Video: The Starling Cycles Sturn is a Single-Speed DH Bike

Oct 27, 2018 at 5:55
by Starling Cycles  

PRESS RELEASE: Starling Cycles

The Starling Sturn is a steel, single-speed downhill bike with 29" wheels and 180mm travel.

It was made by hand in Bristol, UK at Starling Cycles HQ.

It has room for up to 2.7" tyres, adjustable geometry and can be built with custom geometry to suit a rider.

The Starling Cycles Sturn. More at https www.starlingcycles.com starling-cycles-sturn Photographer Ben Broomfield benbroomfield.com photobenphoto

It's made for riders that want no hassle from broken mechs or bashed up gears. It won’t skip a beat through the winter or through a season of gnarly riding. It’s a bike for a big summer in the mountains and is surprisingly good on the race track. It's single-speed in order to be tough and simple - meaning absolutely no hassle on or off the trails.

The wild-looking cogs and chains make up what's called a 'Jack Drive' and are inspired by the classic Brooklyn Machine Works designs. The 'Drive allows you to run the suspension and the drive train through the same pivot which cuts out chain growth and allows the bike to be single-speed.

The Starling Cycles Sturn. More at https www.starlingcycles.com starling-cycles-sturn Photographer Ben Broomfield benbroomfield.com photobenphoto

We'd had a downhill bike on the drawing board since day 1 and we'd always liked the idea simplicity of single-speed. When we visited Brett Wheeler at Wheeler's MTB Holidays we go chatting, he was stoked on the idea and it was the excuse we needed. I got to work and made the first prototype of the bike, which appears in the video.

The Starling Cycles Sturn. More at https www.starlingcycles.com starling-cycles-sturn Photographer Ben Broomfield benbroomfield.com photobenphoto

The first prototype of the bike was built earlier in the year and sent out to Lousa, Portugal for Brett to ride.

Since he received the bike, Brett has won the Masters categories at the Portuguese Nationals and the European Downhill Championships and placed 4th (with a puncture) at Masters World Champs. Brett and friends made this little RAW video to show off some of the fun he's been having on the bike out in Lousa on his home trails.

The Starling Cycles Sturn. More at https www.starlingcycles.com starling-cycles-sturn Photographer Ben Broomfield benbroomfield.com photobenphoto
The Starling Cycles Sturn. More at https www.starlingcycles.com starling-cycles-sturn Photographer Ben Broomfield benbroomfield.com photobenphoto
The Starling Cycles Sturn. More at https www.starlingcycles.com starling-cycles-sturn Photographer Ben Broomfield benbroomfield.com photobenphoto

You can learn more about Starling Cycles at https://www.starlingcycles.com
And you can learn more about Brett at http://wheelersmountainbikeholidays.com


178 Comments

  • + 167
 Customers- We'd like to see more bikes with gearboxes.
Starling- Did you say two chains?
  • + 55
 Can we call this bike Tity Boi?
  • + 78
 Customers who have never ridden a gearbox think they want a gearbox.
  • + 9
 Maybe a precursor to a gearbox bike. Keep an eye on Starling social media...
  • - 3
 @phutphutend: Why wait? Have a look at the Sleipnir that Sick Bicycle Co. are bringing out
  • + 6
 @MontyCreates: I'm quite happy to let Sick send out untested bikes, I'm going to make sure it's right first!
  • + 0
 I never want a gearbox.
  • + 2
 @phutphutend: meow! Respect the answer though.
  • - 6
flag Boardlife69 (Oct 29, 2018 at 12:57) (Below Threshold)
 I want my dick in a box
  • + 2
 @phutphutend: how are they sending out untested bikes?.
  • + 1
 hahaha
  • + 3
 @seb-stott: I use to ride a Nicolai Nucleon ST. I love gearbox bikes, but almost no one is making them.
  • + 12
 @seb-stott: and customers who have ridden a gearbox also say they want a gearbox!
  • + 5
 @seb-stott: I've ridden them, extensively. I want one.
  • + 0
 @samfr1000: yet no one has ever even seen a bike from starling being tested like every other bike out there has to pass iso testing. You would think a company owner would make more noise about they're own testing than looking nob by slagging a competitor off, unless of course they too are untested.
  • + 2
 @PHILXX1975: pretty sure pinkbikes Paul Aston has tested the starling murmur and as there is only one Sturn that I have been riding daily with our customers for the past 6 months on some of the gnaliest terrain in Europe aa well as racing and doing pretty well on it what other sort of tested is needed. Looking through the comments I cannot see starling slagging a competitor off.
  • + 2
 @PHILXX1975: I suspect the 'sending out untested bikes' comment that i assume you are referring to further up the page meant testing the geometry through several iterations of the frame before selling them rather than fatigue testing which you've interpreted it as.
  • + 1
 @Bunzl: oh ok. I see. I just ride the bikes here in Portugal. And give them hell daily. I will let others talk about each other
  • - 1
 @Bunzl: yup, wether its tested by dave down the pub or a world champ a bike is a personal thing and it isnt a bike that wins anything its a ridera, as for Sick! over on another forum its very apparent im not a fan of their gear or general attitude towards people but they have plenty of people testing and racing bikes and a very happy almost rabid cult following.
  • + 3
 @PHILXX1975: My Factory bikes have ISO testing complete. The UK made Swoop and Murmur frames are substantially similar enough that they can be passed by comparison. I am happy the detail differences do not affect strength. Remember my last day job was as an aerospace stress engineer, this stuff is pretty bread and butter to me.

As for riding testing. I have over 150 customer bikes out being ridden. As they are all custom bikes, I have a an ongoing relationship and feedback from a good majority of them. On top of this I have always had a race team, including a National champion and many national level wins. These riders are also geographically close and give me lots of feedback.

I think this is one of Starling strengths, the fact I can build prototypes with quick turnaround and get feedback. Very different to companies designing bikes by CAD then having a six months cycle between design and samples.
  • - 6
flag PHILXX1975 (Oct 30, 2018 at 11:17) (Below Threshold)
 @phutphutend: and as I said on your other thread I think your bikes look very poorly finished and cant possibly be compared to the likes of Curtis et al other than ride which to be fair is personal, they don't liook like crap yet you seem to dismiss everyone elses efforts which don't look cobbled together and recall I saw these in the flesh at Steel demo day and others commented in a similar fashion.

Hopefully your foreign made bikes will cure the poor appearance

I was an applications engineer at Ansys in Sheffield, BTW so what your an Aerospace blah blah balaaaah being an aerospace engineer didn't stop you learning everything about shed bike building on this very forum for the past few years in the home made bike section who would think a mighty aerospace engineer having to ask humble bike builders , if you have proof you have iso testing from an accredited test house then I'm all ears just dont insinuate other people don't have it either. WHICHEVER wether its test riders or product testing a libellous comment is still a libellous comment.

Other people put a lot of work in to their brands YOU need to realize posting that every bike that isn't yours has a flaw or isnt as beautiful as your starling (and yes you have seriously written that before to try and demean others efforts in various forums on the www) makes you unlikeble and start and be more humble. You were the one casting aspertions with no proof another company does no testing not me so dont get all stroppy when someone challenges you.
  • + 0
 I still like to know how sick are sending out untested bikes like you say!!!
  • + 1
 @phutphutend:

Pretty sure I ran though many an untested village bike in my life. Don't care, no regrets. They are the fun ones.

Also bike looks sick. 10 of 10 would romp.
  • + 1
 My Swoop may not have as perfect a finish as some of the big manufacturers but it rides better than anything I've ever owned!
  • + 2
 @phutphutend: Do Sick not test their bikes before releasing them?
  • + 0
 @Gackt: of course they do, just that when @phutphutend said..

@MontyCreates: I'm quite happy to let Sick send out untested bikes, I'm going to make sure it's right first!

Make him look a right c*nt..
  • - 1
 Why that a c*nt of an answer @samfr1000:
  • + 1
 @dagzin: I honestly have no idea what you're trying to say to me here.
  • + 1
 @PHILXX1975: I'm also very sorry that my joking comment prompted you to create an account and start ranting.
  • + 26
 Bike looks (and sounds) like it's working well. Nice work Joe.
  • + 19
 Looks like the sickest bikepark rig
  • + 13
 As a guy who loves to ride rough DH tracks but doesn't have much time to service my bike, I love the idea!
  • + 2
 @seb-stott Hope Joe is going to build a bigger one and you'll got your hands on it.
  • + 2
 I've been wondering how long it would take for Starling to get some pinkbike love.
  • + 6
 I'd be onboard with this whip....I've hardly ever used more than 2-3gears on my DH bike anyways...haha
  • + 3
 Thanks Seb, might be in you office soon!
  • - 10
flag LOLWTF (Oct 29, 2018 at 10:22) (Below Threshold)
 @t1000: how much maintenance are you really saving with 2 chains over a derailleur?
  • + 7
 @LOLWTF: Those half link chains will probably outlive the bike
  • + 25
 @LOLWTF: Ask a BMXer how much maintenance they need to do to their chains. Zero. Twice zero is zero!
  • + 1
 I really like steel MTB bikes. Single speed is sick. Only downside is that there aren't nice welds to look at, only that gold slop. As long as it's strong..
  • + 16
 Bring back the Brooklyn!!!
  • + 3
 Sick! bikes ARE... but with a gearbox!
  • + 1
 @HerrDoctorSloth: only one hard tail frame for sale at the moment. Frown
  • + 12
 Not winner but is grinner...so that's a yes from me. Let's face it I'd be too overwhelmed on a DH course to think usefully about gears anyway...
  • + 2
 Exactly let’s you really focus on keeping your speed up, hell gwin won without a chain
  • + 2
 @mkotowski1: Indeed. Focus is way more important than pedalling!
  • + 2
 @mkotowski1: yeah I would think suspension performance would be improved too
  • - 6
flag islandforlife (Oct 29, 2018 at 10:04) (Below Threshold)
 Same, but somehow even more ugly.
  • + 1
 Reinventing the Marin B-17!
  • + 10
 It looks like someone from Orange wanted to turn their 324 into a Brooklyn Race Link.
  • + 10
 10/10 would shred
  • + 9
 It sounds so good! Only tires and free hub and no chainslap!!!
  • + 8
 Sidenote: These trails will host the 1st DH World Cup of 2020.
  • + 4
 Nothing new about a single speed DH bike (park rats have been doing it for years, even done before at Rampage) but the implementation of the design is quite neat. Good job Starling.
  • + 10
 Something new about an OEM single speed dh bike, and something new about one that doesn't require a chain tensioner.
  • + 6
 Anyone else notice the heat sink on the shock piggy back at 1:30? #CookingIt
  • + 3
 Yes it’s a cooling Finn that MRC Trading make.
  • + 2
 I always think that proper dh racing wouldn’t need more then just one adjust to the track gear ,but that was just me ,cause it’s racing if they are getting the almost skin suits for racing and gaining some advantage with that why not eliminate one more problem that can happen,slapping a rear derailleur,like Brett said thinking in gears is a waste of time and momentum and that can cost time ,a good idea ,the chain breaking more? I don’t know,but with mudd it might also works better,and yes nice ridding
  • + 2
 How about moving the upper shock mount upwards a few notches to make it more progressive. And to use a longer travel shock to get more travel out, say 200mm.

I'd mount 27,5 wheels and go with a suitable 200mm fork. Is there anything that speaks against this idea? super low bb wouldnt bother me...
  • + 3
 That’s the setup I use just with 29 wheels
  • + 2
 @Wheelersmtbholidays: can it be run with 27.5" wheels too? Maybe with a longer stroke shock like Sebazzo said, to lift the BB a little?
Great video btw.
  • + 3
 @Franziskaner: offset bushing would also lift the B.B. but I just run the 29 wheels with a 241mm shock to lift the B.B. that’s what’s cool about the shock setup you can tailor the location for your preferred set up
  • + 2
 @Wheelersmtbholidays: Cool that this works. I assumed the bike may not have enough clearance for 200mm travel with 29er wheels. Thanks for the info!
  • + 4
 Funny, so much is made of the fact that it is single speed but he only turned about 2 pedal revolutions in the whole edit. Sick bike though.
  • + 58
 Isn't that the idea? It's not a bike you want to be pedaling. Just downhill dedicated.

Profile cranks too. I love it.
  • + 5
 did starling call doc?
  • + 11
 Doesn't even need pedal platforms, just axles.
  • + 8
 That was one of the key reasons I was so stoked to team up with Joe at Starling. On real DH Tracks pedaling shouldn’t be the highest priority. Gwin proved that to all of us.
  • + 7
 Forget pedal turns. If this bike was legit it wouldn't have brakes either!
  • + 1
 That's the point, it's a DH bike. Mines singles speed and only turn pedals if need to for a jump..
  • + 1
 @fullbug: I've been meaning to for years, seems they beat me to it...
  • + 6
 BMX cranks! Fook yeah.
  • + 2
 Beautiful simplicity of the tubular design makes for an awesome looking bike.... now to go do some research on the numbers and see if it just won't be far too big for my shortarse 5ft6 frame.
  • + 1
 This is pretty cool! Match with a direct mount chain ring and you could change ratios very easily. Heck, you could even run an anti-boost 126mm rear hub and bmx freewheel. Be a cool XC rig...
  • + 0
 Just a thought: DH bikes are TIG or MIG welded because the metal is fused together with metal rods/wire & heat. Brazing is brass that joins the parts together-kind of like glue-not something I want to think about when coming in for a landing. (Carbon Fiber is a whole 'nother story...)
  • + 4
 Brazing is a very strong and tough method of joining tubes. There's a lot more material and it is ductile so you'll never get a catastrophic failure, only slow crack growth. The joint is strong enough that the tubes will fail before the joint. Rollcages and offroad vehicle chassis are often brazed. It's just less suitable for mass production than TIG, so seen less often, but equally as good if not better in my opinion.
  • + 2
 A filet brazed steel DH bike with single speed. Utlimate head turner in the line up waiting for the lift at whistler. Perfect park bike.
  • + 0
 Ok, single speed (and a chain system which prevents pedal kickback) is a really good thing when you only ride park with your big bike. To have a system with an simple idler and tensioner is easy to maintain and a cleaner solution. One more chain and two more chainrings with an axle looks ugly. Sorry, but for me it feels like backward engineering.
  • + 4
 ......IN THEEEE YEEEAAR TWWWOOOO THOOOUUSAANDD.......
  • + 0
 Hi Joe ( @phutphutend ) , funny how both you and another UK frame mfg both just recently built a frame inspired by the BMW jackshaft....which btw, was originally run by another east coast frame builder....I forget, was it spooky bikes???

Jack shaft drive trains preceded BMW, good to see they're still alive.

Digging those chunky asf brazes...reminds me of a gangster rapper with a gold grill. Our a fat girls lumpy ass...just wanna bury my face innit!
  • + 3
 Great vid from Brett. Highly recommend that people get out to Wheelers MTB Holidays, the riding and hospitality are amazing!
  • + 2
 Thank you very much Gareth
  • + 3
 Imagine... belt drive with an Onyx hub ... uuugghhhhh Wink ~
  • + 1
 Agreed on the Onyx! But the problem with the belts and my design is that the Jackshaft cogs would be quite large. The bigger they are the more the chainline is offset from the main pivot, the more pedal forces you get. The Profile cogs I use are super small and give negligible pedal forces.
  • + 3
 Probably my ideal DH bike. Always too stressed to change gear anyway.
  • + 1
 Brooklyn machine works jackshaft design is easily the most active system for gravity, this is a nice looking rig, would rather pass on 29s, but still nicely done!!
  • + 1
 I appreciate how quiet this bike is with elevated stays and no slappy deraileur. The gold brazing and raw steel looks nice! I bet it’s a fun stead.
  • + 2
 Brooklyn Machine Works called from the late 90's - they want their bike back.
  • + 3
 Tribute to Brooklyn Machine Works?
  • + 2
 How do you tension the chains properly? Especially on the smaller section? Do you just hope the half links work?
  • + 3
 Left hand chain uses and eccentric BB. Right hand chain has a small moveable jockey wheel. It works well.
  • + 2
 Now that's easily the prettiest DH bike I've ever seen!
  • + 2
 please remove also the chains and the crank... completely unnecessary
  • + 2
 Funny how good ideas like this can be so simple, yet so right!
  • + 2
 It looks like a Santa Cruz heckler from 20 years ago
  • + 10
 @gprocter it looks way more like a Brooklyn Machine Works from that era
  • - 2
 @pdxkid: only shitter
  • + 1
 It probably weights the same too Big Grin
  • + 1
 @themountain: 16.5kg fully built with pedals!
  • + 3
 BROOKLYN!!!!!!
  • + 5
 I actually spent a long time at Bespoked show chatting to Ged the Head who used to import Brooklyns into the UK. He was loving the bike and stoked that someone was bringing back the idea. I have never hidden the fact that a Brooklyn was the inspiration. But I always wanted a single speed DH bike, the Brooklyn Jack drive was always the best solution. I've just updated geometry, gotten rid of the linkages and made it singlespeed.
  • + 2
 @phutphutend: No brake arm?..
  • + 3
 @phutphutend: 27.5" rear end/more travel?..
  • + 2
 @phutphutend: Higher pivot point?..
  • + 1
 @phutphutend: And rightly so! Brooklyn’s Mad Max-style DH bikes were things of terrifying steel beauty. Looks like you’ve refined the concept something equally badass.

And bonus points for the “throw the gears in the parts bin” shot!
  • + 1
 Love this bike saw it at bespoke this year, love the simplicity and silence! Well done starling!
  • + 1
 What is used as a rear hub? Does it incorporate a freehub body with spacers, or BMX freewheel?
  • + 2
 Rad, so stoked that Starling do what they do.
  • + 2
 Just wow.. thats all! That bike is a piece of art... Big Grin
  • + 1
 i've never seen fillet brazing on a mountainbike...but I'm not a worldly man.
  • + 1
 Check out Curtis bikes in the UK. Pure bike porn.
  • + 1
 You know, all these crazy bike ideas are great, but has anyone even ever actually seen someone riding one out in public?
  • + 1
 Pretty sweet ride. I would mind an extra inch of travel for rougher terrain, however.
  • + 2
 I heard lots of squeaks on that video.
  • + 3
 Portugeuse mice
  • + 2
 Is it brazed? First ever brazed DH bike?
  • + 7
 Yes. And no.
  • + 0
 Totally get this is a proto, but if your going to let a photog. take close ups, make sure your brazing is on point.
  • + 2
 Yep, like that of Curtis bikes in the UK. Very much on point.
  • + 1
 Loved the idea.. the stiff single speed and the 29 wheels
  • + 1
 The future... somebody needs to make a kit to do this with any DH bike.
  • + 1
 Orange mixed wit Banshee mixed wit Dat Boi
  • + 1
 well it sure doesn't look like a session
  • + 1
 Rides better than one that’s for sure
  • + 1
 Pinkbike we need a travel video!
  • + 1
 F'in Magura brakes. Squeak, Squeak, Squeak...
  • + 1
 Looks like a Starling / Nicolai collab ...
  • + 1
 Roll up on the scene with my ceiling missin....
  • + 1
 Place a Rohloff speedhub and you WILL have gears!
  • + 7
 After it explains the reasoning for single speed...haha I always get the same thing from people out on the trail when i ride my single speed "oh you can actually order a derailleur online and then you can shift" thanks a lot guy
  • + 2
 Yeah why not to add two kilos of unsprung weight to rear axle, also two cables to be correct.
  • + 1
 @b-wicked:
First try THEN judge
  • + 1
 @uncajohn: Why you think I didn't ? I also changed cabels few times, made an oil change also. But it's an anchor my friend.
  • + 1
 @b-wicked:
Because i've been ridding for a long time (more or less 8 years) with a speedhub, mounted on a Mountain Cycle SIN.
All i can say is that the hub's weight is NOT something you notice! (and if you do, you can always re-tune your rear shock settings)

So, practically there's no setback with the weight of the Rohloff...
  • + 1
 With a pull linkage and the correct wheel size, will be my dream bike.
  • + 1
 IS ALREADY EXOTIC WEEK ??
WHERE IS MY MAYTAY, DAMNED!! Big Grin
  • + 1
 Shut up and take my money!!!
  • + 0
 Since he can’t figure it out!
  • - 1
 How are we only just now hearing Portuguese Nationals Masters' categories results? Why hasn't Pinkbike covered them sooner?
  • + 1
 So nice and quiet !
  • + 1
 Want one
  • + 1
 What a beast !
  • + 1
 Done up Bristol fashion!
  • + 0
 Maybe they can make the new turner bike line for DT?
  • + 1
 Steam punk meets DH
  • - 1
 That shock geometry kills the lines for me. I know it is functional but it looks awful, IMO.
  • + 1
 TWO CHAINZ!!!!!
  • - 1
 this is scary, freddy krueger's bike
  • - 1
 Had an interest till 29 was peeking on the screen
  • + 14
 Hey lets down voted together. For a single speed 29er makes no sense except for the rigid geeks. This looks like a park sled, and park sleds need smaller wheels. Because of this [FACT] Smaller wheels = moar shredability. Moar shredabilty= moar bed bouncing with a partner and not alone [FACT] This is science, cant argue.
  • + 2
 @Boardlife69: This is a race winning bike, NOT a park sled!
  • + 2
 @phutphutend: So you would need to change a chain ring for every venue or race track? You cant tell me one gear works on EVERY track because thats just not true. Sure the bike looks fast and can be raced but then you would need quite a few chain rings in the toolbox. If your okay with that more power too you. IMO a race bike needs more than one gear but a park bike can do this quite easily. I still like it and wouldnt mind having one but not a 29er. I hope they make one for smaller wheels.
  • + 9
 @Boardlife69: I have 2 gears that I like to use depending on the track. 36/13 if there is a good start ramp and a very fast track and 36/15 for a track where the corners cause me to slow down. With this set up I can eliminate the thought process of walking the track and thinking where I could shift gears, instead I use practice to just work on pure corner speed, and the 29er helps a lot with generating some extra speed.
  • + 2
 @Boardlife69: put 26 inch wheels on it.
  • + 1
 @Sshredder: The Geo Gods would unleash something or another that could possibly striike fear in someone, but more important than that is it might look not right. Part of that bed bouncing equation on shredability is also looking like everything fits according to what she said.
  • + 1
 @Sshredder: Just buy a Race Link?...
  • + 1
 @Boardlife69: it's a 'whatever-you-want-it-to-be-bike'.
  • - 6
flag jflb (Oct 30, 2018 at 0:34) (Below Threshold)
 @phutphutend:
Not many races you’ll roll down in the wrong gear and win.
So since you won’t be winning you better be hella stylish but I can pretty much guarantee you won’t be cuz of those big dumb wheels.
Oh and nice job shitting on sick bicycles btw there bub.
You figure you’ve got a leg up on them? Looks like your bike got made in a shed.
  • + 4
 @jflb: Just had a quick look through your previous comments on other posts. Bit of a negative person aren't you...
  • + 3
 @jflb: wellllll I had the wrong gear set up but still qualified fastest overall by 3 seconds at rd 5 or the Portuguese nationals and ended up 2nd overall to some seriously fast elite, having only done a handful of runs to get used to the bike. Style doesn’t win races but the bike can be whipped and thrown about effortlessly, just like I did in the video. It’s certainly not everyone’s taste but my god the bike works very well. Below is that race result
www.rootsandrain.com/race6485/2018-may-27-portugal-cup-5-porto-de-mos/results/filters/overall
  • + 1
 @phutphutend:
Are you my daddy?
  • - 2
 Well that sell well.
  • - 3
 Single speed downhill bike sounds ok ..two chains is a bit weird though.
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