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.

Product Overview

Forbidden Dreadnought XT

Pros:

  • Unique ride quality. Great sizing with balanced weight distribution across all sizes. Buttery-smooth suspension with good range of adjustment and plenty of support for smashing bigger hits. Steep seat angle means you simply sit down and spin and the Dreadnought climbs with the best of them. It’s better than the Druid.

Cons:

  • Needs a high-rise bar. End-stroke progression makes it harder to get full travel, so maybe a coil shock would make this bike better still. Idler is noisy when it’s muddy. Longer chainstay and rearward axle path means you have to put more effort into lifting the front end.

Product:

Forbidden Dreadnought XT review

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£6,799.00
TAGS:

With 154mm of rear wheel travel, the Forbidden Dreadnought XT is the current big-hitter in the range from the Canadian brand. It shares the same high-pivot idler design and distinctive profile with the more trail focused Druid, but it has all the advantages of being second born. Is it good enough to earn a spot on our best enduro bike 150mm – 180mm big hitters list? You betcha. 

High pivot hype? The pros and cons of idler designs

Need to know

  • New, improved fender design helps keep the shock tunnel clear
  • High-pivot idler design pumps out 154mm travel
  • Beefy Fox 38 fork with GRIP 2 damper delivers 170mm travel up front
  • 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
  • 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

We put the Forbidden Dreadnought XT to the test

Frame design

As such, the sizing on the Dreadnought has moved forward a lot from the Forbidden Druid. There are still four frame sizes, small to XL, but the reach numbers have grown by roughly 20mm on each frame size. Our size L Dreadnought test bike measured a generous 480mm.

The head tube height on the Dreadnought is also shorter than on the Druid, which makes it easier for riders to upsize. But given the extra reach, the shorter head tubes on the Dreadnought just seem to penalise taller rides on the bigger frame sizes. More on this in a minute. 

Photo showing high pivot idler on Forbidden Dreadnought mtb

The high-pivot idler on the Forbidden Dreadnought

One feature that remains unchanged is the size specific chainstay lengths, which provide the same weight distribution across all four frame sizes. This isn’t achieved by producing four unique carbon swingarms though. Instead, Forbidden moves the pivot positions in the carbon front triangle relative to the BB to generate different effective chainstay lengths. It’s a smart, cost effective approach, with genuine benefits for all riders.

The Dreadnought feautres size specific chainstay lengths

And if you’re looking at sizing, bear in mind that the chainstay length on the Dreadnought grows by approximately 15mm at sag. So the size L has a 463mm chainstay length when loaded. 

Interestingly, there’s no geometry adjustment on the Dreadnought. And while that keeps things simple, it also means you can’t tweak the weight distribution on the bike or the steering characteristics. Actually, that’s not 100% accurate, as the Ziggy-Link used to convert the Dreadnought to an MX/Mullet doesn’t fully correct the geometry for the smaller rear wheel, resulting in a slightly lower BB height and slacker head angle.

Suspension

The Dreadnought also retains the 100% rearward axle path. And in addition to bumping up the travel by 24mm to 154mm, Forbidden has tweaked the leverage ratio. The Dreadnought is more progressive at the beginning and end stroke, with a less progressive mid-stroke so it floats more in that zone. It’s not the first triple-phase suspension design, but one that proves effective, even if a little too progressive at bottom out with the air-sprung Fox Float X2 shock.

Fox Float X2 shock

Another marked change is the addition of bearings at both ends of the trunnion mounted shock to eliminate stiction. This, combined with the progressive initial leverage rate, makes for seriously good small bump sensitivity and traction. 

Fox 38 Performance Elite forks

Keeping it Fox front and rear is the 170mm travel 38 Performance Elite fork. It doesn’t get the bling Kashima coated upper tubes found on the Factory fork, but retains the 4-way adjustable GRIP 2 damper and benefits from all of the latest friction reducing tech including, bleed ports and bypass channels on the back of the lower legs. Guide pressures on the 38 normally give us a good initial set-up, but on the Dreadnought we found that we had to go up by 10psi as the chainstay growth at sag really loads the front of the bike more than normal.

How to set up mountain bike suspension

Components

The relatively short 110mm head tube on the size L Dreadnought compounds its forward weight bias. Raising the e13 stem to maximum height mitigates this somewhat, but on steeper terrain we struggled to get our weight rearward and off the fork. Swapping the stock 20mm rise e13 bar for a Burgtec Ride High 38mm rise bar instantly cured this problem, and left us with 10mm of adjustment in reserve.

Handlebars were tweaked to provide the ideal feel and control

It seems like every other month we’re complaining about the variable bite point of Shimano’s XT 4-piston brakes. Well, whoever put the Dreadnought together did it right, as the brakes have been 100% consistent. Yes, the cooling fin pads rattle incessantly, but once you wear them out replacing them with standard pads will instantly fix that. 

And while the Shimano brakes were faultless, the Bike Yoke Revive post suddenly developed a suspension post action after a couple of months’ use. Thankfully it comes with the Revive-Valve. Open the valve with a 4mm hex key and compress the seat post fully to reset the hydraulic circuit. We only had to do this once and the 185mm post has worked flawlessly ever since. And because the valve is on the side of the seat post head, you don’t even need to remove the post or the saddle to do it. Genius.

Performance

The Forbidden Dreadnought isn’t like other enduro bikes. And while it’s easy to get caught up in the high-pivot idler design and the positive effect it has on reducing pedal kickback under braking, there’s a lot more going on here.

We tested the Forbidden Dreadnought on a range of tough and technical trails

Like the anti-rise (how much the suspension compresses under braking). It’s over 100% throughout the travel, so when you tap the rear brake you can actually feel the suspension settle in. Yes, this increases the spring rate, so the suspension is firmer, but it also reduces fork dive and allows the rider to maintain a more neutral riding position. It’s probably why you need to run the rebound on the shock faster, so the suspension is less prone to packing down.

Is it a compromise? Sure it is, but so is everything. It just depends on what you prioritise.

Powerful brakes are required for a bike that’s all about speed

The priority with the Dreadnought is clearly speed. It’s one seriously stable bike, but thanks to the sensitivity of the suspension it’s still easy to pre-load the bike and switch lines in the blink of an eye. It’s got a decent amount of anti-squat too, so the Dreadnought pedals and climbs remarkably well for a big rig. Yes, the lower chain guide increases drivetrain drag, so it will never deliver the same level of economy as a standard design when you step on the gas.

That’s only one side of the equation however, as this bike’s composure at speed means you’re not having to interact with the bike or terrain to the same degree, so you can ride faster with less effort. For some, that will make the ride less engaging, but if you’re riding against the clock it could also mean faster times when it actually matters.

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.

Verdict

In a world of copycat designs the Forbidden Dreadnought stands out as a genuine trailblazer. It’s not the first or the only idler design, but Forbidden’s approach with the size-specific chain stays lengths, 100% rearward axle path and associated chainstay growth at sag gives the Dreadnought a very district ride quality. It’s bigger than the static geometry suggests and if you like going fast in rough terrain, there’s probably no better 150mm travel bike. And, if you want to go faster still, we’re confident that the Dreadnought would be even better with a Fox DHX2 coil shock fitted as standard.

Details

Frame:Full carbon, 154mm travel (153mm measured)
Shock:Fox Float X2 Performance Elite, 205x65mm
Fork:Fox Float 38 Performance Elite Grip 2 (44 offset), 170mm travel
Wheels:DT Swiss 350 -110/148mm hubs, e13 LG1 EN Plus rims, Maxxis Assegai 3C EXO+/ Minion DHR II 3C DD 29x2.5/2.4in tyres
Drivetrain:Shimano XT 32t 170mm chainset, Shimano XT derailleur and 12sp shifter, XT 10-51t cassette
Brakes:Shimano XT M8120 4-piston, 203/180mm rotors
Components:e*thirteen Plus 800mm (35mm) bar, e*thirteen Plus 40mm stem, BikeYoke Revive 185mm post, SDG Radar cro-mo saddle
Sizes:S, M, L, XL
Weight:15.99kg (35.25lb) (size L)
Size tested:L
Head angle:63.2°
Actual seat angle:75.9°
Effective seat angle:76.3° (at 740mm)
BB height:343mm
Chainstay:448mm
Front centre:835mm
Wheelbase:1,283mm
Down tube:755mm
Top tube:635mm
Reach:480mm (size L)
Contact:forbiddenbike.com