Ryan Guettler’s signature ride
If you’re not from Australia, it’s easy to forget that Colony is a rider owned and operated company. The brand was established in 2007 by legendary tech rider Clint Miller who wanted to show the world that the Aussies could do more then just ride bikes at the next level, they could also produce hard goods that would break new ground in the industry. Working with riders, Colony has developed one of the most diverse signature frame and product lines. The idea was that a rider could progress more quickly with their riding when they are on a frame or product that best suits their needs and if other riders can closely identify with their style, it will make it very easy to pinpoint the frame they should be riding. While our skills are not currently, nor will they ever be at the same level as Ryan Guettler’s, we do like to ride a little bit of everything and are suckers for a hint of nostalgia, so when we got a look at the new The Living frame, we decided to give it a shot and see if it was what our riding has been missing all these years.
Like most Colony products, The Living frame is a wash of technology. The frame is of course full chromoly and is fit with a heat treated integrated headtube, mid bottom bracket shell and 5mm thick, CNC machined dropouts. We also weren’t too surprised to find an integrated seatpost clamp or removable brake mounts on a frame at this level, but that’s about where the standards end. The downtube features a unique taper, as do the seat and chain stays to save weight and smooth the flow of the frames lines. The frames new 8.5” stand over height and external downtube gusset are nostalgic nods to bikes Guettler rode in his earlier years, while the top tube is fit with an offset internal gusset, the more modern, yet just as functional equivalent, which allows for cleaner lines, without sacrificing strength. The frames removable brake tabs and hardware are investment cast to provide some refined detail for those running brakes and the headtube is etched with the Colony logo for a finished look that will make sticker head badges hang their heads in shame.
You don’t have to look much further then the geometry of the frame to see that is made for a variety of terrain. It had the steep 75.2-degree headtube angle of a street frame, low 11.5” bottom bracket height of a park frame and the top tube and chainstay options of a good trails frame. We chose the 21.25” top tube version of the frame in Gloss Clear Raw, built it up without a single issue and hit the streets. Since we do run brakes and a detangler, we had to make a swap from our dual lower cable brake system to a more conventional “two into one” cable as the dual cable system is not recommended due to the increased leverage it puts on the rear most cable stop. This is typical of frames with a removable rear-most cable stop to prevent the stripping of the setscrew that holds the stop in place, so we took it all in stride and hit the trails. At 5.25-pounds, the frame is a little heavier then out previous frame, but thanks to the low bottom bracket height and quick handling geometry of the frame, we would never know it. The frame felt quick and nimble, but not twitchy, which is a four-letter word when you are blazing lines through your local trail spot. The 21.25” top tube is a must have for flow riders or those who simple need a little more room to move and when paired with the 13.5”-13.75” range of the rear dropouts this frame feels very well balanced. Ryan also decided to step away from the ultra low stand over height of last years The Living frame for classic appeal and a little more stiffness. While some have made comment that the taller stand over makes tricks like tailwhips and no footed can more difficult, we had no issues with either. Provided if you are a smaller rider, this may be something to consider, in which case you can always opt for a Sweet Tooth frame, if you are tall enough to be riding a bike with a 20.8” or longer top tube, you wont have any issues. There was a slight adjustment to be made with the lower bottom bracket height, as it did shave a quarter inch from that of our previous frame. After bumping coping with our sprocket a few times while rolling in at the park, we made the adjustment and proceeded to fall in love with the stance that would be considered “low” when compared to the 11.75” industry average. Dropping our center of gravity just a little bit made for a surprisingly noticeable improvement in our comfort level on the bike, especially as taller riders. We felt more centered over the bike, making tricks like barspins and barspin combos come much more naturally. The dropouts on the frame tuck nicely behind our pegs, making for drag free grind sessions and while we know it probably was not the intent, the hourglass shape of the bottom bracket shell was like having Derek Duster training wheels. While we don’t spend a lot of time sliding on our bottom bracket shell, it was a pretty novel perk.
The only issues we had with this frame are the ones that Colony makes very clear when you order; “Only two-into-one cable systems” and “Raw frames will show rust in a short period of time.” The performance of two-into-one cable systems does shy to that of dual lower cables, so giving that up stings a little and we did notice flaking of the clear coat and slight rust after about a month and a half of riding. This on the other hand didn’t sting as much, because that is and always has been the nature of raw frames. If it bothers you, go with paint and you wont have to deal with any flaking issues.
AN OLDER NAME FOR A MODERN FRAME
We cant help but feel from the general reactions we got from younger riders that the biggest drawback to this frame is that younger kids feel like the geometry wont be modern because the 29 year-old Ryan Guettler’s name is attached to it. On the contrary, this is a very modern bike that breaks quite a few “rules” when it comes to geometry standards. Quick, tech handling balanced by a lower bottom bracket on a bike that still has room to move around on and flow thanks to a reasonable wheelbase. With plenty of room for fat tires and a diverse brake system, The Living frame could just as easily be a street frame for taller riders, as it is a trail frame for a wide variety of heights. As the frame designers riding would suggest, it is a very diverse frame for very diverse, modern riders. One thing is for sure; you wont catch us on anything else any time soon. The Living is a very well built, well-designed frame, with a strange name and well worth checking out,
HEAD TUBE: 75.2 degrees
SEAT TUBE: 71 degrees
TOP TUBE: 20.8”, 21” or 21.25” (tested)
BOTTOM BRACKET 11.5”