Saturday, March 3, 2018

A Signal of Intent. The Sonder Signal Ti.

The Signal Ti is soon to be the latest addition to the Sonder(Alpkit) range of highly regarded, and highly capable, bikes.
I was in the very fortunate position to ride the final pre-production model during my recent trip to Nepal.
It is an astonishing machine.
Anyone who visited last September's Big Shakeout Festival or the recent London Bike Show may have spotted this bike already. I spotted it nestled innocuously at Big Shakeout and immediately interrogated Neil Sutton about it - in my mind it had Nepal written all over it.
The titanium frame and understated black graphics are striking enough, it turned heads wherever I took it, but it's the ride quality that really blew me away.
It is possibly the best all-round trail hardtail that I've ever ridden, I wanted to be out riding on it all the time - that is the mark of a good mountain bike.
In a fairly short space of time I was able to put the bike through a range of trails. Testing climbs, rough & rocky to loose & sandy surface conditions, blisteringly fast descents, a superb stretch of hard-packed, technical, snappy, forest singletrack (several times), and even some long-haul bikepacking (260km in two days - Kathmandu to Pokhara, even though it's not really a  bikepacking rig). I can't begin to tell you how good this bike feels.
Neil Sutton, head honcho at Sonder, seems to have the knack of getting it right; he knows how to ride, he knows how to design bikes, and he knows how to set them up.

260kms in 2 days.

Heads were turned everywhere.

It's a 29" wheeled bike with boost hub spacing and modern geometry standards. I can't give you any measurements other than the 66/74 head-tube/seat-tube angles because I don't have them.
Even with the fairly steep head-tube angle I didn't have issues with front wheel wandering or lifting on steep climbs (and trust me on this, Nepal has steep climbs). Nor was I perched on the nose of the saddle to keep it planted either (well perhaps once or twice, but those climbs were so steep I would have been off and pushing with most bikes). The head tube/seat tube angles seem to compliment each other very well.
To keep the handling snappy the chainstays are short (the seat tube has been curved slightly to accommodate this by the looks of it), so - unlike 29er's of old - it manuals and wheelies with ease, great for maintaining flow on the trails or showing off in the car park. I was running big volume 2.4" tyres and there was plenty of clearance, not that mud is an issue in Nepal at this time of year, and there's certainly room for bigger rubber.
The top tube is pretty much in a direct line with the seat stays and so there's loads of stand-over room for chucking it around and a heap of space to get the saddle down low.

Neil chose titanium over aluminium for comfort and he is spot on. Most trails in Nepal are unforgiving at best and will soon highlight a harsh ride feel, so if it feels good in Nepal it will feel like a dream anywhere else.

29er's have really come of age in the last few years, Boost geometry has allowed designers to stiffen everything up, and they are no longer stuck in the niche of XC racing. Big wheels are currently in an ascendancy, and with good reason. The interesting thing about 29er's is that they feel like they have more travel than a smaller wheeled equivalent, and this one just felt super competent on everything I chucked it at. 

It sits quite nicely into their range being slightly less aggressive than their outstanding 650b+ Transmitter. I have a feeling that this bike will appeal to a lot of people, it hits - what I think - is a sweet spot for  UK trail riding and trail centres; with 130mm of travel it's the perfect trail machine and I can't wait to get my hands on one when it goes in to production in a few months time.

If you're in the market for a new bike then this one is worth waiting for, if it isn't in the shootout for hardtail of the year I don't know a bike that will be. It might actually be the one-bike-fits-all solution that a lot of people are looking for. It's a rowdy little ripper.
I really didn't want to give it back :D

Keep an eye out for the Signal Ti.

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  1. Neil, thanks for this snippet, any idea on fork travel?

    1. Hi Michael. Sorry for the slow reply.
      Yes the fork travel is 130mm.

  2. Any idea when its due?

    1. Hi.
      I can’t say for certain but I believe it’s around mid May.

  3. Hi Neil, I'm waiting on the new stock to arrive. I was wondering with the low bottom bracket what length cranks you're using? Do you ever suffer from pedal strike? Cheers.

  4. Hi Neil. I'm waiting for the new stock to arrive and was wondering what length cranks you're running? With the low bottom bracket do you suffer with pedal strike at all? Cheers.