Ever since Nomark started importing Endorfin bikes from Germany, requests for Rohloff bikes have totally dominated the order book.
Frame: Beautifully put together
Endorfin makes the Speed II hardtail in three different versions: the conventional Speed II (£549), the sliding dropout equipped 'Singlespeeder' (£599), and this Rohloff-ready Speed-R (£649). All share the handmade custom-tubed alloy mainframe, and that's where the Endorfin really shines. Look carefully and you'll see some subtle swaging and shaping in the pipework. The chainstays are bridged with a closed box for stiffness, but still leave decent tyre room, while the internal headset sits snugly inside a flared head tube.
Straight-through closed-cable routing for the Rohloff cables is tucked away neatly on the underside of the tubes, and welding is immaculate thoughout. The sumptuous paintjob is another highlight, and while Endorfin offers four standard colours, buyers can choose from 200 more in the German RAL range for an extra £50. There's a 20mm longer, 200g lighter 'SL' race version of the frame for an extra £200.
Ride: A totally dialled hardtail experience
Most expensive alloy hardtail frames these days suffer from the fact that the alloy frames you get on £500 complete bikes are really, really good. Top frames are a bit lighter, and maybe come with more options and a name you can pose with, but in terms of feel and how much fun they are to ride, we'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference in a blind trial. Imagine our surprise, then, when we realised that the Speed-R is a genuinely outstanding ride. Even with the weight of the Rohloff out back (it takes a while to get used to), we were floating up step-ups, skimming over rubble and riding way beyond our usual level of smoothness and subtlety. Even the 'not obviously different to anything else' angles were dropping into turns, catching cornering slides and putting us exactly where we wanted. It was no one-off wonder ride, either. Whatever conditions we rode it in, it always seemed to come together when we were on the Speed-R. In short, somewhere among the neatly swaged and box-reinforced stays, the smaller-than-average top tube diameter and whatever other internal tweaks are going on inside, Endorfin has got its ride totally dialled.
Equipment: A good set-up at a reasonable price
We've already talked about the pros and cons of the Rohloff hub gear, and you can have the Speed conventionally geared anyway, so we'll leave that out of the kit equation. Otherwise, the RockShox Reba SL, Race Face, DT, Magura, Schwalbe and Fizik kit of this mid-level built bike (£2099 and £2799 versions also available) is good setup at a reasonable price. We can see a lot of buyers choosing the frame-only route, although the Speed-R SL offers some crazy ultralight pimp options only available through Endorfin.
Whatever your views on Rohloff's Speedhub, the Speed-R integrates it better than any other bike we've ridden. In fact, the whole handling, feel and finish of the Speed-R is outstanding in a world where most hardtails struggle to justify their cost.