Designed in Sheffield England, the Airdrop is one of only a few frame builders still making hardcore hardtails in aluminium. The Bitmap is their ‘Hardtail Hooligan’, a frame clearly designed to ride hard and fast in the best British tradition.
This bike is part of a group test: The best hardcore hardtail you can buy – 7 bikes in review
Pulling the Bitmap out of the box, the first thing you notice is the distinct lack of plastic packaging, okay this is a bike test but unwinding the stretchy cardboard wrapping from the immaculately finished frame, gave us an immediate affinity with Airdrop as a company. Unwrapped, the frame details are also impressive: the 6061-t6 aluminium frame has an industrial yet refined look, the tidy thumbnail welds are uniform across the frame with gusseting around the head and seat tube. For some reason, gussets that aesthetically offend the eye on a steel frame simply add to the character of an aluminium frame and nothing looks out of place on the Bitmap. The short, 420 mm, box section stays scream stiff at you and the 12 x 148 mm dropouts will take a 27.5 x 2.6 tyres and still give you plenty of mud clearance. The rear brake mount is designed to take a 180 mm rotor with no adapters needed, which is how it should be on this kind of bike. Although not a review on the Bitmap’s spec, it was great to see the UK manufactured componentry from Hope and Burtech keeping the British built theme consistent
Geometry of the Airdrop BITMAP
|Seat tube||410 mm||435 mm||460 mm||485 mm|
|Top tube||585 mm||606 mm||626 mm||646 mm|
|Head tube||110 mm||115 mm||120 mm||125 mm|
|Chainstay||420 mm||420 mm||420 mm||420 mm|
|BB Drop||45 mm||45 mm||45 mm||45 mm|
|Wheelbase||1150 mm||1170 mm||1192 mm||1215 mm|
|Reach||420 mm||440 mm||460 mm||480 mm|
|Stack||616 mm||617 mm||621 mm||626 mm|
Riding the Airdrop BITMAP
The Airdrop Bitmap’s geometry makes the ride quick and precise. The short and stiff stays mean that acceleration is immediate and the whole bike responds to rider input like lightning. On trail centre style terrain the Bitmap feels most at home; the light weight bike just loves groomed, undulating trails and its playful nature means that sending side hits and rooty sections is effortless, even at slower speeds. Going from the long ‘enduro’ style bikes to the shorter feel of the Bitmap took some adjustment but once you had your eye in, it was fun and nimble and just wanted to thrown about. Those qualities however, held it back when the off-piste trails got rough as those stiff stays and smaller wheels had a tendency to bounce you about as you felt every hit.
We love Airdrops ethics, attention to detail and high quality frame finish. The Airdrop Bitmap would best suit riders looking for a bike to ride all-mountain and trail centre style terrain but is also happy tearing about on a pump track or in a skate park. Airdrop bill the Bitmap as the, ‘Ultimate bike for ripping trails’, and if your have smooth and flowy trails to ride, the Bitmap will enable you to rip them to bits.
Price: £449 frame only (£2799 for the BITMAP Works build as tested)
- Solid all-rounder
- Small and nimble with great balance
- Great for playing – happy at a pump track or hitting jump lines
- Super stiff rear end
- Out of its depth in rough terrain
For more info head to: airdropbikes.com
All bikes in test
Words: Thomas Corfield Photos: Trevor Worsey