Pinnacle are a new brand closely linked with rapidly expanding bike shop chain FW Evans. Despite carrying loads of global mainstream brands, FW Evans saw a gap in the market for mid-price bikes to answer the needs of UK customers, and so set about filling it with their own spec rides this year.
Evolution is a slightly curious name for the first generation of a bike, but it's certainly hopped out of the pond and on to dry land in good shape. The short bobbin-shaped head tube still has room for an integrated Aheadset, so you can whip out the spacers and get the front end really low.
The butted main tubes get a big throat gusset under the down tube, while the triangular top tube shares a long weld seam for extra front-end strengthening. The compact frame dimensions mean plenty of standover clearance, while the mid-sized tubular stays are S-curved for plenty of heel and tyre room.
We've seen the CNC rear dropouts on plenty of other bikes but they still look nice here and an extra gear hanger is included too, so you won't have to wait ages for a spare if you snap the original.
A forward-slotted seatpost and cable routing on top of the top tube show is designed to cope with UK mud, and the rubber paint protector sleeves on the cables will help prolong its good looks. We did catch our calves on the rear cable stops occasionally, which became a sore point with some riders, and there are no rack mounts for commuter/ touring duty.
It's also worth pointing out that sizing is on the small side, even for a medium bike. Try before you buy, especially if you're on the cusp of the 5ft 10in maximum height recommendation.
The Pinnacle has RockShox brand name kudos up front, but the Dart Two forks don't perform as well as others in this price range. They're OK, and rebound control is useful but we couldn't get more than 85 per cent of the claimed 100mm travel and you could feel the spring creaking inside if you worked them hard. The Hayes Sole brakes need watching too as the single moving piston design needs manually compensating for pad wear. It's a simple 30-second Allen key job, but if you forget to do it braking will rapidly turn iffy.
It's all good apart from that though, with Shimano cranks and Deore gears performing very smoothly. The Shimano hubs and Mavic rims are a byword for longevity too, while Conti's Explorer tyres are popular among high mileage UK trail riders. Relatively narrow riser bars are aimed more at general XC riders than ragged edge types, but that fits well with the overall package. The comfy Kevlar XO saddle is a real bonus, while Pinnacle carbon effect bar plugs and top cap enhance the quality feel. Pinnacle have even written a properly useful handbook too.
For a first attempt, Pinnacle have created a really well balanced ride that's instantly likeable on the trail. With small frame, fast rolling tyres and reasonable weight it has an agile, responsive vibe from the start. Handling is equally balanced between surprise-free stability and enough edge to get you between the trees accurately when the technical tempo picks up. It's a fun bike to chuck about too, though obviously that's influenced by its smaller dimensions and frame size.
Frame feel is equally comfortable and controlled despite the relatively narrow tyres. There's certainly no nasty sting waiting if you hit rocks or step sections harder than you meant, and it's no back breaker on longer day rides. It doesn't waste any work you put into it and holds on to speed well enough to help your legwork.
The fork lockout helps on road stretches, although the suspension doesn't feel as settled as the others on test, which affects enthusiasm for ploughing it into rough stuff or down descents with real venom.
Regular offside pad adjustment is vital for confident consistent braking too. These fork and brake niggles leave a slightly cheapened feel to the overall package, despite this actually being the most expensive bike on test here.
- Very competent and responsive feeling XC bike
- Crisp Shimano shifting and durable yet rapid wheel/tyre set-up
- Neat UK detailing and very comfortable contact points
- Clanky feeling coil springs in fork
- One-sided brakes need regular maintenance and attention