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With my budget, this is the only frame that I can afford and Cambria Bike has had this frame on sale for the longest time. I'm not a fan of the single pivot design. My real question is for the Pantera rider/owner who has a Pushed Fox Vanilla R installed on their frame and tell me how it greatly improved the characteristics of the bike. I have a pushed rear shock currently on my Kona and the shock will most likely end up on the Pantera if I decide to buy the frame.
 

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Having a nice day!
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I have a Pantera from Cambria with the Swinger 3-way, and I have been very happy with it for the past year. I was coming from a Kona Manomano myself, and this bike feels much, much better to me in just about all regards. I certainly would not say it is obsolete. It's funny that this bike didn't sell better, because Sherwood liked it, all the well respected internet parts pushers (Mtn High, Red Barn, and Boutique Bikes) liked it, heck even Lee Bridgers seemed to like it! I'm sure it has some of the well documented, less desirable traits of high forward single pivot designs, but unless you are really, and I mean really, in tune with your bike, I doubt you would feel them. I know I haven't. It is just a great riding bike in my opinion.
 

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Bike Hoor
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I think it's ONLY drawback is that it is a 4" travel bike... and I am not sure that is a drawback in anything other than the marketing arena. I rode one for a season and LOVED it. With a Romic on it, the thing was plush as all get out and pedaled very well considering it is a high single pivot bike. I still contend that it is the best climbing bike I have ever owned.. and I have been on a Trek Fuel and a Heckler... both very capable climbers in their own rights (and both the Pantera and Heckler outclimbed the Fuel, in case you are interested).

If you value a stiff chassis, then this bike REALLY shines. I never knew what people were talking about in terms of lateral stiffness until I rode a Pantera. Now, everything I ride gets the unfair task of having to live up to the high standards set by the Pantera in terms of lateral stiffness.

In short, unless you are a hucker or looking to drop over 4 feet, then don't overlook this bike if you have the chance to snag one of the few remaining. I wished we had more since they are like Elvis... more popular now that they are gone.

Oh.. and I would like to thank Lonestar for listing us as one of his respected online dealers. Seriously, comments like that are indeed high praise. I do prefer to not be considered a parts pusher though, since we RARELY (not never mind you) try to push parts and bikes on the boards. It's just not classy, IMO, and we pride ourselves in not doing that. We do, on the other hand, try to help out any way we can since we are some of the luckiest ba$tards in the world and get to ride great bikes from Ventana, Turner, Intense, Yeti, Santa Cruz.. et al.. every day. I think we would be irresponsible to not pass on our first hand accounts for buyers really needing information on a future multi-thousand dollar purchase. If it leads people in our direction, that's great... if not.. I hope we still managed to help someone make a good decision. In the end. it's all about the riding for us. Period. Once again though, thanks for the kind comments. It's nice to know that we have gained someone's respect.
 

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Bike Hoor
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675 Posts
Thanks again, and I was completely sure of what you meant. I just wanted to clarify why we do what we do for those who may not be familiar with us. No apologies necessary. It really makes me proud to have our name mentioned with other great shops such as Larry's and Red Barn. I know that those guys do things right and I am happy to know that you hold us in the same company as those fellas. Larry, Red Barn and Hammerhead are all held in the highest esteem here at the Boutique, and we are not even the least bit hesitant to recommend them to anyone. Again, much thanks.
 

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change is good
Switchblade with a 38, 29+ rigid WaltWorks
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Best bang for the buck?

GOLLUM said:
With my budget, this is the only frame that I can afford and Cambria Bike has had this frame on sale for the longest time. I'm not a fan of the single pivot design. My real question is for the Pantera rider/owner who has a Pushed Fox Vanilla R installed on their frame and tell me how it greatly improved the characteristics of the bike. I have a pushed rear shock currently on my Kona and the shock will most likely end up on the Pantera if I decide to buy the frame.
I almost got one to be a back up for my X5 until I caught the 29er bug. My Weyless XP is fun although flexy in the rear. Hecklers still sell well. Single pivots do have some advantages. Mud clearance, simplicity, and cost combined with a platform shock make for a fun and frugal ride. I'm not going to argue that it is the best suspension design because I'm not qualified to do so, but I'm more into reliability and fun than effeciency. I constantly had problems with my Adept and Blur. I almost built a replica of Lonestar's bike. Simple, entertaining, and tough.
 

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Mmmm Rocks Good
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645 Posts
Get da ting mon!

GOLLUM said:
With my budget, this is the only frame that I can afford and Cambria Bike has had this frame on sale for the longest time. I'm not a fan of the single pivot design. My real question is for the Pantera rider/owner who has a Pushed Fox Vanilla R installed on their frame and tell me how it greatly improved the characteristics of the bike. I have a pushed rear shock currently on my Kona and the shock will most likely end up on the Pantera if I decide to buy the frame.
Hey, FWIW- I have an El Chamuco (single pivot) and absolutely love it. Customer service is top notch and if you have a question Sherwood answeers them himself. As a point of reference, I came off of a Specialized Enduro (4 Bar Horst link design) and I have zero complaints about my single pivot performance and I do enjoy the raised chainstays. :D
 

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dusty paw tracks
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208 Posts
Great bikes

Panteras are very, very fun bikes. I bought one a couple of years ago (has it been that long already?) from Innocent Bystander for a great price with great service (thanks man!). After riding the sh$t out of it for multiple seasons I continue to be impressed with the way it rides, the stiffness, and the descending ability.

I opted for a Romic Double, the SuperLink option, Quad bearings, and a coil Vanilla RLC in front. Heavy? Yes. Bomber? Yes. I plan on upgrading the shock and fork this winter (when prices fall) to Fox air shock / fork that I can eventually Push. Lighten up a bit, although the bike is a very reasonable 28-ish pounds with the XT parts spec.

Here's how it rides, in a nutshell. My Pantera has seen everything great about Oregon trail riding and a trip to Sun Valley's killer singletrack in the last 2 seasons. Keep in mind my shock / fork spec when reading this review (I'm sure it will change a bit after I upgrade to lighter stuff, but that said, I LOVE the plushness of the current coil set up).

Synopsis: a bomber, stiff, durable, stable handling trail machine that I can ride for hours. Rear shock very stable and bob-free while climbing. Fork well behaved if using proper technique (see climbing characteristics below), very unhappy if I try to stand up and hammer. This bike wants me to sit and spin rather than stand and crank. That's ok - I've got a rigid single speed for standing :)

Climbing: great climbing bike if using proper technique. Fork is set to 5" mode and the front end wanders like an unwatched kid in a candy factory. If the trail is steep (like much of the singletrack in Oregon) and falling is not an option (like many sections of N. Umpqua) then things can get down right scary. I have to lean way over the front end, press down and pull with my arms in opposition to my lower body, and crank crank crank. It takes a lot of effort and is tiring, but suprisingly the thing that saps me the most is the concentration required! Quite a game to keep the bike on track and myself on the trail, instead of below it on steep ridges (which happened a couple times, kinda scary to fall off steep exposed ridges going so slow uphill!).

I'm going to try the fork in 4" mode and see if climbing improves. I have a feeling it will slightly improve front traction / tracking. The rest of the bike - the rear end especially - feels great while climbing and remains stiff so long as I remain seated. And it shines if the climb is rooty / rocky baby heads with undulations - rear wheel always rises and falls nicely with the countours of the terrain and really helps traction.

Descending: well this is really why I got the bike anyway, and good thing, because it's a freakin' MACHINE going down! Super stable because of that long wheelbase, the thing tracks amazingly well and feels like a rally racer - very confidence inspiring! Some brake jack is noticeable (single pivot woes) but that's okay, I'm used to it now. A ripping bike for tight, woodsy descents! It was a little tough on tight switchies at first, but I got used to its longer size and now it's no problem.

Flat / Rolling: nice high BB helps make the Pantera nimble for techy sections. I'm running 180mm cranks and haven't hit many pedals. Great bike for techy / rocky trail. Rolling singletrack is sometimes challenging -- this is not the fastest accelerating bike that's for sure.

All in all, it's super fun! I really want an X5, but that's gonna have to wait (baby on the way) and I'm having a great time with my Pantera anyway. When I'm ready I'll probably use the Ventana owner's program and trade it in for an X5 on a discount! yea baby, gotta love Ventana!

pic 1: new machine before its maiden voyage
pic 2: last month
 

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Gollum,

I can't help you with the Pushed Vanilla because I've run the Romic D since my Pantera was new in early '03. Many will argue the so called limitations of the single pivot, but I believe most riders couldn't tell the diff. w/o looking :)

I'll echo all the comments above and rave about mine My purchase decision was made in favor of the 4" travel instead of 5" that the SC Heckler offers. I chose the Pantera over the SC because at the time I just didn't see the need for a whopping 5" travel bike and of course, three years later 5" is almost the cross country standard.

Hey slimTreeshadow, You will climb much better with your Vanilla set at 4" I've had mine set there since the bike was new and I've come close to converting to it to 5" a couple of times but didn't because of the reasons that you state. I find that the Pantera climbs very well with the Vanilla at 4"

So just buy the thing Gollum, it's one of the best buys going right now!
 

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dusty paw tracks
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onepivot said:
Hey slimTreeshadow, You will climb much better with your Vanilla set at 4" I've had mine set there since the bike was new and I've come close to converting to it to 5" a couple of times but didn't because of the reasons that you state. I find that the Pantera climbs very well with the Vanilla at 4"
sweet -- will do. i'm looking forward to the change!
 

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Elitest thrill junkie
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38,817 Posts
It depends on what you want/can live with. The pantera is a mid pivot bike, will have some definite pedal feedback due to the extending chainline, and it will be squatting under braking. Due to being a single pivot, it relies more on shock technology to pedal better/gain progressiveness. This means it won't be quite as supple as a bike that doesn't rely on such technology. It just depends on what you are used to riding, for some people it may be fine, for others that are used to horst link/low-pivot bikes, it may not be the ticket. There are definite disadvantages to the design, one advantage is the axle path, which is a little more rearward than many low-pivot bikes.
 

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rides nice

GOLLUM said:
I'm not a fan of the single pivot design. My real question is for the Pantera rider/owner who has a Pushed Fox Vanilla R installed on their frame and tell me how it greatly improved the characteristics of the bike.
I just recently built up a Pantera frame and don't disagree w/ anything any of the others posted. Although I only have a few hours on it, I think this is one of the nicest riding bikes I've been on--and over the years I've ridden a fully rigid hardtail, early bullit (without stable platform shock), giant nrs, heckler & bullit (both w/ 5th element coils), chamuco (w/ romic coil), steel slalom hardtail, and the Pantera.

I'm currently running the Pantera w/ a Fox Float RL and want to put some more hours on it before I decide to Push it or not. I can feel it bob noticeably when I stand and crank on steep climbs, but I'm pretty impressed with how the bike behaves on the trail overall and can live with the amount of bob for now.

Personally, frame geometry and lateral stiffness are more important to me than a particular suspension design. Having ridden SC single pivots w/ and w/o stable platform shocks, I think the stable platform shock makes a huge improvement in how single pivot bikes feel when pedalling and have helped keep these designs viable. Although I'm happy enough w/ my current Fox Float, I'm sure I'd be even happier if it was Pushed.

If you're looking for a 4" bike that has more stable geometry and lateral stiffness than the typical XC frame, and feels extremely solid on technical terrain, then you really should consider the Pantera. For the local socal-type predominantly XC trails, I already know that I'll be riding my Pantera far more than my slalom hardtail (lack the horsepower to push the single ring on steep climbs) and 6" Chamuco (overkill).
 
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