First Ride: Bird's New Aether 7 Trail Bike

Jan 31, 2020
by David Arthur  



The Aether 7 is the newest model from British mountain bike direct-sales brand Bird. Replacing the old Aeris 120/120LT, this new bike has 130mm of rear wheel travel with a 140mm fork up front and rolls on 27.5” wheels. The geometry is right on the money if you want a thoroughly modern short travel trail bike.

Bird has been direct selling mountain bikes since it launched in 2013 from its base near Swinley Forest in South East England, with a focus on creating bikes with progressive geometry that offer a great value for the price.

Bird Aether 7
• Frame: aluminum
• Wheel size:27.5"
• Travel: 130mm R; 140mm F
• Head angle: 65º
• Size: S, M, ML, L, XL
• Price as shown: £2,918
• Builds: £2,035 to £5,100
• Weight: 31.09lb (14.09kg) size large w/o pedals
www.bird.bike

The goal with the Aether was to develop “an aggressive, hard-hitting and fun short travel trail bike” to replace the Aeris 120, and while there are some shared features, namely the tubeset, the geometry and suspension design have been totally refreshed to meet the demands of the current market for bikes that are short on travel but big on capability.

Because Bird sells bikes directly through its website, it can offer seriously good value for money and it compares well to the likes of Canyon and YT. The bike shown here costs £2,918 with a SRAM GX Eagle groupset with Guide RE brakes, RockShox Pike Ultimate and Deluxe Ultimate suspension, DT Swiss 1900 wheels with Maxxis rubber and RaceFace handlebar and stem. There are other builds available and you can personalise your own bike through the company’s website, as well as buying a frameset.

Bird ships complete bikes to the EU, USA and Canada, and only frames everywhere else. For US prices you just need to subtract 20% VAT, so a £3,000 bike works out to $3,273 USD after the VAT is removed and the currency is converted. There will be import taxes into the US as well which vary by state, as well as shipping to take into account.

Bird Aether 7

Frame Details

Bird has stuck to the tried-and-tested four-bar suspension design it been using since the company was founded, so the overall look is familiar to other models in the range. The 210x55 metric shock is anchored to the top tube and driven by a short linkage with self-locking collets used on the pivot axles. Travel is 130mm and it’s designed to work with a 140mm travel fork.

It’s a 6066-T6 aluminum frame with a choice of three colours, and external gear cable and brake hose routing with internal dropper post routing. The frame has been designed around 1x drivetrains, with a bolt-on ISCG05 chain guide mount and 73mm threaded bottom bracket shell.

Out back is a Boost 148x12mm SRAM Maxle thru-axle with a 160mm post brake mount and there’s clearance for up to 2.6” tires. Frame weight is a claimed 3kg without shock for a medium. There’s also space for a water bottle but space is tight under the shock.

Bird Aether 7
Aluminum frame with external cable routing keeps things simple
Bird Aether 7
Four-bar suspension design with aluminum swingarm.


Bird Aether 7
Bird has refined the suspension kinematics over the previous Aeris 120
Bird Aether 7
External threaded bottom bracket is a sensible thing to see

While it might look the same as the old Aeris, the suspension has been refined with a focus improving the kinematics to ensure it offers a fun and poppy ride. We’ll let Bird designer Dan Hodge take us through the changes:

“The suspension is a refinement of our four-bar system that I have been developing since we launched the company. Over time we have gradually tweaked the amount of anti-squat and rising rate in the system to where we are today. In particular, this bike has quite a lot of rising rate (or progression) in the linkage for a bike of this travel class, which results in a poppy feel when you do want to get it airborne. Achieving that fun feeling when riding drove a lot of the design of this bike – we all ride bikes to have fun, right?  The anti-squat is similar to our other frames in that it is designed to be run with the shock fully open all of the time, but I made some small refinements to the anti-squat for this frame as well, in order to balance the pedalling efficiency against the pedal kickback over rough terrain,” he explains.

Geometry

Bird is no stranger to progressive geometry. Relatively long and slack geometry has been the norm since the launch of the Aeris 145 in 2017, so people familiar with the brand won’t find any huge surprises in the geometry chart. The new Aether is available in five sizes from S to XL, with an ML splitting the M and L sizes which is an interesting decision and offers a wider range of fit options.

The head angle comes in at 65-degrees and the virtual seat tube angle is 76-degrees across the board, with 425mm chainstays and 325mm bottom bracket height. To keep the steering reasonably nimble the fork offset is 37mm. The reach ranges from 432mm on the small to 527mm on the XL, with the size L getting a 504mm reach. The seat tube has been kept short so you can run a longer dropper post.

Bird Aether 7

Bird designer Dan Hodge explains the reasons for the geometry numbers were aimed at providing good stability at higher speeds but balanced against a requirement to offer fun and nimble handling.

“We settled on a 76 degree virtual seat angle as it gives a good weight distribution when climbing, plus the extra reach and wheelbase boost stability when the speed picks up,” explains Dan. “I wanted the bike to feel as fun as possible, which meant it had to have chainstays as short as possible without impacting the seat tube position. This resulted in the super short (for a full suspension bike) 425mm chainstays. The head angle was driven by a lot of testing (both with prototype frames and anglesets), and also the widespread availability of 37mm short offset forks. We felt that 65 degrees combined with 37mm offset forks gave a nice balance of downhill stability but also a feeling of quick steering which improves responsiveness.”




I’ve been able to get a number of decent rides on the new Aether, at the launch day in South Wales and for a couple of weeks afterwards, as I was able to hold onto it so I could get a solid understanding of the new bike.

My first ride on the new Aether was as the popular Cwmcarn trail centre in South Wales, where the new bike was presented in its various guises. Setting the bike up was a breeze, with 30% of sag in the rear shock the recommended air pressure, about 80psi, in the Pike Ultimate. I had to up the saddle height, rotate the bars a touch, and I was ready to hit the trail.

My test bike was specced out with a SRAM GX Eagle groupset and four-pot Guide RE brakes, a RockShox Deluxe Ultimate shock and new Pike Ultimate fork. Rolling stock comprised DT Swiss XM 1900 wheels with Maxxis High Roller II and Minion DHF 3C tyre pairing, and finishing kit was a RaceFace Affect 35 handlebar and stem and Fabric saddle atop Bird’s own-brand dropper post. The new Pike Ultimate is an impressive bit of kit, silky smooth, lovely sensitivity and ample progression to ensure full travel is achievable without bogging down mid-stroke.

Bird Aether 7

Like most trail centres, the Cafall trail starts with some solid climbing, ideal for warming the lungs and getting acquainted with the new bike. It’s a cliche I know, but I did feel right at home on the bike within a few switchbacks. There’s minimal suspension movement when you’re spinning up a smoother climb, and on the steeper climbs littered with rocks, the rear suspension pushes the Maxxis tire into the ground for maximum traction. I’ve been riding some bikes recently where I feel I have to flick that little switch every-time I roll into a climb, so to not have to worry about it on the Aether was hugely appreciated, and it’s nice to have one less thing to worry about. Instead, I can just concentrate on riding.

The length of the bike is apparent from the get-go, but I didn’t find it unmanageable. I felt balanced and centred on the bike with a comfortable position for spinning up the climbs and on longer rides, while that agility you want from a short travel bike was present for those times when you’re not hustling along a super tech trail.

On the descents, the Aether 7 is a blast. The geometry makes it feel calm and planted at speed and the suspension is smooth, sensitive to the smaller ripples and loading up nicely on bigger impacts. It’s a lot of fun in the rough stuff and when dropping into a techy trail. The short 37mm offset fork, as used by a few other bike brands, helps to deliver good high-speed stability when smashing through rocks and roots, while on flatter trails it ensures the Aether is agile and nimble through the corners. Weight and drag from the Maxxis tires aside, it doesn't feel sluggish on linking trails and offers that all-round performance you want from a short travel trail bike. It’s strong everywhere.

The suspension offers plenty of support on big impacts, I never noticed the extreme being reached, and it has that zesty liveliness that Bird intended when it designed this new bike. It strikes a good balance of big hit capability with poppy fun on smoother trails. The geometry lets you go fast and the suspension can keep up and cope with everything you can hit it with.

Bird Aether 7

It’s clear this is a long bike. It’s longer than many other size large bikes and even a fair few XL bikes, but the size range is fairly wide so there should be a size for most people. So the reach on this large size bike is long, but it’s not unmanageable. From looking at the geometry chart I might have picked the ML, but I’m glad I was given a size L and before the end of the ride I was really happy with the size and fit.

Short travel and long and slack geometry are not two things that have traditionally gone together, but in recent years they have been a solid bunch of bikes that have shown that the right geometry and sorted short travel works damn well. Just check out the Norco Optic in the recent Field Test. Like that bike, the Aether 7 doesn’t quite climb like a cross-country bike, but it’s more than capable and it’s playful and fast when it comes to descending.

It just lets you have fun, and for me the limits of this combination are more approachable than some bigger travel enduro bikes which need a big dose of guts to wring the best out of them.

Bird Aether 7






145 Comments

  • 127 34
 I have a bird, I keep her lubed up and locked in my shed, but I make sure she gets dirty at least once a week. I occasionally put her in the back of my van to take her to a the woods.
  • 24 6
 good boy
  • 21 6
 there is now coffee on my keyboard.
  • 22 8
 I bet she even likes rocks slapping her downtube
  • 26 8
 I run mine dry, her bottom bracket is filthy
  • 14 13
 at 130mm. she can take 5" in the rear.
  • 7 1
 @billythegerbil: whooo that's a bit spicy now
  • 5 1
 @billythegerbil: I can smell that now!.
  • 10 8
 How have 11ppl down voted this? Go take up running
  • 27 40
flag likeittacky (Jan 31, 2020 at 11:16) (Below Threshold)
 @marvintheandroid: Because this is an open platform with woman and kids joining in and such comments made by @piersgritten are not entertained by those and others.

There are comments made that are deemed inappropriate (example- ''MISGENDERING'') that PB will remove instantly!. So I implore the editor David Arthur to take action with this immediately.
  • 8 4
 Please explain exactly what is wrong with the ops comment? @likeittacky:
  • 27 23
 @mtb-scotland: If explanation is required for your adolescence; then so be it.

A sexual innuendo depicting abusiveness and slavery in a pun intended context, then accelerated by additional people exacerbating the innuendo is inappropriate and inconsiderate with no regard for others.
  • 33 9
 @mtb-scotland: I'm with @likeittacky on this one. I ask myself would I feel comfortable with someone making this joke that alludes to locking a women in a shed and forcing to have sex once a week in front of my 12 year old niece and a load of other guys laughing about it and the answer to that is no.
  • 8 5
 @likeittacky: you're correct
  • 17 13
 @likeittacky: What innuendo? You guys are all so dirty minded ffs
  • 5 4
 @piersgritten: yes we are dirty minded. and your mind isn't right? you really are lubing a real bird? haha
  • 14 10
 @Woody25: you force women to have sex in front of your 12 year old niece?? Disgusting.
  • 32 12
 @vhdh666: I literally have a Bird AM9 bicycle, from the good company that is bird cycleworks, I do keep it in a shed, and I put it in the back of a van every Saturday morning to go mountain biking. Can I not express this innocently in an online forum without what I presume are middle aged men drawing parallels to utterly unspeakable acts? I despair for the future of humanity.
  • 8 5
 @likeittacky: But it is a joke..............wtf
  • 39 9
 @likeittacky As a female child I entirely disagree with you, I found @piersgritten s comment clever and entertaining. On a serious note I find your specific comment of “women” and children very offensive. Are the women on this site incapable of enjoying a fun innuendo?
@Woody25 his comment only implied that, you’re the one that’s thrown forced sex into the comments, I’m disgusted.
  • 6 1
 @piersgritten: nice one mate!
  • 1 0
 @T4THH: among other things..
  • 14 9
 @manuelandphillipe: Thank you for calling out these bigoted old men, incessantly patronising women and children on the internet. It is yet another example of toxic masculinity which WILL NOT BE TOLERATED. Stay strong hun xx, don' t listen to them.
  • 11 8
 @piersgritten: I’m very glad someone’s talking sense. There really is no place on the internet for these bigots. I implore the editor David Arthur to remove @likeittacky and @Woody25 immediately.
  • 6 14
flag likeittacky (Jan 31, 2020 at 14:40) (Below Threshold)
 @manuelandphillipe: That would be up to the individual. To insist that an adult rated type comment; should be shoved into the face of whomever scrolls down the comments looking for helpful feedback about the article, has been subjected to perverse ideas that may leave them feeling debased and vexed due to there gender or age.

Of course, in the new world order of things, you would totally agree to the offensive prospects addressed and the sensitivities of society on said topic, especially being a younger person who is male identifying as a female; as you have stated; correct?
Assuming you are an individual and not two person's as (''manuelandphillipe'') may indicate.??
  • 7 2
 Let's just leave this at 69 upvotes
  • 2 1
 you've won the internet for the week,good job.
  • 3 3
 32 pounds (with pedals) for a 130 mm bike ... no comments
  • 4 2
 @likeittacky: you must be fun at parties
  • 3 2
 @Hambo24: I think he is an incel
  • 2 2
 @likeittacky: You must be great at parties...
  • 4 4
 rapey joke with 123 upvotes. Awesome...not really
  • 23 0
 This looks like the bike that 90% of us need, and the prices are surprisingly very good even taking into account the GBP to USD exchange rate which usually makes UK bikes overpriced for us in the US.
  • 5 0
 Remember that our prices include tax at 20% which you wont pay. (although add on your own import/sales tax as appropriate)
  • 6 0
 @AyJayDoubleyou: the Bird website is actually very smart: when you enter the US for shipping, it removes VAT from the bike. I wish more international sites did that.
  • 5 0
 Also just so you know we accept payments in USD (via ACH) at the current market exchange rate, so you don't pay credit card fees etc. What google says is what you pay.
  • 2 0
 @benpinnick: that's also an extremely smart business practice. The 3% credit card fee is always a pain in the arse.
  • 1 0
 @pnwpedal: That’s why you have a credit card with no foreign exchange fee. They normally don’t have exceptional rewards in the US but are good for traveling and buying international stuff online.
  • 20 0
 Came here for the Two Mikes - "if only it had 29 inch wheels" comment. - Came away happy.
  • 4 0
 Forget 29 inch wheels. All you need is that third wheel at the back in the main pic. It puts the .5 in 27.5. New standard.
  • 1 0
 Get the AM9. 150 mm front and back, identical cockpit dimensions and 3 cm on the wheelbase (2 from the longer chainstay, the rest from a longer fork). It's a beast.
  • 15 0
 This to me looks like an extremely well thought out trail bike. I particularly like the fact it has a short seat tube but also appears that you’d be able to get the dropper post in there nice and low too and take advantage of a long drop post. The general sizing figures are well aimed too, starting at a length short people can actually throw around right up to limo if that’s your bag. Short chainstays ain’t dead, not everything has to be a race bike. I like it a lot.
  • 5 0
 Totally agree. Was nailed on for a Cotic FlareMax but this has thrown a spanner in the works. You can put together a great spec for silly money!
  • 2 0
 @MonkeyPuzzle: FlareMax is special mind. Horses for courses, but my Cotic is absolutely standout - springy and communicative as you like plus stable and fast.
  • 4 9
flag Boosting (Jan 31, 2020 at 10:27) (Below Threshold)
 A short seat tube is nice for midgets who upsize and Nice for companies to boost their virtual seat angle. It sucks for us proper sized folks because the actual sta is garbage. Virtual STA measurements can burn in hell and so can the "low standover and short seat tube" crowd
  • 7 0
 @Boosting: How does it affect the virtual STA? The virtual STA is always calculated at the height of the head tube, no? How does a short seat tube affect this?
  • 2 0
 @Boosting: so it’s the midgets, the companies, the virtual seat tube angles and the low standover short seat tube crowd burning in hell. But the proper sized folks go to Jamis?
Seems fair, carry on.
  • 2 0
 @jimmyconnors:
Well this old midget-legged person is happy there are now bikes a decent length that I can actually run a dropper on. Poor old Boosting will just have to stick to the mere 90% of bikes made with him in mind.
  • 2 0
 @MonkeyPuzzle: well enjoy it before BURNING IN HELL ????
  • 2 0
 @jimmyconnors:
Thanks very much. I will.
  • 15 1
 I’ve had a Bird AM9 now for almost 2 years and it’s simply the best bike I’ve ever ridden. This looks to have the same ethos, if so, it’s going to be amazing!
Plus their customer service is the best I’ve come across. Highly recommend them and their bikes
  • 5 0
 Everything about them is awesome I have nothing but good thinks to say about Bird .
  • 4 0
 *Things!
  • 15 0
 Do you know what is the word??
  • 5 0
 oh no... I've got that stupid song in my head now.
  • 7 0
 MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM BOPA MMMMM MOW MOW
  • 1 0
 full metal jacket
  • 2 0
 Grease is the word.
  • 9 0
 Love the look of this, looks like a 5010 contender, and as a 5010 owner i have no issue saying that! Will probably try one out in Swinley sometime, trying to persuade the wife that she wants one too Wink
  • 3 0
 This sounds like the safest way to give your wife the Bird
  • 9 0
 Full squish, Pike ultimate, GX Eagle/Guide, DT wheels and up to date geometry for $3k. This bike is good for the sport.
  • 6 1
 Yup. And it will ride literally just as well as some $10k carbon marketing project. Great geo and great suspension, after that it’s just pointless gram chasing.
  • 7 0
 Bird are a great bunch of people to deal with and they do a lot of UK demo days - well worth trying to get to one if you're interested in the bike.
  • 6 0
 Love my AM9, and the level of build customization and value you get with Bird is incredible. Plus, their customer service is easily the best I’ve encountered.
  • 7 0
 So basically by the time the next grim donut video comes out all bikes will already look like it.
  • 8 0
 Half expecting the Grim Donut to be considered "outdated geometry" by the time the next video comes out.
  • 7 0
 Looks like a Surrey Hills killer!
  • 6 0
 I could do with a new bird.
  • 2 0
 I get the feeling that 37mm offset fork just makes short stems (32-40mm), steer the same way that a 50mm stem does on a standard offset fork.

This is what I have gathered from 10ish reviews of bikes with short fork offset. Why do you need more stability on bikes that are already super long and stable?
  • 4 0
 Geometry is in the database for comparison purposes...
geometrygeeks.bike/bike/bird-aether-7-2020
  • 4 4
 "So the reach on this large size bike is long, but it’s not unmanageable."

Which is probably because the stack is fairly low. You are losing roughly 4mm of reach for each 10mm you have to raise your grip height with spacers or riserbars.
  • 14 4
 Contrary to popular belief, spacers & riser bars act differently.

Spacers will shorten the reach as the stem moves up & back on the angled steering axis. Riser bars only go up, though; they do not move back on an axis as they get taller (unless you roll them back, but that’s a different story).
  • 7 2
 @ninjatarian: Technically true. But riser bars also effectively increase stem length. If you want to keep the grips position relative to the steering axle the same you have to compensate with a shorter stem, therefore decreasing reach.
  • 5 0
 @Ttimer: It's also true that, especially with slacker head angles, a lot of people are running their bars rolled back a bit. Most people are looking to keep the bars at least somewhat aligned with the fork, rather than straight perpendicular to the ground.

Long story short, cockpits are way more complicated that people give them credit for, and it's very hard to change one value without affecting others.
  • 3 0
 fairly low? that's the lowest stack for an XL bike i've ever seen. it looks like an awesome bike, but personally, i couldn't ride it due to the ultra low stack.
  • 1 0
 @Ttimer Nice to see people are finally understanding this!

Perhaps a better way to phrase it is to say that for a given reach, differences in stack effectively change the reach by ~40% of the difference in stack.
  • 4 0
 That´s a nice looking Bird! Would be perfect in my local woods
  • 5 1
 How small is that geo chart man?
  • 4 1
 It's quite ironic.
  • 5 1
 Shit hot brand with awesome bikes and the best warranty
  • 4 1
 A-well-a everybody's heard about the bird! Bird bird bird, b-bird's the word... ...
  • 2 0
 @SacAssassin: As if it wasn't in my head already! LOL! Thanks.
  • 2 0
 Had to actually go to the website to find the colours, how inconvenient.

Gloss Powder Not Pink/Acid Yellow

Gloss Powder BigFoot Blue/White
  • 3 0
 You didn't mention the third option -- Gloss Powder Clear over Raw/Black -- which a lot of people will be *very* happy about!
  • 2 0
 'Big Foot Blue'? Nice workaround.
  • 3 0
 Nice looking forged / cast parts !
  • 2 0
 "They jump so well they should be called Bird bikes...ladies one at a time, please!"
  • 3 2
 First the 2020 Bible had several 27.5" bikes, then there's the Canfield article and now this. Didn't Twenty-seven-five die just like last year?
  • 7 0
 After riding and racing on a 29r for a year, my next bike (March) will be 27.5
  • 4 0
 @islandforlife: I was on a 29er for the last two years and really liked it. That said I still missed the smaller wheels for the stuff I ride. My 29 is up for sale and I’m 2 rides into my new Bronson. Super stoked to be back on 27.5.
  • 1 1
 As for the actual bike, if Bird releases a complementary 29r frame I'm going to be very tempted to get one.
  • 2 2
 @islandforlife: Good thing Knolly makes great bikes in both wheel sizes!
  • 1 0
 It looks like 2020 is the year of high-performance, affordable aluminum bikes! Saving up for one of these, I hope Ibis releases a 27.5 Mojo AF
  • 1 1
 "offers that all-round performance"

"but it’s more than capable and it’s playful and fast when it comes to descending."

"It just lets you have fun"

But PB says short-travel 29ers are the only all-around choice!
  • 3 1
 I thought I was 29er for life, but this bike has changed my mind
  • 2 0
 Your dimensions would be useful, especially given your comment that you would have chosen a ML, not an L.
  • 2 0
 @stacky00: I’m 5’11”
  • 1 0
 Thanks mate. Nice article, lovely bike.
  • 2 0
 Those seat tube length numbers are great! As long as there is enough insertion, and externally, it looks like there is.
  • 2 1
 fun fact, my friend owns an am9 and during muddy rides, the tire throws mud onto and chainring and lubes the chain with dirt. mmmmmm.
  • 2 1
 reading my own comment gave me a seizure
  • 2 0
 zero chance of keeping a chainring/chain mud free in the UK on any bike in any month of the year.
  • 2 0
 I don't know how anyone hasn't said this yet. But this is obviously a deep fake. It's a Bird. Pfff, birds aren't real.
  • 1 0
 Pretty bird. yes, can you say pretty bird? Pretty bird, yeah pretty bird....polly want a cracker?
  • 1 0
 I just thought he was real quiet...
  • 2 1
 someone please explain to me the difference between this and a santa cruz 5010
  • 15 0
 About £1000?
  • 1 0
 Different suspension platform for starters. Better bike imo too having ridden the older Aeris and the 5010
  • 2 1
 Yeah, I looked at it and thought "so how's this different than a RM Thunderbolt?" Granted I know sfa about suspension platforms and kinematics but still...
  • 1 0
 I just heard that Bird is the word ???? bird bird bird bird bird bird, bird is the word, everyone knows that birds the word
  • 1 0
 I hope the next gen Hawk Hill is similar in geo to this.
  • 2 0
 I wish the xs hawk hill came in higher spec for my kid
  • 1 0
 @fruitsd79: Yeah it can be tough to find good specs for kids bikes. Not as much options.
  • 1 0
 Lots of nice thoughts went into this bike.
  • 1 0
 Clean lines, dialed geo, looks fast sitting still.
  • 1 0
 and most importantly, it comes in RAW
  • 1 0
 looks like good value...i like it.
  • 1 0
 How tall is the person riding the bike?
  • 1 0
 Pre-read prediction: It's super fun!
  • 1 0
 Surprised you people aren’t crying that’s it’s not a 29er
  • 1 0
 This bike looks like so much fun. Bravo.
  • 1 1
 Look nice, ML size spot on! 4bar is a downside, however considering the price - nice package overall!
  • 5 6
 Threaded BB is nice sensible, supporting that stupid ass dub standard isn't
  • 3 0
 You can choose from SRAM, Shimano, RaceFace or Hope cranks, so unless you specifically want an Eagle set up you're free to not have DUB.
  • 1 2
 Anyone else think that Aether7 is a little too close to Atherton... intentional not so subliminal marketing??
  • 2 0
 Their other full sus bikes are called Aeris. I think the intention was to be close to that
  • 1 2
 Asymmetrical chainstays ... why ?
  • 5 0
 Less material and a straighter run makes it lighter and stiffer.
  • 1 4
 @benpinnick: maybe but it looks untidy , sweet bike otherwise
  • 6 0
 @savmeister: Function over form I guess.
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