Bible Review: SPOT Mayhem 27.5+
The Spot Mayhem marries a svelte full-carbon frame with tires thick enough to get Sir Mix-a-Lot sprung. With 130 millimeters of front and rear suspension, the Mayhem sits in the middle of our 27.5+ test quiver travel-wise.
Compared to both the Niner Jet 9 and the Rocky Mountain Pipeline, reviewers felt like this bike handled rough terrain climbing the best. The suspension firms up while pedaling, which could be a drawback on normal-sized tires, but resulted in an energy-efficient ride that delegated bump absorption to its girthy 2.8 tires. In one tester's words, "When pedaling really hard, it doesn't seem like there's much shock movement. That would be an issue with normal tires due to loss of traction, but with plus-size tires, it's nice."
The Spot’s linkage is unorthodox, but effective.
The Living Link suspension offers a unique design derived from motorsports that combines a carbon-composite leaf spring with classic pivot points. The Living Link flexes early in the stroke and relaxes just before bottom-out. The concept results in a firm pedaling platform, a linear feel, fewer cartridge bearings to maintain and creates plenty of opportunities to indulge in the beloved pastime of prattling extensively to strangers who notice the curious linkage.
When it comes to smooth-terrain climbing, the Spot rides more or less like a plus bike, so it's not surprising that it takes more effort to get up to speed and hit its smooth spinning stride.
As we pointed the Spot downhill, our testers opinions began to diverge. Two testers felt the bike shined on fast downhills while still maneuvering through slower technical descents with prowess, though one commented that a 140-millimeter fork and longer body would have made this bike perfect. Another tester found the Spot's performance good, but didn't feel super confident on the steeps.
The 4-Star build tested is spec'd with a SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain, whose bail-out gear is always a godsend, and Fox Performance DPS shock and 34 fork, which are often seen on higher-priced builds. The Maxxis Rekon 2.8 tires hooked up well on Marquette's loamy soils and granite-scattered trails, but the 760-millimeter Race Face Aeffect bar may need to be replaced by those who feel when it comes to bar width, it's 780 or bust.
Spot just announced that it is moving toward a direct-to-consumer model. This undeniably increases the bang for this bike's buck. For those who fantasize about dabbling in the 27.5+ arena, but have held back out of fears that climbing will feel like riding in quicksand, the Spot Mayhem will be a pleasant surprise.
Q&A with Andrew Lumpkin, president of Spot Bicycles
Spot will be going consumer direct exclusively next year. How will this change impact both consumers and dealers?
Spot is going consumer direct in an effort to get more people doing this.
This was clearly a big decision and one that we debated for a long time. Ultimately, we feel that consumers deserve more value. Bikes are better than ever, yet more expensive than ever. We can hit the reset button, so to speak. Not discounted product, just not marked up. So we're giving all consumers what we call the 'Inside Line,' which is essentially a transparent, universal pro deal.
In the bike-buying process, we find that most consumers contact us as the manufacturer directly during their research phase. It's just the nature of our connected economy that consumers can speak directly with the manufacturers, and in some cases like ours, the creators of the products. The more challenging part of online bike buying is physical service. That's where local partners come in.
To answer the physical service need, we launched 'Pro Delivery' last year, where the consumer can purchase from Spot's website and opt to have their bike delivered by a mobile dealer or pick it up at a participating brick-and-mortar dealer.
The key to executing 'Pro Delivery' is our partnerships with mobile dealers like Velofix. We've been working with Velofix for nearly two years and it has really shown the potential of the modern bike shopping experience. Consumers can purchase a bike on Spot's website and then have Velofix deliver the bike to the location of their choice, e.g. work or home. The bike is fully assembled and delivered by a certified professional mechanic who can confirm sizing and answer questions. Additionally, a check-up visit after 30 days is included, and all Spot bikes come with a 30-day return policy. Altogether, it's a seamless path to new-bike-day.
We do understand that some brick-and-mortar dealers won't want to work with Spot anymore and that's their prerogative. Alternatively, our 'Pro Delivery' partners are happy to accept delivery of a bike, do the 15-minute final assembly, make considerably more than their bench rate, and have an excited consumer in their shop. The big plus is that we stay off the dealers' balance sheets. Over the past three years, we've experienced rapidly growing receivable days because many dealers' balance sheets are so distressed. This new model can quickly generate cash to their bottom line without any capital or floor space commitments.
Ultimately, we believe that the best way to keep our eye on the ball is to keep consumers' needs and desires at the nexus of our business model. That's what 'Inside Line' is all about.
From belt-drive bikes to high-end singlespeeds and sliding dropouts, Spot hasn’t shied away from embracing new ideas that make some ask, "What are they thinking?!" Entering the full-suspension game with a design based around a carbon-fiber leaf spring is certainly swinging for the fences, so ... What are you thinking?!
The carbon leaf is Spot’s answer to boundary-pushing suspension design.
You're right--the decision to develop our own suspension system was a home run proposition. Existing suspension technology was great, and there weren't many bad bikes out there, but we knew we could advance the state of the art. Since the launch of our Living Link technology, it's been exciting to see such rider enthusiasm and satisfaction.
Living Link bikes are a result of who we are and our mountain biking obsession. The dozens of patents generated by the people at Spot show a love for creating new and elegant ways to improve the riding experience. With our team's collective experience riding cutting edge equipment for many years, we've gotten to experience and sometimes create things that make riding faster, easier and more fun.
So swinging for the fences will always be in our DNA. Licensing a store-bought suspension design and pushing it with marketing dollars seemed more like a single.
There are performance tradeoffs running the entire gamut between big travel brawlers to maneuverable billy goats. How did you come to the decision that this particular combination of a slack head tube, super-steep seat-tube, and 130/130 front and rear suspension hit the right, uh, spot?
Bikes are always a balance, and for us, that balance is grounded in versatility. More suspension travel doesn't always equal more descending speed, and lighter weight doesn't always equal easier climbing. Nearly all mountain bikers earn their turns. Since none of us ride exclusively in picturesque marketing videos, we design our bikes for real world speed. Our geometry supports the rider in an efficient pedaling position, but also encourages pushing limits when gravity takes over. This balance of progressive geometry, frame stiffness and efficient, well-controlled suspension has been elevating speeds and skill levels since we sold our first suspension bike.
If someone is debating between the 27+ and 29er build for the Mayhem, what questions should they ask themselves to make that decision? You know, besides “What line of work do I need to be in to get one of each?”
The Spot comes with plus-sized tires, but if you want to give 29-inch wheels a go, they will fit also.
Both wheel formats certainly have their benefits. Riders should consider their riding style and terrain, as each tire size will flatter certain aspects of performance. 27+ wheels have incredible traction, a fantastically smooth ride over trail chatter and make balancing in technical terrain much easier. 29-inch wheels enhance precision and provide a more direct connection to the trail. It's easier to thread the needle on tricky lines with 29, and riders who dynamically pump and work the trail will find more speed and accuracy.
It's worth mentioning that the Mayhem is the same frame shared between our 27+ and 29er builds. We have a number of riders, both Spot staff and consumers who run both wheelsets and swap between the two depending on terrain or conditions.