With extra and extra manufacturers promoting full mountain bikes direct to shopper, we determined to take a look at three of the newest choices from Intense, Bird, and Sonder, to place every model’s service – and bikes – to the check. Over to James Vincent for the assessment!
Based mostly close to Swinley Forest [co-incidentally this issue’s Classic Ride – Ed] on the outskirts of the M25, Bird Cycleworks is run by a few long-time riders and racers, Ben Pinnick and Dan Hodge. Bird has solely been round since 2013, making the corporate itself a relative newcomer to the business.
Bird Cycleworks brings a decidedly UK-centric design strategy with the Aeris 145.
Brimming with youthful enthusiasm, Pinnick and Hodge haven’t precisely been twiddling their thumbs over the previous 5 years. The present line-up boasts a 130mm-forked hardtail (Zero TR), a 150mm-forked hardtail (Zero AM), a 120mm journey path bike (Aeris 120), a 145mm journey all mountain bike (Aeris 145), and an enormous 150mm journey 29er enduro bike (Aeris AM9).
The bike we’ve acquired right here is the Goldilocks choice, and is the second era of Bird’s hottest full suspension mannequin: the Aeris 145.
All bikes are designed by Pinnick and Hodge, and manufactured in Taiwan. The frames are shipped to the UK, earlier than being assembled into full bikes and bought by means of an internet site with an choices listing lengthy sufficient to place most automotive producers to disgrace.
All full bikes are assembled within the UK from the tyres up.
Beginning with certainly one of 4 base builds, you’ll be able to customise all the things from tyres to dropper posts, bars to brakes. You’ll be able to even place a particular order and get elements that aren’t listed on the location, which means you may be driving your final set-up with out having to swap any bits out your self. Spectacular stuff.
From day one, the group at Bird has made themselves available to clients, both on the finish of a phone, by way of an in depth (and commonly up to date) FAQ part on the web site, or by way of Bird’s southern head workplace and numerous demo days throughout the nation. As well as, Bird has lately launched a northern base for demos, in addition to a small demo fleet out there at Cwmcarn in South Wales.
The Aeris 145 is an enduro-capable 27.5in full susser.
Constructing on the success of the unique Aeris 140, the identify is the one factor that is still unchanged on this new mannequin. The body sports activities new geometry and suspension kinematics and though it’s nonetheless crafted from aluminium, the grade is improved and the tubing refined.
There’s an industrial aesthetic to the body, with giant CNC machined chunks of alloy used for the dropouts, the shock linkage, and a one-piece construction that homes each the underside bracket and foremost pivot. The Aeris 145 is additionally now 1x particular, permitting pivot factors to be widened and bearings made bigger to alleviate the flex of the earlier mannequin. Because of the Increase rear finish, there’s now clearance for two.6in tyres even with brief (435mm) chainstays.
Tremendous strong alloy body with chunky CNC machined junctions.Battleship dropouts with direct-mount brakes.
Small however appreciated particulars on the Aeris 145 body embrace full-length exterior cable routing (apart from the final part for the stealth dropper), bottle cage bosses inside the primary body, a threaded BB shell, and the choice to run a full chain information by way of ISCG 05 tabs.
The Aeris 145 will accommodate a 150–170mm journey fork, although the inventory construct encompasses a 160mm Yari RC and a 65.1° head angle. Whereas rear journey is fastened at 145mm, Bird has simply launched a brand new LT (lengthy journey) model of this similar body with 160mm rear journey. The additional journey is unlocked by way of a brand new linkage, which additionally slackens the top angle to 64.6° and drops the underside bracket a contact. What’s good is that present Aeris 145 house owners can purchase the brand new linkage individually.
There’s scope to suit a 150-170mm journey fork.An aftermarket LT linkage pumps up rear journey to 160mm.
There are 4 base builds for the Aeris 145 that centre across the drivetrain spec. Merely select a SRAM NX 1×11, Shimano SLX 1×11, SRAM GX Eagle 1×12, or SRAM XX1 Eagle 1×12 groupset, and then customise from there.
With a clean web page for our GX Eagle 1×12 check bike, I did my greatest to rein in my internal youngster and hold issues lifelike, although I did spec a piggyback shock to offer higher damping on the rougher terrain we rise up right here within the Lakes. The metric RockShox Tremendous Deluxe RT3 runs on cartridge bearings at every finish for additional sensitivity, and is an outstanding performer.
Full exterior cable routing and water bottle mounts.
Arriving already arrange tubeless (good contact!) the DT Swiss wheelset and Maxxis tyre set-up is a profitable combo. Particularly, the ‘Wide Trail’ Minion DHR II has turn out to be my new favorite entrance tyre for all however the sloppiest of circumstances.
Likewise, the complete SRAM GX Eagle groupset provides usually excellent efficiency. The solely unfavorable is that it’s delicate to arrange. Throughout testing I caught the rear mech and knocked the hanger barely out of true, which in flip induced the gears to leap about a bit of – extra so than I’ve skilled with SRAM’s bulletproof 11-speed drivetrains.
Because it was, we ended up with a snapped chain whereas on the photograph shoot. The Information R brakes labored nice initially, even when the inventory SRAM pads don’t final very lengthy, and as they wore down and the lever throw elevated, I missed the adjustable chew level discovered on the upper finish Information RSCs.
As soon as the pads put on, the Information R lever really feel suffers.
My first check of the bike’s talents got here whereas visiting buddies for a journey across the Surrey Hills. On utterly alien terrain to me (and on a model new bike), the Aeris shortly felt at residence on the sculpted twists and turns of Surrey. Pushing my weight additional ahead to load up the entrance finish, we hit a brief rocky and rutted part.
Feeling good, I needed to see what the Aeris was able to. I let off the brakes and the bike took off like a shot, beautiful my companions into silence. “You rode that pretty well seeing as you’re riding it blind!” they exclaimed. I might solely shrug and say: “Umm, it’s the bike?”
The Aeris 145 is a motorcycle that yells “GET OFF THE BRAKES!”
And this sums the Bird up for me. The Aeris is most at residence when off the brakes and charging. It is not a motorcycle to deal with issues slowly or delicately. This bike needs to be unleashed, to deal with belongings you in any other case wouldn’t dream of. And with its humungous wheelbase (1,255mm) and slack head angle, it provides you all the arrogance you possibly can probably want when you’ve obtained your head round its dimensions.
Speaking of dimensions, this bike is lengthy. Like, artic lorry-long. The L measurement comes with an enormous 506mm attain measurement, which is greater than most manufacturers’ XL measurement. In line with Bird’s on-line measurement calculator, at only a shade over 6ft tall I must be on the Giant, although I reckon I might simply match the 481mm attain of the M/L measurement. My recommendation? Both ensure you’re VERY assured in your numbers, or get your self a demo journey earlier than committing to a specific measurement.
The large entrance centre takes some getting used to.
Additionally of word is the 120mm head tube on the L measurement, which is, vertically, about 25mm shorter than my ordinary journey. Mixed with the additional lengthy prime tube, I initially had far an excessive amount of weight on my arms, which made me really feel like I used to be going to tip over the bars. I raised the stem by 20mm and the bike was reworked. Little changes, massive modifications.
Regardless of its size and clean suspension, pedalling the Aeris doesn’t really feel as ungainly as you may anticipate. In truth, with the steep 75.6° seat tube and saddle slammed as far ahead because it’ll go, the bike feels fairly environment friendly for a 14.4kg 145mm journey machine. Together with your weight centred properly between the wheels, the Aeris 145 climbs up hearth roads at a gentle tempo and with minimal pedal bob.
Being such an extended bike, some manhandling is required by way of tight corners.
However although the Aeris places you in a fantastic place for steeper climbs, at occasions the entrance and rear of the bike do really feel like they’re at reverse ends of a grand eating desk, with a definite lack of communication between the 2.
The knock-on impact is that it doesn’t actually excel at technical trails both up or down – you already know, these ones the place you actually need to manhandle the bike to select the suitable line. This bike doesn’t dance with finesse, particularly at decrease speeds. Positive it’ll get around the tight stuff, however you’ll want to actually exaggerate your actions to make it occur.
Should you’re the kind of rider who will get as a lot satisfaction from clearing a difficult climb as you do from claiming one other KOM on the descents, then you might have to look elsewhere. However for many who prize outright velocity and stability, the Aeris 145 is an enormous ol’ bruiser that loves monster-trucking its means into, over or by means of no matter is in entrance of you.
For a UK tough ‘n’ prepared full susser, the Aeris 145 is one quick and progressive bruiser.
With the Aeris 145, Bird has absolutely embraced the ‘longer, lower and slacker’ ethos. Mixed with a troublesome welded alloy body and a supple RockShox suspension package deal, this is an enduro-capable bike that flies down the steepest and most technical of trails, instilling a ton of confidence whereas doing so.
No, it isn’t nice for wiggling by way of tighter trails, however it’ll winch up hearth roads with out problem, and for riders who stay for the descents, that’s all that issues. Issue within the nice pricing and an unrivalled spec listing to select from, and you’ve acquired one of the crucial well-thought-out bikes designed for British driving that I’ve had the pleasure of driving in a very long time.
Bird Aeris 145 GX Eagle Specs
- Body // 6066 Alloy Tubeset, 145mm Journey
- Fork // RockShox Yari RC, 160mm Journey
- Shock // RockShox Tremendous Deluxe RT3, Bearing Eyelets
- Hubs // DT Swiss M1900, 110x15mm Entrance & 148x12mm Rear
- Rims // DT Swiss M1900, 30mm Inner Rim Width, 32h, Tubeless Prepared
- Tyres // Maxxis Minion DHR II 2.4in WT Entrance & Excessive Curler 2.3in Rear
- Chainset // SRAM GX Eagle, 34T Direct Mount X-Sync 2 Chainring
- Rear Mech // SRAM GX Eagle, 12-Velocity
- Shifter // SRAM GX Eagle, 12-Velocity
- Cassette // SRAM XG-1275, 10-50t, 12-Velocity
- Brakes // SRAM Information R, 180mm Entrance & 160mm Rear
- Stem // Race Face Aeffect R, 35mm Diameter, 40mm Lengthy
- Bars // Race Face Atlas, 35mm Diameter, 20mm Rise, 780mm Large
- Grips // Race Face Half Nelson Lock-On
- Seatpost // Race Face Aeffect R, 31.6mm Diameter, 150mm Journey
- Saddle // Material Scoop Radius Sport Saddle
- Measurement Examined // L
- Sizes out there // S, M, M/L, L, XL
- Precise Weight: 14.4kg / 31.75lbs
- RRP // £2,757 (as examined)
Loved that one? This text was from Concern #118 of Singletrack Journal, and you’ll be able to learn the complete function and a great deal of different implausible tales proper right here.