Bergamont Threesome SL 9.3 Review

Words and photos: Andy Lloyd

The debate rolls on and on (and on some more) about wheel size and will continue to do so. At the end of the day it’s all about what feels right for the individual. It isn’t about wheel size, simply what feels good to ride!

Bergamont Threesome SL 9.3
Bergamont Threesome SL 9.3

I have had the opportunity to try out these new-fangled wheels on a variety of bikes and they all have pluses and minuses but I have to say the 650B/27.5 is the one that has the least minuses and let’s face it, it looks like it’s set to be not just the ‘new standard’ (is that the most over-used wording in mountain biking?) but the actual standard.

As a mountain bike snapper (check out my shamelessly plugged website here) I’m not used to putting words to my technical thoughts on a bike in a test kind of way so bear with me! That said, as a photographer I ride a fair old bit (usually with a sack of very heavy cameras and lenses on my back), so hopefully my basic thoughts will carry some form of credence.

Bergamont Threesome – first impressions

My first foray into this 650B world comes in the form of the Bergamont Threesome SL 9.3, which as it happens is also Bergamont’s first foray into 650B too. For those of you who are not familiar with them, Bergamont are a German bike company based in Hamburg and have been at the bike making game for a good 20 years so they know what’s what.

They sell the Threesome as a solid all-mountain bike, which gets a wee bit extra length to accommodate the bigger wheels over the 26 inchers in the range. The 140mm travel is a less than the 26 inch versions of the bike but them there fast rolling bigger wheels make up for this and it definitely feels like a longer travel machine when you get it up to what the brochure calls ‘Vollgas’ (full gas?).

The workings

The Coax Pivot, like Trek bikes, has the rear pivot bearings sitting directly into the wheel axle, which apparently means braking is disengaged from the suspension movement. This certainly seems to work to me and the bike climbs well too – which is a good thing as it’s not particularly light!

It gets up the climbs and does pretty well on the descents too.
It gets up the climbs and does pretty well on the descents too.

The bike is festooned with a mix of Shimano and SRAM, with braking courtesy of Shimano’s very excellent XT, which in my mind is the new benchmark for braking at the moment. Gearing is handled by SRAM’s X9 derailleurs and shifters with a 2×10 set up. Suspension comes in the form of a RockShox Revelation up front and the Monarch shock on the rear – good solid stuff that does the job well. The wheels on this thing are solid and unlike the 29er I have on test are still completely true, with 465D rims made for Bergamont by DT Swiss and XT hubs. Tyre duties are ‘handled’ by Schwalbe Nobby Nics, which I quickly swapped to the new Michelin Wild Grip’R 27.5. The Michelin is a bit more heavy duty so adds a tad to the weight but is more than worth it for its thicker sidewalls and more aggressive tread pattern.

Take the good with the bad?

Where the bike fails a bit is with the awful cockpit set-up, with a long stem and narrow bars as standard. I soon switched these over for a 765mm bar and a 50mm stem plus the addition of some grips that didn’t feel like something off a cheap touring bike. This instantly transforms the handling feel of the bike and, as with a lot of manufacturers, I’m at a loss as to why they spec these terrible bar and stem combos, which in this case ruins the feel of an otherwise excellent bike.

Andy Lloyd putting the Bergamont Threesome to the test in Cappadocia, Turkey.
Andy Lloyd putting the Bergamont Threesome to the test in Cappadocia, Turkey.

Anyway that’s easily solved and results in something that is a lot of fun to hammer the descents as well as trundling up the hills. It also has no dropper post, a trend that is becoming a standard on bikes of this type and price point.

Verdict

Overall this bike was great fun to ride and built like a brick shithouse – not a single breakage on any of the components in the six months I’ve had the bike. It has been ridden on a variety of terrain from the alpine-esque rock garden descents of Mount Snowdon to the arid volcanic landscape of central Turkey.

Yes the bar and stem it came with are dreadful but that is easy to solve. As for the slightly bigger ‘new standard’ wheels – I for one am converted and think that if we are going to have these things forced on us then 27.5 is the way to go. If you want to keep the fun feel of a 26-inch wheeled bike but with some of the fast rolling and smoother over the rough stuff benefits of a 29er then this is the way forward.

More information: Bergamont Threesome SL 9.3
Price: £2,999

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