Press & Reviews / Stoater 105
Written by Steve Worland
If you want to know more than we can tell you here about the ethos of Shand Cycles, take a look at the ‘Chasing the Hare‘ video on its website. The bike we have is a new version of its most popular bike, the Stoater, which can he built in various versions, each expressing a different bias in the road and trail sentiment that drives most of Shands creations. Frame builder Steven Shand tells us that the idea of the Stoater is to create “something that’s versatile and that you can ride all year round on loads of different terrain”. With its Bushnell eccentric bottom bracket and unique split rear dropout set-up, you can opt for a belt drive, Rohloff hub gear, single gear, standard drivetrain or through axle.
The mainframe tubing is fillet-brazed Reynolds 853, beautifully smooth at the joins and finished in a tough deep glossy overcoat that sits over two primers and under two coats of lacquer. The graphics are part of the paint finish rather than separate decals and every frame comes with a cast pewter head badge that simply states ‘Shand Scotland’. The seat and chainstays use Columbus tubes and the replaceable modular aluminium dropouts and disc brake mount are clamped to the stainless steel links between the seatstays and the chainstays using five hex bolts. The seat clamp slot faces forward, out of the spray.
Cable routing for full outer cables all the way uses aluminium cradles hex-key bolted under the down tube, and there are bolted eyelets for two bottle cages, mudguards and a rack. Also, because the frame is designed with lots of mud drop-through room behind the bottom bracket, there’s a threaded eyelet for a mudguard on the rear of the seat tube. The Wound Up carbon fork has ‘guard eyelets too, although ‘standard’ frameset builds come with Shand’s own steel fork. There’s a choice of build kits with complete bikes, or you could opt for a frame alone in a standard or custom form and with a choice of colours. Prices obviously vary depending on what you choose but expect to pay just over the £1,200 mark for a frame alone.
If you’re unsure about the cyclocross bias of this particular Stoater, there’s an FT (Fat Tyre) version available with room for medium-sized 29in mountain bike treads. You could fit bigger tyres on this one too, although fatter than 38mm may be a little too close for comfort between the chainstays.
Our test had 35mm Continental Cyclocross Speed tyres fitted to its Stan‘s ZTR lron Cross rimmed wheels. The drivetrain was Shimano 105 plus an XT rear mech, brakes were TRP twin piston cable pull Spyres, stem, seatpost and saddle from Ritchey and the wide, flared, ‘love or hate’ drop bar was from Salsa.
With a 71.5° head angle and 72° at the seat, both the Stoater and the Stoater FT are slightly more relaxed than Shand’s Skinnymalinky road bike. Compared to typical off-the-peg carbon or aluminium framed ’cross bikes, the quality steel tubes ensure that it’s also surprisingly comfy on all but the most demanding trails. The precise, no-flutter performance of the Wound Up fork nicely complements the smooth, tight and lively ride of the frame, but we were slightly perturbed by the small amount of toe overlap onto the front tyre in tight turns.
In theory that can be sorted by swinging the bottom bracket further back in its eccentric shell but with the Shimano 105 cranks and chainstay set up, the clearances were not enough to do this on our pre-production sample. Shand says this will be sorted on the next bikes . . . good to hear, as curved-in chainstays will help with heel clearance too.
Comfort on a cyclocross bike will obviously always be more limited than on a fatter-tyred mountain bike, but you can ride a bike like the Stoater surprisingly fast over rough ground with 35mm tyres run at around 4opsi: running them tubeless is a big help in terms of avoiding pinch flats. Some riders find the big fare of the Salsa Cowbell handlebar a help with control, others find additional cross-top brake levers on the flat tops of the bar more useful for braking on tricky terrain. Either way, curvy bars on an off-road bike are a love/hate thing at best, with a strong emphasis on making the most of the hand positions and easily-won speed of the bike on the mild terrain in between tougher trail sections. The Stoater is a great bike for mixed terrain, is very capable of hauling luggage on long tours and is the perfect other bike for mountain bikers who don’t necessarily feel the need to hurl themselves down rocky drops at every opportunity.