Iron Horse is probably best known for its range of DW-link full suspension bikes, but the Maverick is a solid attempt in the very competitive £300 hardtail arena and a tad cheaper than its rivals to boot.
The Maverick has tidy handling and good all-round trail manners in spite of some pretty unusual geometry numbers. The main fly in the ointment is the fork: its harsh top-out clunk puts a dampener on the Maverick’s riding experience.
Ride & handling:don’t judge a bike by its numbers
There are some unusual numbers lurking in the Maverick’s geometry specs, among them a fairly short top tube and surprisingly slack head angle. But proof that you can’t judge a bike by its vital statistics comes the minute you sling a leg over it.
It’s instantly likeable, positioning the rider’s weight midway between front and rear tyre contact points and delivering a steering feel that offers an excellent blend between liveliness and stability.
Raw newbies might find the riding position a bit low at the front, an area Giant has covered with the adjustable stem on their similarly priced Yukon.
Trail manners are impeccable in handling terms. The Maverick behaves predictably in a wide range of trail conditions, from lung-busting granny ring uphill grinders to flat-out big ring sprints.
No bike at this weight is going to defy gravity all on its own, but the Maverick plods skyward willingly enough. And when it comes to screaming down the other side, quick steering responses inspire confidence.
You can almost hear the ‘but’ coming. Yep, it’s the fork. All the confidence-inspiring handling in the world is for nothing if the one component that’s supposed to help smooth things out when the going gets rough does exactly the opposite.
To be fair, the top-out problem is no worse than other similarly priced bikes, and Iron Horse tell us they’re aware of it, but it’s still disappointing.
Chassis: simple & effective, but the fork…
Although bike manufacturers go to considerable lengths to get colours and decal design right for their intended market, the final effect is so much in the eye of the beholder that we usually don’t comment. The Maverick’s unusual retro graphics are so different, though, that they’re hard to ignore.
Beneath the skin, the Maverick shares a couple of key design features with the aforementioned Giant Yukon – the hydroformed down tube gusset up front and the rigid wishbone seatstay rear end. Coincidence? There’s no way of knowing, but we do know that Giant makes bikes for many other manufacturers. There are just as many differences between the two bikes though.
The Maverick doesn’t boast as many fancy tube profiles as some of the competition, and there’s almost no shape-shifting going on. Chainstays are square section – almost everything else is plain ol’ round. And there’s nothing wrong with that, it does the job just fine.
Suntour’s XCT fork is a budget coil spring model, offering just 80mm (3.14in) of travel with preload adjustment but no other bells or whistles. Our Maverick’s test sample proved supple enough to patter willingly over small trail detritus, but – surprise, surprise – had the usual budget fork bugbear of a harsh top-out clunk.
Equipment: basic unbranded kit
Unbranded kit abounds on the Maverick – clearly an effort on the part of Iron Horse’s product managers to keep costs down. Does it matter? In functional terms, not a bit. In image terms, well, it depends on your attitude to branding.
The Suntour chainset looks low-rent next to some rivals, although functionally it’s no different to any other budget chainset with riveted rings. And the chunky tyres feature an open tread pattern, making them slower-rolling on hard surfaces but grippier in typically slimy UK trail conditions.