Starling Releases the Roost Mixed Wheeled Hardtail

Dec 17, 2021
by Matt Beer  

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum from their recently released Sturn single-speed downhill bike, Starling Cycles has launched their first hardtail with unique build features - the Roost. Known for steel framed construction, the Bristol brand continues the theme, however, this time the slender tubes get the special stainless treatment. You might also notice that the wheels are of mixed proportions and the geometry works with fork lengths between 120 to 160 mm of travel based on your ambitions but is optimized for 140-millimeters.

Starling says that the Roost is made for anything from all-day affairs to bouncing around your local turn tracks and is not intended to be a mega-slacker, monster truck-style hardtail. Mixed wheels do encourage the bike to be more responsive and the wheelbase isn't gargantuan, nor is the head angle overly slack.

Starling Roost Details
• Handmade stainless steel frame
• 120-160 mm fork
• Wheel size: 29" F / 27.5" R
• Head Angle: 64º (w/ 140 mm fork)
• Seat Tube Angle: 76º
• Chainstay length: 425, 430, 435 mm (size specific)
• Sizes: MD-XL
• Price:
• Frame only: £1,016.67
Starling offers a frame-only option which starts at £1,016.67 with pre-orders being delivered in early April of 2022. You can also add select components, like an à la carte menu, such as Ohlins or RockShox forks, Magura brakes, Shimano shifting, Michelin tires, Funn components, and a Bike Yoke Revive dropper post. As for the wheel builds, there are choices between a Funn hub/ DT Swiss rim combo, or staying British with a Hope hub upgrade. Starling's owner, Joe McEwan, is a supporter of tire inserts and even gives the choice to add Cushcore inserts to the build.

Frame Details


Steel is the unanimous choice of material to build hardtails from due to its vibration-deadening characteristic. The narrow diameter tubes also decrease the resonance and can make for a less "pingy" feel from chattering bumps on the trail. Designed and tested in the UK, but hand-built in Taiwan, the Roost shares design elements to Starling's other full suspension bikes, like the tube which forms the chainstay yoke. It also allows for tire clearance up to a 200 mm rear rotor with an IS mount and massive 2.8" tires, should you wish to go for larger size rubber.

Standards of today's frame specs are found on the Roost too, like Boost rear hub spacing, 31.6 mm seat tube diameter, and a ZS44/EC44 headset combo. Outside the frame tubing, the cable and brake lines run externally with the usual stealth routing for the dropper post entering the frame near the 73 mm BSA bottom bracket junction. Other tack ons include a single water bottle mount and ISCG tabs if you wish to run a chain guide or skid plate.



Three sizes are spread widely with reach numbers ranging from 440 to 475 and then up to 505 mm, which are said to fit riders standing between 167 and 193 cm. The mixed of 29 and 27.5" wheels runs throughout the size range where we see a stretch in chainstay length of 5 mm per size, starting at 425 mm.

The head angle is set to 64º with the intended 140 mm travel fork but there is the potential to run anything between 120 and 160 mm to suit your appetite of agility or aggression. The seat angle rests at a reasonable 76º, which isn't too far away from progressive numbers of today's standards, mind you, along with the head angle, this will steepen a touch once the rider settles the fork into the sag more than on a full-suspension frame.

Author Info:
mattbeer avatar

Member since Mar 16, 2001
299 articles

  • 97 16
 WTF is that chainstay connection point?! That is just horrific - offers absolutley nothing in terms of performance whilst adds weight and reduces stiffness.
God that is bad design.
  • 10 9
 Cant upvote enough times.
  • 19 4
 Thought at first the bike looks great, now I can't unsee it.
  • 43 3
 Seems like a way to make the chainstays wider than the bb would otherwise allow for. If people want to run wider tires but don't want a wider bb, this may be what they need.
  • 38 0
 @tonybollock you put your weed in there!
  • 10 0
 @vinay: That is what it's for and why all these hardtails have a special part made that goes thin where the clearance is tight. Check the Moxie or Squatch for an appropriate solution.
  • 3 0
 @EngineNr9: Exactly what I thought too.
  • 15 1
 @vinay: My Dartmoor Hornet non boost has clearance for 2.8 tires without any of that f*ckery.
  • 53 0
 Spoken like someone who's never struggled to find a place to store a taquito on a ride.
  • 4 5
 @tonybollock: Yeah, it is a funny one. Usually in the comment section under a Starling fully, you can find a discussion with people claiming the (admittedly seatstay) tubes have a diameter too small. Now they went with a solution where they maintained a larger diameter chainstay and still people seem upset. Maybe it is also just because of the materials and manufacturing processes they have available. My BTR Ranger has relatively short chainstays (415mm) and indeed has a machined part that goes there. Not sure where it comes from. Maybe it is from Paragon or another parts supplier, maybe it is actually custom machined which seems expensive for a steel part. My guess is that as they want to run a wide 2.8" rear tire, there was no stock part available so this was their solution.

@DJ-24: Yup, that's aluminium. Was probably easier/cheaper to get a custom machined part there.
  • 1 3
 @tonybollock: the Squatch has weird tubes on the chainstay as well to increase clearance. They just put it in a different place
  • 5 14
flag FranzMuhr (Dec 17, 2021 at 7:15) (Below Threshold)
 That little piece of tube affords the rear triangle some compliance. It will distort slightly on a big hit. Smart design I think.
  • 10 2
 100% looks janky as f*ck
  • 11 16
flag srsiri23w (Dec 17, 2021 at 7:47) (Below Threshold)
 Everyone commenting on how bad it looks knows absolutely nothing about frame design.
  • 7 0
 @vinay: my stanton HT can run 2,8 without that kind of weirdness
  • 13 0
 @srsiri23w: I may not be a proctologist, but I can identify ass.
  • 2 1
 Less stiff on a hardtail. This sounds rlly good
  • 6 0
 @noakeabean: a weld is not were you want to create flex in a design. If you wanted to add some ride compliance you would work with the chain stay profile.
  • 40 5

Joe from Starling here. Just recovering from last nights Christmas drinks and quite suprised to see all the comments about the yoke design.

The chainstay to BB junction on a hardtail is super tricky to design in order to get the right clearances, allow for big tyres and be structurally sound. The design evolved directly from the Staring full suspension bikes which solve this area with a simple elegant tubular yoke. It seemed obvious just to copy the the solution across. The design gives us everything we wanted.

The yoke is connected to both the seat tube and the BB via two small machined parts, so it's plenty stiff and strong. And everyone at Starling, and everyone who has seen and ridden the bike thinks it looks great. But I suppose it's different, so bound to split opinions!!
  • 18 7
 I'll come on and defend Starling. For anyone who has tried to design a frame (I have designed a hard tail and fully, and ) and this solution looks really good to me. The driveside chainstay and BB area in general is very, very hard to fit things in, and just because there are more common approaches out there doesn't mean they are better.

None of us have seen the FEA, none of us have ridden it, and I doubt its meaningfully heavier than other designs you've seen.
  • 7 17
flag nickfranko (Dec 17, 2021 at 8:49) (Below Threshold)

Okay, but that doesn't change the fact that this is a downright poor design. All that leverage and torsion is on a single weld at the bottom. I would not be surprised to see complaints of cracking and breaking at that weld.

Being different is cool, until you start doing it with an inferior design.
  • 13 5
 @nickfranko: All the load isn't on a single point. There are two machined parts joining yoke to BB. It is massively stiff and strong!
  • 3 0
 @pdxkid: I read this in Rob Schneider's voice
  • 6 1
 @hamncheez: That's a good take and I don't really mind the overall placement of everything, but it does seem odd to have that tube connecting the chainstays together open and squared off like that. It looks like it's ready for a BB when it could have been chamfered to match the angle of the incoming chainstay and then weld on some end caps. That wouldn't improve the function, would just give it a more finished look IMO.
  • 14 4
 @nickfranko: so you can diagnose its structural integrity from a single online photo?

Can I hire you to help me engineer my bikes?
  • 3 1
 @nickfranko: Looks to me that there are two bracing pieces on either side of that weld
  • 1 4
 @phutphutend: I love the look and design of the bike, and for stainless steel I don't think its expensive at all.

I do have a question- when in the smallest cog in the rear, is there enough chain clearance? The photos don't have a chainslap protector, and if I put a VHS slapper tape on the chainstay, the bumps are rather tall (which makes them work so well, in my opinion).
  • 4 5
 @hamncheez: Thanks!

It'll run a 30T.
  • 1 2
 @CustardCountry: The Squatch actually has a pretty clever solution for clearing the chainring without elevating the chainstay and causing chain clearance issues. Tough the profiles instead of tubes on the Moxie look even better.

From my armchair that tube on the Starling looks unnecessary since what gives it clearance is the elevated CS. For stiffness it could have a normal bridge if the CS went all the way to the ST. But if they decided to elevate the CS for clearance, maybe they should have gone all the way above the chain. As it is, it not only looks bad but will definitely have issues with the chain on the smallest cog.
  • 1 0
 @BoneDog: yeah true. good point
  • 7 4

Interesting you say it will definitely have issues. The bike (and several samples) has been ridden and raced extensively, we have had no issues.
  • 3 1
 @phutphutend: Good to hear. As I said, that was my armchair POV. @hamncheez asked above about room for a CS protector when in the smallest cog; I'm curious about that too. Or have all the test bikes been ridden/raced without like in the photos?
  • 4 2
 @bananowy: No we just took protector off to show shiny stays in photos. A protector fits in fine. The chainstay is actually lower than on the full-sus bikes and there's never been any issues with them...
  • 4 10
flag thewanderingtramp (Dec 17, 2021 at 10:57) (Below Threshold)
 @hamncheez: no one with a pair of eyes in their head gives a shit
  • 3 2
This also looks like a great spot to put tools while keeping weight really low.
  • 1 1
 @Angelo18: I wonder if this would fit in it

I bought one of these, and its super heavy; it feels like two of the all-time-greatest Crank Bros multitool, and it bent after a year of use....
  • 2 0
 So far you've upset 10 fellow Brits but that number will rise.
  • 2 0
 you forgot that this cost more then 1000k , and allow zip tie your brae hose
  • 2 1
 @bananowy: ever said it didn’t work or wasn’t clever, and how many people actually look down at their BB area unless they’re cleaning the bike. When I first say the Starling I thought ‘that looks weird’ but then I realised the rest of the bike looked nice and no one will look at the BB and if it works then it works.

The bike’s out of my price range, and if I was spending that much on a HT I’d get a Curtis (Starling and Curtis are both local to me) as I’ve lusted for years. Lol.

I do like the shiny stainless steel though.
  • 2 0
 @vinay: There are very few off the shelf parts in your frame (ignoring the main tubes) Smile
  • 1 1
 @nickfranko: read Joe's response
  • 2 0
 @Angelo18: I've got a CO2 canister in the one in my Murmur.
  • 2 1
 Its cause they used the chainstay from one of there suspension bikes... Smile
  • 2 0
 A tube should be stiffer / stronger than the typical sheet metal looking yokes on lots of wide tire bikes, I'm fine with it.

Maybe they should even thread it (being steel) and have an extra little spot for tools or something.. Or maybe a flashlight? Hmm.
  • 3 1
 @davemays: round to round from the tube to tube contact doesn't seem like a good way to create the contact needed to join a chainstay? Seems like the horizontal tube should be notched? And it seems like this takes up more space than it needs to?

For sure armchair, might work just fine.
  • 1 0
 @stiingya: The horizontal tube does seem like it is notched. If the tube diameter is Shimano crank axle diameter, there are a good few tools that fit in there. There are tire pluggers that go in there. If it is wider, maybe you can jam a star fangled nut in and use an EDC lite?
  • 2 3
 The point isn't to maximise stiffness, nor to maximise some strength to weigh ratio. If those are goals then there isn't a material that can compete with well-done carbon fiber.

The point of this design is to maximise certain ride characteristics, without cost getting out of control. You can 3D print steel, and probably tune the desirable ride characteristics, but then this frame would cost double and its already not a budget steel frame (although I don't think outlandish, given its stainless steel and the cost of raw materials and shipping has close to doubled in the last two years)
  • 19 1
 Seems like they should have called it the Starling Roast with all the comments it getting
  • 12 8
 I bet as usual he is sat wondering why he is not gatting the adoration he thinks he richly deserves,
  • 1 2
 As they ride away on dentist yetis.
  • 18 1
 BB are looks like it's made from left over full suss parts..... I'd still rag a mini mullet version tho
  • 14 0
 I mean.. must get hella chain slap in the 11th cog?
  • 4 0
 @nojzilla: yeah i don't get why they are so high. seems an odd choice
  • 8 5
 I love starling stuff, the bb/chainstay thing wouldn’t put me off buying but it does look like a leftover from one of the full sus swingarms and not a particularly elegant way of doing it.

Looks nice as a whole though, will sell I’m sure.
  • 3 3
 @tbgd: to make room for a big tire, with equal chainstay shape on both sides?
  • 2 1
 @justanotherusername: the rear end of starling’s full sus are made in asia and of normal steel, not stainless. Not even the starling murmur has a stainless rear end.
  • 10 1
 Its actually 2 BB's so you can raise and move rearward the BB for greatly reduced and worsened handling if you want.
  • 5 0
 @nojzilla: Looks like it will just rub. There is barely any clearance in the middle :-/
  • 3 1
 @DatCurryGuy: what’s it being stainless have to do with anything?

I am commenting about its aesthetic, not material and I didn’t literally mean it was made from leftover parts doofus.
  • 2 0
 @TeddyC: tell that to the trek 29 with 3.0 tires
  • 1 0
 @justanotherusername: yup tried to answer @nojzilla ´s comment but don’t know how to use a computer apparently
  • 21 7
 £1,200 for a steel hardtail! Err no thanks.
  • 12 0
 Made in Taiwan, no less.

Stanton Switch9er frame made in the UK costs £940. The Taiwanese version is £649.
  • 14 0
 It is stainless which is quite a bit more money.
  • 8 0
 @Andykmn: stainless bike yes, big stain on the bank statement
  • 5 1
 All the starling frames seem overpriced to me
  • 11 1
 chainstay looks a little high - lots of chainslap no doubt
  • 3 0
 Imagine that thing in top gear. I can hear the metal on metal through my screen.
  • 11 1
 The front brake disc is mounted the wrong way around.
  • 2 1
 You're right. Good catch!
  • 4 0
 Also the front brake hose is way too short. Honestly shoddy job from whoever approved the bike for promotional shots.
  • 7 5

We deliberately do one thing on each press release just to wind up PB commenters! Upside down Ohlins decals on Spur, Bottle Bosses on Sturn, Backwards brake on Roost...
  • 8 2
 It's not how I would (or have, since the big tire thing used to be my bread and butter) tackle the chainstay/ring/tire clearance challenge, but as long as it works, whatever. You're not going to see all that much once the drivetrain is mounted, and while I agree that it might slap the chain a lot, a simple chainstay protector (which you'd install on any normal frame) will take care of that.

I'd ride it, though to be fair I'd ride almost anything. Bikes are fun, Starling is cool.

  • 8 1
 While I don't like this frame at all, the chainstay 'yoke' (one of the things I don't like) could be a good tool holder....
  • 1 0
 Or a Co2 cartridge
  • 5 0
 Or a sausage.
  • 11 5
 That is a work of art. That frame with those Middleburns on stirs up some confusing emotions about an inanimate object...
  • 5 1
 This, always loved Middleburn. So much so that I am going to polish my 2001 RS7s and strap them onto my pumptrack bike...
  • 5 0
 It looks lovely.

But I thought the point of mixed wheels was extra clearance for long travel rear suspension and/or a shorter rear centre?
  • 5 2
 Sweet looking ride, but that's a super steep seat angle for a hardtail. Would be interested to hear if it rides differently from any other kind of steel.

Out of interest, since this one says it's hand made - are any frames out there *not* hand made (ignoring that hideous robot-welded city bike from Holland)?
  • 8 0
 The hand made part made me laugh too. Most mass produced Asian frames we buy are hand made just like this one. I think Merida had some robot welding facilities at some point, which would suggest some Specialized frames would be made that way but not totally sure so don't quote me.
  • 8 2
 As someone with a steel hardtail with modern geo (one of those Sick! bikes that Marino sold off when Sick went belly-up) I can say that hardtails DO NOT need steep seat tube angles like FS. They get even steeper when the fork is sagged out. Every little bump when you're seated is a jolt to the spine.
  • 3 0
 My current hardtail has a similar seat tube angle and it works really well, think that local section of trail you get too smoked to stand up anymore so you have to sit and spin, then grind, then lurch and put in the odd power burst to hopefully make it farther than last time while trying to make your buddy look bad.
  • 2 3
 I designed this hard tail with a 76 degree STA:

On flat ground, riding around the neighborhood with the kids in the trailer, its a bit steep. You get used to it, and you can slide the saddle back too.

on the trail its perfect. My trails tend to be winch and plummet tho. It feels ballpark the same as a fully with a 78 degree STA.
  • 6 0
 If they were gonna be all weird with the chainstays why not just go full elevated so you can take the chain off easily?
  • 6 0
 I can see they've worked hard to get the right price point.
  • 8 2
 So a made in Taiwan hardtail frame for a grand? Yeah, no thanks.
  • 2 0
 sick ! I wasnt expecting the backie at the end of the vid. I like it when dropper posts get inverted. Im going to just go down and say that I had to be amongst the first wave to ever dabble with a mullet hardtail ! It was the 2000 and I had a identiti dr jeykl with a 24 rear and 26 front laced to intense mag 30s... We have a come a long way since then .
  • 1 0
 I don't get what people mean by rear tyre clearance...Yeti sb150 is rated 2.5 max sb165 is rated 2.6 max and yet here I am currently with a 2.8 DHF in the back of my sb165 and there is still plenty clearance. Most manufacturers I think play it on the cautious can definitely get away with bigger rubber in a lot of cases. In fact I'm betting I could fit a 29 wheel and 2.4 tyre in my 27.5 ZEB fork even though apparently I shouldn't be able too there is still bags of clearance with a 2.8 27.5 up front there too.
  • 3 2
 I like it, and very much actually even though the geometry isn't towards the aggressive end. Interesting to see the general consensus of a chromoly HT frame at this price point.
  • 6 0
 Lol a 64 degree head angle isn't aggressive enough for you?
  • 2 0
 @redrook: My bad. I mistakenly read 66° on the chart previously. Guilty as charged.
  • 4 0
 This makes me love my Kingdom Vendetta even more!
  • 5 1
 That tube above the BB looks like a god place to carry some of my mud
  • 1 0
 Quick lesson on design. You come up with a concept then try to shoot it down. If you can't then it's a winner. But most of the time you can and then you try again. Didn't happen here clearly.
  • 3 2
 Gotta love that they put a scratched-up derailleur and a very short front brake hose on a bike for a press release ^^
Not bashing the bike, the frame is gorgeuos.
  • 5 0
 I mean, I'd love to bash that bike, *if you know what I mean*
  • 3 0
 Middleburn cranks will always have a special place in my mind.
  • 2 0
 Can I run my BB in the upper tube? I just want a higher BB, seems like an easy solution.
  • 1 0
 The welds look tidy but the issue is its stainless steel. How it'll ride. Which begs the question if you want a firm ride why not just make it in aluminium?
  • 5 2
 What a beauty
  • 2 0
 Awful cable routing. I love external routing, but not theirs.
  • 6 7
 Middleburn cranks?! Don't get them , looks ike roadies parts from yesteryear, and not in a good way. Plus that rear triangle join, nasty
  • 2 0
 Totally, I've got bits that look just like them rattling around in my shed.
  • 10 10
 what an utter bag of shit , more so than the usual stuff and that jusnction is absolutely hideous.
  • 2 2
 Lost opportunity for Twizzler storage in that yoke tube! That's a beautiful frame.
  • 1 0
 Yep would love a full 29er
  • 1 0
 Wonder want they spend the £16.67 on? Bloody nice bike tho!
  • 2 1
 PB has such a hard on for Starling now.
  • 2 0
 Not in this comments section...
  • 1 0
 Stif squatch absolutely pisses on this.
  • 1 0
 Ahh stainless…lovely build.
  • 3 5
 Gorgeous. If it was longer and 29 at both ends, I might have to buy one. More great and interesting work coming from Starling.
  • 2 5
 It would be nice if designers tried harder than slapping on a small back wheel and calling it anything new bike. We deserve better than that
  • 2 0
 But it is a new bike. They didn't previously sell a hardtail.

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