Calibre Line T3 27 review

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If you’re new to mountain biking, or upgrading from heavy bike shaped object, you’ll find the Calibre Line T3 27 feels pretty impressive.

  • Brand: Calibre
  • Product: Line T3 27
  • FromGoOutdoors
  • Price: £1,200 (£999.99 to GoOutdoors members)
  • SQUIRREL_TEXT_13024699
  • Tested by: Hannah for 3 months

Pros

  • Good geometry
  • Not an overly harsh frame
  • Good basis for upgrade

Cons

  • Fork feels budget
  • Dropper post needed swapping out

It has not escaped my attention that there is a disconnect between the fact that while testing this bike, I could often be doing so while wearing clothing and equipment well in excess of the whole bike’s value.

And that’s £100 worth of pedals in these pictures. Add in a couple of hundred in shoes, nearly £300 in a helmet, same again in a waterproof… trousers, waterproof trousers, gloves…

But mountain biking doesn’t need to be this expensive – for example, really good helmets are around £45 now – and ‘making mountain biking more accessible’ is top of Calibre’s agenda.

On the trail

This is it for the Line T3 27 – there’s no higher spec version with electronic shifting or fancier forks. Each component has been carefully selected by the Calibre design team to hit this price point.

They’re not shy about mixing and matching parts, to make sure you get the benefit where you’ll feel it – for example their own brand cranks are mated to a SRAM derailleur. So how does this particular concoction of parts play out on the trail?

Let’s start with the less than optimal.

A dropper post is a welcome addition, but this particular 125mm travel KS model did not play well. The lever felt weak, and the cable it came fitted with un-fitted itself from the dropper when changing the seatpost height. After much faff, swapping of cables, and trying out of different cable end fittings, we gave up and swapped out the entire dropper for one of the same brand (off the Calibre Line T3 29 we reviewed earlier). This stopped the problems of a sinking (or fixed position) dropper, leaving only the weak-feeling actuator.

Perhaps these problems were exacerbated by the fact I was on a size medium (normal for me at 175cm tall) and that put me at the maximum possible seatpost extension. With all the standover available, I could perhaps have sized up – but that would change the handling a little from this playful size medium.

The other less than optimal performer was the fork. Somewhat to be expected, and somewhat a product of me being lucky enough to have ridden lots of very nice forks that cost more than this whole bike.

Most people coming to ride this bike will not be in such a position, and what they will experience is likely a comfortable and cushioned ride without a heap of weight. I have definitely seen and ridden worse when riding with friends.

This is not a ‘bad’ fork, it’s just a fork at a price point, and in my opinion is the component that compromises the bike the most. It is the component that stops you pointing this bike down absolutely everything, and it’s the component that will tire you out the fastest.

On smaller bumps, such as trail centre hardpacked chatter, this isn’t an issue as the voluminous tyres take care of much of the bumpiness. Once you hit repeated rockiness – such as is common where I live – the stiction in the fork becomes more obvious, and you can find yourself being caught up rather than rolling over.

This eases up as you point downwards, when you’re putting more weight on the front of the bike and already pushing the bike into its travel before you hit anything – though you’re not then getting the same support you’d get out of a more expensive fork. Hit something hard on the steeps and you might have your confidence shaken a little – this fork doesn’t offer the same get out of jail security of a higher end fork.

But, I am a rider who is used to riding much more expensive forks – and having them behave in ways I’ve come to expect on the kind of bigger trails that you might take a much more expensive bike to.

This bike is designed to make mountain biking accessible and fun – not to take on the £7k enduro sleds at your local uplift spot. For someone coming from a ‘bike shaped object’, or perhaps a rigid children’s bike, this will feel so much better than anything they’ve tried before.

But if you’re wondering if you’re spending too much on your bike habit and perhaps something cheaper is just as good – this is the compromise in performance you’d be looking at. If all your £7k enduro sled ever sees is a roll around your local blue, then yes, you could save yourself quite a bit!

As far as I’m concerned, that’s it for the downers.

The tyres are not especially mud friendly, and if you ride a lot of natural muddy stuff you’d want something with bigger knobs, but for trail centre hardpack these are a fine choice that strike the balance of grip and speed. The volume helps compensate for the lack of sensitivity in the fork too.

The SRAM Level T brakes feel good to me – they give me the confidence to haul the bike to a stop from speed, but also to control the bike through trickier slow speed sections. I like the lever feel, and it’s easy to use them with just one finger.

Note that this is currently the one difference in component spec between this T3 27 and the larger wheeled T3 29 – which gets the slightly lower spec SRAM Level brakes.

Gearing is good – plenty there to help you up the hills, but also enough to pick up speed on the flats too. No, it’s not the fashionable 12-speed, but I think that the 11-speed offers a little less fussiness around the set up and indexing. It’s just a little easier to live with than the 12-speed options, which should make it easier for the new home mechanic to look after.

Looking after yourself out on the trail is easy too – with two sets of bolts, you’ve got room for a bottle and tool stash/jacket holder. I can imagine that there will be a few parents buying these for teenagers, who are perhaps not best known for their organisational skills.

Being able to fit the bike out with some essentials (rather than finding them on the stairs an hour after they’ve left…) could be handy for parental peace of mind when it comes to sending your offspring out to the woods for long summer holiday days out.

Another small detail I’m please to note is the grips – single end lock ons, but with a hard plastic end cap inside the rubber. Bar plugs (or grips that cover the end of the bars) are one of those must-have safety items, and I’ve noticed that on my kids’ bikes the ends of grips get a lot of wear and tear. Some grips with a soft end just wear away, leaving the grip in place but with a flesh-boring hole at the end. The solid ends on these grips give me some reassurance that these will wear more safely.

Overall, it’s a frame that should stand up to having parts replaced and upgraded as necessary. It’s nicely finished and has stood up well to the knocks and scrapes of the trail. Sensible standards and external routing help keep things simple, making it something a novice home mechanic could hone their skills on.

Overall

Does it all add up to that great value package? In normal times, I’d say yes, 100%. And here again I’ll acknowledge the ridiculousness of what I’m about to say given my £200 MTB shoes etc… But this bike does feel to me like it needs to be on sale at under £1000 to feel like that killer value proposition with where the market is right now.

There are so many heavily discounted bikes around that if you’ve got the funds to buy this at £1000, then you might well be tempted to look at what you can get in a sale for just a bit more. But, if £1000 is your absolute price ceiling, or to look only at RRPs, I think there’s little else on the market to compete. There are reasonable hardtails at lower prices, but they don’t generally come with a dropper, which is a pretty key piece of gear on a ‘proper’ mountain bike.

If you’re used to higher end gear, you’ll notice the difference in performance of the fork and are likely to find it frustrating. But I don’t think you’re the target market. If you’re just coming into mountain biking, or upgrading from the heavy bike shaped object you picked up on Facebook market place years ago, I think you’re going to find this feels pretty impressive.

Calibre Line T3 27 specification

  • Frame // Aluminium 6061
  • Fork // RockShox Recon Silver RL, 140mm
  • Wheels // Double-Wall 35mm Alu rims on Formula DC hubs
  • Front Tyre // Maxxis Rekon 27.7 x 2.6in
  • Rear Tyre // Maxxis Rekon 27.5 x 2.6in
  • Chainset // Calibre, 170mm, 32T
  • Brakes // SRAM Level T, 180/160mm
  • Drivetrain // SRAM NX, KMC, Sunrace 11-42T
  • Stem // Calibre Trail, 45mm, 31.8mm
  • Handlebars // Calibre Trail, 780 x 20mm, 31.8mm
  • Grips // Calibre Trail lock-on
  • Seat Post // KS Rage i-Dropper, 125mm
  • Saddle // Calibre Trail
  • Size tested // M
  • Sizes available // S, M, L, XL
  • Weight // 14.5kg

Geometry of our size M

  • Head angle // 65°
  • Effective seat angle // 75°
  • Seat tube length // 420mm
  • Head tube length // 115mm
  • Chainstay // 430mm
  • Effective top tube // 615mm
  • BB height // 45mm BB drop
  • Reach // 450mm

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Review Info

Brand: Calibre
Product: Line T3 27
From: http://calibrebicycles.com/
Price: £1,200 (£999.99 with membership card)
Tested: by Hannah for 3 months
Author Profile Picture
Hannah Dobson

Managing Editor

I came to Singletrack having decided there must be more to life than meetings. I like all bikes, but especially unusual ones. More than bikes, I like what bikes do. I think that they link people and places; that cycling creates a connection between us and our environment; bikes create communities; deliver freedom; bring joy; and improve fitness. They're environmentally friendly and create friendly environments. I try to write about all these things in the hope that others might discover the joy of bikes too.

More posts from Hannah

Viewing 3 posts - 1 through 3 (of 3 total)
  • Calibre Line T3 27 review
  • ampthill
    Full Member

    These reviews are important. The obvious competitors are the Voodo bizango pro and on one scandal

    Both come without droppers but better forks. I assume the 35 is a better fork? A group test or even a roundup of the spec and experience of the components would be useful.

    noeffsgiven
    Free Member

    That routing would give me an OCD related stroke or seizure. I’d need to sort that straight away. Is there a phobia of dreadful cable n hose routing, I need diagnosing.

    zerocool
    Full Member

    I’ve got the older Line 29 and it’s a great bike. I bought it as a budget stopgap when the kids were born as I knew I wasn’t getting out riding. I thought I’d be grumpy about the budget forks and frame having come from much fancier bikes and kit, but 4 years later I’m loving it. The Recons could do with an upgrade but for most things they’re fine, the dropper was swapped out for a 200mm Brand X fairly quickly and it has a -2 angleset (but that was more personal choice than a necessity) everything else has been replaced as it wears out.

Viewing 3 posts - 1 through 3 (of 3 total)

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