- Pinnacle Tent Peak 2.0
- Debut year for UK-designed FS bike
Pinnacle is one of those fairly rare entities, a new British bike brand. It’s the work of sizeable bike shop chain Evans Cycles, but is clearly a more ambitious enterprise than the more commonplace badge-engineered shop own-brand range. Pinnacle is keen to point out its UK-specific design and attention to details. The Tent Peak (renamed the Tharpu Peak for 2008) is its full-suspension platform. So how does it stack up against the big boys?
All dimensions based on Large frame
- Effective top tube length (TT) 610mm (24in)
- Seat tube, centre to top (ST) 483mm (19in)
- Chainstay (CS) 432mm (17in)
- Head angle 70.5°
- Seat angle 73°
- Weight 13kg (28.6lb)
Ask anyone who’s tried such a thing and they’ll tell you that designing an FS bike from the ground up is no simple task. Particularly these days, when you’re not going to get away with putting out something that simply doesn’t work with a view to getting it right next year. So Pinnacle took the sensible option of buying in a suspension design and sorting out a frame to attach it to – having designed its hardtail range, coming up with a decent front triangle was relatively straightforward.
The Direct 4 rear end is from Mark Landsaat, best known for his work on the Proflex bikes in the mid ’90s. In essence it’s a low-pivot swingarm with a seatstay pivot. But it’s got a bit of a twist – rather than the shock being driven by a rocker, it’s connected directly (hence the name) to the top end of the seatstays. A slimline linkage between seat tube and seatstays keeps everything pointing in the right direction. The setup delivers 100mm of travel from the 50mm stroke Fox RP2 shock.
Up front, the main triangle has a close family resemblance to Pinnacle’s hardtail bikes, with some subtle (by today’s standards) tube shaping. The headtube is waisted and takes an integrated headset. The downtube gently ovalises towards the bottom bracket junction to become about as wide as will fit on the shell, while the top tube is a kind of rounded inverted triangle in section. It’s notably low-slung (the bike in pictures is a Large) and has a small strut to help support it.
UK-friendly touches include ample mud clearance in the rear (helped considerably by doing without a brace across the seatstays) and the forward-facing seatclamp slot. The pivot bearings all look quite bijou, but they’re mostly hidden from the elements. One of the few changes to the frame for 2008 is an upgrade to the bearings, although we had no trouble from them. A particularly pleasing touch is Pinnacle’s inclusion of a spare derailleur hanger with each bike – drop it in your pack and you won’t be caught out with a bent hanger and no gears.
All cable and hose routing is along the top of the top tube, and as is so often the way the front mech cable has to make a rather sharp bend out of the final stop on its way to the clamp bolt. That didn’t seem to impede its function, though. Rubber guards protect the frame from cable scuff at key points. There’s just the one set of bottle cage bosses (although that seems to be as many as you can expect on current FS bikes). There’s not a great deal of room in the Tent Peak’s compact front triangle, so Pinnacle supply a side-entry bottle cage to ease access. It’s only partially successful – the opening is on the right, so if you like to steer with your right hand and drink with your left you may experience difficulties.
In this era of swoopy, curvy, hydroformed-half-to-death frame tubes, the Pinnacle’s straightforward, well, straightness is actually quite distinctive. It may not have stunned anyone with its beauty, but no-one thought it was ugly or resembled a dog evacuating its bowels. “Purposeful” seems to be the key word.
As a wing of the Evans bike shop empire, Pinnacle is well-placed to choose appropriate components with which to equip its bikes – a few calls to the warranty department to see which parts come back and which don’t and you’re done. It’s no surprise, therefore, to see the Tent Peak 2.0 arrive with an array of non-flashy but entirely competent parts.
It’s hard to go wrong with XT transmission, Avid Juicy Five brakes and Easton finishing kit. Mavic Crossride wheels add brand appeal, but lighter (and more maintainable) wheel packages can be had for the same money. There’s nothing actually wrong with them, though. The choice of love ’em or hate ’em Conti Vertical tyres is perhaps a little more controversial, but given Pinnacle’s base in the south east you can see where they’re coming from.
Pinnacle say that this bike is designed for the UK, but we’d go further – it almost feels like it was designed for the south-east of England. That’s not a criticism, it’s just that the sprightly handling, lowish BB and taut feel are very much at home around, say, Swinley Forest or a Gorrick course. That’s not to say that it doesn’t work anywhere else, but swoopy woods are definitely its forté – it can get a bit a handful in rocks or steeps.
The front end is reassuringly stout thanks to the mildly-shaped tubes and compact main triangle, but you’re likely to detect a hint of give in the back end under sturdy cornering efforts. It’s not much and it’s certainly not a deal-breaker, but it’s there. We’d also like to see slightly shorter chainstays – at 17in they’re not crazy-long, but it occasionally feels like quite a lot of the bike is behind you. On the upside, it’s more stable at speed than you might expect considering the angles.
We were slightly surprised to discover how effective the back end was, though. For what looks like a fairly simple design, the Pinnacle’s suspension works very well. It’s happiest run on the firm side and ridden hard, when it takes the edge off the small stuff enough to stay composed as you skim over the top and offers well-controlled mid-stroke behaviour. It can kick back at you coming out of compressions or bigger hits, though, and tweaking the rebound to sort that out tends to lead to packing down on smaller ones. It’s a fairly minor niggle, though, and one that the 2008 bikes – which come equipped with larger air cans on the Fox shocks – should have sorted.
Ups and downs
Positives: Good value, well thought-out, capable
Negatives: Only available from one chain of shops, slightly long back end
We can already hear the brand snobs sucking their teeth at this bike, but if you’re more motivated by performance and value the Tent Peak is well worth a look. It may not offer premier-league performance, but it’s a lot more sorted than you’d expect from a year-one effort – everyone who rode it was impressed, and it sailed throught the likes of Mountain Mayhem without any trouble at all.
With the 2008 version of this bike (renamed Tharpu Peak) soon on sale, the remaining 2007 Tent Peaks are now cheaper – you can pick up a 2.0 for £1,199. At that price it’s really excellent value, and with the changes to the frame being limited to slightly lighter tubing and upgraded supension pivots, it compares very favourably to the 2008 models. Get ’em while you can…