Press & Reviews / Stoater Rohloff
Written by Warren Rossiter
Shand refer to their Stoater as a go-anywhere adventure road bike. The low-maintenance Rohloff/Gates drivetrain is a great choice for that role. The Rohloff is a self-contained l4-speed hub with a legendary reputation for withstanding mileages into the tens of thousands between servicing. The downside is extra weight over a derailleur set-up, and with most of it around the rear axle it does have an effect on the ride dynamics.
Even so, the Stoater’s ride is simply superb. The Reynolds 853 steel tubeset feels alive springy, in a good way. That the Stoater brings out this character so clearly is testament to the very high standard of Shand’s frame building. This bike revels in technical trails and especially on rough, gravel surfaces. Once we adjusted to the rear bias we had loads of fun on it.
The handling perfectly balances responsive steering with floating over the worst surfaces. On tarmac it’s well mannered and direct, on dirt it’s smooth yet controlled.
The latest Gates belt drive is an ideal partner to the Rohloff hub to make a very clean and ultra-low maintenance drivetrain. Unlike earlier systems this latest Gates uses a Centre-Track belt with a solid ridge through the centre of both the chainring and the sprocket. It means it’s impossible for the belt to slide off and initial set-up is easier.
The 14 gears offer a spread of 526 per cent or a top gear that’s 5.26 times bigger than the lowest. Each gear is equally spaced, so it feels very smooth. It’s similar to a compact drivetrain and we never found ourselves wanting for an extra gear, even on the toughest of climbs. Rohloff’s standard shifter only fits flat bars so Shand have used an aftermarket Co-Motion grip shifter mounted next to the stem. It has a large CNC-machined knurled grip that works brilliantly with the hub. It’s easy to shift, though it is a little rough without gloves. It also means you can’t shift from the hoods or drops so it isn’t the best option for fast riders.
TRP’s dual-action cable disc brakes continue to impress us and suit this bike: powerful, quiet and with plenty of feel at the lever, too.
We can’t finish without mentioning just how well finished the frame is; the welds are silky smooth throughout and the deep richness of the paint left us staring in wonder at its incredible quality. Shand should take serious pride in just how good this bike looks. It’s as impressive as any artisan builder’s work that we’ve seen anywhere in the world.
Verdict: 9/10 Go-anywhere bike with great style, character and ride fee.