The SAM is built for the kind of riding where you’re expected to hit unfamiliar terrain at warp-speeds, where you might find yourself in a white knuckled rock garden one second, and then having to muscle through tight switchbacks the next. It’s a big ask, but that SAM has it covered.
With slack angles and roomy length offset by the short rear end, the SAM nails that stability/agility blend that’s the holy grail of Enduro bikes nowadays. Magic numbers, putting you in a confident position to bomb into dicey looking chutes, but not bogging you down when the trails turn twisty.
There’s a lot of urgency to the way this bike rides, even on flatter trails, it keeps shooting forward in a way that few Enduro bikes do. It sprints out of corners beautifully, feeling even lighter than it’s already impressive 12.8kg weight figure.
The liveliness of the bike is its standout attribute for us. It skims and floats over the chunder, but not in a skittish or unstable way. Rather it just holds excellent speed, and the buttery smoothness of the suspension seems to prevent the rocks from tugging at the tyres and holding you back. We really came to love the way the SAM could pump speed out of trails, letting your work the bike, pumping into terrain that would see you simply holding on for dear life on board a lesser bike.
When you get a bit wild, the progression in the SAM’s suspension is a life saver, and while we certainly used all the bike’s travel, we never had any awareness of bottoming out – it nestles up smoothly to those last millimetres of travel, rather than smashing through to bottom out.
Cornering grip is superb too. The same liveliness we’ve noted above keeps the tyres tracking the dirt in loose corners beautifully, and the bitey Continental Kaiser front tyre will dig deep. Long, seated, foot-out corners are a specialty of this bike too – it’s got that ‘moto’ cornering balance dialled!
The SAM isn’t a ‘steady’ ascender like most Enduro bikes, it’s a genuinely enthusiastic and very capable climber. The low weigh is part of the equation, but the suspension nails a good balance of stability and traction when you flip the shock into its middle compression setting. The bike doesn’t use any proprietary travel adjustments or shock technologies, it gets the job done simply with a good balance of weight, central riding position and great suspension kinematics.