Review: The Starling Roost is a Singletrack Stoke Machine

Dry January noticed me mincing in regards to the Tweed Valley aboard a new hardtail from Starling Cycles; the Roost. This stainless-steel mixed-wheel measurement eye-catcher is the primary hardtail to fit into the UK producer’s lineup. At launch, Starling have been fairly eager to not give it the “sickly” hardcore hardtail tagline, although with a 64° head tube angle, mullet wheelset and beneficiant tire clearance, we really feel it actually doesn’t sit too far exterior of that class.

When founder Joe McEwan provided up a pre-production Roost for testing, I used to be, admittedly, pretty apprehensive about taking it on. It’s been a very long time since I rode a hardtail with any frequency, so the considered pointing one down among the native EWS-worthy enduro tracks was a little daunting. On prime of that, at 163cm tall (5ft 4″), I truly sit exterior of the beneficial measurement vary for the medium body – the smallest measurement out there. Weighing up the 440mm attain with the 410mm seat tube and 76° seat angle, I made a decision to throw warning to the wind. Boy, am I glad I did!

Action Shots by Blair Kemp

Review: Starling Roost Hardtail Mountain Bike

starling roost review stainless steel hardtail 140mm travel fork

The Starling Roost is handmade in Taiwan by ORA. It will get a seat tube diameter of 31.6mm. Credit: Blair Kemp

Not all bikes rolling out of Starling Cycles get the Stainless Steel therapy seen on the Roost hardtail, a bike that obtained greater than a handful of “Ooh, a titanium hardtail” feedback whereas out on the paths. Neither the worth, nor the burden of this medium body may be in comparison with what you would possibly anticipate of a titanium equal.

starling roost medium complete bike actual weight on park tool scales

A Starling Roost body will set you again £1,220, and weighs a claimed 2.6 kg. The £3560 full bike examined right here weighed in at 13.62 kg (with a set of DMR Vault Midi pedals).

starling roost tire clearance

Before we get into the driving expertise, let’s take a take a look at some spotlight elements of the construct that point out the Roost’s true intentions. Seated to the Stan’s Arch wheelset is a set of Michelin Wild AM2 2.4″ tires, although Starling declare there is enough clearance for as much as 2.8″ tires. What you’ll be able to’t see in these footage is the CushCore Pro tire inserts (entrance and rear). For me, the inclusion of tire inserts on what Starling founder, Joe McEwan, claims is a “ride-wherever, ride-whatever, tough-as-nails stainless do-it-all”, is reasonably befitting. I ran simply 16 PSI in every tire, although do keep in mind that I weigh round 60 kgs soaking moist.

starling roost headtube gussets

Neat welds on the headtube gussets of this stainless-steel hardtail. The headtube is tapered, taking a ZS44/28.6 – EC44/40 headset. Credit: Blair Kemp.

Up entrance now we have the RockShox Pike 140mm fork with the top-end Ultimate damper. This medium construct with a 410mm seat tube got here with a 160mm BikeYoke Revive dropper, a good match for my 163cm body.

starling roost review complete bike parts include middleburn crankset

The minimal chainring measurement on the Starling Roost is 30T. Credit: Blair Kemp

Also contributing to that 13.62kg weight is a Middleburn RS8 X-Type Crankset, a 35mm Funn Equaliser stem and alloy bar, Hope headset and seat clamp, and an 11 pace cassette with Shimano XT derailleur and shifter. MT Trail Sport brakes spherical off the construct (4-pistons up entrance, 2 within the rear).

Ride Impressions

starling roost review technical seated pedaling climbing fit ride position

Jumping on the Starling Roost for the primary time, it didn’t really feel so long as I assumed it’d. The 76° seat tube angle put me in a commanding place over the underside bracket for a direct and environment friendly pedaling expertise. I did run the saddle pushed ahead alongside the rails, although this is one thing I love to do with nearly each bike I experience. If it have been mine, I’d have after all lower the handlebar down from its 780mm to 740mm, not simply because it was a bit too large for my shoulders, but in addition as a result of the Tweed Valley trails may be slim, and their bordering timber unforgiving.

starling roost review scotland innerleithen golfy climb snowing

Joe says the choice to go together with stainless-steel wasn’t purely about aesthetics, commenting that it might create an much more compliant and comfy experience than ‘standard’ tubing and added power

For seated pedaling, the match was a little off. My again was at a higher lean angle than I’m accustomed to, one thing that a narrower bar would have gone some approach to addressing. I discovered it snug sufficient for 3 hour rides, however would seemingly expertise some decrease again hassle for an all day epic. At this level, I’ll remind readers that the medium body is beneficial for riders 167-177cm tall (I’m 163cm tall). While I’d agree with that suggestion within the case of seated pedaling, the additional size was a full non-issue for descending.

starling roost descending enduro trails innerleithen scotland

Pointing the Roost downhill, it felt very balanced and composed. I used to be anticipating to really feel as if my shins have been about to cross via my knee caps, and I actually did on among the native downhill tracks, however the metal body seamed to do a respectable sufficient job of damping path chatter on the mellower, slower enduro trails. Don’t get me flawed, a full run was nonetheless a hell of a exercise for the quads.

starling roost

The Starling Roost residing as much as its identify. I’m happy to report I felt no undesirable torsional flex within the body.

The Roost corners extremely properly. The 425mm rear-center and really low backside bracket (50mm drop from the 27.5″ rear wheel axle) work like a dream, making the bike really feel prefer it slots completely into nearly each bermed nook. Then after all there’s the progressive enhance in entrance wheel traction that is a function of all hardtail mountain bikes; because the fork is loaded up via a flip, the space between the BB and the entrance tire’s contact patch decreases, forcing my weight ever extra over the entrance wheel demanding traction via turns. It’s a nice mixture.

starling roost hardtail review descending repeat offender innerleithen

Trying actually onerous to string the metaphorical needle… A 64° head angle provides good confidence on steep sections, slack sufficient to make sure angles don’t turn out to be uncomfortably steep when the fork goes deep into compression.

I did get my comeuppance with the low backside bracket, nevertheless. Occasionally, I discovered myself dragging the within pedal alongside the chamfered fringe of the path bench which did make for some furry moments. That mentioned, the native trails are extraordinarily over-ridden (particularly since Storm Arwen eradicated a massive chunk of them) to the purpose the place our small however devoted military of path builders can’t address the pace at which these deep channels are showing.

For terrain similar to this, I’d lean towards recommending the Starling Roost to extra skilled bike handlers who can take full benefit of the nice cornering traits that include a low backside bracket, but in addition the attention to experience accordingly via rocky chunder, or down steep slim chutes bordered by stumps.

starling roost review innerleithen

I had an unrealistic quantity of enjoyable testing this bike. The thrill related to the unequalled immersive driving expertise of a hardtail, paired with the Roost’s extremely succesful set of geometry figures and its smash-worthy spec listing, ensured there was a large smile on my face on the finish of each single experience. From social laps of the native enduro trails, fitness-building blasts across the path centre reds, and moor-top XC-style journeys, the Starling Roost delivered each time.

Some extra notes on body design

starling roost bottom bracket chainstay yoke region

Rust was restricted to the cable guides on the downtube and chainstays. Joe tells us this is purely as a result of it is a pre-production prototype; the guides themselves are stainless however on this case they haven’t but been subjected to shot peening, a chilly work course of required to make sure the floor stays stainless.

The chainstay-bottom bracket yoke is positive to be a focal point on the Starling Roost. It is one which has developed instantly from the Starling full suspension bikes just like the 29″ Murmur, which by the way additionally obtained a restricted version run of stainless-steel frames. Frame designer, Joe McEwan tells us it delivers all the pieces they needed from this space; it is structurally sound whereas providing respectable clearance for increased quantity tires.

starling roost bb chainstay yoke welds

The pictures Starling shared at launch of the Roost didn’t actually present this area in any nice element so we thought we’d take the chance to zoom in right here. As you’ll be able to see, the tubular yoke is linked to each the seat tube and the BB by way of two small machined elements. Also noteworthy right here is the ISCG-05 tabs for the mounting of bash guard, one thing that riders ought to undoubtedly think about investing in for the Roost given its low backside bracket.

starling roost drive side chainstay chain slap clearance

When within the smallest sprocket of the cassette, the chain sits very near the chainstay and may be heard slapping about whereas driving. The keep protector on this construct was inadequate to maintain issues quiet, and we reckon there might not be sufficient clearance for a extra sturdy protector like VHS Slapper Tape.

Pricing & Availability

The body solely retails at £1,220 and is out there to pre-order now with transport due in April ’22. The Starling Roost is out there in a M-XL measurement vary (see here for full set of geometry figures), all of which run the mixed-wheel setup. Starling are in a position to supply full bikes, just like the one examined right here, with elements out there from Ohlins, Rockshox, Hope, Funn, Magura, Bike Yoke, Michelin and CushCore.

starling roost mullet hardtail review stainless steel frame golfy scotland

The Roost takes a 73mm threaded BB and runs 148mm x 12mm spacing on the rear. Credit: Blair Kemp.

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