THE WOLF’S FIRST IMPRESSION
My time on the Coal Bicycles 84 only amounted to a single ride, but it was at an old testing ground nearby to the Coal workshop that provided a good variety of trail styles and let me quickly get a feel for the character of the bike.
Pedaling the 84 proved to be a pleasant experience. Between its comfortable and centered climbing position; reasonable balance in its geometry to keep plenty of weight on the front wheel; and a healthy – but not excessive – amount of support in the suspension to avoid too much pedal induced suspension movement, the 84 goes uphill as well as your typical enduro bike. The burly tires with sticky rubber and overall no-nonsense prevented it from being an absolute rocket ship, but any notions of sluggishness that the steel frame may conjure should be ignored.
Onto the descents, the Coal produced a somewhat unique feeling from the get-go. It’s clear that Gavin’s BMX background has dictated some of the ride qualities, in that the Coal 84 loves to be ridden actively, popping and playing on the way down the hill. There’s a predictable and direct feeling in the suspension, with that highly progressive rear end encouraging you to push hard to see how close to the bottom out bumper you can get. Through countless drops and jumps to flat, the 84 refused to be phased, and prevented me from hitting the end of the stroke hard enough to feel unnerved. This will lead to less hard charging riders having the dilemma of under-springing the rear end to obtain the full stroke, or saving the last portion of the travel for the times when things get really wild, so it won’t be for everyone. But as a BMX or big hucking mountain biker’s mountain bike, it encourages you to “send it” that little bit harder. The frame packs slightly more stiffness overall than many steel machines, giving a reassuringly sturdy feeling that backs up this suspension platform.
In the single day of testing, the time spent tweaking the suspension was limited, so there’s undoubtedly some more performance to be unlocked. There were a few instances where the rear wheel felt to hang up more than I’d expected, carrying less speed through rougher sections in the process. Whether this is a tuning issue or a factor of the axle path and kinematic I’m unsure, and I’d need to spend some more time tuning to confirm. Aside from this though, the Coal 84 remained composed and fun for the duration of testing, loved ripping a turn and held its own through the majority of terrain encountered. As a unique steel machine with some healthy capability, it’s certainly worth considering for your next machine.
Price: £2,800 (Frame and RockShox shock)