Right, now we’ve got that obvious gag out of the way in the headline, let’s look at some bikes. Steppenwolf are a German brand, now being brought in to the UK by ECMH. The bikes look pretty respectable, if not terribly groundbreaking – the Tycoon SL is a dead ringer for a Rotwild, while the CR is an Intense Tracer-alike – but the real USP is the massive range of spec options.
The range is billed as “Custom Made”, although that’s not custom in the sense of made-to-measure frames. Just about everything else can be tweaked and swapped, though. Every frame is available with a selection of forks and a range of transmission/brake options. Plus you can upgrade the wheels and finishing kit and (possibly best of all) choose what colour you’d like your bike to be.
The beauty of this approach is that for a given budget you can tweak the spec to suit you, rather than try to find a bike specced by a product manager who thinks the same as you do. Most bike ranges improve the quality of all the bits together, so the cheap ones will have cheap everything and the pricey ones pricey everything. Which can make upgrading a long and expensive process. Steppenwolf’s approach means that you can spec yourself a bike with better core components (frame, fork, wheels) and save money on things like transmission parts that wear out anyway.
It’s not a new idea – Orange have been doing something similar for a while – but for sheer flexibility the Steppenwolf range is very close to buying a frame and choosing every part yourself. Except someone else gets to get it all together and build it.
In the MTB line there’s a selection of hardtails covering XC and dual slalom duties, plus three different suspension designs – the single-pivot Tycoon and four-bar Tycoon FS and CR – offering differing amounts of travel and burliness depending on whether you’re after an XC race bike, freerider or something inbetween.
All the frames are available individually if you want to go it alone, and there’s also a Christian Taillefer-designed Tycoon DH that’s only available as a frame.
Obviously with all these options pricing is something of a minefield. But the range starts at £627 for a Manitou Six/Deore equipped Timber hardtail. Full suspension kicks off at a hair over a grand (Tycoon/Manitou Axel Elite/Deore) while something like a Tycoon CR with XT disc group and Manitou Minute One fork will come in at £2,176.
Steppenwolf also has a full range of road and trekking/touring/commuting bikes. And if you want to get a bit mud-friendly and quirky, you can specify Rohloff 14-spd hub gears across the range…
If your budget doesn’t stretch to the Custom range (or you just can’t get your head around it) then take a look at the Limited range, which does just what it says on the tin – fewer frames, no colour options, no individual component upgrades, just a choice of two or three forks and half a dozen build kits per frame. The Limiteds start at a very reasonable £392 for a T2 hardtail with RST Capa fork and Acera running gear and goes up as far as a Manitou Black-forked Tycoon SG with LX/XT mix and Magura rim brakes for £1,106.
Want to know more? Take a look at www.steppenwolf-bikes.com or call ECMH on 01778 560195.