Hardtails Rule! Our Stanton Switchback 631 review

We’re BIG fans of Stanton Bikes – they ride like a dream and put up a tough-to-deny argument that hardtails are every bit as fun as full sussers!

Wideopenmag test pilot Taff has been riding the new Stanton Switchback for a few months now. Here’s an update.


Key Features:

  • £550 for the frame
  • Triple butted Reynolds 631 downtube
  • Reynolds 525 seat and chain stays
  • Reynolds 631 44mm headtube
  • 30.9 seat tube with 34.9 clamp
  • 73mm BB
  • Custom inter-changeable dropouts (12 x 142 / 10 x 135)
  • Max tyre size 2.3 (but our 2.35″ tyre fits fine!)

At the beginning of April this year I took delivery of three very exciting boxes – the first contained a Cherry Red Stanton Switchback frame, the second a set of BOS Deville AM 140mm forks and finally a pair of Hope Hoops in 650b.

The time had come to commit. For me at least 26” was dead.

stanton switchback 1
The Switchback fresh out the box back in April.

“I simply couldn’t envisage a time where there wouldn’t be a place in my life for a hardtail”

I’ve always had a hardtail in my collection of bikes and for a long time when I was younger it was all I could afford. More recently when I’ve been lucky enough to have several mountain bikes on the go at the same time, the aggressive do-it-all hardtail has been on the one constant in my collection. Downhill, Freeride, All Mountain, Trail and XC bikes have all come and gone to meet the demands of my current passion, or more cynically, the current fad that has caught my attention. Despite this string of bikes, I simply couldn’t envisage a time where there wouldn’t be a place in my life (and garage) for a hardtail.

Taff used some of the parts from his old 26″ hardtail and upgraded to a new Bos Deville and some Hope wheels.

About this time last year, I took delivery of a 650b long travel Enduro bike. It’s an incredible bike and I love it. It’s so different to anything I’ve had before and it came at a cost that I hadn’t foreseen – my 26” hardtail suddenly felt too short, too steep, too difficult to handle. Try as I might, I just didn’t like my old bike anymore and it was time to get a new one.

“my new hardtail had to be long, low and slack”

I knew that I wanted to standardise my own bikes at 650b for practical reasons, and my new Enduro bike had taught me that my new hardtail had to be long, low and slack. I want to be able to ride everything on it from the local trails, longer XC rides, downhill tracks, dirt jumps. It had to do the lot.

Taff could never get this one on his full suss. Thanks to Belmont Woods, Bristol for the awesome test lab!

I was somewhat surprised to find that the Stanton Switchback was one of very few bikes that met my requirements, in the world of 26” that type of bike seemed to be all over the place. A quick chat with Dan (Mr Stanton) about sizing and spec and the deal was done. Luckily for me, Dan and I are the same height, so the medium “designed for somebody our size” would fit me perfectly.

Merida OneSixty Leaderboard 2023

“the Stanton Switchback was one of very few bikes that met my requirements”

I finished the build with the parts from my old hardtail and ended up with a bike that I loved the look of, even before I’d got it on the trails. The rolling chassis was finished off with a sensible mix of kit that seems like a no brainer for 2015: XT brakes, XT & SLX groupset (1×10 naturally), Rockshox Reverb, Schwalbe Hans Dampfs (2.35, tubeless, naturally), Renthal bars and a Middleburn chainring (narrow-wide, naturally). For what it’s worth, I think that the complete bike comes in at about 28lbs (12.7kg).

Stanton’s industrial head badge. Keep an eye on these though, we’ve had one fall-off on an old test bike. It’s easily reattached with some strong glue and spares are available.

I gathered the normal crew together and we formed a plan for the weekend. Triscombe uplifts would be my first ride and a warren of steep downhill trails littered with jumps, rocks and a metric fuckton of roots. Suddenly I’m torn; this is the perfect terrain for my Enduro bike and I’ve been eying up some pretty big jumps at Triscombe that I’d only hit on the big bike. However the Stanton is brand new and begging to be ridden… OK, let’s do it, let’s have a day of hardtail downhill.

“By mid-afternoon I felt like I’d known the bike for years.”

One uplift and one descent of an old favourite track later and I’ve got a new favourite bike! As the day progressed and I got used to it and started to feel at home, I’d hit all but the roughest sections at the same speed that I would on my full suspension bike. Those jumps I’d been eyeing up and wouldn’t hit on a hardtail? Smashed them. Every one of them. By mid-afternoon I felt like I’d known the bike for years.

A slight frustration with the Slackline was the rear axle… or lack of. I had expected the frame to come with an axle and it was disappointing to then have to go splash out cash on that separately. It’s a minor issue though. Jst remember to order one when you click ‘buy’ on your new frame so you’re not left grounded.

More Belmont Woods whips!

Since the first ride on the Stanton I’ve done as I promised myself and ridden trail centers, XC rides and downhill tracks. I’ve hit dirt jumps that had previously felt out of reach and I’ve kicked the arse off some of my previous Strava times, which is how we judge bikes now, right?

The most telling thing that I can say about this bike is this: I bought it because my new full-suspension, full Carbon, 650b Enduro specific machine was so awesome that it made my old hardtail feel like a heap of crap. That awesome Enduro bike hasn’t been taken off the peg since I took delivery of the Stanton.

Thanks to Taff for his hard work and hard riding to create this review and to Dan at Stanton Bikes for making it happen.

You can check out Stanton’s website at StantonBikes.com.