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Building My Dream Forbidden Druid With New (& Old) Parts

This year, I decided to join the high-pivot hype train with a brand-new Forbidden Druid. To create my dream “quiver-killer” trail bike, I built up my new frame with a mix of used parts and shiny new bits from our 2023 inventory. 

Written by: Bruce Lin

Published on:

Posted in:MTB

I’m returning to enduro racing this summer, and my souped-up XC bike just isn’t going to cut it anymore. So I said goodbye, sold it to TPC, and went shopping. As you can probably tell, my new bike is the Forbidden Druid. I wanted a capable downhill-oriented machine, but I didn't want to push around a big enduro bike on my weekly trail rides.

This high-pivot trail bike is a proven shredder that can handle steep and gnarly descents without sapping the fun out of the mellow stuff. Most importantly, it’s unique and beautiful. I built it from the frame up with a mix of used parts from my old bike and some shiny new parts and accessories from our 2023 inventory. Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients for my dream trail bike build. 

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My First High-Pivot MTB

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I’ve been curious about joining the high-pivot hype train ever since I spoke to suspension guru, Luis Arraiz, about the pros and cons. It’s usually used on big-travel enduro and downhill bikes, but the Forbidden Druid is one of the few mid-travel trail bikes using a high pivot. 

130mm of travel might not sound like much, but the rearward axle path of the high pivot will make the rear end much more planted and capable than the numbers imply. 

The thing that really made me pull the trigger on this frame was the limited-edition Midnight Velvet colorway. This was released at the end of 2022 along with a limited New Growth green colorway. 

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These frames also have a new, larger mudguard with some moto foam in the rear pivot to keep things cleaner, and a UDH (universal derailleur hanger) which means it’s compatible with SRAM’s latest T-Type drivetrains.  

Enduro-ready Suspension

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I went with a 150mm Fox 36 Factory fork with the Grip2 damper and a 44mm offset. I have a lot of experience riding the 36, and for me, it’s the perfect trail/enduro fork. It was redesigned in 2022 with a stiffer round arch, pressure relief valves on the lowers, and a nifty floating axle that all work together to make this the stiffest and plushest feeling 36 ever. 

In the rear, I swapped in a Fox DHX2 coil shock (I had to order this from Fox) with a 400 lbs SLS spring (I’m 190 lbs). This should give the bike some extra big-hit capability, but if I’m honest, I swapped the shock purely for looks. The orange SLS spring just looks too good to resist. 

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To match my Fox Factory suspension, I picked up a Transfer Factory dropper. Redesigned in 2021, the latest Transfer has a lower stack height, which lets me fit a 150mm dropper despite my comically short legs. 

Bombproof Carbon Wheels

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I’ve been riding ENVE’s AM30 wheels since 2020, and they’ve really impressed me with their durability and ride feel. These are American-made with Industry Nine 1/1 hubs.

The Wide Hookless bead helps prevent tire cuts and pinch flats, and the wheels come with Lifetime Incident Protection which covers you if you break a rim. I’ve never had to use it though, as these wheels have survived the gnarliest trails and plenty of bad line choices. The Druid is now the third bike they’ve been on! 

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For extra protection on gnarly trails, I run CushCore Pro inserts front and rear. I’m a big advocate for tire inserts, and I never ride without them. I'm still running a set I purchased in 2019. They've stretched a bit, but haven't deteriorated and probably have a few seasons left in them. 

A Tried and True Mechanical Drivetrain

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I purchased my SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain way back in 2016. Since then it’s moved with me from frame to frame, and the Forbidden Druid is now the 7th mountain bike it’s been installed on!

The rear derailleur is looking a little roached, so it might be time to move on soon. But I’ll probably try to get another summer of riding out of it. 

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[product-block handle="sram-x01-eagle-xg-1295-cassette-12-speed-10-50t-1"/]

[product-block handle="sram-xx1-eagle-chain-12-speed-126-links-copper"/]

The only parts of the original drivetrain I’ve replaced are the chain, chainring, and cranks. I went with a copper XX1 Eagle chain, mainly to match the Kashima on my Fox Suspension, but the XX1 Eagle chain is also the most durable, longest-lasting chain I’ve ever used. 

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I swapped my original X01 Eagle crankset for Race Face’s latest Era cranks with a 30t chainring. This was so I could switch to shorter 170mm crank arms and use my old Cinch power meter spindle.

Compared to older Race Face cranks, the Era uses a redesigned pedal insert for more durability and includes a stainless steel shield to protect the crank arms from shoe rub. 

Essential Parts and Accessories

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The Druid requires a press-in headset so I picked up a Cane Creek Hellbender 70. The mid-range Hellbender 70 splits the difference between Cane Creek's 40 and 110 Series headsets. The bearings use low-friction seals that are designed to keep out contaminants better so they will last a long time in mucky conditions.  

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[product-block handle="nc_race-face-turbine-r-alloy-stem-35mm-clamp-50mm-black"/]

I’m using a Race Face cockpit with Next R carbon bars cut to 760mm and a 50mm Turbine R stem. I like the extra damping of carbon bars and the Next R has proven itself to be super durable. I bought these in 2018, and like the wheels and drivetrain, they’ve moved with me from frame to frame. 

[product-block handle="fizik-vento-argo-r3-saddle-k-ium-rails-black"/]

The 150mm wide Fizik Vento Argo saddle I’m sitting on also came off of my old bike and it is the same saddle I currently use on my road and gravel bikes. It’s super comfortable and causes no numbness, which is the most important thing. 

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[product-block handle="oneup-edc-v2-tool"/]

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For my flat kit, I decided to get organized with OneUp’s EDC tool. Many riders store this in their steerer tube but I decided to use OneUp’s EDC mini pump. The 70cc pump fits the EDC tool and the plug kit so I can quickly plug punctures. The whole thing attaches to the nifty accessory mounts on the underside of the Druid’s top tube. 


So, How Does It Ride?

Winter hasn’t left the Colorado Front Range, so I haven't had a huge amount of ride time, but my first impression is very, very positive. As advertised, the rear end feels shockingly supple and composed for the amount of travel it has. The Druid has great high-speed stability, without feeling like I’m steering a boat like many ultra-long enduro bikes. 

It took a few tries to figure out what spring rate to run on my coil shock. I started with 450 lbs spring which was way too harsh. A 425 lbs spring was better, but I settled on a 400 lbs spring. This got me the desired 35% sag and a supple-feeling rear end. What surprises me the most, is that even with that much sag, the bike climbs extremely well. It doesn't bob or squat, and I don’t really notice any extra drag from the lower chain guide.  

The overall weight of my build was 34 lbs 5 oz., so it’s definitely not a weight-weenie bike. But I don’t notice the weight uphill, and overall, it feels very composed and tough on rugged trails without sacrificing any short-travel agility on flow trails. It’s exactly what I was looking for. I’ll report back in the summer after I race it against the clock at some local enduro events. 

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