Tiger Frog T400C frameset review

Stress-free cruising machine

BikeRadar score3/5

Tiger Frog are a triathlete husband and wife business who started importing self-sourced kit and then frames around three years ago. The T400c is their latest carbon fibre frame and it ticks most of the contemporary must-have boxes. It's a stress-free cruising machine that you'll want to hop on for long-distance rides.

Ride & handling: Light and comfy aero frameset that's best suited to spinners, not stompers

As you’d hope from a friendly company who answered our questions immediately whenever we contacted them, initial ride impressions are equally friendly. Once we’d angled the extensions to our preference and tickled the saddle to the correct height with a mallet, the T400c is an immediately comfortable place to be.

While it’s a relatively long frame, we never felt stretched and body weight was balanced nicely between the wheels. This meant any twists and turns on our test routes were dispatched smoothly and without drama, whether we were ripping round clear-view roundabouts at high speed or nipping and tucking down tight country lanes.

Being able to stay in a tuck for the vast majority of the time obviously augments the aerodynamic benefits of the frame profiling. It’s obedient and mild mannered if you need to dig gels out of a back pocket to keep your fuel levels up, which marks it out as an ideal long-haul machine.

Smooth rolling Fulcrum wheels underline a stressfree glide sensation from the frame. The fat padded saddle helps, but even so the Tiger Frog is sucking up a lot of shake and rattle from the road before it reaches the rider. Even on long rides we had no hand buzz or numb spots in shoulders or back, which again ticks boxes for those more interested in long-distance racing.

Its low weight also helps on longer rolling courses, where each gram less you have to lug over hills equals more calories and energy left for the run. Unfortunately, like many frogs, the T400c really suffers when you stamp down hard. While it feels easy when spinning or freewheeling, it seems like pedaling harder slows it down rather than spurring it on.

Despite low weight, it failed to gain any advantage on climbs and there’s a sense that at peak torque your power is just being absorbed rather than pushing you forward. Brakes are soft and confidence sapping too. Definitely not a choice for short-course power riders or pushing hard up and down steep hills then.

Tiger frog t400c: tiger frog t400c
Tiger frog t400c: tiger frog t400c

Frame & equipment: Ultra helpful buying and setup advice from the Tiger Frog folk

The T400c frame is designed for Tiger Frog in the Far East, but interestingly it’s the full buying experience, not just the engineering that they concentrate on. Tiger Frog pride themselves on a very interactive personal fit process, which ideally includes you meeting up and riding with them so they can fit your bike to you as comfortably and efficiently as possible.

Their technique is a refreshingly honest and flexible mix of high-tech motion analysis software, experience and common sense rather than the rigid algebraic answer that some fit-ups revolve around. The frame they’re fitting you on to isn’t short of features though. The hourglass head tube doesn’t use a tapered fork steerer and you get a conventionally mounted brake.

The gear and rear brake cable insert vertically into the frame behind the stem though. The fork gets flared aero tips and teardrop legs, which link up to small flanges on the underside of the down tube. The thin oval down tube keel has a fairly distant wheelhugger curve plus a notch in the top side to fit a water bottle in. The press-fit bottom bracket is reinforced by the fat base of the seat tube.

This then curves back up above the second set of bottle mounts into a vertical extension above the top tube. The horizontal slotted carbon dropouts are fully carbon, with replaceable alloy skins. They need careful setup and tight rear skewer tension though, as there are no set screws to keep the wheel from dragging on the frame if it slips forward under power.

An ultra-tight seatpost fit meant we had to use a soft mallet to adjust seat height, and there are only three different frame sizes, reducing the potential fit range. Three different seat angle positions  (74, 76 and 78 degree) are delivered via three different bolt holes on a sliding saddle clamp rail though. It’s an impressively light frame for the price too.

As well as fitting up their riders correctly as far as possible, Tiger Frog also sweeten the buying deal with a very broad range of kit options. While they’re happy to send you a bare frame for you to build yourself they actually prefer to build up one of their frames using kit from your existing bike as far as compatibility allows. They also offer a range of kit lists at a variety of different prices if you’re starting from scratch, plus Tiger Frog team clothing to complete your ‘amphibious allegiance’.

The wheelhugger curve and vertical seatpost above have been copied by loads of frame designers: the wheelhugger curve and vertical seatpost above have been copied by loads of frame designers
The wheelhugger curve and vertical seatpost above have been copied by loads of frame designers: the wheelhugger curve and vertical seatpost above have been copied by loads of frame designers

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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