Review: Silverback Signo Tecnica

Designed from the ground up around the use of a 29" front and 27.5" rear wheel, Silverback's 279 range of mountain bikes are not your usual run of the crowd bikes. By doing this Silverback believe that they have combined the best of both worlds into one chassis giving the rider an advantage on the trail.
Silverback Signo Tecnica 2.jpg

The Frame


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.

Silverback Signo Tecnica 4.jpg

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.


Silverback Signo Tecnica 9.jpg

Silverback Signo Tecnica 10.jpg


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.

Components


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.


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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.


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Brake Set: Shimano SLX BR-M675 provide excellent control and modulation with good feedback through the levers.


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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.

Silverback Signo Tecnica 5.jpg

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.


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Silverback Signo Tecnica 12.jpg


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.

Verdict


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.

Silverback Signo Tecnica 3.jpg

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.

Technical specifications



  • FrameSilverback 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

  • ForkRock Shox Revelation RL, 29”, 130mm Travel, Solo Air, Tapered Alloy Steerer, Crown Lockout, QR15 Dropout, Post Mount Disc, Black

  • RimsStan’s No Tubes Arch EX 27.5” rear + 29” front, 32 hole, Anodised black, Custom decals

  • HubsRear: 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

  • TyresMaxxis Minion DHR II, 29/27.5” x 2.3”

  • ShiftersShimano SLX SL-M670, 10 Speed Trigger, I-Spec, SLX Grey

  • Front derailleurN/A

  • Rear derailleurShimano XT Shadow Tech Plus RD-M786-SGS, Long Cage, 10 Speed, Black

  • CranksetRace Face Evolve, 32T, L: 175mm All sizes, Black w/ Black ring

  • CassetteShimano CS-HG81-10, 10 Speed, 11-36T, Silver

  • Brake setShimano SLX BR-M675, Open Hydraulic System, Metal Pads-M06, Rotors: Front: 180mm; Rear: 160mm, Centre Lock, Black

  • SaddleSector, Cr-Mo Rails, Light Foam Padding

  • HandlebarSector Gradient, 2014 Butted Alloy, W: 740mm; Back Sweep: 9°; Up Sweep 5°; 15mm Rise x ∮31.8mm

  • StemSector Box, Alloy, S/M/L: 60mm; XL: 75mm, 7° x∮31.8mm, Black

  • SeatpostSector Plane, Alloy, ∮31.6mm x 400mm, Black

  • Claimed weight12.1KG

  • Weight as ridden (no pedals)12.42KG

  • Retail priceR 19,999







19 Comments

niterider, May 26 2015 07:00

What is the head angle? Also seems like a huge oversight to not have dropper cable routing?

Iwan Kemp, May 26 2015 07:13

What is the head angle? Also seems like a huge oversight to not have dropper cable routing?

 

67° with a 140mm RockShox Revelation. Nice.

niterider, May 26 2015 07:18

Very nice indeed.

Sidewinder., May 26 2015 09:28

I can't help thinking that paint job is going to kill sales.

Toi, May 26 2015 09:36

I think the paint job looks wicked.

Koei, May 26 2015 10:04

R20k!? Budget specs... Nah..

popcorn_skollie, May 26 2015 10:10

I can't help thinking that paint job is going to kill sales.

I have to agree. This bike seems like such a bold move.

The colour doesn't reflect that.

1Gear, May 26 2015 10:15

I rather like the simple mat grey look.

Iwan Kemp, May 26 2015 11:22

I don't comment on colors and graphics often as it's very subjective. In this case I liked the Matt / Flat gray with Orangy Red accents. Not another gloss back bike

Walt Jabsco, May 26 2015 11:26

Just something to bear in mind if you are considering this bike and it will be the only one you own:

 

Extract from the CSA Mountain Bike Regulations:

14.01.002 Bicycles must use a wheel on both front and back of the same size for all disciplines of Mountain Bike competition.

 

Seems like a stupid rule to me, but there you go.

 

I guess this applies even to casual local races that are sanctioned by the CSA.

Marius, May 26 2015 12:37

ugly

Ryanpmb, May 26 2015 12:46

R20k!? Budget specs... Nah..

 

RS Rev. SLX/ XT Mix. Arch EX rims... hardly budget specs...

Ryanpmb, May 26 2015 12:49

Good specs vs price point.

67deg HA, Long top tube.

Nice muted colours to complement the 'burly' nature in a sea of Cyan/Torquoise/Pink/Magenta/whatever colours previously found with baskets and ribbons...

Rebirth of the mixed wheel scenerio.

Nice and progressive from Silverback IMO.

Sidewinder., May 26 2015 04:47

Good specs vs price point.

 

67deg HA, Long tube.

 

Nice muted colours to complement the 'burly' nature in a sea of Cyan/Torquoise/Pink/Magenta/whatever colours previously found with baskets and ribbons...

 

Rebirth of the mixed wheel scenerio.

 

Nice and progressive from Silverback IMO.

 

I have to agree. This bike seems like such a bold move.

The colour doesn't reflect that.

This bike isn't going to appeal to the mass market or beginner riders, so why go for the muted colours? Personally I think a bright metallic green would better suit this bike..but that's just my opinion

J∆kk∆ls, May 26 2015 10:07

For R19,999 Two thumbs up!

rudi-h, May 26 2015 10:40

cool bike, i really dig it!  probably the only HT bike from any of the main stream manufacturers that i'll buy due to the longer travel / slacker head angle geometry.  For some reason the other guys out there just don't have any bikes in this category. (I'd still go for a cotic or on-one though)

 

big issue with the mixed wheel size though.  not keen on keeping track of different size tyres, different tubes, not being able to buy wheels in sets etc...  

 

They also could have sold it stock with 800mm bars though, that way everybody can cut to suit.

Mntboy, May 27 2015 01:50

This bike isn't going to appeal to the mass market or beginner riders, so why go for the muted colours? Personally I think a bright metallic green would better suit this bike..but that's just my opinion

I think you actually meant fire engine Red with Gold decals........ oh, wait............. you're not Tony Stark, my apologies [emoji12]

All silliness aside Red with Gold could work for this bike.

Brawler, May 27 2015 06:56

Props to Silverback for developing such a bike. Not only the 279 thing but the factory long travel hard tail bike shows that they are with the times and prepared to innovate.

 

This may just be a bike for me to do the longer distance rides on. Currently have single speed NS and the Reign. Neither are decent for 50km... I really miss doing the Argus and long peninsula rides which I did once a month or so but keeping a nice HT XC bike for that was a waste. This bike I could use daily for commuting and riding table mountain and other trails in my back yard.

Iwan Kemp, Jul 10 2015 09:09

Props to Silverback for developing such a bike. Not only the 279 thing but the factory long travel hard tail bike shows that they are with the times and prepared to innovate.

 

This may just be a bike for me to do the longer distance rides on. Currently have single speed NS and the Reign. Neither are decent for 50km... I really miss doing the Argus and long peninsula rides which I did once a month or so but keeping a nice HT XC bike for that was a waste. This bike I could use daily for commuting and riding table mountain and other trails in my back yard.

 

Yes!