In the current market it’s a surprise to find a 2009 bike that’s cheaper and better specced than an '08 one, but Iron Horse have managed it. The 1.X is £25 cheaper and manages hydraulic disc brakes instead of the cable discs on last year's model. Its very ordinary looks belie the fact that it’s one of the best £399-worth we’ve seen.
Ride & handling: Stiff and a little heavy, but quietly confident on rough terrain
We’ve tested lighter £400 bikes than this, but the sturdy 30.4lb build and competent 100mm fork combine to produce a quietly confident ride feel on rough terrain.
Fast rolling tyres make for fairly easy climbing and quick acceleration, but the joined-centre tread is a traction disadvantage when you’re straight-lining slippery ground. Bigger tyres would boost comfort, but a comfy saddle takes the sting out of a noticeably stiff frame structure.
On bikes at this price it’s often the feel of the fork that makes or breaks overall ride performance. Many low budget forks are just loaded springs with little rebound control. While the RockShox Dart isn’t a great fork, the stroke is far better than the majority and it’s easy to set up the preload dial to allow sag to suit your preferred ride feel.
With about 30 per cent of the available 100mm of travel set as sag, the relatively slack static geometry of the Warrior begins to come to life, giving lively but confident handling in twisty singletrack.
Downhill performance is good too, although there are times when you realise that fork tuning on budget bikes like this will always be a limiting factor if the terrain is demanding.
A low bottom bracket causes occasional pedal strikes if you like to pedal into rocky corners. A fatter set of treads would help too, as the WTB Nanoraptors need a lot of pressure to avoid punctures on rocky ground.
Frame: Sturdy and capable of taking some abuse
The Warrior offers a sturdily built frame that can take a little more abuse than the lighter offerings in the starter bike market.
The flared head tube is reinforced to accommodate integral zero stack bearing cups and the down tube is heavily reinforced to spread the shocks from trail impacts.
There’s loads of standover clearance and plenty of room around the tyres. There are two sets of bottle bosses too, but workhorse potential (useful on bikes like this) is limited by awkwardly placed rack eyelets out back.
The Iron Horse catalogue lists the 1.X’s geometry as 70.3 degrees at the head and 73 at the seat, but the static angles on our test bike were a couple of degrees less.
This is no bad thing actually, as the 100mm (3.94in) RockShox Dart is a softly-sprung fork that, with the preload dial wound fully out, will sag to a point where the frame angles steepen by a degree or two.
We set up the fork with preload half wound in for a firmer action. However you adjust it, it’s a better controlled fork than on many bikes at this price.
Equipment: Better fork than most at this price, excellent tyres and decent hydraulic discs
There are two Warrior hardtails in Iron Horse’s entry-level range. The 27-geared Deore equipped 3.X gets a hard hitting Marzocchi Bomber 22R fork and would cost you £549. The 1.X gets 24 gears and a RockShox Dart fork.
The drivetrain here is simply functional, with a 24-speed Shimano Acera/Altus mix and a clunky but efficient-shifting SR Suntour crankset.
The rest of the finishing componentry is cheap and cheerful but, as with the crankset, it does the job. The stem is chunky, the bars offer a good width and sweep, and the saddle is WTB’s comfy Speed V model.
The most significant componentry features on the Warrior are the tyres and the brakes. The Tektro hydraulic brakes are budget offerings, but the performance is as good as brakes costing a lot more, and much better than the cable pull discs that are more usual on a £400 bike.
We also really like the WTB Nanoraptor 2in tyres because they offer one of the few tread profiles that rolls fast and grips well – the centre is almost a constant strip but the cornering edges are good.
But check the specs on the bike you look at, as both the rims and tyres on our test bike were different to those on the Iron Horse website.