After One Year of Mountain Biking on My Banshee Rune, What do I Think?
I have been riding my Banshee Rune for an entire year now, so it seems to me to be a suitable time for writing a review on it. I bought the Rune after selling two previous bikes I owned. I had a Giant Reign X2, and a Trek Fuel EX 9. In an effort to reduce my quiver of bikes, I decided I needed to get one bike that could replace them both.
I liked the two previous bikes a lot. The Reign X was like riding a miniature DH bike, but it wasn’t the most inspiring bike to tackle long climbs with its slack angles and 35 pound weight (though it did climb everything, if you were patient!) Conversely, the Trek Fuel EX was a sweet trail bike, that climbed great and weighed only 27 pounds. It handled the downhills fairly well, but just never really felt like it should be given the type of abuse that the riding in this part of the world requires some times. As many are aware, there is some really thrilling riding across much of southern British Columbia, where I live, and despite all the effort put into gaining elevation, I still prefer a bike that one can really “giv’er” on, Eh! Enter the Banshee Rune. The goal was to build a bike with 6 inches of travel around the 30 lb mark, doing my best to create a bike with the perfect blend of strength, weight, and performance that wouldn’t feel like it held me back on climbs or descents and didn’t cost too much. That’s a lot to ask for from any bike, but might as well aim high!
Here is the build I ended up putting together:
- Frame Banshee Rune, Size Large, 150mm travel
- Front suspension Rockshox Revelation RLT Dual Air Ti, 150mm Travel, 20mm, 1 1/8″
- Rear suspension Rockshox Monarch RT3, High Volume 7.878 x 2.25
- Wheels Mavic EX719 Rims, Hope Pro II Hubs 135QR rear / 20mm front, DT Swiss Competition D/B Spokes
- Tires Rear: Scwalbe Racing Ralph 26×2.25 Front: Schwalbe Rocket Ron 26×2.25 (Note: For more aggressive terrain, I ran with 26×2.35 Kenda Nevegals, which add about 1lb of weight to the bike, but is sometimes worth the extra tread in extreme conditions)
- Shifters SRAM X9 3×10 speed
- Front derailleur Shimano Deore XT
- Rear derailleur SRAM X9 10 speed
- Crank Shimano Deore XT M780, 42/32/24
- Cassette SRAM PG-1070
- Saddle Fizik Gobi
- Seatpost KS Supernatural 5″x385mm adjustable seatpost w/remote, 30.9
- Handlebar Truvativ Boobar 31.8 x 780mm (un-cut)
- Stem Sunline V1 All-mountain Stem, 65mm
- Headset Chris King NoThreadSet 1.5 Devolution
- Brakes Avid Elixir R 185mm Front, 160mm Rear
This build put my large sized Rune at a weight of 31 lbs, on the dot, with my old Time Alium pedals. 1 pound short of my goal, but not bad. By replacing the KS post with a normal one, I might save half a pound or so, but there is not much else one could do to make it lighter without sacrificing strength or spending mega bucks. For the record, the frame weight, with out shock, was 6.8 lbs. Not crazy light, but built to withstand plenty of abuse.
As for the Runes Geometry, it goes a little something like this, taken from Banshee’s website:
- Head Angle Works out to about 67.5° with the 150mm travel Revelation, without a zero stack headset.
- Seat Angle 71°
- Chain stay 17.3″
- BB Height 13.7″
No surprises in the geometry. Everything about this bike is on par with what most other manufacturers are offering on their 150mm travel all-mountain category of bikes.
Setting up the Rune
My first ride on the Banshee Rune was not all that wonderful. I initially set the bike up with about 25-30% sag on the rear shock. This has been my usual way of setting up a bike with six inches of travel so I wouldn’t have expected this bike to be any different. However, right from the get go there was a very annoying feedback at the pedals whenever the bike hit a bump while pedaling. After that one ride, I checked out the Banshee Bikes website to learn about set-up and found that the recommended sag for the rune is actually 15-20%. I never would have expected it to have so little sag, but setting the bike up at 20% fixed the problem, and the bike pedals with very little, if any, feedback at all. The Rune has a large degree of anti-squat built in to the design and I would say over all, the Rune’s suspension feel a little harsh at slow speed over the small bumps, but for that price you get a bike that climbs really well and puts tons of traction on the rear wheel. Once things get up to speed, the suspension seems to manage fine, and despite the little sag, it uses all of its travel when it needs to. I have to admit that I have become a big fan of the Rockshox Monarch RT3 Shock, The platform control on it is awesome, giving the rider three settings to choose from, namely: Open, Mid and Full. The middle setting is great for smooth, fast riding and racing, and it’s really easy to reach the lever while riding if you need to flick it to open. If you need it, the Full setting will stiffen it up a lot, much more noticeably than any of the settings on the Fox RP23’s.
This is where the Banshee Rune really surprised me! I built this bike as an all-rounder, and at just over thirty pounds and with 6 inches of travel, I would have predicted nothing more than mediocre performance when climbing on the bike. Considering that almost all of the other Runes I’ve seen are being put together with more aggressive freeride and bike park style builds, it seemed reasonable to assume that the bike would be strongest on descents while sacrificing climbing prowess. But that’s not what I got. The Rune climbs well. Really well! Even after spending two seasons on my very light, stiff and nimble Trek Fuel EX 9, the Rune still managed to impress me. The bike has gobs of traction, even when out of the saddle, and doesn’t bob a bit on the flats, as far as I can tell. I even took it for a 150km backcountry logging road loop last summer (six or seven hours of just spinning in the big ring), and the bike actually felt more efficient than shorter travel bikes I’ve owned in the past! I believe that there are a few things to thank for this performance: On steep, loose and technical climbs (I think the bike shines the most here) thanks needs to be given to the almost unusual amount of chain growth (or anti-squat) in the design. In the granny ring the rear tire claws into the ground like a wedgie in a fat kid. Normally this might mean that there would be a lot of pedal feedback on the flats, causing the suspension to bob, but this isn’t the case. This may, have something to do with the platform in the Monarch shock, or the stiction in the bushings (I’ll get to that later), but it likely has to do with the low amount of sag that is recommended. As mentioned up above, running the Rune with less than 20% sag drastically changes the behavior of the bike while pedaling.
Descending on the Rune is always a pleasure, but it really doesn’t excel at it. The angles are right for tackling difficult terrain, and it uses its travel pretty efficiently. The Rockshox Revelation and Monarch RT3 work together perfectly and feel really balanced, once set-up. The suspension quality on the rune is a little stiff off the top, so at low speeds I sometimes feel the suspension to be a little harsh. Things get better once the bike is up to speed. The faster you can push this thing the smoother it feels, as it seems the suspension is most at home and plush in the middle part of the travel dealing with high speed hits. Low speed harshness may be attributable to the considerable stiction of the bushing system (I’ll talk about them a bit in the conclusion) but the bike leaves me wondering if it could also be either a design quality of the Rune itself, or related to the tune of the Monarch shock. I haven’t ridden any other Rune’s, nor have I tried another shock in this frame. Another little quirk relates back to the chain growth factor mentioned previously. Downhill pedaling over rough stuff really stiffens up the suspension. Coasting over rock gardens and root nests at speed is awesome, but trying to throw in a couple of pedal strokes over them can be a bone chattering experience. I guess this situation isn’t ideal for DH racing, but it should be bearable for most riding. It just takes a little rider adaptation. Jumping the Rune is pleasant, and a longish wheel base keeps the bike super stable and predictable at speeds.
All I can really say is that this is a unique bike, and I love it! Banshee has somehow managed to build a 6 inch travel bike that climbs better than many 4″ XC race rigs, and backs you up on the way down with playful geometry and enough beef to really rally when it’s gravity time. If I had only one complaint, it would be that it just isn’t as plush as most 6 inch bikes out there are. Where most bikes in this range aim to provide amazing DH performance while offering adequate climbing ability, it seems that Banshee could have built the bike trying to offer exceptional climbing performance, while still offering adequate downhill capabilities. But I suppose that it is six of one or a half dozen of the other! Overall the Rune is a great bike and deserves to be looked at for the rider seeking a do it all “quiver killer” type of bike. I have seen Rune’s built with anything from 7 inch travel forks and single ring set-ups ripping the bike park, and I can assure you that it is also great built up as a long travel trail or all-mountain bike.
I think Keith Scott, the engineer and designer at Banshee Bikes, described this bike accurately:
“For the Rune, I wanted the stiffness of a freeride bike but without the weight, as well as the pedaling efficiency of an XC bike. By carefully designing the frame both in terms of structural integrity and rigidity, and carefully planning the axle path, anti-squat and leverage ratio, I have created the bike that I had in my mind. If I had only one bike, it would be a Rune. I am happy riding this bike for 40 mile all day epics, as well as shredding down DH courses boosting jumps and railing berms.”
There is just one more thing I promised to get into before the end of the review, and that is the bushing thing. Instead of using bearings at all the pivots, like most companies do these days, Banshee decided to use polymer bushings, made by IGUS. If you perform a Google search for Banshee Rune bikes, you will no doubt find a lot of results coming back from people who have had nothing but trouble with the bushings on these bikes. I don’t know all the reasons that they use bushings instead of bearings, but the two main ones are probably weight (they are much lighter) and cost (they are much cheaper). One of the downsides of bushings is the increased “stiction” in the pivots which is extremely noticeable with the shock off the bike. Once sitting on the bike and riding it, it is difficult to notice but it must effect some things, especially at lower speeds and lighter impacts. Another downside is that they are a higher maintenance item, and if proper care isn’t given to cleaning, greasing, and when the time comes, replacing, than damage quickly occurs to the frame hardware. For the record, I have not had to replace any bushings in my bike yet, and they are not even showing any major signs for wear after one complete year of riding. That said, I have disassembled the rear end of the bike twice last year just to check up on things, clean and grease the bushings. Check often that the pivot bolts are snug too, as it only takes one ride with a loose pivot to ruin the bushings, and possibly the axle. If bushings show any signs of wear at all, than it is wise to just replace them, and it is a cheap and easy task to perform. Bushings can be obtained from IGUS, the part numbers you need for the Rune are:
LFM-1517-17 (Main BB pivot)
LFM-1214-17 (Chain stay pivot, main rocker pivot)
LFM-0810-04 (Seat stay pivots)
I was able to order 10 of each and had them delivered for under $40 CAD, so don’t hesitate to replace them at least once a year or any time they develop play.
Have you ridden the Banshee Rune? What do you think of it? Add to this review in the comments below and let us know the good, the bad and the ugly about this bike! Thanks for reading BikeFAT.com.