Sonder is the in-house brand of UK outdoor equipment company Alpkit. Purveyors of value-for-money gear, its Sonder bike range spans everything from touring and adventure to mountain bikes.
The focus is very much on value and versatility, and that shines through on the Colibri, which is amazingly versatile and punches way above its weight in the performance stakes for its price.
Built around a titanium frame with carbon forks, the Colibri’s adventurous and versatile DNA is evident in the wide tyre clearance, multiple bosses and attachment points and no-nonsense raw finish. No need to worry about paint scratches or straps that rub here.
The titanium in question is aeronautical grade and the metal is exceptionally well-suited to bike building. It doesn’t rust, it resists fatigue better than aluminium, impacts better than carbon and weighs 50 per cent of the equivalent quantity of steel.
If you want a bike that’ll take some rough treatment and emerge looking fresh, the Colibri Ti is the one for you.
Internal routing keeps wires tucked away and the bike looking neat. Robert Smith / Immediate Media
Internal routing keeps the look neat and cables out of the way of luggage attachment points. There are three bottle bosses; two in the frame and one on the underside of the down tube, which could double as storage for a canister with a repair kit.
The full SRAM Force 22 groupset provides a suitably wide range of gears comparable to other endurance-focused bikes, with a 50/34t crankset, plus 11-32t cassette.
In particular, the SRAM Force hydraulic disc brakes combined with bolt-thru wheel axles give precise, powerful braking that combines subtle control with enough oomph to shave off speed quickly and confidently on descents.
While Sonder offers builds on its site, it can also adapt each individual bike to order to allow for a degree of fit customisation.
So, while the Colibri is based around a unisex frame, the saddle, cranks and handlebar have been chosen to give a better fit to a female rider, or can be tweaked to suit a rider with different needs, irrespective of sex.
Sonder’s own Love Mud component parts are used for the finishing kit with the Membar seatpost, 400mm Spitfire handlebar, 80mm Storc stem and comfy Love Mud Reels tape.
I only have two niggles with this bike. The first is the cable routing from the bottom bracket area of the frame along the right chainstay.
Designed to sit under the chainstay, on the test bike it migrated around to the side, which meant I occasionally knocked my foot against it while pedalling. Irritating but not catastrophic.
The second is the Vision Team 35 wheelset, which adds weight to the bike and is ripe for upgrading in the future. It’s sturdy and strong, although it feels twangy and flexy on very rough surfaces, and while the bolt-thru axles are welcome, the bike would benefit from something a little stiffer and lighter to really make it sing on the road.
The rolling stock is completed with tan-sidewalled WTB Expanse tyres in a chunky 700 x 32c size. The frame has enough space in it to fit up to 46c tyres if you want something chunkier for grip or to dampen road vibrations.
The Vision Team 35 wheelset is sturdy and strong but adds weight. Robert Smith / Immediate Media
It may not be the lightest or have the most features, but this bike is brilliant if you are looking for a capable all-rounder. The titanium frame has an inherent springiness that makes it comfortable over the roughest ground without feeling sluggish or bouncy.
Indeed, while not overtly designed for it, the Colibri nevertheless handled some gravel riding, so rough roads and long distances will pose no problem for rider comfort.
Adventurers and commuters will love the multiple bosses that allow racks and bags to be attached all over the frame and forks and the wide clearance means chunky mudguards or chunkier tyres are possible.
It’s a pleasure to ride. It gives stability but not to the point that the ride feels dull, and an overall performance that encourages you to go further, faster and take those detours down rough-surfaced roads you’ve not yet explored.
Titanium frame: agile, light, hard-wearing and it doesn’t rust. Robert Smith / Immediate Media
Sonder Colibri Ti Force 22 geometry
Sizes (* tested): S, M*, L, XL
Seat angle: 74 degrees
Head angle: 73 degrees
Seat tube: 49.8cm
Top tube: 55.2cm
Head tube: 14.5cm
Fork offset: 5cm
Bottom bracket drop: 7cm
How we tested
This bike was tested against four other bikes that we consider to be some of the best for female riders – some unisex, some women’s specific.
On paper and based on experience, these five bikes are leading lights in their various fields – whether that’s comfort endurance, race endurance, gravel and adventure, or all-rounders – based on price and performance.
Testing took place (pre-lockdown) in the Welsh mountains, Mendip hills and on the flat and fast Somerset Levels (plus the odd gravel path and wooded singletrack).
Other bikes on test: