combinations. I’ve ridden every kind of bike on this track, from BMX to DH to XC to DJ to DS to trail to CX. 10 laps at a medium/hard pace usually takes me 20 minutes.
On the Pedalhead it took 17 minutes. That was shocking. I was not trying to pin the descents. Instead I was easily pumping, manualling, jumping and carving, then climbing at moderate pace. I was not in a hurry, but apparently I was going faster than usual.
Why? Matt from GG says the steep seat angle helped on the uphills. I think the hardtailness adds speed everywhere (if you know how to ride a bike). I think the geometry clicked my brain into slalom mode, and I think the feedback I got from the stiff chassis put me on Be Careful, Be Smooth alert — which apparently works well.
Tucker Samuelson is a young ripper and LLB coach in training. He rode it around, came back and declared: “This thing’s a Front Range weapon.”
Learn more about the Pedalhead at the Guerrilla Gravity website.
Check out Kevin Stiffler’s Pedalhead review
Know more. Have more fun!
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Awesome review. Love it.
Buuut calling bs on a 34 performing better than a Pike.
Thank you Allen.
And I appreciate your feedback re: the Pike vs the 34.
I am a test sample of 1 who has no cartilage in his shoulders. I feel the FOX 34 and 36 with the FIT dampers absorb some energy that the Pike transmits to my body. I rode a Pike for a long time on my 2012 Enduro 29. That was a great bike that worked well everywhere. When I installed a FOX 36 with the FIT 3 damper and rode DH runs, my shoulders hurt less. The difference was obvious.
We are are fortunate to worry about such things. The Pike is clearly a great fork that serves a lot of people very well. The FOX also a great fork that feels good to me. I’ve been on the Öhins coli fork lately, and that’s fantastic too.
We are blessed with an embarrassment of riches.
That’s valid and makes total sense on the 36 vs Pike. Small quibbles to keep us entertained when we can’t be riding 😉
I’m strongly considering this for my next bike. I’m right on the line between small and medium and sadly moved away from Colorado to try them out. Do you mind sharing your height and any thoughts on sizing? Thanks!
I am about 5’8.5″ tall, and I rode a small.
If you want to save a ton of stress when selecting a new bike, I suggest using the RideLogic™ sizing/setup tools at my online school: http://www.llbmtb.com. The calculators and on-bike checks help you figure our how your bike should fit, then you can plug in the numbers for various frames and parts to get your ideal setup.
life imitates bike— all things come full circle.
Been riding my SC Chameleon “All mountain beast” (30 ish pounds: Fox 36, 2.5 DH front and 2.35 rear and a 32:18 SS set up) for last 5+years…but sadly the 10 year old fork is completely shot and the 1 1/8 straight head tube on this old frame has put me in the “predicament” of “having to buy a new bike”. (my wife believes this and I am comfortable with that too).
I placed my order for a Pedalhead a few weeks back….Stoked!
my checklist: USA, Steel, Aggressive long travel HT. check. check. check. check. brrrrrap!
I plan to run this with a DVO Diamond set at 140 with a 27.5 plus up front (prolly a 2.8) and 2.4 in back. I want to run it as a single speed, so the question is if I’m currently riding a 26r at 32:18, what would be a similar ratio with bigger wheels, fat tires and that short chainline.
note: my typical rides are up to 2k of out of seat climbing.
It’s great to hear from you, and I’m glad you got this sweet bike.
A 32:19 is probably pretty close. To know for sure you should measure the diameters of your old and new rear wheels, then do some algebra.
PS: I’ve been riding an S-Works Fuse, and that bike is insane.
How did Kevin get his to 26 lbs!? I’m debating building one of these as a do it all pump track, commuter, and general trail slayer and I’d love to see the details on his build. I think we need a full bike check as there aren’t many pictures of his rig floating around.
I’ll ask Kevin..
The PH would be a great choice for those purposes!
My PH was built with a complete RaceFace carbon parts package, SRAM XX1 drivetrain, an ultralight Tioga seat, Shimano XT brakes, Specialized Roval Carbon wheels w/ FatBNimble tires (tubeless), KS Lev 125 post, and RS Reba 120mm fork.
I didn’t run it that way too long, instead opting for burlier tires and a padded seat, adding ~2lbs. ????
Kevin and Lee,
I’ve finally decided to buy some sort of hardtail. This is mostly for skills drills and jumping/pumping but maybe the occasional trail ride too depending on the setup. I’m debating whether I should a simple DJ or a Pedalhead. I live at the base of Green Mountain in Golden which I end up riding once a week or so to get out more often. Even my 115 mm aggressive trail bike seems a bit overkill for these rides so a sweet HT is really appealing. However, I’m wondering if a DJ would allow for better skills development.
I have an excellent Specialized P3 dirt jump bike, but it rarely gets ridden in favor of my Fuse plus hardtail.
A hardtail like a Fuse or Pedalhead is so freakin’ versatile. You can ride it for pump tracks, jumps, slalom, slope and of course trails.