Pinnacle are the in-house brand of rapidly expanding UK bike store group Evans. Their bikes are developed using customer feedback to fill the gaps left by mainstream manufacturers, and the £500 Sentinal 1.0 (the cheapest of their two Sentinal models) has actually dropped £50 in price this year.
Ride & handling: Light, quick and comfortable
The Sentinal's handling is faster and less weighty than other bikes at this pricepoint, which takes some adjusting to at first.
Curved rear stays and carbon fork legs add a genuinely smooth and floated feel to the already light and efficient ride. This is something you’ll rarely find on £500 bikes and makes the Sentinal a breeze to blast along less-than-perfect roads.
The better shock absorption of frame and forks keeps it surefooted, sweeping through fast corners on descents, and you’ll soon view its all-round agility as a real plus.
STI shifters put the gear shift right at your fingertips and you’re able to exploit the Sentinal's responsiveness fully out of every corner or any pace or gradient change on climbs.
In fact, the only negative is the tall head tube with deep headset cups top and bottom on our large test bike. Although we removed the large stack of Aheadset spacers under the bars, it’s still a ‘sit up and beg’ position. Great if you’ve got a bad back, but not so good if you’re worried about aerodynamics.
The Sentinal is better than most £500 road bikes we’ve ridden and not far off being competitive with the £800 machines we tested earlier this year.
Chassis: Contemporary looks with good attention to detail
Pinnacle have certainly worked hard to make their frame stand out in ride and appearance. Shaped maintubes create a contemporary sloped top tube chassis as well as adding stiffness and removing weight where it counts.
The back end gets very thin, bowed seatstays to add a sprung effect and the dropouts even get little machined details we don’t normally expect at this price.
The gear cable stops include barrel adjusters for on-the-fly tuning, and bottom bracket threads and seatpost fit were impressively smooth and accurate when we stripped down the frame for weighing. You get rubber paint-protector socks on the cables and a spare replaceable rear gear hanger too.
Not only is the frame remarkably light for the price, the carbon-legged fork is far lighter than the steel models generally found on sub-£500 bikes too.
Equipment: Smooth, beginner-friendly gears and reasonable wheels, but brakes are mushy
Considering they’re a relatively small concern, with an own-designed (rather than off-the-peg) frame, Pinnacle have done a good job of staying on par with the big boys in terms of kit.
Shimano Sora S3400 gears are impressively smooth and accurate (particularly on the front), and with the shifters built into the STI brake levers, slick ratio choice is right at your fingertips.
The Compact 50/34 tooth rings of the FSA chainset are much more suited to beginners’ legs and bigger hills than bigger-ringed standard chainrings. The nine-speed rear cassette goes up to a generous 26-tooth size to ease climbing pain further.
The Dual Pivot brakes are long-armed to cope with mudguards, but that does make them mushy and uncommunicative – even if power IS there eventually if you squeeze hard.
Cockpit equipment is basic but effective, and broad bars will suit wide-shouldered wave beaters. Pinnacle also resize all their cockpit gear and their crank lengths to suit each of the four frame sizes. This is a very rare but very useful bonus to ensure an accurate and efficient complete bike fit. Gel handlebar tape and San Marco saddle were appreciated on longer rides too.