Rewind to Issue #104 of Singletrack Magazine for our review of the Chromag Wideangle from the Hardcore Hardtails group test.
Chromag has been producing high-end hardtails for about 13 years in Whistler, British Columbia. The riding in that part of Canada is renowned for being quite ‘demanding’ on both riders and bikes, so you can assume Chromag builds frames with strength and durability in mind.
If you don’t mind waiting a bit it’ll build you one of its Samurai frames using posh steel tubing and it’ll get a renowned framebuilder to do it – someone like Chris Dekerf. You can have it any colour you like and it’ll cost a lot of money. Now though, you can also buy the Wideangle – a less-expensive ‘production’ version of the Samurai (it’s quite a lot less expensive in fact), the exact same design, features and geometry as the Samurai but made from less-exotic custom cromoly tubing and manufactured by someone in Taiwan. You can’t have any colour you like, but you can get it in this lovely shade of ominous and scary black.
The Wideangle features stealth routing for a dropper post, modular dropouts and a tapered headtube. It also sports a removable ISCG mount for a chain device and a nice ‘kink’ in the top tube to improve standover. Chainstays are asymmetric and feature a drive side sort of ‘plate’ that allows for much bigger tyres to be used or for better mud clearance, one of the most important features for many UK-based riders at the moment.
It’s obvious that the Taiwanese framebuilder Chromag uses to build the Wideangle frames knows what they are doing – the welds on our test bike are utterly flawless and the whole frame screams quality. Even the headtube badge is a shiny, chunky feature with a pair of small bears to show off to your mates.
There’s a good number of Chromag-branded components on show here. The stem, bars, seatpost, clamp and (incredibly comfortable) saddle all seem really high quality – the stem being particularly pretty.
The Wideangle’s long-ish top tube, steep-ish seat tube angle and slack-but-not-really, really-slack headtube angle, along with an utterly fantastic RockShox Pike fork (with 160mm travel), Stan’s wheelset, big XT brakes, 1×10 transmission comprising XT, Race Face carbon cranks and OneUp Components expanded bottom gear and matching derailleur cage make up a bike that’s genuinely light and capable enough for all-day rides in big, rocky, unforgiving hills.
Going up or coming back down again I absolutely loved this bike – for a bike with such a big fork climbing was surprisingly good, in fact even the steepest climbs were cleaned without having to use the big 42-tooth bail-out sprocket. There wasn’t a hint of the front wheel getting too light and wandering around and it seemed as though the bumpier and rockier the climb, the better things were. Climbing was almost fun.
The bike’s handling and ability to ride at speed along twisty, rocky trails was an absolutely laser-guided joy and when the trail goes downhill, you can pretty much go as fast as you want, down pretty much anything you want. Even without a dropper post, the Wideangle’s downhill credentials were exceptionally good. Fit a dropper post and it’d be better still.
The Continental Trail Kings that came on this test bike were a perfect match and didn’t mind being continually leaned over much further than I quite honestly would normally be happy with. I was riding with a level of confidence that I rarely get now that I’m in my mid-40s. It’s certainly not a sanitised skills-compensator in the way that some full suspension bikes are, but it is genuinely designed for riding fast, being pointed straight at stuff you’d perhaps otherwise avoid, cornering like a crazy fool, riding uphill without any big dramas and for just generally for having a really, really good time.
Hardcore hardtails are about how they make the rider feel, how enjoyable they are and how many times the rider says ‘I love this bike’ when he or she is out riding it, rather than stuff like how practical they are or how quickly they can get from A to B. I genuinely didn’t want to stop riding this one. It’s bloody magic, and I want one.
Some hardcore hardtails I’ve ridden are good, but the Chromag Wideangle is better than good. It’s fabulous. Granted, this almost-top-drawer build means it’s also the most expensive bike here but the Far-Eastern manufactured frame on its own isn’t crazy money, so as long as you get a fork that’s as capable as the frame – such as the excellent Pike on our test bike – you’ve got the basis of a brilliant-handling, go-anywhere, ride-everything, all-day hardtail.
The only question I have now is if the Wideangle is the cut-price, ‘budget’ version of the high-end, fancy-tubed Samurai, costing almost twice as much (frame only), how good must that be? Is it twice as good as the Wideangle? Given how great the Wideangle is, it’d be interesting to find out…
- Frame // Chromag custom cromoly steel tubeset
- Fork // RockShox Pike RCT3, 160mm
- Hubs // Stan’s 3.30
- Rims // Stan’s
- Tyres // Continental Trail King ProTection, 2.2in
- Chainset // Race Face SixC carbon, OneUp Components 32T ring
- Rear Mech // Shimano XT Shadow, OneUp Components RAD Cage
- Shifters // XT
- Brakes // Shimano XT / Icetech rotors
- Stem // Chromag Ranger, 60mm
- Bars // Chromag OSX
- Grips // Chromag
- Seatpost // Chromag Dolomite
- Saddle // Chromag DT
- Size Tested // 17in
- Sizes available // 15.5in, 17in, 18.5in, 21.5”
- Weight // 27.6lb
|Price:||£549.99 (frame only)|
|Tested:||by Jason Miles for two months|