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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Has anyone actually ridden either of these frames yet? I've currently got an 05 cowan and love the geometry and feel of the bike even though I use mine more for more downhill/aggressive trail riding than dirt jumping. Spent some time at Downeiville and Northstar on it this summer and ride the Tam and Annedel in nor cal on a regular basis. How do you think these two frames would do on trails? I figure since I like the feel of my bike minus the harshness of a hardtail on rocky trails these might be a good match for me. Being a light guy i'm thinking i'll be fine with 4" of travel. Do you agree and if not give reasons? Also it looks like the only difference between the two frames is the rear dropouts and the pivot point on the rear. What are the pros and cons of each for the type of riding I would be doing? All the parts on my current Cowan are stock except for the forx that are now Fox 36 Talas RC2 and would be put on the new frame. So let me know what you think.
 

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no, but the howler looks hawt!
 

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Fillmoe Slim said:
Has anyone actually ridden either of these frames yet? I've currently got an 05 cowan and love the geometry and feel of the bike even though I use mine more for more downhill/aggressive trail riding than dirt jumping. Spent some time at Downeiville and Northstar on it this summer and ride the Tam and Annedel in nor cal on a regular basis. How do you think these two frames would do on trails? I figure since I like the feel of my bike minus the harshness of a hardtail on rocky trails these might be a good match for me. Being a light guy i'm thinking i'll be fine with 4" of travel. Do you agree and if not give reasons? Also it looks like the only difference between the two frames is the rear dropouts and the pivot point on the rear. What are the pros and cons of each for the type of riding I would be doing? All the parts on my current Cowan are stock except for the forx that are now Fox 36 Talas RC2 and would be put on the new frame. So let me know what you think.
Cowan DS will pedal like sh!t. They put the pivot around the bottom bracket, which eliminates chain growth and allows you to run SS without a chain tensioner, however, the pivot placement will result in excessive bob. The Howler is more of a 4x bike. It's low, light, and made to go fast. For something more freeride oriented with less travel, check out the o4 Coilers. For something more trail oriented but can handle some drops, Kona Dawg.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
XSL_WiLL said:
Cowan DS will pedal like sh!t. They put the pivot around the bottom bracket, which eliminates chain growth and allows you to run SS without a chain tensioner, however, the pivot placement will result in excessive bob. The Howler is more of a 4x bike. It's low, light, and made to go fast. For something more freeride oriented with less travel, check out the o4 Coilers. For something more trail oriented but can handle some drops, Kona Dawg.
Thanks for your reply. Wouldn't you be able to stiffen the rear up fairly well using the pro pedal? I'm not going for XC so if it's a little inefficient in pedaling that's OK since we do a lot of shuttle runs. Also wouldn't the Howler and Cowan be just about the same weight? Seems that they are made of the same material and the geometry looks exactly the same minus the pivot point and single speed option.
 

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Neither of those bikes are really dh/fr bikes... I would look elsewhere for something more oriented in that direction. I'm in Napa, we should go shred sometime (when i have a bike) :p

Good luck
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
matt said:
Neither of those bikes are really dh/fr bikes... I would look elsewhere for something more oriented in that direction. I'm in Napa, we should go shred sometime (when i have a bike) :p

Good luck
I agree totally that it's not what these bikes were intended for but neither is my current Cowan but I still have fun blasting down Oat Hill Mine Trail with it then the next day riding around town. I just don't see myself riding a Stinky/Coiler/Nomad style bike around town.
 

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the only problem with the new DS Cowans is the fact there Kona's. but other than that though, there pretty sweet frames. ive seen a few built up and just a few frames on there own and there really quite nice. the geometry is good and there strong as well as light so i dont see why you shoudl'nt. just dont expect it to be the same bike when descending...
 

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Same Dillemma...

Hey Slim,
(Sorry about the thread Jack), But I'm considering the same options-- I think that the howler would pedal a little better and seems to be more of a 4X frame-- should take all of the drops and jumps and nastieness you could throw at it. I'm on a Shred specced out almost exactly like a Cowan, and I'm having a hard time making the switch into FS, as I'm a hardtail rider. But if I were to switch I'd consider a shorter travel frame like the Howler, but the Coiler( or air version) looks mighty fine too....
 

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Where are you guys in the US finding the best prices on these frames?

I am also looking for something that rides like a hardtail, but will be a little more forgiving of poor judgement and/or skill. The other big advantage to the cowan is that you can run it SS or with a rohloff hub. pedal bob should be pretty well controlled by the RP3...
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Just looked up the measurements between the two and there are some differences in the specs. Cowan has a slightly higher BB, shorter chainstays, longer head tube, and 2 degree difference in the seat tube angle. Can someone explain the difference in feel these will make?

Also, just curious the source of the dislike towards Kona in some of the comments. Yes, i'm a newb to the whole MTB industry in general so I don't know the politics, philosophies, and history behind some of the comments. I'm conscious to those sort of undercurrents and like know more about them especially if i'm unknowingly rocking something that opposes my personal beliefs. Basically is there substance behind some of the fanboyism or is it just pure blind fanboyism?
 

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As a devoted hardtail rider (as some in this thread), I've been looking at the new short travel freeride rigs, if hardtailing ever gets too painful (or I become a *****). The Preston FR looks mighty sweet. It sounds like the rear suspension is set really stiff in the 4" position, so that it only gives on bigger hits. Personally, that sounds as good as it gets for a fully; still get to feel the trail without the hard jarring of a botched landing.
 

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Kona makes good bike and I'd say they generally recieve a decent amount of respect. They are known for making pretty good bikes at a reasonable price and they are great for riders who want a capable rig but don't want to pay a ton for it. I'm a Rocky Mtn. snob but I've owned a Kona Roast and my brother used to have a Stinky and they are durable bikes that work well. They just aren't totally into the Gucci aspect of things with hand welding and fine design details (check out the cool RMB plate in the new Switch rear linkage).

Oh, about the pedal bob with the Cowan DS. I've got a 2005 Switch SL which doesn't have a super efficient suspension design either (but it is better than the Cowan). My shock is a 2005 Fox Float RP3 (RP3 = rebound plus 3 propedal settings). I've never been a been a big pedalling efficiency guy but this shock makes worlds of difference. I'm still totally infatuated with it. Just the quick flick of a switch and the difference is HUGE. For 2006 they supposedly made it even more extreme. The 3 settings are off, some propedal, lots of propedal. Anyways, personally I think the whole freeride movement is totally disillusioned. All the hot selling famous bikes (ie. VP-Free, Iron Horse Sunday with DW Link etc) have these fancy complicated suspension designs which include a ton of pivots so more things can go wrong and develop slop plus they yank things around in weird axle paths thus compromsing the smoothness of your travel etc for what??? pedalling efficiency?? I just thing it's pretty lame....it's like we're all a bunch of XC riders or something. I can see using designs like this for all mountain and XC bikes but for full on freeride bikes I'd take a Santa Cruz Bullet (single pivot) with a good shock over a VP-Free. I can't believe how many people are shelling out large amounts of cash for a wierd design for what?? so they can pedal their 45lbs bike up a hill? Is that really the goal of a freeride bike? Sure it's nice to have but factors like strength, rising vs linear rates, center of gravity (notice VPP bikes have a very high shock mount) etc should be way more important of a consideration. Anyways, I think that Cowan will feel awesome cuz of the simplicity of it and I think it even comes with a Float RP3 shock if I recall correctly so you can have better pedalling if you want it. However, if you aren't going to be running it single speed then I would consider other frames too.
 

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Fillmoe Slim said:
Thanks for your reply. Wouldn't you be able to stiffen the rear up fairly well using the pro pedal? I'm not going for XC so if it's a little inefficient in pedaling that's OK since we do a lot of shuttle runs. Also wouldn't the Howler and Cowan be just about the same weight? Seems that they are made of the same material and the geometry looks exactly the same minus the pivot point and single speed option.
Kona also uses the concentric pivot on the "A" singlespeed XC frame. With a ProPedal shock it pedals very well.

There are geometry differences between the Cowan DS and the Howler BTW, and a $270 price difference for the framesets.
 

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I have ridden the Howler, Before it was out in stores though. Like two days before. I loved it, felt really good. can handle anything you want to throw at it. but for downhill/freeride I would try to find a Stinky or a Coiler. I only suggest this because when downhilling I like to have the travel really plush. 4" is going to bottem out faster no matter how much you weigh 6" wont as fast. Get the Howler or a stinky or something similar. if your worried about riding it around town, build up a cheap hardtail or something. having a better bike for your hard riding will pay off in not having a great bike for the light stuff
 

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Dank your running a HardTail down the big rock section at Oat Hill? After the top section it's well suited for a HT because it flows well to the bottom. I'll have to agree with dandurston something like the Preston FR with 4in travel or the Santa Cruz Bullet will work wonderfully for what you ride. Need to keep in mind that your final dession should be what you want not what every one tells you that you need. I ride a Versus Blitz & when looking for a new frame last year was told not to consider it, after 1 year i'm very happy with my choice.
 

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Fillmoe Slim said:
Just looked up the measurements between the two and there are some differences in the specs. Cowan has a slightly higher BB, shorter chainstays, longer head tube, and 2 degree difference in the seat tube angle. Can someone explain the difference in feel these will make?

Also, just curious the source of the dislike towards Kona in some of the comments. Yes, i'm a newb to the whole MTB industry in general so I don't know the politics, philosophies, and history behind some of the comments. I'm conscious to those sort of undercurrents and like know more about them especially if i'm unknowingly rocking something that opposes my personal beliefs. Basically is there substance behind some of the fanboyism or is it just pure blind fanboyism?
Higher BB will result in more ground clearance, but also a higher center of gravity, possibly resulting in poorer high speend handling. Shorter chainstays will make it super easy to pop it up on one wheel or to jump it, but usually shorter chainstays mean smaller tires are neccesary. Longer headtube I believe is just for strength (more weld area). The Seat tube angle will affect your position and weight distribution.

Don't know why some people don't like Konas. They're still the weapon of choice at Whistler. Designed for Northshore and time-tested over and over. They're not pretty and boutique, but they're strong. It's a faux-bar, yeah. Which means a little more bob and brake jack, but atleast it's not flexy like some horst-link designs.
 

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todd_freeride said:
I have ridden the Howler, Before it was out in stores though. Like two days before. I loved it, felt really good. can handle anything you want to throw at it. but for downhill/freeride I would try to find a Stinky or a Coiler. I only suggest this because when downhilling I like to have the travel really plush. 4" is going to bottem out faster no matter how much you weigh 6" wont as fast. Get the Howler or a stinky or something similar. if your worried about riding it around town, build up a cheap hardtail or something. having a better bike for your hard riding will pay off in not having a great bike for the light stuff
I don't think he cares how plush it is. He's coming off a hardtail, and had mentioned that he only wanted a squishie to take the edge off of things or to make up for rider error.
 

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Im in the same boat as you, i have a 05 cowan (built frame up). I use it for trail riding, free riding, commuting, DJ, Park, street, pretty much everything (as it is now my only bike). I AM going to get a cowan ds for all my FS needs. I rode an 06 stinky dee and was real impressed with it. Ran well undersprung for me but still didnt bottom, but I found it to be a bit too heavy and sluggish for my air time needs. I think that the Cowan DS with a 66vf with a 5" Slam Kit will be perfect. Match that up with all my purple King stuff, a single speed set up and i will have a winner. Some people just cant get over the big tires and long travel. For the most part I think that that stuff is not needed for a lot of the riding out there. I would say go for it. I would look at it like this: If you want gears, good high speed handling and a little bit better pedaling, i would go howler. If you dont really care about pedaling, want an easily adj rear shock, want to do more jumping skate park stuff, want a SSP f/s bike, and dont mind the baby blue paint job, get the cowan. The nice thing with the cowan is that you can adj the chain stays for your riding (especially if you are running gears). Want to ride park or jump, slam em all the way forward, riding dh trails? move em back. Another thing to keep in mind is that the howler frame doesnt come with a shock if i remember right. Cowan comes with the RP3. And you can do like what i am gonna do, and send the RP3 off to PUSHindustries to get tuned so that it is sure to be able to handle the abuse.
hopefully that makes at least some sense.

Peace

Dave
 

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sortafast said:
...Another thing to keep in mind is that the howler frame doesnt come with a shock if i remember right...
hmmm... they do not mention a shock for the Howler frameset. That would explain the price difference.
 
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