Reviewed: Bird Cycleworks Zero hardtail frame

Checking in on Jim and his Bird Cycleworks long-term test bike.

  • 27.5″ wheels
  • 67-66.5 degree static head angle (140-150mm forks)
  • Loads of tire clearance
  • Stealth dropper post routing
  • £375 from www.birdmtb.com

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We’ve had the Zero hardtail frame from Bird MTB on test for a good few months now and it’s fair to say we’ve got the measure of it by now. The neon yellow and pink paint job has turned a fair few heads since hitting the trails in anger and thanks to careful application of heli-tape in a couple of areas is looking just as smart as the day it arrived.

Bird’s the word

The Bird range is entirely built around 650b wheels and the ability to customise absolutely everything on your build. We chose to get hold of the frame-only straight away but if you’re in the market for a full build, or even just frame, forks and wheels they can help you out with some amazing discounts. Bird even do their own carbon rims now!

“the ability to customise absolutely everything on your build.”

It also means that you can eliminate those awkward moments when you take delivery of a brand new bike and immediately swap the handlebars and stem for shorter, wider options, condemning the originals to the parts bin never to see sunlight again. For the purposes of this test we’ll be concentrating on the frame itself, the parts pictured are are a mix of products on test and the result of a rummage through the parts bin.

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First impressions?

First ride impressions were great – for a 4.5ish lb frame it’s very stiff and the familiar geometry of short chainstays and a fairly long front end mean it doesn’t feel out of place when the going gets tough. It’s no disservice to call this a ‘modern’ trail bike – it’s not an XC whippet nor is it a slouch, it’s just good fun. Bird have clearly spent a bit of time comparing what’s available and sorting out a frame that works.

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The design of the Zero is all about taking it back to basics with a sensible spec. A 67 degree static head angle (140mm fork) gives forgiving handling in most situations, plenty of mud clearance for the British weather, direct mount front mech and a tapered headtube tick most of the boxes on our wishlist, no weird standards here.

“The design of the Zero is all about taking it back to basics with a sensible spec.”

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Building up the bike was refreshingly simple, sensible things like having the guides for full length gear cable outers rather than lengths of exposed cable are something even the big manufacturers get wrong. Little touches like the hose port for stealth droppers future-proofs the frame for many years to come. So too does the 142/12mm rear axle, ISCG05 mounts and a 160 post mount brake mount.

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Bird kindly lent us a RockShox Revelation fork to test out and for most people that would probably offer the perfect combination of strength, weight and travel for this sort of bike. If like me you’re on the heavier side and want a bit more travel a 150mm Pike would slacken the headangle out slightly but without unbalancing the bike and increase front end stiffness, creating a great aggressive hardtail.

The Zero’s drivetrain has seen a whole mix of components, from 2×10 and a ‘regular’ mech to 1×10 and a 40t extender cog – all of which are available direct from Bird when you ‘build your own’ on their website and reality you can’t go wrong with either – it’s all down to personal preference.

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Where this bike really comes alive for me is when fitted with a 35-50mm stem and a nice wide bar, it then feels playful on the trails and capable of handling anything you can throw at it. I’d happily take it for a day to BikePark Wales and wouldn’t be too worried about getting out of my depth on blacks and reds.

The verdict

It’s refreshing to see a sensible approach to bike design, none of the frustrating acronyms or marketing bullshit here, just a solid, dependable frame backed up with an lifetime warranty which is transferable to any future owner.

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The Zero is available for £375 frame only, with full builds starting at £995 and running up to £1,850. If you’re in the market for a new ‘hardcore’ hardtail this is definitely worth consideration, there are a few demo days going on – where you can also check out the Bird Aeris full suspension bike.

For more from Bird Cyclesworks check out their website at www.birdmtb.com