The 279 setup gives the bike an aggressive air, which is immediately striking when you look at it. Up front is an 80mm RockShox Recon Gold, complemented by Shimano Deore crankset, shifters and brakes. The colour scheme features glossy black with Fuschia pink detailing. I’m not a huge fan of pink, but the combination works well in this case, and looks edgy rather than insipid.
Silverback claim that the 279 concept incorporates the advantages of both 27.5” and 29” wheels into one platform. The 29er front wheel enhances rolling efficiency, rider comfort and cornering traction, while the 27.5 rear inch wheel makes it easier to control and position one’s weight over the rear of the bike during technical descents. I was sceptical of this setup, and did not anticipate feeling any noticeable difference, so I was pleasantly surprised by the unique feel of the Splash.
I rode the bike on the jeep tracks and sparse singletrack on Table Mountain. I was pretty nervous before I took it down the washed out trail onto Plum Pudding, made famous by many wipeouts in this year’s Cape Epic. 80 mm is not a lot of travel in my mind, and I hadn’t really gotten to know the brakes. The quick trip downhill erased all my doubts- the large front wheel devoured obstacles, making up for anything that may have been lacking on the part of the fork. The brakes were up to everything I tried, and I happily obeyed the sign asking riders not to drag their brakes. The geometry kept me balanced over the bike so that I never felt in danger of going over the bars, and made manoeuvring the bike very easy.
The only time the 279 concept appeared to have any disadvantages was on very steep climbs (think the semi-tarred road up to Dead Man’s Tree), where the rear end started to feel heavy, and the front end wanted to pop up. This was not noticeable on most of the other gradients I encountered on the mountain. I would have liked an opportunity to try the Splash on some tight switchback climbs as I would be interested to see whether the larger front wheel made it more difficult to keep my weight on the front and stop the front wheel lifting. I suspect this may be the case.
The fork features remote lockout, and I had some issues with the cable tension initially, causing the lockout to be sticky. Once these issues were resolved I found the remote lockout button to be quite stiff to activate, and also wondered at the necessity of remote lockout on this model. With only 80mm of travel up front climbing was not too much of a problem and I didn’t really feel the need to lock it out. I felt that the lockout button cluttered up the cockpit unnecessarily.
Shifting was reliable, I had no issues with the drive train during my rides. The 2.1” Maxxis Crossmark tyres front and back did the job, although I would have been more comfortable with something slightly wider at the front for extra grip. The Alex MD21 rims are tubeless ready, so a tubeless conversion would be a necessity in my view as I did suffer a puncture.
What makes the Splash women specific? Primarily frame geometry: compared directly with the men’s equivalent, the Signo 1.0 the women’s medium size lies somewhere between the small and the medium. The Splash has a slightly lower BB, for added stability cornering, and a slightly slacker head angle, to make steep descents easier. The handlebars are narrower, and the cranks shorter to match the intended rider stature.
The Splash also features a low top tube, with a long seat post to provide a low standover height. This is great for getting on and off, and for moving your weight around on technical terrain. The 80mm fork keeps the front end low to accommodate the smaller frame size with the smaller rear wheel.
I found the medium to be very comfortable both climbing and descending, as well as on the flat. The bike felt nippy and responsive to turn, without being unnecessarily twitchy. The geometry puts the rider in a fairly upright position, with the saddle slightly below the bars in a commuter style.
The Splash is a good option for novices who don’t want to deal with the maintenance and cost of a full suspension bike, but still want stability on single track. Also for smaller, lighter riders who struggle to move their weight around and control 29ers on tight descents. It is ideal for recreational riders that want the benefits of covering ground easily on jeep track, combined with clean, responsive handling on single track, and a confidence-boosting setup on steep descents.
That said: for my money, if I had my pick of the 279 range, I would be more drawn to the Splash’s big brother bike, the Signo Tecnica, which features a 130mm travel Revelation, a 1 X 10 drive train, SLX brakes and shifter, and an upgraded wheelset for roughly R5,000 more.
- FrameSilverback Game-Changing 279” Frame Design, 6061 Butted Alloy tubing, Tapered head tube 1⅛” – 1.5”, Silverback Engineered light bridge, 135mm QR Dropouts, Replaceable Hanger
- ForkRock Shox Recon Gold TK, 29”, 100mm Travel, Solo Air, Tapered Alloy Steerer, PopLoc Remote Lockout, QR15 Dropout, Diffusion Black
- RimsAlex MD21 27.5” rear + 29” front, 32 hole, Anodised black
- HubsRear: Shimano FH-RM66, Centre Lock Disc Mount, Adjustable cup and cone angular contact bearings, Cassette, 135mm Axle, Black, Front: Shimano Deore HB-M618, Centre Lock Disc Mount, Adjustable cup and cone angular contact bearings, 15mm Axle, Black
- TyresMaxxis Crossmark, 29/27.5” x 2.1”, Foldable, 60TPI
- ShiftersShimano Deore SL-M610, 2x10 Speed Trigger, I-Spec, Black
- Front derailleurShimano Deore FD-M615, Double, Clamp On, Black
- Rear derailleurShimano XT Shadow Tech Plus RD-M786-SGS, Long Cage, 10 Speed, Silver
- CranksetShimano Deore FC-M615, 38/24T, L: 170mm All sizes, Black
- CassetteShimano CS-HG50-10, 10 Speed, 11-36T, Silver
- Brake setShimano Deore BR-M615, Open Hydraulic System, Resin Pads, Rotors: Front: 180mm; Rear: 160mm, Centre Lock, Black
- SaddleSector, Cr-Mo Rails, Light Foam Padding
- Handle barSector Plane, Alloy, W: 680mm; Back Sweep: 9° x ∮31.8mm, Black
- StemSector Triple, Alloy, S: 70mm; M: 80mm, 6° x ∮31.8mm, Black
- SeatpostSector Plane, Alloy, ∮31.6mm, S: 350mm; M: 400mm, Black
- Claimed weight11.8kg
- Retail priceR14,599