Review: Chromag Wideangle

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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.

chromag wideangle steel trail hardtail 27.5 650b rockshox pike hardcore
The Canadian crew behind Chromag are well known for building highly capable and lust-worthy hardtails.

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.

chromag wideangle steel trail hardtail 27.5 650b rockshox pike hardcore
If ever there was a more appropriate home for the all-black PIKE forks, we’d like to know what it is!

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.

chromag wideangle steel trail hardtail 27.5 650b rockshox pike hardcore
Proper headtube badge on the Wideangle frame. No cheap stickers here.

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.

chromag wideangle steel trail hardtail 27.5 650b rockshox pike hardcore
Shallow focus, Wideangle frame.

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.

chromag wideangle steel trail hardtail 27.5 650b rockshox pike hardcore
Appropriate for a complete bike from Chromag is the smattering of high quality Chromag components. The Ranger stem in particular is beautifully crafted.
chromag wideangle steel trail hardtail 27.5 650b rockshox pike hardcore
Chromag grips are like the Jedward brothers: thin, mostly peroxide yellow, and tacky.

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.

chromag wideangle steel trail hardtail 27.5 650b rockshox pike hardcore
Very tidy 1x drivetrain on the Wideangle, with a Chromag narrow-wide chainring bolted to carbon fibre Race Face SIXC cranks.
chromag wideangle steel trail hardtail 27.5 650b rockshox pike hardcore
Lovely cowled dropouts on the back of the Wideangle frame, with slender seat and chainstays coming together around the rear hub dropout.

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.

chromag wideangle steel trail hardtail 27.5 650b rockshox pike hardcore
The Chromag Wideangle shouldn’t be this fast descending, and shouldn’t be this fun either. It’s bonkers quick!

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.

chromag wideangle steel trail hardtail 27.5 650b rockshox pike hardcore
The Wideangle steel frame will take a Stealth dropper post. Also of note is the masses of tyre clearance and a threaded BB shell – two nice features for British mountain bikers.

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.

chromag wideangle steel trail hardtail 27.5 650b rockshox pike hardcore
It’s the little details that we absolutely loved.

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.

chromag wideangle steel trail hardtail 27.5 650b rockshox pike hardcore
The Wideangle frame has modular dropouts that can swap between 142x12mm or 135x10mm setups.

Overall

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.

chromag wideangle steel trail hardtail 27.5 650b rockshox pike hardcore
A hardtail with a 160mm travel fork? The Chromag Wideangle shouldn’t make sense, but it doesn’t have to.

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


Review Info

Brand:Chromag
Product:Wideangle
From:Shorelines (www.shore-lines.co.uk)
Price:£549.99 (frame only)
Tested:by Jason Miles for two months

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