This is the first time I’ve built up an editors’ choice Dream Build without having spent any time on the bike before selecting it. I know what you're thinking: How can it be an Editors' Choice if the editor has never ridden the bike before? Good point. But since the Patrol was released as an aluminum bike a few years back, I've had countless people rave to me about the bike's capabilities. Inevitably every conversation ends with the same statement: "You'd love it!"
This carbon Patrol is the first bike that I've ridden that's been equipped with SRAM's Eagle 12-speed drivetrain. If the front derailleur had any last breaths, it has now officially breathed them. The range is incredible and the shifting performance is uncompromised.
After spending the better part of last season on a coil-sprung rear shock, I questioned whether the air-sprung RockShox Super Deluxe could match that same level of sensitivity. The small-bump performance is unlike any other air shock that I've ridden– with predictable ramp up, it's perfectly matched to the Patrol. The 3-position compression damping is handy, but I actually don't find myself reaching for it that often. I'm still able to settle into a rhythm with the rear shock wide open, and I actually prefer tackling technical uphill sections without the assistance of the compression adjustments.
Up front I opted for the Fox 36. I love the range of precision adjustability that you can achieve with the high- and low-speed compression settings. On the trail, that keeps me riding high without feeling as though I'm unnecessarily diving into its travel.
I love steep, technical terrain, and for the past couple of seasons, I have preferred the position that a taller-rise bar gives me on those trails. Yes, you could achieve the same handlebar position with a longer steerer and spacers, but that looks messy. The Renthal 35-millimeter stem (both length and clamp diameter) and 40-millimeter-rise handlebars look clean and put me in the position that's most comfortable for the terrain that I like to ride.
The stout Renthal cockpit, combined with the stiffness of the WTB Ci24 rims, gives the bike incredibly precise handling. It never wants to deflect off-course and powers through the most awkward, wheel-grabbing terrain. The Ci24 rims are laced to a pair of Chris King ISO hubs–lightweight and fast-rolling, these wheels make the bike come alive.
This last season has been one of the driest I can remember since I've lived in Southern California. It never seems to rain, and that's turned the local trails into a blown-out downhill sand box. The berms are gone, the ruts are deep and the only thing you can count on is that when you need traction it won't be there. Onza's Citius tires have been standout performers in these less-than-ideal trail conditions. With a slightly harder durometer than I've traditionally liked to run, they dig in and bite through the dust where other tires break traction. They reward you for pushing hard into the side knobs and trusting them. The unusual center-knob pattern rolls fast for an aggressive tire and loves steep, loose climbs.
I've always lusted after a seatpost with a longer stroke, but the revamped RockShox Reverb with 170 millimeters of drop was almost past the limit for my 5-foot-11-inch frame. I have the post completely bottomed on my size large Patrol, but amazingly it's at the exact seat height that I need. Meant to be? Must be. This gives the bike an incredibly low standover and lets me take advantage of its nimble handling characteristics and low center of gravity.
Dream Builds are from the December issue of Bike. Get a copy here.
Also, I swapped out the stock resin pads on the SRAM Guide RSC brakes with a metallic set, which gives them a bit more bite in the 'oh shit' moments without affecting modulation when thing are a bit calmer. It's not just the stopping power, though, that has made the metallic pads a better choice. The integration with the brakes, X01 Eagle shifter and Reverb remote makes for an incredibly tidy bar. The heat shrink-wrap joining the shifter and brake housing makes this one of the cleanest-looking cockpits I've ever had.
Aesthetics aside, I built this bike to go downhill and it does not disappoint. With a reach of 457 millimeters on the size large, combined with a 15-millimeter bottom-bracket drop and a 65-degree head angle, the Patrol has a confident posture that is long and low. The 1,210-millimeter wheelbase is surefooted and feels stable when things get up to speed. The 160 and 155 millimeters of front- and rear-wheel travel perfectly matched the Patrol's stance, and best of all, that's where it's going to stay. No geometry adjustments here–just a confident statement that this works best.
Perhaps the most impressive and surprising ride characteristic of the Patrol is how it climbs. A bit of extra range on the Eagle drivetrain surely doesn't hurt, but I'd be more inclined to credit its climbing prowess to the steep seat-tube angle. At 74.9 degrees, I'm tucked into a perfect position to keep the front wheel planted while still maintaining traction with the rear. I've been shocked at how many steep, technical climbs I've been cleaning for the first time on my local trails–certainly unexpected considering the Patrol's confident descending capabilities.
The Patrol has quickly become my easygoing friend–comfortable and confident in any situation. Whether it's a long day in the saddle or lapping the rowdiest trials I can find, the Patrol is ready to party.