Building on the success of the hard-hitting Slackline, Stanton’s Switchback hardtail turned the aggressive riding dial up a notch with its slacker geometry and bigger wheels. We couldn’t wait to hit the hills on this beautifully crafted, if pricey, Ti version.
Frame and equipment: flex meets stiffness on a premium build
To ensure there’s stiffness where there needs to be but still enough of that compliance that titanium frames are famed for, the Switchback Ti uses triple-butted 3Al-2.5V top and down tubes, plus a custom drawn, triple butted seat tube.
When it comes to geometry, there are similarities with its smaller-wheeled counterpart, the Slackline Ti. The stubby 415mm chainstay length and low 312mm BB height remain the same, but are adapted to work with the bigger 650b wheels. The slack 64.4-degree head angle is a Switchback and Switchback Ti special though.
Other nice touches include interchangeable dropouts (10x135mm, 12x142mm or horizontal), ISCG chain guide mounts and a 44mm head tube complete with beautiful pewter head badge. The frame will comfortably take a 2.3in tread out back.
We were lucky enough to throw a leg over the highest spec Switchback Ti, which will set you back an eye-watering sum and comes with super-stiff ENVE M70 rims built on Chris King hubs, a 140mm (5.5in) travel BOS Deville AM fork and an 11-speed transmission built around super light Race Face Next SL cranks. There is a slightly less extravagant full build version available with e*thirteen TRS wheels and Race Face Turbine cranks, but we’re guessing the frame only option is what most people will go for.
Ride and handling: playful, confidence inspiring thrills
Get stuck into some technical, flowing singletrack and you’ll soon see where the Switchback Ti excels. The low BB and slack head angle spew confidence and allow you to carve corners at pace and tackle steep, awkward sections with poise. The well supported, smooth stroke of the 140mm BOS fork helps here too.
Stanton has done a good job of balancing accurate technical handling with playful agility. Changes of direction are rapid, precise affairs and the stumpy chainstays and light overall weight – 11.3kg (24.9lb) – help make things feel nimble and fun, even after a good few miles in your legs and on the most nadgery, physical trails.
If we were being really picky, a touch more length in the front centre would be a bonus when tackling really high speed, bump riddled tracks – the effective top tube length on our 16.5in frame was 590.6mm – and we don’t think it’d detract from the bike’s spirited nature. That said, the Switchback Ti still feels really bloody good. It’s aggressive and chuckable when you want it to be, yet efficient and forgiving enough to be comfortable for longer rides too.
Complete build spec as tested
- Frame: 3Al-2.5V titanium
- Fork: BOS Deville AM, 140mm (5.5in) travel
- Drivetrain: SRAM X01 w/ Race Face Next SL crankset
- Rims: ENVE M70
- Hubs: Chris King
- Tyres: Onza Ibex 27.5x2.4in (F) and 27.5x2.25in (R)
- Brakes: Hope Tech 3 E4
- Bar: Race Face Next 35, 760mm
- Stem: Race Face Turbine 35, 50mm
- Seatpost: RockShox Reverb
- Saddle: SDG Duster
- Weight: 11.3kg/24.9lb
The Switchback Ti frame is available for £1,599 (about US$2,460 / AU$3,167 at time of publication). The complete build as seen here would cost just under £5,900 ($US9,064 / AU$11,663).