PROPAIN SPINDRIFT CF MIXED REVIEW
Words by Robert Johnston
Photos by Adam Lievesley
With Propain releasing their updated Hugene and Tyee models over the past couple years, next up was the big hitting, happy climbing “super enduro” machine that is the Spindrift. In line with its shorter travel siblings, the Propain Spindrift sees the same silhouette, featuring the evolved Pro10 linkage system with the shock now located inside the front triangle. With their Tyee offering stellar performance on the downs, I was intrigued to see if the Spindrift could surpass its capabilities. Thankfully Propain were happy to provide the Spindrift CF and we got right to giving it a thorough bashing.
Propain have brought a large range of options to the table with the Spindrift. You can choose from their Blend Carbon or Blend Alloy frame constructions, both available with two 27.5 wheels, mixed wheel sizes (running a 29” on the front and 27.5” on the rear), or a full 29” setup. Each with dedicated frames that maintain optimal geometry for each wheel configuration. Sizes S-XL are on offer with equal 20mm jumps in seat tube length from 420-480mm paired with 25mm reach jumps in top tube length from 425mm to 500mm.
Small-sized riders can only select a 27.5 model, which is smart considering the height that the long travel fork and 29er wheel give the front end. Extra-large bikes come with 29-inch wheels. Riders of the medium and large sizes have the privilege of selecting from any of the three wheel configurations, depending on their preference for speed or play.
Across all options is the shared 180mm of rear travel, courtesy of the PRO10 twin link, floating shock system; 64.5-degree head angle; and 78-degree seat angle (effective). It’ll come as no surprise that a 29er wheel out back comes with a longer 445mm chainstay opposed to the relatively compact 435mm rear end of the 27.5 and mixed frames. Static bottom bracket heights are on the higher side of the spectrum at 10mm drop on the 27.5 and 23mm on the 29er, but it’s important to factor in the healthy amount of sag that’ll result in a more normal position once on the bike. A 29er wheel with the 180mm fork (with an even lengthier 190mm option offered) produces a very high front end and results in huge 608-660mm stack heights through the size ranges, so it’s important to consider this before slapping on your favorite high rise bars.
Propain have continued to evolve their PRO10 system and for the Spindrift they designed a healthy amount of anti-squat for the time spent spinning the legs, with a coil-friendly level of progression for dealing with the heaviest of hits whilst retaining sensitivity earlier in the travel. The shock sits neatly contained between the compact links, protecting it from the firing line of mud coming off the rear wheel whilst still retaining room for a decent sized bottle. Propain’s Spindrift sports many up to date geometry numbers and kinematics with a wide range of options to cater for the widest range of riders. Seat tube lengths may need some consideration for the shorter-legged individuals, but most should still be able to run a decent length dropper in their appropriate size.
Looking at the finer details, Propain have moved to SRAM’s UDH (universal derailleur hanger) system for mounting the derailleur, which seems to be gaining acceptance across the board and should make sourcing a replacement easier in a difficult situation. They use a replaceable ISCG system which avoids any tears if the bash guard sees a serious impact. Propain Bikes also reassessed their cable routing and managed to package it internally with some clean over-BB routing, which removes any low-hanging cables from the danger zone. Propain’s “dirt shield” frame hardware is still in place to add another level of sealing to the frame pivots, which should help them to spin smoothly for seasons to come. Dual-compound integrated frame protection should keep the Spindrift’s huge tubing from sustaining any serious damage in normal use and does an effective job of deadening chain-slap noises in all but the roughest terrain.
Propain Bicycles’ direct sales model continues to offer great value with their bike configurator offering a great level of customization from individual component choice through to the color of the headtube badge. Starting at roughly $3,050 for the base-spec Aluminum framed bike, you can opt for the carbon model to save 1kg of frame weight and leave your wallet $700 lighter. Even this base spec model is remarkably shred-ready, featuring a Rock Shox ZEB R fork mated to a Select R coil shock; full SRAM GX drivetrain with G2 brakes; with good quality Propain and Sixpack finishing components. For those seeking a bike spec’d with the latest and greatest, the full bells-and-whistles CF model will run you roughly $8,450 (€7254) and comes with full Fox Factory suspension; carbon Crankbrothers Synthesis wheels; and an X01 AXS drivetrain.
We were very lucky to have the opportunity to get our mitts on a Spindrift prior to its release, allowing us to put it to the test for an extended period across the UK’s finest terrain and really see where it excels. The Scottish gem that is the Tweed Valley provided the ultimate test grounds once I had figured out the setup of the size large, mixed wheel model featuring a variation on their Performance level build kit, including the monstrous 190mm Rock Shox ZEB out front and retailing for roughly $5,300. A big day in the saddle on the root-infested steeps followed by a day uplifting in the bike park allowed for the limits to be tickled and its characteristics to shine through.