Own-brand, in-house - call it what you like, it's usually just commercial code for 'I bought this cheaply'. The terms 'cheap' and 'cheerful' do not make good bedfellows, unless you're the marketing team at British cycling chainstore Evans Cycles.
They believe their own Pinnacle range is redefining what consumers can expect from buying in-house branded mountain bikes. Sceptical as ever, we took their top-of-the-line Tharpu Peak 3.0 full-suss XC bike for a rip to see if it measures up to the big-name brands.
The first thing you notice about the Pinnacle Tharpu Peak is that it looks well designed - all the elements of the frame look carefully put together, not just thrown together on a whim. That's important, because looks count - especially if you're going to go head to head with the likes of Specialized and Trek on the crowded sales arena of the showroom floor.
The confidence this aesthetic strength brings is reinforced by the spec, which for fifteen hundred quid is rock-solid. Buoyed by the look and the spec, the first pedal strokes didn't disappoint. With shocks set to about one-third sag, the bike took to the Bristol singletrack like a duck to water. Roots, slippery angular rocks and greasy off-camber turners were all handled with total confidence - and this secure feeling was enhanced by the excellent Avid Juicy Five hydraulic brakes.
The rear end of the bike might look thin and whippy - a feeling reinforced by the minimalist approach Pinnacle takes to linkage fasteners - but in reality, it's pretty resistant to twisting, helping the back end track well under standard cross-country loads. That said, it probably won't fare well if you regularly get seriously off-piste. However, you'd be missing the true calling of this bike; the svelte A-B style racing and marathoning that is increasing in popularity in the UK and beyond. For that sort of riding, it's nigh-on perfect.
The more we rode the Tharpu Peak 3.0, the happier we became with riding an own-brand bike. Okay, so seeing the Pinnacle name on the down tube isn't going to give you bragging rights or stop other riders in their tracks, but it's likely it'll be your tracks they're following when you meet them off-road.
The Pinnacle team has cranked out a great bike here, and if you're after a new bike and are passing an Evans store, then it would be foolish not to walk past the rows of names you know and give a break to one you don't.
Put your snooty attitude aside and take the Tharpu Peak 3.0 for a ride. Let the sorted frame, good geometry and stonkingly good spec sway your opinion. We did, and we now consider the Tharpu Peak 3.0 to be right up there with the big boys. A great little bike.