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Bicycle Review: Iron Horse Warrior Pro

By MBT Staff

Iron Horse's lower end offerings will get you through, and take you to new heights.

The Budget Rider’s Dream Machine

We don’t kid ourselves into believing that all of our readers have endless pockets when it comes to mountain biking. For every rider out there who nods their head in agreement with our $5000 bike tests, there are a dozen shaking their heads in disbelief. Fortunately, Iron Horse understands where you’re coming from and has priced their Warrior Pro DS accordingly. This a bike that truly allows the sport to be experienced without the steep price tag generally associated with a high-end bicycle.

Speaking of Specs

For $899 our Warrior Pro DS came equipped with the Manitou Splice Comp (130mm) fork up front and the Fox Vanilla R Coil-over shock connected to a single pivot linkage in the rear. Truvativ provided the bar and stem while the headset was a Zero Stack. Interestingly while the front derailleur is Shimano Deore, the rear is an SRAM X-7 as is the 9 speed PG-950 cassette. Shifters are SRAM X-7 while brake levers are Avid FR-5. Braking is handled by Avid BB5 manual discs (6” rotors). Rounding out the package are WTB’s Pure V Sport saddle, SX-24 rims, and Weirwolf tires.

We tested the 19” frame size (frames are available between 15 and 21 inches in increments of 2) in flashy acid green paint.

Riders of all skill levels have simply got to agree on one thing, for the price, this is a whole lotta bike!

Impressions

Swinging a leg over the Warrior Pro is an interesting sensation initially. The bike feels much more solid and sure footed then a dedicated cross country rig or even a slightly beefier trail bike. The cockpit is roomy and well laid out, with a fairly short reach to the riser bar. We spent a few hours tweaking the suspension, the fork especially, in effort to get the chassis to feel balanced. Ultimately we settled on a slightly slowed rebound setting to keep the front end plush and active. Straight off the sales floor, the Manitou Splice Comp tends to feel a little springy which results in added load to the much more refined Fox Vanilla R coil-over shock and single pivot linkage in the rear. Once satisfied with a more slow-terrain receptive fork, we took the Warrior Pro out hunting.

Terrain Talking

Unfortunately our time with the Iron Horse was fairly limited as we were forced to borrow a demo model from a local dealership rather then spend a customary month with the straight from the factory test unit. As such, our test terrain consisted of a full day of fairly flat but twisty singletrack behind the LBS and an evening of high elevation gravel roads with occasional small (1-3 foot) drops.

From The Saddle

The Warrior Pro felt immediately at home on the sweeping gravel back roads whereas really tight singletrack tended to give the bike fits of foot dabbing. Due to its more roomy and laid back cockpit geometry, the Warrior Pro has a tendency to prefer wide gradual turning over tight switch backs that made the middle of the bike want to jackknife. Fortunately as the speeds increased, so too did the bike’s handling prowess. While the chassis felt rather vague and uncertain in the slow technical areas, it came to life once we were able to carry our momentum around the sweepers. Finding a comfortable flowing rhythm is the best way to get the Warrior Pro huffing.

Once we struck a decent balance between the fork and shock (by softening the fork), the front end of the bike flew a true course in which terrain feedback was present but drops and hits transferred very little harshness up to the rider’s arms.

While we had some jitters to work out with the front end, the shock’s performance was far more delightful from the get-go. Perhaps due in part to the fact that we have a lot of experience working with Fox’s coil-over Vanilla R as it graces one of our test staff’s favorite bikes of all time, the KHS AM 1000. While KHS uses the shock in a very effective 4-bar linkage system, Iron Horse chose to run the single pivot design most likely as a cost shaving effort. Fortunately while not quite as dialed in as the KHS set-up, the Warrior Pro isn’t too far off. We were impressed with the shock’s ability to resist pedal bob while remaining active enough to pick up the stutters and clutter of the gravel roads. Even more impressive was the rear end’s performance once we got both wheels off the ground. Despite some pretty intense flat landing drops, we were quite unable to blow through all of the shock’s travel. Our best advice is not to give up on the suspension even if it feels discombobulated initially. The bike has potential harmony between the Manitou fork and the Vanilla shock that may not be immediately revealed.

In the climbing department, the Warrior Pro feels a bit bulky, especially when approaching a grade without momentum to rely on. Fortunately the SRAM gear set dips low enough (and is coupled surprisingly up to par, slowing the bike down with steady, metered modulation. Downhill stability combined perfectly with the linear pull of manual disc brakes added up to a confidence inspiring package on the descents. While there were instances where high speed sweepers and a case of rapidly shrinking real-estate had us wishing for the more authoritative grip of a good set of hydraulic stoppers, Avid proves that the manual disc isn’t dead yet.

What’s The Bottom Line?

Out on the trails it is very easy to forget that the entire Warrior Pro costs less then the suspension components alone. Thanks to a build that isn’t exceptional but is acceptable (and competent) in nearly every single aspect of enjoying the trails. While it isn’t near light enough to be a top choice for a weight conscious cross country rider or strong enough for big hit/ stunt riding, its strength lies somewhere in the middle. Specifically where the heart of mountain biking lies: out on the trails.

This bike is easily a top contender in the category of entry level experimentation. For the price you would be hard pressed to find a better deal anywhere especially as a beginner looking to find his place in the off-road world. We recommend the Iron Horse Warrior Pro as a starting point. Where you end up is a question only you can answer.