Ellsworth bicycles new owner 2016 epiphany dare carbon aluminum-20

It’s been 25 years since the first Ellsworth mountain bike saw dirt. After a great run as one of the premier brands, Ellsworth started an uphill battle in a struggle to remain current. The ride of their iconic Instant Center Tracking suspension design is very rarely called into question, but the forums echoed concerns about aesthetics and frame stiffness.

To address those concerns, Ellsworth decided it was time for a new owner. BST Nano Carbon was chosen due to their desire to build new carbon bikes in the United States. While BST did a lot to help Tony and his engineering and design crew redesign the bikes, Ellsworth has a new owner. Again.

But this time, if Tony Ellsworth’s body language is any indication, things are looking up for the legendary brand…

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The new Ellsworth Epiphany Carbon 27+. Also available in 27.5 and 29″ versions.

One of the biggest points that Tony stressed to me during our time at PressCamp was that even though none of their bikes are completely made in the U.S. at the moment, Ellsworth still has one of the highest percentages of domestic components in the industry. For the carbon bikes that means around 45% domestic, while the aluminum frames are up to 65%. BST’s goal was to build an entire carbon bike in the U.S., but apparently aluminum bikes weren’t high on the priority list. Ellsworth still wants to have those halo carbon builds, but knows that to survive, aluminum frames will be important to the brand.

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New Ellsworth Epiphany Carbon in 27.5″ with 150mm ft/140mm rr travel.

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However, BST’s contribution to Ellsworth design is easy to see on the new frames. The rocker links are shorter (a common complaint against the old aesthetics), the rear end is completely redesigned and much more stiff, and the paint and finish of the frames is stunning.

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Ellsworth’s previous rocker design for comparison.

Stiffness of the rear end has been increased substantially thanks to the new rocker arm design as well as the locking Hex Taper Axle. To improve the rocker link, the new two piece design uses an ovalized connector to prevent the two pieces from twisting. It also uses larger dual row, encapsulated bearings that use a 15mm locking pin where the seat stays attach to the rocker.

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Using 12×148 Boost spacing on all of their suspension bikes, Ellsworth is employing a very interesting take on a thru axle with something of their own design. The theory behind their Hex Taper axle is that instead of round or threaded surfaces where the axle meets the frame, this design uses a tapered hexagon shape that physically can’t rotate. Tony says this increases the stiffness of the rear dropout area dramatically. To change the axle tension and lever position it can be rotated in the dropout with the numbers indicating its current position. Clearly the skewer lever is on the “wrong” side, but it’s designed to not interfere with the derailleur. There will also be a bolt on option in the future which will clear up the drive side dropout.

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Additional changes include Di2 compatibility for the carbon frames (aluminum frame Di2 compatibility is coming), as well as a removable direct mount front derailleur mount. Tony mentioned that with so many bikes going to 1x, he hated the idea of this bulky derailleur mount left on the frame. Instead, a mount for Direct Mount front derailleurs can be added. Most riders will also probably be excited to see threaded bottom bracket shells on almost every bike.

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New Ellsworth Epiphany Carbon 29″ with 130mm ft/120mm rr travel.

To keep up with all of this new momentum, Tony looked to an owner who would be able to take care of all of the business stuff – things he admittedly doesn’t want to deal with. Instead, as the Vice President of Product design, Tony is free to work with his team to develop the product while the new owner Jonathan Freeman keeps the machine running. With the deal officially completed in December, Tony said that Jonathan has some serious business chops and great operational strengths which will help strengthen the Ellsworth brand.

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As to the current state of Ellsworth? Tony claims they are selling every bike they can land. Product development is continuing with a goal to reshore some of the composite production this year, and a goal of a completely made-in-the-USA bike in the next product cycle. With a great staff and a bright future, it’s easy to believe Tony when he says, “the team has gelled together and has become more focused, and even more resolute.”

ellsworthbikes.com

30 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t get it. Ellsworth has probably the worst name in the mtb industry, maybe one patent that is easily worked around, and a poor distributor network,

    What’s in it for someone/anyone to buy them?

    • I think the phrase is ‘there’s one born every minute,’ on a less cynical note if they can sort out the legendary customer service of the company (by having some) and the attitude of it’s founder (deleted) maybe this time the Ellsworth name can go up in the world. The Mk1 Epiphany was a brilliant little machine.

  2. Happy to see them bring production back rather than usual when there’s new ownership. Hopefully they can make some lighter alloy frames. If they do, may be in.

  3. I reckon they’re heading in the right direction. The frames look good themselves, but I think the paint and graphics look really dated. The graphics on the Fox fork for example, look nice and modern, but it’s all a bit clashy right now. I like what they’re doing though; onwards and upwards 🙂

    • Totally agree about the paint and graphics. The down tube logo is simply hideous, and combined with those colors, they look like dept. store bikes.

  4. I heard they we’re running the same front end on all their bikes, no matter what travel…is that true? The front end of the bikes looked high to me.

  5. Maybe the first order of business should be to design a new frame. Those have never changed since day one. Just new paint every now and then.

  6. Ellsworth’s bogus claims of 100% efficiency, plus their patenting of a supposed suspension system that does nothing novel has always bothered me. They seemed most interested in making a buck.

    The best axle is found and clamped by the frame and fork. Hexes are another marketing gimmick. If your round, clamped axle was moving in the dropout, it would make lots of noise, just as every other part on your bike that creaks does.

  7. Looks like they still have crazy steep head angles . Close to 70 degrees on a 6″ travel (or really any bike these days) is ridiculously outdated. Plus neighbor used to own one and it was loudest bike I’ve heard other than Cannondale Raven back in the day

  8. At least the previous owner got Tony to change the rocker. The frames are still extremely dated (a modern logo would go a long way) – do people still buy these geos (seriously)? And to show you how out of touch the brand is, Arch wheels and no dropper on your 150/140 travel 27.5 bike? OK. Wishing the new owners all the best in this endeavor.

  9. Also surprised someone would invest in this brand as well. No intellectual property mechanically and the brand name is one of the worst in the biz. Would be cheaper to start a brand new brand than invest in this one. Only brand I’ve seen screw over one of it’s own dealers pushing the brand hard. The shop dumped everything on ebay. Not an uncommon story when one tells Ellsworth campfire stories sitting around the bar at interbike.

  10. Amazed that Ellsworth even gets press anymore. His name is the #1 detractor to buying into the brand, ditch the name or another fail I predict. Anyone who has been around knows.

  11. I for one don’t miss the days of working at a shop that had sold those things. Trying to explain to a customer why their chainstay assembly that cracked at a year or so was not covered under warranty but a new one could be had for $500+ s&h was always a good way to learn some new phrases. Good luck to the new owner.

  12. Funny that people say the suspension is out dated yet Specialized is still using FSR and it is older. The epiphany and evolve are 2 of the best bikes I have ever ridden

  13. Probably because they’re stuck with fixed #’s since they likely re-use the car in front triangle across the line. With aluminum you’re not married to a mold. The carbon frames all have the same steep HT angle, especially when looking at the 27.5 with 150mm fork

  14. I also have to say that their logo and graphics look really lame and dated. Specs and tech matter but looks do too. They had a chance to re-brand their graphics and they made it worse. Unforced error

  15. Way back when the new owner was announced I thought the big deal was that they could leverage the new owners abilities in domestic, environmentally conscious carbon production methods. Now that’s moved offshore? Domestic production was one of the few convincing reasons to spend so much money on one.

  16. G’day Ellsworth, hey, I know we’re giving you a pretty hard time in this comment section, but we’re not doing it to be mean, we’re actually passionate about the design and development of new ideas – this article has got the attention of a fair few bike nerds and I think it’s a great opportunity for you to take this feedback onboard and get some positives from it. I mentioned the graphics before, which is a bit of a preference thing, but I’d love to hear back from you about the geometry etc and why you made the decisions you did, what you think of these comments etc. Bikerumour, is there any chance you could follow this up and present all this in an interview? I’d be keen to know if Ellsworth read these comments too and whether they find it useful.

    • Edd, I have a friend that works at Ellsworth and, I can assure you they read every single comment. Sometimes they are constructive (most of the time, not) but, they are definitely working their hardest to bring back the brand. Every person there loves to ride and you will see it in the near future in the new bikes.

  17. James, thank you for your response and support. Edd, yes we do read these comments, and take them to heart. Personally, I respect each and everyone’s right to express their opinions – God Bless America. Certainly some of the posts have valid points- constructive feedback that doesn’t go unnoticed. We have some new projects underway that will address some of the more on-point comments. As it relates to customer service, we’ve revamped our approach. If there’s been a bad experience in the past, I hope we can earn back your trust and confidence under new ownership. If you feel you’ve been somehow not treated fairly, I encourage you to reach out directly to our customer support team so I can see what can be done to remedy the past. For those who are critical of our technology, I’d ask if you’ve taken a competitive test ride against your favorite steed. Washboard trails, rocky climbs, technical single track. As one of our dealers put it “Strongest, most responsive, best handling bike I’ve ridden in a long, long time” – Chris Kinson (Owner of Bike Shop Winter Haven). And as for distribution, we certainly don’t have the capital of an 800lbs gorilla to flood every floor with product, but we have a strong and growing dealer base, and have a new customer match program to get those who want an Ellsworth bike in a market without a dealer, a new bike and support.- EFL

  18. Speaking from personal experience, I’ve owned about 8 different Ellsworth bikes over the years. As new models and designs emerged I upgraded and thoroughly enjoyed each one in its own right. I currently own a carbon Epiphany and its aluminum counterpart and would not trade them for the world. In my opinion they climb like scared monkies and descend like a sure-footed mountain goats. Each rides and feels different in its own right as travel and nimbleness are traded off between each model. There is no question I will be upgrading to the newest model soon after demo riding both of the new Rouge models (40 & 60).

    Ellsworth… you are right on track with your designs and astetics so realize that there are many supporters and enthusiasts out there that covet the uniqueness of the brand. The ride, the wow factor and exclusiveness are the rewards for owning these bikes. In fact, I’ve converted six of my friends to the brand over the years and they’ve never gone back to their former bikes or manufacturers. Frankly, I like the fact there aren’t that many Ellsworth’s on the trails because I would probably be beat more often.

    Ride on and keep up the great work!

  19. I have had a few different Ellsworth bikes. I really do love the way the suspension works. I had a few issues with the frame on the carbon Evolve. Ellsworth took care of me. I just got the new 2018 Epiphany carbon 29 and I love it! I ride all my friends bikes and am happy to stay with Ellsworth.

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