Cove Stiffee FR frame review£595.00

Hardcore hardtail

BikeRadar score4/5

If you want guaranteed gung-ho strength and close combat agility, Cove’s evergreen Stiffee FR is still a firm, if pricey, favourite. It overturned established hardtail convention from the first corner we rode it through over a decade ago.

A square-headed Easton RAD mainframe gives maximum overlap on the head tube, and subtly curved but stout rear stays meet at massive CNC-machined dropouts. There’s reasonable mud room even with 2.4in tyres.

It’s the uncompromising frame stiffness and the super-slack 66° head angle that make the Stiffee FR such an outstanding technical ride though. It can handle up to a 160mm or even dual crown fork (140mm works best, though) without feeling doubtful about its directional accuracy.

The short top tube reach lets you chuck your weight all over the place too, making it feel like a trail BMX for the first few rides. Incredible feedback clarity does come at the expense of comfort though.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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