Chromag is a brand from British Columbia with a strong, rider-focused image and a wide selection of steel and titanium hardtails. The line-up includes super-slack and stretched-out machines like the far-out, 62-degree head-angled Doctahawk, and this do-it-all Stylus – aimed at mountain riding plus a bit of jumping and mucking about.
Made using Chromag’s most robust tubeset, the frame should handle heavy landings and rough terrain. The steep-seat-angled Stylus is designed to both climb and descend, with the focus on hitting whatever drops, gaps and sends present themselves along the way.
Chromag Stylus frame
The frame is constructed from thick-walled 4130 chromoly, with a stubby head tube and zero-stack headset that mean you can get the handlebar really low if required.
This head tube also features extra-thick material and flanges to resist the additional loads from longer forks. The butted and tapered tubes have a distinctive kink at the top/seat tube junction and a special ‘Yokel’ chainstay plate – a CNC’ed yoke allowing extra driveside tyre and chainring clearance.
The Boost rear end is 148mm wide, with tiny CNC-machined dropouts and a steel brace on the non-driveside. While the 63.5-degree head angle is similar to other hardtails I had on test — at least when the fork is fully extended — the Stylus has less bottom bracket (BB) drop.
Chromag Stylus kit
You can only buy the Stylus as a frame, and you’ll need to contact Chromag directly. Its UK parts distributors Hotlines built us this custom bike with some superb components.
Fox’s latest 170mm 36 Float fork with GRIP2 damper is sophisticated and controlled, offering sorted tracking and calmness over the roughest repeated hits. The oversize Chromag bar and stem combo is also top-drawer, and brings razor-sharp precision to the steering. I’d forgotten how un-ergonomic the older plunger-style remote for RockShox’s Reverb dropper post is though.
The 30mm (internal) DT Swiss E 1700 wheels spread and stabilise the latest, improved WTB tyres nicely for good comfort, plus the alloy rims feel smooth over bumps and roll/accelerate really fast.
Chromag Stylus ride impressions
The Stylus is designed to work with a 150 to 170mm fork. My bike’s 170mm fork made the already high BB even taller, which all testers commented on, and became a defining aspect of the Canadian machine.
Next up is its near-15kg weight, which impacts on getting uphill rapidly, although the seated climbing position is excellent for extended efforts.
The wide stem, 35mm-bore bar and thick-walled tubes make for a solid-feeling ride, with huge directional stiffness and precise steering.
Thankfully, because the Fox fork is so refined, the ride is way smoother than expected from such a burly frame. In fact, despite the Stylus being optimised for durability, in terms of vibration reduction and ‘rattle-factor’, it delivers a quiet, calm ride over smaller chatter, and rolls fast on smoother trails too, with a reassuringly dull feel to the chassis.
Thud harder into rocks and roots in the roughest sections, though, and it’s clear the frame is rock solid, so there’s an unyielding sensation when landing big drops and jumps.
On steeper technical trails, the Stylus’s tall BB and long fork left me feeling way too high off the floor. When cranking stood up I felt tipped forwards, and when the trail difficulty ramped up I was more nervous to ride down some of the steeper chutes and corners, due to the unnerving sensation of feeling like I was being pulled over the front. A shorter-travel fork would help, but not fully remedy this.
The Stylus had me taking my feet off and ‘sketching’ down trail sections I was confidently flowing through on other bikes, which indicates just how unplanted I felt and how low on-board confidence levels were.
Chromag Stylus geometry (L)
- Seat angle: 75.2 degrees
- Head angle: 63.5 degrees
- Chainstay: 16.89in / 41.9cm
- Seat tube: 17.01in / 43.2cm
- Top tube: 25.51in / 64.8cm
- Bottom bracket height: 12.91in / 32.8cm
- Wheelbase: 48.23in / 1,225mm
- Reach: 19.06in / 48.4cm
|Weight||14.92kg (L) – (without pedals)|
|Available sizes||S, M/L, L|
|Bottom bracket||Shimano Hollowtech II|
|Brakes||Shimano Deore XT M8020, 203mm/180mm rotors|
|Cassette||Shimano SLX, 11-46|
|Cranks||Shimano Deore XT M8000, 32t|
|Fork||Fox 36 Float Factory FIT GRIP2, 170mm (6.7in) travel|
|Frame||Butted 4130 chromoly|
|Handlebar||Chromag Fubars OSX, 800mm|
|Rear derailleur||himano Deore XT M8000 (1x11)|
|Seatpost||RockShox Reverb Stealth, 170mm|
|Shifter||Shimano Deore XT M8000|
|Stem||Chromag BZA, 35mm|
|Tyres||WTB Vigilante Light/High Grip 27.5x2.5in (f) and Tough/Fast Rolling 27.5x2.5in (r)|
|Wheels||DT Swiss E 1700 Spline 30 rims on DT Swiss 350 hubs|