Iron Horse Sachem 4.0 £950

Iron Horse has an enviable DH/ Freeride pedigree for both their big Sunday linkage bikes and the simpler Yakuza swingarm bikes on which the Sachem is based. DH style mass mean that it's definitely more freeride than allmountain

BikeRadar score 3/5

Iron Horse has an enviable DH/ Freeride pedigree for both their big Sunday linkage bikes and the simpler Yakuza swingarm bikes on which the Sachem is based. DH style mass mean that it's definitely more freeride than allmountain, though.

 

The Facts

The chassis is certainly burly, with the integrated headset head tube giving plenty of beef for the down tube and top tube to wrap round. Additional gussets are welded above and below for good measure. There's a slight rearwards taper on the top tube, but otherwise all three main tubes are refreshingly simple round section pipes. The radically sloped top tube gets another diagonal pipe to brace the extended seat tube, while long triangular plates spread stress from the shock and the main pivot.

The swingarm uses the classic Santa Cruz style with two machined uprights, a big central linking tube and tubular stays joining just ahead of big hanging dropout plates. The 'chainstay' features a big flat spot for crank clearance, but the awkward rear hose guide is waiting to do serious grief to ankle bones skimming past.

Cable routing is neat enough otherwise, and while underslung bottles will get completely covered in all sorts of crap, you could mount a light battery there with an extension cable. The main pivot is a large diameter sealed bearing for longevity, too. The slack seat post/ seat tube fit means you really have to crank the QR seat collar up to get it secure though, which is definitely a lazy flaw in an otherwise neatly finished frameset.

 

The Feel

With an all-up weight of over 40lb, the Sachem is no sprinter, and even a relatively short XC ride had us aching all over from heaving it out of corners and trying to charge its bulk up short climbs. The Intense tyres actually roll okay on hard surfaces, and once you're moving there's plenty of momentum, but it's only really suited to the downside of the mountain, not 'All' of it.

Make that mental switch and just treat climbs as a necessary evil though, and it holds speed along any flat sections in your freefall okay. The swingarm action helps lever some firmness into the pedalling when you're trying to hit take off velocity. A slight lift as the chain pulls helps offset a relatively low bottom bracket for a 6in bike, too. The impact response is also good, with the quality Fox shock really making itself felt with consistent control of every size and speed of hit. The main pivot just above the middle chainring means there's not much kickback either, making for a more fluid action than most swingarm bikes.

Compact overall length makes it easy to climb over the bike to keep the tyres anchored or get them right over on their ears. Getting right off the back is a cinch too, as the full length seat tube means you can drop the saddle right to the crossbar. A relatively steep head angle (for a freeride/DH bike) makes the front end more nervous than we'd like in really steep situations. We had some properly sketchy moments turning down into stepped descents that the slacker Norco wasn't remotely bothered by. The stem is relatively long for a freeride/DH bike too, which combined with the nervous steering means you lose the powerassisted 'truck driver' feeling you need to really push the limits.

Despite the burly-looking build, the back end of the Sachem also flexed noticeably, even compared to much lighter bikes here, which doesn't boost confidence.

 

Kit Notes

Proper heavy duty wheels and tyres increase bulk and stability for a warm and fuzzy 'we'll look after you' glow, albeit at the expense of agility.

Unfortunately, the Hayes brakes couldn't be more unsettling. They feel fine and sharp in the workshop and the 7in rotors give plenty of mechanical power, but the crucial bite point - slide point information just gets lost in cable stretch, leaving us sliding off course or slamming down as soon as things got slippery. After a few runs the fixed inside pad had worn enough to knock the rear brake off its leverage sweetspot too, bringing the lever right back to the bar.

The forks also need a lot of work before you get consistent control, too. Stock rebound is treacle slow - lethal when combined with the steep head angle. Internal rebound adjust takes forever to get right though, as you need to remove/refit the top cap with every tweak. You only get full travel if you pull out the coil spring and rely on the two air springs instead (which also sneaks the bike weight under 40lb).

Elsewhere, the SX-4 shifters - with their one piece plastic wishbone 'trigger' are an embarrassment on a near £1000 bike. You do get a bashring and double chainring set with short 170mm cranks for a bit more ground clearance, though.

 

Summary

With better brakes and a longer fork, the Sachem 4.0 has the potential - and certainly the wheels - to be a sorted little freeride/DH bike. As stock though, the brakes and steep angle disturb DH confidence and the 40lb weight means any 'All Mountain' claims are misleading. A shame, as the frame itself is a decent performer.

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