Calibre is the bike brand of outdoor equipment retailer Go Outdoors and they’ve produced an impressively well specced hardtail with a contemporary character at a great, affordable price. And while the official price is £699, if you spend £5 on a 12 month discount card, the cost of the bike drops to an even more attractive £600 / US$945 / AU$1,260.
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It feels good on the trail straight away thanks to a 65mm long stem and wide 760mm handlebar for a power assisted steering feel. The WTB tyres provide a good grippier front, faster rear balance, and sit on 23mm wide rims to add more support when you’re cornering hard.
Avid Elixir 1 hydraulic brakes have much better feel and feedback than Tektro anchors too, although we’d like to see a 180mm not 160mm rotor up front for more power.
While the RockShox XC32 fork only has a QR skewer holding the wheel in place rather than the thru-axle, you can occasionally find on Suntour forks at this price it’s still stiffer than more common 30mm legged forks. The pressurised air (rather than solid) spring and basic rebound control makes it easy to tune the fork response to your weight too.
Weight is acceptable at 13.75kg/30.3lb and compared to most bikes at this price it’s very fun and capable on average trails. Don’t expect the SRAM X5 transmission to last long compared to the Shimano alternatives though.
Like other cheaper 27.5in wheeled bikes, the Gauntlet also struggles to keep its chain on when the terrain get really rowdy over rooty or rocky sections.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.