Evans Cycles’ in-house Pinnacle brand brings big wheels to the masses with the Ramin hardtail range, which blends 29er hoops with various componentry packages on bikes costing from £500 to £1,500. The Five, at £1,100, sits just below the range-topping (you guessed it…) Six. With a 120mm (4.7in) travel fork and a 2x10 Shimano Deore, SLX and XT based transmission, it’s an attempt to bring some trail attitude to big wheels. But does it hit the mark?
Frame and equipment: sticks admirably to a tried and trusted recipe
There’s no attempt to reinvent the wheel (or even the frame) here, and the Ramin Five is all the better for it. Flaring subtly and almost invisibly at the bottom bracket and with a curved gusset up front for extra strength, the chunky down tube’s circular cross-section reasserts the strength and weight advantages of round-profile tubes. The comparatively skinny, slightly ovalised top tube carries bolt-on cable guides rearward, while a lightly kinked seat tube puts both front mech and saddle where they need to be.
Out back the stays are curved enough to provide both mud and heel clearance. The dropouts have threaded holes for a rack or mudguard but, curiously, there are no matching eyelets at the top of the stays. The seat tube accepts a 31.9mm diameter post, opening up a plethora of dropper options (though there’s no obvious way to route a remote cable). As stock though, the Ramin Five comes with a shimmed 27.2mm post – a deliberate move to increase rider comfort with a little seatpost flex. The 44mm head tube, which will accept any fork, adds further versatility.
At this price few brakes can match Shimano’s SLX stoppers for power and control
The 120mm of front travel is served up by a RockShox Reba fork. Big wheels mean longer fork legs, and sometimes noticeably more flex, but the Reba can cope with 120mm – just – without descending into noodly whippiness.
It’s disappointing to buy a bike only to find that there’s a vital component that could really do with upgrading. So Pinnacle’s approach – speccing Shimano kit for the bits that move and own-brand stuff for the parts that don’t – is spot on. The understated Pinnacle rider contact points get on with the job without fuss, leaving more room in the budget for a Deore, SLX and XT based transmission driving Continental-shod wheels, all hauled to a stop with SLX stoppers and a big 180mm front rotor. It all just works, brilliantly – and that’s the point.
Contact point gear such as the bar, stem and saddle is Pinnacle own-brand. It's unspectacular but does its job without fuss
Ride and handling: efficient and versatile, but personality could be stronger
Big wheels don’t automatically lend themselves to the kind of aggressive trail riding that a mid-travel hardtail opens up – they’re arguably more suited to fast-rolling trails and cross-country speed. Pinnacle’s designers have given the Ramin Five relatively relaxed geometry in an attempt to make it more suited to technical riding, shifting the rider’s weight rearward over the comparatively short stays to improve traction.
Combined with grippy tyres and that slick shifting, utterly reliable transmission, the result is a bike that’s capable of devouring rocky, rooty climbs. The skinny seatpost and stays provide a small amount of extra give for efficient seated pedal mashing, while big-volume Conti tyres roll up and over just about anything in their path.
It’s a similar story dropping back down the other side of the hill. Once you’re up to speed, there’s not much that a 29in front wheel in a 120mm Reba can’t handle. We’ve always reckoned big wheels add about 20mm to effective suspension travel, and the Ramin lives up to that expectation. Fast, rocky descents are smoother and altogether less drama on this bike than on many of its smaller-wheeled peers.
We can't fault the Ramin Five's up- and downhill competence, but some riders will prefer a machine that allows itself to be thrown around a little more
But this supreme trail devouring ability is also its Achilles’ heel. Because, while it’s incredibly efficient at what it does, it lacks what we can only describe as a sense of fun. We reckon this is down to the big wheels, which are inherently slower to turn because of their greater rotating weight. With its trail-friendly geometry and long fork, the bike wants you to throw it around. But the wheels say, “no, keep the rubber side down”. The Ramin Five is caught between XC efficiency and trail hooliganism, and doesn’t quite know which way to go.
Whether this matters or not comes down to your riding style. If you like to sit down and pedal, the Pinnacle will devour trails all day long. But if you use your upper body to tell your bike where to go – and like it to respond quickly – you might be better off with a smaller-wheeled bike. You pays your money…