Propain Spindrift - Review - Dirt

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Trail and Enduro Bikes

Propain Spindrift – Review

Gravity focused and 180mm travel - the mini DH bike reborn?

With 180mm of travel front and rear but with a single crown fork the Propain Spindrift is almost nudging DH territory. We’ve been here before with the lighter weight Cube Fritzz, but this coil sprung Propain really reminds us of park bikes such as the Specialized SX Trail.

Words and images: Ieuan Williams

With the German brands really pushing the boundaries of performance at a great price Propain are right in the mix with their current range. The Propain Rage downhill bike was a 2017 Dirt 100 pick, and the Spindrift looks to be on the same page. With ‘Propain Dirt Zelvy’ rider Phil Atwill loving this bike on his recent New Zealand trip we were keen to spend some time on this long travel design. Do new bikes such as the 2018 Commencal Supreme SX and this Spindrift cut through all the ‘enduro’ chat and hail the rebirth of the ‘Mini DH’ category of bike?

SHAPE AND FIT

With the size large that was on offer for this test there is no lack of room in the cockpit (a reach of 465mm) and with a simple change of a stem to a more sensible 35mm length it’s a welcoming place to be. This is the biggest size Spindrift, so if you’re over six feet tall and like a long reach then take a good look at the geometry chart first. A size XL would sort this – let’s hope they have one in the pipeline.

‘Low, slack and packing a full 180mm of travel! All in all a bike designed for business’

SUSPENSION AND CHASSIS

Propain use the same overall design for the Spindrift as the do on its bigger brother the Rage, so this is an already tested and great platform. With 20mm less travel than the downhill bike and a Cane Creek damper there shouldn’t be many issues with descending. The benchmark Fox Factory 36 fork up front with a whopping 180mm of travel start the ball rolling well. This bike definitely has a focus towards descending; we’re not looking at a long travel trail bike here.

FEELING

Look past the stock tyre choice (not our chosen rubber but an easy thing to change) and point the nose down a hill and this long travel Propain seems to make sense. Silent but deadly, the Spindrift inspires speed and confidence in a trail even when the going gets tough.

There’s a very well chosen array of parts as standard on this spec Spindrift and this all adds up to the overall riding experience. The 27.5″ Stan’s Flow wheelset and the Magura MT5 brakes (both feature in the 2017 Dirt 100) are key players in both control of the bike and ride quality. Even when the inevitable happens and you have to pedal back up after a blast down, the Propain still seems to come out fighting. The SRAM GX gearing doesn’t skip a beat, with gear ratios that are bang on for us. Don’t get me wrong this is not a 130mm 29er, but for what is in essence a 180mm travel downhill bike it goes up the climbs far better than I expected.

LIMITATIONS

There are only a few small negatives to talk about when it comes to the Spindrift. The main point that has to be made is that the rear damper doesn’t seem to be the best choice for the bike. We didn’t feel that the shock tune and/or spring rate was correct. The travel gets used up very quickly when the control lever is not in the firm position and it’s quite far into the travel. A simple tune or damper swap should sort this out like a charm though.

So the other negative is the daps that have been specified. The Onza tyres currently do not compare to the performance of our benchmark Maxxis equivalent. In the bigger picture these are both minor issues that can be easily solved.

The slack seat tube angle also causes some issues when attacking a steep climb when sat down, with the front wheel becoming wayward and light. The Spindrift is not a bike that’s been designed with climbing as a focus but this is worth mentioning.

VERDICT

Low, slack and packing a full 180mm of travel! All in all a bike designed for business.

The positives on the Spindrift outweigh the negatives with it being merely components and a damper tune holding it back. Do not think this is an all day mile muncher, as the angles and long travel mean this is a bike that is designed for descending. If that is what you are after but still don’t want to go full on into the deep end of a downhill specific bike you could very well end up here. This Propain has 180mm of travel on tap and almost DH bike geometry but with the ability to climb back to the top if you choose to. And all for a bargain price to. Result.

PRICE: £2,859.99

For a full run through of the spec and geometry check out ‘First Look’ feature HERE

propain-bikes.com

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