I was expecting something special when I knew the new Bilt Eight was being delivered. I knew it had a bit of pedigree coming from Bill Dengate’s experience and history in Australian downhill racing , riding and working on and with many other bigger name downhill brands.
The engineering and the purposeful design of the Bilt Eight is evident in the dimensions and geometry. From the 340mm bottom bracket height to the 130mm head tube length this frame set is designed for pure speed on the downhill race track. The bottom bracket height is nice and low. The only frame that can come close is the much talked about Scott Gambler. Which actually shares a number of similar ride characteristics as the Eight. This frame exudes almost excessive amounts of traction, a characteristic brought about from a slack headtube angle (our test bike was set at 63) which rewards high speed stability and a smooth style around the corners that most racers look for. Race tracks are where this bike will shine.
The frame kit spec includes the Cane Creek double barrel shock that we regard as a class leading shock with twin tube technology, high and low speed rebound and compression dampening. This shock works excellently with the actuated single pivot set-up on the Bilt, crafted in house with a standard or medium dampening tune. The tube suited the suspension geometry and adjustment range nicely. Allowing the rider a set-up that was really able to eat up rough sections but simultaneously keep the bike agile when hard on the pedals.
Bilt has also spec’d the Cane Creek angle set to allow you to tune your head angle to suit track and your own riding preferences. As a standard the head angle sits at 64 degrees but through the angleset can be raked out to 62.5 or as steep as 65.5 with adjustment. Every thought has been put into selecting the finest components to allow the rider make the most of this well constructed frame.
First public sightings of the Bilt Eight were around the time of the 09’ World Championships in Stromlo and it appears it has taken that race heritage and made it , it’s own. Three years on there is no mistaking the Eight for anything other than a downhill race frame. The longish chainstays (450mm) really give this frame a lot of cornering grip whilst the pairing with a shorter top tube still creates a front end that was quick and eager to react to line changes, especially tightly cornered sections. When put to our test track, it was hard to fault, destroying the loose turns and rock sections with a nimble ease., excelling particularly on the long rough off-camber corners.
The Eight took to the test track rhythm section of jumps and rollers from the get go. I instantly felt at home due to the centred shock and the overall weight distribution really made picking the bike up to jump and manoeuvre, confidence inspiring.
A nice touch is the 73mm bottom width that allows for a wider range of crank choice and lower weight non-downhill versions to be used.The pivots use a range of sealed bearings to keep it smooth, rolling on large pivot axles to maintain the stiffness in the 6000 series butted frame. This really allows riders to smash through rock sections and carve turns without any thought of dabbing the brakes. The stiffness of the rear end really allows for the adjustments of the Cane Creek shock to be a bit more noticeable.
This is the perfect frame for racers and riders looking to take the next step into frame only territory. For $2750 you get a lot : A tough durable aluminium frame, simple actuated single pivot and sealed bearing suspension design, an adjustable geometry CaneCreek angleset, a lower bottom bracket than the next frame, a Cane Creek Double Barrel shock and some simple standards in the headset size, bottom bracket and chain guide mounts. Put all this together and it is a great frame without all the hype that surrounds mainstream products that are of a far lower standard than the Bilt. It’s a little bit of boutique frame but with Aussie guts.
THE Bilt Eight 8” DH Frame Only
- 5.03kg with Cane Creek Double BarrelShock,Cane Creek Headset, rear 12mm axle and seat clamp
- or 4.35kg as frame and shock alone
RRP $1999 AUD
Words : Jon Odams Photos : Robert Conroy