With a hidden shock, concealed linkage, and internal tool storage, new Bold Linkin 150 Ultimate is one of the most beautiful trail bikes on the market
Now in a strategic partnership with Scott, Switzerland’s Bold Cycles has just unveiled it’s drop dead gorgeous new Linkin 150 trail bike, with a host of clever, and indeed unique, features.
Can it compete with the best full suspension mountain bikes on the market? Let’s find out.
Bold Linkin 150 Ultimate need to know
- Exceptionally clean trail bike with either 135mm or 150mm travel
- Internal shock is hidden and protected from the elements
- Pull-out tool tray
- 29in wheels and full carbon HMX high-modulus carbon frame
- Adjustable geometry and remote pedal platform
- Four frame sizes available
- Two build kits with prices starting at €5,999/£5,699
Swiss brand Bold launched its first bike back in 2015 with a frame that was as clean as a glacial stream and a hidden shock that was better protected than a Geneva bank vault. With a single showroom in Beil, it remained an exclusive proposition, but in May 2019 Scott Sports bought a majority stake in the boutique brand, which allowed it to use the patented Internal Suspension Technology. Then, a year later, Scott launched a new Spark XC bike with, you guessed it, a hidden shock.
At that point, I was convinced that was the end of the line for Bold, as Scott took the unique suspension configuration and applied it to as many bikes in its range as possible. However, and not for the first time, I’ve been proved wrong, as Bold is very much still alive and kicking. Indeed, this new Bold Linkin is proof that its ‘strategic partnership’ with Scott is allowing the brand to go from strength-to-strength.
Scott gets to give its mountain bikes a unique look that offers something completely different to its competitors and Bold gets to tap into Scott’s 30,000 strong global dealer network, engineering knowledge, factory access and buying power. As such, the advantages for both brands are extensive.
More than a pretty face
The Bold was always an aesthetically-pleasing design, but this new Linkin is easily the most beautiful yet. It’s also the best to ride, by a long way. But before I delve into the handling, let’s take a look at design and engineering, because the beauty of this bike goes more than skin deep.
For this second generation Linkin trail bike, Bold gave itself the brief to repackage the suspension to create a new suspension character, reduce the centre of gravity for better handling and take it to the next level in terms of integration. In pursuit of these goals, the two most fundamental changes it made compared to the old Linkin were to move from a vertically mounted shock, to a horizontal position, and from a four-bar linkage to a virtual twin-link design.
Now the shock is mounted just above the BB, filling the large void where the base of the down tube meets the seat tube, and gets driven by a large link that rotates around the bottom bracket on a couple of monster bearings. Anchored to the other end of this concentric link is the swingarm. A second link, almost completely hidden behind the swingarm moulding, joins the upper swingarm member to the back of the seat tube. It’s an incredibly compact and well disguised linkage that adds a further level of graceful elegance to the frame. If Henry Moore had taken up mountain bike design, the result might have looked something like this.
Bold takes hidden storage to the next level
Form is nothing without function, but the Bold Linkin is no decorative wallflower. The compact design helps promote stiffness, the internal shock is protected from the elements, extending service intervals and the open front triangle gives storage space for a water bottle. And Bold hasn’t stopped there: inside the down tube, beneath the protective cover, is the pull-out Save The Day Kit. Comprising a spare tube, mini-pump, tyre levers, chain quick links and a multi-tool on a slide-out tray, it’s a clean and convenient solution to ensuring the essentials are always on board.
For most brands, finding a way to hide the shock inside the frame, conceal the links from view and stash a full field kit in the down tube would feel like a job well done. But not for Bold. Somehow it has managed to package adjustable geometry, remote suspension adjustment and a travel indicator to simplify initial sag set-up and let you know how much shock stroke you’re using.
Choose your geometry
To give you greater flexibility with ride performance and handling, the head angle and BB height are independently adjustable. A flip chip at the seatstay link lets you raise or lower the BB height by 6mm while offset headset cups give +/-1º of angle adjustment without any special tools. The dynamic geometry can also be tweaked through Bold’s adoption of the Scott TwinLoc remote system. Pared back to work only on the shock, the Linkin’s TracLoc pairs a new remote lever with a special Nude shock. One press of the lever increases the compression damping and reduces the volume of the shock’s air chamber, effectively reducing the travel and the dynamic sag, which makes the bike sit higher for better ground clearance and keeps the seat angle steeper for better climbing. Push the lever again and the system more-or-less locks out. And unlike previous Scott designs, the new lever is ergonomic, within easy reach and doesn’t compromise the dropper remote position. In conjunction with the Syncros Hixon one-piece bar and stem, the cables are tucked cleanly out of sight, too.
Getting set-up on a previous generation Bold was a two-person job. One to sit on the bike and the other to squat down and peer through a window, or hold up a protractor, to check the sag. With the new Linkin, that’s no longer the case. A travel indicator sits behind the concentric BB link, with a small magnet sweeping across the scale to show you sag and max travel. You still have to remove the down tube cover to access the shock for pressure and damping changes, so it’s still a slightly long-winded process, but it’s a big improvement over the older designs.
Two Bold Linkin models are available, the 150 and the 135 – where the number indicate the travel in mm – and two build kits – Ultimate and Pro. The 135 Ultimate gets Fox suspension, SRAM XO1/GX AXS wireless drivetrain and Shimano XT brakes for €8,499/£7,949. The 135 Pro gets a Pike Select RC fork, SRAM GX drivetrain and Shimano SLX brakes for €5,999/£5,699. Moving up in travel, the Linkin 150 Ultimate gets Fox suspension and a SRAM XX1 AXS drivetrain with Shimano XTR brakes for €10,999/£10,099. This is the closest spec to the bike we rode (production bikes weren’t available at the launch due to a shortage of parts). Finally there’s a Linkin 150 Pro with an Ohlins RXF36 M.2 air fork and Shimano XT parts for €6,999/£6,599. The frame kit will also be available in either black or white with Fox Float Nude shock, Syncros Hixon IC bar/stem, headset and dropper post for €4,999/£4,799. Claimed weight for a medium frame with shock is 3,099g. Weight for the Save the Day Kit is around 400g.
How the Bold Linkin 150 Ultimate rides
The Bold Linkin is a bike that rides as good as it looks, and when it looks this good, that’s saying something. The first thing that struck me when I slung a leg over the Linkin was how compact it is. The top tube is miles below, the standover clearance is generous and the stunted seat tube gives room for a massive dropper post – my large test bike came with a 200mm dropper, but it’s even possible to fit one in the medium frame.
The reach is on the longer side (490mm on the large), so even with the steep seat angle it feels roomy when seated. A low-rise bar on my bike exacerbated this feeling, and made it a little harder to lift the front wheel than expected, but production bikes will come with a higher rise bar to rectify this.
That long reach and low-slung frame, enhanced by the low and central weight distribution, means it carves corners with exceptional control and stability. Bold claims the BB height is 340mm in the low position, but it felt much closer to the ground, like my heels were ploughing furrows in every turn.
If that sounds like the recipe for stubbed toes and broken pedals everywhere else, fear not. Bold has given the Bold Linkin 150 a remarkable level of mid-stroke support that really holds you up in the travel and gives a superb platform to push against to generate speed and get airborne. Pedal strikes can be further avoided by utilising the middle Traction Mode setting to help the bike sit higher on uneven ground and lumpy climbs. And not only is the remote lever easier to reach on the move, it boasts a noticeably lighter action than the ones you’ll find on Scott’s own bikes as it only has to control the shock, rather than the fork and the shock.
Impressively playful, you can point the front end where you want to go into a turn, push the back wheel completely sideways with your feet, and then back off the pressure to get it all back into line. It loves to get wild, but never seems to lose control. There’s plenty of sensitivity from the suspension too, so you can really feel what’s going on behind you, and it will also give up full travel when it needs to.
If there’s a chink in the Bold Linkin 150 armour, it’s that my test bike felt a little harsh through the cockpit. The frame is certainly solid, but it’s hard to pinpoint the stinging I felt through my palms as it could have been the stiff DT Swiss carbon wheels, Syncros Hixon IC carbon bar or hard Syncros grips (or a combination of all three).
The Bold Linkin 150 is a work of art then. As beautiful as a da Vinci but as cool as a Banksy. And just like the street artists’s latest satirical piece, when the hammer drops, the Linkin is ready to shred.