Andi takes a close look at the carbon-framed Patrol C091 hardtail, a budget bike with great spec and a confidence-inspiring geometry.
We see a lot of people in the comments section and in the forum talking about the price of bikes, and how expensive they seem to be getting. There are indeed some really expensive bikes on the market, and some prices have increased, but there are some bargains to be had.
The Patrol C091 is one such bike, it boasts a carbon frame and well-considered specification but a price tag way below that of more familiar rivals. There is a catch though, and that’s the fact that the C091 isn’t yet available in the UK, though this is set to change soon.
First a little background about Patrol. Patrol is an Indonesian bike brand focussing on off-road bikes meaning we’re never going to see a Patrol branded road or city bike, but this allows the team to focus on mountain bikes and off-road products. The current range, which can be seen here, includes alloy and carbon hardtails, eBikes, enduro bikes and even carbon kids’ bikes. Their bikes are available in Indonesia, Australia, Norway, North America, Hong Kong and Singapore, but they plan to launch in Europe within the next 12 months.
The C09 is an all-new platform for 2021 with a range of three bike models. This is the C091, the top of the range build, the C092 and C093 feature the same carbon frame with different specs with USD pricing from only $1699.
Patrol designed the C09 range to offer modern XC/trail efficiency with a geometry that inspires confidence in more aggressive situations under a rider with a little more experience. The thinking is that a beginner can jump on a C09 bike and feel comfortable right away, but as they progress the geometry won’t hold them back. This large bike has a reach of 475mm with a 67-degree head angle and 74-degree seat tube. This geo is based around a 130mm travel fork, on the C091 a RockShox Recon RL air fork is fitted boasting an air spring adjustable rebound, compression and lockout.
The clean carbon frame runs full internal cable routing, with a very up-market cable entry through the headset – a feature we’re going to see more often on bikes this year. Patrol’s commitment to reliable design means the C09 uses a threaded BB rather than a push-fit model, and for peace of mind, a small compartment in the downtube can be used to store a spare mech hanger, chain links or other small parts.
A chain guide mount gives you that option, but the SRAM SX Eagle 1 x 12 drivetrain does a great job of retaining the chain even on really rough terrain. Speaking of rough terrain, fast riders will appreciate that Patrol has fitted the C091 with 4 piston Shimano MT400 brakes rather than cheaper 2 piston stoppers.
Another great spec choice is the dropper post and its generous drop. All too often we test bikes with dropper posts with very short amounts of drop when a long model could be fitted. Patrol installs a 170mm dropper on the L and XL C091 out of the box so no need to think about future upgrades. It’s also a good model too, the X-Fusion Manic can be found on much more expensive bikes than this.
Perched on top of the dropper is a comfy SDG saddle and out of the box there are matching SDG grips fitted too, though I’ve switched to a pair of ODI as they’re on test. Most of the components on the Patrol C091 are branded but Patrol has fitted their own handlebar, 40mm stem and 29in alloy wheels. They’re all well finished and feel more than up to the job of everyday trail riding.
Wrapped around those alloy wheels are a pair of Vee Tire Co. Crown Gem tyres with MPC compound. They look like a great all-round trail tyre for hardpacked terrain and they’ve worked a treat on our frozen singletrack but I’ll switch them to something else when the rain begins to pour.
At the time of writing, I’ve only ridden the Patrol C091 a handful of times, but I instantly felt at home on this budget carbon bike. The climbing position is nice and roomy, while the generous reach keeps me centred on the bike when descending. The C091 is eager to pick up speed and you’ll be glad that those 4 piston brakes are fitted for keeping the fun in check. When really pushed in rocky situations the fork can feel a little linear and underdamped, but that’s only to be expected on a budget model and for most trail and XC riding it performs surprisingly well.
I’ll be keeping hold of the C091 for a while, so keep posted for updates and a full review coming in the next few months.