Over the last few years Xprezo has been gaining traction in the US, especially in the Northeast. Knowing nothing about the brand except that they are aluminum and steel bikes handmade in Canada, I was excited to throw my leg over one for a week during the best time of the year to ride at Kingdom Trails.
I’ve been living and breathing the bike industry for 12 years and will be the first to admit I like big bike companies. They pour a lot of money into their design, construction and component spec’ing which generally gives you an outstanding product, with a solid warranty, for a relatively moderate price tag. I have lost my attraction to super unique, sexy bikes that may put form over function, that being said, I was immediately skeptical of the Magic Carpet and it’s high-ish price tag.
THE NUTS AND BOLTS:
The Xprezo Magic Carpet is marketed as “an aggressive trail bike that eats everything” – Xprezo Website
The construction of the frame is “made of a 6061 alloy front triangle, meant to be light and stiff. While the swing arm is of an entirely different nature by using Colombus 4031 steel. This ensures a comfortable, lively and snappy feeling that stands out from other material combinations. Not to mention the extra durability and ease of repairing in case of an accident. Everything is designed, cut, machined and welded at the small facility in Bromont, Quebec where all the bikes are tested step by step before a production model is launched.” – Alain, Xprezo
Link driven Single Pivot suspension design 130mm travel
Cable routing is internal through the mainframe and uses external cable guides on the rear triangle.
Set up to run an internal dropper
No way to run a front derailleur….who needs ’em anyways
Size Tested: Large
Price of tested bike: $6380
Fork Travel: 140mm
Rear Wheel Travel: 130mm
Head tube angle 67.6
Tested Top Tube(size large) 24.4”
bottom bracket – 13”
Seat tube angle 76.3”
tested wheelbase 46.7”
The first ride I took on this was with Alain from Xprezo when he came to drop the bike off to me. When he pulled out the fluorescent orange Magic Carpet from his sprinter van I had apprehensive butterflies, not unlike seeing the hot girl who you know is crazy. I hated this feeling due to my pragmatic approach towards bikes but there was a very real curb appeal that hooked me instantly.
After setting up the sag (30% rear, 20% front w/3 bottom out tokens), saddle height, compression and rebound, we departed on an 18 mile loop starting on mellow XC trails leading to more technical riding.
Within the first mile of riding I could not help but think, wow, this is less harsh than riding a carbon bike or even a full aluminum bike. After riding a few more trails and getting comfortable with the bike beneath me I knew instantly what made this bike stand apart: unequivocally, the ride quality.
Continuing on the ride, we approached Burnham Up, a technical climb. Alain claims to love technical climbing so I was excited to see what the bike could do as it was also his bike of choice.
The bike is not a feather weight, nor a heavy weight, sitting more in that healthy body image range, so I knew that it was not going fly up the climb like a 23lb xc carbon race machine but I was optimistic. Alain told me he uses compression damping on the rear shock when he climbs but I prefer to run it open to get the full range of traction the bike has to offer.
The bottom few sections climbed nicely seated, but there was no brain surgery going on there, it was further up the trail where there are some punchy technical sections that would put the Magic Carpet through it’s paces.
In the first technical section I was out of the saddle riding the climb the way I always had and was impressed by the traction of the rear wheel. There was a brief reprieve before the next part, which was steppy and punchy but the bike reiterated that the rear wheel will track the ground to give you every ounce of traction it can.
Towards the end of the trail there are a few – generally wet – tricky rooty sections that can halt you quickly if you are not prepared for losing traction on the rear wheel, catching your front tire on a rogue root or lifting the front wheel around a steep uphill corner. I wanted to see how dummy you can get with the bike’s climbing ability so I went full neanderthal: plowing lines that I would be embarrassed to have my dog see me take. The bike took my idiocy and turned it into genius, between the seemingly endless rear wheel traction and frame materials’ ability to absorb input, which would be jarring on carbon bikes, the Magic Carpet truly lived up to its name.
On other sections of climbing where the terrain is more mundane the bike did not shine as brightly. The bike still climbed well, especially with some assistance from the shock’s compression damping.
The magic carpet made the ups fun so it could only do the same with the downs, right?
When Alain and I concluded our climbing we sat atop one of my favorite trails, Moose Alley. This is a long-ish undulating downhill that is mildly tech, flowy, jumpy and droppy all rolled up into around 9 minutes of fun top to bottom.
Dropping into Moose I tried keeping similar pace to what I would on other bikes and it felt intuitive off the bat, no surprises here. It was not until a couple hundred yards in that I felt the first unmagical moment of the day.
There is a stacked rock roller that shoots you into a couple of berms and this was where I felt some limitations that I would say were due to the relatively steep head angle.
67.6 degrees is not a super steep head angle when you are looking at Xc, trail or even all mountain bikes but when you are claiming that this is an “aggressive trail bike that eats everything” it is a bit misleading. In the relatively recent past bikes have been getting slacker head angles and longer in the top tube to make for better descending without compromising climbing much. A lot of bikes that I would consider in a similar category to the Magic Carpet sit in that pleasant but not too aggressive 67-66.5 degrees.
To continue on….
The bike felt twitchy in that relatively high speed compression spot but after a bit more riding I adapted and learned where to push and where to be a little more dainty.
The rest of the trail was a blast, the rear end made all mid to smaller size chatter mellow out and gave a buttery smooth feel to a rooty trail. The suspension action is very progressive so when lofting it off a drop or pumping hard through a section the bike never had a harsh bottom out. Another benefit of the progressive suspension curve was the poppy feeling that assists in jumping over roots or preloading your favorite trail gap.
Post ride beer thoughts
This bike is really special, it is unexpected and over performing. The ride quality driven by the frame materials and suspension linkage dampens the small to mid size chatter to a level that was unprecedented. When the bike rolled in I was skeptical and kept my skepticism in the back of my mind during the rest of the ride test but after putting solid miles in on it and having others validate my claims I can say confidently that there is nothing out there, that I know of, like it.
The rear end feels amazing over almost anything which is perplexing because the bike feels under gunned by the front end. The bike rode confidently on nearly everything but where things got “aggressive” I felt given a little slacker in the front it could have gotten more awesome and really made it feel like an “aggressive trail bike that could eat everything”.
The component check
The fact that Xprezo tries to utilize French and Canadian made components rounds out the story nicely.
Cockpit: The Chromag Cutlas bar was narrow for my taste at 730mm wide. Chromag Saddle? Didn’t notice it which is a good thing, instantly comfortable and non-offensive
Drivetrain/Brakes: Sram X01 drivetrain works really well and Guide brakes are an elixir for Avid Brakes. Minus the pun, the new guide brakes are good, really good, honestly.
Wheels/Tires: Maxxis High Roller 2 front and Ikon rear, super fun and reliable combination. Wheels are Stan’s No Tubes Arch EX rims wrapped around Aivee Edition 1 Hubs. Rims are relatively narrow (21mm inner width) but standard for lighter weight trail set ups. The hubs functioned well, the engagement was not noticeable, it wasn’t particularly quick or slow, it is a 3 pawl system with 30 points of engagement.
Suspension: Rock Shox Pike in the front and Monarch Debonair in the rear, they both functioned very well and felt complementary to the Magic Carpet platform. The best part about these two entities are their easy tunability with bottom out tokens and compression bands, respectively.
FINAL FINAL THOUGHT
The uniqueness cannot be articulated by talking or reading this, it is truly something that you need to put your leg over to understand; that being said, find that hot crazy girl and give ‘er a ride.