Forbidden now has a big gun in its fleet but who needs the Forbidden Dreadnought XT when the Druid is already billed as being so capable? In short... everyone. Let me explain.
Forbidden has launched a new machine to compete with the best enduro mountain bikes; will the Forbidden Dreadnought XT rule the trails? Should you get this instead of their long-established Druid bike?
Forbidden Dreadnought XT need to know
- Named after a destroyer, the Dreadnought is the big gun in the Forbidden range
- A 100 per cent rearward axle path delivers 154mm of travel
- High-pivot idler design dramatically reduces pedal kickback
- Full carbon frame construction gives a 3.32kg frame weight
- Updated sizing makes a medium Dreadnought equivalent to a size-large Druid
- Currently available in two builds, XT or SLX, with a frame-only option for £3,399
In many ways Forbidden painted itself into a corner with the Druid, kinda like when your only tool is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. That’s not to imply that the 130mm-travel Druid is a blunt instrument, far from it. It’s just that the Dreadnought is more refined. When Forbidden only had a one-model range, the Druid had to cover everything from trail to downhill. And even if you believe in high-pivot witchcraft, that’s clearly a stretch of the imagination by anyone’s standards.
In fact, Forbidden did a good job of convincing riders and journalists that the rearward axle path is so efficient at gobbling up the chunder, you really don’t need anything more than the Druid. The truth is, it doesn’t matter what path the rear axle follows, you only have the travel you’ve got. And given that Forbidden measures travel along the arc of the axle path, not vertically, you’ve actually got less than you think. Also, it’s telling that almost everyone that rides the Druid hard switches to a coil shock to make the suspension work better.
Then there’s the weight. The size large Dreadnought XT tips the scales at 15.68kg, which is ballpark for a big-hitting enduro bike at £6k. Yes, it’s 800g heavier than the Druid, but the Dreadnought frame is longer, the bike comes with heavier-casing Maxxis tyres, a beefier Fox 38 fork, more substantial Float X2 shock and bigger Shimano XT rotors for extra stopping power, so the Dreadnought is always going to weigh more than the Druid. The actual difference in frame weight? It’s only 260g. So in short, the Druid is portly for a trail bike, the Dreadnought competitive for an enduro race rig.
When I tested the Forbidden Druid XT (review) last month, the size large felt a little small and even though I’m only 5ft 11in tall I could have easily ridden the XL, which is the biggest size Forbidden offers. Size- for-size the reach measurements on the Dreadnought are 20mm longer, so there’s no need to upsize. The rear centre measurements are still size specific and have also increased in length to help maintain the desired balance with associated increase in front ends.
And while both bikes share a similar silhouette, the suspension on the Dreadnought isn’t simply a longer-travel version of the Druid. Yes, it still has a 100 per cent rearward axle path, but it also has less initial progression and more end-stroke progression. Anti-squat is similar to the Druid at sag but then it falls away more sharply deeper in the travel.
Both bikes also run different-stroke shocks: the Dreadnought gets a 205x65mm Fox X2 while the Druid runs a 210x55mm Fox DPX2. Due to the difference in travel, though, 130mm versus 154mm, both result in the same leverage ratio. Critically, the Dreadnought gets a metric trunnion-mounted shock, so it’s rotating on bearings rather than bushings, which makes the suspension much more sensitive off the top. Also, because the Fox X2 has the piggyback on the body end of the shock, not the air-can end, like on the DPX2, the O-ring on the shock body isn’t obscured by the frame, which makes suspension set-up and travel-usage assessment easier.
The final nail in the coffin for the Druid is that Forbidden has killed it with the shock tune on the Dreadnought. So rather than running all of the dials wide open, as with the DPX2 on the Druid, you can actually use the four-way adjustable X2 shock on the Dreadnought to fine-tune the ride characteristics of the bike.
How it rides
The Forbidden Dreadnought XT is a big bike, no two ways about it. And because the chainstay length grows by 15mm at sag, the static 1,283mm wheelbase on the size large doesn’t tell the whole story. The bike feels very well balanced though, and that’s because Forbidden isn’t simply growing the front end as you go up through the size range; its proportional sizing also increases the rear-centre measurement, guaranteeing that weight distribution is matched across all four frame sizes. So not only does every rider get the same experience regardless of height, you can choose your frame size based on your preferred riding style safe in the knowledge that you are not compromising on the overall balance of the bike. In fact, I had the opportunity to ride the size large Dreadnought back to back with a size medium, and felt equally comfortable swapping between both sizes. Yes, the smaller size was more agile and easier to flick around tight turns, the large noticeably more stable and better suited to faster, more open trails. Also, the Dreadnought is compatible with the Ziggy Link, so if you want a more agile ride, or struggle with with clearance using a 29in wheel, downsizing to a 27.5in MX set-up couldn’t be easier.
I also played around a lot with the amount of sag I was running, starting with Forbidden’s recommended shock pressures before settling on more sag. Running the shock deeper in the stroke didn’t negatively impact pedalling efficiency, but it made it much easier to get my weight more rearward, which is somewhat counterintuitive given that it also further extends the chainstay length.
What surprised me most, though, was that the Forbidden Dreadnought XT felt more agile and dynamic than the Druid even though it is a much bigger bike in every regard, and that’s purely down to the suspension being easier to preload and pop the bike off the ground. So given that the sizing on the Dreadnought is also better, and the suspension more effective at ironing out bumps, both big and small, I can’t think of a single reason to get the Druid over the Dreadnought.