Chris Dekerf founded the company that bears his name in 1991, and today’s Team SST frame has a clear lineage all the way back to the ﬁrst bikes. It’s had tubing and geometry tweaks but is recognisably similar to the very ﬁrst Dekerf Mountain.
Ride & handling: Playful, agile handling
The Team SST exhibited a distinctly playful demeanour. It’s a decent weight even with the beefy build kit, and while on the face of it the RockShox Sektor fork doesn’t look like an ideal match for the frame there’s a lot to be said for a sturdy, accurate through-axle model on any bike.
The Sektor’s more than happy to lead the way and the rest of the bike will follow. The relatively heavy wheels did dull acceleration a little but the overall weight isn’t at all bad for a build with generally robust parts. The main thing to focus on, though, is the handling, which is excellent.
Dekerfs have always proven themselves as great-handling bikes and the Team SST is no exception. It’s pretty old-school, eschewing the modern trend for super-slack angles in favour of traditional cross-country geometry. That worked for years and, for a lot of riding, still does.
Frame: A true craftsman-built classic
The SST is built from Reynolds 853 tubing using various wall thicknesses and butting profiles for different sizes (SST stands for Size Specific Tubes). Unlike most frames it’s not entirely TIG welded – the most distinctive features, the wishbone seatstays, are silver soldered.
The wishbone is made with interlocking tubes, the stays passing through holes drilled in the wishbone tube itself. This means that much of the load is taken by the mechanical connection of the tubes, with the silver solder mainly just holding it in place. Whatever the practical benefits – good tyre clearance is one you’ll definitely notice – it’s a lovely bit of work and instantly marks the frame out as a Dekerf.
There’s some subtle work at the top of the seat tube too, with the top tube and wishbone stay welded to a chromoly sleeve fitted over the seat tube. This is claimed to minimise the effect of heat from welding and also make it easier to replace frame tubes. A forward-facing seat tube slot caters for Canadian and UK conditions.
There are plenty of other neat details too, such as the machined head tube and brazed-on down tube gusset to spread the loads at this critical junction. You’ll also find a tiny gusset at the top of the rear disc mount, another high-stress spot. Unusually, there’s no extra brace between seatstay and chainstay, just the gusset. We didn’t notice any flex in use, though we’d be tempted to keep the rear rotor size down to be safe.
As well as six sizes, the Team SST is available in a whole slew of colours, including Guinness Brown and Big Bird Yellow. You can also choose from a stack of frame options – Rohloff dropouts, fillet brazing instead of welding, sliding dropouts, 29er geometry… The list goes on.
Equipment:Spec is slightly out of character with frame, but keeps price accessible
As well as bare frames, Prestige Cycles are selling fully built Dekerfs. Our test bike was an example of the cheaper of the two build kits, adding just over £1,000 to the price of the frame. It would be easy to criticise the components for not doing the chassis justice but there’s a posher kit for more money and this frame will end up outlasting pretty much anything you bolt to it anyway.
It’s an interesting spec in many ways, with the choice of parts being a little at odds with the character of the bike. Take the fork, for example. RockShox’s Sektor RL is a perfectly good bit of kit but with adjustable travel from 110 to 150mm it’s perhaps not the ideal choice for a frame designed around a 100mm fork. It spins in a Chris King headset though, which is a nice touch.
Hove-based Prestige have sourced a lot of components from neighbours in Sussex. The wheel package is from DMR and is also on the beefy side, with the Thret rims apparently having been “developed for four-cross racing and pro dirt jumpers”. The Redshift tyres aren’t the lightest either.
Also hailing from Sussex are the USE bar, stem and seatpost, which combine to form a well-proportioned cockpit. The SRAM X7 transmission and Avid Elixir R brakes do their respective jobs just fine, though we had to remember how to use three chainrings again.
This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine.