The Sonder Transmitter, from top value UK outdoor brand Alpkit, has been one of my favourite rides for a while now. And with news of a carbon version, I’ve been waiting impatiently for an exclusive test sample — so does it live up to expectations?
- SRAM 12-speed: XX1 and X01 Eagle
- Skinny full-sus or plus hardtail for the UK National Endurance Champs?
Sonder Transmitter Carbon spec overview
- Frame: Carbon fibre
- Fork: Fox 32 Float FIT4 Adj Boost 120mm, travel 100mm
- Wheel size: 27.5+ / 29”
- Drivetrain: SRAM XX1 Eagle 32×10-50t
- Brakes: SRAM Level Ultimate 180/160mm
- Head angle: 65 degrees
- Seat angle: 73 degrees
- Reach: 50mm
- Weight: 11.1kg size large
Sonder Transmitter Carbon frame and kit
We built our sample bike up from a bare frame, which let me appreciate some of the detail that you won’t immediately notice if you go for one of the five complete bike options (from NX1/Sektor at £1,499 to XX1 Eagle/Pike at £3199).
The most obvious is that the internal gear cable routing isn’t just a set of holes that you need to try to coax cable between. Instead, there are full-length pipes bonded inside the frame that you can just slide the outer through all the way.
Racey weight, rowdy character
As much as it can be a competitive XC machine (I clocked my fastest four laps ever round the Dalby World Cup course on it) that’s definitely not playing to the true potential of the Transmitter. That’s because Sonder has taken the super slack 65-degree head tube of the alloy bike and extended the reach slightly (a large is now 450mm).
It’s also shortened the seat tube for a lower centre of gravity and to let you size up if you’d normally be a medium without compromising standover or having to use a stubby dropper seatpost. The result is a proper aggro attack bike that loves to shove its big front tyre into trouble and then boss it out big style.
Despite the skinny seatstays and flat top tube the handling precision and drive punch do come at the price of a firmer ride feel compared to the alloy bike. Tyre clearances are also very tight at the rear end, with 27.5×2.8in rubber grazing close to the chainstays and 29×2.25in tyres skimming the seat tube, so there’s little scope for adding bigger, softer boots.
The way that radical head angle wanders around at slow speeds on climbs won’t agree with more traditional handling fans either.
But if you’re after a responsive, race shocked ‘rally’ ride feel with superb corner scything, tech dominating handling, raceable weight, extra plus tyre traction and user friendly build features, it’s a proper stand out and a total bargain to boot.
Sonder Transmitter Carbon early verdict
Blisteringly fast, sweetly detailed, radically dialled and still a total bargain.