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Crankworx Whistler 2023: Knolly Teases Their Updated Endorphin Trail Bike

Vancouver’s Knolly Bikes was back at Crankworx Whistler for 2023, and this year they’re teasing their new Endorphin trail bike.

Knolly Endorphin gen 6, side
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The Endorphin hasn’t seen any revisions for a few years, but it’s the first of Knolly’s bikes to get a 6th generation update. While the new Endorphin may not look dramatically different from Knolly’s current Gen 5 bikes, there are actually many significant changes and updates. From tubing to suspension tuning to finishing touches, there’s plenty we can tell you about now, and full details will be available when the bike is launched later this fall.

First up, almost every tube on the updated Endorphin is completely new, and many of them feature revised shapes. Knolly wanted to give the new bikes a smoother overall look, and the most obvious move they made was straightening out the top tubes where they join the seat masts (see title photo). On previous generation frames, the top tube had an upswing at this junction; Now Knolly has gone with a gusset at the seat mast instead. The small size Endorphin Knolly had on display doesn’t have the gusset, but on larger frame sizes the gusset is noticeable. While it looks like a hydroformed top tube, Knolly’s founder and engineer Noel Buckley told me it is actually a welded-on piece, but the welds are ground down to offer a smooth look.

In addition to the top tubes, Knolly’s down tubes are also getting straightened out. They still have the double bend they always did, but it’s less pronounced than before. Up front, the Gen 6 frames’ head tubes offer a cleaner tapered shape than previous frames.  

As for suspension tuning, the new Endorphin has been revised to emphasize pedaling prowess. Of course, Knolly says they managed to improve pedaling support while increasing bottom-out resistance and without sacrificing the excellent traction they’ve always held as a priority. The Endorphin will be offered with two rear travel options; 135mm or 150mm. 140mm or 150mm forks are recommended (150mm is the max for a 29” front wheel, but full 27.5” bikes can run up to 160mm forks).

The Endorphin is also the first Knolly to run bearings in every suspension pivot, whereas the previous generation frames used a mix of bearings and bushings. Furthermore, the shock link is now a Monoblock one-piece design.

Another significant change is how Knolly is producing the new Endorphin in an XS size, and with different wheel sizes according to frame size. Knolly wanted the Endorphin to be a good option for smaller riders (down to 4’11”), so the XS and small frames will roll on 27.5” wheels while medium and large sizes will be sold with mixed-wheel setups. The Endorphin will not be available in XL.

Another finishing touch is a move to SRAM UDH derailleur hangers (making the new bikes T-Type compatible). Being particular about details, Knolly decided to machine their own derailleur hangers instead of supplying SRAM’s stock versions. The SRAM hangers are partly made from composite, but Knolly made theirs entirely from aluminum. Buckley says the beefed-up aluminum hangers are stiffer and offer better-shifting performance.

On the topic of wireless compatibility, I noticed this new flat frame plug on one of the display bikes. Previously Knollys came with plugs that could accommodate two cables/hoses, but this flat plug offers a nicer-looking solution for wireless riders.

The new Endorphin won’t be officially launched until September, so we don’t have all the details on complete bike specs or pricing yet. Knolly just wanted to tease us at Crankworx with a look at what’s coming down the line.

As a final note, check out the new limited edition ‘Tequila Sunrise’ colorway for the Fugitive! Knolly decided to offer customers something a bit more flashy than usual for their brand. They’re also currently offering Chilcotins in a ‘Purple Rain’ color.


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