The Cove STD was never intended to be a lightweight version of the Shocker, and at 9.7lb (excluding shock) there is less then a quarter of a pound separating the frame weights. Geometry, travel and suspension dynamics are what differentiate both models.
To improve low-speed handling the head angle on the STD is 0.5deg steeper at 65.5deg, and it gets a 1.5in head tube for a tighter turning circle when used with a long-travel single-crown fork. Rear-wheel travel on the STD is 7.5in instead of the 8.75in, giving less sag than the Shocker and resulting in a higher bottom bracket height for extra clearance.
Additionally the STD has a steeper seat angle and more saddle height adjustment so you can climb if you want — or have — to. Ascending is never going to be easy on a 42lb bike so the STD has cable stops for running a double chainring and E-type front mech.
Up front Cove uses its signature Easton Rad tubing, and the triangu-lated swingarm is comprised of rectangular 7005 stays with fully replaceable dropouts. The back end uses a 150mm Maxle config-uration, and combined with an 83mm bottom bracket shell the Cove has a good chain line.
ISCG tabs are absent from the bottom bracket shell and when we quizzed Cove about this, it was quick to point out that it has seen plenty of damaged ISCG tabs and prefers to run the adapter plate, held in place by the driveside bottom bracket cup, allowing the back plate of the chain device to spin if you hit something really hard. Obviously if you rip ISCG tabs off you can always fall back on the adapter plate, so we’re not convinced by Cove’s reasoning.
The angle of the upper link in relation to the rear shock on the STD is slightly different to the Shocker, making the suspension firmer in the initial part of the stroke to improve the STD’s pedalling performance. The sting is that this slight modification also causes the suspension to bottom easier. As a result we had to up the boost valve pressure and reduced the reservoir volume on the Fox DHX 5.0 shock to get the suspension to ramp up more towards the end of the stroke. This also helps prop the rear end up in corners and g-outs and further reduces the risk of clipping pedals. Lots of riders confuse boost valve pressure with platforming found on SPV-style shocks — they are not the same thing so don’t be afraid to increase the pressure and check it regularly as it does lose air over time.
We tried the STD with both the Solo Air and coil-sprung Totems and while the air version saved half a pound of weight, the initial stroke was too harsh before ripping through the mid-stroke, so in the end we settled for the coil version.
Hopping off the Cannondale and the Norco onto the Cove gave us a new lease of life. It offers a ride that is somewhere between the stiffness of the ’Dale with a suspension action to match the Norco. Additionally, the Maxxis Super Tacky tyres went a long way to improving traction on the upper sections of the mountain.
For a big-travel rig the Cove STD pedals extremely well and has a very planted suspension action that makes the bike slightly harder to pop than some. The rear suspension excels on small and mid size hits and copes admirably with braking bumps. In fact, its only Achilles heel are big square edge hits where every now and then the rear suspension would baulk, throwing the rider’s weight forward as the back end struggled to cope with the impact. Other than that the STD is a trustworthy freeride rig with excellent geometry that is worthy of its name.
Even though Cove is a relatively small manufacturer, the quality and workmanship on the STD are of a high standard. The underlying feeling of this Canadian-built bike is that it’s solid enough to bail on a jump or throw it down a rocky shoot and chances are you’d be able to pick it up, straighten the bars and ride off. That said, it doesn’t outperform the Scott Gambler or the Specialized Demo 7 and considering that it’s a lot more money we scored it an 8. Basically, if you want a good freeride bike that isn’t going to be two-a-penny the Cove STD is a good choice.
MBR RATING: 8/10