- Pipedream Sirius
- £225 (frame only)
- First chromo frame from Ti specialists
- Five standard colour options
- For up to 130mm travel forks
Not ever so long ago the good old chromoly mountain bike looked to be a thing of the past. Pretty much every large-scale manufacturer had given up on steel frames (except for the odd entry-level model), largely because it was cheaper for them to make aluminium ones. But areas of the market abandoned by the big guys immediately become the new niches, and a whole host of small outfits have stepped up to fill the steel frame void. It’s a measure of how much demand there is that new ones keep popping up all the time – we’re not about to pretend that there’s a market for tens of thousands of mid-priced steel frames in the UK, but there’s certainly enough riders looking for such a thing to keep quite a few brands going nicely, thank you.
The Sirius is Pipedream’s entry. Pipedream got started in the budget titanium market, offering a variety of off-the-peg and semi-custom options. Even budget Ti is pretty spendy, though, so it’s launched a chromoly frame to reach the more price-conscious market. A Sirius frame will cost you a competitive £225 with a choice of five standard colours. There’ll also be a custom colour programme, with any single colour being available for a £60 upcharge or two colours for £120. And if you want to be fully retro, Pipedream will be offering a £55 colour-matched rigid chromoly fork.
At this price you don’t particularly expect any sort of branded tubing – the Sirius is made of some species of double-butted chromoly, which is fine by us. The profile of the frame is nothing terribly out of the ordinary, but then there’s not all that much you can do with a bunch of steel tubes really. The head tube is ring-reinforced at the ends (and carries a distinctive “PD” head badge), while the sloping top tube meets the seat tube just below the seat stays. This can look odd, but looks just fine here. The seat clamping slot is around the front in conventional avoid-mud-from-the-rear-wheel style. The slender seat stays do a bit of a heel-clearing wiggly thing on the way to the dropouts, the left-hand one of which carries a disc mount and neat little bracing tube. Pipedream has played safe and retained a chainstay bridge, but there’s plenty of mud room.
The test frame had one set of bottle bosses on the down tube – we can’t see any particular reason not to have a second set, though. Cable routing is all over the top – the SRAM X-Gen front mech on the demo bike forced a somewhat awkward bend in the cable coming out of the last stop, but positioning the stop to prevent that would mean an equally awkward (but opposite) bend with other mechs, so we won’t quibble too much. The rear brake hose is routed along saddle-style guides and secured with cable ties – we’re told that the lower one on the seat stay will be moved a bit to improve the routing on production frames.
The test frame arrived with an eyecatching two-tone white/green paint job that proved to be surprisingly popular amongst those that set eyes upon it. Readers with long memories may recognise the green – it’s perilously close to Fat Chance’s old Yo Eddy Team green, if marginally less virulent. The standard colours include “Oyster White, Ruby Red, Dark Sapphire Blue, Aluminium Grey (Metallic) & Graphite Black” (or white, red, blue, grey and black) so you’ll have to pay extra if you want the green…
This is a 19.5in frame – 18 and 16.5in are the other sizes.
The Sirius comes as a frame only, or at most as a frame/fork/selection of components package, but nothing close to a complete bike. It’s always interesting to see what components manufacturers choose for their demo bikes, though. Pipedream was clearly out to flatter the budget-priced Sirius frame with an array of high-end components – in the real world we’re not sure how many people would be buying a frame like this and then fitting a Chris King headset to it. Still, we’re not complaining…
We were also treated to a SRAM X-9 transmission, Race Face Evolve XC X-Type cranks, Hope stem and brakes, an Easton carbon bar, USE post and SDG saddle. It all worked a treat, although there was something very strange going on with the bars – none of the controls (or, more distractingly, the Lock-On grips) would tighten enough to stay put on them. We never did get to the bottom of that. Oh, and the saddle slipped on the USE Sumo post, which then seized solid with the saddle pointing in a rather dirt-jumperly nose-up position. A bit of grease during assembly would probably have helped there – as it was we had to employ a subtle combination of multitool and shoe to pop it all free and start again. Once these various little niggles were sorted out, though, we could focus on the ride.
A key component is, of course, the fork. The Sirius arrived with a Fox TALAS up front, allowing us to easily fiddle with the travel and see how the frame responded to different fork lengths. The complete bike came in at 12.7kg (27.94lb) – we didn’t get the chance to strip the bike down to weigh the frame, but it’s going to be somewhere around the 5lb arena.
A glance at the numbers wouldn’t lead you to expect any particular surprises from the Pipedream. With the TALAS fork set at 100mm travel, we got 70/73 angles, a 12.7in BB height, lengthy 23.75in effective top tube and 16.5in stays on the 19.5in frame. Teamed with a short stem and a well-forward seat, the layout delivered a beautifully sprightly ride. This isn’t a hang-back-and-hope bike – the Sirius wants to actually be ridden, and responds to getting over the front and doing some work.
Running the fork a little longer changes the ride character somewhat, and not necessarily in a bad way – it’ll certainly be happy with more travel. But everyone who rode the Sirius loved it at the 100mm setting – if we had one we’d leave it there all the time. If you favour a slightly more relaxed ride then nothing untoward will happen with more, though.
Obviously for this money you’re not getting super-posh steel tubing, but there’s still a bit of springiness in it for the “steel is real” mafia to get all excited about. There’s nothing spectacularly different about the Sirius, but it’s a good price (in a choice of colours) and everyone who had a go came back grinning, which is good enough for us…
Positives: Agreeable lines, sharp handling, choice of colours, reasonable price
Negatives: Does the world need another budget steel frame?
Clearly the steel hardtail market is in rude good health, even if it’s being almost completely ignored by the major manufacturers. Pipedream’s offering is a worthy addition to the fray – it doesn’t offer anything amazingly different, but it does the job just fine, makes us smile and doesn’t cost much money. Can’t be bad.