Cutting-edge enduro rig that's sure to get you noticed
Expensive carbon enduro bikes are two a penny, and cost a pretty penny too, the Antidote Carbonjack has an identity and a ride quality that’s truly unique.
Antidote Carbonjack need to know
- Enduro race bike with 27.5in wheels and 160mm travel
- Carbon/Vectran composite frame construction
- Frames are handmade in Poland
- Three frame sizes: M/L/XL
- Four-bar suspension design with floating shock
- Multiple shock options including the Ext Storia Lok coil shock
- €3,999 (frame only)
You may not have heard of Antidote bikes. And if you have, it’s probably the Darkmatter downhill bike that’s caught your attention. With its inverted 4-bar linkage suspension, high-pivot idler to reduce pedal kickback, and a frame that’s constructed from a custom blend of carbon and Vectran to yield an optimum flex-response while making the frame more puncture and abrasion resistance, it’s a truly innovative design.
More importantly, it’s got pace. Pace that very few DH race bikes can rival. It carries speed so well in fact, that the very first time I rode the Darkmatter I was convinced that the Maxxis Super Tacky tyres had been labelled incorrectly at the factory and were actually the faster rolling 60a variety. It turned out, they weren’t, and the Darkmatter is just a head scratchingly fast bike.
So when the offer came my way to ride Antidote’s 160mm travel Carbonjack, I jumped at it. On first seeing the Carbonjack I have to say that I was a little bit disappointed. Not because it didn’t look standout, but in my mind’s eye I’d pictured a short-travel version of the Darkmatter.
It quickly became evident though, that the 160mm travel Carbonjack shares the same pace and composure, even if it has a different suspension layout. It’s still a 4-bar design, where the shock is mounted on both links; rather than one end being anchored to the front triangle. A floating shock design is by no means a new concept and one of the key advantages is that the front triangle doesn’t need to be reinforced to accommodate the shock mount. Having the shock actuated at both ends has other advantages too, the main one being that it gives Antidote more wiggle room to tweak the leverage rate.
Size wise, the Carbonjack is available in three options: M, L and XL. I rode the size L, its vital stats closely mirroring MBR’s benchmark enduro bike, the 2017 Giant Reign. Hardly surprising then, that I instantly felt comfortable and confident to start pushing the Antidote. That’s not to say that both bikes felt the same however. The suspension on the Antidote provides a much tighter ride than the Giant, with more support mid-corner and less movement of the bike and rider in general. As such, it’s very stable and predictable, and just like the Darkmatter that stability comes from the suspension response, not super progressive geometry.
The Ext Storia shock on the Antidote is something special too. Hand made in Italy and custom tuned for the bike, it plays a pivotal role in making the Carbonjack feel very similar to the Darkmatter. With a low-speed hydraulic bottom out that starts to kick in half way though the travel, the rear suspension never feels like it is overreacting to bumps or rider input. Hit something hard however, and the rear suspension doesn’t kick back, the bike just keeps moving forward and building momentum. It’s by no means plush, at least not the conventional sense, as you still feel the ground beneath you, it’s just not chipping away at your speed with each successive hit. The blend of carbon plays a roll here too, as the Carbonjack doesn’t feel wooden in the way that many less expensive carbon bikes do. And this isn’t just about comfort, the inherent compliance in the frame also reduces rider fatigue, which as any enduro racer will tell you is one of the most important strategies to manage over the course of a race weekend.
Like most coil shocks, the Storia is super sensitive, so it also has a lock out lever to firm things up for climbing. The Lok feature runs on a separate damping circuit so it doesn’t compromise the shock’s ability to absorb bumps. Granted, it’s not a really lock out firm, but on a lengthy liaison it certainly has its benefits. It’s heat management where the coil shock really excels though, and given how long and demanding enduro stages are, having a shock that offers consistent damping is paramount to performance. So I’ll happily suck up the slight increase in shock movement with the coil and the weight penalty.
We’ve established that the Antidote Carbonjack is unquestionably fast bike. It’s not got a proven race pedigree however, but does that really mater? In a world where expensive carbon enduro bikes are two a penny, and cost a pretty penny too, Antidote has come up with an identity and a ride quality that’s truly unique.
How did it achieve this? Well, to start with, it didn’t go to Asia with a half-baked design and a marketing budget to build a bike brand. Instead, it uses knowledge that it had acquired from manufacturing prosthetic limbs to produces its composite frames in Krakow, right in the heart of Poland. As such, it’s unlikely that Antidote will ever be able to compete with the big players on price, even thought the bikes are sold direct though Antidote’s website.
That said, if your looking for a genuinely unique enduro bike with a standout ride quality the Carbonjack should be top of your wish-list. It’s certainly on mine… right below a 160mm travel Darkmatter.