REVIEW | The Curve DownRock Is A Titanium Hardtail That’s Built To Party

REVIEW | The Curve DownRock Is A Titanium Hardtail That’s Built To Party


Hello everybody welcome to Flow
Mountain Bike my name’s Wil, and today we’re going to be looking at this bike
right here.This is a titanium hardtail and it’s called the Curve DownRock. Now if this is your first time joining us on YouTube make sure you click that subscribe
button to be notified of all the new videos we have coming your way soon. If
you scroll down to the video description you’ll see a couple of links in there
one of those will take you to the first look story on this bike which goes
through all of the basic details of the Curve DownRock and the other will take
you to the full review so if you want to read about all the nitty gritty details
about our experience with this bike make sure you click that link and go to flowmountainbike.com to read the full review. If you haven’t heard of Curve
Cycling before it’s a small Melbourne based brand that primarily produces rims
complete wheel sets and also standalone frames. The DownRock that we have here
is its burliest frame yet.This is a trail hardtail. It’s built around 29
inch wheels and it will take between a 130 and 150 millimetre travel fork on the front. Like all of Curve’s frames it’s built from titanium. Why titanium? Well it has
a very high strength to weight ratio it’s also 40% lighter than steel its
corrosion resistant and it’s more fatigue resistant than aluminium and
that makes it a premium choice for building a strong lightweight frame that
should hopefully last a very long time The downsides of titanium? Well it’s
difficult to work with in terms of welding and it’s also quite expensive
too this frame here sells for $3,399 which is quite a lot of money for a
frame that doesn’t have a rear shock it is a really well engineered and well
finished frame though it has beautiful welds we have a nice shapely tapered
head tube up top with zero stack head set cups there’s a bolt through axle on
the back with nice cowled dropouts we also have post mount brake tabs and with
a 180mm rotor there’s no need for an adapter on there which
gives it a very clean look in the middle of the frame we have a T47 bottom
bracket shell now while this is becoming a popular choice amongst small frame
builders it’s still a fairly uncommon sight in the world of mountain biking
the easiest way to describe the T47 shell is it’s basically a PF30 shell
with threads through it so with the correct thread in cups it will accept
basically any crank set on the market but it gives you a nice large diameter
shell and a strong anchor point for where the seat tube downtube and chain
stays meet and given the DownRock is quite a long bike having a nice strong
anchor point for that long big diameter down tube is really important. Behind the
bottom bracket we have solid titanium plates to construct the chainstay yoke
and that’s there to give plenty of clearance around the rear tire. Speaking
of, there’s room to fit up to a 2.6 inch tyre in the back of the DownRock, which is quite impressive given the back end of this bike is quite short. Now
on the note of the back end it’s worth pointing out that the DownRock uses
scaled rear centre sizing and what that means is that the chainstay length
actually varies on every frame size. So on the smallest frame size you have a
rear Center length of just 420mm but on the extra-large frame
that goes up to 445mm. Now this is all
about keeping the rear centre to front centre ratio as consistent as possible
so as the frame gets longer in the front end it should also get longer in the
rear end. Now while Curve isn’t the first brand to
do this, it’s still very rare in the world of mountain bikes. Most frames out
there we’ll use the same rear centre length on all of the frame sizes and
that’s all about keeping manufacturing costs as low as possible.
Speaking of frame sizing there are five frame sizes on the DownRock. Again most
brands will only have four sometimes only three frame sizes and again that’s
all about keeping the costs down. Having five frame sizes means there’s a smaller
difference between each frame size so there’s less compromise on fit. Curve has
also built the DownRock with a nice short seat tube they’ve purposely done
that to fit between 170 and a 210mm dropper post depending on the frame size. Now with those short seat tubes it also gives you great
flexibility with choosing the right frame size based on the reach
measurement you want and not just the length of your legs. As for other
geometry numbers on this bike we have a slack 65 degree head angle on the front
and that’s with 130mm travel fork. Seat angle on this bike is a steep
75.75 degrees. It’s worth pointing out that those are based on
static measurements so once you actually sit on the bike and the fork sags into
its travel both of those angles will get slightly steeper. There are three
different options for getting a DownRock. As mentioned before you can get a
standalone frame set. That does come with a headset seat clamp and the thru-axle and also the cable guides on the downtube. There is also a complete bike. There’s only one spec option and that’s the bike that we have here it comes with
a RockShox Pike Ultimate fork on the front a RockShox Reverb dropper post
SRAM GX Eagle 1×12 drivetrain G2 RSC brakes and we also have Curve’s
own carbon fibre Dirt Hoops wheel set. The price on the complete bike? $8,699 which is a lot of money given
that you can buy a carbon fibre Stumpjumper or a top-of-the-range Norco
Optic C1 for quite a bit less money than this. What I reckon is a better value
proposition is the DownRock frameset package. As well as the frame you get
that RockShox Pike Ultimate fork and the Reverb dropper post for $4,499 Now given the fork and the dropper post
are worth over two grand on their own that makes the frameset package
comparatively good value compared to the complete bike. At 175cm tall I’m running the medium size in the DownRock and it suits me really well there’s
just enough room for that 175mm travel dropper post and there’s
a good amount of reach in this cockpit On the medium it measures 444mm. Now that’s paired to 800mm wide riser bars
and a very short 35mm long stem Curve actually builds every frame size
around that same 35mm long stem and the reduced offset fork and the
reason is to keep the steering dynamic the same whether you’re on a small or an
extra-large frame size. In regards to setup to support by 68kg riding weight
I’ve got 82 psi inside the fork’s air spring and two Bottomless Tokens.
Rebound damping is set one click slower than halfway and I have the high speed
compression dial set one click off the softer setting. As for low speed
compression damping this being a hardtail I am running a little more in
order to preserve the travel on the descents so I’m running between 9 to 12
clicks of low speed compression damping out of 18 clicks available. Tyre choice
and tyre pressure are also crucial on a hardtail. There was nothing wrong with
the stock e*13 tires that came on this bike but I was looking for a slightly
higher volume tire so I fitted a pair of Bontrager XR4 Team Issue tyres in a huge
2.6 inch width now this allow me to check how much clearance there was in
the back of the bike with that 2.6 inch rear tyre. The answer is just enough but
not heaps. Certainly if you ride in muddy conditions regularly there wasn’t a lot
of clearance there and I’m sure you get lots of mud building up. As for me I’m
very fortunate in that I ride in dry and dusty conditions quite regularly and I
had no issues with clearance there and no issues with tire rubbing on the stays
throughout testing. Partway through the test period I also fitted a tubeless
insert inside the rear wheel not only to protect the carbon fibre rim but also to
allow me to run lower pressure on the rear tyre so with the Vittoria Air-Liner
inside the rear wheel I had tyre pressure set at 20 psi on the back and
18 psi on the front. As for complete weight on the Curve DownRock with the
Bontrager XR4 tyres this bike weighs in at 12.1kg that’s without the
Vittoria Air-Liner in the back with that tubeless insert that weight goes up
to nearly 12.5kg. So onto what this bike does well. Well I
have to say this bike is an absolute pleasure through the turns in fact it’s
probably one of the best cornering mountain bikes I’ve ever ridden and
there’s a few reasons for this. The back end of the DownRock is quite short on
the medium frame it’s just 424mm and that keeps the rear
wheel tucked in really close up against the bottom bracket. The bottom bracket
itself is also quite low it hangs 66mm below the hub axle line and
that keeps your centre of gravity nice and low towards the ground. Being a
hard tail there are no pivots or shock bushings to dilute the handling on the
frame. There’s a very direct connection between the head tube the bottom bracket
and the rear axle and you can really feel that through your contact points.
The result is a really direct feel and fantastic agility. With the contemporary
geometry though the DownRock does require a more contemporary handling
approach. That slack head angle and the reduced offset fork mean there’s quite a
bit of trail on the front of this bike and the result of that is that turning
the handlebars to get around corners doesn’t work so well. Instead what you
need to do is you need to lean the whole bike over through the turns.
Thanks to that long stroke dropper post you can crush the saddle right out of
the way and you’ve got a nice low slung frame that’s really easy to throw around.
Once you learn how hard you can lean this bike over it absolutely flies
through the turns it has a real dip and rip cornering style and if you’re the
sort of rider that wants to practice your bar drags this would be a perfect
bike to do so on. Although it’s a really agile bike through the tight twisty
turns, thanks to that long front center and slack head angle it’s actually quite
stable at high speed too. Being a hardtail it certainly benefits to riding
faster over the rough stuff so that you skip over the rocks rather than smash
continually into them. The Pike fork on the front certainly deserves credit this
is an exceptional performer even though there’s only 130mm of travel
it’s a very high quality 130mm of travel. The RC2 damper is very composed
and very calm even when it’s taking really rapid violent impacts which is
particularly important given that there’s no rear suspension on this bike,
you need to make use of that front end as best as possible. The other thing I
found on the DownRock is because of that long front centre and the forward heavy
riding style that it encourages you generally get your weight a little bit
further onto the front tyre and that allows the rear wheel and the rear tyre
to skip around more easily. So the faster you go and the further you get over the
front of the bike the less impact you’re going to be feeling at the rear wheel.
Certainly having that tubeless insert there was great insurance though given
that I was absolutely smashing this bike into all sorts of rocks during the test
period. As for this bikes weaknesses well it’s no XC bike. If you’re riding the
sort of old-school natural single track that has lots of surprise corners this
bike can be a bit of hard work that’s especially the case
if the saddle is at full height which makes the bike more difficult to lean
over you end up having to use the handlebars to turn around those corners
and in most cases I would just blow the corner out completely with understeer this was
something that was even more noticeable if I was tired. This can be a fatiguing
bike to ride especially on really long descents. I did take it up to Lake
Mountain in Victoria to ride the Cascade Trail. Now that’s a 30km
trail with over 1500 metres of descending the DownRock handled all
of the technical sections beautifully there was nothing on that trail that
this bike couldn’t do it was only the next day that I really felt it in my
calves because ultimately your arms and legs are performing more of the
suspension duties on this bike compared to a full suspension bike. One thing
worth mentioning is with the saddle at full height the steep seat angle means
that the cockpit is fairly short this was something that I did notice on
flatter terrain where the cockpit felt a little bit cramped and on longer rides I
would have a little bit more pressure in my upper back and shoulders. As soon as
you go uphill though that steep seat angle comes into its own it puts you in
a nice efficient, powerful climbing position and although this isn’t exactly
a carbon-fibre race hardtail it actually climbs really really well. That
low bottom bracket, while it’s absolutely fantastic for cornering, it does mean
that the pedals are closer to the ground so on technical climbs I did find on the
first couple of rides I was clipping the pedals relatively frequently. It was
something that just kind of disappeared over the rest of the test period though
and I think that’s because I was subconsciously adjusting my pedal timing
so it’s not really that big of a deal it’s just a question of technique. Now
I’m not going to go into too much detail about the specific parts on this bike
because I feel that most customers will be looking at the DownRock either as a
standalone frame or the frameset package however I will say that that the Pike fork
on the front is absolutely outstanding the Reverb dropper post was also
flawless through testing. This is the new generation Reverb C1. It’s very fast, very
slick with no movement throughout testing whatsoever. We will actually have a
separate review coming on the Curve Dirt Hoops wheel so if you’re interested in
those make sure you stay tuned to flowmountainbike.com for the full review
on the Dirt Hoops wheelset. Overall I think this is a great
example of a modern trail hardtail. The geometry is ace, this bike is responsive,
agile and it carves turns beautifully. The real magic though is it’s able to
maintain that agility whilst also being capable of riding at some frankly
ludicrous speeds. For that reason it’s also a really rewarding bike to ride
unlike a full suspension bike where flow is kind of fed to you on a silver spoon
with this bike you have to earn your flow and when you do it’s so rewarding
and so satisfying particularly if you’re riding with friends on full suspension
bikes.Yes it is very expensive and for that reason we’d love to see a steel
version of this frame which would obviously come in quite a bit cheaper
that said it’s actually pretty good value for a titanium frame particularly
because each frame size is completely unique. No it’s not a bike for everyone
and it’s certainly not as cushy as a full suspension bike. Being a hardtail
it’s more involving and more demanding to ride and that has less mass market
appeal. However if you’re the kind of rider that feels that modern trails are
too sanitized or modern mountain bikes and making old trails feel too sanitized,
then a bike like the Down Rock could be the perfect remedy you’re looking for.
Now for those of you who would like to read the full review on the Curve DownRock, make sure you follow the link in the video description below.
If you’ve got any questions for me about this bike make sure you drop them into
the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them for you. If you enjoyed
this video give us a thumbs up and if you haven’t already make sure you
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coming your way in 2020. Otherwise that’s it from me I hope you guys enjoyed this
video and I’ll see you next time!