Updated: Feb 4, 2022
We’d like to welcome Forbidden Bike Company, the newest addition to the Mojo family of bikes. I was alerted to Forbidden by a shop regular years ago. At the time, we contacted them & they notified us that they were not yet ready for a distribution network. But, they said they’d call when they were ready. A couple of months ago I got a call . . . The Forbidden team wanted to know if we were interested in stocking their products. As many of you know, we sell no products without testing them first. I let the Forbidden folks know this & their response was: “Bring it on!” After waiting for a month for my bike because FedEx lost it, a Druid arrived. Even after being beat-on for a month, the bike was safely packaged inside. Score one for Forbidden!
Fit & Finish / The Build:
I opted for the Druid XT Complete. (Although I planned to add a few “custom” touches to the bike, I wanted it to primarily reflect the sled that customers would purchase right out of the box.) The fit & finish of the bike are simply a work of art. Machining on parts like pivots, bearing races & the high pivot idler wheel are clean & function well, without attracting attention to themselves. I especially like the cable-routing bosses at the sides of the head tube. They’re extremely well designed & hold the cables tightly, negating any possible “cable chatter” from inside the frame. The Fox DPX2 that I opted for fits comfortably in the tunnel at the bottom of the seat tube. Most of you know that I always opt for the bright & explosive paint option. With this Druid, I opted for the Mr Brownstone color. Many companies are using “natural” colors on their bikes these days. I just love them, so it fits my idea for this build perfectly.
The Druid came equipped perfectly for playing on NWA’s trails. Drivetrain consists of a full complement of Shimano XT products, from shifters to derailleur to cassette to Shimano’s great 4 piston calipers, gripping 180mm rotors for stopping power. As noted above, I opted for a Fox DPX2 to fulfill rear suspension damping duties. A 150mm Fox 36 Grip2 fork graces the bike’s front end. RaceFace DT350 wheels wrapped in Maxxis tires transfer power to the ground. A RaceFace Aeffect R dropper post handles the up/down action while a Turbine handlebar & grips handle steering duties. An SDG Radar Chromo saddle handles riders’ butts.
Mojo-fying My Druid:
As many of you know, I like a taller front end. I also prefer Manitou forks. So, I over-forked the Druid with a Manitou Mezzer 160mm. That’ll make my front end a bit taller & slacken it out a bit. I also opted to try a set of Hayes Dominion “Little Finger” lever brakes with a 203mm front rotor upgrade . . . (Origin8 rotors front & rear.) I added a Whiskey carbon riser bar & Burgtec stem for steering comfort. The shop had a set of Industry Nine wheels “just lying around,” so on they went. The rear wheel uses a SRAM 10/52 cassette (YES, a SRAM cassette works perfectly well with a Shimano derailleur & chain!) A set of 170mm Praxis Girder carbon cranks found their way onto the bike during the Mojofying process. These cranks have a reputation for quality, & they're hundreds less than the "other" brands. I want to test them; if they perform as well as the rumors allege, even weekend warriors can afford to get a set of carbon cranks for their bike . . . without having to mortgage their home! I like road saddles on my bikes, so I opted for a super-light Velo saddle. I switched the tires to a Continental with Protection & a Tannus Armour insert in the rear & a Teravail up front. Mal & I waited for the perfect conditions for the photo shoot. As soon as that was done, I was ready to ride!
I’ve ridden a lot of bikes over the years. So, it’s hard to seriously impress me with a new bike. I get excited by “new” stuff, but it has to perform or my excitement wanes fast. I started my ride at Blowing Springs with a climb. Right out of the gate, I realized that the Druid lives up to the hype about its climbing prowess. This thing is a billy goat! Seriously, I was shocked by how responsive it was to each pedal stroke, seated or standing. The bike holds its own under heavy slogging while standing on the pedals. It feels like a damn hardtail while climbing in the saddle. This climbing performance results from that crazy looking high pivot suspension design.
The back-end's suspension has a rearward axle path. This makes the Druid simply float over the rough stuff. It feels like the bike has waaaay more travel than it actually does. The rearward motion allows the rear wheel to move with, not against, any size of impact. This, in turn, allows the bike to remain composed & maintain momentum through rough terrain. I felt this on my first significant descent. I stood on the pedals & started to crank away. Seriously, all I could do was laugh out loud . . . the bike reacts so immediately that it feels like an e-bike. It’s a freaking ripper. Coming into my first corner at that speed – with brand new brakes – was nerve wracking. I had a flash of panic because I’d not experienced the Druid under heavy cornering yet. My mind sparked the question: “Am I going to crash another bike on my first ride again?” The answer would be “No.” The Druid simply wraps around corners. It settles in at the apex & then launches you out of the corner’s exit. This is my kind of bike.
Finally, I hit some steep, techy, roll-ins. One flaw of the old-school high pivot designs was insane brake jack & unloading in steep descents. The first time I rode a high pivot bike, back in the day, I almost got a heart attack. I crammed the brakes & felt the bike’s rear end unloading. It felt like I was riding a catapult! No such issues with the Druid's design. Forbidden notes their bike’s anti-jack design as “help[ing to] counteract the inevitable fork dive associated with the heavy braking loads often encountered with modern, aggressive trail riding. This result is consistent chassis stability under heavy braking.” This is not marketing gobbledygook. My concern with their high pivot suspension system prior to my test was how it would handle under braking & descending forces. The Forbidden team has nailed this performance, hands-down!
So, you’ll notice that I’m really impressed with the Druid. It’s snappy, extremely reactive & shreds on descents. My bike is still not 100% dialed-in. (I can tell that I need less air in the shock & the fork’s a bit stiff. I may need to add some rebound front & rear also.) But, these issues are endemic to personalizing performance & not to the bike’s design. If there’s a weak point in the Druid (all bikes have one), I’ve not sussed it out yet. Some readers will note the Druid’s $6799 price tag & get sticker shock. That’s understandable. But the Druid is the Lamborghini performer in a trail bike market that's flush with bikes; many are less expensive but may fall a bit short by comparison. Mojo arguably sells some of the best in the industry already: Revel, Ibis, Canfield & Orbea are all landmark manufacturers. With Forbidden, Mojo yet again seeks to reach for the pinnacle of MTB performance. If you’re looking for uncompromising quality & performance, provided by a sled that you don’t see on every trail . . . the Druid is just the magic you’re searching for.
We will soon have Druids in our rental fleet!