THIS MONTH WE ARE TESTING FOUR HARDHITTING HARDTAILS FOR AROUND A GRAND.Mild mannered but inherently evil, there's a disturbingly alluring new brood of hard hitting hardtails out there threatening to bridge gaps in all the best possible ways. This month we are testing:
STEPPENWOLF Twixter, £1090 (Frame £258).
CANNONDALE Chase II, £899
PLANET-X ARMADILLO, £999 (Frame £399)
IDENTITI Mr Hyde FRX, £1100ish (Frame £299)
We tested a group of low budget big hitters a couple of issues back. Now it's the turn of four rigs that'll damage your wallet to the tune of a grand, or thereabouts.
First up, we have the STEPPENWOLF Twixter. It's a wolf at the door hammer rig with custom options. It boasts a very nicely finished one size frame, loads of upgrade options and comes with a hard hitting but relatively light parts built-up.
Next, better late than never, Cannondale > enters the hardnut foray with the Chase II.It looks like a top value version of the bike their freeride/jump star Aaron Chase rides. It has a strong dirt jump/urban freeride identity and has Truvativ's Hussefelt cranks with a Rock Guard, a Marzocchi Dirt Jumper III fork and hydraulic disc brakes.
Third, and looking very unusual straight from the box, comes a speedy freeride hardtail with apparently wreckless trail ability, the PLANET-X Armadillo, Its tank like looks and tank like roll through anything behaviour are intended for up to 125mm of fork travel, but you could opt for a frame alone or a top value frame/fork package with Planet X or On-One top up components.
Last, but certainly not least, comes a UK-spawned wolf in a mountain goat's clothing, the IDENTITI Mr Hyde FRX. It looks the part, comes in two sizes, 17in & 19in, and it promises everything we've come to expect from this hard new breed of tough-nut feature-packed freeride hardtails. Distributors Ison offer it with a big choice of parts, including a White Brothers 80-125mm travel fork.
So what did we think as riding got underway? Watch this space.