London Bike Show 2017: Stanton Bikes

by
February 22, 2017

If you’re into steel hardtails designed for British conditions, then there’s a very good chance you know the Stanton Bikes name well. Originally launched back in 2010, the Stanton brand emerged from the depths of Dan Stanton’s mind. Dan was a man who was on the lookout for a snappy and quick-handling hardtail equipped with 4X-like handling. After realising that what he wanted didn’t really exist, Dan embarked on a mission to create his very own bike. And the rest – as they say – is history.

If you’re not familiar with how the rest of the story goes, then do yourself a favour and head to the Stanton Bikes website to read about it from the very beginning. It’s a terrific story that details the humble beginnings of the Stanton project, along with some of the key moments along the way that have helped shape the brand into what it is today.

london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
The Stanton Bikes booth was humming for all four days of the London Bike Show.

At the 2017 London Bike Show, Stanton Bikes had one of the best looking displays going. Highlighting the significant progression for the small British company, there were no less than six different models on display, along with a growing range of components and build kit options.

london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
Stanton Bikes has been around since 2010, and the product range has expanded and refined in the seven years since.

For the most part, Stanton Bikes work with steel. There’s the Slackline and Switchback models built around 27.5in wheels, and there’s the Sherpa that’ll fit 29in or 27.5 plus wheels. In addition to those models and multiple colour options, both the Sherpa and Switchback are produced in Titanium as well, which Dan is very proud about. As we took a tour through the Stanton booth at the show (see the video below), it became abundantly clear that these aren’t your typical catalogue frames from Taiwan with a simple sticker slapped on – there’s a whole load of detail lurking beneath the painted exterior.

london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
The Switchback is kicked back and ready for a 160mm fork.

Starting with the biggest and baddest model of the range, the Switchback is a hardcore hardtail that’s ready to take up to a 160mm travel fork. The front-end is built from Reynolds 631 tubing, with the top and down tubes featuring triple-butted wall thicknesses, while the rear end is constructed from Reynolds 525 tubes that are cold worked into their final state.

london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
Designed for maximum fun factor, the Switchback is short, slack, low and long in all the right places.

In terms of geometry, the new generation Switchback rocks a 65° head angle and super-short 415mm chain stays. It’s built to provide you with loads of descending capability, whilst retaining that snappy handling that Dan Stanton wanted in his original bike back in 2010.

london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
Steel Reynolds tubing for strength and liveliness.

New additions to the V2.0 version of the Switchback include a 44mm head tube, 142x12mm thru-axle dropouts, and stealth dropper post routing.

london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
Chunky chain stay yoke keeps the rear centre short and snappy.

The yoke behind the bottom bracket is a completely unique design for Stanton. It’s a one-piece CNC machined piece of metal that is designed to provide sufficient chainring clearance, while allowing room for up to a 2.5in rear tyre.

london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
Brushed titanium is totally understated, but the geometry of the Switchback is anything but.

Want lighter? Stanton also makes the Switchback in a Titanium version that sells for £1649 for the frame, as oppose to £599 for the steel version. Weight drops down a bit to 1.9kg for the frame, while geometry remains the same as the steel model. However, thanks to some customised trickery around the bottom bracket area, the Switchback Ti can take up to a 2.8in wide rear tyre.

london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
Internal cable routing through the Switchback Ti top tube offers a clean look
london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
Smoother than Sean Connery, and tougher than Van Damme.

Here’s the custom bottom bracket shell that we mentioned earlier. It’s a chunky item that’s CNC machined out of a single piece of titanium. And yes, that’s as expensive to make as it sounds. Note that despite the luxurious material and expensive production process, the BB still relies on a good ol’ 73mm threaded shell, and there’s ISCG tabs for those that rad.

london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
Tidy welded port for a stealth dropper post.
london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
Lovely curvaceous one-piece yoke design. Yum.
london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
How’s the consistency of that welding??
london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
Y’know, just a wooden box filled with titanium. As you do.
london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
Just cos right?

The Switchback Ti has some stunning details on the frame, including the bridging plate at the upper section of the seat stays, complete with Stanton branding.

london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
Very tidy, and room for BIG 27.5×2.8in rubber in there too.
london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
Prototype modular Swapouts that have allowed Dan Stanton to ease in a 148x12mm rear hub into the Switchback Ti.

So the 142x12mm thru-axle locks down via the modular Swapout system. This allows you to run the 142x12mm thru-axle, a 135x10mm axle, or even a horizontal setup to rock as a singlespeed. Shown in the above photo however, is another option again; Boost 148x12mm. These are currently prototype, but it’s Dan Stanton’s way of adding some additional future-proofing to the existing Switchback model, so current customers can upgrade to a Boost wheelset if they want.

london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
The Slackline is a more conventional trail hardtail, and is ready for 100-140mm of fork travel.

Moving down the travel line is the Slackline. It’s still a burly trail hardtail designed around 27.5in wheels, but the Slackline is built to take a slightly shorter travel fork, with a recommended fork travel of 100-140mm. Geometry is chilled a little bit compared to the Switchback, making the Slackline a more friendly bike for trail centres and all-day pedalling.

london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
That’s a proper head tube badge you see there.
london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
Red is clearly faster. It’s science.

The Slackline can be had in grey or red, and like the Switchback, it sells for £599 for the frame. To keep weight down, Stanton went with lighter gauge Reynolds 853 tubing for the front end, though an eclectic mix of Reynolds 631 and 525 rounds out the rest of the bike. As with all Stanton frames, every tube and junction is unique to these bikes you see here – you won’t find nothing out of a stock catalogue.

london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
There is something oh-so-right about fat rubber, big forks and steel tubing.

While the fork travel drops down slightly compared to the bigger Switchback, the Slackline is still equipped with a chunky Fox 34 fork on this model shown at the London Bike Show, and it delivers a 66.5° head angle that keeps the front wheel out nice and far ahead of the rider.

london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
The long distance bike that’s still ready for fun, the Sherpa is Stanton’s 29er hardtail.

Also using Reynolds 853 tubing, the Stanton Sherpa shares some similar design aspects to the Slackline, but adds in bigger 29in wheels into the cooking pot. Like many modern 29ers, the Sherpa is also 27.5 plus compatible, so you can build it as you like really. Recommended fork travel max’s out at 120mm, and that’ll give you a 67.5° head angle. Also equipped with 142x12mm modular Swapouts and a tidy bottom bracket/chain stay yoke to keep the rear end short and snappy.

london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
Would you like Ti with that?

The Sherpa can also be had in a Titanium version for those with more exotic taste, or simply for those who want a bike that’ll last longer than the next iPhone. You may recall that we reviewed the Stanton Ti not long ago, and it was an absolutely brilliant piece of kit. Check out the full feature of our Titanium Hardtails group test here.

london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
A prototype bikepacking version of the Sherpa.

Despite having our attention caught by all the pretty frames on display, there was one bike at the Stanton booth that stood out from all the rest. With its colourful blue paintjob and chunky plus tyres, the Sherpa+ has been built as a working prototype that Stanton is currently testing. It’s built around the existing Sherpa platform, but elects for wider rubber, a rigid fork and all the necessary mounting points to bolt on all sorts of racks and bags for overnight bikepacking expeditions.

london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
Perhaps the most fitting use for the Sherpa name yet?
london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
It says Stanton on the downtube…
london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
…and it’s got that lovely CNC machined chain stay yoke…
london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
…and it’s also made of Reynolds 853 steel…
london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
The Sherpa+ is currently in prototype form, but it’ll be a 29+ rigid mountain bike.

But that’s where the similarities with the existing Sherpa end. The Sherpa+ is designed as a purpose-built off-road bikepacking bike, and as such it gets some girthier rubber to provide a little more comfort and traction while rocking a rigid setup.

london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
Want belt drive? You can do that with the Sherpa+ frame.

Look closely, and you’ll see the split dropout that allows you to mount a belt drive in there. Along with the modular Swapouts, this looks to be a very, very versatile piece of kit.

london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
All of the bags!
london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
We’ll have to wait for further details on the production Sherpa+, but right now it looks very nice indeed.

Bikepacking is the hot ticket right now, but while Stanton was keen to get on board, it was also keen to retain the handling of the existing Sherpa while adding in bikepacking-friendly features. Yes you can carry your sleeping bag, tent and camp stove on it, but it’s still got many of the same design features and geometry numbers as the current Sherpa 29er, so it’s still a proper mountain bike. Mind you, it’s still in prototype phase, so stay tuned for more updates once production numbers are locked in.

london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
A cactus and some Stanton saddles. Having used Stanton saddles before, we can attest that this isn’t an illustration of their comfort!
london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
More cactus, and this time, stems. Chunky CNC little items too. Choose from 35mm or 50mm lengths.
london bike show stanton hardtail reynolds steel 853 titanium sherpa slackline switchback plus 29in 29er frame cactus
And lovely coloured bars to match too. No less than 810mm wide, and featuring a 35mm clamp diameter and 10mm of rise.

Whilst we were in the Stanton Bikes booth, we had the chance to chat with the main man behind the brand, Dan Stanton. The guy is an absolute legend, and while being super knowledgeable, he’s able to deliver all of that information inside his head without being condescending – a trait that is typical amongst usual bike industry types.

Check out our video tour of the Stanton Bikes booth below, and for more information, head on to the Stanton Bikes website.

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