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Sick Headbanger Hardtail Review | ENDURO Mountainbike Magazine

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Hardcore is in the DNA of Sick Bicycle Co. They hit the ground running with their niche within a niche, border-line-crazy but aesthetically stunning Gnarcissist just over a year ago. The Sick range is ever changing as the guys try out different ideas and materials so when we asked them to send us a bike for this test, we had no idea what they’d send us!

This bike is part of a group test: The best hardcore hardtail you can buy – 7 bikes in review

The Sick Bike Co. Headbanger is the latest design from the Kent based frame builders. Constructed from heat treated, 4130 chromoly triple butted tubing, the frame is built to last. There’s no frills on this Headbanger prototype, no fancy paint job, just pure function. A couple of gussets reinforce the head tube, external routing runs down the top of the downtube which means (gasp!) no bottle bosses. The Headbanger come with a 12 speed Pinion gearbox – a potentially good match for the rowdy riding DH hardtail – with a massive 600% range, (the Wulf is the same frame with normal gearing) silent running and no derailleur to damage. Clearance is tight with the Schwalbe 29 x 2.35s Hans Damfs fitted and the frame would struggle to fit 29 x 2.5s or clear sticky mud.

Geometry of the Sick Headbanger

With geometry charts still unavailable for the Sick Headbanger we emailed the company to try and squeeze as much info out of them as possible.

Size L
Seat tube 460 mm
Top tube 660 mm
Head tube Our guess is as good as yours.
Head angle 62°
Seat angle 75°
Chainstay 435 mm
BB Drop About this much?
Wheelbase 1280 mm
Reach 475 mm
Stack No clue.

Riding the Sick Headbanger

Looking at the numbers, the geometry of the Headbanger is almost normal – until you notice the super slack 62˚ headangle. Unsurprisingly, mellow trails ain’t the Headbanger’s thing; the super slack front end feels wallowy and vague at slow speeds and the weight and drag from the Pinion gearbox makes climbing a chore.

Once heading down the Headbanger has much more life it it: now the super slack and low front end gives composure and confidence in steep corners and the Pinion gearbox runs silent and trouble free as you smash down the trail. Running a low rise bar meant that the rider had to really get over the front and wring its neck when cornering hard but with higher rise bars the super slack Headbanger felt much more fun and agile.

Conclusion

Compared to the flawless finish of past frames, the pre-production Headbanger was a bit disappointing and definitely had the ‘built in a shed’ feel but it does look ‘hardcore’ and the punk looks will probably appeal to fans of Sick Bicycles anyway. Riders who complain about not being able to fit a bottle have probably missed the point of the Headbanger, it’s just not built for trails and climbing. The lazy slow speed handling and added weight, inefficiency and inability to change gears whilst under power of the Pinion gearbox, really limits how much fun the Headbanger is to ride on anything other than steep but relatively smooth DH trails and while that’s a pretty specific niche, for some riders out there the Sick Headbanger will fit the bill perfectly.

Price: £1500 for the frame with Pinion gearbox, shifter, cranks, chain and hub.

Strengths
  • Super hardcore DH hardtail
  • Low maintenance Pinion gearbox is great for Winter though and amazing range
Weaknesses
  • Super low and slack front end, only shines on really steep trails, everywhere else it feels sluggish and lazy
  • Too stiff at the back, very harsh chainstays
  • Inefficient Pinion gearbox limits riding appeal

The Sick Headbanger is not actually available on their website yet, however the non-Pinion version is called the Wulf and is available frame only for £550. For more info head to: sickbicycle.co

All bikes in test

Airdrop BITMAP | Pipedream Moxie | Pole Taival | Orange Crush 29 | Sick Headbanger | Stanton Switch9er | Stif Morf

Words: Thomas Corfield Photos: Trevor Worsey