The quest for perfection continues, and that quest often leads to new standards. At least it has for Knolly. The company has decided to move its entire lineup of bikes to 12 x 157-millimeter rear spacing. Knolly is calling it 157TRAIL. Luckily, 12 x 157 is not completely new – it has been on DH bikes for a while, and Pivot has it on a couple bikes, branded as “Super Boost Plus 157” – but it is unprecedented on shorter-travel bikes. This announcement comes just as Boost 148 has been adopted by almost every bike manufacturer. Almost. Knolly never adopted Boost 148.

What tire clearance will look like on the new Fugitive with 29 by 2.6-inch tires and 157-millimeter rear spacing.

Knolly is a company made up of engineers. It is a small brand based out of Burnaby, British Columbia and has always focused on practicality and performance over the industry’s claimed improvements. So when it came to Boost 148, Knolly looked at it from an engineer’s standpoint and decided against making the move. The company claims it didn’t see enough improvement in stiffness, it didn’t solve all tire clearance problems and it resulted in unfavorable geometry when switching between 27.5- and 29-inch wheels. It is also worth noting that Knolly never had a 29er in its lineup, where Boost 148 was said to make the biggest difference in stiffness.

All of that has changed. By skipping Boost 148 and going straight to 157TRAIL, Knolly claims it has solved all these problems. And it is introducing its first two 29ers. The new spacing will first been seen on the new 29ers, the Fugitive 120-millimeter travel and the Fugitive 135-millimeter travel, although an exact date is still unknown.

But why? Moving to a new standard is always a hassle. Knolly has a few reasons. Here is what is in the press release:

TIRE SIZE: 157TRAIL allows Knolly to eliminate tire width and focus on tire diameter. Riders can pick their wheel and tire combination based on intended purpose: be it a razor-sharp handling rocket ship, or a rock crawling monster truck (or anywhere between). The Fugitive is built around 29-inch wheels but it can also run 27.5 x 3.0-inch wheels and tires without compromise to the bottom bracket height.

Q FACTOR: 157-millimeter hub spacing can be implemented using a flipped chainring to maintain existing Q factors on XC and lightweight cranksets such as XTR, X01 and Race Face Next SL.

STIFFNESS: 157 millimeters has a massive increase in stiffness over 142 millimeters and even Boost 148. In fact, the increase in stiffness between 142 millimeters and 157 millimeters is almost three times of that between 142mm to 148mm Boost.

Frame stiffness comparison.

TIRE CLEARANCE: 157TRAIL provides the most options for tire size across all models. All Knolly 157TRAIL frames will easily clear tire widths up to 3.25 inches.

FRAME CLEARANCE: We have re-designed the entire rear-end area to keep things as tight as possible. The 157TRAIL spacing increases rear axle width by 15 millimeters (7.5 millimeters per side), and yet heel clearance of our new designs has only moved outward by 1.5 millimeters per side. Our new 157TRAIL rear-end remains the same or in some cases narrower than existing Boost 148 bikes currently on the market.

Blue is the current rear spacing (142 millimeters) and grey is the new spacing. Knolly will continue to use a 73-millimeter wide bottom bracket shell.

CHAINSTAY LENGTH: Due to our “Four By 4” Linkage and Knolly's forward mounted seat tube we do not need to extend chainstay lengths to accommodate larger wheel sizes, including standard sized 29-inch tires and high volume 27.5 plus tires. “Four By 4” also allows Knolly to use 73-millimeter bottom brackets shells and is front derailleur compatible.

CHAINRING SIZE: Chainring clearance remains huge: at 36 tooth for 29-inch models and 38 tooth for 27.5-inch models.

This is a big move by Knolly, and there is some evidence to back it up. But the company is updating its entire line with 157TRAIL. It will be interesting to see how it plays out and if more companies start to adopt the same change. After all, hasn’t it been long enough without a new standard?

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