Cove G-Spot Review
|A video of me riding my Cove G-Spot on the Basque coast.|
As Cove (www.covebike.com) say, “we found the G-Spot a long time ago. As one of the industry’s first Freeride bikes, the G-Spot’s been delivering world- wide pleasure for the past decade”. I first rode the original model of the G-Spot back in 2005 and, at the time, decided it was too much of a compromise for me. The burly, do-anything, frame was what I was after but the weight and pedal bob meant that realistically it wasn’t going to be the best companion for my riding. Fast forward 6 years and I am guiding for BasqueMTB, and mountain biking in the Spanish Pyrenees almost every day, and riding the new version of Cove’s G-Spot.
The new G-Spot offers 150mm of travel at the back wheel, however don’t make the mistake of putting this bike together with the latest trend of big travel, lightweight trail bikes. The new G-Spot, as with it’s predecessor, is designed for freeride use and is the bike Eric Lawrenuk uses for slopestyle. Having said that, I earn my turns and my riding is more in the “all mountain” or “enduro” style. In the flesh the G-Spot looks very like a scaled down version of it’s bigger brother, the STD, featuring the same Easton RAD tubing, the same slightly hydroformed downtube and the same dual link suspension. The G-Spot also offers a 1.5″ headtube, although the rear end is QR instead of bolt-thru like the STD. Cove have stuck with a 30.0mm seatpost which means you will be limited in your choice of adjustable seatposts although there are some which will fit. The frame also uses a bolt on style of ISGC mounts, which I haven’t tried but which are meant to offer the advantage of deforming in the event of an impact to prevent damage to the frame itself.
|My heavy build comes in at 16.46kg, 36.28lbs.|
I built the bike up to be strong, with components I thought would last a full season of guiding, and didn’t think too much about the weight. The build obviously has a big impact on how the bike rides so it’s worth taking time to mention it although I’m not going to discuss it in detail.
Forks:Fox Van RC36 (2009).Wheel (F): 819 on Chris King ISO hub.Wheel (R): 823 on Hope Pro II.Cranks: Shimano Saint, 22, 36, with Raceface Atlas light bashgaurd.Cassette:Shimano XT 10 speed 11-36.Pedals: Superstar Nanotech Thrupins.Headset: Chris King 1.5. Bars: Raceface Atlas Lo-Rise.
Stem: Raceface Diabolous 70mm.
Shifters: Shimano XT.Brakes: Avid Elixr R.Tyres (F): Maxxis Minion, 2.35, Supertacky.Tyres (R): Maxxis Highroller, 2.50, 60a, UST.
|Numbers are numbers, all I know is that it works!|
|Two G-Spots in the Southern Pyrenees.|
SuspensionThe G-Spot’s tubes aren’t adorned with meaningless acronyms and there is no marketing BS on the website. Indeed Cove have made so little song and dance about the suspension design you would be forgiven for thinking it isn’t anything special. Well, maybe all the effort has been put into designing and testing, rather than marketing?
That is certainly my experience because although the Cove have got G-Spot’s geometry spot on, it the suspension which really shines. The stiff frame is perfectly complemented by the tautness of the suspension. The dual-linkage has been tuned to be firm in the first part of the travel and when riding slowly this gives the feel of a different, shorter travel, type of bike. In fact this can lead to the bike feeling harsh at lower speeds, certainly when ridden back to back with a Nicolai Helius the G-Spot didn’t have that ‘magic carpet’ plushness at slower speeds. This isn’t a bad thing though, (honestly it isn’t) as the bike lets you know what’s going on under the wheels without dulling the feel of the trail, giving just enough cushioning to stop you hanging up on stuff.
It is when you start to put some rider input in through the pedals that the G-Spot’s nature starts to come to light… the bike is playful! On other long travel bikes it can feel like the bike sucks up rider input, making the trail feel slightly deadened, however the G-Spot is so easy to pop off trail features. Each pump results in the bike shooting forward or taking to the air and I quickly found I was gapping stuff that I hadn’t looked at before. Once you start riding like this the G-Spot really shines. I guess I could just put it simply and say it’s a bike that makes riding fun.
|Tight, rocky turns are something the G-Spot excels at.|
The other advantage to this tautness in the first part of the travel is that in very slow, almost trials-like sections the G-Spot lets you throw your body weight around and ‘thrutch’ the bike over and around things in a way that many longer travel bikes struggle with. Anyone who has ridden big, rocky, natural trails will know how useful that is. Once the bike is in the mid part of it’s travel it seems to be very plush and at speed you can just plow through things if you want to, the stiffness of the frame letting you keep a line even when things are rough. The suspension ramps up a lot towards the end of the travel and this, combined with the bottom out protection of the Fox DHX 5.0 shock, gives a bottomless feel to the suspension. I have cased some landings and generally been quite clumsy but I think I have only bottomed the bike out a few times during a whole year of riding.
|Riding the G-Spot in the Spanish Margas.|
ClimbingI guess that we should expect the G-Spot to be fun downhill, that is what Cove are good at after all, however its climbing ability is going to be a big surprise. The suspension just doesn’t bob, and the bike is a very efficient climber. The suspension must be working away in the background though because the level of traction it generates is incredible. The steep-ish seat tube almost certainly helps the climbing ability, putting you in a great position to put power into the pedals and keep the front end down. With the G-Spot I have found myself cleaning technical climbs which stopped me on other bikes, despite the non-travel-adjustable Fox Van forks. I don’t really use the shock pro-pedal lever at all, unless I’m climbing on tarmac and want to stand and mash on the pedals, in which case it does a very good job of preventing bob. I have owned a Hustler previously and the G-Spot climbs way better than the Hustler, despite carrying a couple of extra pounds. The bike isn’t going to win any races to the top, however spinning away is efficient and on a big day out in the mountains that efficiency really means the bike shines. The weight of the bike becomes apparent when it needs to be shouldered though and for long carries it does take it toll, however with its wheels on the ground, climbing is a case of spinning all the way to the top.
|Weight only becomes an issue when you need to carry for long periods.|
LongevityI have been riding this bike for an entire season, (5 months), probably riding around 135,000m of vertical (up and down) and just under 4,000km of rough and rocky tracks. I had one fault with the bike, one of the washers in the rear link was the wrong specification which lead to play in the rear triangle. The problem was quickly diagnosed and rectified by Cove. Other than that the bike has been faultless. I am very pleasantly surprised that my bearings feel as good as new and I am only just starting to get some play in my shock bushings just now. The paintwork on the frame is in great condition, I have had a few marks from chainsuck but other than that the bike looks great with the paint lasting up to the abuse very well. I was planning to change the frame at the end of the year, however based on how well the G-Spot has survived this year I now plan to keep it for one more season.
|Out here you want a tough bike. There’s no point getting up here only to mince back down.|
Summary: The Cove G-Spot is everything I would want in an all mountain bike. All mountain isn’t about heart rates and racing to the top, it should be about fun and the big Cove delivers that in spades. It climbs fantastically, although not at warp speed, and its descending prowess means you haven’t wasted all that effort only to mince down the hill. The Cove G-Spot, like a good lover, has made me a genuinely better rider by encouraging me to play and explore the limits, however like a good lover it is always forgiving when I get things wrong.
When I originally tested the first generation BB-pivot G-Spot I thought it was too compromised and ended up with a Cove STD and a Hustler. Now I find that, for the type of riding I do, the new G-Spot makes the Hustler and STD redundant, climbing better than the Hustler and being more fun than the STD on the sort of downs I ride most. One bike to rule them all!
Update I just changed the Cove GSpot’s bearings at the start of May 2012. That makes about 13 months of pretty heavy riding between bearing changes. That is a really good lifetime for me! After the bearing change the frame feels fantastic again, I just need to service the shock I think.