Silverback Sola 1 first ride review£1,399.00

Easy XT-driven speed in a retro racer style

Silverback is another direct-sell German brand hoping to follow Canyon and YT to success. The Silverback Sola 1 will only interest XC traditionalists though.

Silverback Sola 1 spec overview

  • Frame: Triple-butted 6061-T6 aluminium
  • Fork: RockShox Reba RL, 100mm (4in) travel
  • Drivetrain: Shimano Deore XT (2x11)
  • Wheelset: Stan’s NoTubes Rapid 25 rims on Shimano Deore hubs
  • Tyres: Maxxis CrossMark 29x2.1in
  • Brakes: Shimano Deore M615
  • Bar: Sector Plane, 700mm
  • Stem: Sector Reach, 90mm
  • Seatpost: Sector Level
  • Saddle: Sector CroMo
  • Weight: 11.8kg (26lb), large size without pedals

Silverback Sola 1 frame and kit

The aluminium Sola 1 sits at a price where you start to get carbon frames so it’s good to see that it uses an advanced triple-butted tubeset, where each tube has three different wall thicknesses based on strength-versus-weight requirements.

The RockShox Recon fork gets a 15mm axle though, as well as a remote lockout lever for sprinting

There are some nice details too, such as the extra cable/hose guides on the side of the big tapered head tube to stop paint rub. The seatstay arch gets an imprinted logo too.

The front mech and routing are old top-pull style (rather than the latest front-loading ‘Side-Swing’ design), which leaves an awkward S-bend of exposed cable.

Tyre space is limited too, so you’ll be restricted to 2.2in rubber if you want to run a toothier tread in muddy conditions.

While they look neat, press-fit bottom brackets typically have more medium to long-term issues than screw-in external bearings. The Sola also uses 135mm quick-release dropouts rather than a more failsafe, secure and up-to-date 142x12mm thru-axle.

The RockShox Recon fork gets a 15mm axle though, as well as a remote lockout lever for sprinting. This has to sit awkwardly on top of the bar to make room for the left-hand shifter of the 2x11 Shimano XT transmission, but if you like the traditional geometry and 700mm flat-bar cockpit of the Sola, you’re probably more likely to want a double crankset than a single-chainring set-up.

The Stan’s Rapid rims and Maxxis CrossMark tyres are an obvious high-speed choice too.

Silverback Sola 1 ride impression

In a straight line this bike is blisteringly quick
In a straight line this bike is blisteringly quick

If pure straight-line cross-country speed is what you’re after, the Sola won’t disappoint.

The triple-butted frame delivers power firmly without shaking the muscles off your shins or making carbon shoe soles sting on rough descents.

Tubeless-ready wheels and tyres make it a stress-free job to increase contact smoothness and puncture resistance and the CrossMarks roll incredibly fast.

The Sola is about half a kilo overweight for its price and purpose though, which may be an issue if you’re the kind of gram geek such a Euro-style racer tends to appeal too.

The narrow bar, steep 70.5-degree head angle and minimal-grip rubber make anything technical a total sketch fest. Despite Silverback’s claims, the 440mm chainstays aren’t short and agile either, so any stability is behind the rider, not in front.

With limited tyre space and no internal dropper post routing, there’s little potential for ‘trail-ification’. The Shimano Deore brakes also lack power initially, although performance improves once they’re properly bedded in. We’d recommend double-checking them before riding too, because our bike came supplied Euro style (front brake on the left).

Silverback Sola 1 early verdict

Blisteringly quick straight-line racer, but slightly heavy and outdated in frame and handling terms.

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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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