Two Very Different Beasts part 1: Pipedream Sirius Ti

Is there anything more to a hardtail frame than tubes and welds? Do hardtails have any character or are they all just the same? And is there any differentiation between various brands’ hardtail offerings? 

We think that there is a huge amount of variation amongst hardtail frames, and for that reason we at Bike Magic Towers have two very different beasts to test: the Ragley Blue Pig and the Pipedream Sirius Ti.

Pipedream Sirius Ti.
Pipedream Sirius Ti.
Photo © Ben Winder
Why?

We’ve spoken to several people recently who are of the opinion that a “rigid frame is pointless”, that for the price of a quality hardtail you could buy a full-suspension trail bike which will get you around all the trail centres and more.

This is true of course. For example, a full-build Trek Fuel EX 5 costs only £1,400, which is a complete bargain considering how much bike you get, and there are plenty of hardtail frames that cost similar (although at this price point they are mostly handcrafted works of art).

But there’s something more to hardtails than those spoilt for full-suspension choice take into consideration. Each frame has its own story, character and purpose. A hardtail can spice up your local singletrack or it can be your weapon of choice for a thrashing around the woods. They can add excitement to an otherwise dull ride and every bump can be pumped, every corner ‘worked’.

Here are some more reasons for owning a hardtail:
  • Cheaper than an equivalent quality full-suss
  • Less to break/maintain
  • You simply like to be ‘different’
  • Make boring trails exciting
  • You want to improve your skills/learn to ride off-road with grace
  • Accelerate faster than any full-susser
  • You enjoy punishment so full-suspension is out of the question
  • You can ‘work’ the terrain and feel what’s happening beneath
  • You can ride ‘on the edge’ at lower speed, with lower consequence
  • Because your mates are all rubbish, you’re a riding god and you need to be brought down to nearer their speed so they can watch and learn
  • You want a sensation of speed, even if your trails/abilities don’t necessarily provide it

Above all though, they’re simply fun to ride. Even if they aren’t as fast or forgiving as a full-suss, who cares? Some of us aren’t in it to win it anyway.

Pipedream Sirius Ti - very nicely constructed in the Far East.
Pipedream Sirius Ti – very nicely constructed in the Far East.
Photo © Ben Winder

There are countless reasons for people buying hardtail bikes and there are endless applications for the rigid frame, even in modern mountain biking terms. We want to prove this by comparing two bikes that serve entirely different purposes and then to show that they even have a place alongside full-suspension bikes.

The experiment – order of proceedings

We’ve got these two hardtails in to compare their ride characters and see just how much difference there can be between two different rigid frames.

We’ll introduce you to both, starting with the Sirius, then we’ll compare the two and we’ll finish by making a comparison against a full-suspension trail bike of similar price.

Pipedream Sirius Ti – the introduction What is it?

Singletrack destroying XC/All-mountain orientated hardtail frame

Who’d ride it?

This is a bike aimed at singletrack riding, all-mountain adventure and those with a taste for something a little custom. Pipedream even offer custom geometries if you say “please”. It isn’t a ‘rad’ hardcore hardtail, more of a XC machine that wants to accelerate fast, duck-and-dive between tight trees, fly around flat turns and forgive its rider when thrown into a technical rooty or rocky section.

It's a nice frame, to say the least. The ride's also pretty inspiring, especially on flatter singletracks.
It’s a nice frame, to say the least. The ride’s also pretty inspiring, especially on flatter singletracks.
Photo © Ben Winder

It’s no jump bike, nor is it for downhill runs. But if you live somewhere with reasonably flat trails that require self-propulsion and the ability to tackle the tech then you’ll be happy on the Sirius. It’s also one sexy looking beast with clean lines, beautiful welds and the added allure of titanium tubing.

The best bits
  • It’s super light
  • It’s seriously fast on flatter trails
  • It’s forgiving across the rough stuff thanks to the compliant titanium tubing
  • Power is direct to the pedals thanks to aggressive riding position
  • It’s designed by a British company and made in a well-known factory in the Far East. Good customer service, maximum value and quality construction guaranteed
Optional sliding dropouts mean that you can run this beast as a single-speed if simplicity is what you're after.
An option of sliding dropouts when you purchase means that you can run this beast as a single-speed if simplicity is what you’re after.
Photo © Ben Winder

Sirius stats

Price: £989.00 (frame only)
Made of: Titanium
Recommended fork travel: 130mm
Made in: The Far East
Three sizes: 16.5″, 18.0″ & 19.5″
Geometry vitals: 69º head angle, 317.5mm BB height, 1076.9mm wheelbase (size medium)
Weight: 3.1pounds
More information: Pipedream Sirius Ti

What Pipedream say about the Sirius Ti

“The Classic Do-It-All Hardtail – simple, yet refined.

Made from 3A1/2.5V Titanium tubing, this frame will exceed your expectation of what a Ti frame can do. Fast technical singletrack, all-mountain, enduro or XC: this frame will tackle the lot and entice you to push your limits.”

In part 2 we’ll take a look at the 2013 Ragley Blue Pig, a very different beast…

  1. The butcher

    All ‘all mountain’ bikes should be able to jump and manual, whether hard on the rear or soft. If they can’t then surely you may as well be on an xc race bike?

    1. James McKnight

      It’ll do jumps and manuals Butch, but you probably wouldn’t want to take it down the trails or BMX track.. You’ll like the Blue Pig, more your cuppa.

      1. The butcher

        Don’t you dare mention pigs to me (blue or otherwise) ha ha.
        But I will say that people who haven’t got time for hardtails really don’t know what they are missing. My wife says ‘the harder the tail, the better’…….

  2. Ackers

    My 14 yr old son has just started riding my bikes in the last 6 months. He prefers to ride my Sirius to my Orange Five at trail centres (whinlatter, cwmcarn) and cross country. His reasons – he knows where he is and likes the direct feedback from the hardtail. He’s uncertain about the cushioning of the Five and doesn’t feel in control. I agree – but I’m old and need the comfort and forgiveness of the “Five” on rougher or longer rides, but prefer to ride the Sirius on shorter rides.

  3. Nick

    Very nearly built one of these up as a winter shredder to replace the hummer that was too small. Thought they were slacker abt 68.5 tho, and looked better polished…wouldn’t mind a blast tho

  4. paulhaysom

    What size is that one? @Nick – titanium for a winter shredder? I like your style!

    I was discussing with someone just the other week that too many people buy full sus bikes first when they should be on a hardtail. People that started on a hardtail will have better bike control for sure.

  5. serge the seal of death

    hardtails will always have a place, for the UK as a winter bike a hardtail makes alot of sense, plus you alway have the option of going fully rigid. PLus most of my riding is not trail centres its byways bridelways and tracks on the edge of the cotswolds, a hard tail make these interetsing trails, a full on FS make them just a bit to tame.
    Lovly bike that

  6. chris-m

    This is what hardtails are all about! It’s the feedback that they give you. The fact that they do beat you up a bit means that you have to be picky with your lines and it definitely makes you a better rider.
    .
    The one thing I would have liked to see, is a 29er in here too. Not to add to the wheel-size debate, but only because they add a small amount of cushion (so to speak), which I think gives them the edge for people who want a hardtail, with a slightly less “hard-tail”. For people who can’t afford a full-sus, or simply can’t justify running costs or just want the simplicity, 29er makes a good choice. They just take the edge off, IME.
    .
    I’m a huge fan of hardtails. In fact, I don’t own a full-sus. I’ve tried many, but on the trails I’ve ridden so far, I find they dull the senses and makes it feel as if you’re riding a sofa down the trails. That is my experience though, however!
    .
    As a side note also, I believe Titanium is no longer the aspiration material, that has to go to Carbon. It’s a shame a carbon hardtail couldn’t have been included. Perhaps Ti, Steel, Alloy and Carbon with positive and negative’s for each to buy and the experience of their ride attributes? Just thinking (probably dangerous, I know. Lol).

  7. serge the seal of death

    Carbon hardtails may be the current trend, but its the same fashion that happened 14 years ago when aluminium became the trend, in the lower end bikes their was a weight saving, and people went on about the steel vs alumium feel, which is still going on today,
    Carbon bikes due to their construction methods are massivly differing in both quality and feel, there are alot more input into the frame layering not only to acheive structual strength but riding style.
    I still like Scadnium, and thats just an aluminium alloy.

  8. chris-m

    A little besides the point @serge the seal of death. Two hardtails don’t make a true comparison test and despite the differences in carbon quality, they are THE bike upgrade at the moment, so it would be a true test for the majority of people looking for quality hardtails and materials.
    .
    As long as the consumer goes for the cheap alternatives, then they will compromise on quality and longevity. Sticking with reputable brands such as Giant or Santa Cruz, etc, will enable them to get manufacturing quality with ride quality too. You buy peanuts, you get monkeys, as they say.
    .
    Oh, and Scandium is hardly used today though. It’s not just the mix of alloy used, it’s tube profiles and wall thickness. That, in turn with geometry, makes or breaks a bike (in a bad case for scandium, literally breaks!). A lot of manufacturers get it wrong, as well as poor final detailing.

  9. Hilly

    I agree with nearly all the comments, Having been full suss for a few years now and going to the extreme of a 6.6 patriot before realising for 90% of our riding it was so over the top, I’ve ended up with an Intense Spider kept as light as economically possible… which is the best bike I’ve ever ridden but I still lust after that simple hardtail? Go figure…

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