Bicycle Review: Stevens Tremalzo 29er(2013)

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By now it must be clear that 27.5 inch and 29er mountain bikes will become the standard in cross country racing or leisure riding. At the top level, they are the weapons of choice, but they still have some way to go until they conquer the whole of the market. The big question of many riders is if they’re benefits ar as real as the manufacturers say, so to further convince ourselves if they walk the walk, we put Stevens’ Tremalzo to the test. With a name inspired by an Italian mountainpass, the bike should have the mountain spirit embedded in it, but that’s for you to judge in the following review.

Frame/On the trail

Although Tremalzo isn’t a top-end model, it features high-end components. The same thing goes for the frame, built out of 7005 Superlite alloy. Weighing 1,89 kilograms, it’s definetly not the lightest, but neither does it represent a drawback. We would even call it a satisfying balance between weight and stiffness, as our lab tests revealed a 93.2 Nm/degree stiffness, which becomes a 49.3 Nm/degree/kg stiffness when compared to the mass of the frame. This figure makes the Tremalzo finish just under the value of the Scott Scale 960 we tested earlier.

You will notice the nice construction and shapes of the frame, with some extra credit going to the down tube. The tapered and short head tube offers the sporty position you need for extra performance on the trail, while the 72 degrees of its angle ensures optimum maneuverability downhill. For the opposite situation, the 74 degrees of the seat tube give you that edge when pumping uphill. An improvement could be represented by a shorter stem, in order to get extra responsiveness, but that’s solely up to you and your riding style.

The front derailleur is mounted thanks to a Direct Mount system, making installation problems a thing of the past, in the meantime cutting useless grams. Other features include two pairs of watter bottle cage mounts and the superbly engraved dropouts.

Specifications

The manufacturer could have hardly made a better choice than fitting the Tremalzo with the Shimano XT drivetrain, which didn’t fail regardless of conditions. The groupset breaths the essence of Japanese quality components furthermore by the appropriate gear ratios provided by the 3 chainrings and 10 sprockets. But every rose has its thorns, and in this case the Shimano SLX shifters fall short of rising to the level of the drivetrain.

Another example of good choice is the Rock Shox Reba suspension fork, which works as least as well as the drivetrain. The new Solo Air model has only one valve for adjusting pressure, thus simplifying things a lot. For the 100mm of its travel, the fork worked very well on small bumps, and didn’t flex in a noticeable manner, adding up to the premium components present on the Tremalzo. And if you think things couldn’t get better, just check out its weight: 1,5 kilograms!

Further completing the premium line-up are the Easton XC 29 wheels, with a QR 15 thru axle for the rear wheel. Too bad that Stevens didn’t thought of providing a 12x135mm axle for the rear wheel, as this would have added extra stiffness to the rear triangle, and would have made unmounting the rear wheel easier. But coming back to the actual wheels, you can feel their stiffness when pedalling uphill, downhill or when cornering, and considering the 4,7 kilograms of the whole system (tires, sprockets, rotors, etc.), they have performance written all over them. Not to mention they are the lightest we have met this year.

The tires, however, don’t live up to the level of the wheels themselves. Continental’s X-King offer good grip in corners, but a poor one in wet conditions, especially when climbing. And no, the 720 grams that each one weighs doesn’t do them any justice either.

Tremalzo stops when you want it to, thanks to the Avid Elixir 3 brakes, featuring an 180mm rotor for the front wheel and an 160mm for the rear one. Still, you should know that fading might occur on long descents, and if you hear a certain noise, note that it comes from the G2CS rotors, an option made by Stevens that we still don’t understand.

As for the comfort components, the saddle is ok, but not more than this, a thing that I couldn’t say about the grips, which we replaced with an ergonomic pair.

Conclusion

The Stevens Tremalzo is a fast, comfortable bike, ready at all time to handle the demands of a competition. Its components work harmoniously, with certain interference caused by the tires or brakes, that don’t fit into the picture given the bike’s price range.

Either way, if the two bummers seem insignificant to you, you should go for the Tremalzo, especially given that a brief upgrade solves the problems. With such a frame, it’s so easy to bulid up a high-end model…

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