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Over The Bars

Bike Review: Woodstock 707
By MBT Staff

Clean lines and a sweet spec sheet make the 707 top of our most desired list. For under $900, this is a lot of bike!

Dual Suspension Performance Deep Discount Price
Depending on the age group of who you’re talking with, the word Woodstock can conjure up images of a legendary outdoor concert or a little yellow bird who hung around with Snoopy in the Peanuts comics. Husband and wife duo, Jimmy and Libby Rigsby hope you’ll associate the term with an unbelievably good deal on a mountain bike. Known for their deep appreciation for both mountain bikes and good deals, the test-crew of MBT recently spent a month behind the bars of the Woodstock 707 and have a lot to say about the online-direct manufacturer out of Woodstock, Georgia. Do Jimmy and Libby have a winner on their hands? Read on to find out.

The Process
Having tested both an Ibex Zone FR-1 and Kinley SX Pro in the past, MBT is no stranger to the online bike ordering process. Woodstock makes it easier than most but not overloading their potential customers with a sea of choices. Just point your browser over to their website and chose between two off-road models: The hardtail 505 or the dual suspension 707 (which is new for this year). Each is available in three sizes: 16, 18, and 20 inch. Add the bike to your cart and within four days Fed Ex shows up to drop off the well packed box.

Assembly of the bike is about a 45 minute affair assuming the builder is fairly competent. It's easier than assembling difficult reception furniture. We all know how difficult putting together furniture can be. Woodstock goes through the effort of having the bike assembled 100% at their factory then disassembled roughly 10% for packing. If you doubt your abilities to attach and tune such items as the bar and stem, front wheel, seat post, pedals, and front brake rotor, a local bike shop should be more than able to slap the bike together for around $30. However, going a step above and beyond; Woodstock includes some very thorough step by step assembly instructions (complete with detailed color photos) and offers tech support via a toll free number in the event that you do encounter a snag along the way. It is clear that they’ll do all they can to get you up and running.

The Walk-Around
We had our medium (18") 707 unpacked, assembled, and dialed in within an hour. For an $899 bike the component spec sheet is quite impressive. We were hard pressed to locate a single generic component on the entire bike. The frame itself is a beautifully constructed double butted 7005 aluminum alloy design with generous gussets and a good deal of lateral rigidity. While it doesn’t show up quite as clearly in photographs, the bottom tube is actually rectangular at the highest stress point (the head-tube) and becomes tubular before meeting up with the four bar linkage. The frame paint and tasteful decal treatment are buried behind a protective layer of clear coat that results in an attractive deep luster. Handling front squish duties is Manitou’s Axel Elite (100 mm travel with lockout) while the rear of the bike is suspended via a Manitou Radium R air shock connected to a very functional four bar linkage. Stopping the 707 are Avid BB5 mechanical disc brakes front and rear with 6 inch wavy rotors. The transmission is a slight hodgepodge of components beginning with Shimano Deore (Top Swing) front derailleur and an SRAM X-7 rear. The crankset is comprised of the Truvativ Blaze 3.0 series while the cassette comes in the form of SRAM’s PG950 9 speed (11-34). Truvativ also handles the bottom bracket (Powerspline), seat post, and stem while WTB delivers on the hubs, headset, saddle, and tires in the form of the ever-impressive Weirwolf 2.1s. Rounding out the package are Answer’s ProTaper bars, Velo grips, SRAM PC-951 chain, and Wellgo LU-964 alloy pedals. The bike had our attention on the initial walk around but the real question was how it would perform out on the trails. Just as the last of the Western NY snow began to audibly drip away, we intended to find out.

Be not afraid. Woodstock makes certain even the most hamfisted tuners can be out on the trails in no time. Full assembly instructions Included.

Saddling Up
Mounting the 707 provokes a very interesting blend of sensations. The Answer ProTaper bar has one of the most comfortable bends we’ve ever experienced. While not a particularly wide bar, the spacing of the controls is quite natural with just the right amount of sweep to keep from pulling the rider forward during aggressive braking. We suspected that with a stand-over height of 30.5 inches our medium sized frame would feel lanky or at the very least top heavy. Fortunately neither was the case. The Woodstock design team clearly understands a thing or two about the advantages of developing a chassis that carries the bulk of the bike’s weight down low and spreading it out evenly. The reach to the bars from the saddle is again spot-on and earned praise from all four of our testers. The seated position lies somewhere in the middle of a dedicated XC and casual trail bike configuration: Neither is it too upright for seated hammering or too stretched out for eastern technical junk. The engineers did their homework and we realized this even with the bike standing perfectly still.

The Ride
The true test of any bike design does not take place on a computer screen or even on the workshop floor. To truly understand the Woodstock 707's strengths and weaknesses, we assembled the same crew of test riders responsible for thrashing the Ventana X-5 last season. We suited up and headed into the freshly swamped out lake-side singletrack a mere four miles from MBT headquarters. The terrain there varies from wide open grass flats to shale rockers (jagged step ups and downs) and finish with a bit of tight twisting hardpack singletrack with a dose of slippery Lake Erie beach sand to boot. So how did a bike that came from Georgia fair you ask? Surprisingly well.

Our initial elation was the result of a very reasonable bottom bracket height of 13 inches coupled with the proven stride of the Truvativ Blaze cranks. When it comes time to move out, the wide sweeping push of the Blaze cranks results in an instant burst of acceleration only accentuated by the incredible grip of the Weirwolf 2.1 in the rear. There is no doubt that this steed was born with the hard-packed red Georgian clay in mind as the configuration simply shines on the hard stuff. The entire chassis is quite nimble and light on its feet even when the trail starts zigzagging thanks in part to that Answer ProTaper we mentioned earlier. The bike’s natural balance stems from the fact that the rider is positioned fairly evenly between the wheels. No need to worry about leaning way forward or hunkering down to weight the rear wheel on the 707. Simply stay seated and place your trust in the Manitou Radium’s Platform Plus damping. So long as you keep spinning those cranks, the trail will continue to blur past. Steering is natural thanks to a 71.5 degree head angle without being overly twitchy or nervous at speed.

Woodstock 707
Frame Double butted 7005 aluminum alloy, 18"
Fork Manitou Axel Elite with Lockout (100mm)
Shock Manitou Radium R (100mm)
Headset WTB Integrated
Wheels WTB Dual Duty
Tires WTB Weirwolf 2.1"
Brakes/Brake Levers Avid BB5/Avid FR-5
Crankset/BB Truvativ Blaze 3.0/Truvativ Powerspline
Cassette SRAM PG950 (11-34)
Shifters SRAM X.7
Derailleurs (F&R) Shimano Deore/SRAM X.7
Stem Truvativ
Handlebars Answer ProTaper
Seatpost Truvativ
Contact Woodstock Bikes - (877)-366-9302

Manitou Platform Plus damping and a 4-Bar linkage design result in a very effective rear suspension setup.

According to Woodstock’s website, company co-owner Jimmy Rigsby isn’t just some slick marketer but rather a real world rider. We believe him and do you know why? After taking the 707 prototype out on the trail, he returned with complaints of the Manitou Axel fork feeling too soft for the performance of the Radium. As a result he insisted that the fork be upgraded to include the firm spring option (factory installed of course) and the lockout feature as standard equipment on the bike. The man knows his stuff. We expected the more budget oriented Axel series fork to pose a problem ourselves but were surprised to find that it held its own even in the oft-demanding climbing sections (where many a more expensive bike has faltered). The fork’s compression is dialed in via a clicker on the top right crown and becomes progressively stiffer before finally locking out entirely. While we hadn’t the opportunity to sample the bike with the original spring, we can confidently state that the stiffer upgrade spring never let us down. We relied upon the lockout on only the steepest grades and found our best suspension settings were as follows:
130 lbs of air pressure in the shock with the rebound dial set roughly in the middle
Fork compression turned three clicks outside of fully locked out

Okay we know what you’re thinking- Surely the weak link in the armor must come in the form of the brakes. Mechanical discs are yesterday’s technology when compared the latest hydraulic efforts right? No sir, the test riders all reported a very positive feel to the Avid BB5's as well; marking their modulation, grip, and lever feedback in the top tiers of the rating scale. Maybe we just got an abnormally well performing pair but we can state that the mechanical Avids give up very little performance to the more maintenance-heavy hydraulics and best of all don’t heat up and become mushy on account of mineral oil and friction.

Moving on to the transmission- The 707 earns more praise here as well. Shifting feels more like a dedicated SRAM group then it does Shimano (even though the components are pretty evenly mixed). For those unsure of what that means exactly- think not as butter smooth as a Shimano shift but a bit more engaging and locked in if you will. Shifting on the 707 (like most SRAM groups we’ve tested) feels quite deliberate with a touch of mechanical clank.

So we come to the point where we have to list the bike’s shortcomings and fortunately for Woodstock, it’s a very short list. This bike will excel in most conditions except perhaps the intense flogging that comes from downhill riding or jump park extravaganzas. The chassis is simply not designed for this type of abuse and lacks the torsional rigidity to absorb repeated landings once the suspensions limits are tapped. Other than that, recreational riders, trail hounds, technical junkies, and weekend warriors are in for quite a treat.

As much as the local bike shops hate for us to admit it, Woodstock proves without a shadow of a doubt that great deals can be had by cutting out the middle man and ordering factory direct. The Woodstock website actually contains an entire section devoted to comparing the 707 to many of today’s leading LBS stocked dual suspension models in effort to display what an incredible value it really is. Going into this test, we couldn’t help but raise a collective eyebrow at the confidence Woodstock displayed in their comparison chart. Now after spending several weeks on the bike we understand where this confidence comes from. Woodstock has a real winner on their hands in the 707 and for a mere $899 (no sales tax outside of Georgia) you can too.

Head over to: http://www.woodstockbikes.com or call them direct at: 877-366-9302

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