This story originally appeared on GearJunkie
After a painstaking design marathon, the self-proclaimed ‘hardtail brand’ rolls out its first three full-suspension rigs.
In British Columbia, Canada, Chromag spent years developing its signature hardtail mountain bikes — and then started filling in its product array with clothes and components.
As the entire freeride and downhill world around the company in Whistler went fully suspended, the idea of making a suspended bike crossed the mind of its brass multiple times. But its builders and product developers never had time to get the job done — until now.
In a Dec. 12 announcement, Chromag showcased its first-ever full-suspension bike lineup. The Darco and Darco Ti (titanium counterpart) 29ers launch now with 150mm of front travel and 120 rear. The burly Lowdown, built for the biggest drops, comes in at 170/158mm, also on 29s. It’s set for takeoff in spring 2023.
The brand started playing with the idea of a suspended bike in 2012. That year, it built a working prototype on a “robust” single pivot platform. Two years of testing followed, but the company realized an internal resource deficiency would stop it short of delivering the bike to the public.
“By the time the prototype was made, we realized just how much further we’d need to go to get a proper full suspension program off the ground,” Chromag said. “[W]hile the idea of producing full suspension bikes is pretty exciting, we realized that we simply didn’t have the capacity to go down that path.”
The three new bikes exist due to Chromag reviving that design process in 2018. Why did the finished product take so long to come together? Because, like the rest of its lineup, Chromag spared no expense in design and manufacturing. Intentionally designing and manufacturing most of the three builds in-house came with a time penalty.
The learn-by-doing approach produced many iterations of frames, hardware assemblies, welding jigs, pivot locations, and fabrication techniques, the company said.
For the Darco, the process resulted in a bike shaped like Chromag’s hardtails in terms of geometry. The 150/120 all-rounder has a steel and aluminum frame with a relatively slack head angle (64 degrees) and a steep seat angle (78 degrees). A fairly long reach — 490mm on medium and large sizes — combines with the geometry to promote agility for climbs and stability for descents.
View this post on Instagram
The company also carried over its preference for steel frames but specified 6066 aluminum chainstays to save weight, increase stiffness in the back end, and better house bearings. Recognizing aluminum’s strength-to-weight ratio superiority over steel, Chromag also forged the rocker from it.
Durability and serviceability also played focal roles in the Darco’s design. The main pivot uses an expanding collet axle system to reduce bearing stress—the objective: a main pivot that spins smoother for longer. And Chromag makes its sealed Enduro MAX bearings readily available to help ease the replacement process.
A Chromag-machined universal derailleur hanger (UDH) accomplishes essentially the same thing.
The Darco’s componentry includes Rockshox suspension and seat post, a SRAM GX Eagle gearset and G2 RSC brakes, and Maxxis Minion tires. Chromag pretty much handles the rest.
The Darco retails at $5,857, and the Ti checks in at $7,722. The Lowdown — built, spec’d, and sized similarly to the Darco but with its beefier 170/158 suspension and tweaked, downhill geometry — runs $6,201 MSRP.
Check it all out at Chromag’s website.