PIPEDREAM SIRIUS S5 REVIEW PART 2…

I have spent a solid chunk of time riding the Sirius as my only trail bike logging ~500kms of SS riding through Fall & early Winter. So I figured it was time for the next part of my review. This bike went together very well. Other than futzing with the SS gear ratio for a bit it was pretty much a success right out of the gate. Sometimes bikes just mesh with my body/riding style without a lot of adjustment and the Sirius was one of these machines. Coming on the heels of the very long Cotic BFeMAX I wanted a hardtail that was fun and easy to ride well. The Sirius ticked those boxes.

In terms of handling the smaller frame is easy to put exactly where I want it on the trail and it can be maneuvered to make the most of any trail features. It’s playful and wants to pop into the air or carve a turn sharply at will. The 140mm fork allows it to tackle higher speeds and steeper terrain without feeling unstable. I hate to use an absolute term like “perfect” in a review, but the Sirius is tempting me to. I think it’s fair to say that for techy trail riding this is the best handling hardtail I’ve ridden.

The longer fork rotates the bike backwards making the STA slacker. I really like this as a steep STA on a hardtail is not comfortable for me. When a hardtail sags its fork the STA gets noticeably steeper so it doesn’t have to start super steep with the rider off the bike. The shorter chainstays work well for me climbing seated and standing as it is easy for me to keep weight on that rear tire maintaining solid traction.

I know llllloooooonnnnnnggggg bikes are fashionable right now and the Sirius is a long bike compared to a hardtail I would have ridden in 2013 like my Surly Krampus. It’s just not long compared to what a lot of people my size would buy today. The common wisdom is that long bikes are more stable and more confidence inspiring to ride. That’s true to an extent, but it fails for me in a few ways. #1 – I ride tight techy forest trails so I can’t hit 120% speed in a straight line for long. I’m always slowing down, turning, and adjusting my line. #2 – On a long bike I don’t feel connected to the tires as well and that makes me slow down when dealing with challenges like slippery off-camber roots or slick rock slabs. #3 – I find it harder to properly weight the rear tire on steeper climbs with longer chainstays, which means I can’t get up tech sections I would on a shorter bike. When you take all these factors and add them up the result is a long bike isn’t more capable for me.

The combination of a nice steel frame, 140mm coil fork, 29 x 2.6″ tires, a rear tire insert and metal rims gives this bike a very comfortable ride quality. There is no forgetting it’s a hardtail, but for a bike without rear suspension it’s remarkably easy on the body. I don’t come back from a 3hr rocky/rooty ride feeling beat up. The total package hits a sweet spot for me.

The same goes for the riding position. The Sirius has a low Stack and if I was running this bike with a 100mm fork, low rise bars and my stem slammed I would be in pain every ride and probably sell it fast. Using a 140mm fork with 70mm rise bars and 50mm of spacers really gets the bars up a lot higher and puts me into a position I can pedal seated well, I can stand and hammer strongly, or stand and charge downhill confidently. I would be a lot happier if the Sirius had a higher Stack, but at least there are some relatively easy ways to get around that part of the design.

So what about riding a SS trail bike? Is it a practical option? I must admit that riding SS has turned out to be more fun and more capable than I expected it would. I can get around most of the trails I want to ride without walking and the feeling of riding the SS bike very actively is an engaging experience that puts a smile on my face. This experiment has been positive enough I plan to keep a SS trail bike option in the fleet and ride it a lot.

Despite all those sunny comments there are downsides to riding SS. There are some climbs that I just can’t get up SS. Jumping off and pushing isn’t the end of the world, but it does alter the flow of the ride. Plus I get great satisfaction cleaning hard climbs. Riding a SS bike with geared bikes isn’t ideal. When they go fast [flats, rolling & downhill] I am slower and when they are slower on the climbs I want to stand and hammer as fast as I can. It’s also hard to have a relaxed SS ride. I am always trying to keep up my momentum and be ready for the next challenge. Finally riding SS on bigger rides in new areas can be hard. Both because SS burns a lot of energy and because riding blind means I can’t ride as efficiently as trails I know.

I plan to ride SS a lot when I am solo on my standard 2-3hr loops on well know trails. That maximizes the fun of SS and minimizes the negatives. For group rides where I want to have the same pace as everyone else I’ll ride gears. If I am going to do a big exploratory ride in a new area I’ll also ride gears. That doesn’t mean I won’t ever take the Sirius on group rides or do any exploring. I’ll just pick my battles carefully when I do try harder SS rides.

Looking forward what tweaks/mods do I want to make to the Sirius? Honestly pretty much none. This bike rides so well that I don’t feel any particular motivation to make changes. I suppose I might adjust the gearing slightly, if I was buying a new dropper I’d get a 175mm unit, and I may fit a second bottle come the heat of summer. Those are pretty minor changes. This bike just works! I love it.

I did swap the 170mm cranks for 175mm ones. Only because I needed the shorter cranks on another build with a low BB. The longer cranks feel a bit different, but I can’t really say they are better or worse.

That’s all I have for now. I’ll ride the Pipedream Sirius for the rest of 2022 and come back with a longer term review to see how it handles extended mileage.

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