Review: 2015 Silverback Sprada 2

Silverback's Sprada is in it's third year and subtle tweaks following feedback from their test riders have seen it mature over the years into the trail 29er it is today. With Jonkershoek and Tokai Forest being it's testing grounds, it should suit South African conditions to a T. We ride one to find out.

The Frame


Silverback Sprada 24 14 1.jpg

Made from 6061 Alloy with custom butted tubing, the frame features Silverback's IDS (Intelligent Design System) Revo Technology. IDS features a lower linkage that is concentric to the bottom bracket and uses large cartridge bearings to create a stiff and strong attachment point for the rear triangle. Optimised to compliment dual and single chainring drivetrains, the system uses a relatively high anti-squat value to ensure that power transfer remains efficient and direct. The upper linkage design creates a progressive leverage ratio that results in small bump sensitivity as well as large impact absorption.

Tubes are hydroformed to increase stiffness and strength while keeping weight down. The headtube is tapered and the rear has 12x142mm dropouts to aid stiffness and reduce flex. Workmanship and attention to detail is high on the frame and extends to the build kit with colour matching rim decals and saddle. Cable routing is external for ease of maintenance and there is space for a large water bottle inside the front triangle.


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With 110mm travel and a 70 degree head angle, it is evident that the Sprada is aimed at trail riders rather than pure race snakes.

Components


Advanced Riding Dynamics (ARD) Silverback bikes.jpg
Silverback use what they call Advanced Riding Dynamics (ARD) when speccing a bicycle. They have identified the frame, fork and wheels as key elements to enhance the ride quality of a bicycle and will ensure that for the given price and intended use any bike in their line-up will sport the best wheels, frame and fork possible. It's easy to make bold claims and hide behind acronyms, but what does this look in real life? Good is the short answer.

Fork: A RockShox Reba RL is a welcome sight. Having spent some time on 2014 and 2015 Fox equivalents, I'm always happy to see a RockShox product on a bicycle. The Reba is stiff, light and affordable (who said you couldn't have all three?), most importantly it's a beaut out on the trails. At 120mm, there is no sign of flex and the bike goes where you point it.

Rear Shock: Another test bike with a Fox Float CTD Evolution shock. Much to my surprise this one felt quite good and well-suited to the frame and fork. It did need the use of the CTD lever, but more on that later.


Silverback Sprada 2 4.jpg

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Drivetrain: The drivetrain is predominantly Deore with a XT rear derailleur. I didn't have any issues with shifting or overall performance. Yes, shifting is not as fast and mechanically crisp as XT, but it doesn't take anything away from the ride and you get used to it quick. Besides, I would much rather have a bike with good suspension manners than one with a great drivetrain and disappointing suspension when the fun starts.


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Rims: Stan’s popular Arch EX rims with custom decals and yellow rim tape pre-fitted do duty on the Sprada 2 and is the perfect fit for the bike and build. Stan's ZTR rims are popular for good reason.

Hubs: The rims are laced to Shimano Deore hubs. They are a solid, reliable choice. Engagement is on the slow side and can catch you out when pedalling up technical sections that need a quick quarter or less pedal stroke to make it safely through. They are by no means terrible, but it is something to get used to and ride around.

Tyres: I was impressed with the Maxxis Ardent Race tyres. Traction in dry conditions was good and it handled Cape Town's summer-sand, gravel and hard pack well. Unfortunately, I didn't get to try them on wet or muddy trails.


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Brake Set: The open hydraulic system and levers comes from Shimano's lower ranges and are fairly basic. Resin Pads perform well in dry and wet conditions although, I did not get to try them in proper wet and muddy conditions. Stopping power was what was expected and Shimano's range of hydraulic stoppers continue to impress. A 180mm in front is another sign of the attention to detail that goes into Silverback bikes.

Silverback Sprada 2 15.jpg

The finishing kit all comes from Silverback's own Sector range. At 720mm the handlebar is a good width, but I felt the 90mm stem was a little too long for me. I removed all spacers underneath the stem and ran it at a negative angle to get the position I prefer. The saddle features Cr-Mo rails with light foam padding and was immediately comfortable. The colour bits that match the frame is a neat touch, further showcasing the attention to detail on this bike.


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On the trail


The bike was delivered with a setup guide recommending 20% sag for the fork and 13mm worth of sag for the shock. At first, I thought it was going to be too little, but decided to ride it as recommended before playing around with settings. To my surprise the Sprada's suspension felt very balanced with the shock obviously tuned with that figure in mind. At 445mm the rear is short for a 29er, giving the Sprada a balanced feel out on the trails and it feels at home in flowy single track with the odd twist and turn. When things get tight, turn-in is sharp and I always felt in control.

There is an immediate plushness to the bike which goes miles towards giving extra grip and traction when it matters most and in this case the Sprada is more than happy to rail berms and boost confidence on off-camber sections. This does however mean that one has to make use of the shock's climb mode when pedalling up long climbs, but flicking the switch does firm the shock up enough to not have to worry about the loss of pedalling efficiency.

Climbing on the Sprada is good and the only time I gave thought to how much it weighs was when I had to research it for this review. I'm not sure what the obsession is to design a shock that you can ride in the open position when you spec your bike with one that has a climb mode. On a pure race bike it (kind of) makes sense, but for the most part why have it when you think it's not necessary. Certain suspension designs help a great deal, but again, a bike that's firm under pedalling forces will probably be quite firm when hitting bigger stuff.


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I don't mind flipping a shock's lever into climb mode if that means the trail and descent modes are useful out on the trail and it certainly was true in this case. In trail mode, the bike has a lively "pop" on the trails that lends itself to jumping roots and rocks. Pre-loading the suspension is rewarded with good airtime and as long as you have rebound dialled in the landing is controlled. The rear suspension will use full travel without feeling the need to let you know about it. Running more sag made the descent mode on the shock too soft to use on bigger hits. I would recommend sticking to 13mm and make use of the CTD settings of the Fox shock.

The cable routing around the BB to the rear triangle could be better though. Suspension movement straightens the routing from the front to rear triangle which leads to them rubbing against the rear tyre when using more of the rear wheel travel. This meant I had to stop at the top of a climb or pedalling section to move them away from the tyre in order for there not to be any annoying buzzing against the tire. On my second ride, I employed 2 trusty cable ties to keep the routing in check, but this shouldn't be necessary. Silverback is aware of the problem and are working on a fix.

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My only other upgrade would be a wider front tyre. I've become used to the extra grip that comes with wider rims and it felt strange at first to not be able to push the bike harder even though it has a gripper tyre than what I've been riding on the American Classic Wide Lightnings. I do realise that this is pure personal preference.

Verdict


On the Sprada 2 it's as if all the components work in unison to make it the best bike it can be for the money. There is no one component that left me thinking it shouldn't be on a bike with the Sprada's intended use or price point in mind. It sounds obvious, but it's not always the case. Often a bike is let down by a single component or two. A good climber is let down by it's fork on descents, a trail bike is speced with tyres with thin sidewalls and not enough grip from the tread pattern or cable routing seem to be an after-thought. Here clever use of the spec budget sees money spent where it matters most and the only spec changes I would make are down to personal preference and that says a great deal about the overall package. I haven't looked too much into Silverback's other bikes versus selling price, but on the Sprada 2 ARD gets the job done. Nothing looks or feels out of place.

Riding this bike I have realised that more 29er owners should ride a "trail" 29er like the Sprada. It is a good climber, fun on single track and doesn't shy away from descents and the odd jump or three. Crucially, it is a lot more forgiving than a pure race bike that so many people ride and it won't break the bank. The frame offers good upgrade potential meaning you can hang onto it for longer and it is backed by a limited lifetime warranty making this a worthy proposition.


Full specification:


[spec_list]
[spec_list_row=Frame]Silverback Intelligent Design System(IDS) Revo Technology, Exclusive Suspension Science, 29”, Hydroformed 6061 Alloy Custom Butted Tubing, Tapered 1⅛” – 1.5” headtube, Silverback 12 x 142mm Dropouts, Super-Stiff Stays[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row=Fork]Rock Shox Reba RL, 29”, 120mm Travel, Solo Air, Tapered Alloy Steerer, Crown Lockout, QR15 Dropout, Post Mount Disc[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row="Rear shock"]Fox Float CTD SV, 110mm Travel, Evolution Series, 184 x 44mm[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row=Rims]Stan’s Arch EX, Alloy 29, 32H, Stan’s Yellow Rimtape and Valves, Black, Custom Decals[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row="Rear hub"]Shimano Deore FH-M618, Centre Lock Disc Mount, Adjustable cup and cone angular contact bearings, Cassette, 12 x 142mm Axle, Black[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row="Front hub"]Shimano Deore HB-M618, Centre Lock Disc Mount, Adjustable cup and cone angular contact bearings, 15mm Axle, Black[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row=Tyres]Maxxis Ardent Race, 29” x 2.2, Kevlar Bead, 60TPI[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row=Shifters]Shimano Deore SL-M610, 2x10 Trigger, Black[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row="Front derailleur"]Shimano Deore FD-M616D, Double, Direct Mount, SLX Grey[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row="Rear derailleur"]Shimano XT Shadow Tech Plus RD-M786-SGS, Long Cage, 10 Speed, Black[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row=Crankset]Shimano FC-M625, 38/24T, L: 175mm All sizes, Black[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row=Cassette]Shimano CS-HG50-10, 10 Speed, 11-36T, Silver[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row="Brake set"]Shimano BL-M445 w/ BR-M447 , Open Hydraulic System+ Levers , Resin Pads, Rotors Front: 180mm; Rear: 160mm, Centre Lock, Black[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row=Saddle]Sector, Cr-Mo Rails, Light Foam Padding[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row=Handlebar]Sector Plane, 6061 Butted Alloy, W: 720mm; Back Sweep: 9° x ∮31.8mm[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row=Stem]Sector Triple, Alloy, S/M: 80mm; L/XL: 90mm, 7° x ∮31.8mm, Black[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row=Handlebar]Sector Level, 6061 Alloy, ∮31.6mm, S: 300mm; M: 350mm; L/XL: 400mm, Black[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row="Claimed weight"]13,4 kg[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row=RRP]R 24,999[/spec_list_row]
[/spec_list]




13 Comments

Odinson, Mar 26 2015 09:34

Great review, Iwan!

 

That is my type of bike. Absolutely love Silverback's range. Always well thought-out designs and good value.

Odinson, Mar 26 2015 09:44

Was that video shot at Tokai? I've never been there, but looks like it could be.

leaboy, Mar 26 2015 09:48

Was that video shot at Tokai? I've never been there, but looks like it could be.

yup, that's tokai. pity its gonna be closed for so long :(

Odinson, Mar 26 2015 09:52

Damn. Tokai looks like a lot of fun!

Alouette3, Mar 26 2015 09:57

That IDS video just made me depressed, not only showing the guys riding Tokai, but the old snakes when there was still a forest covering the area. Those tracks where some of the best and never the same after the rebuild.

popcorn_skollie, Mar 26 2015 10:05

Oh man that video just got me all choked up about Tokai.

porqui, Mar 26 2015 10:07

Was that video shot at Tokai? I've never been there, but looks like it could be.

 

Past, past tense!

Iwan Kemp, Mar 26 2015 10:17

Great review, Iwan!

 

That is my type of bike. Absolutely love Silverback's range. Always well thought-out designs and good value.

:thumbup:

 

Damn. Tokai looks like a lot of fun!

It was and one day it will be again. But so too are Welvanpas & Jonkers. We're spoiled for choice.

Odinson, Mar 26 2015 10:45

Iwan, how would you compare the Ardent Race to the regular Ardent?

 

I currently run Ardent's and am looking for something faster, but don't want to sacrifice too much speed.

Mr X, Mar 26 2015 11:41

"There is no one component that left me thinking it shouldn't be on a bike with the Sprada's intended use or price point in mind."

 

Even the tubes and non re-enforced sidewall tyres?

Captain Fastbastard Mayhem, Mar 26 2015 11:54

Sniff. Old Mamba!!! Was one of my favourite trails. 

AdrianDJ, Mar 26 2015 03:50

"There is no one component that left me thinking it shouldn't be on a bike with the Sprada's intended use or price point in mind."

 

Even the tubes and non re-enforced sidewall tyres?

The bike comes with Stans Arch EX rims with Rim tape..... are you trying to be difficult?? if it didnt come tubeless, 2 seconds and a bit of sealant and they tubeless.... which you can do with a foot pump on those rims

Iwan Kemp, Mar 27 2015 03:20

Iwan, how would you compare the Ardent Race to the regular Ardent?

 

I currently run Ardent's and am looking for something faster, but don't want to sacrifice too much speed.

 

Difficult to do a direct comparison as you don't get both in the same size. If you're happy with them, but would like to add some speed I would say go for it. If you're riding rocky terrain often look at the EXO/TR model.