There was a very broad range of very specific questions rattling around in Travis Engel’s head as he waited for the REEB Steezl to arrive. A lot more questions than normal. Usually, all he has to do for a bike review is keep riding it until he can put all its variables into context. The REEB Steezl, on the other hand, was top-to-bottom known-unknowns. It’s a U.S.-made steel full-suspension mountain bike, compatible with multiple shocks, multiple chainstay lengths, and made of multiple frame materials. Things got interesting. Hold my REEB.
There’s a lot to cover, so let’s just dive in, numbers-first. The Steezl has 155 mm of rear travel and is meant to be paired with either a 160 or 170 mm fork. That adds an interesting wrinkle now that The Big Two suspension brands don’t do a 170-mm 29” fork without thicker, heavier, 38-mm stanchions. Thankfully, I found my test bike’s 160 mm Lyric spec to be a perfect fit. Much like the Steezl’s 155 mm of rear travel, a 160 mm Lyric sits just short of what counts for “enduro” in 2024.
Enduro is a race discipline, after all. Unapologetic high-pivot monsters, like the Norco Range or Forbidden Dreadnought or Cannondale Jekyll, come to mind as winning options, if I had enduro racing on the brain. On the other hand, if I wanted a long-travel, ultra-capable bike I could actually live with, I’d go with a bike like the Steezl. In fact, after my initial shakedown loop, my first real ride comprised a hair over 9,000 feet of climbing and descending. But we’ll get to that under the Ride Impressions subheading. There be kinematics to ponder.
It’s not unheard-of for a bike to be both coil- and air-shock-compatible, but it’s definitely not universal. Let’s unpack that, just in case you use your brain for more important things. Coil-shock compatibility depends on a frame both having room for a bulky metal spring, but also on its linkage yielding a progressive leverage curve. That means that, as the rear axle follows its path during compression, its mechanical advantage over the shock steadily decreases, in turn making the shock’s support feel “progressive.” It prevents you from blowing through the travel with a metal spring, which doesn’t naturally increase its resistance to compression like an air spring. It’s all in how the linkage components are shaped.
Speaking of shapes, a lot of brands do size-specific chainstays nowadays, but on most full-suspension frames, the changes actually happen in the front triangle, not the rear. They essentially just shift all the linkage mounts forward or backward in relation to the bottom bracket. This cuts cost because there’s no need to manufacture multiple unique rear triangle components, and it also keeps the suspension kinematics consistent throughout the size range. I did notice I had to change some of the Steezl’s shock settings when I swapped stays, and REEB confirmed there was about a 2% difference in leverage ratio between the two configurations. But realistically, nobody’s going to be swapping stays.
I just love that REEB offers you the option at purchase. Precision-focused tall riders can go short, and stability-focused short riders can go long. I was able to go both short and long (though I remained tall), with both coil and air in each. That’s four unique configurations of the Steezl, and I still didn’t experience all it had to offer. The flip chip at the lower shock mount is meant specifically to accommodate a 27.5-inch rear wheel. Also, you can run a shock with a 65mm stroke instead of 62.5 to net an extra 5-ish mm of rear travel, though that setup is not compatible with the short-stay / big-wheel configuration.
Another interesting thing about the Steezl rear triangle is that it’s aluminum. That’s in contrast to the REEB SST, whose rear triangle ran on steel 3D-printed pivots and dropouts, connected by steel flex stays. The Steezl’s Horst-linked stays and hardware are made from shiny Turner-esque aluminum, and there are some very practical reasons why. First, the Steezl is a long-travel bike, and there’s a limit to how much motion a flex-stay can sustainably handle.
Also, the Steezl will get ridden like a long-travel bike. REEB found that aluminum offered better lateral stiffness and offered it at a significantly lower weight penalty than steel. At first, I found this a little disappointing. I liked the novelty of an all-steel frame. But REEB didn’t venture into steel full suspension for the novelty. They did it because it makes some pretty cool things possible.
The Steezl’s 3D-printed main pivot junction is like something out of an H.R. Giger painting, but once it’s welded in and covered up with lime-green powder coat, you’d really have to know what you’re looking at to realize how special it is. What sets REEB’s main pivot apart is the internal architecture made possible by additive manufacturing. Through the multicolored magic of finite element analysis, REEB was able to determine where the stresses are and put the material exactly where it needed to be.
In fact, that’s part of why this 3D-printed pivot junction (above left) looks different from the one on the lighter-duty SST (above right). It reaches partway up the downtube for the stouter connection that’s necessary on this more aggressive frame. Sure, it’s possible to use traditional methods and still make a stiff, strong steel full-suspension frame. It would just be heavier. But the Steezl is actually a half-pound lighter than the all-aluminum REEB Sqweeb that preceded it.
Of course, light-er doesn’t mean light. My XL build ended up at 34.9 lb with an air shock and no pedals. But we’re realizing that, within reason, weight doesn’t matter much. Especially on a bike in this category. So, I guess that makes this a good time to finally talk about how it rides.
Let’s start with the role the steel front triangle plays on the trail. Not just because it’s fresh on my mind, but because it’ll be quick. Turns out, I just don’t have a lot to say about it. And in the context of an aggressive long-travel trail bike, I think that’s a good thing. I came into this review ready to explore what a bit of lateral flex can do on a frame at this end of the travel spectrum. It was front-of-mind during my first two or three rides, as I paid close attention to how it landed in corners or fell into ruts. But try as I may, I couldn’t pinpoint a single moment when the Steezl demonstrated that signature steel yield.
To be clear, that’s not to say it was too stiff. I’ve felt that on thicc carbon enduro bikes like the Salsa Cassidy or YT Capra. When careening through oblique rock impacts, they lack some of the calmness a long-travel bike should have. The Steezl, on the other hand, felt just right, especially for its intended use. When I rode the 140 mm rear, 150 front V2 Starling Murmur a few years ago, its noticeable lateral flex paired well with its peak-of-the-bell-curve trail-bike intentions. I rarely rode the Murmur as a passenger. I wanted to interact with it. And its dynamic responses were inspiring, even at moderate speeds. The Steezl, on the other hand, has potential to be a real rocketship. A bike like this needs to dampen high-frequency lateral impacts, but it shouldn’t soften low-frequency lateral forces. And it strikes that balance perfectly.
For reference, I’m about 180 lb, and at 6’2”, I rode the XL, so your mileage may vary. But while going high speed through chaotic terrain, the Steezl remains pretty composed, while also keeping me constantly updated on exactly what’s happening between the tires and the earth. And I think that’s as much to do with the suspension feel as the frame feel.
The greater-than 140 mm, less-than-160 mm travel category is a tricky one. Here, you’ll find bikes like the Ibis Ripmo, YT Jeffsy, Specialized Stumpjumper EVO, Canyon Spectral 150, and the original configuration of the We Are One Arrival. These bikes usually go one of two ways. The Jeffsy and Spectral 150 are like long-legged trail bikes. At 30% sag, they’re light underfoot, and they like to ride high in their travel.
When I’ve tried setting them up even a tiny bit softer to float through near-enduro-level chop, I sacrificed some of their strengths. The Ripmo, Arrival, and Stumpy Evo, on the other hand, aren’t quite as sprightly at 30% sag, but they can really eat up some rowdy stuff when your goal is to push them hard and fast. The Steezl sits squarely in that latter category, but exactly where depends on the shock choice.
To get this out of the way, the Steezl is what I’d call an adequate climber. Straight middle-of-the-road for a 155 mm bike. And that’s fine. I’ve felt more mush in the YT Jeffsy and Kona Process 153, but more support in the Santa Cruz Bronson or Yeti SB150. As always, I spent most of my test time going up long fire road climbs, and I found I was happier when I used the climb switch. If I lived somewhere with nothing but undulating technical terrain, I might recommend a bike with a more nuanced linkage. But I don’t think that’s the sort of terrain the Steezl was meant for. I would happily flip a switch on the climbs once in a while to get what this bike offers on the descents.
Even with the air shock, that first bit of travel is relatively supple. When you point it downhill and lean forward, that creates a small, pillowy buffer before the trail’s impacts meet the shock’s mid-stroke support. And then the support continues to ramp up. This isn’t the sort of bike that allows you to stop paying attention in high-consequence situations. My heart would be racing when I was at my skill level’s speed limit, and I would sense each embedded basketball-sized rock as I skittered through them. But the suspension never felt like it was spiking. That last bit of travel was always working to keep things from getting too out of hand, and I never experienced a single harsh bottom-out.
The Steezl’s RockShox Super Deluxe comes with just one thin volume spacer. I wouldn’t have changed a thing for my terrain, but if I lived somewhere with more surprise big hits, I’d probably want to add a bit more. And that’s nice to see. Too often, I’ve tested bikes that need more late-stroke support, only to learn the shock is already almost maxed out with spacers. The fact the Steezl holds up so well even with the air can at nearly full volume makes sense, given that you can run it with a coil shock. So, let’s talk about that.
I immediately thought I had too light a coil when I pulled the Steezl off the stand after installing the shock. The bike sunk a fair bit under its own weight. But a single turn of the preload collar got me to my 30% sag. The tip top of the travel still felt pretty soft, but most of that familiar mid-stroke support was still clear when I got it on the trail. Of course, I relied more on the lockout lever for climbs, especially on my long smooth fire roads. But actually, the Steezl’s climbing performance relative to coil-sprung bikes in its category might even be a notch above average. Although it bounced in reaction to my input when scrambling through short, cruxy sections, it didn’t sink sharply in protest. I just had to meet it halfway, spinning instead of mashing when possible.
And that suited the bike’s strengths when in its coil form. It turned into a micro downhill bike. At the opening of this review, I talked about not knowing what the Steezl’s barely sub-enduro travel numbers meant. The coil shock tipped it into the borders of enduro territory. Not because it suddenly had bottomless capability. More like its demeanor changed. It wanted to stick to the ground more. It wanted to float through stuff instead of skip across it.
Anyone who’s watched any mountain bike website’s groundbreaking findings on “Air vs. Coil” knows the schtick, but the Steezl is significantly more calm with its coil shock. And that’s not an easy thing to do without adding more travel. It managed to maintain that connection I felt with the ground in those embedded rocky sections while also allowing me to be a little more comfortable as the speed increased. It was cool, but I had more to do before I picked a favorite.
I started on the 444 mm chainstays that come stock on the XL frame. And although that’s pretty normal on a bike like this, I absolutely felt their length. The bike didn’t lend itself to frivolous manuals, even after getting used to it over several rides and two shocks. But it did lend itself to high speed in rough terrain. Much of that confidence I felt, despite being bounced around a bit, was thanks to the extra weight balance I felt between the wheels.
Long chainstays aren’t just a handling thing, they’re also a center-of-gravity thing. In fact, the most impactful experience I’ve had in this department was on the 465-mm-stay Forbidden Dreadnought. Especially given that there’s an XXL frame size in the Steezl lineup, I wouldn’t have minded REEB making a bigger leap than just 10 mm, to 450 or 455. But 444 mm suits the Steezl’s talent for staying nimble even for us tall folk. That’s usually something I value, so I popped out some pivots, took a link out of the chain, and reached deep into my BMX background.
Sure enough, the 434 mm stays did most of what I expected. The manuals came more easily, and bunny hops arrived on demand. It almost made me miss the mixed-wheel Guerrilla Gravity I only recently got rid of. But doing it on the Steezl just wasn’t the same. That Guerrilla Gravity was 130-mm-travel, with a 65.5-degree head angle. The Steezl is a much bigger machine, with a much different temperament. The bit of extra sketchiness that came from slightly suboptimal weight distribution and slightly quicker steering had me second-guessing myself in sections I’d otherwise charge through.
It was fun in its own way, but I always felt like I was leaving something on the table. Of course, this is not a criticism of short stays. I’m sure that someone more skilled than me would have no problem getting the best of both worlds if they have their own BMX background to nurture. But if you’re not already sure, I’d follow REEB’s recommended chainstay length.
Picking a Favorite
Easy. I liked the long chainstay with the air shock. I already mentioned why I liked the long stays. They suited the bike’s strengths. And my reasons for liking the air shock are much the same. The Steezl isn’t a big dumb enduro bike. It’s more like the thinker’s enduro bike. It keeps you engaged with the trail, and with the obstacles on it. It encourages you to make decisions, and it responds quickly and predictably. Although the coil shock edged it (in a good way) towards the point-and-shoot direction, that’s not when I had the most fun. I had the most fun when I was weaving through rocks or popping onto high sides. The extra early-onset support of the air shock really brought that out. But hey, that’s just me. There are no wrong answers.
The Rest of the Geometry
The on-trail effects of head angle have been a bit exaggerated over the years, but as far as handlebars relate to front-tire contact patch, the Steezl’s 64 degrees put everything exactly where I wanted on the steeps. And I like that the standover is low enough to fit a 240 mm dropper post, even though they’re not my first choice. I also liked, as I mentioned, that at the far end of the five frame sizes is an enormous 520-mm-reach XXL. I suppose an XS would be nice to see, given the Steezl’s mixed-wheel capability, but I think this bike’s target audience is more likely to skew taller.
Really, my only on-trail nitpick on the geometry was that I’d have liked the bottom bracket a smidge lower. Of course, like many of my preferences, this is in support of my local terrain style. I don’t often have to deal with pedal strikes on my climbs because they’re mostly fire roads. That makes this is a tricky argument. I empathize with the folks out there who were ignored when bottom brackets started dropping over the past several years. Some people ride trails they need to actually pedal, not just coast. For y’all, the Steezl strikes the perfect balance.
Spec and Price
This is gonna be quick and easy. And that’s great, because this review is running a little long. The spec on most Steezl complete builds will soon be mostly up to you. You give REEB a list, they’ll give you a price. It’s like doing your very own Dream Build, but better. Not only will you get the cost benefit of buying your kit from an OEM bike brand instead of paying retail, but they’ll do the actual Dream Building for you. What’s more, you can limit your build to only the parts you need. Already got a wheelset with a lifetime warranty? Well, then you don’t need to buy wheels. Already got a SRAM AXS dropper? Use it. Got a set of eeWings cranks? Definitely use them too.
Or, you can get just a frame or frame-and fork. And here’s where we can talk about price. A Steezl frame with a RockShox Super Deluxe Air rear shock is $3,795. At the time of writing this, a Starling Murmur frame and shock is $2,720. But hear me out. I only bring that up because it’s another a steel full-suspension bike. Aside from that, it’s apples and oranges. Although the Murmur front triangle was made in the UK, the rear triangle is made in Asia. Beyond that, it’s a single-pivot design without the straight-from-the-future technology that had me favorably comparing the Steezl to some of the industry’s biggest players in big travel. Speaking of which, you wanna hear a couple other apples-to-oranges comparisons that involve Asian manufacturing?
A Santa Cruz Hightower frame is $3,895. A Yeti SB160 frame is $4,800. The Steezl frame is made in the U.S., with bonus points if you opt for the U.S.-made Cane Creek Kitsuma shock. They’re assembled in-house, the people you email are in-house, and the people who own the company are in-house. There’s something about a bike like the Steezl that could only ever come from a group like REEB. It’s audacious, but in a thoughtful, holistic way. There was intentionality behind every decision and every part, but not a spec of novelty.
- Beyond-category ability to manage high-speed chop
- Perfect balance between control and capability
- Wide range of configuration options
- Classic steel style and durability with modern ride quality
- À-la-carte build customization
- Custom paint option
- Made in USA
- Not cheap
- Not light
- Not as rewarding on climbs as some bikes of similar travel
See more at REEB