Pace RC127 frame £499

Thoroughly modern steel hardtail

BikeRadar score 4.5/5

Pace’s latest prototype is a far more conventional and traditional machine than their iconic RC100 of 25 years ago. That doesn’t stop it being a great trail all-rounder, though. The Yorkshire company has harnessed all the advantages of 650b wheels to the oldest frame material, and in the process breathed new life into the bespoke hardcore hardtail. Punchy enough for black runs, peppy enough for laughter-inducing singletrack speed, the RC127 is a true modern classic.

Ride & handling: Grin-inducing hardtail that makes a 29er feel lazy and a 26er lumpy

It’s the RC127's (if that’s what it ends up being called) mix of highest quality, post-weld-hardening Reynolds 853 steel tubing and the intermediate wheel size that stands out on the trail. The frame is compact enough to feel muscularly precise. Even with a short stem and relatively wide bars we never managed to get the front end to warp under power, or when trying to save a stupid line choice at the last second. 

The tighter frame, fork and wheel make it more accurate and precise than a 29er, so every control input can be harder and sharper. Pace have deliberately designed the geometry to drop you into the bike, encouraging you to chuck it around. For a ferrous frame with an affordable build it’s light enough to really pop under power, and puts down drive with encouraging but not jarring directness. The longer footprint and shallower contact angle of the 650b wheels mean you never struggle for grip. 

It’s ‘glass half full’ in terms of bumping up and over roots and rocks that would stall smaller wheels, and the faster you go – and the bigger the lumps – the more obvious that becomes. Even with a 31.6mm post (27.2mm seatposts and tubes have a reputation for flexing too much and cracking), that same rolling smoothness translates into a less thumping ride in the saddle. 

The ‘just right’ mix of frame and wheels gives the Goldilocks Pace RC127 a fairytale ride

Frame & equipment: A beguiling mix of old and new

The original square-section, machined aluminium tubes of Pace’s RC100 dropped a low-weight, high-strength bomb into a world then dominated by hefty steel frames. This RC127 reverses the trend by using a steel main frame to stand out in a sea of alloy and carbon. While head tube gussets and slim, loop-bridged rear stays are classic steel signatures, there’s nothing retro about the way it all works. 

The head tube is tapered-fork-compatible and designed for 140mm of travel. Thumbwheel-adjustable dropouts let you alter chainstay length if you’re running singlespeed or hub gear systems (or to simply tune the handling) and 142x12mm dropouts are in the works. Pace will also add dropper post guides and chain guide mounts before production. And of course, the RC127 is designed specifically for the latest 650b wheels. 

Test spec

  • Wheels: Stan’s Arch EX 27.5 rims, Hope Pro 2 hubs
  • Tyres: Schwalbe Nobby Nic, 650bx2.25in 
  • Fork: RockShox Revelation RCT3, 140mm
  • Cranks: SRAM X7, 24/38T 
  • Shifters: Shimano X7
  • Derailleurs: Shimano X7
  • Cassette: SRAM 1070
  • Brakes: Avid Elixir 9, 180/160mm rotors
  • Handlebar: Truvativ Stylo T20, 720mm
  • Stem: Truvativ Stylo T30, 60mm
  • Seatpost: Truvativ Stylo T30
  • Saddle: Charge Spoon
  • Weight: 12.1kg (26.7lb)

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

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