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- Well balanced geometry built around the 650b wheel size and designed to ensure the Switchback can be ridden hard without compromising fun and flickability
- Custom drawn seat tube minimises lateral flex and ensures things remain snappy when power is applied
- ENVE wheelset and BOS fork were chosen for their uncompromising ability to deliver on demanding terrain and complement this boutique titanium frame perfectly

Form meets function with spectacular results on this ready-to-rip hardtail

Titanium will always have a special place in many mountain bikers' hearts. The buzz about this legendary material and its ride characteristics may have been dulled slightly by the influx of more affordable carbon fibre frames, but there's still something about the clean lines and raw tubes that stirs something within. "There's something majestic about Ti," says Dan Stanton, designer and head honcho at Stanton Bikes. "Its ride quality is unparalleled when designed correctly. Ti is inherently flexible so you're in the great position of designing stiffness into the frame, rather than out of the frame as you do with steel." It was no huge surprise then to see Dan launch a titanium version of his highly acclaimed Switchback hardtail, which is designed to tackle everything from gravity enduro racing to long days in the saddle to even banging out downhill runs.

No holds barred
"The Switchback Ti has no compromises at all on what I wanted," says Dan. "Cost of manufacture and jigs, etc, were second to frame finish and ride feel." The new frame shares much of its DNA with its smaller wheeled counterpart, the 26in Slackline, with Dan saying that the main elements he wanted to transfer - or even enhance - were its descending capability and nimbleness. But settling on the final numbers wasn't easy. "Sometimes I wind myself up," he says. "I'll have been out on a prototype sample frame loads of times, made my mind up about what needs to change and sent a drawing to the manufacturer. Then I'll go out again and realise I could make the same change differently. I'll chew over whether my choice was right or not, then when the sample arrives I'll go at the box like a rabid dog! I'm not often disappointed with my alterations now, and the more I go through this process, the more confident I am in my judgment of converting bike 'feel' into numbers."

Stickler for detail
This experience certainly seems to have shone through in the Switchback Ti. By keeping its BB height the same as the Slackline's and adding bigger 650b wheels, it gets an increased bottom bracket drop, which, according to Dan, "gives an even better feeling of being planted on the bike, especially when descending tight switchbacks". Also adding to its stability at speed is the relatively slack 64-degree head angle. Dan wanted to ensure the bike remained flickable and nimble too, so the reach is just 7mm longer and the chainstays are the same stumpy 415mm length. As for climbing prowess, that wasn't something Dan was too worried about. "I knew it'd be OK but not an XC whippet on the ups," he says. "The consequence of the bigger BB drop on its climbing ability was better than I first thought though."

But what of that all-important titanium feel? Well, this was something Dan worked long and hard on. "To get the Switchback Ti to feel exactly how I wanted, I designed a seat tube, had it made and then shipped this custom drawn tube to the frame manufacturer. I hate the unpredictable 'bandy' feeling you get with some Ti frames. The key to achieving a quality-feeling frame is making it laterally stiff and snappy, and the stock Ti seat tubes just don't cut it." The other main tubes are made from 3Al-2.5V titanium that's been triple butted to add stiffness where necessary but ensure there's still flex where there needs to be.

With frame geometry and ride feel sorted, Dan was keen to make the most of this rather special chassis, bolting on some of the finest kit available. Not only does this lot complement the frame beautifully, it reinforces just why we think the Switchback Ti deserves Superbike status.

To get the feel he wanted from his titanium frame, Dan Stanton designed a fully custom drawn triple-butted seat tube in order to minimise lateral flex and make the Switchback Ti snappy and efficient under power.

The Switchback Ti uses Stanton's custom CNC machined rear dropouts, which allow you to swap between the 10x135mm and stiffer 12x142mm axle standards or fit horizontal dropouts should you want to simplify things and run a singlespeed set-up.

ENVE Composites' M70 rims offer supreme stiffness and impressive durability, while Chris King hubs deliver rapid pick-up time and time again. The 25mm internal rim width gives a decent tyre profile too, with enough support to allow you to run slightly lower pressures for extra traction.

Although Stanton did include ISCG-05 chain guide mounts on the Switchback Ti, this top-end build comes with a SRAM X01 transmission and Race Face Next carbon cranks equipped with a 34t narrow/wide chainring, which negates the need for any type of chain retention.

Behind that beautifully crafted head badge sits one of the key features that helps define the Switchback Ti's ride characteristics. With the head tube kicked out to a slack 64 degrees, tackling steep, technical terrain should be a breeze.

Stanton wanted the Switchback Ti full build to offer the best of the best, which is why he opted to bolt in a 140mm (5.5in) travel BOS Deville fork up front. In Dan's words, "There are no corners cut on quality to meet margins, and this is the same as what we aim to achieve with our frame."

PRICE 2400$ (frame), 8850$ (complete bike)

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