This is­sue we’ve been for a spin on Swarf Cy­cles’

pro­to­type Con­tour 29er, Vi­tus’s Som­met CRX long-travel trail bike and DMR’s first al­loy full-susser, the Sled

Mountain Biking UK - - CONTENTS - ALEX EVANS www.swar­f­cy­

The 29er mar­ket is hot at the mo­ment and Swarf are right on the money with their 115mm-travel Con­tour. Don’t let the lack of rear bounce fool you – this bike is ready to take a beat­ing!

The frame

Out­stand­ing at­ten­tion to de­tail gives the Con­tour the feel of a highly-pol­ished prod­uct, mak­ing it easy to for­get that our sam­ple was just a pro­to­type (Swarf hope to have the fin­ished prod­uct ready by the new year). The main­frame and swingarm are lov­ingly crafted from var­i­ous dif­fer­ent types of steel tub­ing (see spec), and the frame has amaz­ingly clean lines, with a built-in seat clamp and neat and well-thought-out ex­ter­nal rout­ing for the rear brake hose and gear ca­ble. We par­tic­u­larly like the way the top tube and seat­stays form a sin­gle straight line along the length of the bike.

Swarf have opted for a sin­glepivot sus­pen­sion lay­out com­bined with a link­age-ac­tu­ated shock. The swingarm has 6mm of ver­ti­cal flex built in, which elim­i­nates the need for a pivot above the dropouts. Ady, Swarf’s owner, says he spent a long time en­gi­neer­ing the de­sign so that it worked with the small­est amount of flex pos­si­ble. He’s also con­fig­ured the sus­pen­sion to be ex­cep­tion­ally pro­gres­sive.

The rocker link on our bike was ma­chined from 6082-T6 alu­minium, but pro­duc­tion bikes will lose the seat­stay brace to im­prove tyre clear­ance and use a car­bon fi­bre link in­stead to main­tain stiff­ness. A range of rear shocks will be avail­able, in­clud­ing the Cane Creek DBair IL fit­ted here. The frame it­self weighs a claimed 3.35kg (large size, with­out shock).

Vi­tal sta­tis­tics in­clude 115mm of rear wheel travel, a 67-de­gree head an­gle and a steep 75.5-de­gree seat an­gle. Our large sam­ple had a *Price will de­pend on shock model spec­i­fied and will be higher with the DB air used here.

long 465mm reach and 1,210mm wheel­base, plus 445mm chain­stays.

The kit

The Con­tour will only be avail­able as a frame, but we can see a lot of buy­ers opt­ing for a sim­i­lar build to ours, which in­cluded a Rock­Shox Pike RCT3 fork and Re­verb post, and Shi­mano XT brakes and gear­ing. Light Bi­cy­cle car­bon wheels with a 31.6mm in­ter­nal width gave a nice wide tyre pro­file and felt nei­ther es­pe­cially twangy nor overly stiff.

The ride

Swing a leg over the Swarf and, even in the car park, you’d think it’s got more than 115mm of travel, thanks to the plush shock and im­pres­sively pro­gres­sive rear end. On the trail, it’s a blast. The sus­pen­sion fills you with con­fi­dence that it’ll han­dle any­thing you throw its way. Put rock gardens, roots and mas­sive com­pres­sions in front of the Con­tour and it’ll chomp through them with­out mak­ing a fuss. As a bonus, it’s got great small­bump com­pli­ance too, be­cause the pro­gres­sive­ness of the rear end means you can run lower shock pres­sures than nor­mal.

De­spite its smooth and plush feel, it’s no blanc­mange on the trail. The steel frame is for­giv­ing and takes some of the harsh­ness out of washboard rip­ples and trail chat­ter, but it still goes ex­actly where you point it. That bump-dulling abil­ity doesn’t trans­late to twangi­ness ei­ther. It’s stiff, strong and sup­ple. While the 67-de­gree head an­gle sounds steep com­pared to the lat­est 650b en­duro bikes, it’s rel­a­tively slack for a short-travel 29er. Even when rag­ging down rough straights or steep sec­tions, we didn’t feel like we were get­ting pitched for­ward or that the front was tuck­ing un­der.

If you’re in the mar­ket for a hand­made trail bike that punches well above its weight, the Swarf 29er’s spe­cial ride and well-thoughtout de­tails mean that it needs to be on your radar.

Don’t let the skinny stays and short travel fool you – this bike is built to take a beat­ing

Buy­ers can choose be­tween a Cane Creek DBair shock (seen here), the coil ver­sion or a Rock­Shox Monarch

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