The Knolly brand stands out for many reasons. The Canadian company has doggedly insisted that high-end aluminum can outperform carbon. It also focuses on engineering long-term quality instead of shaving grams and following trends. The end result is a distinctive frame that is backed up by a high-quality ride. Knolly’s Fugitive LT stands out for a further reason: it’s the boutique company’s first 29″ bike.
The Fugitive comes in two versions: the 120-mm standard and the 135-mm longtravel option I tested. The travel numbers may seem middle-ground, but the bike is anything but. It is unexpectedly capable at climbing for an aluminum frame that prioritizes durability over weight, and descends like a criminal on the lamb.
Knolly Fugitive LT (as tested)
Drivetrain SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed
Brakes SRAM Code R brakes (200-mm-diameter front rotor, 180-mm-diameter rear rotor)
Suspension RockShox Lyrik Ultimate RC2 fork with 150 mm of travel, Fox Float DPX2 EVOL Performance Elite shock with 135 mm of travel
Wheels Spank Oozy Trail 345
Sizes S, M, L, XL
The key to this performance is Knolly’s unique Fourby4 rear linkage, which was inspired by automotive strut-style suspension. It is one of the few suspension designs worthy of the “bottomless” descriptor, and contributes to the bike’s adept climbing characteristics.
The mid-travel 29er is designed for long rides that end in rowdy descents. It’s here that the advantages of Fourby4 stand out, and feels like it has more than 135 mm of travel in the shock. It is equally smooth on slow-tech descents, highspeed chatter and full-on chunder. Combined with the shorter travel numbers, the Fugitive LT’s outstanding suspension makes for a bike that keeps you in control over rough trails while still being lively and fun on smoother sections.
The bike stood out the most on a local favourite, a fast, long and natural descent. The Fugitive LT maintained traction and speed through constant roots and holes, into and through corners, but was still happy getting sideways on the occasional built-up double.
Founder and CEO Noel Buckley, whose company is based in Burnaby, B.C., has spent decades riding, as well as getting deeply involved in the details of mountain bike geometry. The Fugitive LT frame has multiple setup options, letting you tailor the frame to a wide variety of uses and local trail conditions. This process starts with the fork and shock. Knolly offers the frame with a range of five shocks, all tested and tuned to the Fugitive LT frame. The test bike I rode came with the Fox Float dPX2.
The Fugitive LT is designed to be forward and backward compatible. It has options for everything from Di2 integration to 2-by drivetrains, on top of the basic slack/standard geometry setting. Obsessively engineered details extend down to titanium pivots, Igus bushings, a threaded bottom bracket and carefully designed internal routing ports. This frame is designed to perform, not cut production costs.
While these details do add to Knolly’s price point, you can expect a frame that is designed to last for years, not just this season. The boutique Canadian brand emphasizes durability for riders thrashing the Fugitive on its local North Shore trails over gram counting.
It is not weight you feel on the trail, though. The Fugitive LT’s climbing capabilities mask any extra grams. The suspension stays active on climbs, giving you traction up the roughest trails. The end result? You’ll still have the energy you need to hammer on the way back down to town.