UK outdoor lifestyle chain Go Outdoors has been pushing its mountain bike brand Calibre for a few years now, with some seriously impressive results.
Take Calibre’s £399 Two.Two hardtail for example – one of only four mountain bikes to have achieved a full five star rating on BikeRadar over the last year. So when we had a heads-up that the brand was focusing its efforts on a full suspension trail bike, we paid full attention.
Expected to land in stores for August, Calibre’s The Don is a 130mm travel full suspension trail machine and, although a final retail price hasn’t been signed off yet, Go Outdoors is aiming for the £1,000 mark.
So, why should you take notice? There are plenty of full sussers about for a grand, right? Yeah, there are a few – take the £1,000 Boardman Team FS 650B or even Decathlon's £900 B'Twin RockRider 720S for example. But all budget full sussers aren’t born the same and at this price point manufacturers have to really be smart with their buying power. Just a couple of bad component choices and your bargain bike will soon need expensive upgrades.
It might sound like a tired cliché but Calibre bikes really are designed by riders for riders. GO Outdoors' chief bike buyer, Mike Sanderson, is the guy behind this bike and the rest of the range. A racer himself and a man obviously passionate about his job, Sanderson understands the people he’s designing for and knows his kit inside out. What this translates to in the case of The Don are touches that are easily overlooked on the shop floor, but not out on the trails.
The frame isn’t just plucked out of a catalogue like some other brands at this price, instead it has been designed and developed in and around Sheffield – something that the brand is proud of – an you’ll even find a Yorkshire Rose on the frame of production bikes. The geometry can be described as more reserved than radical at 68 and 73 degrees for the head and seat angles, but generous front centre lengths across all sizes makes for a comfortable position without handling compromise.
Ditching inner tubes should be a relatively painless and inexpensive experience thanks to a well thought out tyre and rim combo
The 130mm faux bar linkage rear end is controlled via the simple but effective RockShox Monarch R, which is a natural match for the lockout equipped Sektor air fork up front. Both units are also air sprung and feature rebound adjustment, meaning a simple set-up procedure and a bike that’s suitable for a wide range of rider weights straight out of the box.
Hop on The Don and you’ll notice a full 760mm width Ritchey handlebar and a sensible 70mm stem. The clutch-mech equipped Deore 2x10 transmission provides ample range for new riders without all the flap of a triple. It also makes switching to a 1x set-up a considerably cheaper proposition.
The brakes are Shimano non-series components. Not a worry though, these work just as well as their branded sister parts and a 180mm / 160mm staggered rotor set-up is a good choice also. WTB’s 650b ST rims have an inner width of 23mm and once fitted with tape and sealant will happily run tubeless on the well thought out Vigilante/Bee Line tyre choice.
Calibre appears to have spent the money where it matters
It’s a good looking bike too, with smoothed welds, clean lines and a finish that wouldn’t look out of place on models costing significantly more.With a claimed weight of 13.5kg (29.8lbs) we can’t poke any holes here either.
We had a quick spin on an early production sample and were suitably impressed but are keeping our full judgement in reserve until we’ve clocked more miles on The Don. Stay tuned for a full review in a forthcoming issue of Mountain Biking UK magazine – and here on BikeRadar.