Calibre Bossnut Evo review£999.00

Absolutely kills it if £1,000 is your limit

BikeRadar score4.5/5

Calibre blew the £1,000 bike scene apart with the original Bossnut and then the V2. It's taken all the feedback and used it to create a hat trick of three-figure full-sus domination, with the Calibre Bossnut Evo.

The Evo frame is largely unchanged from the V2, apart from the addition of external and internal dropper post cable routing. That means you still get a (redundant) front mech mount, 135mm QR rear axle and imperial-size RockShox Monarch shock.

While no dropper is included, you at least get a QR seat collar for rapid manual adjustment. A tapered head tube and short one-piece forged rocker link keep tracking obedient despite the relatively narrow main pivot.

The rear pivot is on the seatstays, not the chainstays, so the wheel moves in a simple arc, but the rocker slightly modifies the shock rate.

The 67-degree head angle, 780mm bar and 45mm stem increase control and confidence without being a handful on flatter/climbing trails
The 67-degree head angle, 780mm bar and 45mm stem increase control and confidence without being a handful on flatter/climbing trails

Calibre has put together an outstanding package for £999 (with discount card). While the Recon fork isn’t the latest Boost-width (110mm) version, its 15mm thru-axle adds welcome steering accuracy and security compared to a QR.

The WTB rims are wide for extra tyre support and easy to turn tubeless, and the tyres are acceptable for the price. Shimano’s Deore brakes offer better modulation and power than their M300-series anchors, and SRAM’s clunky NX 11-speed shifter and rear mech are relentlessly reliable.

The Kore bar and own-brand stem match the handling well. You even get lock-on grips.

Calibre Bossnut Evo ride impressions

Your initial contact with a bike is always important, and the Evo’s 780mm bar and 67-degree head angle give a reassuringly safe feel, without being super-wide or slack.

The 45mm stem ties everything together nicely, so the steering is light and obedient but the bike doesn’t need to be pointed downhill and moving fast for it to make sense.

With a relatively short 445mm reach and 1,145mm wheelbase (large), it doesn’t feel as unshakably stable through rocks and roots or scythe through high-load turns like longer bikes.

There’s routing for an internal or external dropper seatpost cable/hose, but you’ll have to add the actual post yourself
There’s routing for an internal or external dropper seatpost cable/hose, but you’ll have to add the actual post yourself

It’s quicker and easier to change direction in tighter situations, though, encouraging you to play with trail features rather than plough through them.

The 67-degree head angle means the fork doesn’t flop around like a sulky teenager on steep climbs. In short, the geometry works just fine for what most people spending £1,000 are going to think of as mountain biking.

The Calibre’s back end isn’t as rock-meltingly smooth as some of its competitors, but it does a good job of minimising impact force while keeping the bike level and the rear wheel connected.

The simple Monarch R shock has better peak oil flow than more complex compression-adjustable dampers, so the 130mm of rear travel will swallow surprisingly large blocks and drops before things get sketchy.

Although there’s no lockout lever for climbs and road sections, the Evo pedals well enough that this isn’t an issue. The Recon fork retains control a long way down rocky descents before your forearms start to blow up, and is easy to adjust for rider weight, too.

While Calibre has done a truly outstanding job with the design and equipping of the Bossnut Evo, it unsurprisingly hits its limits slightly earlier than the 40 to 50 percent more expensive bikes it is often compared to.

The cheap WTB tyres on wide rims perform as well, if not better, than most you’ll get on a bike at this price, but they slip sooner than top-spec rubber and lack stability at lower pressures.

Other bikes at this price do offer more tautness to their frames and the Bossnut's suspension isn’t as capable as some contenders.

If you’re after a really easy to ride, remarkably controlled and permanently enthusiastic and playful trail all-rounder at a ridiculous-value-for-money price, though, nothing else I’ve ridden comes close for under £1,000 — and it's available for international delivery too.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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