I have had quite a few folks express interest in a Riot vs. Trail Pistol comparison. I am going to try and be as neutral on the subject as I can and just present the facts and my experiences with both bikes. In short, they are both killer bikes with key differences that will benefit certain riders differently.
I hope you can find this helpful. Please ask any questions you might have and I will do my best to answer them.
To start things off, I want to throw up some key measurements of both frames. I have the large Riot and the medium Trail Pistol (TP), so that is the geo numbers that I am going to use. Also worth noting is that they are both with a 140mm Fox 36
HTA 66.5 66.2
STA 77 75.8
TT 23.6 24.3
Reach 18 18.3
Stack 24.8 25
CS 16.2 16.9
WB 46.2 7.5
BB 13.7 13.4
With the numbers out of the way, the other key differences is that the Riot has 140mm rear travel while the TP has 120. Also worth noting is that the Roit uses a Virtual Pivot style linkage while the TP uses a Horst link.
One last detail to get out of the way is my setups for each bike.
Both bikes had 785mm bars and 35mm stems.
Both used a combo of X01, X1 and GX drivetrain.
Both used Sram X1 175mm cranks.
The Riot has Shimano Zee brakes while the TP has Hope Tech 3 E4.
Both use the same Sram Reverb dropper post, and both use the Ergon SME 3 small saddles.
For forks, both have a Fox 36 with Avalanche cartridge.
For rear shock, the Riot has an Avalanche Chubie coil while the TP has the Super Deluxe shock.
For wheels, the Riot has Onyx hubs laced to NOBL TR36 carbon rims. The TP had Hope Pro 4 hubs laced to Easton ARC30 rims.
Tires on the Riot were DHF 2.3 front and WTB 2.25 Trailboss with enduro casing. The TP had a Magic Mary 2.35 up front and Rock razor 2.35 in the rear.
I guess what I am trying to do with giving you all the specs is to help you realize that I tried to build both of these bikes very similar. I know there are some main differences, but I don't think that has much to do with the overall ride and feel of the bike.
First up, lets talk about the Riot since I have had it for over a year and have become very familiar with how it handles the trail. The Riot is a bike that loves steep, technical and gnarly trails. It also is happy to climb 5000 feet in order to get to that steep, technical and gnarly trail. Yes, my current build on the Riot is heavy. I have not weighed the bike, but suspect that its in the mid 30 pound range. The coil shock alone is 2 pounds which doesn't' help matters. Regardless, it feels much lighter when you are pointed uphill, but you probably wont be setting any KOM's.
One the DH, the bike is a hoot. With the nice short rear end, it manuals easily and really does a good job and handling any technical parts of the trail. Its very playful and rewards people who like to do more than just go fast in a straight line. It will do that too, but really comes into its own when its in the chunk.
For the key pro's for the bike, we'll start with the short chainstays. It makes the bike very playful and easy to throw around on the trail. I am stoked that they left it 142x12 instead of going to boost (although I hear the new carbon Riots will be boost). The steep 77 degree seat tube angle really helps keep the front tire planted on steep climbs around switchback or up technical punches. The head tube angle is slack enough, but not too slack where it causes the bike to wander on the climbs. The wheelbase is long enough to be stable at speed, but not too long where it makes the tight switchbacks overly hard. Lastly, the bike pedals extremely well. When I look down at the shock when I am riding, its barely moving. Granted, that is a testament to Craig over at Avalanche, but also a testiment to Canfield and nailing the pedaling characteristics of the bike.
As far as cons about the bike, there are a few. First off, the rear end is not as stiff as I would prefer. Sometimes you can feel the rear end kick out when you hit something off camber. Its not something that has ever caused me to go down, but I wish it was a little stiffer. If they used a link similar to their Balance, it would probably fix the problem. Its heavy!! With my coil shock, the frame is at least 10 pounds. Its built like a tank, but still! The seat tube is way too long! Granted, I sized up frame size due to my monkey arms, but still, I can only run a 125mm dropper on it. I would love to see a 17 or even 18 inch seat tube so I could use a 150. It has a fairly short top tube for its size, but this is primarily due to the 77 degree seat tube. For me, I felt cramped on a medium, but feel perfect once I sized up to the Large. Granted, I am 5'8" with a 6'4" wingspan, so I appreciate the extra room. When I was on the medium, it was a little squirly when the going got fast, but now with the Large, I feel very comfortable at the higher speeds.
As far as an overview, the Riot really is going to be for someone who likes technical, rocky trails that is not afraid dropping into the unknown. Its a heavy bike, so its not going to be for someone looking to set KOM's on the climbs. If you have the legs to push the bike, it will pretty much go anywhere you want it to go. You have to keep in mind that it still only has 140mm of travel and you can get yourself in a bit of a pickle if you overextend yourself.
While I understand that my time on the TP has not been as extensive as the Riot, it doesn't take too long to figure out a bikes personality and what it likes, and what it doesn't like. In short, the TP loves to go fast!! i was able to hit higher speeds on the same sections of smooth, wide open trails compared to the Riot. It was scary how stable the bike was, and with a wheelbase of 47.5 inches it makes sense. I set a bunch of new climbing PRs on some of my favorite climbs. Between the light frame and great pedaling characteristics, this thing moves uphill in a hurry.
The frame is listed at 6.5 pounds which is a full 4 pounds lighter than the coiled Riot. This was much appreciated on the climbs! The build quality of the frame is amazing. I love the industrial look and how beefy everything looks. They did a great job and the bike looks killer.
For the key pros of the bike, we are going to start with the bike is made right here in the great USA!! I called several times when my frame was being made and they just walked back to the workroom to see where it was in its progress. Thats awesomein my book. For being an alloy bike, its a very respectable weight and its instantly noticeable when you pick it up next to the Riot. Like I said, I set a number of new PRs on the climbs. Next is the stability at speed. With the generous 47.5 inch chain stay, this thing eggs out on to go faster and not touch the brakes. I really appreciate steeper seat tube angles, and the TP has one of the steeper STA's in the industry. No, its not the 77 degree like the Riot, but it still puts you in a very comfortable position for climbing and keeps the front end down and from wandering . One cool thing that GG did was offset the frame to give the bike a better chainline and to give your wheels more dish. Right now, I have nearly the same spoke tension on the drive-side of the wheel as I do the non-drive! I couldn't believe how stiff the wheels built up. It has almost zero dish like a Single Speed wheel would have. Lastly, the rear end of the bike is extremely stiff. Its quite burly, and I realize that some of this has to do with it being a boost rear end. The other part is just how they built the frame. Great job guys.
As far as the con's, there are a few. In my opinion, the biggest con is that the bike really didn't like it when the going got chunky. No matter what I did, the bike seemed to slow down through the chunk and feel out of its element. Even with running 30% sag and using all of the travel, the bike felt uneasy and the suspension felt on the harsh side. As far as pedaling went, as long as the bike was in Trail mode, it scooted right up the trail with little to no bobbing. I climbed with it in the Open mode for some time, but kept finding myself wanting to reach down and flip the switch. Lastly, its very hard to get the front end off the ground. You really have to work on it to perform any type of manual. Whether off of jumps, rollers, off trail obstacles, that front tire liked to stay where it was....on the ground.
As far as an overview, this bike is made for someone who likes climbing as much as they like going downhill, as long as that downhill isn't filled with chunk and gnar. It excels in less demanding terrain and will push you to not touch the brakes. This bike will reward that person who is less concerned about popping off of rocks and roots, and more concerned about speed and getting to the bottom faster than the next guy.
Overall, you have to realize that the Riot and TP are vastly different bikes, despite their relatively similar geometry. Each bike is going to excel in different types of trails.
Which bike should you buy? That is going to depend on what is more important to you. If you are someone who loves technical, loose and chunky trails, the Riot is going to be a better bet. If you like trails with less tech features and the option to go mach 3, the TP is going to be better.
Like I said before, I am trying to approach these 2 bikes with just the facts and give you guys/gals some of my personal experience. If you have any questions, please just comment below.
For what its worth, I have had time on the Process 111 and the Evil Following too if anyone needs to know how they compare to the Riot and TP.