Bird Cycleworks is only a young company – but its UK designed and built bikes are already getting much bigger firms in a flap.
- So good: Great choice of pick’n’mix componentry at a top value price; lifetime warranty on frame; revised geometry boosts high-speed stability/confidence
- No good: Not as lively under power as low weight would suggest; direct sales model means no local shop support
Frame and equipment: Mondraker-style geometry and high-value kit
Extra butting means the new TR frame is 200g lighter than the original Zero and the tube alignment is sleeker too. The seat tube has been straightened and the differences between each size are smaller so sizing is more accurate.
Bird’s online bike builder lets you personalise the parts list efficiently and economically
While the TR is Bird's lighter, shorter travel hardtail option (the Zero AM uses a 150mm fork), the firm's engineers have transferred the longer, lower and slacker geometry from the Aeris full-suspension bike to join Whyte and Mondraker at the ‘super-long front end’ cutting edge. Interestingly, they’ve also extended the rear end by a varying amount depending on frame size to improve stability and reduce front wheel lift and wander on climbs.
Ambidextrous ‘stealth’ dropper routing, a Maxle rear axle and Shimano side-swing front mech cable routing will appear on production bikes, while the old ISCG mounts are gone due to buyer feedback. Multiple colour options give instant individuality and all Bird frames come with a lifetime warranty that’s transferable if you sell the frame on.
Bird is constantly developing its online bike builder and altering options in line with customer demand. This means it'll now fit 1x11 transmissions from SRAM or Shimano as the standard choice, immediately simplifying shifting and saving significant weight.
Bird takes advantage of SRAM’s newest GX groupset
The rest of our bike’s spec was made up of an impressive value collection of top trail kit supplied in our choice of dimensions and versions. The online bike builder sends you e-copies of all the relevant manuals and specific details of chosen components when you order and will even text you build progress updates over the few days it takes until delivery.
Ride and handling: a gravity thriller that's not so sparky under power
Because Bird is a direct-sell brand you have to be happy getting your bike in a box and fitting the handlebar and doing basic setup yourself – or bribing someone to help. If that’s not an issue, the Zero TR puts a lot of bike into your hands for the money.
The revised geometry means those hands can put the front wheel exactly where you want it. There’s masses of base stability and micro movements of the super-short stem will tweak maximum traction out of your choice of rubber.
The bike builder let us upgrade to our favourite Maxxis front tyre, the triple-compound Minion DHF, for an extra tenner, while we kept the rear rapid and low-profile to create a fast-rolling ‘rear slips first’ fuse for when we pushed too far.
The RockShox Revelation fork and Race Face bar put tons of tactile information through the grips
The long wheelbase and low bottom bracket make the Bird an unshakable carving machine when you’re straining your head round for a corner exit on a high-speed sweeper. The extended front end/ultra-short stem based Forward Geometry style handling means you can push the Zero a hell of a long way before it starts to feel sketchy and it’ll hook up in corners and pull off split second saves all the way down whatever black run or ragged edge backcountry singletrack you’re attacking.
The RockShox Revelation fork and Race Face bar put tons of tactile information through the grips and there’s a ton of feel-fettling potential from the advanced RCT3 damper. The fork’s 32mm legs are stiff enough to be accurate at 130mm (5.1in) of travel too, though trading up to the 35mm legs and smoother stroke of a Pike is definitely tempting, as is the Reverb dropper post option.
The back end is softer than that of the Nukeproof Scout we were hammering alongside it, and the low ride height and long wheelbase meant our only worry when ploughing into rock and root segments was whether the rear tyre would hold up. Bird sets up your choice of rubber tubeless for no extra cost, so survivability is boosted straight from the box.
The new TR frame is longer, lower and lighter, bringing the Zero’s handling bang up to date
The length and shock-shrugging ability that make the Zero TR so planted on descents definitely reduce playfulness under power though. While the new frame, light wheels, single-ring transmission and general component quality make for an impressively light bike, it doesn’t accelerate with the pop to match.
Even when we swapped to a faster front tyre it generally felt harder work than Saracen's nimble Mantra Carbon on climbs and extended pedalling sections, so it’s definitely more suited to gravity-focused riders. The component value and choice provided by Bird’s bike builder is excellent though, and the long-and-low geometry makes it a super-surefooted bomber on fast and rowdy trails.