Review: Brother Cycles Big Bro – For long and short adventures

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There’s something very exciting about getting a new adventure bike out of the box for the first time. With a trail bike, you kind of know what you’re going to get, with most models following a well tried and tested formula of frame, wheels of a certain size and forks and a groupset you’ve probably ridden on before.

But when the package comes from a small British manufacturer, with their own take on adventure mountain biking and by definition, the kind of bike that is needed to tackle it, to totally misquote that famous US philosopher, Forest Gump: “bikes are like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re gonna get.”

So, to say I was impatient to get into the box the Big Bro came in would be a definite understatement. It would actually be closer to the truth to say I had to use all the willpower I could muster to resist cutting the poor thing out of its cardboard shell!

brother big bro review
We’re blowing no raspberries at this.

And as it slowly emerged from the various packaging materials draped all over it, the excitement only intensified. The pink paint (they call it Raspberry) grabbed me immediately – this was a bike I wanted to be seen on. Once totally hatched, I could only marvel at its simplicity. It somehow managed to look 100% modern yet, at the same time, like everything mountain bikes were when I started riding, far too many years ago.

OK, you don’t really have to look very hard to see how refined this bike actually is. But more of that further down. Right now, I had me a great-looking, simply- designed bike, some camping kit and bike luggage, food and water, and a heatwave.

Brother Big Bro Tom Hutton

It was definitely time to get testing.

Brother, for those that haven’t come across them before, is a small British bike company based in London. The company was founded in 2010 by Will and James Meyer, who are, erm… would you believe it? brothers. Will has the appetite for adventure, James on the other hand just loves to design and build. It’s a great combination that delivers bikes with a desirable pedigree.

There are five frames in their range, covering everything from track, to all-road, to urban, to adventure, with two models being supplied as complete builds if required. The Big Bro is one of these – a full-blooded 27.5+ rigid rig that is definitely the most adventure-capable of the whole range. And it was this build that I was about to disappear into the North Wales heat haze on.

The bike

First off, the frame. The Big Bro is crafted in Taiwan from super strong, 4130 double-butted cro-mo tubing and looks both shapely and purposeful. The die-straight front forks are 100mm suspension corrected, so some bounce could be added if needed or desired.

Brother Big Bro review
Not just marketing, they are brothers.

Geometry is pretty stock for the genre, with a 70.5 head angle, 73 seat tube angle and a wheelbase for the Large tested of 1113mm – way shorter than the trail bikes I’m used too.

Brother Big Bro review
Chainstays are long, even with the adjustable dropouts in the shortest position.
Brother Big Bro review
None of your fashionable stubby stems here, thank you.

The adjustment on the long chainstays doesn’t just alter the geometry, it also makes single-speed an option. The alloy 730mm bars are straight and somehow both feel and look wider than they actually are – I can only imagine it’s the contrast with the narrow frame tubing. These combine well with a 70mm stem and an effective top tube of 615mm to feel just slightly stretched – a good climbing position – but still more trail than XC.

The cables are full-length and externally routed – both sensible and par for the course for this type of bike, though it does look a little messy when seen through eyes that are used to the slick clean lines of modern internally-routed frames. Build quality is undeniable – the welds are wonderfully neat and the paint job, superb.

And did I mention that colour?

Brother Big Bro Tom Hutton
How many ways do I load thee?
Brother Big Bro Tom Hutton
Let me count the bosses…

True to form, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many luggage bosses and mounts on any bike – a tourer’s dream. To date, I’ve tended to keep my bike-packing on the lightweight side, limiting myself to luggage that can be mounted on just about any seat/seatpost, bar and top tube combo, with no need for anything to be properly attached. But here we have options to connect just about any type of pannier, water bottle, mudguard and no doubt a whole load of other things I haven’t even thought of too. If I could have kept the bike longer, I’m sure I’d have started investing in some of this bikepack bling.

The Big Bro rolls sweetly on a pair of Alex MD40 27.5+ rims, laced to Formula hubs that sport conventional quick-release skewers. These are booted with 3.0 WTB Ranger tyres, which, even running tubes, and therefore slightly higher pressures than I’d have liked, I found pretty grippy on just about any surface. The rubber compound grabbed at roots and rock and the extra contact patch provides traction in soft stuff, even though the actual tread is relatively shallow.

Brother Big Bro review
Tom wasn’t keen on the brakes.

Stopping power comes from a 180mm rotor up front and a 160mm at the rear and a pair of cable-operated TRP brakes.

Brother Big Bro review
A known and reliable quantity.

Drive is provided by an SRAM GX 1×11 chainset – definitely one of the touches that makes the Big Bro look modern. It’s also ultra-reliable, even in gloop (not that I could find a lot this summer). They can also supply a direct mount for a  front derailleur if you’re that way inclined.

Brother Big Bro review
No QR, no dropper, but a comfy perch.

A perch is provided by a WTB Volt Comp – a bonus for me as most of my bikes are shod with a Volt of some sort, so I knew I’d be good for some big distances from the off. There’s no dropper post, or even a quick release.

All in, it tipped the scales at 13.9kg, without pedals, so definitely not a lightweight, not that this makes a massive difference when you then weigh it down with a further 6 or 7 kg of bike-packing gear and water.

The Ride


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Big Bro Specifications

  • Frame // Double-butted 4130 cro-mo steel. Suspension corrected for 100mm
  • Fork // 4130 cro-mo steel with tapered crown, disc only
  • Hubs // Front Formula DC91; Rear Formula DC32
  • Rims // Alex MD40
  • Tyres // WTB Ranger 27.5×3.0
  • Crankset // SRAM GX-1000, X-SYNC 30t
  • Shifter // SRAM GX, 11-Speed
  • Cassette // SRAM GX 11-42
  • Brakes // TRP Spyke, 180mm Front & 160mm Rear
  • Stem // Promax DA-296 70mm
  • Bars // Aluminium MJ 133EN 730mm wide
  • Seatpost // Promax SP-2016
  • Saddle // WTB Volt Comp
  • Size Tested // Large
  • Sizes available // Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
  • Weight // 13.9kg (30.6lb)

Review Info

Product:Big Bro
From:Brother Cycles
Tested:by Tom Hutton for 8 Weeks

Comments (4)

    “We’d replace the TRP Spyke cable operated brakes with hydraulic ones immediately – this would transform the ride on descents, especially technical ones.” The supplied TRP stock pads are rubbish so did you swapped those out for some Deore pads before your test?

    All your multiple mentions of “small British manufacturer” etc are rather misleading when their website suggests made in Taiwan……

    My son has one of these set up as a 29er and with Hope brakes. Its great when i “borrow” it for riding to work (occasionally!) and I even used it for a couple of laps in an endurance event. It was surprisingly quick and comfortable over technical terrain even with the rigid fork.

    Mick – it does say in the review “The Big Bro is crafted in Taiwan from super strong, 4130 double-butted cro-mo tubing” – so hopefully people won’t think that it’s made in a shed in the Dales somewhere.

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