05 November 2007

bikefix Exclusive Review: 2007 Maverick ML8

I am a long-time Maverick fan so I jumped at a chance to review the ML8. I have owned an ML8 for over 2 years now and it has been ridden hundreds of miles on terrain from Moab, to 13,000 foot high singletrack in Colorado. I started with a black ML8 which I sold to a buddy and has since been replaced with another in Maverick's hard anodized grey color (also available on the Durance). The anodizing holds up extremely well and is lighter than paint (when paint is available).

[Hard, or type 3, anodization is an electrochemical process in which the outer .001-.002in of an aluminum part is converted to .002-.004in of alumina, a very hard and durable ceramic material (which can also hold off up to 1,500 volts of electricity). We've seen it on a handful of bike parts and it holds up amazingly well... marc]

The ML8 has 165mm [6.5in] of rear travel which I have paired with 160mm Manitou Platinum Intrinsic Nixon. Maverick doesn’t like categories so it hasn’t been pegged as an all-mountain bike or a long travel trail bike, but it fits firmly in there somewhere. The frame weighs in at about 7 lbs, and my ML8 built up around 28 lbs. You could get it lighter but you would lose some of the functionality that the strong 6.5 inch travel frame gives you. That would be a mistake because this is a truly remarkable bike. I use it as a trail bike for especially brutal trails – with no regard to how much climbing I’m going to do. The kind of trail where the downhill makes you nervous, the rock gardens are unending, and your sit bone gets sore just thinking about the ride. I don’t know what kind of limits it has when it comes to drops and ledges, but it far outstrips my ability and should be able to handle years of hits from 3-4 foot drops (my opinion).

All Mavericks favor the seated rider. The ML8 makes this even truer with its generous travel. If you keep your weight on the seat when going uphill, you can ride over almost anything if you have the legs. The ML8 is a fantastic on the descents. There are probably a number of other bikes that descend equally or better than the Maverick, but not by much. Ariel Lindsey even won a national downhill event on an ML8. Most importantly to me, I always feel safe and controlled on the ML8, even in the scary stuff. I take more risks on the ML8 than on any other bike I have owned, and so far that has worked out fine.

I will mention that the Maverick is sensitive to what components you build it with Рparticularly the fork and front d̩railleur/shifter. Spend some time with an experienced Maverick retailer (or rider) to really figure out what will work best for you, given your riding style and trail preferences. If I was going to fault the ML8 for anything it would be the front shifting. It can be tough to get perfect and can de-tune itself rather quickly. A good mechanic can make this become almost a non-issue. The ML8 can chew-up rear cable housing kind of quickly, however some brands of housing seem to last about the normal amount of time.

It has been said that the ML8 is the best single bike for riding both uphill and downhill. I absolutely agree. There are some good arguments for a select few other bikes out there, most of which I have ridden and like very much. Foremost among them would be the Santa Cruz Nomad. Like many VPP designs, however, it doesn't seem quite as small-bump sensitive as the Maverick. Also, its standover height is a bit tall, and it's heavier than the ML8. For my money, then, it would have to be the ML8.

Hard Anodized ML8: $2500
Anodized (not hard) Green: $2350



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