Iron Horse MKIII£1,759.99

Galloping trail ride

BikeRadar score3.5/5

The MKIII has been around for a while now. While it’s a decent mid-weight trail bike, steering twitch and frame flex take their toll when the going gets fast and loose.

Ride & handling: Well balanced suspension, but flexy chassis doesn't make the most of it

The MKIII is on par with the competition in weight terms for its price and travel, and the WTB tyres roll well enough to give it a reasonably rapid feel on less testing trails.

The dw-link suspension gives excellent pedalling manners so you won’t be unduly worried when the trail heads upwards, and it’ll suck up bigger blocks and drops and come out of corners quick enough to make it fun on flatter, faster singletrack too.

However, you’d be forgiven for not realising this bike comes from a family that’s a pretty big deal in downhill riding. The narrow handlebar, overly steep frame angle and noticeable frame flex create a twitchy ride that struggles to hold a stable line in rocky, slippery or off-camber situations.

At a price where most competitors are fitting Fox forks, the RockShox forks are less smooth and composed in the face of fast and frequent step-downs and impacts.

The MKIII is a responsive, enjoyable ride on climbs and less technical trails but the fork, frame flex and restricted narrow bar control count against it on descents.

The dw link rear is well balanced, but the fl exy chassis doesn’t make the most of it: the dw link rear is well balanced, but the fl exy chassis doesn’t make the most of it

Frame: Burgundy beast lacks the stiffness of Iron Horse's burlier steeds

While the triangulated top tube/extended seat tube top line is all straight stuff, the slim down tube gets a contemporary hydroformed S-curve.

More skinny tubes and shaped sections create the markedly asymmetric rear subframe, with its cantilevered driveside dropout and hooped brace. Bolted brace upper linkages and smaller lower linkages create the dw-link suspension architecture.

The rear-facing seat slot and restricted seat drop are practical flaws, but the back end is less prone to mud clogging than it looks like it should be, cable/hose routing is neat and you get a conventional bottle position.

Equipment: Overall a pretty decent spec, but we'd swap the handlebar for a wider one

Iron Horse can’t compete with the big brands on kit, but apart from the fork there are few weak links in the MKIII menu.

SRAM transmission works well and the Hayes brakes are powerful if not very communicative. The polished WTB wheels haven’t got the best longevity rep but they look superbad, and the fat but fast rolling Wolverine tyres are great trail centre rubber.

That narrow handlebar really has to go though, and lock-on grips would be a definite dirty weather bonus.

Wolverine tyres don’t claw up more traction but they do run fast: wolverine tyres don’t claw up more traction but they do run fast

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 44
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster tfhan the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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