Bird Aeris AM X1 review£2,650.00

High-value direct sell Brit trail bomber

BikeRadar score4/5

New British direct sell brand Bird really impressed us with its hardcore Zero hardtail last year, and its top value full-suspension gravity bomber is now doing likewise.

    Frame and equipment: on-trend geometry and superb value SRAM spec

    While some major brands have been slow to respond to the latest long, low and lazy trends translating onto the trail from the steepest, fastest downhill slopes, being small and UK focused has helped Bird join the dots just right.

    While you can buy the frame in five different colours and sizes – we reviewed the Aeris frame, with a different build, a few months back – the SRAM X1 gears, RockShox Reverb Stealth post and Race Face Turbine cranks are obvious benefits of Bird’s direct sell complete bike value. The SRAM Guide RS brakes get a 200mm rotor up front for maximum anchorage with impressive levels of cleverly leveraged control.

    The rct pike out front is always a boon:
    The rct pike out front is always a boon:

    The RCT3 Pike out front is always a boon

    With nine different build package options that can be further customised with five different shock, wheelset (including Bird’s own carbon wheels) and tyre options, plus six different stems holding 17 different bars, plus other tweaks and even optional Anglesets for changing head angle, you can personalise your Bird accurately and affordably too.

    It also means you can change the final character of your Aeris quite dramatically from a fast rolling mid-weight 140mm trail bike to the heavier duty 14.5kg build we tested here.

    Ride and handling: stable and confidence-inspiring but could be stiffer

    The long top tube keeps stretch ample even with a short 35mm stem. The 800mm Race Face bars give huge amounts of leverage for holding the already super-stable 66-degree head angle on line. It’s super low too, so once you commit to a corner you’re totally locked in right to the limits of your grip. Bird also lets you spec your choice from a wide range of (normally Maxxis) tyres. That means you can choose your own balance of rolling speed and grip from super tacky glue to semi-slick go.

    The custom tuned Monarch RT3 shock is deliberately progressive for ample support whether you’re putting the hammer down through the pedals or driving the tyres into a corner. The Pike fork up front – a fully adjustable RCT3 model, no less – is a massive help when it comes to overall composure and control.

    Bird is a new kid on the block, but the aeris is seriously impressive:
    Bird is a new kid on the block, but the aeris is seriously impressive:

    Bird is a new kid on the block, but the Aeris is seriously impressive

    Together they mean the 140 or 150mm travel Bird behaves a lot more like a 160mm-plus machine if you stay off the brakes and let it run through serious rock sections or chance your luck off ugly drops. Bird’s faith in its solid conventional tubed frameset is borne out by a lifetime warranty that means you can ride without worry, and it can even be transferred to a new owner if you decide to sell the bike on.

    Testing head to head with some of its peers, the Aeris frame definitely has a lazy rather than lively character with obvious flex from the dropped top tube and low, relatively skinny stay rear end. That leaves it sluggish under power even with a semi-slick rear tyre, and it prefers to sway and swoop down the trail to its own rhythm rather than chop, hop and push the pace.

    This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.

    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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