Bulls Black Adder 29
Size Tested: Medium
- Frame: Carbon
- Drivetrain: Shimano XT 2×10
- Brakes: Shimano XT
- Wheels: WTB XC-25 Lite, 29”
- Fork: Rockshox RS-1 Solo Air, 100 mm travel
Blister’s Measured Weight: 22.5 lbs (with XT pedals and bottle cage)
Size tested: Medium (46 cm)
Reviewer: 5’10”; 143 lbs
Test Locations: Colorado Springs, CO; northern CA
Test Duration: 4 months
I spent most of this spring and summer on the Bulls Black Adder 29, which, as I mentioned in my initial review has proved to be a reliable option for XC riders at an incredible value.
For a full discussion of the bike’s sizing, build, ride characteristics, and Bulls’ consumer-direct sales approach, check out my initial review of the Black Adder 29. This write-up covers my final impressions of the bike after riding it in Colorado and California over the last few months.
When I first got on the Black Adder 29, I was impressed by how playful and capable it was for a XC bike. Popping and bouncing through technical terrain is a great time, which I attribute to the frame’s vertical compliance and the highly sensitive Rockshox RS-1 up front.
I now have a few more months on the bike, and my opinions on the frame remain largely the same, but I’ve definitely found the limits of the Rockshox RS-1 as I mentioned in my my initial review. The RS-1 is by all means a capable fork in technical terrain, but it does have some quirks that will limit its appeal to a wide variety of riders. While it offers incredible sensitivity and fore-aft stiffness, its shortcomings in torsional stiffness make it less responsive and playful than a fork for dedicated “trail” use.
The Black Adder 29 has held up pretty well. I only crashed on it once when I washed out on a loose, dusty turn, and the frame looks none the worse for the wear.
The only real issue I’ve noticed on the frame is that the little silver protective plate on the outside of the drive side chainstay is beginning to peel off. Since I haven’t scraped this part of the bike on anything, I’m going to blame the epoxy that attaches the plate to the chainstay. This doesn’t look awesome, but it also doesn’t affect the bike’s performance at all.
Out of all of the components, the WTB XC-25 Lite wheelset has fared the worst. While I didn’t dent the rims at all, the wheels lost any kind of decent spoke tension after a few months of riding. The wheels are still rolling and likely will continue to do so, but I’ve also had to true them a lot. To be fair to Bulls, though, I should mention that the bike I was riding is a demo bike that had been ridden before I got it, so I don’t have a complete record of everything that the wheelset has been through.
Build and Upgrades
For this review, I was riding the Bulls Black Adder 29, which features the WTB wheelset I already mentioned, a FSA cockpit, and a Shimano XT group. The top-end build, the Black Adder Team 29, costs $1,200 more and gets you a Stan’s NoTubes Crest wheelset, a lighter cockpit, and an XTR group.
If I was going to swap out one component on this bike, it would definitely be the wheelset. I could easily get a nicer wheelset to start with by initially buying the Black Adder Team 29, but if I was buying this bike, I’d probably still get the Black Adder 29 and upgrade the wheelset later. This way I’d save money by forgoing the XTR and cockpit upgrades, which is totally fine with me.
If I had money left over, I’d upgrade to a 1×11 setup, as I have no desire to spend any more of my life running a front derailleur.
In my initial review, I said that the Black Adder 29 is a great choice for both riders interested in getting into XC racing as well as experienced racers looking for a great deal. After a few more months on the bike, I stand by that assessment.
Heavier and more aggressive riders should be prepared to upgrade the wheelset, but even with this added cost, the Black Adder 29 is a great package for the money.