Singular Buzzard review

Trail rager big on travel attitude – but does the rest measure up?

BikeRadar score3/5

Singular describes its Buzzard as a Swift (its cross-country frame) “with a shot of adrenalin and a couple of healthy measures of Dutch courage” but it’s pretty much a completely new bike with very different geometry. Has it got the recipe right for technical raving?

    Frame and equipment: tight butt

    The Buzzard gets off to a good start with a wide splayed plate bridge behind the bottom bracket and a curved seat tube to give room for the chunkiest conventional boots available, such as the monster Maxxis High Roller 29x2.4in if you want maximum air cushioning.

    Using a thin plate rather than tubular chainstay to give maximum tyre clearance isn’t a new idea but it’s simply effective:
    Using a thin plate rather than tubular chainstay to give maximum tyre clearance isn’t a new idea but it’s simply effective:

    Using a thin plate rather than tubular chainstay to give maximum clearance isn’t a new idea but it’s simply effective

    While you don’t get the Swift’s eccentric bottom bracket for tensioning the chain, or a bolt-thru axle, you do get chainguide mounts (as well as pragmatic rather than pretty touches, such as folded metal cable guides, which keep the price down). The chromoly steel main tubes are upsized for strength over the Swift, and to take a tapered fork of up to 140mm travel, the Buzzard is fronted by a straight 44mm head tube. Combined with the shorter, more easily flicked round rear end, fat rubber capabilty and rearward shifted weight distribution for instant wheelies it’s potentially looking good for more technical trail taming.

    Ride and handling: stunted front

    What Singular has done with the front end definitely puts that techy potential in jeopardy. Rather than extending it to give a longer front centre and a decent reach with the shorter stem needed to make sense of the slack, long fork handling the designers have actually shortened it. Not just a bit either, but by 22mm compared with the Swift, which also makes almost 30mm shorter than many other comparable medium frames. Add the rear shifted rider position and the cramped feel immediately makes you think ‘fit a basket’ not ‘blast it’ up climbs or down descents.

    At 570mm the effective top tube of the buzzard is very short relative to some of its peers, which has a dramatic effect on handling balance:
    At 570mm the effective top tube of the buzzard is very short relative to some of its peers, which has a dramatic effect on handling balance:

    At 570mm the effective top tube of the Buzzard is very short relative to some of its peers, which has a dramatic effect on handling balance

    Even with a super slack head angle, the short front end is prone to tuck in and slither rather than let you properly get weight behind it and drive it hard.

    In its defence getting out of the saddle and working your weight around definitely helps and it’ll pick its way down really steep, tight turning slopes with precision as long as you force your weight back.

    It’s worth working round the geometry if you can as the tubeset definitely has the trademark resilient feel and natural spring of steel when you start clobbering through rocks and roots. That tight back end also kicks well as long as you can keep the front wheel down and avoid kneeing the shifters.

    Singular doesn't have distributors in the US or Australia but will ship worldwide – see www.singularcycles.com/faq for details.

    Specifications as tested:

    • Size: M (also available in L, XL)
    • Weight: 12.41kg / 27.3lb
    • Frame: Double butted 4130 steel
    • Fork: MRP Loop, 140mm
    • Shock: N/A
    • Max Tyre Size: 2.5in

    TRANSMISSION

    • Chainset: Shimano Zee
    • Shifters: Shimano Zee
    • Derailleurs: Shimano Zee (R)
    • Chain: Shimano SLX
    • Bottom Bracket: Mortop Ceramic
    • Cassette: Shimano SLX

    WHEELS

    • Front: Mavic CrossMax XL rim and hub
    • Rear: Mavic CrossMax XL rim and hub
    • Tyres: Mavic Quest, 29x2.4in

    FINISHING KIT

    • Brakes: SRAM Guide, 180/160mm rotors
    • Bars: Renthal flat bars, 750mm
    • Stem: Renthal Duo, 50mm
    • Grips: Hope, lock-on
    • Seatpost: Easton EA30, 31.6mm
    • Saddle: Selle San Marco
    • Headset: Hope
    • Pedals: N/A

    This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.

    Guy Kesteven

    Freelance Writer, UK
    Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
    • Age: 45
    • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
    • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
    • Waist: 76cm / 30in
    • Chest: 91cm / 36in
    • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
    • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
    • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
    • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
    • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
    • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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