Sabbath's Silk Route shows titanium’s multi-use and long-haul potential. More like a mule than a camel, it has a great turn of speed, with carrying capacity for the open road. A full complement of eyelets, including oversized 6mm rack mounts, means you can hang just about anything on it. Specced to be within reach of most budgets, it's ideal for the one-bike-does-it-all crowd.
Ride & handling: Stable yet nimble; a great all-rounder
The Silk Route's long wheelbase and relaxed head angle require a slight change of technique if you're used to racier bikes – stay in the saddle and grind it or spin it out to put the power down, especially when loaded.
Unladen, jump out of the saddle and the bike still responds quickly, with direct and precise steering and nippy acceleration. The Silk Route is nimble enough to be fun, while sturdy and steady enough not to upset the apple cart.
A classic Brooks B17 offers hammock-like comfort, so drop your derriere into the seat and let the slab of cowhide keep you from getting rawhide.
There’s a good reason why the US cavalry used mules – they’re fast, tough and versatile, and have the speed and size of a good horse but a burden-bearing capability halfway between that of a camel and donkey. The Silk Route is a great all-rounder.
Chassis: Quality frame and fork at a great price; should make for a lifetime of use
The frame is made of 3AL-2.5V titanium, with 6AL-4V dropouts. Welds and build quality are impeccable. A quite ﬂexy rear end provides a good counterpoint to the stout front triangle of carefully oriented ovalised tubes.
S-shaped seat and chainstays provide good heel clearance, while standard down-tube bosses are welded in the classic position, allowing the use of down tube cable guides with adjusters, or even old-school shift levers. Up front, the Surly steel fork offers truly sweet road feel and comfort without sacriﬁcing handling.
Equipment: Good mix keeps a lid on expense while maximising performance
Component choice was based around the new Apex drivetrain, the very latest offering from SRAM. With an all-metal build, the chunky DoubleTap method of shifting does take some getting used to, but it’s effective and solid.
This new groupset appears to be modelled on SRAM's Rival components while featuring a longer rear mech capable of handling a new cassette, offering up to 32 or 34-tooth sprockets. Exquisite machining and milling of the cogs to remove weight creates patterns that add an artistic ﬂourish worthy of the best Belgian lace.
Along with really comfortable bars, the Sabbath came to us with some very well-built handmade wheels, featuring LX hubs, Sapim stainless spokes and Rigida rims. You just can’t go wrong with this combo if you want to hit the open road with your mind at ease.