Guerrilla Gravity The Smash
Smash The Earth
By Nic Hall; Photos Hames Ellerbe
Since 2011, Guerrilla Gravity has been pumping handmade aluminum frames out of their Denver, CO factory. Everything is done in-house. Design, testing and manufacturing are all part of the company’s core, which is centered on long lasting bikes that are built to go fast. The Smash is Guerrilla Gravity’s mid-travel 29er offering – a playful, yet burly bike that doesn’t shy away from steep, technical riding.
GG’s suspension design is based around the 140mm travel Freedom Linkage, which is the brand’s implementation of a Horst Link design. According to GG, the Smash “is softer off the top and through the mid-stroke, yet has more bottom out protection towards the end of its stroke,” than the Trail Pistol and Megatrail. The Smash has “modes” or suspension platform adjustments based on two rear shock mounting locations that are nicknamed, Crush and Plush. By altering the suspension kinematics as per GG, “Crush Mode is more poppy and supportive, while Plush Mode is smoother in the rough.” Suspension feel can be further fine tuned through the use of an air or coil shock, which can both be spec’d on the bike. Most bikes with adjustable geo have subtle changes, but the difference in personality and handling on the Smash is probably the most notable of any bike in recent memory, exempting its sibling, the Megatrail, which also employs a similar system. If you want to nerd out on the full geo specs, click here.
The aluminum frame is hand-welded, but if you examined the precision of the TIG welds, you’d never know it. Keeping longevity and ease of maintenance in mind, the pivots use easily sourced hardware and the derailleur hanger is quickly replaced, while being neatly integrated with the rear axle.
Cable management is external, with bolt on guides that work well and make maintenance a breeze. While some will complain at the notion of external routing in the age of stealthy, internally routed frames, it is undeniably easier to service an external cable if you’re the one doing the work.
Uphill performance is surprising for such a slack and long aluminum bike. It’s no featherweight, but with sag set up correctly and a dialed shock tune, the bike has loads of traction and rides lighter than numbers may suggest. Climbing is best if the bike is in Crush mode, and we recommend making the switch if you’re going to be gaining serious vert. Switching modes requires unbolting one of the shock mounts and flipping the hardware. Thankfully it can be performed in 30 seconds with a little practice.
The Build– I ordered The Smash as a frame and had the pleasure of building it up just the way we wanted. Wanting to make the bike capable of DH runs and bike park trips but also hoping to take it our for some full-day pedal epics, I opted for a set of carbon wheels, a 160mm Fox fork and custom drivetrain. I selected Shimano XT shifting equipment with Hope cranks and brakes.
The build was just right for my needs and the light wheels and stiff frame transferred power when I needed to get on the gas. With a 140mm fork, The Smash comes with a 66-degree head angle, but with my 160mm fork selection, it was raked out to about 65.2 degrees. This made tight switchbacks on steep climbs a bit of a challenge, but after a ride or two I learned to position my body differently. Thanks to the gobs of traction I was able to climb just about everything, even at the slowest speeds. For me it was well worth the added confidence going downhill.
During my time on the bike, I was able to switch between both coil and air shocks while also experimenting with the different suspension linkage settings. As described above, Crush mode provides a bit more mid stroke support, which I can best describe as feeling like a pedal platform, making it ideal for pedaly rides and flow trails.
In Crush mode, The Smash worked well with both shocks, but it definitely felt best with a smaller volume air shock. I also found this setting the best for pumping through swoopy singletrack, as the supportive platform aided in accelerating the bike with every pump. For rides on machine-built trails, like most of the ones around Bend, OR, being able to pump and pop is vital to keeping up speed for jumps.
While jumps and quasi-BMX tracks in the woods are fun, I personally prefer charging down fast and rough mountain bike trails. This is where Plush mode won me over. I absolutely love the bike in Plush mode with a coil shock. I couldn’t believe how well this 140mm bike rode down the rowdiest trails Whistler Bike Park had to offer. Traction levels were near limitless, both uphill and down.
The ride felt a bit more subdued on mellower trails, but at speed the bike showed its true colors. The Smash obliterates rocky, off camber lines. Based on our testing, we highly recommend aggressive riders who ride chunky terrain go with the coil sprung option. Thankfully GG’s consumer direct model makes it very easy to customize your next bike to your liking and specification.