Look at the website of Pinnacle creators Evans Cycles and you’ll see that the 2009 Expede is basically the ’08 version but £200 cheaper. Not that that’s a bad thing…
First up, weight. The Expede is 1.5lb lighter than the Merida, and while that might not sound a lot, it makes a real difference in pick-up whenever the path ahead suddenly goes up. The Pinnacle was always the one creating gaps, while making its rider feel great ?in the process.
Its overall build is skinnier than the Merida, and the ride is far springier and smoother off-road. The carbon-legged fork is also a lot flexier, helping to suck the sting out of rocks and roots off road, and potholes and other trauma on road. It meant we pushed the Pinnacle a lot harder on descents and more technical trails, just because it soaked up more of the shock before it got to our wrists and retinas.
Frame angles are also steeper than the Merida, combining with a shorter stem for a much more responsive and immediate ride on tighter, technical woodland trails. There’s always a flipside, though, and the shock-absorbing flex of the Expede also exhibits itself when you’re trying to keep it straight. The fork wanders about in random rocky situations, and has a real tendency to get trapped and tram-lined into ruts. And the amount of juddering during low-speed braking was shocking, with the front wheel skipping down the tarmac when you really haul on the anchors.
In the Expede you’re getting a £1,000 bike for £800, and this becomes apparent when you look at the frame. For a start, you get both a carbon-fibre bladed fork and seatstay section. The integrated headset also gets a gusset underneath to help spread stress, but the welding is a bit ropey here (and in a few other places). Also, while the bottom-bracket shell is ring-reinforced, the triangular-shaped top tube has the point on the underside (not good for shouldering the bike up climbs you can’t ride). Flexy wheels also contribute to the control-sapping ride, making this a bike that’s better described as ‘point and hope’ rather than ‘point and shoot’.
Mudguards will be a squeeze, too, and there are no rack mounts for commuter/cargo duty. The stripped-down approach does help build a lighter overall bike than the Merida, though, which is a definite bonus.
Apart from that, the majority 105 transmission is a real coup at this cost, and the FSA chainset gets ‘proper’ 46/36 chainrings. The centre ridge tyres aren’t as comfy or grippy as the Merida’s, but they’re faster on the hard stuff.
The brakes are a lot more powerful, which let the Pinnacle pull ahead on descents as well as climbs. Crank, bar and stem dimensions are all size-specific, with the ATS stem system giving easy washer-free ride height adjustment. The shallow drop ‘compact’ bars are really good off-road, although the saddle is a bit firm for rattling along farm tracks.
Frame Pinnacle a7 custom butted aluminium with carbon stays
ForksPinnacle carbon/alloy cross
Groupset Shimano 105 RD-5600 20-speed gears with FSA Gossamer compact MegaExo cranks; Avid Shorty 4 cantilevers with Shimano 105 ST-5600 levers
Wheels A-Class ALX-200 Wheelset with WTB Cross Wolf 700 x 32mm tyres
Cockpit FSA Omega compact bars with Pinnacle P-Fit TM-3 stem
Seating Selle San Marco Ponza K saddle on FSA SP-SL-280 seatpost
Weight 20.9lb (9.48kg) without pedals
Sizes S, M, L, XL
Contact : www.pinnacle-bikes.co.uk