Review: Ellsworth Glimpse 5.25" Travel Mountain Bike

by Robb Sutton

The Ellsworth Glimpse is Ellsworth Bicycles first jump into the import frame market. With the complete build package coming in around $3,300, the Glimpse is much more affordable overall than its counter part in the Ellsworth lineup, the Epiphany which retails for around $2,400 for frame only. The idea on the Ellsworth Bikes side is to bring the Ellsworth suspension and name to a broader group of riders that would like to have a boutique name bike without getting up into the $5k range.

Ellsworth Glimpse

From EllsworthBikes.com:

A little less elusive then an Epiphany, the Glimpse is all packaged up, to be the most affordable, high performance, out of the box, Instant Center Tracking suspension trail bike you can own. If you thought you couldn’t afford the legendary and state of the art suspension experience of an Ellsworth ICT bike, think again. Ellsworth took time to qualify this project, using an international blend of efficient sourcing to put a package together that brings the performance and feel of an Ellsworth in a package that is affordable to everyone. With US certified drawn seamless Aluminum, Swaged, Shaped and Tapered tube set, and rockers Machined in Ellsworth’s high tech machine in Oregon, Customized US made Fox Suspension components, Easton’s top of the line Carbon Cockpit, and a PURE Shimano MTB component group, grounded on Ellsworth’s outstanding All Mountain Wheels, with 15mm Quick Release on the front. Topped off with a Genuine Leather Saddle– The efficiency of the Glimpse is more than how well it pedals. Tony carefully captured the performance of the state of the art builds, and put it efficiently in a box anyone can open and ride. Catch a Glimpse.

Bike Spec Highlights:

The Ellsworth Glimpse Build and Frame

As a fully built package, the Ellsworth Glimpse come pretty well equipped. The Shimano SLX drivetrain is a solid performer backed with high end Easton components and Fox suspension. On the front end, you do get the lower of the Float lineup, so you are without a lockout or separate high/low speed compression adjustment. On the rear, you get the same Float R rear shock that Ellsworth specs on all of their rigs…which means you are without a lockout on the rear as well. For most riders that are looking at a bike in this travel range, the absence of a lockout is not that big of a deal, but…for some…it will be missed.

Ellsworth Glimpse ICT Suspension

The frame comes in only one color combo as pictured in this review. Honestly, I like the subdued hard contrast of the Glimpse over some of the more complex finishes on the rest of the Ellsworth line. The simple banner type design mixed in with sharp lines looks great on the trail and should appeal to a wide variety of mountain bikers. I actually wish they would start using some of these types of designs in their ano finishes on more expensive frames.

When you take a look over the entire frame, it doesn’t have a cheap, import feel. The aluminum welds are thick and nicely laid out without any real inconsistencies or noticeable defects and the paint is evenly coated and durable. The rockers (machined in the US) lack the flare appeal of the other Ellsworth designs, but the simplicity matches the bike and they look very well made. All of the pivots and rest of the main frame is nicely laid out and clean.

Glimpse Rear Tire Clearance (2.1 Tire)

However, there are two parts of the Ellsworth Glimpse frame that take away from the high quality appeal at a lower price.

  1. The front head tube badge looks like it is a prize out of a Cracker Jack box. A small upgrade to a metal (or better designed plastic) alternative would go a long way in increasing the perceived value of the Glimpse frame. I understand what Ellsworth is trying to do with the badge by differentiating it from his more expensive offerings, but the badge looks cheap.
  2. The rear tire clearance on the seat stays is way too tight. As you can see in the picture, the 2.1 Nevegal is extremely close to the tubes and is actually leaving black marks on the inside by rubbing during rides. With the industry heading towards lighter, higher volume tires for XC and AM bikes, this opening will need to be widened to accomodate more tire options in the 2.25 to 2.3 range.

Overall, the Ellsworth Glimpse is a great looking frame with incredible stand over clearance that should achieve the goal Ellsworth has set out…get more people riding Ellsworth Bikes that don’t want to shell out serious cash for a boutique frame.

Riding The Ellsworth Glimpse Trail Bike

Over the past couple of months, we have been thrashing the Ellsworth Glimpse on just about every bit of terrain we could find, so how did it fair on the trail and can it carry the Ellsworth name?

Climbing on the Glimpse

Climbing and Pedaling the Ellsworth Glimpse

At 5.25 inches of rear wheel travel, the Glimpse should be an efficient climber and pedaling bike while still allowing enough plushness and travel for when gravity takes over on the downhills. Bikes in this category are built to try to bridge the gap between XC bikes and AM trail bikes and that is why they have become so popular for riders looking for a “do-it-all” bike.

The first thing I really noticed about the Glimpse while climbing and hammering through flat sections is that it rides lighter than the 29.58 lbs build weight suggests. With a 69 degree head angle (large tested) and 73.5 seat tube angle, the Ellsworth pedals and climbs efficiently without feeling like you are carrying a ton of weight around with you on the trail. On smoother, groomed climbs, the ICT suspension design had very little power robbing, pedal induced feedback making it an efficient bike in this travel range. On more technical, rock and rooty ascents, the bike had adequate grip in and out of the saddle. The only time I really missed having a lockout on the rear end was on forest service roads while trying to hammer out a section to get back to the cars or more singletrack. Given that I rarely ride FSR’s…it really didn’t become an issue as I would rather have traction than a hardtail.

The front end layout and cockpit also made for a stable climbing bike on straight sections of trail, but that same stability would sometimes work against the bike in really technical situations. The long top tube of the Glimpse (25.5″ on the large, about an inch longer than other large frames in this category) made it a little bit harder to turn in really tight, technical climbs where you have to muscle around switchbacks and still keep traction to move up and over.

Descending on the Glimpse

Descending On The Glimpse

I expect a mountain bike in this travel category to handle the downhills as well as it goes up. Mountain bikes in the 5-5.5″ travel range are not big, heavy plow bikes, but they are built to handle a wide variety of downhills and technical trail to carry you all the way to the top of the mountain to come blasting back down. The Ellsworth Glimpse handles the majority of singletrack downhill very well. The proven ICT suspension takes hard edge hits easily and there is enough plushness in the suspension and rear end stiffness to take multiple hits in succession without throwing you off your line.

As you can see in the video below, the suspension does a great job of staying controlled and the rear end is stiff enough to keep you pointed in the right direction. Even on some of the harder hits (that the bike is really not designed for), I didn’t notice any hard bottom outs and the suspension stayed controlled in harder G out situations without bucking you off the rear end. In the air, the Glimpse feels really light and it allows you to easily move it where you need it to be in anticipation of the landing.

On fast, pedaling, singletrack downhills, the Glimpse stays efficient out of the saddle even with the pedal induced suspension movement you are pushing to the ground. However, there were certain situations where the long top tube played against the bike on flatter, rough (ex. root and rock gardens) sections. It almost felt like I couldn’t get my weight back far enough to lighten up the front end and allow the rear to take the brunt of the impacts to keep the bike moving forward.

If this was my personal bike, I would get ride of the carbon post and shorten up the stem to give it more stability under landings and to prevent the scarring that slamming the post down for DH and then rising it for climbs ultimately brings to carbon posts.

Ellsworth Glimpse

Overall: The Ellsworth Glimpse Trail Bike

When you take a look at the Ellsworth Glimpse as a complete package, you really have to take into consideration what the goals were for the Glimpse. Ellsworth wanted to bring his brand to a wider range of riders by offering an import frame, completely built with components at a lower cost than Ellsworth is traditionally known for. Given those requirements, I think he accomplished his goal. For $3,300, you get a solid performing bike with a list of components that not only perform well…but will last. The Glimpse really shines in more of the XC styled side of AM riding due to the efficient suspension platform and longer top tube setup. Even with the 29.58 lbs build weight, the Glimpse is an efficient pedalier and climber making it a great choice for riders that are looking to get into more travel and want something that isn’t from one of the “big box” brands. With a couple of small changes (head tube badge and rear tire clearance), there is very little to complain about with this bike…it just performs.

When you look at the Glimpse from a value perspective, you are going to naturally look toward the bigger names in the industry in terms of price comparison. Simliar price point offerings from the Trek (Fuel EX) and Specialized (Stumpjumper FSR) are actually going to give you about the same thing. From what I can tell, the Glimpse is going to offer better non-drivetrain parts (specifically the Easton components) while the Trek and Specialized bikes are going to throw in a higher end rear derailleur for around the same price point ($3,000 to $3,500). So while I wouldn’t necessarily call $3,300 “affordable” for all riders, I do think it is in line with bringing a boutique name to the “big box” price point.

Positive: Ellsworth Glimpse
  • Comparable price point to big box names with a boutique bike manufacturer
  • Solid component offering with Shimano SLX Drivetrain, Fox Racing Shox suspension and Easton components
  • Efficient pedaling and climbing suspension
  • Feels lighter on the trail than the scale reads
  • I actually like this paint scheme over a lot of their more expensive frames
Negative: Ellsworth Glimpse
  • Needs more rear tire clearance to accommodate 2.3 mtb tires
  • Head tube badge looks cheap
  • Long top tube creates a stable climber but can work against you in more technical situations
  • Some riders will miss having lockouts

If you lean towards the XC side of riding and are looking for a different option in the 5-5.5″ travel range of mountain bikes, I would recommend taking a look at the Ellsworth Glimpse. A couple of small changes would really put it over the top, but the Glimpse is a solid performer on the trail that will accomodate a wide range of riding ability.

For more information, hit up EllsworthBikes.com or your local Ellsworth dealer.

The Ellsworth Glimpse In Action

The Ellsworth Glimpse Gallery

29ER VS 27.5 MOUNTAIN BIKE
4 comments

4 comments

Roger August 8, 2011 - 5:27 pm

Forget about Ellsworth. I have a Truth. Great bike until it breaks. I needed one summer a chainstay.(2 years old) It took three months. This summer I needed a new seat stay, but after three months I have not yet recieved the spare part. Terrible service.

Reply
Rocketrb September 14, 2010 - 3:50 am

Great review. Good images/video detail on cottage v commercial brands. Keep this type of review coming.

Reply
TrainHard22 September 10, 2010 - 1:37 pm

I had the opportunity to throw a leg over the Glimpse recently, I’ve never ridden an Ellsworth so I was super excited to see what all the hype was about. I would have to admit my initial impression of the color scheme was more on the boring side but it actually ended up growing on me. More importantly performance wise the bike definitely excelled my expectations. The component pkg seemed to work in harmony with the Glimpse and as Robb mentioned regarding the lockout I did find myself reaching down a few times – mostly out of habit of course.

As for the lovely badge, I couldn’t agree more with the review. I personally felt like Ellsworth focused all their attention on the bike and the badge was a simple afterthought! I have a feeling this will be addressed in the near future.

PS love the video 198, keep them coming

Reply
feedthehabit September 9, 2010 - 5:48 pm

The sad thing about that headbadge is it’s the same one that’s on the new Enlightenment frames. Cracker Jack box is right. Yikes.

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