From the same team who brought you the Rake 29er, we have this rowdy 650b trail hardtail. Spot-on handling for hard riding and a top-value spec let you hit the toughest trails without worrying about weak links in the package.
Calibre Line 10 frame
The Line 10 gets off to a good start, and not just by using a tapered head tube. Calibre’s designers put this at the end of a usefully long top tube and lean it back at a confidence-boosting angle. Both main tubes are tapered and triangulated back from the head tube.
Slim, relatively short (430mm) chainstays curve around the rear tyre before straightlining back to the intricate, if old-fashioned, 135mm QR dropouts. A post mount tucks the rear brake out of the way.
All cables are routed externally, including that of the TranzX dropper post supplied as standard. Mud clearance is generous. Calibre is keeping up to date with geometry trends with the 66.5-degree head angle and 450mm reach of my Large frame. That makes the limited size range (L and XL now, medium soon) my only complaint.
More stability is added by the long wheelbase Immediate Media
Calibre Line 10 kit
As well as finding the budget to fit a 120mm dropper post, Calibre has included some other significant component categories. The 120mm-travel RockShox Recon RL fork may not have a remote lockout lever, but the stiffness and security added by the Maxle through-axle will be more useful to most riders.
Having a 15mm hub also makes upgrading easier. The 29mm WTB rims are tubeless-ready hoops that feature on many far more expensive bikes and the Schwalbe tyres are tubeless-ready, dual-compound Performance versions, with a grippier tread up front and faster pattern at the rear.
The 1×10 transmission (Prowheel cranks, Shimano gears, SunRace cassette and KMC chain) works well, and the Shimano Deore brakes are a cut above when it comes to modulation. The 760mm bar and 45mm stem are on point, and you even get lock-on grips.
Calibre Line 10 ride
Not only is the Line 10 wide enough for useful power steering when you’re fighting hard against the trail, or just ripping turns tyre-threateningly hard, but everything attached to it syncs well.
The short stem keeps the steering light for fast and accurate corrections and the slack head tube naturally wants to return the wheel to straight if it gets tripped off-line, giving the Calibre an easy confidence.
More stability is added by the long wheelbase, and being able to drop the saddle and move your weight around easily makes a massive difference to overall control.
The Schwalbe Hans Dampf front tyre is listed as a 2.3in, but it actually blows up to be 59mm wide on the i29 rims, which is as broad as some 2.5in to 2.6in tyres Immediate Media
The fork’s 15mm axle and tapered steerer tube mean precise steering adjustments are translated to the trail and equally accurate traction feedback is communicated the other way. Despite being listed as a 2.3in, the Hans Dampf front tyre is nearer a 2.5/2.6in in size and its dual-compound construction gives it softer shoulders that hook up reasonably well.
Both tyres are easy to set up tubeless and SnakeSkin carcass reinforcement keeps them stable even at low pressures. While it’s overshadowed by the handling and kit, the frame underneath is fine too.
The TranzX dropper is very basic, with an external cable and short 100mm stroke, but it works fine and is a massive bonus for tech riding Immediate Media
The Line 10 is as smooth as you can realistically expect of an alloy hardtail with a 27.5×2.25in rear tyre. Being able to turn the tyres tubeless opens up more impact-damping and speed-sustaining potential. Even with the dropper post and wide front tyre, weight is competitive, so acceleration and agility are encouragingly eager.