Review by: Matt Eagar
Over nearly two decades in our market, Titan Racing has earned a reputation as a brand that delivers a lot of bike for your money. The Cypher dual suspension mountain bike is no exception and delivers value across the range that is tough to beat.
The Cypher platform is available in two variants: 1) Cypher RS with 100mm front and rear travel and 2) Cypher with 120mm front and rear travel. Either option is available as a full carbon or aluminium frame. We tested the race-ready, range topping Cypher RS Carbon Ultimate.
The full carbon frame has all you’d want and expect: internal cable routing for a clean look, a threaded bottom bracket, a flip-chip for the geometry tinkerers and, yes, it has room for two bottles within the front triangle on all sizes except small.
Both Cypher variants share the same frame but make use of shocks with different stroke lengths to achieve the 120mm travel vs. 100mm travel. In designing the Cypher, the team at Titan opted for the well proven horst-link suspension layout.
The Cypher RS Carbon Ultimate is drizzled in all high-end componentry, starting with SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS wireless shifting, top-spec Fox Factory suspension and the “bullet proof” DT Swiss XRC 1501 carbon wheelset.
ON THE BIKE
Let’s get this out the way first up: absent any podium ambitions, I don’t regard myself as the intended buyer of this racier Cypher sibling. Having become perhaps too dependent on dropper posts, navigating a rigid seatpost and a little less travel upfront (100mm vs. 120mm) was a somewhat daunting prospect.
After a few awkward encounters with the pointy end of the saddle, my brain and body remembered that we all once rode (and mostly survived) sans dropper post. And once those jitters settled and biases faded, the bike was a whole lot of fast and fun on my local Tokai trails. For my middle of the curve trail appetite, the 100mm rear travel on the Cypher RS went surprisingly far. In fact, I’d say I’d go so far as to say it’s probably enough for my typical riding and the majority of riders in South Africa.
The bike handled itself well on descents, thriving on smoother flowing trails where it urges you to push harder and throw the bike about just a little. On the mildly technical trails you might encounter in a stage race or marathon event it felt solid and composed. However, even with the seat post manually dropped, on steeper technical terrain I did feel the limits of the skinny front end in terms of rubber, travel, and that hint of flex in the fork. While the non-RS version exists with 120mm front and rear out the box, I can’t help but imagine this RS with a slightly burlier 120mm fork and a dropper post being the magic mix for any stage race middle-marker like myself who enjoys a trail or two most weekends.
As you might expect, the bike climbs well. At 11.25kg on our scales, it’s not the lightest in this class but it feels sufficiently light on the trail. The reasonably steep seat tube angle makes for a comfortable and efficient climbing position. Add in the dual position remote lockout and the ease of Eagle AXS it’s all very easy when it comes to controls. Even in open mode the bike feels smooth and efficient on climbs without being too active. And, when you need it, full lockout is just a click away.
Dual remote lockout may not be to everyone’s taste in terms of form or function. I’m not a fan of the extra clutter it adds to what would be a pristine part-wireless cockpit, but I have to admit that it’s convenient when you’re in a pinch.
Overall the Cypher RS felt great. It’s fast, nippy and fun on tight single-tracks while surprisingly tolerant and stable in the more techy stuff. Out of the box the setup is just about perfect for many of the typical marathon stage races in South Africa. The beauty of the Cypher frame is that it’s a bit of a Swiss army knife. Whether you’re buying the Cypher or the Cypher RS, you’ve got some tune-ability in the flip chip and the option of running 120mm or 100mm with a few tweaks.
While the SRAM vs. Shimano and Fox vs. Rockshox troops might nitpick some choices, the component spec of Cypher RS Carbon Ultimate really does not put a foot wrong for a race-oriented 100mm mountain bike. Couple all that with a five year multi-user warranty and an unbelievably good price tag, I’m left asking why anyone would consider a “big global brand” spending at least 40% more in the process?
WORDS: Matt Eagar – Bike Hub | IMAGES: Iwan Kemp | LOCATION: Cape Town