Hottest ticket in town.
If this were a popularity contest, the new DMR Sled would win hands down. Never have we had a bike that’s garnered so much interest, and the response to our Instagram feed tells us it’s one of the hottest tickets in town right now.
DMR Sled review
The Infrared frame finish certainly is eye-catching and the Sled also borrows lines from another brand known for great-looking bikes: Santa Cruz.
Even the Orbit-link suspension has a lot in common with Santa Cruz’s signature VPP design. Both have counter-rotating links, so the pivot migrates forward as the suspension compresses, and both use collet-style pivot hardware for maximum security and minimum maintenance.
Where the DMR suspension differs from VPP, is that the lower link pivots directly around the BB shell. The Praxis chain guide is also mounted to the Orbit link and moves as the suspension compresses, making it something of a satellite guide. As such, you need never worry about dropping the chain.
The Sled frame pumps out 160mm of travel, and a RockShox Monarch RT3 shock takes care of damping duties. On small to medium hits, the back end of the DMR feels amazing. Maybe it’s that initial rearward axle path, but on the right trail this bike builds speed quickly and feels unstoppable. Dive into some big old braking bumps, however, and it’s a completely different proposition. The rear end seems to choke up, forcing your weight onto the suspension fork.
Thankfully our test bike came equipped with a 170mm-travel RockShox Lyrik, boasting the top spec RCT3 Charger damper, so it could handle the extra load. DMR also offers the Sled with a 160mm RockShox Pike for the same money, and while we initially thought the Pike would be the best match for the Sled, the Lyrik proved to be ideal as it also raises the height of the front end.
With a 10-42t cassette married to a 32t chainring, the DMR Sled won’t be winning any hill-climb races. That said, DMR has been wise to spend its budget on a superior fork instead of a dinner plate cassette that will soon wear out.
Less sensible is DMR’s choice of dropper post. At 125mm, the X-Fusion Manic doesn’t offer a wide enough range of adjustment, and it started acting up after just a couple of rides. It extends when you lift the bike up by the saddle, then gets stuck three quarters of the way down when you try to drop it.
We loved the extra comfort of the full rubber DMR Sect grips, but we suspect that the lack of lock-on collars will cause them to start spinning in the rain.
DMR states that the Sled is long, low and slack. But only two out of the three geometry claims are close to being accurate, as the 345mm BB height is actually pretty tall for a 160mm bike. It’s strange then, that DMR also fits shorter 170mm cranks, as it doesn’t need the extra pedal clearance. With the saddle set to the correct height for pedalling, we couldn’t even touch the ground.
That’s not the real issue here, though. The higher BB forces you to hunker down lower on the bike for stability, which creates more fatigue in your legs on longer descents. Raising the stem to its maximum height helped restore balance but didn’t eliminate the leg burn. Even with the taller front end, we had no issues loading the front tyre on flat turns as the chainstay length extends a lot once you load up the rear suspension. So the 430mm chainstay measurement only applies to the bike when unweighted. That said, the bike is better for the extra length.
Depending on the trail, the DMR Sled seesaws between being the best and worst bike in this test. That’s mostly due to the suspension response on bigger hits, but the BB height is also too tall, which feeds into the motion sickness when things get rough. Packing the air can on the rear shock full of volume spacers and running more sag is one way to reduce the BB height. A better way would be to have some sort of flip-chip in the upper link, like the one YT has on the Jeffsy. With this and some minor spec changes the DMR Sled would be back in the mix rather than at the back of the pack.