Although I am a fan of tubes with some hydroforming and a bend or two, the straight, oval main tubes look good and somehow adds to the menacing look of the bike. Silverback's reasoning for this is that there’s a greater weld area and less stress risers, both of which should make the frame more durable.
A 31.6mm seatpost makes the frame dropper post friendly, but a lack of dedicated guides or internal routing means you will have to route your dropper externally and cable tie the hose to the rear brake hose running down the bottom of the top tube.
I would have preferred to see a threaded BB on this bike. The weight saving of a press-fit BB is negligible and the ease of fitment and squeak free nature of threaded BB's fit the hooligan nature of the bike better.
Featuring a 1x10 drivetrain, 130mm RockShox Revelation fork, wide handlebar, short stem and Arch EX wheels with 2.3 Maxxis Minion DHR II rubber fitted - this bike is meant to be fast and fun on single track. What the spec sheet is missing at first glance is a dropper seatpost, but I do understand that base price can shoot up quickly with a couple of seemingly small changes. As an alternative, a QR clamp would have been nice.
Fork: The 130mm RockShox Revelation is plush, stiff and light and adds value where a bike needs it most. I missed the ability to adjust low speed compression as the fork can feel a little linear as mentioned in our review of the RCT3 model.
Drivetrain: The 1x10 is made up of mostly Shimano SLX parts with a Race Face Evolve crankset and a XT rear derailleur. The combination of parts make for a smooth and reliable drivetrain that will last many happy miles. SLX has established itself as the groupset of choice for riders with an eye on budget but not willing to sacrifice durability and excellent performance.
Wheelset: Stan’s No Tubes Arch EX laced to Shimano SLX hubs is a solid if not bling combination. Arch EX rims are a good combination of weight and stiffness and should be able to carry most riders weight. If you're planning on hammering your Signo Tecnica it might be worth looking at Stan's Flow EX.
Tyres: 2.3" Maxxis Minion DHR II does duty front and rear. They certainly provide a lot of grip and the extra width helps smooth out trail chatter.
Brake Set: Shimano SLX BR-M675 provide excellent control and modulation with good feedback through the levers.
On the Trail
The combination of a 32T chainring and 11-36T cassette took some getting used to. And when I say "getting used to" what I mean is toughen up and push those pedals, as I've become used to the 42T granny ring on my usual ride.
Going 1x is in line with current trends. However going 1x10 is a brave choice and I'm sure it was done to keep the retail price in check. 1x11's extra gearing would be a welcome sight, but will push the price up quite a bit. SRAM's GX drivetrain should remedy this soon.
The wheel size? That is why we're all here, is it not? Quite a bit is made of the odd wheel combination and for good reason. On paper, combining the better roll-over and bigger contact patch of the 29" wheel out front with the faster accelerating, more agile nature of a 27.5" wheel out back makes sense. There were moments where I thought I felt an advantage of the odd wheel sizes and times I felt like there are disadvantages. 29" wheels have many advantages, but also many disadvantages and so too with 27.5" and 26". It was only when I managed to put all the tricky technical bits aside and just ride the bike that I could appreciate it for what it is. Trying to analyze every bit of trail to figure out where it excels and where it fails can be confusing and distracts from just riding your bike and having fun out on the trails.
And the Signo Tecnica definitely is fun - especially with the very capable Revelation up front, wide bars, short stem and grippy tyres. Just looking at it with it's longer travel fork and slack (for a hardtail) head angle tells you this is not your average hardtail - be that a 29er or 27.5". There simply aren't too many playful 29er hardtails out there and even fewer who can manage a good balance between all day riding and trail fun.
Drop into flowing single track and any sign of the mismatched wheels disappears and all that is left is a fun-loving hardtail. It is also at this exact moment that the component spec of the Tecnica comes to life and where I miss the convenience of a dropper seat post most. The bike's descending is above average compared to most regular hardtails, but to be honest I'm not so sure how much of that is thanks to the bigger front wheel or the slack head angle.
On a side note, I realized again just how much wider rims like American Classic's Wide Lightning add to a ride and I think it says quite a bit that I missed those more than I did a dropper seat post. That did bring the topic of ordering wheels for the Signo to mind. Going the custom route will be much easier than trying to order a wheelset.
I have to applaud Silverback for living on the edge and their willingness to try something new and different. If nothing else, these flights of fantasies are what drives engineers and designers along and often lead to out of left of field solutions.
In the case of the Signo, my only gripe would be that the ride can sting you a bit through the saddle. This is due to a very stiff and flex free frame. Chasing through the rough stuff it helps to have softer knees and relaxed arms to counter some of the "sting" and bouncy rear wheel. If you're looking for a pure race 29er then this is obviously not the bike for you. If you're a rider who prefers the ride characteristics of a hardtail, or your trail budget doesn't quite stretch to a well-specced dual suspension bike, then this could be the one for you. Even more so, if your riding is more about smiles than miles.
[spec_list][spec_list_row="Frame"]Silverback Game-Changing 279” Frame Design, 6061 Butted Alloy tubing, Tapered head tube 1⅛” – 1.5”, Silverback Engineered light bridge, 12 x 142mm Silverback Through axle design, Press-Fit BB Shell, Post Mount Disc, Replacable Threaded Hanger[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Fork]Rock Shox Revelation RL, 29”, 130mm Travel, Solo Air, Tapered Alloy Steerer, Crown Lockout, QR15 Dropout, Post Mount Disc, Black[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Rims]Stan’s No Tubes Arch EX 27.5” rear + 29” front, 32 hole, Anodised black, Custom decals[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Hubs]Rear: Shimano SLX FH-M678, Centre Lock Disc Mount, Adjustable cup and cone angular contact bearings, Cassette, 12 x 142mm Axle, Black, Front: Shimano SLX HB-M678, Centre Lock Disc Mount, Adjustable cup and cone angular contact bearings, 15mm Axle, Black[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Tyres]Maxxis Minion DHR II, 29/27.5” x 2.3”[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Shifters]Shimano SLX SL-M670, 10 Speed Trigger, I-Spec, SLX Grey[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row="Front derailleur"]N/A[/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]Race Face Evolve, 32T, L: 175mm All sizes, Black w/ Black ring[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Cassette]Shimano CS-HG81-10, 10 Speed, 11-36T, Silver[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row="Brake set"]Shimano SLX BR-M675, Open Hydraulic System, Metal Pads-M06, 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 Gradient, 2014 Butted Alloy, W: 740mm; Back Sweep: 9°; Up Sweep 5°; 15mm Rise x ∮31.8mm[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Stem]Sector Box, Alloy, S/M/L: 60mm; XL: 75mm, 7° x∮31.8mm, Black[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Seatpost]Sector Plane, Alloy, ∮31.6mm x 400mm, Black[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row="Claimed weight"]12.1KG[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row="Weight as ridden (no pedals)"]12.42KG[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row="Retail price"]R 19,999[/spec_list_row][/spec_list]
From the Manufacturer:
The Signo Tecnica is a groundbreaking new platform that pushes the boundaries of modern trail riding. The key feature of the mountain bike model is the 279 Dynamic Efficiency Technology. The 279 concept incorporates the advantages of both 27.5” and 29” wheels into one platform; this is done by using the larger 29” wheel on the front and the mid-sized 27.5” wheel on rear the. The result is a uniquely new ride feel that fits perfectly into the aggressive trail-riding category.