If you’re looking to get into this wonderful sport, writes Seamus Allardice, but are overwhelmed by the bike options in the under 15K price range here are a couple of options from Axis. The well specced A30 for those of you wanting to race straight up that mountain and the A70 for those of you wanting to ease in via the bike paths and gravel roads.
A30 – Lowdown
In January we rode the Axis A20 2014 model and so we knew what to expect from the 2015 Axis A30. A solid frame, Kore components, and better than you’d believe drivetrain and brake components, making for a heck of a lot of bike for your buck.
When we picked it up the first thing we noticed was the green and black colour scheme. It’s not understated and it’s not for everyone. For my money the A10, A20 and A40 siblings look nicer in their more subdued livery, but then I’m normcore (look it up). Once you get beyond the neon green and start looking at the components you’ll note the 2 x 10 drivetrain, no messy 3 x 10 here, made up entirely of Shimano components. In addition to the proper mountain bike drivetrain there’s also the Shimano hydraulic disk brakes – with their crazy nondescript product codes rather than names – with a 180mm front rotor for all the stopping power you’re ever likely to need and a more than adequate 160mm rear rotor.
The rest of the components are sourced from US brand Kore’s stable as is the Axis way. The important bits – the wheels and saddle – are solid. The A30 shares the eyelet-less XCD 29er wheels with the A40, while the A20 and A10 have the added reinforcement of eyelets where the spokes pierce the rim. That being said I didn’t notice any lack of stiffness in the A30’s wheels and combined with the CST Jack Rabbit tyres the bike rolls like greased lightning. The Kore Durox saddle is too narrow for my sitz bones and that’s definitely something to keep in mind when looking to purchase the bike – ask the LBS if you can swap/exchange it for a wider saddle if you need one.
Most importantly the ride… Aside from the Jack Rabbit tyres, which are a bit low profile for Cape conditions (they might be more suited to the harder packed trails and roads around Jozi) the A30 handles and rides beautifully. The large frame we tested came specced with a 110mm stem, but Scott Sports SA (Axis’s local distributors) tell us that the standard specc will be 100mm for large framed bikes and 90mm stems for the medium sized models. The stretched out riding position provided by that stem (570mm from saddle tip to handle bars) makes the bike feel instinctively racy and aggressive. It’s a feeling that school boy racers will love – weight forward and rearing to go.
The added bonus of the remote lockout on the RockShox XC30 Solo Air makes the A30 an easy bike to ride hard, as you can lock out the fork and climb in a standing position without having to reach for the fork lock-out lever down near your front wheel. If you are looking to race on the A30 you should know that you’ll need to invest in an upgraded set of tyres though as the Jack Rabbits aren’t compatible with a tubeless conversion – though the Kore wheels are.
All in all at R12 999 the Axis A30 is going to be a tough bike to beat in its market segment, perhaps challenged only by its A20 sibling – with its tubeless ready MaxxisIkon 3C tyres and RockShox Recon Silver Air fork.
|Drivetrain||Shimano SLX/Deore 20 Speed (38T/24T chainring & 11/36T cassette)|
|Fork||RockShox XC30 Solo Air with remote lockout (100m travel & 9mm QR)|
|Brakes||Shimano BL-M396 lever & BR-M395 disks (180 front & 160 rear)|
|Wheels||Kore XCD 29er|
|Tyres||CST Jack Rabbit 29 x 2.1|
|Bar||Kore XCD 2 Flat Bar 31.0 Ø x 710mm|
|Stem||Kore XCD Stem 31.0 Ø|
|Seat Post||Kore XCD Seat Post 31.6 Ø x 400mm|
|Saddle||Kore Durox Saddle|
|Pedals||Shimano PD-M505 (SPD Pedals)|
A70 – Lowdown
The A70 is a 27.5 inch wheel equipped bike aimed at the rider whose main aim is to ride the bike path and undulating gravel roads to fitness and fun rather than the serious singletrack shredder. That being said it won’t fold under the pressure of a trip up and down a mountain – you might just be left gasping for gears or wishing for a bit less weight.
At a recommended retail price of R5 200 it’s hard to fault. In that price range you could find the horrors of mechanical disk brakes, but the A70 is equipped with the capable Tektro Auriga mineral oil hydraulic disk brakes and the Suntour/Shimano blend 3 x 8 drivetrain which will see you comfortably conquer almost anything the roads throw at you, especially if you ride the bike where Axis intend you to.
The blue and black, with white trim, colour scheme is also very easy on the eye. And the ride? Well the ride is comfortable, the 27.5 wheels make for a tight turning circle and the bike has a compact feel to it overall which provide a sense of security to less confident riders.
The Suntour XCT HLO coil spring fork might be heavier than we’re used to (being spoilt), but it’s plush enough and keeps the front wheel rubber side down on rougher terrain than most A70 riders are likely to put the bike through. Speaking of rubber the CST Patrol 2.25 tyres offer a wider and more aggressive tread than the A30’s Jack Rabbit’s. They provide the bike with more grip through the corners and again add to the sense of security for the rider – at the expense of rolling speed, but it’s an educated trade-off that we wholeheartedly endorse.
If you’re cautious about how you, or possibly your wife/son/daughter, are going to take to mountain biking and don’t want to spend too much money on a first bike the Axis A70 is a great place to start. Take the plunge on an Axis – you’ll be tearing up the trails and calling yourself a mountain biker in no time!
|Drivetrain||Shimano/Suntour 24 Speed (42/32/22T chainring & 11/32T cassette)|
|Fork||Suntour XTC HLO 27.5 Coil Spring (100m travel & 9mm QR)|
|Brakes||Tektro Auriga disk brakes (160 front & rear)|
|Tyres||CST Patrol 27.5 x 2.25|
|Bar||Kore Flat Bar 31.0 Ø x 710mm|
|Stem||Kore 90mm riser stem|
|Seat Post||Kore 31.6 Ø x 350mm|
|Saddle||Kore Koza Saddle|
|Pedals||VP Pedals (Flat)|