Price has crept up but the jump in performance makes it well worth the extra money
Editor’s Choice 2020
2020 saw the Bossnut build on its strengths while eliminating any weakness. In fact, every component other than the rear tyre, seat post and grips were improved upon. By far the biggest update to the specification was the addition of a 12-speed SRAM Eagle drivetrain which opened up the possibility to climb higher and ride further on the Bossnut than ever before.
But it wasn’t just the big ticket items that Caliber sweated. At first glance the WTB Vigilante front tyre looks just like the previous version, but on closer inspection you’ll see that Caliber switched to the High Grip compound with its softer rubber. One subtle change that could prevent you from ending up on the floor when traversing wet roots and rocks.
By far the biggest improvements though were to the Bossnut frame itself. The old boxy tubing profiles that served the Bossnut so well for so long, replaced by sleek hydroformed designs that simultaneously gave the bike a modern look, while improving standover clearance, increasing cockpit space and adding more stable steering geometry. Taken together, these changes nudged the Bossnut even further ahead of its rivals.
There were improvements to the rear triangle too, the addition of 142x12mm bolt-thru dropouts adding additional stiffness and security, which are both good things given how hard you can ride the Bossut. Up, down or around, the Caliber Bossnut excels and offers the highest level of performance at this price point. It’s the budget baller with an unbroken track record for good reason.
Since its introduction in 2015, the Calibre Bossnut has been the entry-level full-suspension bike by which all others are measured.
And while Go Outdoors is a massive operation, the success of this bike can largely be attributed to one man, Mike Sanderson. His vision, to bring a high-level riding experience to a wider audience while keeping the price in check, is what’s made the Bossnut such an accomplished bike.
Calibre Bossnut review
While the Bossnut has evolved with successive iterations, the latest version is by far the best yet. It’s seen a raft of revisions to the geometry, tubing profiles and specification, but let’s address the elephant in the room first – the price has crept up by £100.
With that out of the way, we can dive into the details. Changes to the geometry mean a slacker 65.4° head angle for improved confidence at speed and a steeper 73.9° seat angle to help get your weight further forward on the climbs.
Visually, the bike has evolved too. Gone are the old boxy tubes, replaced instead by soft edges, similar in style to the hydroformed tubes found on the Calibre Sentry. The relatively straight seat tube design means it was the only bike on test where we could drop the saddle without having to chop the seatpost down. Finally, the frame gets 142x12mm bolt-thru dropouts to shore up the rear end – no bad thing given how hard this bike can be ridden.
On paper, the Bossnut delivers 130mm travel. When we measured it, however, it was closer to 120mm. Not that you can tell out on the trail, because the addition of a lighter tune on the RockShox Monarch R shock gives the rear suspension extra sensitivity and traction. It also gives the bike more pop, so it’s even more playful. And thanks to the higher main pivot, the Bossnut pedals every bit as well as before.
Up front, the 130mm-travel Rockshox Recon RL is a solid, dependable performer; the 15mm axle improving stiffness and steering precision. The rebound damping can prove sluggish for lighter riders, but if you are 75kg or over, a great set-up is easy to achieve.
Gone is the branded 780mm Kore Durox handlebar, replaced instead by a Calibre bar of equal width and a much better profile. The WTB Volt saddle also makes way for the Calibre Trail saddle, first developed for the Sentry 29er enduro bike. Two small changes that go towards freeing up budget for the all-important SRAM SX Eagle drivetrain with its range-expanding 11-50t cassette.
The final update to the specification is the High-Grip WTB Vigilante front tyre. It has the same profile and tread as the regular Vigilante on the old Bossnut, but the softer compound increases traction and confidence. It looks a lot bigger than the 2.25in Trail Boss rear tyre though – a 2.4in Trail Boss would be a better choice.
What’s changed for 2021?
Not one jot. And when the bike is as accomplished as the 2020 Calibre Bossnut, nothing needs to change, right? The price, however, has increased. When we tested the Bossnut in the summer issue you could pick one up for £1,099 with the GoOutdoors’ discount card. Six months later the price is £1,200. Is it still worth the money? You bet it is. But getting hold of a Bossnut isn’t straightforward, as demand continues to outstrip supply. And now, with this, its third Editor’s Choice award in a row getting hold of one is going to be harder than ever.
With all of the improvements, the Bossnut inches closer to perfection. And more importantly, it stays one step ahead of its rivals. With the updated sizing and geometry, combined with the tweaks to the suspension, the new Bossnut can be ridden harder than ever before. It’s silent, balanced and smooth, the suspension working in perfect harmony with the rider. The 12-speed SRAM Eagle drivetrain and more-forward seated riding position make light work of arduous climbs, so you get to the fun stuff that much faster or fresher. And that’s what the Bossnut is all about: having fun and going fast. Out of the box, there are no obvious weaknesses that need addressing, and while it would be nice to have a dropper post, we were happy enough just to be able to drop the saddle so we could rip the best parts of every trail.