While direct-sale bikes are ten-a-penny these days, in order to cut even more cost out of the supply chain, Tornado is only taking pre-sales on its debut model, the Attack.
This means minimal warehousing, guaranteed demand and exceptional value. Bikes have to be ordered via its crowdfunder page, and if it hits the target, should be delivered in June 2021. Will the wait be worth it?
Tornado Attack frame
The alloy frame is based around a solid-looking four-bar suspension linkage that delivers 150mm of rear wheel travel. While the pivot hardware won’t win beauty contests, it remained tight during testing.
There’s decent tyre clearance out back, plus internal routing through the mainframe for the gear and dropper post cables (the rear brake hose is left external).
The swoopy hydroformed down tube and straight line from rear axle to head tube give the bike a purposeful look, and the low-slung top tube aids standover clearance too.
Although the geometry isn’t groundbreaking, the 66-degree head angle and 74.7-degree seat angle work well enough, and the 465mm seat tube isn’t too tall.
However, the 450mm reach on the largest of the two sizes is fairly short, so riders hovering around the 6ft mark and above may find the sizing doesn’t suit them.
Tornado Attack geometry
|Seat angle (degrees)||74.7||74.7|
|Head angle (degrees)||66||66|
|Seat tube (cm)||43||46.5|
|Top tube (cm)||59.7||61.9|
|Head tube (cm)||11.5||12.5|
Tornado Attack kit
RockShox provides its simple Monarch R shock and 150mm-travel Recon RL fork, which has a handy compression-adjusting dial on top.
An 11-speed Shimano SLX shifter and mech push the chain over an 11-46t SunRace cassette, giving a reasonable gear range. The Boost-width rear hub engages quickly, the Alex rims are a decent width (30mm) and they hold a pair of Maxxis High Roller II tyres, including a 2.4in 3C MaxxGrip version up front – a grippy, versatile option found on bikes well above this price point.
Shimano also provides the brakes. Finishing kit is unbranded, but includes a 150mm dropper, which remained smooth throughout my testing, a comfortably-shaped 780mm bar and a 35mm stem.
Tornado Attack first ride impressions
Out on the trail, the Attack’s four-bar suspension gives a supple, predictable feel. Under seated pedalling loads it’s very stable, making for an efficient climbing platform (although if you stand and mash on the pedals, it drops quickly into its mid-stroke and gets a little wallowy).
On descents, the rear end has a smooth, active feel, which keeps the wheel tracking the ground well in nearly all situations, boosting grip through corners and under braking.
The bike remains composed when faced with large one-off impacts, such as landing to flat from drops, and impressed me when hammering over roots too. If there was a little more mid-stroke support, it’d handle repeated hits better. As it is, when I was really pushing the bike over choppy terrain I ended up quite deep into its travel before it was able to recover to its normal ride height.
Up front, the Recon’s 32mm stanchions and basic TurnKey damping mean it’s not as stout or refined as mid-range forks such as RockShox’s Yari, especially when set with 150mm of travel, but it feels fairly smooth and performs well for the price.
I added a couple of clicks of compression damping, via the leg-top dial, to balance the front-to-rear suspension feel. This also helped keep the fork propped up a touch more on steeper tracks.
The Attack handles well, but the 450mm reach will be very apparent to taller riders, who’ll find the front wheel can tuck under a bit in steep, loaded corners, and may want more high-speed stability. A longer wheelbase would help.
That said, the 66-degree head angle puts the front wheel ahead of the bike, and the short 35mm stem keeps the steering snappy. The decent rubber on wide rims also helps bring a sense of calm to the Tornado.
There’s plenty of volume in the sticky, well-treaded tyres, letting you run a touch less pressure than you might otherwise, to fully exploit the grip and composure on offer. The EXO casings add a touch of extra damping to the ride, helping to stop the bike from being pinged about in rock gardens.
Shifting would be a touch slicker with a full Shimano (or SRAM) groupset, but there’s plenty of range from the 11-46t cassette. While the brakes are dependable, I reckon a 150mm bike should have a 200mm rotor up front.
I’m nit-picking, though, because the spec is good for the price. Add the smooth suspension and predictable handling, and – if the Attack fits, you don’t mind waiting and you’re happy ordering online – you won’t find many better trail bikes for this kind of cash.
Tornado Attack early verdict
Smooth and composed ride at a very low price. If the sizing works for you, you’ll have a blast.
How to order
Tornado is crowdfunding the Attack. There are 300 bikes (150 large, 150 medium) available as ‘rewards’ on its Crowdfunder page for anyone who makes a £1,250 ‘pledge’.
Once enough of these pre-orders have been received for Plymouth-based Tornado to hit its £300,000 funding target, it can begin production. If it fails to hit the target, pledgers will be refunded.
For more details, visit Tornado’s site
|Weight||15.56kg (L) – without pedals|
|Available sizes||M, L|
|Brakes||Shimano MT500, 180mm rotors|
|Chain||KMC chain (1x11)|
|Fork||RockShox Recon RL, 150mm (5.9in) travel|
|Frame||Aluminium alloy, 150mm (5.9in) travel|
|Handlebar||Unbranded aluminium, 780mm|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano SLX|
|Rear Shocks||RockShox Monarch R|
|Seatpost||Unbranded dropper, 150mm|
|Stem||Unbranded aluminium, 35mm|
|Tyres||Maxxis High Roller II 3C MaxxGrip EXO 27.5x2.4in (f) and DC EXO 29x2.3in (r) tyres|
|Wheels||Alex MD30 rims on Nautilus hubs|