Strengths: Long travel, light-ish weight, durability.
Weaknesses: Does being a dinosaur count?
This is a review UPDATE.
I've been riding my 2004 Ellsworth Joker I dunno how many years now..9, I think. I got my first Joker frame in 2001, a M., cracked it, and Tony came through in spectacular fashion and replaced it under warranty, straight across, with a L. frame, that fit me much better. Ellsworth even included a custom CNC'ed piece so I could continue riding my new frame at 6" of travel, at zero cost to me. How cool is that?
So in terms of trail-miles, which is all I ever ride the Joker on, I've put in THOUSANDS of miles on this frame, and it's still creak-free and stiff as it was when I got it. I replaced the pivot bearing once in 9 years.
Mike at North of the Border bikes in San Diego (AWESOME shop....he and Doug are without peer), set me up about three or four years back with a Manitou 3-Way rear shock, which gives me the full 7" of rear wheel travel. The Manitou Air 3-Way also seems to like this single pivot frame...it's worked extremely well for me over the years.
For many years now I've had a 'Zoke AM1 in black for the fork, which I measured at an honest 154mm of travel, more than it was specc'ed for. It was from a batch of AM 1's that were distributed only in Europe, but that does not explain the increased travel. It has served me extremely well, but I've always wanted to match up the front end with the rear wheel travel, and just now, at the bikes' tender age of 9, Mike at NOTB (did I mention they are AWESOME?) put on a RS Lyrik with 170 mm of front wheel travel.
Now it is accomplished. I have have in my possession the Ultimate Joker, a serious beast of a trail bike. With 7" of all around travel, and a weight of around 28-28.5 lb.s (with an Ardent 2.4 EXO up front and a 2.2 Crossmark in the back), this is about as good as an old man's 26" trailbike can get, IMO.
The Manitou Air 3-Way also seems to like this single pivot frame...it's worked extremely well for me over the years.
It's too bad Ellsworth does not make a single pivot frame anymore. Tony and Co. really had the single pivot location nailed down to as close to perfect as you can get.
Now, all I need to round out the quiver is an efficient, smoothly suspended 29er................
Johnny B. Good
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: November 18, 2006
Strengths: smooth, like I would expect from a 1pivot; Romics tunneability; very light! for the tipe of bike; climbs very well; attention to details; exclusive
Weaknesses: the frame design was never my favourite, aestheticaly...; I'm 80kg, droping and landing "not so perfect" it bottoms out (maybe another coil...); 2.5" rear rubs on the frame!!
Feels great, used to have a 130mm sherman, and I could do dirt jumps, now with 170mm marzo, it's kinda dificult... can climb well, don't feel pedal bob, if the seat is up.. Bottomline, great bike, maybe not the best for this or that, but it can do anything if you have the right setup;
Similar Products Used: stinky, chaparral, asx, big hit06
Bike Setup: Marzo 66rc2x, saint single 36chainring, hayes/shimano 8"/6" brakes, 2.5F /2.4 R;
from Burnaby, BC
Date Reviewed: August 9, 2005
Strengths: One of the lightest freeride frames. Climbs very well for a 7in bike even while standing and hammering away
Weaknesses: The front derailleur cable guide on the back of the seat tube rubs my 2.5 kenda nevegal on full compression The cable routing for the rear brake line makes no sense Rear is not all that stiff laterally, though better than gemini/bullit. A DHX would be nice
Overrated. Missing attention to detail you should expect from a high end frame. There is no way a "freeride" frame should rub a 2.5 tire. And I shouldn't have to nearly kink my rear brakehose to route it to the brake.
Bike Setup: Joker with Romic. ex721s to hadleys. Sherman slider+ 05. Diabolus cranks with e13 guide. SRAM X9. XT 4pot brakes. Thomson, wtb and answer filling out the rest.
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: June 15, 2005
Strengths: Great handling, great suspention,beefy frame, can handle anything. Looks BAD!
Weaknesses: Baught it used for a guy in Oregon, it's about 4 years old. The swing arm broke on the 3rd trail ride after a race. Frame a little big, had to move seat forward, not a big deal.
I broke the swingarm. That is not supposed to happen. I looked up a Ellsworth dealer on their website. Found one in IL called himm up and he talked Ellsworth into letting me get a new swingarm. I sent my old one off and got a new one back tryed to put it on and were the rear shock mounts up to the swingarm, it was to wide. No one made a bolt the length I needed with treads all the way to the head of the bolt so I called the IL dealer and he had Ellsworth send me some bolts. They were not threaded to the head, so I threaded one my self and it worked well for 2 days. I took it out today to look at it and found it to be bent. So I threaded a harder bolt I found at the hardware store. I have no doubts that this will fix it. If this does not work I know Ellsworth will work with me to get this figured out. Buy an ELLSWORTH! You will not be disapointed.
Similar Products Used: Kona Dawg, only other full suspention I've used.
Bike Setup: Hope hydrolic brakes, Marzocchi fork, Startos Pro DH rear shock, race face crank, shamano deore xt and xtr components, ditch witch wheels, carbon bars.
a Weekend Warrior
from Mission Viejo, Ca.
Date Reviewed: June 3, 2005
Strengths: Stiff (1.5),Great Climber, Very Versatile,Romic Tuneability.
As with my previous Joker,high quality, very stiff. 7" version climbs better than previous 6" version. Love the ride, and ability to flow at high speeds. Jumps and lands effortlessly. Beautiful anodized blue finish. Single pivot simplicity w/o the bob. I absolutely recommend the 1.5 headtube. Very stable.
a Weekend Warrior
from New Canaan, CT, USA
Date Reviewed: April 30, 2005
Strengths: Geometry, Simplicity, Craftsmanship
Weaknesses: Some of the bolts rust...stainless would be better...just a minor detail. Can't think of any significant weaknesses.
7" of extremely versatile travel. Is most comfortable at middle (freeridish) speeds; I did a day of downhill on the joker and it felt a little sketchy at times. Front end can be hard to get off of the ground, but not excessively so. Absolutely great jumper, in spite of all of that travel. Climbs amazingly well for a 34 lb bike. I can't see any reason to switch to any other frame for what I ride (short extreme xc, much freeride with jumping etc) at the moment. Beautiful bike, as well.
Bike Setup: 6" sherman breakout - 1.5. king hubs, mavic ex 821, tioga mx platforms, raceface crankset w-blackspire rings and e 13 rock ring. FSA cockpit. SRAM x-9 stuff.
from Helsinki, Finland
Date Reviewed: April 27, 2005
Strengths: -Versatility -Simplicity -C'mon It's pure bike porn
Weaknesses: -Shock bushings wear out fairly quickly -I didn't get it in anodised red
At first I used the Joker with a 5" Marzocchi Z1, and I guess it worked allright..A couple of months ago I switched to a 6" 2005 Sherman Flick and it really complements the rear shock's abilities. I plain and simply love the Joker, It's perfect for aggressive trailriding and is capable of absorbing bigger drops, jumps, ladders and all that...Can't wait for the Åre Mountain Mayhem! The shock bushings wore out in just 3 months, don't know why but have already been replaced. The Romic works beatifully. I personally think the bike gets a little raked out with a longer travel fork, but it's a matter of personal preference I guess. I give the Joker 5 chillies because of beauty and versatility.
Similar Products Used: Fullies and hardtails of all sorts
Bike Setup: Romic, 6" Sherman Flick plus, SRAM X7, Syncros derived seatpost, Cane Creek DoubleXc headset, Deore hydros w. 8" Hayes rotors, E-thirteen SRS chainguide
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: April 25, 2005
Strengths: -Strong & Light frame -Single Pivot (no muss no fuss) -Not that expensive -Anodized finish -Can truly be 2 bikes (Freeride) and (All mtn)
Weaknesses: -seriosly, none that I can think of.. knock on wood the exposed rear/forward shock bolt is a non issue
OK, it's been 6mths riding the Joker, I can give a real honest opinion on this rig.
My mind has not changed fortunately, investment worthwhile. It really is a fun, fun bike, drops and jumps are effortless. I describe the ride similiar to sitting in your Lazy boy sofa, landings onto flats are plush, gometry invites aggressive approaches.
The rear single pivot design works fine, don't get caught up with extra linkages and marketing hype. Speaking of which the Joker is really great value, which makes me wonder how Ellsworth positions the more expensive "Moment". The Joker weighs the same or less than Moment (4 riders own Moments in my riding group). It costs 38% less and the head angle is much more condusive to aggressive trail riding. Also the top tube is sooooo long on the Moment. The Joker can truly be ridden as a freeride bike or set-up for XC. The Moment is good for the odd jump but due to it's geometry would not recommend it be used for freeriding. Where's the value proposition?
Bike Setup: - Bike setup as "all mtn", with some odd jumps for good measure -I have the 5" Sherman Firefly fork which is fine but(Go with 6" or more, my recommendation!!!) -Hone Crank with truvative bash guard (Changed out the XTR) -50mm stem, 70mm is fine too, NOTHING longer, top tube is fairly long so... -Mavic 823 rims on rear and 819's on the front, tubeless (stans) -8" rotor upfront with 6" on the rear -Hayes Mag -Maxxis 2.3 super tacky's frt and back
a Cross Country Rider
from Foothill Ranch
Date Reviewed: April 22, 2005
Strengths: Frame weight very low, lot's of travel
This bike is sweet, climbs great, descends perfectly. You can set it up for full DH, I have had a 888 on it and took it to Whistler for 8 days. It felt like a full DH bike.
I've had an air shock on it and down to 30 pounds for a great trailbike.
Bike Setup: King hubs 20mm, Manitou 1.5 Saint cranks, Hayes 8" hydros
a Weekend Warrior
from LA CA, USA
Date Reviewed: March 13, 2005
Strengths: Rode the Joker 7" for a year and here is the deal. I had a 04 Marz Z1 130 QR fork on it and it was not nearly enough. The new Joker 1.5 with the Breakout or step down Firefly 150 20 mm would be much better. 6" rotors on the Hayes not enough go 8" on both ends. Saint 8" would be epic. That being said I have beat this thing for a year and it still works great. The Romic is simple and dependable.
Weaknesses: The joker is better when you ride faster, if you ride slow (WITH A HANGOVER ON SUN MORINGS) it is not as good, as the pedal feedback is noticable. On technical climbs and downhills I can feel the minor kickback on pedaling and braking (really not romic but single pivot). This being said it is a 8 out of 10 overall for weight, plushness, value, etc.
The 7" joker gets 8 for ride, 10 for looks. The shot peened and anodized grey is nice (few frames can take the abuse and look new). Next time I build it the way I want. Do not kid yourselves, 1.5 breakout 8" Saint, 823 mavic or Dee Max, Sram X9, Holzfeller triple or double and the rest good stuff. The large 19" would weight 37 to 38 LBS with DH tires and be indestructable (FR and trail not DH). Who really cares about 3 or 4 pounds on a bike??? Make it fun and bombproof. I have a buddy that has built a trail bike, 30 lbs Heckler with air shocks fr and rr, for $5K?? who cares?? Build the Joker big and it will be a 10. I will give it a 5 overall and 4 value big flam'n shizzas, b'cuse it is x-pensive but nice. Other wise shave your a$$ and legs and buy a lamo 3.5 inch CC bike at 25 lbs and cry cuse the bike will snap if you drop more than 1'. PS I used to be like in the old days.
Similar Products Used: Heckler, C-Dale Jeckel, Spec Endours, Giants AC1s, Konas, Old Yetis, GTs
Bike Setup: Good stuff, Marz 130, XT, FSA Orbit XL HS, Holzfeller stem and Crankes, Truvativive DH BB, XT everwhere, Hayes 6" and 8", Thompson, RF diabolous, 2.4 FR tires, ATAC platforms/clips
Date Reviewed: February 14, 2005
Strengths: Super Duper Versatile, Pedals well
Weaknesses: Paint job is about as cool as my ex-girlfriend.
Bushings on rear-shock thru bolt need to be replaced every two months or so (apparently, this is a common issue among single pivot designs)
With the adjustable 5"-7" Sherman the Joker pedals like an XC bike in 5" and rides like a FR bike in 7". Pedal up a 45 min fire road, no problem. Then down with skinnies, 15-20ft gaps, and 10-15ft drops, no prob. It pedals like a hot apple cider on a chilly tuesday.
With the 888R 20+ ft drops are doable, no real limitation in terms of FR style. Feels good in the air. Not a race bike. Back tire doesn't stick to the ground at super duper high speeds.
Similar Products Used: Stinky Deluxe, Bullit, Intense M1, Huffy, your mom
Bike Setup: Sherman Breakout Plus (5"-7") OR 888R (that't the 7" 888) depending on the style of riding, DH/FR components, 36 lbs
a Weekend Warrior
from Grass Valley
Date Reviewed: December 10, 2004
Strengths: For the price, this bike was a great deal. The price above includes the shipping. I went from XC guy to riding 6-8' drops, 10' gap jumps, and then riding to the top to do it again. I haven't weighed the bike, but for the amount of travel and heavy duty freeride parts, it's very light. Feels very balanced in the air. I haven't noticed any brake jack, but have very little to compare it to.
Weaknesses: Romic has had some issues. I have not run into any of these, but am knocking on wood... Joker graphic is ugly stuff. I have had some issues with chain suck, but I think I just need someone smarter than me to tune the FD.
This bike was a killer deal for 2100 with XT shifters/drivetrain, holfelzer cranks, 03 z1. It's light it can take a beating and for a single pivot, it's very efficient.
Strengths: -Simple efficient frame design - Relatively light for freeride rig (didn't weigh it but supposed to be 7.8lbs for the frame) - Great bang for the buck... looks more expensive than it actually is - Great geometry, head angle, seating position if though I usually have large size frames(this one is medium), I'm 6' tall - Excellent anodized paint job - 7" of rear travel.... wow and the "Atlas" anti-bob design does work!! - 1.5" Steerer tube setup - Low centre of gravity
Weaknesses: Bad experience with getting the proper frame color, eventually settled for grey. my order took 2 mths to fulfill cause the guy responsible for ordering my bike back in July was on holidays... duh... also didn't get an apology from Customer service after I sent complaint letter.. - Rear shock mount (forward bolt) is exposed, could be a recipe for cutting my leg open if I have a crash. I'm going to have to take the bolt into a machine shop to have it shortened by 2mm - You have to change out to new Shock length to get 6" of travel. You cannot change the rear travel by simply moving the rear spring to new hole location like a lot of frames.
My set-up is for all mountain style of riding. Rough trail use with steep rocky descents and jumps.
Looks: The bike setup is gorgeous, I've got the Camo color Firefly fork with the grey anodized frame combo... first reaction from friends is very positive.. " 7 inches of travel, so light and price is unbelievable" are the general comments.
I've taken the Joker out for 2 solid all mountain rides. No major jumps yet... however the Joker is begging me to jump/slam into anything in it's way, which I will as the season progresses (Winter is best time to bike in HK). The romic rear spring is perfect for the job, and compliments the SPV front fork beautifully. I can crank the hell out of the bike without the 7 inches of travel sapping my power. During the last ride, I actually raced several cross country hardtails up some long steep climbs, the Freeride Joker held it's own (33lbs vs 24lb cannondale hardtails)!!! no kidding...
I don't like the exposed rear shock mount bolt, no one's mentioned that in any of the previous reviews but I believe it can be an issue. You certainly don't want to scrap your leg along that exposed bolt. Apart from that the bike is great value for the money.
I'm 6 foot tall and weigh 170lbs, went for the medium size frame for better handling. I'm glad I did... the only difference between the large and medium size frame is an extra inch in the top tube length, everything else is the same.
I previous rig was the Ellsworth Truth, there were certain trails that I would never ride. Well...1st ride out to one of the more techical trails and I cleared most of the trails that I never comtemplated riding before.. no kidding. Really do feel like i'm cheating.. ; )
1 word: More Confidence (actually 2 words)
Broken Rear Swingarms: I've read many reviews and complaints about broken rear swingarms on 2002 and older Jokers. My 2003/04 Joker has a completely redesigned rear assembly, it's mostly one piece now. Hopefully I won't have any problems, i'm not particularly heavy (170lbs) so it should be ok, will let you know if I do experience any issues. The great thing is that Ellsworth does update it's frames almost every year for each model. I know my 2003 Truth is slightly different than 04 (less leverage ration on rear shock).
I'll give another short review after the seasons over in 2005.
Similar Products Used: none, all my other bikes were cross country rigs. Ellsworth Truth, Cannondale F4000sl
Bike Setup: Hayes Mag brakes, XT derailleurs, XTR crank, Mavic tubeless rims, 2004 Sherman Firefly etc.. Michelin Hot S (rear), Maxxis bling bling (front) 90 mm Stem Extra long Thomson seat post (over 400mm) 32.8lbs all built up
Date Reviewed: September 29, 2004
Strengths: It's probably the lightest freeride bike out there, which is good when u have to go up :(, Takes big hits, Smooooooth, Fast, looks cool, its just a great bike
Weaknesses: My frame got a minor scratch when i fell on a log ride, that was like 100' long and 7ft high at some spots.
This bike is great for anyone who wants to do anything from extreme freeride, to semi-hardcore xc. This bike did great at Northstar for me. Even though it is expensive, you can find deals where you can get a whole bike for a pretty good price. Bottom line is this bike is worth the money and is great for any kind of rider.
a Weekend Warrior
from Biella ITALY
Date Reviewed: August 27, 2004
Strengths: Single pivot design Versatility in all conditions Light but strong frame Romic rear shock Long top tube A black anodized masterpiece!
Weaknesses: I don't like the paint job of the joker, that's all.
Compared to the 2002 joker the new 04 is even better,small differences that counts,what I was used to do out of the saddle now i do it in, even if the rear travel is longer than 2002 model. The single pivot location is changed and the Romic D rear shock is much better than the one I had before,it is simply perfect,no bobbing at all. I will change the fork with the new 05 Marzocchi Z1 SL,wich seams to be light and performing.This is a bike where at list you should have 150mm travel to anjoy riding, but it would be a sin to use a heavy fork that could compromise the great versatility of the bike. As all my friends below said, versatility is what makes the Joker the best all around bike,the smoothest ride with no compromise uphill. I'm sure there are other bikes as good as the joker,like santa cruz hekler or Cannondale gemini,I trusted the Joker and I'm 100% satisfied.
I just got a (what I think to be) a pretty good deal on an Ellsworth Joker frameset off of craigslist. I built It up using parts I had laying around in my backyard, but the build raised some questions.
First off, this thing is SLACK. Like to the point that it's hard to hold the bike straight. jus ... Read More »
Hey guys I am new to the forum but have lurked for a while.. I am in need of some help!!
I currently own a Jamis Dakar XC 2009 and am looking at getting and Ellsworth Joker with some upgrades (fox vanilla rear shock, marzocci drop out fork) but it has the original swing arm
Worth getting? I am ... Read More »
Hey guys I am new to the forum but have lurked for a while.. I am in need of some help!!:D
I currently own a Jamis Dakar XC 2009 and am looking at getting and Ellsworth Joker with some upgrades (fox vanilla rear shock, marzocci drop out fork) but it has the original swing arm:madman:
Worth get ... Read More »
Got this bike in May 2011, been loving it ever since. Always wanted a full suspension bike with disc-brakes, and I've always held Ellsworth's up there with the best of em, so I finally bought one!
[IMG]https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-dLK7j9KtHrQ/TcqYIkZqqXI/AAAAAAAAAdQ/hV640I2wCJM/EllsworthJok ... Read More »
I am in the process of buying a 2003 Ellsworth Joker, for a allmountain/trail bike.
I was advised against it because they said it was hard to get parts to fit and alot of the newer rear shocks don't fit and its hard to put newer type of components didn't know if that was the case or not.
Let ... Read More »