Pinnacle is that fairly rare thing, an all-new bike brand. It’s the work of the ever-expanding Evans Cycles bike shop empire, although Pinnacle itself operates as a separate entity. The bikes will only be available from Evans stores, but Evans director Mark Smith says that “Evans will not become a Pinnacle store” – Pinnacle is expected to make up 9% of Evans’s bike sales in 2007, which would make it the chain’s third or fourth biggest selling brand.
The point of Pinnacle is to give Evans a more UK-oriented line of bikes to run alongside its existing US-focussed brands. Which is where Pinnacle head Scott Hargrave comes in. Scott’s been in the bike industry for years, both in retail and for manufacturers. With his two colleagues he’s come up with a range of 32 bikes for 2007. And they haven’t taken the easy option of rebadging a load of generic Taiwanese frames, either. While the Pinnacle range is (in common with nearly everything) manufactured overseas, the design is all down to Scott and his team.
They’ve gathered information from a variety of sources. A huge database of rider dimensions from bike sizing specialist Fit Kit informed the geometry of the bikes. Feedback from Evans customers, 500 shop staff and of course the chain’s warranty department helped to decide on what bits to spec. The result of all of this is that Pinnacle’s range attempts to offer good, solid spec at each price point while differentiating itself with some small but important details.
For instance, all the bikes have mud-friendly forward-facing seat slots, but without a large amount of extended seat tube above the top tube. They all come with Jagwire TubeTops, little rubber sleeves that sit around the cable housings and protect the paintwork – lots neater than stick-on patches. Replaceable gear hangers are nothing new, but as far as we know Pinnacle is the first brand to supply a spare one in the box with each bike, so you’ve got one handy from day one. Then there’s the P-Fit ATS adjustable stem, frame graphics made from thin sheets of metal in a Mylar carrier sheet and bigger things like the custom-shaped top tubes.
The Peak is the entry-level/budget hardtail range, built around a 6000 series shaped aluminium frame. There are three models, starting with the £280 Peak 1.0. Impressively, there’re plenty of Shimano bits on it (many bikes of this price have a lot of unbranded components) including often-overlooked items like hubs, bottom bracket and cassette. Moving up, the Peak 2.0 is mostly the same spec but with a 100mm fork instead of the 1.0’s 80mm unit and with the addition of Shimano cable disc brakes. Interestingly, Pinnacle has gone for Centerlock hubs on all bikes with Shimano brakes. One of the key reasons for this is quicker and more consistent assembly in the factory, which helps to keep the prices down. Every little helps…
Top of the Peak series is the 3.0, which is a somewhat unique proposition. At £449.99, Pinnacle has taken the decision to forgo disc brakes and put the budget elsewhere. There’s a RockShox Dart fork, Shimano Hollowtech Octalink cranks, Conti Explorer tyres and Deore transmission. If you wanted to upgrade to discs it’d be pretty simple – the 3.0 comes with Centrelock hubs, complete with covers on the splines so they stay nice and clean while you’re not using them.
Even these bikes get all those little details of which Pinnacle is so proud – forward-facing seat tube slot, paint protectors on the cable housings, spare derailleur hanger and so on.
The Evolution models get a lighter, butted frame with “sportier” geometry – a little longer in the top tube and half a degree steeper on the head angle. It also has a few other details like machined dropouts and a curved seatstay bridge for enhanced mud clearance. Again, there are three bikes in the series, kicking off with the £549.99 Evolution 1.0 – RockShox Dart 2 100mm fork, Hayes Sole disc brakes, Mavic XM117 rims, Conti Explorer tyres.
The £749.99 2.0 gets Deore brakes, Conti Vapor tyres, a Tora fork, Easton EA30 finishing kit and Wellgo clipless pedals. It also sports Pinnacle’s cunning P-Fit adjustable stem, offering easy height adjustment while you’re setting the bike up. You can cut the sleeve down once you’ve settled on a height to avoid sticky-up steerer syndrome.
At £999.99, the Evolution 3.0 is designed with events in mind. The fork is a RockShox Recon 327, you get Deore LX outboard-bearing cranks, Easton EA50 bits and Mavic Crossride wheels.
No self-respecting bike range can be without a full suspension bike these days and, with the help of well-known engineers Mark Landsaat and Dave Weagle, Pinnacle has come up with the Tent Peak. Getting in some outside help was vital in getting an FS bike to the market in only 12 months – starting from scratch would have taken several years.
The Tent Peak offers a UK enduro-friendly 100mm of travel from a seatstay-pivoted back end. There’s a linkage at the top of the seatstays too, but it’s just there to keep everything in line – the Fox shock is driven directly from the seatstay assembly. It runs a low 2:1 leverage ratio (100mm of wheel travel from a 50mm stroke shock) foe which Fox has supplied custom-valved shocks. The shocks also come with an oversized air sleeve, so the overall effect is to require very low pressures.
Two models on offer at £1,199.99 and £1,599. The cheaper Tent Peak 1.0 has a RockShox Tora 318 Air fork, Deore LX HTII cranks, M535 brakes, a Float R shock and Easton EA30 finishing kit. The 2.0 gets Avid Juicy 5 brakes, XT transmission, an RP2 shock and Reba Team fork.
We’ve had a brief spin on a Tent Peak 1.0, and found ourselves reasonably impressed. Obviously it’s not a big hitter, but it manages to feel taut and lively while still filtering out the bumpy stuff and sniffing out what traction is to be had. Plenty of mud room, too. The pivots look rather bijou, but only time will tell how well they’ll last.
Two women-specific MTBs find their way into the range under the Aura name. Pictured is the Aura 2.0, which features a rather smart “flush-welded” (as in smooth, rather than done in a toilet…) frame finished in an eye-catching metallic pinky/purple colour. Geometry is tweaked for the female rider and the spec concentrates on light weight and performance rather than brand names. Even the branded/non-gender-specific bits have been chosen with smaller, lighter riders in mind – the RS Dart fork has lighter springs and the Conti Twister tyres have a soft compound for extra grip. Grips, saddle and brake levers are all women-specific and the Centerlock hubs make for a quick and easy disc upgrade. The Aura 2.0 is £499.99. There’s also a 1.0 with a less posh frame and budget-oriented (but still women-specific) components at £329.99.
We’re not going to go into any great detail about Pinnacle’s road bikes, but we’re big fans of cyclocross bikes so here’s the Expede 1.0. It’s got proper race credentials, with a National Championship to its name, but with bottle mounts it’ll tackle longer rides too. The frame features carbon fibre seatstays, the fork is carbon fibre too and the hubs and headset have additional seals to keep water out. Components are mostly Shimano 105, with the exception of the FSA MegaExo CX chainset. One of these will cost you £999.99.
That’s just the overtly off-roady bits of the Pinnacle range. There are also road bikes, hybrids, “street bikes”, folders and kids’ bikes in 16, 20 and 24in wheel flavours. The littl’uns look particularly fine, with lightweight aluminium frames, integrated headsets and the same shaped top tubes and forward-facing seat slots as the adult bikes.
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You can see the full range at www.pinnacle-bikes.co.uk, which also has an online custom bike builder using Pinnacle’s Team Issue hardtail, FS and road frames. Or of course pop in to any Evans Cycles store…