Rewind to the Bike Test in Issue #108 of Singletrack Magazine, where Jason Miles pitched three titanium hardtails against each other.
Stanton Bikes has been around for five or so years now. Dan Stanton wanted to design a bike that would be “equally as happy smashing dirt jumps and 4X tracks as it was trudging loops round the Peak District”. After a bit of a steep learning curve, the highly regarded 26in wheeled, steel-framed Slackline was born.
Fast-forward a few years and now the Stanton range includes 27.5in and 29in frames, both in Reynolds steel as well as titanium like this one, the Sherpa Ti.
The 3AL-2.5V titanium frame features a big 44mm headtube, a gusseted downtube complete with nice large ports for a stealth dropper seatpost, enough room between the stays for 2.5in tyres (or 3in, semi-fat 27.5+ wheels and tyres if you fancy that sort of thing) and ‘Swapout’ dropouts for 12mm thru-axle, quick-release or singlespeed use. Bottom bracket shell is an always-nice-to-see ‘conventional’ threaded job.
Cable outer is full-length to keep shifting smooth even when you’ve been treating yourself to the UK’s finest bogs and farmyards. There are no lairy graphics or decals here – only subtle etching on almost every available inch of the frame. A nice metal headtube badge completes the classy package.
Our test bike was built with a 1×11 XTR set-up, Fox 34 fork, 2.4in Vittoria 29er tyres, Reverb dropper post and Mavic Crossmax ST wheels, giving you a bike that’s just a shade over 11 kilograms.
The first thing that hits you when you ride the Sherpa, especially if you ride somewhere tight and twisty, is that it doesn’t ride like a 29er at all. It’s about as nimble as a well-sorted 26in wheeled bike but has the ‘high speed in the rough’ ability of a 29er. The frame’s short (435mm) chainstays no doubt help there. There wasn’t a single time where I thought that the bike was too long or tricky to handle both at high and low speeds. It’s massively confidence inspiring and encourages off-the-brakes charging into rocks and roots without losing any momentum.
With a 67.5° head angle it’s on the right side of slack to encourage as much swashbuckling downhill riding as you dare while the 72° seat tube angle helps it to climb just as well. The wide Race Face bars and very short stem, along with the brilliant Fox 34 fork, Shimano brakes and Vittoria tyres are a perfect match for the Sherpa.
Perhaps the best (and to some, the worst) way I can illustrate how good this bike is would be to say that on one ride that was uploaded to Strava (there – I’ve said it. Sorry!), I achieved a personal-best time on a section of downhill, rocky trail that I’ve ridden four or five times weekly for the past couple of years. And it’s got three man-made jumps in it. And I had a partially-flat rear tyre. And I don’t do jumps, really.
Go back a few years and 29ers were considered cumbersome, more difficult to manoeuvre, even ponderous. There are probably mountain bikers out there even now who would never entertain the ideal of buying one. The Sherpa Ti is an illustration at how much things have progressed and how rideable 29ers can be – all the best attributes of big wheels (momentum, speed, comfort) without any of the handling and ‘rider perched up high in the air’ downsides. Also worth noting that if £1,700 is far too much to pay for a bike frame, Stanton does a ‘regular’ Reynolds 853 steel version which is a little bit heavier but is probably just as much fun.
Whether you’re heading out for a couple of hours tearing around a trail centre, you’ve got all day to ride from your door to the furthest point on the horizon and then back again, or you’ve got an hour after work for some messing about to put a smile back on your face, the Stanton Sherpa is spot on. Even if you’ve always been sceptical about 29ers or you simply don’t like them at all, I would urge you to have a go on a Sherpa and prepare to have your head turned.
The Stanton Sherpa Ti Specifications:
- Frame // 3Al-2.5V Titanium
- Fork // Fox 34 Float Factory Series, 120mm travel, QR15
- Hubs // Mavic Crossmax ST, 100x15mm front & 142x12mm rear
- Rims // Mavic Crossmax ST
- Tyres // Vittoria Goma TNT 29×2.4in
- Chainset // Shimano XTR 32t
- Front Mech // N/A
- Rear Mech // Shimano XTR 11-speed
- Shifters // Shimano XTR 1×11
- Cassette // Shimano XTR 11-speed 11-40t
- Brakes // Shimano XTR, 180mm front & 160mm rear 6-bolt rotors
- Stem // RaceFace Turbine 40mm
- Bars // RaceFace Turbine 780mm wide
- Grips // RaceFace Lock-On
- Seatpost // RockShox Reverb Stealth
- Saddle // SDG
- Size Tested // 17in
- Sizes Available // 17in, 19in, 21in
- Weight // 26.2lbs (11.91kg)
|Price:||£1649 (frame only)|
|Tested:||by Jason Miles for 2 months|