Pace RC127 prototype review£499.00

Taut steel singletrack weapon from iconic Yorkshire brand

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Pace blew the world away with its original, innovation laden, way-ahead-of-the-curve alloy RC100 frame 25 years ago.

This 650b frame is the first in a fresh range from Yorkshire’s most famous MTB family, but is this distinctive prototype worthy of the name?

Frame and equipment: back to the future

Pace founded its reputation with a unique externally machined, square section alloy tubeset when 99.9 percent of the world was still riding brazed steel. The RC127 reverses that trend with a Reynolds 853 steel mainframe and chromoly rear end.

While the material might be retro, it’s certainly not short on up-to-date innovation because the smoothly loop-bridged rear stays end in adjustable ‘Slideout’ dropouts. These can be moved backwards and forwards with a neat inset thumbwheel to take up singlespeed chain slack or micro adjust the rear end geometry.

SRAM x1 and x01 builds will be available – our test machine came with a twin-ring setup:
SRAM x1 and x01 builds will be available – our test machine came with a twin-ring setup:

SRAM X1 and X01 builds will be available – our test machine came with a twin-ring setup

While our prototype sample had a QR axle, production frames will come with a 142x12mm bolt-through as well as routing for a ‘stealth’ dropper post cable/hose and ISCG mounts on the conventional screw-in bottom bracket. The tapered, gusset-reinforced head tube can take 140mm forks, though our sample came with travel shortened to 125mm. It wasn’t just the fork that seemed slightly short either – Pace hasn’t extended its top tube lengths to compensate for super-short stems. There’s ample standover clearance though, so sizing up isn’t an issue. As well as black, yellow and sky blue paint finishes there’ll be five decal options and a choice of Hope seat collar colours.

As well as the frame-only option, there are two SRAM X1 or X01 bike builds planned, with further spec details and the complete bike prices still to be confirmed. If you’re building up yourself though, go for a broader bar than the Truvativ fitted to our sample – it left it seriously low on steering leverage. Going single ring will of course save the weight of inner ring, front shifter, front derailleur and cable over the twin ring setup here too.

Given that it’ll come ready for an internal dropper, the feisty, technical singletrack orientated nature of the Pace makes it rude not to budget for one in your build too, especially if you’ve saved weight by going 1x10/11.

Ride and handling: compact aggression

The Pace’s standout trait comes from its short-reach dimensions. It has an immediately compact and aggressive feel, rather than a laidback stretched persona. That can easily be offset by sizing up if you’d like more reach or a shorter stem.

The head angle is steep and urgent in handling feel and, having tried the full-length 140mm fork previously, that would definitely be our preference for faster, bigger hitting trail work. The low bottom bracket means you can safely increase the front end and overall height without worrying about it feeling too unstable when carving high-speed corners.

The rc127 achieves a great balance between steel flow and alloy accuracy:
The rc127 achieves a great balance between steel flow and alloy accuracy:

The RC127 achieves a great balance between steel flow and alloy accuracy

For close-combat nip-and-tuck singletrack though, the shorter fork and more compact frame of our sample worked really well. While there’s a trace of twist from the steel front end, wheel placement was precise and surefootedly assured. The steeper head angle means you can turn the front end in tight on to the apex of turns and while the wheel starts to slide and shunt outwards on corners sooner it’s easier to snap the steering back to regrip with immediate effect. Because it’s closer in, the front wheel doesn’t wander much on climbs or wave in the air easily under power.

Back wheel response is similarly sharp for a steel bike, driving forward with purpose and precision that rewards maximum effort out of corners or up climbs. There’s more feel for rear grip too so you can judge torque precisely on broken ground and it tracks accurately rather than fishtailing.

It’s still more forgiving than an all-alloy machine though, and the frame’s wiry feel works well in tandem with the tight but not clattery 650b wheel size to create a focused, flowing weapon for blasting technical singletrack. Swapping to bigger volume Bontrager rubber added significant float and flow, should you want a more traditional springy steel character without losing the accuracy and poise Pace has worked hard to create.

Spec as tested:

  • Weight: 11.86kg (26.15lb)
  • Frame: Reynolds 853 steel main tubes
  • Sizes: S, M (tested), L, XL
  • Fork: RockShox Revelation RCT3,125mm (4.9in) travel
  • Headset: Hope
  • Wheels:
  • Hubs: Hope Pro 2 EVO
  • Rims: Stan’s Arch EX
  • Spokes: 32 double butted
  • Wheel Weight: 1.91kg F, 2.23kg R (including tyres)
  • Front tyre: Schwalbe Nobby Nic Evo 27.5x2.25in
  • Rear tyre: Schwalbe Nobby Nic Evo 27.5x2.25in
  • Crankset: SRAM X7, 38/24t
  • Bottom bracket: Truvativ GXP
  • Derailleurs: SRAM X7
  • Shifters: SRAM X7
  • Cassette: SRAM PG-1070, 11-36t
  • Chain: SRAM PC-1050
  • Brakes: Avid Elixir 9, 180/160mm
  • Bar: Truvativ Stylo T30, 720mm
  • Stem: Truvativ, 60mm
  • Grips: ODI Ruffian
  • Saddle: Charge Spoon
  • Seatpost: Truvativ Stylo T30

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

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 44
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster tfhan the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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