Have we swallowed the marketing hook, line and sinker, or is there something to the mullet trend?
Mullets then: 29in front wheel. 27.5in rear wheel. Sometimes called MX (by absolutely no one apart from humourless marketing copywriters). Are they here to stay? And are they actually any good? Are they just for short arses? Are they just a way for the bike industry to use up its stockpile of 27.5in tyres?
My personal feeling is that they are here to stay, if only for people who can’t get away with riding full 29ers. Not-tall people in other words. I’m not sure the market of taller riders feeling the need for mullets is big enough. So maybe mainstream mullets aren’t going to take much of the market away from the ever-dominant 29er platform. In many ways, the mullet niche is very likely to be best served by the niche brands. This is certainly the case in this bike test for example.
In this test we have the mainstream’s version of a mullet – the Santa Cruz Bronson. It is still ostensibly a 150mm travel trail bike. But is it still a Bronson? One of the most ubiquitously popular mountain bikes on these shores up until recently.
Then we have a little bit of eye candy courtesy of Starling and its 140mm travel skinny steel-tubed Twist Trail. It may look like a Cadbury’s Twirl but does it ride as sweetly?
Rounding off our trio, and kicking off this review in more ways than one, is the 162mm travel GeoMetron G1. The latest offering from the House of Chris Porter, Yes, it’s that man again. What has he been up to this time? He’s nothing if not consistent. Consistently pushing boundaries. Has he gone too far this time?
The non-mainstream brands’ mullets (GeoMetron and Starling) do not ride similarly to each other. Far from it. The Starling is very much the ragging ripper mullet. The GeoMetron feels like it’s doing something totally different; GeoMetron has ended up using the mixed format because it has proved to be the best way forward.
Fundamentally, the Santa Cruz Bronson’s previously dominant place in the market as the brand’s trail bike has been utterly usurped by its brilliant big wheelers. The previous tagline of ‘if in doubt, take a Bronson out’ no longer really rings true. If in doubt (which riders increasingly aren’t these days), they’ll be grabbing their Tallboys or Hightowers. I really enjoyed the Bronson, but can’t help but feel that it’s no longer actually a Bronson – it feels more the true heir to cult bikes like the Blur 4X.
The two standout bikes here were the Starling Twist Trail and the GeoMetron G1.
The better mountain bike is the G1. It is, after all, the best mountain bike I have ever ridden. The way it uses the smaller wheel for things like improved sprung/unsprung weight, the shallower BB drop and how the bike uses the two differing wheel axle heights to turn in beautifully and with absolutely zero flop (on a 62.5° head angle!) is fantastic. And that’s before we even mention THAT rear shock.
But… I am a human being and I cannot help but love that little Starling. It’s hard to explain these things. You may really like your best friend. But you love your partner. Love doesn’t have to make sense. It just is. The Starling was love at first sight.
|Tested:||by Benji for 2 months|
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