Reviewed - Snipes Elemental

Jan 19, 2004
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Snipes Bicycles was founded in 2000 in Victoria, British Columbia. The company has striven to engineer high-end hard-tail frames. Riders familiar with Snipes will recognize previously released frames such as the ‘30-06’ and ‘7mm’. Snipes is touting the newest incarnation as “the next step up on the evolutionary ladder to perfection.” Enter the 2004 Snipes ‘Elemental’.

Not only is this frame strong, it has good looks to boot - sexy S-shaped seat stays and clean looking beefy welds and gussets. It weighs in at a light 4.2 lbs. There’s an extra stay on the disc side of the rear triangle to eliminate any stresses and improve strength in the back end, and the front triangle sports a big plate gusset behind the head tube with a Snipes “S” boldly cut into it. It can accommodate fat tires, for example a Michelin 2.8” tire on an Alex DX-32 rim has lots of room (just not a 26" Gaz). And it can handle up to an 8” travel fork without voiding the Lifetime warranty. The paint is nicely done too – and Snipes offers many different colours to choose from. I thought the vinyl decals were a bit lacking in quality, but hey – they’re just stickers… The frame has vertical dropouts and a replaceable derailleur hanger, as well as mounts, cable guides, and tabs for both v-brakes and discs.

The Elemental is a versatile multi-purpose frame built to take abuse. Depending on how you set it up, it’s equally at home on an urban ride downtown or a storm down a steep stunt-littered trail. A new offering from Snipes is the option to buy a complete bike. They offer five different build kits (Freeride, Downhill, Dirtjump, Street, and ‘Love’ kit) to get you riding sooner. The Elemental is designed to fit riders from 4’10” to 6’4”. The swept-back seat-stay helps to fit the bike to taller riders, because as you raise the seat it is also positioning you further back over the rear wheel. For the 4'10" rider, Snipes recommends narrower bars, 24” wheels, a shortie stem, 4” fork, and 165mm cranks. We had 9-year-old 4’10” Tobijas on the bike with a 5” travel fork and he had no problem with fit. This frame could potentially fit him for a long time to come too – a good selling point for younger riders.

The bike arrived for testing with a smattering of components from ‘Dangerboy’. Like Snipes, Dangerboy is a 100% Canadian company operating out of the Saanich peninsula on Vancouver Island, BC. I have nothing but praise for their products. They manufacture high-end CNC’d machined parts cut from solid blocks of high-quality aluminium. You’d be hard pressed to break this stuff. All their parts are anodized to give a long lasting wear and a snazzy looking finish and come in a wide variety of colours. The Elemental wore the Dangerboy low profile stem. It’s hard to write a review about a stem – after all, it’s just a block of aluminium, right? Wrong! This stem is a work of art. It just looks beautiful. It’s top loading, has a 10-degree rise within a 47mm reach, and a low 1.25” stack height. I also ran the db ‘two-finger Hayes replacement levers’ (comfortable alternatives to the stock levers that claim to reduce hand fatigue and eliminate lever flex), db seat-post collar, db bash guard (a chunky 1/4” wide and will fit up to a 36 tooth ring), and the ‘skull-etched’ bar end caps. If nothing else, spring for a pair of these bar end caps. Bling-bling! Jewellery for your bike! They replace the end collar of your lock-ons or bolt straight to your bars - and look way cool. Again - many colours to choose from – be sure to check out the new db website as they offer a whole whack of products from suspension upgrade kits to drop crowns to fork braces. Perfectly machined works of art.

I had the test sled for two months and put it through the paces of the West coast of BC. For most of the test period, we ran 26” wheels. When I put a 24” on the back the bike felt amazing. The combination of the Elemental’s short chain stays and a 24” wheel gave me the ability to lift the front end easily for a manual or to hop the back end up on top of a log or obstacle. For freeriding, I recommend building up this frame with the 26” front and 24” rear wheel combo – the geometry just feels so right. The sloping top tube gives plenty of stand-over height, and the dialled geometry combined with the low weight makes throwing the bike around an effortless task when it comes to getting airborne. I admit that my landings are not always the smoothest when it comes to drops or hucks; still the frame felt solid and strong coming back to earth. It felt responsive and railed in the turns, and was stiff and flex-free in the climbs. I’m happy to report that the frame received no damage during the time I rode it, the only carnage being a 24” rear wheel. The Elemental is one sweet ride.

Overall, I’m impressed with the new Elemental. A good warranty and high quality standard, plus low weight and a low price - $499 CDN (approx. $339 US) equals a high rating from this tester. In the hugely competitive market of hardtail rigs, Snipes has made an impressive stand and can definitely claim the new Elemental as a strong contender. Buy Canadian, eh!
Snipes products are available from high-end bicycle retailers in North America, Europe, or directly from Snipes.
Phone: (250) 380-8665

Dangerboy components:


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