BANSHEE PRIME V3 REVIEW
Words by Joe Mackey
Photos by Spencer Rathkamp
Banshee Bikes is a smaller Canadian mountain bike brand with a very loyal following of riders who simply want to ride. Banshee riders are not looking at marketing propaganda to help them decide what to buy, they already know what they want. Banshee has a range of aluminum bikes ranging from their Amp dirt jump frame through to their Legend downhill bike. We have been riding the Banshee Prime, which is now in its third iteration. Billed as their do-it-all, aggressive trail bike, ready to handle anything from a mile crunching trail ride through to enduro laps, we were excited to put some time on our new Banshee Prime V3.
Banshee’s Prime is not an overly fancy or flashy bike, but instead caters to riders looking for a burly bike that can handle just about anything. Banshee is respected for their aluminum manufacturing and it is easy to see why. The Prime V3 uses hydroformed 7005 T6 alloy opposed to the more common 6061 T6 as the 7005 T6 offers a stronger and stiffer frame than 6061 alloy but is also more expensive to work with. This tubing is used on all of Banshee’s bikes to deliver the strongest frames possible. Adding to the strength of the frames are internally ribbed stays that use extra bracing material for more consistent stiffness, resulting in better handling and control out on the trail.
The most identifying part of the Prime is Banshee’s Shock Cage. This Shock Cage consists of two complex 3D forged sections welded together, that connect the BB, lower shock mount and two main frame pivots. This is the foundation of Banshee’s KS2 suspension platform and heart of the frame’s stiffness. The Shock Cage essentially isolates the loads created by the rear suspension, relieving the stress on the front triangle and creating a more consistent ride quality. In addition, the shock is mounted very low and centrally in the frame, lowering the center of gravity and creating a balanced weight distribution. Unfortunately, the compact nature of the shock cage prevents certain large-piggyback shocks from being compatible with the Prime, however there are plenty of high-performance units that do fit. The KS2 dual-link suspension platform uses a trunnion mounted shock, with a progressive nature that should help keep things in check when going big.
On the geometry side of things, the Banshee Prime is bang on for a 2021 trail bike. The size large tested had a reach of 470-millimeters and a head tube angle of 66-degrees in the neutral setting. The linkage features a chip that can be put in a low setting, slackening the head tube angle by half a degree to 65.5 degrees. Seating position is well centered thanks to a 77.2-degree effective seat tube angle, and there are relatively low seat tube lengths across the M-XL size range to allow for the use of long droppers. The bottom bracket sits at 22mm below the axles un-sagged, and the chainstays are a long 450mm across all sizes to offer the desired weight balance.
This geometry should be spot on for aggressive trail and all-mountain riding, complimenting the 135mm of rear travel. There are of course slacker and longer bikes out there, but the Prime hits a sweet spot for riders looking for a “Jack of all trades” trail bike. Banshee designed the Prime to run forks in the 140-160mm range and was tested with a 150mm MRP Ribbon fork.
Wrapping up this durable and burly frame design is a threaded bottom bracket, splined ISCG05 tabs and modular rear dropouts that allow riders to run 142 or 148 rear spaced wheels, which is a really nice touch from Banshee for riders looking to upgrade frames who already own good quality older kit. The Prime can accommodate meaty 29×2.6 tires or 27.5×2.8 rubber if desired. This bike is only available as a frameset at a price of $2,250, that includes a Fox DPX2 shock, headset, and dropouts of choice, so it’s down to you to spec your own machine.