Banshee Prime V3 Review

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.

THE LAB
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.

Banshee Prime V3 Review

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.

Banshee Prime V3 Review

THE DIRT
I had never ridden a Banshee prior to this but have had some riding buddies who swear by them. My Prime showed up with a SRAM X01 drivetrain, Code RSC brakes, MRP Ribbon fork, OneUp cockpit and dropper post, and RideFast Racing Hotline wheels wrapped in Maxxis rubber. Pulling the Prime out of the box it was very clear that this bike was designed to be ridden hard. Once built up, the Prime came in at a portly 32.5 pounds with XT trail pedals.

Suspension setup took me a bit to dial in, the MRP fork in particular. Banshee recommends running the shock at 28-30% SAG and I found a comfortable balance for my local trails at 30% with the rebound a little slower than I normally run. To get a feel for the climbing abilities of the KS2 linkage I ran the low-speed compression completely open on the DPX2 shock. I finally found a comfortable position on the fork at 20% SAG and the Ramp Control turned up about halfway. With so many tuning options, it can be a little overwhelming to get the correct feeling from the fork, but your efforts will be rewarded once you spend the time to get it right.

The Banshee Prime is a surprisingly capable and efficient climber. Between the stiff frame and supportive suspension design, I never felt the need to engage the compression switch on the shock. For both long grinds in the saddle and steep punchy sections, the Prime handled all of it comfortably. It is not a spirited XC bike by any means, but in the realm of aggressive trail bikes it is second to none when it comes to going uphill at a brisk pace.

Banshee Prime V3 Review

Hitting the descents, the Prime is an absolute unit, plowing over just about anything confidently. With the rear suspension dialed in, the rear wheel tracked well at high speeds and effectively dealt with big hits on more technical trails. The suspension had a bit of a bottomless feel with a subtle progressive lip at the end of the travel that kept me pushing harder. Up front the MRP Ribbon was smooth off the top at the top of the travel, soaking up small hits and chatter better than many other forks I have ridden. The rear hub on the RideFast wheels had quick engagement and responded almost instantly from any input, letting me get on the power straight out of corners and ratchet up technical climbs. The bike cornered comfortably with the right amount of lean, and its shorter wheelbase than some of the ultra-long modern crop prevented it from feeling overly cumbersome in tight switchbacks.

On the durability front, I did not have any issues with the frame or wheels during my testing, but the SRAM drivetrain was less than ideal. The 10-52 cassette requires a more precise setup that did not translate to consistency on the trail. There were always a couple of cogs that the chain just did not sit well with, even out of the box. This is not the first time I have had this issue with this newer drivetrain, and I would swap for a 10-50 cassette as I have never felt the need for a 52-tooth cog. Beyond those critiques from the drivetrain however, I’ve had no qualms with the frame nor do I foresee my riding and terrain doing anything to change that.

Banshee Prime V3 Review

The Wolf’s Last Word

The more I rode the Banshee Prime, the more I liked it and wanted to keep riding it. On my local flow trails to steeper technical trails at higher elevation, the Prime never seemed to feel out of place or overwhelmed. This is a bike that I could just ride and not have to think twice about technicalities. It’s a mountain bike that rides mountain bike trails very well. There is no getting around that it is a bit heavy, but the Prime is by no means sluggish or overweight in its nature. I found the Prime to be plenty lively on the descents and will be able to keep up with its super bike competition all day.

Price: $2,249 (Frame/Fox DPX2)
Weight: 31 lbs (complete as tested)
Website: Bansheebikes.com

SPECIFICATIONS

CHASSIS
Frame:
7005 T6 Aluminum, 135mm travel.
Fork: MRP Ribbon, 150mm travel.
Shock: Fox DPX2 Performance, 185x55mm trunnion.

COCKPIT
Brakes:
SRAM Code RSC
Shifter: SRAM X01 Eagle, 12-speed
Handlebar:
OneUp Components Carbon Handlebar, 800mm, 20mm rise.
Headset: Cane Creek
Stem: OneUp Components, 50mm
Saddle: SDG
Seatpost: OneUp Components 200mm travel.

WHEELS
Hubs:
RideFast Racing SPM 28-hole
Rims:
RideFast Racing Hotline, 30mm wide, carbon.
Tires:
Maxxis Minion DHF 29×2.5 (f), Maxxis Minion DHR 29×2.4 (r)

DRIVETRAIN
Cassette:
SRAM PG1295 10-52 Eagle, 12-spd
Cranks: SRAM Descendant, 170mm, 32-tooth
Derailleur: SRAM X01 Eagle, 12-spd

Banshee Prime V3 Review

We Dig

Surprisingly efficient climber
Versatile and burly
Likes the steep stuff
Precise suspension adjustment.

We Don’t

A touch heavy with this build
SRAM drivetrain is finicky.

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