First Look: The 2023 Bold Unplugged Mixes Aggression With Integration

Bold are a Swiss company who are very happy to do things very differently, as the name would suggest. Their design is moving away from the well-trodden path and – good news internet – it definitely doesn’t look like a Session! Bold seems keen to establish itself as more than a mere novelty, and after Scott acquired a majority share in the Swiss brand, make no mistake Bold means business. So this certainly isn’t Bold’s first bike, or even its first Unplugged. Rather, this is a new take on their enduro platform. Since Scott’s acquisition, they’ve been busy. In 2021 they released the new Linkin trail bike.
Bold Unplugged Details
• Wheel size: 29″ or 27.5/29″
• Carbon frame
• Travel: 160 rear / 170mm fork
• 63.2 – 64.5° head angle
• Angle adjust headset
• Flip chip and wheel-size chip
• Chainstay length: 437mm
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL
• Price from $8,999.99

That bike, although shorter-travel and lighter than the Unplugged, had some of the same features. Most obviously, a shock competently housed within the frame. Since Scott came on board, you might have also seen the Spark and Genius also go down a similar route. However, there is one major difference in that the Bold bikes hold their shocks horizontally. This low-slung mounting means that they can benefit from a large post insertion depth.
This bike has 160 mm of rear travel and is paired to a 170 mm fork, and is made of the same HMX carbon that you’ll find on other Scott bikes. The frame’s suspension design is referred to as Internal Suspension Technology Virtual Pivot, or IST VP, which focuses on keeping the frame weight low. The main pivot rotates around the bottom bracket, and the three-piece lower assembly has a yoke that drives the rear part of the shock inside the frame. Ensuring the correct preload on this assembly is vital and requires a special tool that comes with the bike.

Bold’s design hopes to make accessing the shock easy enough not to put off those wary of over-complicated design. In some ways, they’ve done a good job of placating those concerns with a button-operated hatch that opens up to reveal the head of the shock. From there, you can access the compression and rebound adjustment, as well as the valve to pump up the shock. The shock in the frame is a modified Fox DPX2.

Frame Details
There is a lot to talk about with the Bold. Let’s start with the front of the bike.

The bike uses a one-piece Syncros Hixon carbon bar and stem. The bike’s cables are all routed through the headset, but when the shock is in the frame that’s hardly surprising. While that might well put off riders who want function over form, the adjustable headset should recapture their attention. The Syncros angle adjust headset has two plastic cups that, depending on their orientation, can offer 1-degree of adjustment. There is also a flip-chip on the upper stay of the rear triangle to make smaller adjustments to the geometry, around 0.3 of a degree to the head angle and 8 mm to the BB height. That flip chip is housed within a secondary, larger chip, which can adjust the frame between 29″ and 27.5″ rear wheels. For a frame that screams “gimmick” in one breath, there are a lot of reassuring and pragmatic features mentioned in the next.

Should you enjoy spitting Mike Levy from afar, and actively enjoy using climbing switches on your shock, Bold has you covered too, albeit in a slightly more convoluted manner. With the shock housed within the frame, the only way to adjust it on the fly would be a remote lever, and that’s exactly what you get. The remote, which thankfully avoids the pitfalls of Scott’s tri-lock system, has three positions. It not only adjusts compression but also air volume which can effectively provide geometry as well as suspension adjustment.

The frame also features a Save the Day Kit. This is a whole sleeve that slides out of the shock door. There, you have pretty much everything you need for trail-side fixes. There is also a tool located on the inside of the door. and Bold has also included a tool that doubles up as a lever on the rear axle for quick adjustments. The rear axle tool features a T25, T30, and 6 mm Allen key. All of the Bold-made hardware uses the Torx system, however, on what is an expensive bolt it would be nice if they’d swapped out any allen key fits on the cockpit to also fall within the same family of fittings.
There is also a discrete chain tool and plenty of slap protection to hopefully keep your chain on and quiet, regardless of what you’re riding. Both bikes in the range use AXS shifting, and this frame isn’t compatible with a standard mechanical derailleur as it has nowhere to house the cables.

The geometry of the Bold is quite aggressive, and not just in the most obvious ways. Normally, when we’re talking about new bikes we focus on the head angle, and although it can be as slack as 63.2 degrees it’s not the figure that jumps out to me. In fact, the figure that catches my eye is the 644 mm stack on the large, which is combined with a 25 mm rise bar in that size. This is comparatively high and when coupled with the shorter-than-some rear end of 437 mm it’s likely going to be a bike that is very happy to weigh the rear wheel, while also going to give the rider plenty of opportunity to scoop up the high front end.

That large stack number is also paired with a long reach figure. For small, medium, large and extra-large, the reach goes to 425, 460, 490 and 520mm respectively. Although these figures are quite large, thanks to that high front, the effective top tube is relatively middle of the road in respect to its sizing. The seat tube angle is also given as 77.8 degrees. This is quite on trend for an enduro bike although the geometry chart doesn’t stipulate what BB mode that’s running in. It’s also worth noting that this bike uses the same shock technology found on the latest generation of Scott bikes. What this means is that as you click up the compression setting between open, traction and closed remote settings, you’ll also be adjusting the volume of the air shock, meaning that it should ride higher in its travel and keep the seat tube angle steeper still.

Going between wheel sizes, Bold does a great job of keeping it consistent with only one or two dimensions changing, and when they do it’s by as little as a millimeter.

Models & Pricing

Frames are available in two colors and sell for $5,999 USD.

Initial Impressions

The Bold offers a lot for an enduro bike. The internal shock, high-grade low-weight carbon, and aggressive angles certainly captured my attention. While I’ve only spent a few weeks on the bike as Squamish wakes up from winter, some things are very apparent. Firstly, due to the high front, long reach, and short-ish rear center, it feels as if there is quite a lot of bike in front of you. Naturally, that lends itself more to steep trails than flatter ones.

The suspension seems to offer a relatively middle-of-the-road feel. It’s somewhat disappointing not to feel a bit better small bump sensitivity in the open mode, especially considering you have the option to temper the shock’s sensitivity on the fly. Riding it, it definitely seems to be a bike that’s more at home cruising on fire roads than scrambling up technical singletrack – which is very different to the Linkin 150 that offered heaps of traction. That said, I’m going to take the next few rides to explore the setup to see if I can negate this issue.

When carving through steep turns, however, the Bold comes alive. It’s hard to imagine core mountain bike riders ever looking at a bike with fully internal everything as aggressive or out there – but the Bold is just that, and offers geometry that will make you feel at home when you’re riding steep committing trails.

I look forward to reviewing this bike in full in the coming months.


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