The mountain biking landscape continues to shift with new brands and new consumer-direct offerings cropping up with increasing frequency. Case in point, Bulls Bikes from Germany. Bulls is a relatively new brand to U.S. riders, having made their rep in Europe with a range of road, mountain and other mounts. In the U.S., Bulls chose to run the consumer-direct and online-only play. We were intrigued when contacted by their U.S. PR team and decided to give the brand a try. Just how good could the web-only buying experience be? And how would the Bulls bike stand up to our local trails? Here’s what we found.
A quick review of the Bulls U.S. website reveals a dozen mountain bikes in a range of configurations — from hardtails to full suspension, aluminum and carbon fiber frames, 27.5 and 29ers. The site provides a nice array of product details, has a built-in comparison feature, offers a live chat and email support. You can also call Bulls during normal business hours for additional help.
For this review, we focused on Bulls 27.5-inch full-suspension bikes and selected the Wild Cup 1 in the small (43 cm or 17-inch) frame size. Determining frame size is handled by a popup that asks for height and inseam. And Bulls seems to be slightly off from U.S. manufacturers sizing as a 17-inch frame would typically be a medium here. Checkout requires that you enter height and weight for calibration of the rear shock. Fedex Ground shipping adds about $40 to the total transaction. The company offers Paypal payments as an option allowing you to finance the purchase should you so choose.
A few weeks after ordering, and a little back and forth with the shipper, our Bulls Wild Cup arrived. The box was damaged in transit — with a rather large hole punched in the side — but the Wild Cup survived unscathed. Unpacking was a straightforward process that required removal of zip ties and protective wrapping. Assembly required a few tools and a couple simple steps to mount the handlebars, wheels and seatpost. We were up and running in less than 30 minutes with a stunningly new bike in bright white, royal blue and black.
The Wild Cup 1 represents the entry-level of the Bulls full-suspension line. Above it are the Wild Cup 2 (upper-end components and lighter weight) and the carbon fiber 29ers. List price is $1399 which is quite reasonable for a bike this well built and spec’d.
Frame: 7005 aluminum
Shocks: 140mm travel SR Suntour Epicon (rear) and Epixon (front)
Drivetrain: Shimano Acera and Altus (27 speed)
Brakes: Tektro Gemini
Weight: 33 lb
Build quality, fit and finish on the Wild Cup look great. Key components like the rear-suspension pivot points are anodized in royal blue. Handlebars, stem, seatpost and rims are STYX aluminum components. For suspension, Bulls chose the mid-range Suntour Epicon and Epixon shocks. The rear Epicon provides 140mm of travel and features a lockout on the shock itself. The front Epixon also provides 140mm of travel and a remote lock out. We found the 140mm perfectly sufficient for our rides on the heavily weathered trails around GearGuide HQ.
Stopping power is provided by Tektro Gemini brakes. We found them a little spongy but still able to provide ample stopping power on steep descents.
The Bulls Wild Cup 1 came pre-configured and, with just a small bit of assembly, completely ready to ride. The setup was spot on with just enough sag dialed in. We found the Wild Cup to be a good climber with more than enough gearing to handle the steeps in our backyard of Northern California. Changing gears on the Shimano drivetrain was sure and solid with virtually no missed shifts. On the descents, the Suntour shocks delivered sufficient travel to keep us in the saddle over rutted trails (on a hardtail we would have easily been bounced out).
Bulls may not be the best known brand in the States, but their bikes are solid and a real bargain thanks to their direct-to-consumer selling model. The Wild Cup 1 delivers real value and performance for under $1500 (with shipping). You’ll be hard-pressed to find a bike that comes close for less than $2000. Check them out at bullsbikesusa.com.