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Bold Unplugged Ultimate review

Sep 12, 2023

The Bold Unplugged Ultimate delivers neat integration and futuristic looks, but how does it perform on the trail?

This competition is now closed

By Finlay Anderson

Published: August 1, 2023 at 5:00 pm

The Bold Unplugged Ultimate is probably the most futuristic enduro mountain bike on the market.

Its sleek carbon frame hides 160mm of neatly-integrated rear suspension, as well as a comprehensive tool kit that enables you to leave your backpack at home. Innovation is the name of the game and no expense is spared, from the one-piece Syncros cockpit to the wireless-only drivetrain setup.

Priced at £10,999, the Unplugged Ultimate makes no attempt at being budget-friendly and is decked out with top-of-the-range components such as SRAM’s wireless X01 Eagle AXS drivetrain, Öhlins RFX38 forks and Shimano XTR brakes.

However, the Swiss superbike’s futuristic, integrated design also means personal customisation of its spec and setup is limited.

The Bold Unplugged’s frame is made of HMX carbon fibre and is a sight to behold. Its low-slung top tube blends seamlessly with the short, straight seat tube, making for an aggressive silhouette.

Even the bottom bracket junction, which houses the Bold’s rear shock, doesn’t look out of proportion with the rest of the bike.

Joining the front and rear triangle is Bold’s Internal Suspension Technology (IST) virtual pivot link.

Bold claims the IST design allows for increased frame stiffness, optimised suspension performance and a lower centre of gravity than conventional frame designs.

The frame has a removable cover on the underside of the down tube, which grants access to the Unplugged’s hidden shock and ‘Save The Day’ toolkit.

The cover is easily removed with the push of a button and clicks back in place after use.

On the non-driveside, a suspension travel indicator is built into the rotating lower link, which pushes a magnet along an integrated sag chart to show how much travel is being used.

Bold claims this will allow for an easy sag setup despite the shock being hidden inside the frame.

If adjustment is needed, the shock valve is just one button-push away.

The Bold Unplugged’s low-slung and capable geometry matches its hard-charging enduro intentions perfectly.

Four sizes are available (S/M/L/XL) and a pair of flip chips in the seatstays give the choice of a ‘low’ or ‘high’ setting, adjusting the head angle by 0.4 degrees and bottom bracket height by 5mm. A second adjustment enables the Unplugged to be converted to a mullet setup (S and M sizes come with a 27.5in rear wheel as standard).

In the low setting, the bike’s head angle is a slack 63.2 degrees. This is paired with a 77.7-degree effective seat tube angle and a 488.3mm reach (size large).

The short 435mm seat tube and 733mm standover height inspire confidence and give the rider plenty of room to move on the bike.

The spec of the Bold Unplugged Ultimate is undeniably high. The Öhlins RFX38 m.2 air fork delivers 170mm of highly tunable travel, delivering great traction and composure.

Hidden away inside the frame is a Fox Float X Nude Factory, which is remotely adjustable via the TracLoc bar-mounted lever.

A top-of-the-range SRAM X01 Eagle AXS drivetrain takes care of the shifting, while Shimano XTR M1920 brakes provide the stopping power.

The cockpit comes in the shape of Syncros’ one-piece Hixon iC Carbon and a Syncros Duncan dropper post delivers a massive 200mm travel (sizes M, L and XL).

Hidden inside the down tube is Bold’s Save The Day kit, which contains a mini-pump, multi-tool, tyre levers and ultra-light inner tube, all wrapped neatly in a tool roll.

The large Bold Unplugged I tested weighs 15.6kg without pedals.

I rode the Bold Unplugged Ultimate on my home trails in the Tweed Valley, Scotland, for two months.

I put the bike to the test on a wide range of trails, from the undulating singletrack of Glentress to the steepest and roughest enduro and downhill trails of Innerleithen and the Golfie.

The trail conditions were typically Scottish, varying from dry and dusty to frozen, slick, wet and everything else in between.

The frame storage door, which worked flawlessly for the majority of the test, suddenly stopped locking into place after a few weeks of riding.

The fault seems to lie in the push-button mechanism of the plastic down tube cover, not the frame itself.

I approached Bold for a comment, but the brand has been unable to supply me with one. If Bold gets in touch, I will update the review with its response.

From the get-go, the Bold Unplugged Ultimate impressed with its mannerly climbing performance. While I wasn’t blown off the seat by its uphill prowess, the Unplugged spins up any climb with a noticeable spring in its step compared to other bikes in its travel range.

This is due to several factors. The pedalling position is modern and comfortable, thanks to the relatively steep 77.7-degree seat tube angle, and the stiff carbon frame feels taut under power.

Furthermore, a flick of the bar-mounted TracLoc lever enables you to cycle through three suspension modes, effortlessly adjusting the shock to suit any trail.

Unlike most climb switches, the TracLoc system doesn’t just alter the low-speed compression of the shock.

It also modifies the shock’s spring curve by reducing the internal volume of the shock, forcing it to sit higher in its travel to maintain the steepest possible seat angle.

I used the fully closed mode for the majority of the fire road climbs I came across, which created a superbly stable pedalling platform and enabled the Unplugged to spin back up to the top of the hill in a seemingly effortless fashion.

The middle ‘traction’ mode creates a firm pedalling platform and conserves the bike’s pedalling geometry without compromising its rear-wheel grip.

This proved highly useful on technical climbs or undulating sections of singletrack, enabling efficient pedalling and pumping without a noticeable decrease in traction.

The TracLoc system never missed a beat and while it took a little getting used to at first, the bar-mounted lever quickly became intuitive to use on the fly and really helped to elevate the Bold’s climbing performance.

The Bold Unplugged Ultimate’s descending performance can be summed up in three words – confident, precise and balanced.

When pointed downhill, the Bold springs to life and delivers performance that feels as refined as the bike itself.

What stood out the most about the Unplugged was how balanced I felt between its wheels. The combination of the low centre of gravity, short seat tube and huge standover clearance, as well as the stack and bottom bracket height, create the feeling of being fully ‘in’ the bike – standing between the wheels, instead of on top of them.

This composed balance made the Bold feel neutral on the trail, and not in a bad way. By that, I mean that whatever the trail threw at me – compressions, sudden loss of traction and unseen roots or rocks, the Unplugged was never fazed.

My body weight was always evenly distributed and I was in the perfect position to deal with the changes in the terrain.

The frame’s balanced weight distribution, paired with its supportive yet capable suspension kinematics, enabled me to turn the Bold with confidence and precision. Leaning into a corner, whether soft and loose or hardpacked, I felt as though the wheels were always perfectly weighted from a neutral riding position.

This meant I didn’t need to shift my weight backwards or forwards to compensate for a lack of front- or rear-wheel grip and was able to exit almost every turn in a stable and composed body position, ready for the next section of trail.

The Bold’s IST VP rear suspension feels very composed at all times, absorbing compressions and trail chatter effortlessly. Small bumps are soaked up, creating a plush ride and generating plenty of grip.

The mid-stroke offers a ‘Goldilocks’ amount of support, ideal for pushing into berms, take-offs and grip points without wallowing or feeling harsh.

Towards the end of its travel, the Unplugged ramps up considerably, taking even the biggest compressions and cased jumps in its stride.

On mellower trails, the Unplugged is equally fun. It feels light and playful, hopping and popping over jumps and rollers with a sense of enthusiasm. While its roots lie in demanding enduro terrain, it’s no killjoy at the local trail centre.

Another striking quality of the Unplugged is how silent it is on the descents. There’s no rattling to be heard, neither from the internally routed cables nor the Save The Day kit or frame storage. Chain-slap is kept at bay by a large, soft chainstay protector.

Overall, the spec performed flawlessly for the duration of the test. Highlights include the Öhlins RFX38 m.2 fork which, with its highly tunable design, allowed for front-end grip and composure to match the rear.

The SRAM X01 Eagle AXS drivetrain never skipped a beat and the Fox Float X Nude Factory remained out of sight and out of mind, never leaving me wishing for more.

However, I struggled to get on with the Syncros Hixon iC Carbon cockpit. Although it undoubtedly looks neat, I found its stiffness very harsh on longer descents and struggled with hand pain.

I would also have preferred a larger 203mm brake rotor on the rear to help the Shimano XTR brakes match the Unplugged’s need for speed.

The Bold Unplugged Ultimate impressed with a superbly balanced ride, feeling precise and playful while simultaneously being planted and capable enough to charge hard on even the toughest trails.

Its equally impressive climbing manners, thanks to its modern geometry and TracLoc system, will have you spinning back up for lap after lap.

If you’re an enduro rider looking for a cutting-edge superbike and aren’t fazed by the potential constraints of all-out integration, you can’t go wrong with the Bold Unplugged Ultimate.


Finlay Anderson is a contributor at BikeRadar with more than five years of experience in the mountain bike industry. After getting hooked on enduro racing and moving to Scotland’s Tweed Valley, Finlay found his passion producing visual and written content for some of the bike industry's leading media outlets and brands. He has worked as an editor and photographer for Enduro MTB Magazine, written for MBR magazine and bagged the front cover of MBUK Issue 412. Finlay spent two years following the Enduro World Series, capturing exciting stories from the world's fastest racers. When he’s not working, Finlay loves sessioning turns at home and getting lost deep in the Scottish Borders on his gravel bike. As a keen rider, Finlay knows the importance of no-nonsense kit that stands up to the depths of Scottish winter.