Ever had trouble finding exactly the sort of bike you want? That's the situation Dan Stanton found himself in. But rather than moping or compromising, he decided to set up his own bike company with friend Jon Lumb. The first fruit of their labour is the machine seen here, the Stanton Bikes Slackline 853.
"I wanted a hardtail that I could utilise for everything but felt like a four-cross bike and I was struggling to get hold of a bike like that," Dan tells BikeRadar. "I was having a few drinks with my mates one night and playing some poker, and I said I might start a company. I joked that I'd give Jon 10 percent of the business for £10,000.
"The next day he came into my work with a load of spreadsheets. That spurred me into action. I managed to find a factory in Asia, and after a year-and-a-half of prototyping we made the Slackline."
Dan reckons there are three things that set the Slackline apart from other 'hardcore' hardtails – geometry, materials, and the way those materials are used. Stanton use double-butted Reynolds 853 chromoly for the bike's main tubes and unlike some of their rivals, don't cut costs by using proprietary tubing for the chain- and seatstays.
"Most companies that make '853' frames use normal chromoly for the back end," he says. "We use Reynolds 525 because of how compliant it is, how much it absorbs vibration." The 'spring' of the tubing means Stanton don't need to use skinny stays to add comfort. "It's the material that absorbs the vibration rather than tapering the stays and making them flexy," says Dan. This means they can use larger 22mm tubing and vertically ovalise the chainstays to improve power transfer.
As for geometry, the Slackline has a 68° head angle and 72° seat angle when run with a 140mm-travel fork. The head angle was chosen because it offers a good compromise between descending stability and jumping/climbing ability, while the seat tube is relatively slack so that the bike has a decent reach with the saddle up but feels short and snappy with the seat slammed. This is helped by the short (16.3in/414mm) chainstays and 12.4in (315mm) bottom bracket height.
The Slackline frame costs £400 on its own, so the full build shown here looks like a bit of a bargain at £1,769, considering it includes a full Shimano SLX groupset (including chain, cassette, etc), a RockShox Sektor fork, Mavic Crosstrail Disc wheels (worth nearly £400 on their own) and PRO Koryak finishing kit.
Stanton Bikes are already working on follow-up models, including a dirt jump frame, a cross-country/trail hardtail called the Sherpa 853 and a titanium Slackline. The latter will have a 30.9mm internal seat tube diameter (in place of the steel frame's 27.2mm) to allow use of a dropper post, a 44mm head tube (instead of 1-1/8in) to allow use of tapered steerer forks, and internal top tube cable routing. We wouldn't be surprised if these changes trickle down to the steel Slackline too.
You can see the Slackline 853 in action at Afan Forest in South Wales in the video below, from Stanton Bikes: