Get a look at this gorgeous UK-made steel full suspension bike from Swarf Cycles

by Wil Barrett 7

We have very good news for those of you who appreciate locally-made steel mountain bikes. We have just received a new, and very unique full suspension bike in from Swarf Cycles, which is in the house and up on the test rota!

The mustard-yellow bike in question is the brand new Contour, and it’s designed and manufactured by Swarf’s owner, Adrian Bedford. The bike we have here is pre-production, but it’s pretty close to what potential customers can expect of a production-spec frame.

swarf prototype steel full suspension bike mustard cane creek dbairil
It’s a Swarf, but this one has got rear bouncy bits too.

After years of playing with prototypes and various suspension designs (check out Adrian’s detailed blog post to see what the originals looked like), the Contour is set to be the first full suspension model from Swarf – a brand best known for its lovely custom steel hardtails.

Pitched as a versatile do-it-all trail bike with 29in wheels, 115mm of rear travel and a 130mm travel fork, the Contour frame is made with a combination of Reynolds 853 and 631 steel tubing for the front end, with Dedacciai steel chainstays and 4130 cromo seatstays for the back end. In between is a beautiful CNC machined alloy rocker linkage. Geometry is modern without being uber-radical, while UK-sensibility is featured throughout with fully external brake hose and derailleur cable routing, a 73mm threaded bottom bracket shell, loads of mud clearance, and plenty of room for a water bottle inside the front triangle.

Before the Contour gets covered in Pennine-filth, we took a bunch of photos (in the sunshine and everything – lucky!) for you to ogle over, so read on to check out the core specs and features of this lovely steel full suspension machine.

swarf prototype steel full suspension bike mustard cane creek dbairil
The Contour will be the first production full susser from Swarf Cycles.

Swarf Contour Features

  • Full suspension 29er trail bike
  • Made in the UK
  • Reynolds 853 steel tubing
  • Single pivot suspension design w/115mm rear travel
  • Designed for 130mm travel forks
  • 66.5° head angle
  • 75.5° seat tube angle
  • Reach: 420mm (Small), 438mm (Medium), 465mm (Large) and 495mm (X-Large)
  • Max tyre clearance: 2.5in
  • 445mm chainstay length
  • 73mm English threaded bottom bracket
  • ISCG 05 chainguide tabs
  • 142x12mm rear hub spacing (Boost also available)
  • Full-length external routing for rear brake & derailleur
  • Available sizes: Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
  • Frame RRP: £1950 (RockShox Monarch RT3 shock) or £2150 (Cane Creek DBairIL shock)
swarf prototype steel full suspension bike mustard cane creek dbairil
Butted, TIG-welded, and heat-treated Reynolds 853 steel tubing.
swarf prototype steel full suspension bike mustard cane creek dbairil
The CNC-machined heart of the Contour.

There’s 115mm of travel on the back of the Contour, which is delivered via a single pivot suspension design that places the main pivot right in line with the 32t chainring. The frame is 1x only, which means the pivot locations can be optimised around the single chainring, rather than having to compromise across a 2x or 3x setup.

Compressing the rear shock is a set of CNC machined plates that are bolted together to form a triangular rocker link, and big sealed cartridge bearings and tough stainless steel hardware are used throughout for durability and serviceability.

swarf prototype steel full suspension bike mustard cane creek dbairil
The pivot-less steel swingarm uses slender seatstays that flex ever-so-slightly.

Our test bike features a Cane Creek DBairIL rear shock, though the Contour will accommodate a range of air shocks and coil shocks, depending on what you want to run, and frame pricing starts at £1950 with a RockShox Monarch RT3 shock. One thing to note is that because of the tight clearance with the downtube and seat tube, the Contour isn’t piggyback compatible.

You’ll likely notice that there aren’t any pivots to be found around the rear axle. Instead, Adrian has designed the Contour with slender seatstays that are designed to flex ever-so-slightly as the suspension cycles through its travel. Not only does this lower weight, the reduction in moving parts means there’s one less set of bearings and pivots to worry about servicing. And because of the orientation of the seatstays and the way the rocker link rotates, there is minimal flex required to begin with, so it isn’t as if the back of the frame will be bending like a noodle.

swarf prototype steel full suspension bike mustard cane creek dbairil
You’ll find sealed cartridge bearings and stainless steel hardware throughout.
swarf prototype steel full suspension bike mustard cane creek dbairil
The rear shock tucks down into its own pocket between the downtube and seat tube.
swarf prototype steel full suspension bike mustard cane creek dbairil
No press-fit funny business here.
swarf prototype steel full suspension bike mustard cane creek dbairil
Check out those lovely cowled dropouts! *swoon*
swarf prototype steel full suspension bike mustard cane creek dbairil
The rear dropouts are spaced 142mm apart, though Swarf will offer Boost 148mm spacing as an option.
swarf prototype steel full suspension bike mustard cane creek dbairil
The seatstays reach up to the top tube to form an almost straight line from the head tube down to the rear dropouts.
swarf prototype steel full suspension bike mustard cane creek dbairil
Without a seatstay bridge, there’s a tonne of mud clearance for the Contour, and room for up to 2.5in wide tyres.
swarf prototype steel full suspension bike mustard cane creek dbairil
Our test bike is made up with parts from Adrian’s personal parts bin, though he’s very kindly slapped on a brand new SLX 1×11 groupset.
swarf prototype steel full suspension bike mustard cane creek dbairil
32t chainring pairs to an 11-42t cassette, which almost looks classic next to SRAM’s enormo 1×12 Eagle drivetrains.
swarf prototype steel full suspension bike mustard cane creek dbairil
At the back of the bike is a 150mm travel RockShox Reverb dropper post and an SQlabs 612 Ergowave saddle.
swarf prototype steel full suspension bike mustard cane creek dbairil
And up front is a 780mm wide riser bar from USE.
swarf prototype steel full suspension bike mustard cane creek dbairil nukeproof stem
45mm long stem pairs to the 438mm reach on our Medium-sized frame.
swarf prototype steel full suspension bike mustard cane creek dbairil
Bulletproof Shimano SLX components, including the latest M7000 brakes.
swarf prototype steel full suspension bike mustard cane creek dbairil reverb
Funn lock-on grips and a flipped Reverb remote that tucks in against the brake lever clamp.
swarf prototype steel full suspension bike mustard cane creek dbairil hope headset
What else would you choose right?
swarf prototype steel full suspension bike mustard cane creek dbairil
Frontal duties are handled by a 130mm travel RockShox Pike RCT3 fork…
swarf prototype steel full suspension bike mustard cane creek dbairil
…and a Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5in WT tyre.
swarf prototype steel full suspension bike mustard cane creek dbairil
Matching the back end is a non-Boost front Hope Pro4 hub.
swarf prototype steel full suspension bike mustard cane creek dbairil cable hose
We like those nice bolt-on cable managers!
swarf prototype steel full suspension bike mustard cane creek dbairil
Expect to see more of these in the wild in the not-too-distant future…

The Swarf Contour is set to appear in the next issue of Singletrack Magazine in a three-way group test. We’ll leave you to guess what the theme of that group test might be…

In the meantime, mosey on over to the Swarf Cycles website for more information about the brand, and to get in touch with Adrian if you’re looking for particulars on the new Contour.

swarf prototype steel full suspension bike mustard cane creek dbairil
It certainly has the looks, but what’s it actually like to ride? Stay tuned to find out!

Swarf Contour Specifications

  • Frame // TIG-Welded Steel Mainframe & Swingarm, 115mm Travel
  • Fork // RockShox Pike RCT3, 130mm Travel
  • Shock // Cane Creek DBairIL
  • Rims // No-Name Chinese Carbon, 32h, Tubeless Compatible
  • Hubs // Hope Pro 4, 100x15mm Front & 142x12mm Rear
  • Tyres // Maxxis Minion DHF EXO 2.5in WT Front & Minion DHR II EXO 3C MaxxTerra 2.3in Rear
  • Chainset // Shimano SLX, 32t Chainring
  • Rear Mech // Shimano SLX, 11-Speed
  • Shifters // Shimano SLX, 11-Speed
  • Cassette // Shimano SLX, 11-42t, 11-Speed
  • Brakes // Shimano SLX, 180mm Front & 160mm Rear
  • Stem // Nukeproof Alloy, 45mm Long
  • Bars // USE Nail Aluminum, 780mm Wide, 20mm Rise
  • Grips // Funn Combat Lock-On Black
  • Seatpost // RockShox Reverb Stealth, 30.9mm, 150mm Travel
  • Saddle // SQlab 612 Ergowave
  • Size Tested // Medium
  • Sizes available // Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
  • Weight // 13.79kg (30.38lbs)

Comments (7)

  1. Adrian makes some stunning bikes.

    Re the piggyback shock ‘issue’….couldn’t you just flip the shock the other way up thereby giving room for the piggyback?

  2. @Gotama – He certainly does!

    I’m only going off what Adrian has told us about fitting a piggyback shock, but from just looking at the frame, my assumption is that the shock simply wouldn’t fit if you tried to mount it with the reservoir at the bottom. And if you ran the shock the other way round with the piggyback reservoir at the top, it looks like it would run into the downtube at full compression.

    Needless to say, it makes the DBairIL a good option for this frame!

    ST Wil.

  3. Hey Gotama

    Adrian from Swarf here.. Wil is exactly right, either way around something hits the downtube. I tried to accommodate all shocks during the design in but there were too many compromises. So to keep it simple I sacrificed the option of piggy back shocks.. It’s a trail bike first and foremost and there are plenty of decent inline shocks to choose from. The leverage rate curve of the frame is really quite progressive so you can even run a coil shock on it if that tickles your fancy….

  4. Been following development of these. Looking great as ever and on the wishlist for my next bike.

    Any plans to offer customisable geometry?

  5. Lovely, I better get saving!

  6. I love it.

    But “very unique” … ?

    Unique means one of a kind, nothing is ‘very unique’.

    Oh come on, some one had to, who’s teaching these kids?

  7. @ahwiles – I have no doubts that Joseph Wright would would be turning over laps in his grave right now!

    However, while Wright’s been chilling over the last 100 years or so, the term ‘unique’ has evolved. Nowadays it isn’t so binary, as it can also mean something that is rare, or unusual. Hence why it has been used in this instance to describe the Swarf Contour.

    But even though it’s a regularly used phrase, you’re still spot-on that the term isn’t considered ‘proper English’. But then again, neither am I 🙂

    Anywho, I figure that Wright wouldn’t be that bothered about it. At least not when we have words such as ‘Yass’, ‘Fitspiration’, ‘Craptacular’, and ‘Biatch’ – all real, actual words that were added in to the Oxford English Dictionary for 2017.

    Yes, really.

    ST Wil

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