Review: Jason likes titanium but did this Pilot Duro live up to expectations?

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Many, many years you will be enjoying the magical riding qualities of your handcrafted, high grade titanium frame”, it says on the Pilot website. My own personal experience of titanium frames is that I’m yet to ride one that’s ‘magical’ but I can say with some certainty that in general they’re very nice to ride.

Hannah Pilot-ing. Geddit.

I jumped at the chance to review the Pilot Duro – over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to ride a few titanium mountain bikes and while I’m trying to avoid the tired marketing clichés (such as the ones on the Pilot website), every one of them has been a delight.

For me, this bike ticked a few boxes. I’d never ridden a bike with a gearbox, nor had I ridden one with a belt drive. The Duro also looks brilliant, all swoopy lines and obvious attention-to-detail. At first glance, it’s a great bike and maybe even worth shelling out seven grand for.

Pinion, not for pinning?

The frame is made from high-end titanium. The Pilot website claims that grade 9 and grade 5 Ti alloy tubes are used – I’m not really an expert but it makes a change from the usual ‘aerospace grade’ marketing stuff that is normally trotted out. As well as the off-the-peg geometry, Pilot will let you specify almost any measurements you want, all on the website. There’s also a load of upgrades available, such as carbon components, titanium components, better wheels and the like.

The hydro-formed and double butted top and down tubes are slightly curved in the same direction and visually, it’s a real treat. Graphics have been blasted into the brushed finish and all the little details such as the internal cable routing with sleeves to minimise swearing, beautiful embossed headtube badge and the elaborately-machined rear dropouts give the whole thing a well-made, exclusive feel.

Cheaper than a plane.
Nice ice blue finish.

The headtube is nice and short and the gearbox is neatly tucked into the downtube/seat tube junction and held in place by a large amount of titanium plate and sexy welding.

The Pinion-branded crankset slots into the gearbox and that drives the Gates carbon belt, which wraps around the rear sprocket. There’s a neat split in the driveside seatstay that allows the belt to be ‘inserted into’ the frame – you can’t split and re-join a Gates belt, whether that worries you on a long ride is another matter. In my opinion, as a repeat “just leave the bike in the shed after a ride covered in cack” merchant, the relatively maintenance-free and completely rust-risk-free belt is a great idea.

Bring on the zombies.
Yup, that’s pretty,

Likewise, the Pinion gearbox is sealed from the elements and apparently only needs an oil change every 10,000 kilometres. For most of us, that’s a service interval measured in years. Not only is it durable, it’s got a massive 636% range, spread across 12 gears which are changed by way of a small grip shift. The gearbox also placed low and central in the frame, so while it’s a couple of kilos in weight, it’s a lump of mass just in the right place. You can also change gear while the bike is stationary, which can sometimes come in handy (more on that later).

If you built the Duro with a rigid fork it’d be almost completely maintenance free and thus a perfect bike (on paper at least) for a UK winter.

The Ride



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  • Frame // Custom butted titanium hardtail
  • Fork // Fox 32 Factory Step-Cast 100mm
  • Hubs // Pilot, 15mm front, 12mm rear
  • Rims // Pilot
  • Tyres // Schwalbe Nobby Nic, 2.25”
  • Crankset // Pinion
  • Shifters // Pinion
  • Brakes // Shimano XT
  • Stem // 3T
  • Bars // Pilot carbon – 710mm width, sort of ‘some’ rise and ‘some’ backsweep
  • Seatpost // Pilot carbon, 31.8mm
  • Saddle // Selle Flite
  • Size Tested // medium
  • Sizes available // small, medium, large, extra-large

Review Info

Price:€5.399 / €3,149 frame & gearbox only
Tested:by Jason Miles for 3 months

Jason Miles

Jason has been a regular columnist for Singletrack for longer than he was expecting to be. (IN YOUR FACE Mr Haworth, Head of English at Radcliffe High School, Manchester! - Jase).
After wandering into the building trade when he left school, Jason honed his literary skills by reading Viz, Kerrang! and the occasional month-old tabloid that was used to wrap his chips and gravy before miraculously landing in an IT career via an aborted vocational college course, a couple of recessions and a factory job.

Because he learned to drive several years after all of his mates, mountain bikes were just a means of getting around until he discovered that he quite enjoys using mountain biking to really, really hurt himself to the point of exhaustion – which conveniently provides plenty of raw material for the aforementioned column.
As well as writing a column, Jason writes the occasional product review and we’ve sent him to far-away lands a couple of times to see what this easily-bewildered Mancunian thinks of crazy bike races abroad.

Now he lives in Scotland and to prove that he’s all grown up, he’s got a monthly subscription to Viz.

Comments (4)

    “636% range, spread across 14 gears”

    I hope the rest of the review was more accurate

    Also, new pinions are much more reluctant to shift when new. after a bedding in period, they are much better

    I’ll get one anyway, eBay is selling it for £6.99

    After fitting a Rohloff to my TD-1, I understand the frustration of the gear changes. 🙂

    SS is much better. 🙂

    How does the bike compare to a TD-1 for feel etc.

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