We love hardtails – the simplicity, the lairy-at-times ride, and the versatility – so we’re going to be featuring a series of hardtail-centric tests, stories, and reports throughout 2014, titled Dirt Hardware. Keep an eye out.
It’s like Stanton central at Dirt HQ right now, with last week’s news of the fresh 27.5”-wheeled Switchback and now this, the 4X.
A very brief history of Stanton
UK-based hardtail specialist Stanton has been in business for a few years now, with the Slackline frame firmed as a rider’s favourite. That bike is regarded as a solid, do it all bike for the discerning hardcore rider, so we were expecting great things when we took delivery of Stanton’s 4X frame late last year.
Low-slung and made to go fast.
What is it?
The 4X is a low-slung, 4130 chromoly tubed hardtail frame aimed at – yep you guessed it – 4X racing. Of course, the number of folk who actually race 4X in the UK is minimal, but that has never held back a bike of this genre from popularity.
We decided to use double butted, aerospace grade 4130 chromoly as the steel really dampens the vibration of rough rock gardens, making it possible for you to go faster through sections most riders take the wide line round.
With its 400mm tapered, butted and externally braced chainstays the frame feels super stiff through the bottom bracket, with very minimal lateral flex, aiding burst acceleration out of the gate or out of the corner.
– Stanton Bikes
As you can see in the above photo, we weren’t lying when we said ‘low-slung’ – this thing’s like a BMX! With one size only, we’d also go as far as saying if you’re tall you’ll struggle to get on with the 4X, but if you’re 5’10” and under it’ll fit you just fine. Of course, it’s small for a reason and when you’re laying down the power or throwing the bike into landings and rollers with a bit of aggro you’ll appreciate it.
Slightly longer here than Stanton’s DJ frame, but the chainstays remain tight at 400mm.
The bike is pretty similar to Stanton’s DJ hardtail, in fact it’s basically the DJ but made to go faster. The chainstays are a tad longer at 400mm (compared to the DJ’s 385mm), the top tube comes in at 610mm (virtual, 590mm on the DJ), and the head angle loses a degree, putting it at 68º. The BB’s a tad lower too, coming in at 314mm. Why are we telling you this? Mainly because it proves the 4X’s intentions as a hard-hitter that will take a large amount of abuse, just like a dirt jump bike would, and isn’t just a bike for out-and-out racers. That chainstay is still tight though, which makes the bike nice and throw-able as well as helping when laying down the power.
Frame: Double-butted 4130 chromoly
Head angle: 68º
Top tube: 575.4mm actual, 610mm virtual
When you put the power down on the 4X you don’t quite get the snappiness of a stiffer aluminium frame (it’s a very subtle difference mind), and similarly when you’re pumping through a section the difference in material is noticeable. However, this isn’t something to grumble about, as the steel frame more than makes up for its very slight loss in power transfer when you hit rough stuff or fast turns. As Stanton puts it, you can “go faster through sections most riders take the wide line round.” We wholeheartedly agree, and when putting in a few laps at our local track, Redhill Extreme, which is about as fast as they come, we were more than glad for the forgiving nature of steel, which takes away the nervousness of a super-stiff aluminium alternative.
Looks like things got a little heated here. The raw finish is a matter of taste; we love it.
We’ve got a little pumptrack on the hill behind our office here at Dirt HQ, and this was another spot where the 4X scored points. A few tight turns link a series of rollers; the turns are tricky to truly throw the bike into and come out of with decent speed. Stanton’s bike whipped around the corners though, and although we could notice a slight lag picking up speed when compared to a similarly-proportioned Nukeproof Snap, overall on the track the Stanton fared better, allowing us to double-double the main rollers, which we haven’t done on any other bikes.
The bike’s fun and made to go fast on jumps, rollers, and around turns, a combination that any discerning Dirt reader should like the sound of. It’s also pretty reasonably priced, coming in at £375 for the frame. Available in two colours, there’s raw (pictured) or ‘Ninja’ black options.
If you need any more convincing, check out the video and rest assured that 2011 UK National Champion Luke Limbrick was on hand to test and develop the frame, which should go some way to explaining its speed.
More information: Stanton 4X
All photos by Ben Winder – www.benwinderphoto.com