Stanton Switchback - Review

Mar 16, 2015
by Ed Haythornthwaite  
 
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Stanton Switchback review

Some say the days of the hardtail are dead and buried, but don’t go saying that to Stanton Bikes. The small UK based company has made quite a name for itself over the past few years amongst those who still appreciate what a great hardtail can offer, and this latest Switchback looks to build upon the success of their Slackline frame.

The Slackline is their 26” wheeled frame that can throw its hand to pretty much anything, and in simple terms they’ve taken the DNA of that frame and injected some larger 27.5” wheels, with the result being this new Switchback. It’s available as a frame only in either titanium or Reynolds 631 steel, with prices being £1599 and £550 respectively, or you can go for a complete build as tested here. Stanton Bikes offer a couple of upgrade options on the standard build, but the only one we opted for was the addition of a Reverb dropper which put the final cost at £2480 with the steel frame.




Stanton Switchback Details

• Intended use: trail / all-mountain / fun
• Wheel size: 27.5''
• Reynolds 631 steel main tubes
• BOS Deville AM 140mm fork
• 30.9mm dropper post compatible
• Interchangeable dropouts
• Sizes: 16.5”, 18”
• Weight: 28lbs 11oz (size 16.5” w/o pedals)
• MSRP: Frame Only £550 GBP (approx. $844 USD), Complete £2480 GBP (approx $3807 USD)
www.stantonbikes.com, @StantonBikesUK



Frame Design

For some reason the UK has been a real hotbed for what’s probably best described as ‘aggro hardtails’. If you look at the majority of hardtails on the market, the ones from the big players, you’ll find that they are based upon your traditional XC style racing hardtail, i.e. short travel forks, steep head angle etc, but along with some other likeminded companies Stanton Bikes believe a hardtail can be so much better than that.

With no rear suspension to deflect attention there really isn’t anywhere to hide when it come to making a hardtail, and subtle differences in construction and geometry can make big differences out on the trail. I can give you great example of this…a while ago I rode the original Stanton Slackline and loved it. Then I got the chance to ride a later version that ran a 31.6mm seatpost rather than a 27.2mm. Everything else was the same, but I couldn’t believe the difference in the ride, so much of the originals ‘life’ had been lost, and it was all because of that fatter seat tube.

Stanton Switchback review
Stanton have managed to blend 'old skool' steel looks with modern tapered fork compatibility thanks to the sleek 44mm headtube.
Stanton Switchback review
The finish on the Switchback is faultless. Even without the crown finishing details it'd still be fit for a king

I was a little worried that the beautiful feel of a quality Reynolds 631 double butted steel frame would once again be dulled thanks to the dropper friendly seat tube on this Switchback, but without giving too much away too soon, the first ride proved me wrong. I couldn’t work out how Stanton Bikes had managed to achieve this, it was messing with my head, so I got on the phone to them. It turns out that with this frame they’ve gone for a 30.9mm rather than 31.6mm internal diameter seat tube, which also has a slightly thinner wall section, and they’ve taken 0.1mm off the wall thickness of the Reynolds 525 seat stays. Like I said before, seemingly trivial differences can make the world of difference.

There’s one key aspect of this frame though that could never be described as a subtle change from the norm, and that’s the head tube sitting at a seriously slack 64°. That might sound a little insane at first, but you can’t really compare the head angle of a hardtail with that of a full suss. The reason being that when you sit on a bike with front and rear suspension they should both sag together, therefore maintaining the static head angle, whereas with a hardtail only the front can drop, which of course steepens the head angle. It’s because of this that Stanton Bikes choose to measure the geometry with a 140mm travel fork at 25% sag. This puts the head angle at 65.75°, and it’s that number that Stanton believe you should use to compare against the static head angle of a full suspension bike. Yes it is still considerably slacker than most hardtails (even when compared against their static measurements), but at the same time it suddenly seems a lot less crazy and a lot more on the money.

Stanton Switchback review
The slight bend in the seat tube has enabled Stanton to keep the chainstays short and playful despite the larger wheel size. It's every bit as fun the bike that inspired it, the smaller wheeled Slackline.
Stanton Switchback review
Those replaceable dropouts allow you run 12x142mm or 10x135mm vertical versions, or should you want to take the whole purist thing one step further there are also horizontal ones for singlespeed use.

So yes, Stanton Bikes have well and truly sweated over the finer details on this frame, and so it comes as little surprise to see that more regular concerns are equally well taken of. Up front the 44mm headtube ensures compatibility with either tapered or regular steerer tubes, and whilst you are at the headtube it’s hard not to notice the welcome finishing touches such as the logo in the top tube gusset and the classy head tube badge. As you move further back you find yet more features to aid compatibility, such as ISCG 05 tabs, routing for a front mech, and replaceable dropouts which allow you to choose between 12x142, 10x135, or horizontal. Throw in routing for full-length gear cable outer and a stunning stove enamelled paint job, and it really is hard to find a fault.




Specifications
Price $3807
Fork BOS Deville AM 140mm
Headset Cane Creek EC44 / ZS44
Cassette Shimano SLX, 10 speed, 11-36
Crankarms Race Face Ride 32t
Rear Derailleur Shimano SLX
Chain SRAM PC1031
Shifter Pods Shimano SLX
Handlebar Race Face Chester 740mm, 20mm rise
Stem Race Face Chester 50mm
Grips SDG Hansolo Lock-On
Brakes Shimano XT
Wheelset Race Face Turbine
Tires Onza Ibex FRC120 RC² 55a, 27.5 x 2.4 front, 27.5 x 2.25 rear
Seat SDG Duster
Seatpost RockShox Reverb 30.9mm
Stanton Switchback review





bigquotes I was sure there would be some of that tell-tale slack head angle flopping around going on, but there wasn't really... Honestly, this bike has really made me question why we've ever built hardtails with steeper head angles.

Climbing / Handling

It doesn’t matter if you’ve got the most efficient full suspension bike in the universe, nothing can match the feeling of instant power transfer that you get from a hardtail. Yes, technical climbs are more of a challenge, but to be honest I found that to be a blessing in disguise. Having to concentrate more on technique meant that my mind didn’t have chance to fill itself with the usual climb related grumblings. You might think that a hardtail equipped with a 140mm travel fork that sits at a slack 64° (static) would be a recipe for disaster on steep climbs, but I was pleasantly surprised by the bike's ability. I was sure there would be some of that tell-tale slack head angle flopping around going on, but there wasn’t really. When the climbing got steep and technical enough to induce any kind of vagueness up front I was already looking to get out of the saddle, at which point my weight naturally moved forward, which in turn compressed the forks and steepened the head angle. Honestly, this bike has really made me question why we’ve ever built hardtails with steeper head angles.

If there was one thing though that did hinder progress when things got really challenging it was the gearing. The 1x10 setup with an 11-36 cassette is always going to be a little limited in that respect, but if you can’t live with it there’s two options relatively easy options. Firstly you could fit a front mech and some more rings up front, or even easier than that you could go for the OneUp Components upgrade that Stanton Bikes offer. For an extra £120 you get an XT cassette fitted with the 42t expander sprocket, and you also get a RAD cage fitted to the rear mech.

Sizing wise at 5’9” I found the 16.5” frame spot on, better in fact than the same size Slackline. The reason being that Stanton have increased the length of the top tube slightly. For some reason, and don’t ask me why, I prefer full suspension bikes on the larger side, whereas I like my hardtails to be a little more petite, so it could be that if you’re the same height as me you might prefer the 18”. Different folk, different tastes and all that. I would say though that if you’re one of those really tall folk then unfortunately you might be out of luck even with the 18”.

Stanton Switchback review
bigquotesAgainst a stopwatch you may well be a little slower than on something with travel out back, but if anything the sensation of speed is higher, you just feel on the edge, and that's where the grin factor comes in.

Descending

Conventional wisdom might say that when the ground starts to drop away, so too does the appeal of a hardtail, but conventional wisdom has clearly never ridden the Switchback. This bike truly shines when you point it downwards, so much so that it had me grinning from ear to ear. Yes I would have liked a little more width up front than the 740mm bars offered me, but apart from that I loved every second of it.

The low and slack nature of this frame is undoubtedly at the core of what makes this bike so good at descending, but at the same time the performance that the BOS Deville fork brings to the table cannot be ignored. The marriage of the two is quite simply superb. If you’ve ever fitted a 140mm fork to a hardtail with a steeper head angle then you no doubt know the trouble it can get you into. Dive through that travel and you suddenly find yourself in charge of a live wire. This bike on the other hand just encourages you to charge thanks to that winning combination of a slack head angle and a fork that offers unbeatable levels of support.

Line choice obviously becomes a little more critical when aboard a hardtail, but it’s amazing what you can pile though on this thing. Even when there’s no other option apart from tackling a rock garden head on you can just let the rear end do its own thing whilst the fork keeps you on the right track. Against a stopwatch you may well be a little slower than on something with travel out back, but if anything the sensation of speed is higher, you just feel on the edge, and that’s where the grin factor comes in. There’s no doubt in my mind though that you can ride this thing considerably faster downhill than you can on a ‘regular’ hardtail. Even with the bars that were a little narrow for my liking I always felt in control of what was going on up front. The Stanton Switchback is a ripper, there’s no question about it.


Stanton Switchback review
See that crank bolt sticking out? My ankle really didn't like it. Shame, as otherwise they're great cranks.

Stanton Switchback review
Don't let the relatively simple adjustments of the BOS Deville fool you, this fork illustrates just how good 140mm of travel can be.
Stanton Switchback review
My benchmark brake, and to be honest it's hard for me to imagine how it can ever be beaten.

Stanton Switchback review
Shimano's SLX might not get your pulses racing, but if truth be told it does a damn fine job for not much money.


Component Check

• BOS Deville AM 140mm fork: What a fork! The Deville offers an incredible blend of sensitivity and composure that you simply won’t find elsewhere. The sensitivity provides grip like you wouldn’t believe, whilst the seemingly unflappable damping helps to ensure that the fork only ever uses what travel is needed. This lack of any diving is especially welcome when you’ve got a relatively long travel fork fitted to the front of a hardtail.

• Shimano XT brakes:
These have become my benchmark brakes, and for good reason. They offer faultless performance in terms of power and control, and crucially I’ve yet to find an alternative that can touch them in the reliability stakes.

• Shimano SLX drivetrain:
I think Shimano are doing themselves a disservice with this SLX kit. I mean it works so well that it makes you seriously question if it’s worth spending more on their higher-end offerings.

• Race Face Turbine wheelset:
With no suspension at the rear to soften the blow, any hardtail needs a sturdy set of wheels if they’re going to survive, yet at the same time if you fit some that are too stiff it’ll be the rider that ends up taking a beating. These Turbine wheels struck a good balance.

• Onza Ibex tire: Onza isn’t the first name that springs to mind when you think of tires, and to be honest I thought I might have to swap these for testing, but their performance was a welcome surprise. It was only when faced with serious mud that they became unstuck, the rest of the time they provided great levels of predictable grip, without feeling sluggish.

• Race Face Ride Crank:
I’ve long been a fan of Race Face cranks, but unfortunately I just couldn’t get on with these ones. The reason being that the area around the crank bolt on the drive-side sticks out too much. I’m not a ‘heels in’ rider by any means, I never normally scuff cranks, but my ankle bone took an absolute beating with these.


Stanton Switchback review
  Natural singletrack is great at any time, but aboard the Switchback it's about as good as it gets.



Pinkbike's Take:

bigquotesIf you think there's no place in your arsenal for a hardtail then you need to ride this one. It doesn't really matter what kind of rider you are, I'm sure it'd put a smile on your face, and isn't that what mountain biking is about? There's been so much talk over the years about 'do it all' full suspension bikes, but I think if any bike can genuinely be described as such then it's this one. I'd be more than happy to spend a day shuttling DH runs on it, likewise going for a mammoth XC ride, or even just having a bit of fun down at the local dirt jumps. It might not be the weapon of choice for serious racing, but in the right hands it's still an incredibly capable bike, and it's always fun. It also has to be said that there's something deeply satisfying about leaving a full suss rider eating your dust while you pull away on a hardtail. Childish maybe, but I think there's still a kid in all of us mountain bikers.

So yeah, I like this bike a lot, and that's before I even think about the fact that you can pick up one of these frames for far less than a decent suspension one, or the fact that this frame will go on for years without the need for any servicing. Likewise, a bike like this can teach you skills that you'd possibly never learn on a full susser, and those skills will just make you ride even faster when you do have some travel in the rear. Would I be tempted to buy a different hardtail? Well if I had the money I'd be sorely tempted to buy the Ti version.
- Ed Haythornthwaite





About the Reviewer
Stats: Age 37 • Height 5’9” • Inseam 32" • Weight 170lb • Industry affiliations / sponsors: None
Bike shop mechanic, World Cup mechanic, DH racer, frame builder, bike journalist…bikes have been a major part of Ed Haythornthwaite’s life ever since he was brought up in the wilderness that is Dartmoor. In those days suspension of any form was a rarity, and riser bars? What the hell were they? Over the years he has witnessed all the trends, tried his hand at pretty much anything involving a bike and dirt, and now is never happier than on a natural, root and rock laden track…aboard a perfectly set up bike.
Must Read This Week

190 Comments

  • + 165
 Word up. Hardtails will be here long after this suspension trend blows over.
  • + 30
 lolwut?
  • + 171
 Silly full suspension trend, lasting several decades and revolutionising downhill racing Wink
  • + 48
 I wouldn't call full sus a trend.. But long live the hardtail!! They'll put some hair on your chest, that's for sure!
  • + 58
 I can't wait for this internet fad to be over so i can finally go back to Mountain Bike Action. I love me some hardtails though, and they will definitely always be around.
  • + 13
 nukeproofs and cockroaches will always be around, oh, and terminators
  • + 30
 The other day I rode a mid-nineties fully-rigid Cannondale XC bike with canty brakes and bullhorns. I took it to a luge trail with nice berms and not too many rocks, and I had more fun than I feel comfortable talking about.
  • + 16
 @RockstarRacingEst1996

Spot on comment. Got bored riding my full suspension (Devinci Dixon SP) in the South-East of England, it just made the trails too easy as it was so darn capable.

Sold it and got a nice hardtail with 100mm fork and 1 x 10 gearing.

Never had such much fun riding, I started in 1986 riding fully rigid mountain bikes, in 1991 got my first suspension fork, it was like going back to that experience all over again after having owned over 30 different full suspension bikes.

I am actually going quicker than I was on my FS bike!
  • + 41
 I think some of you missed the joke...
  • + 3
 So 3800 for a hardtail that is "downhill minded"... Why not use that 3800 and buy an actual downhill bike? This bike looks great but you have to have some deep pockets to spend almost 4 grand on a hardtail.
  • + 4
 @hampsteadbandit
While I didn't sell my FS bike (Lenz Sport Leviathan 4.0), when I wrecked and was waiting for a few replacement parts I swapped everything over to a Canfield Brothers Yelli Screamy, discovered I had created a lot of bad habbits, and actually find myself on the Yelli more than I thought I would unless I know I'm going to be spending a really long day in the saddle.

@VPS13
While I agree that price seems a bit much for that particular build, what you get in a $3800 hardtail is much different than what you get in a $3800 DH bike.
  • + 1
 Hey guys check out my profile there are some pretty respectable hardtail vids on there. I ride mine most of the time and only pull the dh bike out for stupid stuff.
The other thing I love about my 2001 scab frame is the way it flies against all the commodity fetishism of the bike industry and all the suckers who don't realise a bike is nothing without a rider.
While I'm on about crap like planned obsolescence etc today's production carbon bikes are fine if your sponsored but they are just so underbuilt. Carbon's real virtue is strength. What would I know? I was Lahar team manager in 2003. Every single factory bike from 2003 is still being ridden hard. Amazing.
On that note if anyone knows where the hell crazy old Aaron Franklyn is can you send me a personal message? Cheers.
Seeing Aaron lecturing the Honda engineers at the 2006 Worlds in Rotorua was priceless!
  • + 7
 Intended use....fun
  • + 3
 @medievalbiking And Sam Hill's eyebrows.
  • + 1
 @Artikay13 been binging on fallout 4 today, pretty sure I saw the eyebrows somewhere in the middle of a 200 year old melted down nuclear plant. Couldn't get close enough to verify, but I could spot them from the edge of the 1km exclusion zone
  • + 51
 nice review and stunning example of the UK's obsession with steel hard tails - a path i am on right now as i build up a budget version of this using a popular on-one 456 steel frame. The problem i have with these reviews as they are always written from a point of a full suss bike, meaning we get a rather snobby attitude that puts the hardcore hatrdtails in a lower class position - it gives the impression that they are looked down on, and you are trying to convince people that they are really very good - a little patronizing really. - i would much rather see a reviewer for hardtails, one that's knows them and that pits them against similar bikes and compares them accordingly, yes, make a comparison to suss if you need but a review should be made against similar types to get a fair and balanced end result,
  • + 18
 Good point, no point comparing a trail bike to a dh bike, for example. We're never getting cross-brand shootouts on pinkbike are we? I think three or four at a time is brilliant. Sorry to promote what is probably now considered an old skool mag, but mbuk used to nail the shootouts. Probably still do. I would like to see this against stuff like the nukeproof scout, commencal meta am ht and the production privee shan 27.
  • + 4
 makdthed, ive also built a budget on-one 456 evo 2, full SLX groupset, but cheep wheels and a Suntour Epicon 140mm fork plugged in up front with Sunline 740 bars and 65mm AM stem and I love it, im a bit of a hard tail lover (I own 5 hard tails) but steel hard tails rule! I get a lot of problems with my right knee when on an alloy bike, whether HT or full sus, but when im on my 456 it all goes away!!??. I totally agree with you with hard tails being looked down on as a sub standard bike as well! This Stanton looks fab, but come on Stanton build a 20" frame as im 6'2" and ill squash an 18", make a 20" and I just may buy one!!
  • + 2
 Yeah, six foot four, come on Dan, do an xl please, you're cutting out the tall market.

P.s. you own five hardtails!? Coool. What are they?
  • + 1
 Ive an old GT Aggressor XC1that gets used and abused in winter, a Handsome Dog (Alterrain Cycles that I like to call my 'Old Dog') XC01 (Im looking for a Ragley Piglet II to re frame this one), a Voodoo Bizango 29er (yes, its as good as the reviews), a Vitus Zircon 29vr that I use as a bit of a hybrid and last but not least my 456 evo 2. Take a look at my profile, their all there!!
  • + 1
 I'm a hardtailer, all ALU frames but I've always wondered about steel frames, maybe you can inform me a little... Are they heavy? My favorite ride right now is my Trek Superfly and it weighs in at 10.1kg. Do the frames suffer from any rusting if scratched? I am really keen to buy a steel 29 er frame to hang a bunch of spare components I have, any recommendations? Thanks if anyone can advise me!
  • + 2
 @davidsimons Check out Transition Trans Am 29er. I picked one up recently and have been impressed so far. The frame is super playful and for giving.
  • + 3
 Davidsimons.. advice.. you won't regret trying steel.
  • + 1
 davidsimons, my 456 was a Voodoo Bokor that I re framed as the Bokor was to steep & high on the front with a 140 fork. Yes the 456 is heavier, I would say were talking a bag of sugar though! It will rust, but just keep an eye on it and touch any chips in like you would a car! Its a good way to get rid of parts, ive done it twice now. Steel ride to alloy, I would say its like the difference between driving a 10 year old Focus (alloy) to a brand new Focus (steel). Other than going to someone like Farrer, the only people I can think of are perhaps On-One or Cotic.
  • + 1
 Anyone got a 456 evo carbon, thinking of buying the sram x5 model.
  • + 2
 Hum, you know what they say about steel?? - I say keep it real!!
  • + 3
 The problem is geography. The reviewers live where terrain is chunkier and trail construction is bigger and steeper. Many of us in the audience live where a hardtail is a perfectly reasonable choice. I suspect there are few dedicated HT riders in that area that don't spend significant time on FS rigs. There's also a lot more money in high end FS rigs. Gotta appease the advertisers.
  • + 6
 @AllMountin

your comment about geography is correct, or specifically geology of rocks

Where many hardtail riders live in England, we don't have rocks. Of course, riders in more exceptional terrain areas like Wales and Scotland, have many rocks.

But for many of us, especially riders in the South-East, its just mud and tree roots, unless we are fortunate enough to get some dry weather when the mud dries out to resemble loam!

The tires can deal with the tree roots, the mud tends to degenerate full suspension bearings and pivots, and riding on softer mud terrain often means a hardtail makes more sense.
  • + 0
 I ride the first version of the summer season frames where the decals only say inbred on them, but come with the isg tabs, slacker geo and chunkier tube set vs the std inbred. Running this with a x-fusion velvet in 140mm travel and 26'er. What a bike. I have been through a couple of duallies in the same time that I have had this frame, and every time I get back onto her it amazes me just how great a frame it is and how the duallies just don't have the same feel.

Would have loved allowance for a 30.9mm diameter seat post in order to get a readily available dropper post and the ability to run as a ss as per the Stanton would also have been great.

However this frame is just so great that those details become trivial.

Also had a std inbred with a 100mm travel fork in both 26er & 29er formats, and yet again really enjoyed the ride, just that that slacker geo of the summer season just feels great on the trail.

Enjoy the bike when built!
  • + 14
 HARD TAIL SHOOT OUT!!! DO IT PINKBIKE.
  • + 6
 Yes, pink bike, come on let's have a hard tail shoot out please!
  • + 5
 I just built up an on-one 45650b. this bike rips. built on some 30mm wide blunt ss rims by velocity, 2.4 vee rubber fluids, 150mm fox float fork, sram x9 type 2 10sp rear mech, and race face ride cranks. on-one guys nailed it with this frame. it climbs like a goat! i love the slightly steeper seat tube which compensates for the slacker HT geo. even with the 150mm forks, softest setting, it tracks beautifully. lock the forks out and fly up hills i also have a full sus rig for the DH parks, but honestly after riding this at my local spots, i think it could take on much more than i have previously given a hardtail credit for. power to the hardcore hardtails
  • + 2
 'I just built up an on-one 45650b.' Pics or it didn't happen.
  • + 2
 tobiusmaximum i could not figure out (as i suck with computers and such) how to upload a pic to the comments, but i just made a new album on my profile (brand new on here) check her out (named her Maggie) and see what ya think. my first wheels to build, and first new bike in over 10 years, so I treated myself a tad. over 80 miles so far and have loved every one.
  • + 2
 Davidsimons, had a 456 Summer Season, 18", and the frame weight was around 5.5 lbs. Yes, you do suffer the weight penalty when going with a steel hardtail, but if you are going to get a hardtail then steel or ti are really the only way to go. The lively feel is real.
  • + 1
 @richard01 I owned a 1st gen carbon 456 frame built up with a DT swiss 130mm fork, slx gears and superstar components am wheels. It was the most fun bike I have owned, unfortunately I sold it when I moved back to NZ and have regretted it ever since. My advice is buy the 456 carbon evo I don't think you'll regret it.
  • + 1
 @makdthed so true... every single review about hardtails is about an ignorant tester who always rode full suss bikes that suddenly discover hardtails are fun and all his prejudices were just.. prejudices. But, instead getting to know more of the hardtail world and write an informed review, he assumes all the fun he had comes from just the single bike he tested, so all his prejudices must still hold true for all the other ones.
I know hardtails are fun, I ride one, tell me what makes *this one* different!
  • + 3
 @justgivemeanavailableusername sorry if you felt the review came across like that, but I've actually been a hardtail fan ever since they were pretty much the only thing that existed, and if anything I want others to discover just how fun they are, especially this one. And I have ridden a huge number of hardtails over the years, and even made custom built fillet brazed steel frames myself. Why is this one different/better than so many others? Obviously the way a frame rides can be altered by a huge number of factors, but I think it's tubing specification and geometry that are the key things that make this one ride as well as it does.
  • + 5
 @edhayetc I'm sorry, I've been a jerk for no reason. I actually wasn't referring to this particular review but failed to state it at all. It was more about a feeling I get when reading about hardtails on mainstream media.
Your review is more than welcome and I hope there will be more from you on Pinkbike. Hardtails are the perfect bikes and definitely deserve more exposure, and you surely are entitled to talk about them.
  • + 29
 Haven't ridden a hardtail in awhile, but this bike makes it sound fun. Sweet paint & graphics.

Why did everybody make hardtails or even fs bikes with 71º headangles for so fricken long? Useless and dangerous, I blame many scars on it.
  • + 28
 Unless you have never ridden a quality steel hard tail you have no idea what you are missing..the grin factor is massive and it keeps your skills incredibly sharp If I could have only one bike it would be hard for me not to choose a steel hard tail
  • + 3
 A truer statement has never been made my friend. I have had a stylus and slackline now on a privee shan and they are all quality rides
  • + 2
 Have you gone to 650b or are you on a Shan classic? What's special about the privee in your mind? Looking at getting one.
  • + 2
 I have not a lot of clearance but you can fit it. I'm looking into ordering the 650b dropouts for it to give it a bit more room. The slackline was and is a great bike. I had the 853 version so 1 1/8 steer tube was a bit of a struggle. (This was before they introduced the 631 version mind you) I sold it just because I wanted something different. I bought the stylus because I had always wanted one after seeing Jinya nishawaki bomb dh runs on his gypsy and stylus. Chromag makes great frames but the stylus just seemed to heavy and didn't really pedal well up hill as the front end seemed to wander too much. Another thing was the non detachable rear derailleur hanger big turn off. I have the privee because it was the wife's and she wanted a squishy so I get the hand me down haha. The privee is a great frame light and pretty much spot on geo for a do everything hardtail. The chainstays were designed to have a little bit of flex in them which is always a bonus no matter what hardtail you ride it pedals extremely well and it's slack enough to be confidence inspiring on most dh runs. My gripes however are the pressfit bb and the campy headset which are both annoying seeing as every frame I have had is a threaded bb and a tapered hs so I had plenty of those lying around.
  • + 3
 Nice one, thanks. So you can buy geometry corrected 650b dropouts that will essentially turn a classic into a Shan27? If they do that I'm surprised but very impressed. Would have been easy to force people into a whole new frame. What's the crack with a campy headset? Is it a different headtube to a normal tapered one? This suggests possible issues in the future. Although deciding what's future proof these days is like predicting antiques.
  • + 1
 No they aren't geo correcting dropouts they are just a bit longer then the original ones. You aren't going to be able to run the usual 160mm fork if you want to keep a rideable geo. I lowered my durolux to 140 and it was perfect. As for the campy when I was looking into headsets I couldn't seem to find many on the market so I just used the production privee one. No issues with it what so ever. They are just a bit pricey
  • + 1
 thats odd that they wouldnt factor in the height as well as the length. But then the shorter fork would give you the required bb drop, I guess. But also a steeper head angle. Hmm..
  • + 1
 It would be great to get a review of the kona honzo; I've been looking at getting one. Or maybe the diamondback mason; not steel, but has a 66.5 degree headtube angle and 140mm fork. This reviewer seemed to like the slack
  • + 2
 I have the honzo with 140mm fork on it. It is a beast of a bike.
  • + 1
 @Odizzle88 where does a 140mm fork put the HT angle at? Any idea?
  • + 3
 I haven't measured, but I would assume around 67 ish.
  • + 1
 As do I. Running a 34 on it at 140. Total beast. Starting season 4 on it and still love it.
  • + 1
 Having met him once, I also agree that he is a top chap.
  • + 1
 It's not limited to steel either! I ride a rather fetching German alu HT and it's as good as any (and it damn well should be for the money!)
The stanton was a tad too short for my liking.
  • + 21
 I know Dan Stanton, he's a blooming good bloke too. He used to work at my LBS and would talk for hours about geometry and the beauty of hardtails and how he had a plan to make his own. I saw his very first plans for this awesome bike and he really wanted a fun hardtail that could do everything.

After reading in Dirt the rave reviews and the reviews on here I can only say that Dan and his bike really deserve all the praise. He had the idea and went for it and came up with the slackline = brilliant!

And, that bike really can keep up with a full sus because I've seen it done Smile
  • + 8
 Cool story, thanks for sharing...tup
  • + 1
 Do you happen to know the reach of this bike that got reviewed here?
  • + 1
 No sorry, best ask on Stanton Bikes website via email or message Stanton Bikes on Facebook.
  • + 1
 Yeah thats a good idea didn't think of that thanks haha
  • + 13
 Quality British steel agro hardtails are awesome. Fact. Cotic, Stanton, On One, Dialled etc. I just smash mine through everything. It is my go to quick blast and winter bike and nothing ever wears out on it. The great thing is that when you do wheel out the 160mm bike, you ride it much better.
He is right about the post. I use a Thomson layback on my 27.2 frame and its spot on.
I love the idea of a 650b one. I currently ride a Dialled PA Classic on 26" but in a year will wheel size up to match the other ride. However, it wont cost this much! Stick some revs and a Slx/deore stop and go and visit good old Superstar componants for the rest and you can bring it all in under a grand. Well around that! Some brand snobbery might strike!
  • + 4
 Starting to regret selling my Ragley Piglet, which replaced my deceased On-One 456. Hardtails definitely put the fear back into Mountain Biking!
  • + 1
 Rooster-x, I want to get a piglet, as want to re frame one of my alloy hard tails, but there hard to find at mo. Already have a 456 evo 2, love my hard tails as I seem to get more smiles out of them than with my full sussers, and use only hard tails in the winter!
  • + 2
 im thinking of getting an on-one parkwood although the slackline has really turned my head. I just think a slack 29er hardtail is what I need given I've already got a trail bike so too much overlap with a slackline. Still want one though
  • + 0
 I mean switchback (not slackline)
  • + 3
 Spot on about quality UK hardtails - I've got a Farrer Loam Ranger in Reynolds 853 (Yorkshire designed and built - Farrercycles.co.uk) with 150mm forks, a 64 degree head angle, 1188mm wheelbase and 420mm stays on 650B - well, it's amazing, so amazing in fact, that I sold my Pivot Mach 6. This new build is quicker in most places, sharpens skills like I can't believe and is certainly way more fun!
  • + 3
 Corinthian, just took a look at the Loam Ranger, looks the mutts nuts!!
  • + 1
 @ballardski - Cheers mate! It is indeed a beaut, need to load a few pics of it on here at some point soon...
  • + 13
 bought a Cotic BFe 2 years ago - best time I had on a bike in ages. managed to get one of these frames in raw, build quality is truly amazing. buy a hardtail and go thrash it, you will not regret it.
  • + 1
 Amen Reverend! lol
  • + 9
 Yay, I have just ordered this frame last Friday...and I'm feeling stoked for it and I don't even have it yet. Imagine how I feel when it turns up...
  • + 3
 Excited for you, when I saw this this morning I thought you may get a little rightfully excited!
  • + 1
 Ah thanks man. Yeah I couldn't believe it to be honest....hahaha..
  • + 6
 wait till you see it in person - when my frame arrived I pissed my pants a little. the quality is so awesome, your going to love it.
  • + 3
 Awesome...Smile

Yeah I'm thinking that's the feeling I'll get...well almost that feeling....Big Grin
  • + 2
 first thing I thought of was, I bet silverfish smiled when this article came up. sure made me smile. gorgeous bike
  • + 1
 Thanks. I certainly did Smile
  • + 7
 English hardtails are awesome! I have a Cotic BFe, an old USA made 2001 Santa Cruz Chameleon designed around a 120mm fork (can take a 140mm, I run it at 130mm. I know, I know, not English) On-One 456 steel and an On-One 29er hardtail. There is something about a hardtail that, unless you really open your mind and try it, it's hard to knock them. I've had FS bikes. They need to be looked after.. Like plants, but you have to be easy on the water. Broken swingarms, worn pivots, quirks that you have to live with in suspension designs, sometimes weight and of course mo money to play. When I can drop $250 or $600 on a Reynolds frame, walk into my garage, throw a leg over a bike and ride away, that's awesome. I used to miss a ride a month or more when I had FS. I can hit some crazy lines with the 150mm Cotic. It's more rewarding and hell of a lot more fun knowing my skill carried me through and not me being lazy and relying on suspension. Don't need a lock out, link, pivot to be so high/low or an isolating damper to get the power down. I can literally feel the bikes driving forward. I do wish for suspension at times, not very often though. Maybe again sometime I'll get an FS, but the more I think about it, I don't know if I NEED one...
  • + 10
 Intended use: trail / all-mountain / fun


'fun'.....Smile hahaha love that.
  • + 5
 Theres another thing people forget when it comes to a good hardcore HT. Everything feels faster! It helps keep the crashes less bone breaking without sacrificing the fun factor. I love my Ragley Blue Pig, I have one bike for everything from all day epics to trips to the DH track, And at the end of the day i wash her down and dump her back in the shed, minimum maintenance and minimum fuss! HT's Rule!
  • + 5
 There is something about blasting down a trail on a hardtail that is so deeply satisfying yet so difficult to describe. The direct feedback coming from the trail beneath you. The crisp sound and feel of the rear wheel dancing around. But above all, the almost animate feel of the bike - for sure, you are not going as fast as on the full suss, but it often feels like you're trying to hold on for dear life, riding an angry mustang. Just pure, undiluted joy and grin inducing fun.
  • + 4
 Hahahahaha DirtED on Pinkbike! You were saying once... never mind Big Grin It's awesome! Nice that you are bringing your hardtail soul to Pinkbike!

Now tell me, just between you and me... is Dirt and Pinkbike silently forging world's biggest MTB media syndicate? Jonesy in latest article... suspicious... I shall investigate!
  • + 4
 I'm newly returned to mountain biking and building up a second hardtail--a Honzo to replace my El Mariachi. The Honzo seems like a good fit for my local trails, and at $500 is a cheap way to sample some different geometry.

I've never actually ridden a bike with full suspension, but I've decided I'll hold off on that until I've sharpened the skills a bit. I can't see ever being witihout a hardtail, though!
  • + 8
 Yes! Its about time we had a hardcore hard tail review on PB!
  • + 4
 Been rocking a cotic soul for a few years, the broke the weld around the headtube (160mm forks not recommended by Cy). The reynolds tubes are amazingly thin and offer a snappy feel when combined with short chainstays, slavk head angle, and longish front-center.
Now rocking a 456.

Riding hardtails every now and then will improve your bike handling skills and increase your speed. Smacking that rear wheel into every rock and root you can see when riding your full susser WILL SLOW YOU DOWN!
  • + 4
 I have got one of these, in transulecent forest green, 11 speed XTR drivetrain, Hope wheels and 350 NCR's, and oh my god its a f*****g ripper! easily as controlled on descents as my full susser other than when things get really rough! Go and buy one! NOW!
  • + 4
 Hard tails are fun as f*ck. The only gripe I have with them is that entry level hard trails only come with 9mm QR. Wish they would come with just 15mm TA so when you upgrade your fork you don't have to do a whole lot of buying :/ The good hard tails are hard to find here....
  • + 3
 i LOVE the uk's aggressive hardtail builders!

i have a ragley marley and love it, great bike for my kind of riding. i'm not a full blown dh racer or a full blown cross country guy either. i land right in the "enduro" category but dont have the cash for a full sus frame. i picked the marley up and kitted it out with a shimano zee drive train and brakes, azonic outlaw wheels, and ragley bar/stem/seatpost combo. its not the lightest bike out there but it comes in 2-4 lbs lighter then most of my buddies full sus bikes.

the hardtail part hasn't held me back either. i can shred all my local trails and even hit up the resorts with no bike induced issues. shit i even catch some urban paved trail riding on my lunch breaks at work.

long travel slack head tube hardtails are the shit!
  • + 7
 I would rather get this than most full suspension bikes out there.
  • + 3
 My only gripe about the otherwise amazing forks is the fact there is literally 0 mud clearance on 650b BOS forks. Very suprised you didnt comment on this.
I have them and with 2.4" conti's, you can't even get a mucky nutz fender in there.
  • + 4
 Stanton just keep producing the goods. I have the Stanton Sherpa and its a very capable bike and great fun. Well done Stanton keep up the good work
  • + 2
 Ace....a proper bike made out of a great meterial called "steel". This really could be the future of modern mountain biking! If i wanted a hardtail i wouldnt consider anything else. Their 4x frames are flying machines by all accounts!
  • + 2
 I have a Commencal Meta AM HT showing up tomorrow! www.commencalusa.eu/PBSCProduct.asp?ItmID=15147403 Stoked to get out and ride it. If you end up buying a bike from the U.S. Commencal site you can expect super good service from Jay. He's a good dude.
  • + 2
 Had a On One 456 Summer Season, and the Achilles Heel was the long, 425mm chainstays. The static headangle with my 160mm fork was about 64 deg. and felt awesome, even for urban riding, but the long chainstays were a dud. I applaud Stanton for putting shorter, 415mm chainstays on this 650b bike.
  • + 2
 OMG OMG OMG, Pinkbike reviewed a hardtail!

I spent 4 years on a Stumpjumper, finally had the shock sent out to be PUSHED. Took a month, which meant I spent a lot of time on my single speed hardtail. After hopping back on my stumpy (push did a great job), I felt like a bunch of fun was taken outta my ride, so my next season went longer travel hardtail and never looked back. Just orded a Chromag Rootdown and am stoked! So many different ways to get on the trail.
  • + 4
 Great review from Ed, dude knows his stuff - mechanics always make the best reviewers in my book, they can critically assess a complete bike like no other.
  • + 2
 A group of us ride crappy hardtails every monday night in the dark (rain or not rain) after the kids go to bed. I honestly say I have as much fun on that thing (Kona Lavadome for $600) sometimes as I do on my freeride rig at whistler. Watching your buddy "get lucky" on a wet shitty rooty/rocky decent is very entertaining! @morgandeno
  • + 3
 I absolutely love this bike! I have a had my Switchback since last summer. Love riding it and feels [geometry] a lot like my Nomad, obviously without the rear suspension though. Stanton was awesome to work with too.
  • + 4
 "there's something deeply satisfying about leaving a full suss rider eating your dust while you pull away on a hardtail"

ha! Smile
  • + 2
 The Switchback is ace; love mine.

I had a Skackline before hand which replaced an XS BFe that I never really got on with, the Slackline 853 was lovely to ride. I'd never really got the whole steel thing until I had this; it was just a hoot to ride. The downside was that it was just a tad too small. Initially it was just used for mucking about on but I started to riding trails on it so wanted something a bit bigger...enter the Switchback.

The finish is brilliant. I love the top tube gusset, the decals a subtle and tasteful, the red pops in sunlight. The ride also backs up the looks. It feels stable, encouraging you to ride it as fast as you can but never harsh. I've been impressed with the Turbine wheels which I picked up super cheap in the CRC sale. I'd love to be able to justify a pair of Devilles.

Hardtails are so much fun, that I have only ridden my Banshee Rune once since the end of last August!
  • + 6
 Need BTR Ranger review
  • + 2
 +1 As far as I know that was the real trailblazer with slacker that slack, long and low aggro hardtail philosophy. Looks like one insane beast of a bike Smile
  • + 2
 I've owned 2 Stantons so far (Slackline and a Sherpa) and I imagine I will probably end up owning several more over the years to come. The man really knows how to design a frame, stunning bikes to ride.
  • + 1
 " Then I got the chance to ride a later version that ran a 31.6mm seatpost rather than a 27.2mm. Everything else was the same, but I couldn’t believe the difference in the ride, so much of the originals ‘life’ had been lost, and it was all because of that fatter seat tube"
Are you sure that the difference in ride quality wasn't because the difference in tubing material? the 27.2 slackline is a mix of reynolds 853 and 531 (I think), while the 31.6 slackline is made of reynolds 631.
just sayin.
  • + 4
 853 and 631 is the same material, 853 is heat treated 631. It's the larger diameter that reduces flex.
  • + 2
 I own a Stanton Slackline and I love it. I really didn't think riding a hardtail can be so much fun.
Riding my Stanton in the Slovenian Alps:https://500px.com/photo/101469929/alpine-biking-by-sandi-bertoncelj
  • + 1
 Nice photos dude.
  • + 2
 Great bikes, I have the 4X an seriously considered a slackline for my new build but, The lack of a medium put me off, the long was too big an the short was too short. No middle ground
  • + 1
 I've got the 4x, and its perfect! I'm only 5'6" and it feels like a bmx to me, so I wonder what tall geezers feel like on one?
  • + 2
 I'm 5'10.5 an I love mine! Does need 780 bars though I've seen a few tall lads on race 4X on small slacklines
  • + 1
 You can also put a deposit on a 2015 frame and pay the rest end of April or when the frame arrives...split the cost in 2 halves makes it easier for us poorer folks... Be quick though because apparently they're selling out fast....
  • + 1
 I've just built up a Fire Eye Flame frame with parts that I had spare as a commuter and for the odd rip in the hills. Think I only payed £350 for frame/Zee gears. Steel is pretty heavy, but totally bombproof. Not posted a pic yet though, I'll add it to the hardcore hardtails section of the forum at the weekend.
  • + 5
 My mate ownes one and uses 26 inch wheels. Nobody can tell the difference.
  • + 3
 IIRC a 26" DH tyre is around the same height as a 27.5" XC tyre. There's nearly no difference between 26" and 27.5", tyre width can make equally big differences.
  • + 1
 What a beauty of a bike! I love a good hardtail, especially a steel one. I switched back to a hardtail after many years on full suss bikes and my love of trail riding just grew. Really reminded me of why I love mountain biking, and what I loved about it when I first started. The connection to the bike and the trail seemed better. I love the simplicity and the fun factor. As a Canuk, I think if I was to replace my Explosif 27.5, I would go with a Chromag Samurai 65 over this Stanton though. I would love the chance to take one of these for a rip though.
  • + 1
 The Chromag Geo isn't as extreme as the Stanton's... But it's a Chromag! Instant sex appeal.
  • + 1
 Steel is real and so is that frame, thats a bad ass hard tail, makes me want to build it instead of my current hard tail frame hanging up. Just another bike i want, oh the struggle. Not to mention that fork makes me jealous haha.
  • + 1
 Anybody got the 411 on how to get one in the States? Stanton seems a good group and readily available to send one out, but I am concerned about unseen customs charges, if any. Anybody in America order one direct? If so who did you use as a carrier and what were the costs? Any customs charges or any other charges for being an "importer"?
  • + 1
 I got TWO of these YES TWO!!!! One for me and one for the Mrs, HIS n HERS cos its that good and Iv'e been Mountain biking since 88, so there, best bike I have ever EVER ridden!!!
  • + 1
 What he said about the cranks is so true. The price of the Rides cannot be beat, but boy do I feel it after a ride. Might see if there is something that I can throw around it...
  • + 1
 Same here. Sitting around the fire after the innaugural day's ride on the Ride cranks, "why is my ankle sore"
  • + 1
 The first ride had a learning curve, but the second one I don't think I bashed my ankle once.
  • + 3
 I own a Stanton Sherpa which replaced my Liteville 301 and it's worth every penny. The simplicity and ride is amazing.
  • + 2
 I have ridden all my life in hardtrails and are more fun than any double suspension. Very easy to maintain and agile, just bring joy. # 26forlife
  • + 2
 That is one beautiful frame! I don't care what components are on it, I just have to own it. Rarely do you see a truly attractive bike on Pinkbike Smile
Love it!
  • + 3
 Hardcore hardtails rule, fact! can't get enough of my Ti Titus Fireline 29er
  • + 2
 Absolute total class act. The frame detail is beautiful! What is 550 pounds in Canadian dollars? For a hand built frame.? Nice.
  • + 4
 is the slx a clutch rear mech?
  • + 1
 Yes only thing inferior to the XT is a minimal weight penalty and thedurability of the jocky wheel which last abot 4 months in the scottish winter. but even if you buy the replacement xt pulleys it still works out to be a good deal
  • + 3
 It can be. M675 is shadow+ M670 is not.

Buyer beware of online pricing as the older M670 i listed for more than the new M675 on CRC...
  • + 2
 I'm sorry, but $3,807 for a steel hardtail equipped with SLX is just stupid.
  • + 1
 Agreed. I'd expect XT for that type of money.
  • + 0
 this thing is a joke compared to the Niner ROS 9, same price, but comes with complete x1 drivetrain, it doesn't come with xt brakes but it does have a Rock Shox Pike fork.
  • - 3
 Oh, and of course there's the fact that the bike rolls on a wheel size that is not being developed any further...
  • + 3
 If I could have 5 bikes this would be one of them.
  • + 2
 definitely! couldn't agree more but be sure to go with the ti. model perhaps if you must only have 5 bikes ;p
  • + 1
 Hardtails are fun. As much as I love my my primary bike 26" Stumpjumper pro I do enjoy breaking out the Trek X-cal 8 once in a while and sling the HT 29 around.
  • + 3
 Buy one, bloody fantastic!
  • + 1
 Now that is a hefty amount of money for a HT... I mean, you could get any kind of FS for that money (From DH to XC).






But that is none of my business.
  • + 3
 the top for fun, hardtails, steel and 26" ! Smile
  • + 1
 "If you’re one of those really tall folk then unfortunately you might be out of luck even with the 18” - by tall I guess they mean 6'1"?
  • + 2
 up-to 6ft3"
  • + 2
 Hello, so could you share some more data on max and min rider height for both the frame sizes. For all the frame producers I seem to have the honor of ending up exactly on the border between the frame sizes (though they overlap often)...
Wouldn't hate to learn about the sizing for the sweet slackline frame too...
  • + 3
 NOTHING is more fun than getting it right on a good hardtail.
  • + 2
 *sees hardtail review*
"Finally, a bike I can afford!"
*sees £2480*
"Nevermind..."
  • + 2
 Ed talking shit bout my 631 Frown
  • + 2
 One year after this review, i own one. Yeahh...
  • + 1
 For something similar for us Americans, look at the Kona Explosif. Just built one up. Love it.
  • + 1
 @oregonryder I'm honestly trying to decide between an Explosif or Switchback. I value maneuverability over monster-truck-ability so part of me wonders if the super slack head angle on the Switchback wouldn't be as much fun / maneuverable as the steeper Explosif. However the head-angle obviously is just one piece of how a bike feels, it doesn't tell all.
  • + 0
 $4000 seems a wee bit steep for this.. especially with that build. And the attention to detail on the frame is awesome.. but it is still just a steel frame.
  • + 2
 Back again for another perv at this honey of a bike...
  • - 2
 Obscure British company is credited with leading the charge in aggressive geo hardtails, releases latest "revolutionary" frame, gets glowing review.

Established US manufacturer known for making some of the most kick-ass aggressive hardtails for several years now, gets ZERO reviews during that time period.

Canfield's Nimble 9 and Yelli Screamy arguably started this party, yet get no love from PB. Why is that?
  • + 4
 Cuz they never sent one to pink bike for review.
  • + 1
 I've been debating pulling the trigger on a Yelli for the past several months. I wish Canfield sold completes, that would make it much easier (for me to buy, and probably also for PB to review)
  • + 2
 Damn so much bike options...so little funds!
  • + 3
 it's a simply beauty
  • + 2
 Perfect. Good to see something like this reviewed/advertised.
  • + 2
 Hard tail AM bike with 650B seems great!
  • + 1
 Is it just me or does it look like you're going to hit that tree in the drop off pic! The dangers of telephoto?
  • + 2
 Can I have it with a mortals fork for like half the price?
  • + 2
 Slap on an x-fusion fork and you're good to go. ...If you buy the frame and build it up yourself. Patience, knowledge of components and bargain hunting for parts on line and you could do well with respect to final build cost
  • + 1
 Why oh WHY can't they review a more expensive full suspension bike?????!?!?!?!?!?!
  • + 2
 4000 dollar hard tail hmmmm.....
  • + 2
 do you still have it ?
  • + 1
 Whats the comparison vs aluminum dh hardtails like the dartmoor hornet or even the primal? Any opinions?
  • + 1
 What's the frame weight? For both the TI and steel.
  • + 11
 You don't weigh fun, fool!
  • + 1
 Hard tail shootout Dialled Alpine vs. Stanton switchback!!!! Do it!!!!
  • + 1
 I own a Ragley Bagger 288 and simply LOVE it. Best decision ever!
  • + 1
 This is a sexy bike. Reminds me of my old Schwinn.
  • + 1
 Headtube is tapered I assume?
  • + 3
 It's got a straight 44 mm headtube. That is good news because depending on the headset you use, it can take a tapered or straight steerer.
  • + 2
 Thanks. That is indeed preeeetty awesome Smile
  • + 1
 Ride hardtails kids. Fact!
  • + 1
 I own both a hardtail and FS XC machines and I love and ride both.
  • + 1
 +1 headtube design
  • - 1
 can you say....Kona cindercone from like 1990
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