Sprint Apolon 26 Review (2013)

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Sprint is a rather new competitor from the bicycle industry, having its roots in Bulgaria. The manufacturer plays an interesting strategy, that of which consists of accessible prices for decent specifications. Therefore, the brand attends the entry-level category, with a carefully drawn price line-up for bikes designed for recreational use that includes forest and light mountain trails. The Apolon 26 is more than a fitness model, and can be a good option for those seeking a mountain bike mild on their wallet without demanding too much performance from it.

Frame/On the trail

Bulgarian bicycle manufacturers built a good reputation in the last years mainly thanks to good quality, careful crafting and decent specifications. This is true also for the Apolon 26, although the components fitted on the bike are less than impressive, alike the rider’s position on it or other technical details.

A handful of things prevent you from reaching high speed or other adrenaline-generating feats: large weight, slow drivetrain and a pair of brakes that you have to persuade to work. Neither is the control of the bike outstanding, being oriented more towards stability than towards agility, yet this may prove a positive thing given its class. Nevertheless, the 670mm wide handlebar offers enough responsivness, evenmore by the ergonomical position of the hands when grabbing it.

The position on the bike may be comfortable, but a certain thing lacks in this respect, and this could be either a wider set of tires or either a more performant fork. Lab tests reveal a medium stiffness, of 100 Nm/degree, and an average stiffness-to-weight ratio, of 52 Nm/degree/kg, so it is obvious that the Apolon 26 is a recreational model, although the 1,94 kilograms of the frame is a competitive value.

Welds are cautiously crafted, but some slight glitches can be identified here and there. Additionally you have a water bottle cage mount, a reinforcement situated under the down tube and a cable routing that runs under the top tube, that ensures optimal functioning.

Specifications

As stated earlier, Apolon’s specifications are fair compared to its price. You can find very few no-name components, most of the bike having fitted brand-name parts. Responsible for dampening  is the Suntour XCT fork, a modest model at best. In this case, your expectation level shouldn’t be too high, especially when you will hear certain noises coming from the fork and when you will try to engage the lock-out mechanism that is not 100% sure it will work.

The drivetrain consists of a 3-chainwheel crankset and 8 cassette sprockets. Gear ratios are suitable for flat terrain, and even hills, but when climbing the need for a lower sprocket is more bigger than ever. You can replace the chainwheels and this is good news if you plan to switch to a 9-speed cassette. Surprisingly, light action is required to command the derailleurs, but their functioning is slow and noisy, eventhough the front one is a Shimano Altus one, while the other is Shimano Acera.

Braking is accomplished by a pair of Shimano M375’s, but performance is diminished by the no-name 160mm rotors, which make stopping a task for three fingers per lever. However, if only want to slow down, one or two fingers pulling the levers will do. Still, the question remains: do the Shimano M375 brakes make any difference in comparison to other manufacturers’ ones without the recommended rotors?

Modest performance also comes from the Kenda Koyote 26×2.10 tires, that fail to give more than average grip in corners, and similar rolling speed. The saddle is comfortable and unlike others found on this class of bikes, it’s a cutaway model. Adding up to the comfort level are also the grips, despite their appearance.

Conclusions

Sprint Apolon is a recreational bike and must be used in this purpose solely. The price is in tight relation with the specifications chart, and overlaps most of its competitors by this. A real strong point are the mechanical disc brakes, but that’s about the only thing it has in common with true mountain bikes. As I said earlier, flat terrain or forest trails are the grounds were the bikes feels most comfortable, eventhough its design may make you think it’s up to the job on demanding trails. Finally, the Apolon is a good opportunity to make your debut in bike riding, moreover if you don’t want to spend too much in the first phase. Basicly, it offers the best specification/price ratio of its class.

Sprint Apolon 26 data

Total weight: 14.92 kg
Frame weight: 1.943 grams
Wheelset weight: 5.366 grams (tires, tubes, sprockets and quick release included)
Fork weight: 2.626 grams
Crankset weight: 1.343 grams (BB included)
Handlebar width: 670 mm
Headtube stiffness: 100 Nm/grad
Stiffness to weight ratio: 52

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