Calibre Rake review

Forget the price and just ride flat out!

Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
GBP £450.00 RRP

Our review

An outstandingly capable, confidence-boosting and fun trail bike for well below £500
Buy if, You want a capable, confidence-boosting trail bike for under £500
Pros: Long and low geometry matched to a high-control cockpit; supple, adjustable RockShox fork and grippy front tyre; 29er wheels and cleverly-shaped tubing give a smooth ride
Cons: Heavy wheels slow down acceleration
Skip to view product specifications

The Rake is all-new, but Calibre’s design team has clearly sweated the component and ride character details to make it a cut-price, full-throttle trail bargain.

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There’s a lot going on with the frame. While the head tube isn’t tapered, which limits later fork upgrading potential, it’s flared at the top and bottom for strength — and that’s just the start of the hydroformed details.

The curved hexagonal down tube has pronounced ridges along its top side for extra stiffness, and the D-shaped top tube hides the gear cables/rear brake hose underneath.

Pronounced keyhole curves on the chainstays give adequate, if not amazing, tyre space. The centres of the stays are also flattened and curved inwards to help suck up ground shock.

A post mount for the rear brake makes it easy to stop pad rub. There are no rack mounts and just one set of bottle mounts. That does mean you can drop the seatpost fully, but you have to crank the painfully stiff seat clamp quick-release cam up super-tight for security.

With a bang-up-to-date ‘enduro length’ 465mm reach on the large frame, this is a bike you’re going to want to get low and lairy on.

Calibre Rake kit

Calibre even fit lock-on grips, which won’t slide round or slip off on the first wet ride
Calibre even fit lock-on grips, which won’t slide round or slip off on the first wet ride
Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media

Calibre has fitted a wide 760mm bar for extra steering leverage, added secure lock-on grips and matched it to a 60mm stem to keep the steering balanced over the 69-degree head angle.

That stem is clamped onto a smooth-stroking RockShox XC 30 fork with adjustable initial sensitivity (preload) and rebound damping.

The front tyre is a 56mm-wide WTB Vigilante with a properly chunky tread and the grip to match.

The Prowheel cranks use pressed-steel chainrings, which are a standard replaceable fit if you ever manage to wear them out or bend them. Long chainstays help to keep the Shimano Acera/Altus shifting sweet, despite a lot of chain flap and slap over rougher ground.

Calibre Rake ride impressions

RockShox’s XC 30 has its limits but it’s smooth and more reliable for the price
RockShox’s XC 30 has its limits but it’s smooth and more reliable for the price
Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media

That chain clatter is the only thing likely to disturb you if you’re ploughing through rougher sections of trail. That’s because Calibre has done an outstanding job putting together such a capable trail bike for the money.

While the 30mm stanchions of the RockShox fork can twist and stutter if you really push it hard, you can still tackle steps, roots and rocks with speed and confidence.

In fact, the fork’s so smooth that I had to add some preload to the spring to stop it feeling too soft when cornering, but then that’s the whole point of having that adjustment.

While the head angle is relatively steep by more expensive hardcore hardtail standards, it’s still slack enough to provide a slight self-correcting element when things get sketchy.

The long reach and low bottom bracket sit you right down onto the trail for a great sense of connection and security, instead of feeling perched on top.

Add a grippy front tyre, well-judged stem length and the power-steering effect of the wide bar, and the Rake outclasses bikes like the Voodoo Aizan, Diamondback Sync 3.0 and Saracen Tufftrax Comp Disc when things got fast and techy.

The Calibre’s cleverly-shaped frame tubes and 29-inch wheels also provide a smooth, speed-sustaining ride. In particular, the heavily manipulated rear end soaks up an impressive amount of impact force and vibration, so the Rake flows through trouble rather than getting hung up on it.

If I had to pick fault, then the wheels are heavy and the knobbly front tyre means the Calibre doesn’t accelerate or roll as easily as other similarly priced bikes on smooth stuff. But the knowledge that the descents are going to be a lot of fun makes it much easier to suck up the suffering on climbs, and that wheel weight also contributes to the sense of locked-down security and stability.

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Note: the price listed is with a £5 Go Outdoors discount card. For international pricing and delivery, visit Go Outdoors.

Product Specifications

Product

Name Rake
Brand Calibre

Available Sizes S M L
Rear Hub Shimano TX505 Center Lock QR
Wheelbase (in) 45.28
Top Tube (in) 25.2
Seat Tube (in) 20.47
Chainstays (in) 17.52
Spoke Type 32x 14g, black
Weight (kg) 14.74
Stem Forged alloy, 60mm
Shifters Shimano Altus M370 (3x9)
Seatpost Alloy
Seat Angle 74
Saddle WTB Volt Sport
Rims Double-wall alloy
Rear Wheel Weight 3230
Rear Tyre WTB Trail Boss 29x2.25in
Rear Derailleur Shimano Acera
Bottom Bracket Semi-sealed square taper cartridge
Headset Type Semi-integrated, 1.125in
Head Angle 69
Handlebar Ritchey Trail, 760mm
Grips/Tape Entity single-lock
Front Wheel Weight 2560
Front Tyre WTB Vigilante 29x2.3in
Front Hub Shimano TX505 Center Lock QR
Front Derailleur Shimano Altus
Frame Material Hydroformed 6061 aluminium
Fork RockShox XC 30, 100mm (3.9in) travel
Cranks Prowheel 44-32-22t
Chain KMC Z99
Cassette Shimano, 12-32t
Brakes Shimano M315, 160mm rotors
Frame size tested L