The most honest and in-depth reviews of outdoor sports equipment on the planet.

2017 Banshee Phantom

Bike: 2016 Banshee Phantom

Size Tested: Medium

Geometry: (Here)

Build Overview:

Drivetrain: Shimano XT

Brakes: Shimano XT

Fork: MRP Stage

Rear Shock: Cane Creek Inline

Wheels: 29′′

Travel: 120mm Front / 105mm Rear

Blister’s Measured Weight: 30.6 lbs (13.9 kg) without pedals

Reviewer: 5’9”, 155 lbs.

Test Location: Boulder City, Nevada

MSRP: $2,050 (frame only)

Noah Bodman review the Banshee Phantom for Blister Gear Review

2016 Banshee Phantom

Caveat

Interbike’s outdoor demo is located at Bootleg Canyon in Boulder City, Nevada. It’s a fantastic network of trails, and it’s a great escape from America’s neon bunghole (Las Vegas). The trails we spent most of our time on were relatively fast, with a fair amount of sand and some pretty rocky sections.

Having said that…

Riding bikes at a demo is always kind of tricky. For starters, we’re unable to get as much time on each bike as we like–our test durations are measured in minutes and hours, not our preferred time frame of weeks and months. One good ride can tell you a lot about how a bike handles, but it certainly doesn’t allow for the customary, in-depth, Blister analysis.

Demo days also don’t generally permit the time needed to get each bike dialed to our liking. A quick suspension setup and fiddling with the bike’s ergonomics gets it most of the way there, but it’s certainly not dialed. We also take the bike as we get it, so things like bar width and tire selection may not be optimal.

So while we believe it’s important to be upfront about the limitations of reviewing bikes in such settings, there is also merit in riding a slew of bikes, back to back, on the same trails. Subtle differences that might not become apparent if our test rides happen weeks or months apart are able to come to light, and each bike’s attributes may be more easily identified.

With all that in mind, let’s take a look at the Banshee Phantom

Intro

The Banshee Phantom is one of the growing breed of relatively short-travel 29ers that are breaking out of the mold of XC-oriented wagon wheelers, and are primed to be ridden fast on the descents and spend a lot of time in the air.

Noah Bodman review the Banshee Phantom for Blister Gear Review

Noah Bodman on the Banshee Phantom.

The boundaries of this category are a bit vague, but it includes bikes like the Kona Process 111, the Transition Smuggler, the Yeti SB 4.5C, and The Following from Evil.

Incidentally, all those bikes (except for the Yeti) come from companies based in the Pacific Northwest. Apparently slack 29ers work well on wet roots and technical trails.

The Build

Banshee offers a few different build kits for the Phantom, but the bike I rode had a custom build, so for that reason, I’ll gloss over the specifics here a bit. In terms of shifting and braking, the Shimano XT componentry is probably the best deal going in the bike world, and as expected, it worked without issue.

More interesting was the suspension on the Phantom. The rear shock was a Cane Creek Inline, which honestly, I really dislike for these sort of tests. It’s not that it’s a bad shock, but it can take a while to get them dialed in, and as I mentioned in the caveat above, the Interbike demo doesn’t really afford that kind of luxury.

The fork on the Phantom was an MRP Stage, which is the big brother of the Loop. We’ll be reviewing the Loop shortly. The Stage has essentially identical internals to the Loop, and in my short time on it, proved itself to be an entirely worthy option. Like the rear shock, I didn’t have the time to fiddle with it much to get it dialed, but unlike some other forks I rode at Interbike (*cough* Lefty), I wasn’t immediately annoyed with it. I’d say it more or less felt like a Pike, which is a very good thing.

NEXT: Fit and Geometry, The Ride, Etc.

7 Comments

  1. Blister Member
    Tom September 24, 2015 Reply

    It is so nice to read a review with direct, no BS, comparisons to bikes in the same category.

    Thanks!

  2. Dan September 25, 2015 Reply

    A clear, thorough review. Thank you.

  3. Stan Chechen September 27, 2015 Reply

    How can an inanimate object like a bicycle be “aggressive”? And for that matter, how is an aspect of that inanimate object — the geometry of the bicycle’s tube connections and space between axles — ever animated enough to become “aggressive”?

    It was bad enough when Richard Cunningham started in on this “aggresive” tag. I think you guys are above that, and have better skills, and know better — don’t you? You realize bikes are not “aggressive,” and only the person who operates the bike has a chance to be “aggressive” — right?

    For that matter, trails are not “aggressive” either. They are just trails. The word “aggression” is a descriptor of a human or animal trait/quality. It requires animation.

    • Noah September 27, 2015 Reply

      Meh. It’s a one word descriptor that adequately conveys the intended message regarding this bike.

      I could say “This bike falls into the category of pedal driven conveyances having 29″ wheels, with a head angle that is less than 68 degrees, chainstays that are less than 17.5″, and that come equipped with wide handlebars, tires that are intended for riding of the downhill persuasion, and other parts that are built with an eye towards durability and performance rather than weight savings.” But that’s a bit of mouthful, especially when I can just say “aggressive” and everyone knows exactly what I mean (including you, apparently).

  4. David November 12, 2015 Reply

    Of the three bikes you tried – the Transition, Phantom, and Following – which one do you think is most Clyde-worthy? I’m an ex football player in the 250 range (yeah, not the ideal build for a cyclist I know but what are ya gonna do?) and I need a bike that’s bombproof stiff.

    The only bike that’s held up for me that way recently is a Niner RIP9 alloy. From where I’m standing, the Phantom being overbuilt may actually be the ideal thing for someone my size.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Noah Bodman Author
      Noah Bodman November 12, 2015 Reply

      Hey David,

      Purely in terms of burliness I’d probably put the Banshee at the top of the list, although I think the Transition wouldn’t be too far behind (and I think the Transition does better than the Banshee in most other respects). While I haven’t spent much time on it, I’d say the Kona Process 111 might also be worth a look – it seems to be a pretty stout frame.

      -Noah

  5. Erik April 22, 2017 Reply

    A bike you haven’t mentioned–the Tallboy 3. Any experience? I’m riding the smuggler and horsethief tomorrow…

    Also, might be interesting to hear your thoughts on carbon vs al frames…

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