The man behind Starling Cycles, Joe McEwan, has been grafting away in the shed at the bottom of his garden for some time now, applying his passion for bikes and aerospace engineering background in a bid to craft some seriously lust-worthy, bespoke handmade trail slayers.
Starling Swoop spec overview
- Head angle: 66 recommended
- Down tube length: 760mm maximum
- Seat tube length: 340mm minimum
- Head tube length: 110mm minimum
- Chainstay: 430mm
- Bottom bracket: -10mm drop, 73mm threaded
- Wheel size: 27.5″
- Shock: 155mm travel, 216x63mm and 140mm travel, 200x57mm
- Brake mount: IS
Starling Swoop frame and equipment
Starling Swoop ride impression
One ride in and it was clear this handmade frame could easily compete with much of the mainstream competition. Joe has got the key ingredients more or less sorted. The suspension balance front to rear — after a bit of tinkering — coupled with the chassis stiffness, relaxed geometry and simple yet effective single-pivot design, delivers a blend of traction and that all-important feel and feedback through the bike in just about the right quantities. Throw it down a steep, root-infested hillside and the Swoop can more than hold its own as your speed increases and confidence builds.
Though our 5ft 8in test pilot felt a little stretched aboard the longer Swoop, with its 480mm reach (we tried a shorter bike with a reach of 450mm, which we felt more at home on), during particularly tight, steep turns, the stability and pace carried when the trail opened up was staggering, and the traction through loose, roughed-up turns was plentiful. The supple stroke of the EXT shock helped keep the rear wheel glued to the ground, but it’s a set-up better suited to hammering down and pottering back up.
We also tried the bike with air-sprung X-Fusion dampers front and rear, which made the Swoop feel more efficient on the climbs and a little more lively on the descents, even if you have to work a bit harder to maintain traction.
Starling Swoop early verdict
Beautifully made frame with custom geometry that really beasts it on the trail.
|Description||Price is for Frame only|
|Cranks||Funn Carbonation Solo crankset|
|Fork||RockShox Pike RCT3, 150mm (5.9in) travel|
|Frame Material||True Temper Supertherm and Columbus Life and Zona steel tubing, 155mm (6.1in) travel|
|Front Tyre||Maxxis Shorty 3C EXO 27.5x2.4in|
|Handlebar||Funn Black Ace carbon, 780mm|
|Rear Derailleur||Shimano Zee|
|Rear Shock||EXT Storia coil|
|Rear Tyre||Maxxis Minion DHR II 3C EXO 27.5x2.35in|
|Stem||Funn Duro, 40mm|