A 29er enduro/trail bike boasting 155mm travel, the Banshee Titan is one of several models in the Banshee range to use the latest KS2 suspension layout.
The Banshee Titan is their hard-hitting 29er enduro/trail platform with the KS2 twin-link suspension, the Titan boasts 155mm travel. The new Titan’s stealth looks disguise a larger-than-life trail performer.
A lot has changed since the Banshee Spitfire turned conventional wisdom on trial bike geometry on its head. With its DH-race inspired head angle, low-slung top tube and rangy cockpit – at least by the standards of the day – the original Spitfire had the numbers to easily outmaneuver any of its rivals in a dog fight. Unfortunately, it didn’t have the suspension fire power to bring them crashing down. Bushings rather than bearings were its Achilles heel, creating too much friction in the KS suspension links, so the rear end on the Spitfire only felt effective just as the bushings needed replacing.
But I’m not here to reminisce about the not-so-good old days, I want to see how things have changed at Banshee. And to do that, I’m taking a closer look at one of its newest bikes, the Titan.
Banshee Titan need to know
- Full alloy frame built around a 3D forged shock cage to concentrate loads in the strongest part of the frame and improve overall alignment
- Bearings on all pivots, including the shock hardware, offer incredible small-bump sensitivity
- Interchangeable dropouts offer two chainstay lengths and adjustable geometry
- Frame weight is 4.27kg in size L
Keith Scott, the engineer behind all of the Banshees bikes, evolved the suspension layout to run on a full complement of cartridge bearings several years ago. But with his latest twin-link design, the shock now runs vertically through a 3D forged shock cage, which not only opens up space in the front triangle for a water bottle, but also concentrates the suspension forces through the strongest part of the frame. This means the slender 7005 T6 alloy tubes of the front triangle don’t have to bear the brunt of the load, and as such, can be made much lighter. How much lighter? Well, Banshee doesn’t offer complete bikes in the UK, so one of the benefits of building this Titan frame from scratch is that it was easy to weigh. The size large frame with the stock Fox Float X2 shock, compact rear dropouts, rear axle, seat collar and headset cups weighed in at an impressive 4.27kg, resulting in a complete build of 15.41kg (33.97lb) where the SRAM X01 chainset was the only carbon component on the bike.
The rear end of the Titan is every bit as svelte as the front triangle, but don’t think for a minute that it’s flexy; internal ribs in the rear stays guarantee that while it looks skinny, it’s still bomber-solid. It’s also adjustable. Bolt-on rear dropouts offer high and low geometry settings, and while this isn’t the lightest approach to geometry adjustment, it does mean that the head angle and BB height can be manipulated independently of the suspension progression.
It also allows Banshee to offer different-length dropouts. The standard compact option provides a 450mm chainstay length, so not that compact, and they are designed to be used with maximum tyre sizes of 2.6in on a 29in rear wheel or 2.8in on 27.5in. In reality, there’s not tons of tyre clearance at the stays, even with a 29×2.4in Maxxis Minion DHR II out back. There is also a longer-dropout option, designed to let you fit a 29×2.8in rear tyre, but I can’t see many riders taking that approach. Banshee also has dropouts for the narrower 142x12mm hub standard, which is the real beauty of a modular system as it still supports older standards.
The Titan frame comes in three sizes, M to XL. Yes, the 462mm reach on the size large frame isn’t going to set any records, but the head tube is quite tall, which means you benefit from the full reach measurement – shorter head tubes give artificially long reach measurements as you always have to run spacers under the stem. In fact, I’d prefer an even lower-profile headset bearing cover on the Banshee just so I could run the stem fully slammed to maximize the reach.
As with most modern bikes, cable routing on the Titan is internal, where large ports at the top of the down tube make it relatively easy to thread the outers through the frame. The clamps don’t cinch up on the cables though, so you’ll need to tape them up to stop them rattling. In future, Banshee will provide foam cable tubes to stop them clattering around inside the down tube.
How it rides
Building a bike from scratch is always a bit of a gamble. You choose the parts you think will work best on the specific platform, but it’s not until you throw a leg over the finished item and sprint off down the first trail that you know if all the pieces of the puzzle fit perfectly. Take the Fox 38 fork, for example. It’s rapidly become the benchmark enduro fork, but with a slightly higher axle-to-crown height than the old 170mm-travel 36, it slackens the geometry on the Titan a touch and makes the BB height taller than claimed. I worried that this, combined with the 130mm head tube, would mean that the front end would be a little tall. It wasn’t. In fact, this worked out just fine, as the longer chainstays, which extend beyond 450mm as the suspension settles into its sag, make it easy to keep the front end of the Titan loaded, even with the higher handlebar position.
Point the Titan down anything steep and the elevated front end makes it super-easy to get your weight rearward while keeping your head up so you actually see where you’re charging. And boy can you charge on this bike. In fact, the Titan’s ability to iron out square-edge hits is almost as impressive as how easy it was to set up – run the recommended 15.5-17.5mm of sag on the Fox Float X2 shock and you’re good to go. The shock tune is on the money too, where the rebound was actually way too fast for me when approaching the open range of adjustment, so lighter riders running lower shock pressures will also be able to get the perfect damping set-up.
After some experimenting with shock pressures I ended up running the sag at the deeper end of the suggested range as I wanted to kill off some of the BB height for increased stability at speed. Even running it lower in the travel, the suspension felt stable and efficient when spinning up climbs seated. Get out of the saddle to sprint, however, and the Banshee Titan didn’t have the instant acceleration you get on some enduro bikes. This could probably be remedied by simply running more air in the shock, though.
Would I change anything about the build on the Banshee Titan? Yes, with hindsight always being 20/20 I could easily have fitted a 170mm Crankbrothers Highline 7 post as there’s ample insertion depth on the size large frame. Also, with the 350mm BB height, I’d run a 175mm chainset rather than 170mm, as pedal clearance is never going to be an issue. That said, the shorter crank arms mean that I could easily mullet the bike, dropping the BB height by 10mm and slackening the head angle by half a degree to 63.2°. Best of all, if you ever need extra pedal clearance or steeper geometry for climbing, you need only slide the dropouts into the high setting and you’re back to the original format with a lot of extra tyre clearance to boot.