At a glance
Described by Stanton as the twentyniner that doesn’t act like one, the Switch9er sports a progressvie geometry for playful handling and technical riding. The frame is available in steel and titanium, comes with swappable dropouts, ISCG05 mounts, stealth dropper routing and the Ti version weighs in at 1.9kg while its steel brother puts 2.65kg on the scales.Buy Hard Tails on
Price: from 2099 GBP (frame only)
First of all, you might ask why on earth a hardtail? Are you against technology or progression? You don’t enjoy the grip and comfort modern fullies provide? I know there is a lot to explain. Hardtails have a few good points that you can’t really argue with. They’re simple, easier to clean and maintain and there is less chance of a missed ride because of a blown shock, wonky bearings or squeaky pivot points. Riding a hard tail is hard work. Now not everyone enjoys hard work, but I personally like picking lines, turning the rock gardens into flow and being precise about my line choice. Last but not least I think if you’re serious about biking, you should have a spare bike in the shed. Always. Lead times are getting better, but if the risk of not riding because your fully’s shocks are being serviced is unbearable for you, it’s best to have a spare bike in the shed. Does it need to be a titanium superbike? No, it doesn’t need to, but why not if it can?
Unboxing the Switch9er it’s impossible not to appreciate the workmanship that went into this piece of art. Perfect welds highlight the gorgeous titanium tubing and small details like the dropouts, cable routing and laser etched logos really finish off the frame that will be the base of a hard charging, long lasting hardtail.
We build the bike with trusty components and a 150mm travel fork, but in this review we will solely judge the Stantons’ ride performance and not its components.
Geometry wise, the first thing you notice when you land on the Stanton website is that there are only two sizes available. Either a 16’’ or 18’’. Have no fear however, as the geometry is created to have a good riding position from 167 cm to 193 cm with plenty of overlap to size up or down if you’re of average height. With my 188 cm the 18’’ version was the obvious choice, and it felt spot on. Reach on this size is a whopping 483mm and the 428mm chainstays create an extremely playful ride. Just the thought of a wheelie and you’re already doing one. Head angle is set at 65.5 degrees, not extreme by today's standards but you can always opt for an angle set if you like.
The exchangeable dropouts means you can swap effortlessly between 12 x 148, 12 x 142, 10 x 135 or horizontal. Standard it comes supplied with 12 x 148 unless you specify different dropouts with your order. Warranty wise, Stanton truly believes in their products and they come with a lifetime warranty. Another cool detail is the customizability of the decals. When placing your order, you can opt for various finishes and colorways with no or limited upcharge.
Out on the trail
After building the frameset up, it was finally time to head into the woods. First meters were definitely awkward, as I haven't ridden a hardtail (besides my pump track bike) in the last 10 years. The power transfer from the pedals was amazingly responsive (duh) and I don’t even need to go into the way the terrain was transferred into the saddle.
Turning into the trail is where stuff started to get really interesting. Yes, it’s a helluva lot bumpier than the regular fully I ride, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as expected. The titanium frame does a miraculous job on dampening the vibrations and combined with a tire insert / tubeless setup I’d dare to call the ride comfy even. Pleasant surprise!
Climbing out of the saddle feels good too, the chainstays are so short there is very little material left to flex. Technical climbs are not this bike's piece of pie though. It’s hard to keep traction and although the pedaling position is comfortable, it’s not designed for steep uphills. Steady grinding up the gravel road however is something you could do all day on the Switch9er. The lack of weight does a good job helping to improve the climbing experience, I bet if you slap some fast rolling XC hoops on there you’d even do well at the local XC race.
The most important bit, in my humble opinion of course, is how it descends. No reason to bother going up if the down isn’t any fun is there? The first descent was definitely an eye opener. How can a hardtail be such a skilled descender? Obviously line choice had to be adapted, but the Stantons geometry challenged you to come out and play. Jump off this root, ping of the rock and manual to the next corner. This bike wants to play like a Jack Russel with a new ball!
Cornering feels balanced, and combined with some proper grippy tires you can push this bike far. Local XC loop? Sure. Afternoon laps in the bikepark? No problem. Bivvy night with some friends? Sure, strap on the bags and let’s go! The Switch9er quickly became one of the most used bikes in the shed, even more than the E-MTB!
Still, you might ask, what’s the fun of a hardtail? Personally I love line choice. Finding flow in gnarly rock sections or being able to link a set of difficult corners without losing momentum. That kind of stuff. And with the Switch9er you have a perfect playmate for this type of riding. And after a bit of practice, you’ll be surprised how fast you can take it, albeit with a little less control than on the full susser.
Is there anything we would change? Yes. Coming from a daily driver with a slack (63 degrees) head angle, the 65.5 felt a little off and when speeds increased the bike got a bit twitchy. With something like a 64 or 63 head angle this would be a beast! Anything else? Well, perhaps a larger size option available for the taller riders. The 18’’ felt spot on for my height (188cm) but I can imagine it being too short for anyone over 190cm.
The Switch9er Ti is by far the most practical piece of art we swung a leg over. The build quality and finish is second to none, while the handling is playful and daring you to go big. The price point is not for the faint at heart, but this is a bike you will build with the future in mind. A lasting piece of art that creates many smiles over the years. If the 2k price tag is a bit steep, make sure to have a look at its steel brother. That one retails for just under 600 GBP!Buy Hard Tails on
This review was in Issue 72 of IMB.For more information visit Stanton Bikes
By Jarno HooglandJarno's life has revolved around two wheels ever since he swung a leg over his first BMX at age 4. After a BMX and DH racing career, he moved on to work for bike shops, distributors and brands before ending up in the editors seat at IMB. Based in the ultimate testing ground in the Swiss mountains, he runs his guiding operation and makes sure every IMB issue is filled with top notch content.