Stanton Switchback Ti MK II first ride review£4,500.00

Aggro titanium hardtail built for ripping

The geometry, build quality and handling of Stanton’s bikes all adds up to something pretty special on the trail, and this has helped it build a strong following over the past few years. In a bid to keep progressing its designs, the company has been tweaking some of its most popular models, including the top-flight Switchback Ti we have here.

The frame

Beautifully crafted from 3Al-2.5V titanium tubing, the Switchback Ti MK II is available in two sizes, each with a choice of ‘regular’ or ‘long’ geometry. 

The ‘long’ versions have a 25mm longer reach, effective top tube length and wheelbase, but the rest of the geometry remains the same, consisting of a 64.7-degree head angle, 72-degree seat angle, stubby 415mm chainstays and 43mm of bottom bracket drop.

While some features like the ISCG-05 chain guide tabs, 44mm head tube, Swapout dropouts (which let you switch between 12x142 and 10x135mm axles) and custom seat tube carry over from the last frame, the MK II gets new internal routing for the rear brake hose, gear cable and dropper post.

New on the MK II is internal routing for the rear brake and mech, plus a dropper post
New on the MK II is internal routing for the rear brake and mech, plus a dropper post

A new CNC-machined yoke means that without any adjustment to the chainstay length there’s enough clearance to run anything from a 2.4in 650b tyre (as we tested) to a 2.8in 650b+ tyre on a wider rim.

The kit

While the MK II is available as a frame for £1,649, Stanton also offers it with the solid spec you see here, which is certainly worth considering if you’ve got deep enough pockets. 

Begin descending and those signature Stanton trail manners are there in abundance

We’re big fans of the Shimano XT 11-speed transmission, Fox 34 fork and Mavicwheel/tyre combo (though you’ll need something with a bit more bite for winter). The 170mm-drop Reverb post is a bonus, too. The only issue we had was with a wandering bite point on the XT brakes.

The ride

The extra length in the front of the frame with the ‘long’ geometry is obvious almost instantly. Sit in the saddle and start pedalling up the first climb, and you’ll soon find this translates to a more stretched-out position on the bike, which helps to keep the front wheel from lifting or wandering too much when swinging around tight, steep turns. The Switchback Ti is by no means the sprightliest bike when pointed uphill, though it’s certainly no slouch. But then, that’s not what this bike is about.

Get out of the saddle and begin descending and those signature Stanton trail manners are still there in abundance. The short back end means it flicks through the turns at pace and makes it easy to get the front end airborne when you need to. 

The Switchback Ti MK II flicks through the turns at pace
The Switchback Ti MK II flicks through the turns at pace

On faster sections, the longer wheelbase and slack head angle, combined with the well-behaved Fox 34 fork, help to keep things under control. The high-volume Mavic tyres combine nicely with the forgiving titanium frame and further add to the composure when things get really rough and you’d expect a hardtail to clatter you to smithereens, or at least unsettle you enough that you’d start grabbing at the brakes.

When banging through the bumps, the cable rattle does become irritating quite quickly, so it would definitely be worth taking the time to sleeve or at least wrap the entry/exit points of the internal routing. 

Get that sorted, though, and you’ll be in for ear-to-ear grins every time you throw a leg over the Stanton. We can’t wait to spend more time aboard it.

Stanton Switchback Ti MK II: availability and pricing

The Ti MK costs UK£4,500 (approx. US$5,690, AU$7580). Free European delivery, check site for worldwide delivery costs.

Stanton Switchback Ti MK II: early verdict

A lively, engaging ride that’ll handle more than you’d expect, but at a pretty lofty price.

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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