Knolly Tyaughton Review
In 2021, Vancouver-based Knolly Bikes released a progressive hardtail called the Tyaughton. For the past couple of months, Barry has been thrashing the Tyaughton through the local networks of Victoria, B.C. While he was in way over his head and trying to find "dad-friendly" drops, the Tyaughton taught Barry a few things about mountain biking. Read on.
My love for hardtails started in the early 90s when rear suspension was something that only graced the covers of glossy magazines. I stuck with hardtails most of my life—even when I moved to the city and swapped out knobs for slick commuting tires. Over the years that I was focused on life in the city, mountain biking continued to evolve and became something totally different from the 90s technology and geometry I grew up with. By the time I came back to it, I was far from any “hardcore” label of today's standards. I'm a 45-year-old dad-of-two who loves the chonk but mostly keeps it on the ground. Hardtails are exactly where I am at in life and on the mountain.
Hardtails get a bum wrap from the FS crowd, and maybe if I was catching gaps and big-air I may have the same impression. However, contrary to a lot of mass thinking (and marketing), hardtails can still do the job while being supple and forgiving. Hardtails are meant to last and let you get back to the essence of what a bike is. They are the Macgyver of mountain bikes: simple mechanics that you can maintain by swapping out parts and handling issues in parking lots and at trailheads. But wait—this isn't an article on the merits of hardtails. I just want to preface that this review is from an all terrain mountain biking perspective and not that of a full-suspension rider that misses the squish. So, let's get to work.
Many of the bikes I get to ride these days are cross-category mountain-gravel-xc type things that are impossible to explain let alone categorize. So when an opportunity came up to try out the steel Knolly Tyaughton, I was over the moon. Released in 2021, the Tyaughton is an example of a typical modern progressive enduro trail bike. It has one function, and that is to help you rip the trail and do it well. I thought it would be refreshing to write about a one trick pony.
Unboxing the bike I was instantly impressed with the Tyaughton. The build that Knolly sent was off the charts and it showed up in one of the best states of any bike yet. The Tyaughton is easy on the eyes. It's mean, clean and mechanically simple. Just hanging on the stand it looks ready for action. I opted for the red model because I thought it would pop in the forest and make for some hot shots. I'll let you be the judge on that one. There is something about the powder and anti-corrosion coating that gives the frame an almost velvety feel. Assembling the bike, I noticed a lot of little neat details, like a well placed “BC Tough” Canada flag sticker on the seat tube that is noticeable through the seat stays. Looking deeper at the custom tubing, beefy yokes and immaculate welds, the entire bike oozes solidity and quality. It's a great looking thing and received more than a few nods once I got it on the trails.
Build & Geometry
Knolly sent us the top of the line full XT kit which made me all giddy inside. It's easy to see there was an emphasis on BC-based (or originated) manufacturers where possible, which I really like. Raceface wheels, bars, and stem, as well as Chromag saddle and grips top the list. Beyond that, the build is full of great details: ultra-grip Maxxis Minion DHFs (2.5 up front, 2.3 in the rear), 29” 150mm Fox 36 Factory Fork, a threaded bottom bracket, ISCG chain guide mount, and clean external cabling. I'm 5'10” 170 lbs and am always between sizes. There was some back and forth on this and Knolly suggested that I ride the medium with a whopping 468mm reach and a 636mm stack. Wowza.
|Head Tube Length||102||110||115||125|
|Stand Over Height||669||725||750||790|
|Seat Tube Length||360||404||456||506|
|Effective Top Tube||610||639||667||697|
|Head Tube Angle||64.5||64.5||64.5||64.5|
|Seat Tube Angle (effective)||75||75||75||75|
|Seat Tube Angle (actual)||73.5||73.5||73.5||73.5|
Do you even SuperBoost?!
One potentially polarizing feature of the Tyaughton is the 157mm SuperBoost rear hub spacing. This is my first time coming across (or riding) a SuperBoost hardtail. For some of us, this might seem like yet another standard introduced by manufacturers to get more money out of us. And to be fair, it's hard to not think that. It doesn't feel like too long ago that we all adopted the 148mm Boost standard under the guise of it being better for us as riders and for engineers as a platform. Personally, I am still on the fence about the SuperBoost standard, only because I have a couple pairs of sweet 148mm wheels lying around with various rubber that I like to swap in and out.
Regardless, Knolly has made the standard a part of their brand and boasts it across their full range of mountain bikes. Is it a deal breaker for those of us holding 148mm wheels? Definitely not. There are solutions and conversion kits that seem easy to set up, so we can swap between the standards.
When I first sat on the Tyaughton I was blown away at how long it felt—long with a super high front end. This feeling is most likely due to my riding gravel and ATBs over the past few years, and my body needed to adjust to the progressive geometry. I was immediately worried that the Tyaughton would be tough to climb with, so I ended up moving my saddle way up on its rails to get my position more forward and over the pedals.
I spent the better part of a month taking the Tyaughton out on our local trail networks here in Victoria and ended up finding some excellent chonk for the bike on a trail called Dave's Line. Dave's Line connects a new climb trail to the rest of the mountain and ends in a zippy flow track called Sofa King before ejecting you on a connector. This line has pretty much everything any hardtail rider would love: skinnies, rocks, roots, berms and a few “dad” drops. After a few weeks with the bike on these trails, I can safely say the Tyaughton feels as natural going up and as it does going down. I assumed the long reach and high stack would make the Tyaughton tricky to control on climbing switchbacks, but not the case. The bike solidly gripped the terrain and climbed like the goat that it is. The geo (and forward saddle) kept me upright and over the pedals to provide a snappy and efficient climb.
I ended up finding a flow on the Tyaughton pretty quickly. On flats and features, the long reach let me move my weight around the bike and adjust to anything that was underneath it. Even though I was in over my head at points, I was able to lose myself in the ride and trust the bike. It almost knew more about the terrain than I did.
The high stack of the Tyaughton came in really handy on steep descents. My body was well-balanced, even with the 150mm shock doing its job with brakes engaged or simply sagging over the terrain. This gave me a confidence I haven't found with a lot of bikes, which got me going down more than the occasional dad drop. In fact, I found myself always looking for more drop opportunities (dropportunites!? ugh) and challenging myself on what I considered possible. For these drops, the short rear end kept my weight on the back of the bike, and although that might be considered old school nowadays, it sure was fun as hell and I couldn't get enough. The long reach allowed me to lean forward into the corners, dig in deep on flowy tracks, and lean way back for more technical cornering. Technical cornering is where I noticed just how solid the whole rear end of the bike is, and also where that Superboost really shines. Hmmm ;)
Earlier, I called the Tyaughton a one-trick pony—and it is, when compared to the bikes that I have been riding the past few years. Knolly describes the Tyaughton as an “all around, do everything bike”— which is true as long as you are sticking to enduro level trails and the traverses between them. As they say, the best bike is the one you have, and I always try to look at a bike for more than its intended function. So how would the Tyaughton fare as a shredpacker, XC or All Terrain adventure bike? I have noodled this question long and hard and I want to say that it would be great, but I simply have to give it a pass on being anything other than a straight-up mountain rig. Some of the issues would be solvable, like the lack of bosses and mount points. The larger issue is in the geometry itself, which just doesn't lend to long distance of any sort. Each time I rode the Tyaughton I pedaled it out to the trails from my house, about an average of 10-15 km each way, which was tough work. I do realize this is an unfair judgment, like asking a fish to read, and most likely not a consideration for most riders that would be attracted to a bike like the Tyaughton.
Going into this project, I wasn't sure what to expect really. I was worried I wasn't enough of a mountain biker for the Tyaughton. However, I didn't expect to be taught by the bike, but that's exactly what happened. The Tyaughton showed me how to ride it, and I am without a doubt a better mountain biker for having ridden it.
I always love interacting with people that work at the brands to set these reviews up. For me, that interaction moment is a great window into how a brand conducts itself, and a signal of internal culture. I'll be blunt and say that I find many mountain bike companies an absolute pain in the ass to deal with. The one exception to this rule so far is Knolly. My time speaking with the people was always pleasant, and I legitimately enjoyed the interaction. It's rare to find a MTB company with the pedigree of Knolly that hasn't let it get to their head. I think in this regard I'll be a Knolly fan for life.
The Tyaughton comes with a choice of 4 build kits starting with NX for $4000 CAD and topping out at XT kit for $5300 CAD. Get it here.
|It's a drop-dead stunner|
|Quality frame construction|
|Progressive geom lets the rider throw weight distribution easily|
|B.C. Tough ✊|
|Knolly is a gem|
|SuperBoost is a consideration for some hardtail riders|
|Stays on the mountain|