Bulls Wild Edge ReviewMay 25, 2016
- Outstanding value in group
- Primo RockShox inverted fork
- XT group with equivalent components
- Lightest in group
- Sticky remote lockout
- Rough ride over small bumps
- Out of adjustment from factory
The ride quality on the Bulls Wild Edge, with its carbon monocoque frame is superior considering its price. With RockShox on both ends, the suspension is responsive and quality, even if the small bumps and initial hits were a little harsh. Shimano XT is a perfect choice keeping value and performance, with strong and responsive brakes even in the most demanding applications. The wheels are built on SRAM X.0 hubs with Bulls XC-25D Lite rims, and well matched to the quality of the rest of the bike, with a performance oriented wheel set that stayed true through our testing.
The monocoque carbon framed Wild Edge utilizes Bulls’ Endurance Lite Concept (ELC), which is a light and snappy frame resulting in a comfortable ride that also manifested stiffness when helpful. We found the front end light on the climb, owing to the geometry, which was not as steep as some other XC frames, and this pays dividends on the downhill. The RockShox Monarch XX Air Shock with Full Sprint remote on the rear pairs beautifully with RockShox RS 1 Solo Air 29 (with 100mm travel) also with Full Sprint Remote on the front, which allows on the fly lockout for quick climbs with a single thumb push. The Full Sprint lockout required repeated thumb pushes to activate and as with any technology, maintenance and adjusting may be required. We enjoyed the rigidity of the inverted RS 1 Solo Air, especially its noticeable stiffness and ability to rail turns. It also takes the bigger hits very well, but small bump absorption was not quite as good on the front shock, and initial hits were a bit jarring.
Bulls calls their frame design approach the Endurance Lite Concept (ELC), and basically that’s short for engineering; really good engineering: The bike is rigid where it benefits the rider such as platform rigidity in the bottom bracket, more pliable where it compliments ride and saves weight like scant seat stays. Shimano XT Press Fiit cranks are stiff and combine with the massive bottom bracket for excellent pedaling efficiency. There is no momentum-stealing flex in this setup, and the Wild Edge immediately translates pedaling to forward push. Add to this a dual remote lockout and this machine is among the most efficient in the group.
Climbing is a truly enjoyable experience on the Bulls Wild Edge, at a hair over 25 pounds it’s the lightest full bike in the group, comparable to much higher level racing bikes. The frame is highly stiff and responsive, with just enough compliance where necessary. The carbon monocoque frame features a longer-than-typical top tube which allows for a very comfortable, slightly relaxed position—a pleasure on long climbs, without diminishing efficiency. And the very stiff front end means stand-up efforts are rewarded by little flex yet lots of torque. The single thumb lockout for both RockShox shocks makes quick transitions on the climb or for sprints. Although we’d like to see a middle position, as the FOX components generally offer.
One of the stand-out test trails was a steep, extremely tight switchback descent. The Bulls Wild Edge railed the tight turns like a 26-inch wheeled bike, with minimal flex in the front end. Hits were landed smoothly with just enough cush, but plenty of power on the other side. The Schwalbe Rocket Ron Evolution tires are outstanding riding tires, and the combination had us driving the into steep, sharp corners, and the Bulls wheels and frame handled the load with minimal give in the frame or slide in the tires. The only downside we noticed was the initial hits on the fork, which were a bit jarring just at the moment of contact, but once the fork was into its travel, it was quite smooth. This is also apparent on smaller bumps that don’t fully engage the fork; this means a rougher ride and more “trail feel” in these sections.
The Shimano XT hydraulic discs brakes with IceTech rotors (not IceTech calipers) are single-finger brakes with surprisingly sensitive modulation—feather light touch when wanted, hard braking responsiveness when needed. These brakes operate as well if not better than 2016 XTR brakes we tested alongside them. The Shimano XT 2×11 complete drivetrain with a 38/24 Press Fit crankset and XT cassette 11-36T shifts reliably, smoothly and without weight penalty. The thumb effort required on the XT shifters was more than the testing team preferred, but by no means outside of acceptable range, plus multiple-click up and down shifting. The Shimano Hollowtech crankset is rigid, pairing nicely with the frame’s platform stiffness.
The Wild Edge comes with SRAM X0 hubs coupled with Bulls XC-25D Lite rims. These wheels were put through their paces on our test rides, including very substantial climbs and descents, as well as some technical riding with large rocks and drops, all of whichthey handled well. They are stiff and stout, handling the most challenging riding conditions. The tubeless ready wheels remained true throughout our testing, and the Schwalbe Rocket Ron Evolution are tubeless compatible. Typically wheels are a place where manufactures do some value engineering, between the tubed tires, the J-Pull spokes, and the Rocket Ron rubber, this is the case here, although without discernable performance loss.
The Bulls Wild Edge 29 is a direct-to-consumer bike. As a result, you can’t head over to your local bike shop and take it out on a demo day. That’s the only downside. The upside is that it is a bicycle that far outstrips the competition as the same price point. This, and the fact that Bulls are new in the States, and the brand wants to establish itself, keeps the price exceptionally low for a bike of this quality. And where many brands would provide an excellent frame, but skimp on the build, this bike is surprisingly high-end throughout. If value is a key concern, this may be among the best options in the industry!