FIRST RIDE IMPRESSIONS
THE NEW UNNO IKKI EMTB
First Ride by Robert Johnston
UNNO invited a select few media outlets to get a preview of their new TQ-powered lightweight eMTB – the IKKI – near their headquarters in Barcelona, Spain. During this time, we’d pack in two intense half-day rides on their local testing grounds of Vallromanes, letting us quickly get a feel for the performance of the bike and an idea of why certain decisions may have been made during its development.
Setting up the IKKI is not like many other bikes. The ultra-progressive suspension design leads to UNNO recommending 30-40% sag at the shock. The frame design leads to slight complications in the setup since measuring the sag on the shock shaft and accessing the air valve and damping adjustments is very fiddly, however it’s not impossible with a little patience and dexterity – certainly not enough to put me off the bike. With a 35% sag figure, the resulting position on the bike felt to be nicely integrated between the wheels, with an aggressive stance that would likely come alive on the steeper terrain. I was excited to put the theory to the test!
As is usually the case, to earn your turns you must first go up the hill, and in the case of the climbs in Vallromanes, we were thankful for the helping hand of the TQ HPR50 drive unit. The steep fire roads quickly let us get acquainted with the power of the system. With an unknown ride ahead, we were hesitant to make use of the most powerful setting of the system in fear of draining the 520Wh of juice available to us (we were given a range extender to use from the get-go), so kept it in the MID mode for the majority. The result was a deadly silent climbing machine, but with no mistaking that we were still pedaling with our own energy. As a heavier rider this was particularly notable, and though I was perhaps not as fit as the other two journalists in the riding group, the increased effort required for me to keep up with my extra 20-25kg (45-55lbs) body mass was notable.
Climbing position on the IKKI was comfortable though, and with a reasonable pedaling platform thanks to ample anti squat, there were not too many complaints. There was no desire to reach for a climb switch on the rear shock at any point during testing, which is a relief as getting access to it on the fly is not simple. Pedal clearance was a primary concern as we left the fire road and climbed some slightly more technical singletrack but didn’t prove to be an issue. That said, we didn’t climb anything notably chunky, so I’d still be wary of buying this bike if your bread and butter is pedaling through boulder fields, as there’s no denying that the cranks are on the lower side.
Onto the descents, we began on a flat-out track with limited gradient and some very sandy turns. It took me a few turns before I attacked enough to prevent the front wheel from having the tendency to push wide – an issue I attributed to the slightly rearward weight bias to the suspension balance and a resulting slacker front end than on paper, which necessitates a little more conscious weighting of the front wheel, even with the fairly long chainstay length. On the rougher terrain we encountered, the slightly defensive initial approach I adopted didn’t serve the UNNO well, with a little more feedback coming through the bike than I’d have loved.
Once I became accustomed to the weight balance, I began to feel comfortable pushing the IKKI hard, and this is when it really began to come alive. With the visionary Cesar Rojo at the head of the UNNO operation, you can feel his ex-downhill roots coming through their machines when you’re on the trail. And it’s when you adopt the mindset of a downhill rider that the IKKI begins to make sense. The progressive suspension offers travel reserves for the moments you get truly wild, and really inspires you to give it that extra bit of pull off of every lip to put it to the test. The chassis is very much towards the stiff end of the spectrum, giving supreme confidence through off-camber compressions and hard cornering forces, but transmitting a little more feedback through to the rider as a result. Steep terrain is dispatched with confidence, leaving you well centered between the wheels and able to look ahead and attack. Saddle height left a little to be desired. I could have certainly fitted a considerably longer dropper due to my disproportionately long legs, but UNNO’s design will make it hard for some to get the saddle low enough to fully hardness the steep terrain crushing abilities.
As sharp in its ride as in its looks, the UNNO IKKI is a inspirational machine to charge hard on, but won’t be the best tool for less aggressive riders looking for a more forgiving machine to give them the best chance of sticking that slippery off-camber line, or the most comfortable bike for a less strong rider to ride rough terrain on all day. For riders looking to take a downhill mindset to their local trails; seeking some natural feeling and stealthy assistance; and prepared to pay the price for a product that oozes quality from every angle, our first couple of days have indicated that it’s one hell of a machine. One that I’m crossing my fingers to one day test on my home trails in Scotland, to see just how aggressive you can get before you hit its limits.
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