One Ride Review: The Breezer Repack 650B Trail Bike
A few decades ago in a town just North of San Francisco a group of kids started riding old WWII era cruisers in the foothills. Eventually they started a little race that developed into the legendary coaster toaster named Repack and that rag tag crew helped shape the sport of mountain biking as we know it.
One of the most famous builders of this generation was a guy named Joe Breeze and his earliest forays into frame building spawned what is widely considered the first modern mountain bike. Recently though, the company that bears his name has developed a reputation for nice bikes with a decidedly tamer outlook. Rather than conquering the woods, the current crop of Breezers have been busy tackling the modern wilderness that is the urban city center.
While we’ve reviewed the commuter bikes favorably in the past, we’re glad to see Breezer get back to his roots. Check past the break to see if this new bike lives up to its famous name…
The new Breezer Repack uses a mid chain stay pivot location, which the company claims is the perfect balance between dual short link and horst link frame designs. The advantage to this design is that the pivot moves less throughout its travel then comparable dual short link designs, so the engineers claim that the bearings will last longer since there is less movement and force being applied.
Another advantage to moving the pivots inward is that engineers could create a stiffer rear triangle. Placing a pivot near the rear axle creates longer links which can lead to flex.
One of the little things that frequently goes unnoticed in bike reviews is ease of long term service. We just don’t keep even our longer term review bikes long enough to wear out things like pivots, so it is often only years down the road that a brand earns its reputation in the service department.
So as someone who is frequently servicing components and swapping out test parts, it was great to see well thought out pivots. Not only should this new M-Link put less stress on bearings, but the locking collet system used for the main rocker link, and the oversized hardwear found throughout should make this bike a joy to service in the future.
On The Trail
It’s hard to find anything to dislike about the Breezer. It’s a very neutral handling bike with no learning curve. Staring at the numbers, some of you might disagree over the choice of a 68 degree headtube on a modern 160mm travel bike, but those of you who prefer a quicker handling bike will feel right at home.
Climbing in and out of the saddle felt good, which is important, because the custom tuned 2014 Fox CTD shock provides almost no discernible increase in low speed compression when placed in climbing mode. There is so little difference that I actually swung by the Fox tent at Outdoor demo to verify the shock was working properly – a fact that put a huge grin across Brand Manager JT Burke’s face. As he went on to explain, with some suspension designs that rely on lockout switches to calm pedal bob, you end up sacrificing climbing traction. The Repack was designed to perform well without the need for a climbing switch and the climb mode was tuned so that you’ll never make the mistake of hitting an epic descent while accidentally “locked out.”
Which brings me to my next point, the bike’s descending abilities. Pointed down hill, the Repack toed the careful line between planted and playful. My ride was short and limited to trails I am not very familiar with, but overall the M-Link suspension felt composed through the various rock descents. It makes good use of its suspension and turned easily through corners, but more time aboard is needed to see how that snappy handling (thanks in part to the relatively steep headtube angle) translates when the trail turns steep, technical, and fast.
Regardless of the numbers and jargon, by the time I dropped down the last chute, I had stopped thinking of the Repack as that quirky bike with the mid-chain stay pivot and embraced it as one fun ride.