The trail-ready Linkin 135 Ultimate from Swiss brand Bold Cycles offers plenty of noteworthy elements and an active, snappy ride feel
The Bold Linkin 135 is a 29er-wheeled, 150mm-travel full-suspension trail bike packed with plenty of interesting features – hello on-board storage and interesting shock arrangement. That it looks damn good is a fact, but looks are only part of the picture and the best full-suspension trail mountain bikes also need to impress us with their performance.
Need to know:
- Rubber protection above and below the chainstay, and up the inside of the seat stay offers a whisper silent ride
- Tracloc handlebar remote offers three rear suspension settings 135mm, 90mm or locked out
- Bold uses a twin-link suspension configuration, where the lower link pivots around the BB shell
- Remove the shock/downtube cover to reveal the Save the Day kit stowed inside the frame
At risk of stating the obvious, the shock on the Linkin 135 is concealed inside the frame. It sits horizontally just above the BB and not only does it look cool, it also protects the shock from the elements.
For the 135, Bold uses the same full carbon frame as the Bold Linkin 150 and it’s by manipulating the shock stroke and lower link that it reduces the travel. It’s a twin-link design, where the lower link rotates around the BB shell and doubles as a sag/travel metre – where a small magnet indicates how much travel you’re using. Useful when you can’t see the shock.
Removing the protective cover under the down tube gives access to the Fox Nude T5 shock so you can adjust the spring pressure and rebound in the normal fashion. We tried removing the shock, just to check the volume spacers, but found that the T30 bolt that secures it to the linkage had seized. Not good.
Removing the cover also reveals the Save the Day Kit, an integrated downtube storage solution that’s similar to how some e-bike batteries are removed.
Size wise, Bold offers the Linkin frame in four flavours, the size L sporting a generous 482mm reach. The frame also has two geometry adjust features: flip-chips in the upper portion of the swingarm offer a hair over 6mm of BB height adjustment, while rotating the headset cups provides a full degree of head angle adjustment.
Bold Linkin 135 suspension
The shock on the Bold is connected to a handlebar remote that lets you toggle between three suspension settings: 135mm travel, 90mm travel or locked out. It’s very similar to what its sister company Scott uses, but thankfully it’s not linked to the fork.
Operating the remote still takes some getting used to as the dropper post lever is right there too. Swapping between full travel and 90mm doesn’t seem to make a big difference to seated climbing performance, but it does make the bike sprint better and helps load the front end on flatter trails.
Bold supplied our semi-custom Linkin 135 with a 150mm Fox 36 Factory fork, even though the stock build gets 10mm less travel. It was no bad thing though, especially given that the frame actually pumps out 140mm travel, not the 135mm advertised.
Bold Linkin 135 components
The Save the Day kit stowed neatly inside the down tube induces a split-link, mini pump and innertube case. There’s also a multi tool attached to the underside of the frame. If removing the protective cover to access the multi-tool proves too much of an inconvenience, the rear axle lever doubles as a 6mm hex key, and includes T30 and T25 Torx keys for minor adjustments. Neat.
Shimano XTR needs no introduction. So even though the Bold frame uses a Pressfit 92 BB, at least with the preload collar on the XTR chainset, you should be able to get maximum life out of the bearings. We had no bite-point issues with the 4-piston XTR brakes, but the pads or rotors must have been contaminated as stopping power was seriously compromised.
Frame clearance was also compromised with the stock 2.6in rear tyre. So much so that the Maxxis Dissector had already burned through the paint and was eating away at the carbon.
Bold Linkin performance
The Linkin 135 is an active bike, both in terms of suspension and ride characteristics. It snaps in and out of turns with ease and carries speed incredibly well, especially when the trail is rough or loose.
Of the four bikes in this test, pitted head-to-head against the Canyon Spectral 125 CF 9, the Mondraker Raze RR and the Specialized Stumpjumper Expert, it felt closest to a traditional 150mm travel trail bike. Hardly surprising, given that it has more travel than claimed and the Save the Day kit adds 500g to the overall weight of the bike. It’s why we’d recommend jumping straight to the Bold Linkin 150.
There’s also a noticeable amount of flex, some in the frame, some in the Race Face handlebar, some in the carbon Syncros wheels. Thankfully, the stock build uses neither of those components, but still gets the 2.6in tyres that eat into the frame. And given that Bold has gone to great lengths to sweat every other detail, this seems like a major oversight. Following feedback, Bold has changed the spec on the Linkin 135 and it will now come with a 2.4in rear tyre.
Looking for more short-travel 29er mountain bikes? Check out:
With the Linkin design Bold has done something unique, where concealing the shock inside the frame has benefits beyond the bike’s appearance. It has some minor drawbacks too, as adjusting the shock isn’t as straightforward. Yes, the extra complexity will be a turn off for some, while others will be smitten by the simplicity of the Linkin’s appearance. Given that the Linkin 135 and 150 share the same frame though, our key takeaway from this test is that you should get the extra travel and be sure to swap the 2.6in rear tyre for a 2.4in to increase clearance and save the carbon swingarm.