BTR Fabrications and the Pinner downhill bike

UK company releases its first production full suspension frame

BTR Fabrications is a UK bike company based in South West England, run by two passionate individuals with a love of mountain biking and a desire to make “the kind of bikes that no one else made”.

Paul ‘Burf’ Burford (born and raised in South Africa) and Tam Hamilton (originally from the Highlands of Scotland) met at university in 2007. With Tam’s experience in design and engineering and Burf’s skills with materials and manufacturing, BTR (Burf and Tam Racing) Fabrications was born – the pair made their first frame in 2011, BTR Fabrications was officially formed in January the following year.  

The pair design and build all their frames themselves, on site in their workshop in Frome.They make around 20 steel frames a year at present, can supply complete bike builds as well as the frame-only options.

In a world where fashion plays commanding role in the purchasing decisions we make, it’s refreshing to stumble upon brands and people who see and do things differently. 

Video: BTR Fabrications – From The Ground Up

The company initially focused on specialist hardtail frames such as the enduro-specific Ranger and downhill Belter, but designing and fabricating their own full suspension frame was always on the agenda. The pair were merely waiting for the right time.

BTR Fabrications started out making hardtail frames, such as the Ranger, above, which is designed for gravity enduro

The idea for the company’s first full sus frame was to make a bike that, like its predecessors, didn’t match anything that was currently on offer, but was a bike that they’d always wanted to ride. If successful, they would offer it to the public.

Burf and Tom wanted a bike that could go uphill, but that would be focused on thrashing descents, ripping corners and sending gaps. The result was the aptly-named Pinner, which is now available to order.

It’s made from Reynolds 631 and 4130 tubing, is available in either 26in or 650b wheel options and sports a tuned Cane Creek Double Barrel Air shock that delivers an enduro-ready 140mm of travel. With a chassis can handle the most aggressive downhill runs, the Pinner is no average bike.

Test-riding the Pinner

We had no idea what to expect on our way to the Forest of Dean to meet the guys from BTR, or what we’d make of their new bike.

We can’t deny we’re suckers for sexy bikes with factory race-team pedigrees, but while we tend not to fall victim to marketing hype, there’s a feeling of safety with bikes that are the result of years of testing by the best riders and engineers. We knew this bike would challenge our preconceptions, but we were hoping for nothing less.

In the lead up to this ‘first ride’ (and by first ride, we mean first ride, we were literally the first to ride this bike off-road), we’d spied social media shots that showed off the Pinner’s chunky-looking CNC’d floating link and contrasting industrial steel frame. You rarely see these two materials together in such a configuration – what would this beast look like in the flesh?

The Pinner in all its glory – we were the first to ride this bike off-road

We took the size large 650b Pinner for a thrash on the downhill trails at the Forest of Dean, the Pinner’s geometry made short work of the myriad berms, tabletops and root sections. It was fun that this bike was designed to deliver and that it does.

The Pinner is a no holds barred short travel descender. It wasn’t made to win races (although we’re sure it could), and while it will go up hills (with a bit of horse power and the right gearing), it’s on the fun stuff that it really shines.

It felt very comfortable on the back wheel and effortlessly manualled through root sections and between trail features and popped off rocks. A skilled rider could creatively navigate the Pinner through natural singletrack or bike centre trails like a BMX rider through dirt jumps.

The feedback from other riders on the trails, in the uplift van and generally milling about avoiding work on a Tuesday afternoon, was quite interested. Talk about being centre of attention! Thankfully, Burf joined us on the ride to answer the questions that were thrown at us by the Pinner’s many admirers!

All BTR frames are designed and made by Burf and Tam in south-west England

But why did the Pinner garner so much interest and fascination? Perhaps it's because think the Pinner – and BTR as a brand – represents the other side of the bike industry right now. It’s a bike that makes a statement. And unlike the florescent coloured carbon bikes many of us lust after, you’re less likely to see another Pinner quite like the one here when you’re out on the trails. Each one is being handmade to order, and buyers can choose their own colours and graphics, and a degree of geometry and features customisation is offered too. Plus, the fact that when you order one, you’ll be talking to one of the two guys who’ll actually make it, immediately adds a new dimension to the process of buying a new bike. This doesn’t come cheap though, and this particular Pinner sports an approximate pricetag of around £2,500 for the frame and shock, depending on the options you choose.

A full test is needed before we can stamp any conclusive thoughts on this bike, but we were impressed by its fun-loving nature, solid construction and the fact it’s handmade by people who truly love making and riding bikes. We think that the Pinner is an interesting and awesome addition to the bike marketplace.

For more information on the Pinner and the rest of range, head over to the BTR Fabrictions website.

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