Big-wheeled hardtails are the dominant species at cross-country races around the country, and this Sensa Fiori TNT Pro 29 seems a top-value way to go toe-to-toe with the big players.
HIGHS: Quality fast handling, a power-friendly race frame and a full XT transmission
LOWS: Flexy quick-release fork, sketchy plastic tyres and narrow bars make it extremely nervous on damp or dynamic trail
BUY IF… You want a hard-kicking 29er bargain for ﬂat-out speed on tamer trails
Racers and weight watchers will be smiling even as they drag the carbon Fiori from the box it’s delivered in – this bike weighs under 11kg. Peeling off the bubble wrap reveals a stiffness-enhancing tapered headtube, semi-internal cable routing and a post-mount rear brake. So far, so modern. The ﬂowing lines, complete with reinforcing ribs around the front end, the seat tube and top tube junction show it’s no bargain bucket design either.
The super durable, slick-shifting happiness of a full suite of Shimano XT is a bonus for serious mileage riders and the fast rolling, hard-compound Racing Ralph tyres are… well, they aren’t going to wear out any time soon, and the extra grip of the own-brand 29in hoops mean they feel notably less frightening than the same compound in 26in.
RockShox’ Reba uses the same chassis as the super light SID fork, with travel dropped to 80mm here to keep the cockpit low.
This all makes for a machine that starts fast and stays that way for as long as you can put pressure through the pedals. The stiff TNT frame detonates out of corners hard enough to skip the rear wheel or spin the tyre totally sideways if you’re not careful.
The large wheels and supple fork smooth out some of the harshness from Sensa’s power-prioritised frame, and it skims across trail chatter and gravel well.
If you’ve shied away from 29ers because they steer slower, you’ll love the instant responses of the Sensa’s steep 72-degree head angle and its 80mm stem. Such immediacy is great when you mean to turn on tight trails, but there’s very little self-correcting stability for faster, rougher trails.
Twangy wheels, and an old-fashioned quick-release skewer rather than a solid through-axle on the fork also make the twitchy front end very ﬂexy. Add those slippery tyres and it’s very unstable on techy singletrack, particularly when faced with roots and rocks.
To cap off the old-school feel, super-narrow 660mm bars mean there’s little leverage for catching and controlling slips and trips, while the fork bottoms out brutally under medium sized impacts. This means a ragged-edge ride on anything even remotely technical, and the Sensa left us on our arses several times during testing.
While tyres and bars are relatively cheap to upgrade, and you can increase fork travel and slacken the steering a bit by removing an internal spacer, acquiring through-axle legs isn’t a cheap option. If you’re not fussed about control and just want ﬂat-out low-mass speed, the Sensa will see you right.