Review: Silverback Sesta Pro

It is no secret that the Silverback Sesta's launch has been a long time coming, but instead of rushing to market Silverback took their time to develop and refine the bike until they were completely satisfied. And it shows.

Silverback Sesta Pro 13.jpg

 

Constructed entirely of carbon fibre, including the links, the bike looks sculptured rather than molded. Cables are neatly routed externally as Silverback feels this is an advantage on stage races where ease of maintenance is a high priority. Their XGuide cable management system, as on their other bikes keeps, everything in place. Di2 compatibility future-proofs your purchase by making it upgrade ready.

 

The Sesta Frame


The suspension runs on a combination of bearings and bushes. Bearings where there is a great degree of movement and reliability is expected and bushes where there is very little movement to reduce maintenance requirements. An added benefit of the bushes is that they add lateral stiffness.

 

Silverback Sesta Pro 5.jpg

Silverback Sesta Pro 6.jpg
Silverback Sesta Pro 7.jpgA lot of thought has gone into creating a stiff frame without adding too much weight.

 

With a head angle of 70.5°, seat tube angle of 73.5° and top tube length of 628mm, the Sesta's geometry is comfortably contemporary. Standover height is excellent in all sizes with the top tube and seat tube connecting low down.

 

Features:

  • Full carbon frame and linkages
  • Replaceable Alloy hanger
  • Di2 ready
  • XGuide Cable management System
  • 90mm rear wheel travel
  • 142x12mm Thru Axle
  • Removable Front Derailleur mount
  • Burst Technology suspension design
  • Freeze Strut that adds stiffness and strength to the rear triangle when braking and also directs air to the rear rotor to keep it cooler and avoid brake fade

Components


Silverback use what they call Advanced Riding Dynamics (ARD) when equipping a bicycle. They have identified the frame, fork and wheels as key elements to enhance ride quality and will ensure that for the given price and intended use any bike in their line-up will sport the best wheels, frame and fork possible. Reviewing the Silverback Sprada 2 last year left me convinced that their approach works and on the Sesta Pro the philosophy continues.

 

Fork: A RockShox SID RL has been picked to do duty up front and it is a good choice that matches the rear suspension and overall feel of the bike very well. It is stiff and compliant with a enough of a progressive stroke to avoid harsh bottom outs and diving through the travel.

 

Silverback Sesta Pro 12.jpg
Silverback Sesta Pro 1.jpg

Shock: The Fox Float DPS complements the SID and thanks to its custom tune was easy to setup and fine tune to our liking. There is no remote lock out on offer on any of the models - a sign of Silverback's confidence in their suspension design.

 

Drivetrain: A 1x11 drivetrain comprising of Shimano XT powered by a Race Face Turbine Cinch crankset running a 32T chainring. If I could have my way I would prefer one of SRAM'S 1x11 offerings because, as things currently stand, they offer a wider range. With the 32T chainring I was spinning out from around 35km/h leaving me to coast it out.

 

Brakes: Stopping power is exactly what you would expect from Shimano's XT brakes with a 180mm rotor in front and 160mm rotor at the rear. Performance was great, and more importantly, consistent through the heat range with good modulation and feel.

 

Silverback Sesta Pro 9.jpg
Silverback Sesta Pro 8.jpg

Wheels: ZTR Crests need very little introduction having been the XC wheelset of choice for many years. Some upgrades have recently been announced with the rims going lighter and wider. Although a popular choice potential buyers will either need to check they fall inside the ZTR Crest's 87kg weight limit of the wheels, or ask their LBS to upgrade to Arch EX Rims or, what would be my choice, American Classic Wide Lightning.

 

Silverback Sesta Pro 2.jpg

 

Tyres: The ZTR Crest wheels came wrapped in 2.10 Schwalbe Racing Ralph LiteSkin tyres. Offering a 90g saving over their Snakeskin, Tubeless ready counterparts, these will be the first item on the list to replace. No question. Their paper-thin sidewalls caused the tyres to roll on their carcass with the only partial solution was to increase tyre pressure which lead to a loss in grip and traction and a unnecessarily hard ride. With the overall weight of the bike as competitive as it is I see no need to run these tyres with the compromise and risk of sidewall cuts and punctures. We swapped them out for a set of 2.25 Onza Canis and it transformed the ride. I could drop the pressure to an acceptable low for the rims which increased confidence and fun on the trail no end.

 

Saddle: The saddle features CRN-Ti rails with light foam padding and was immediately comfortable. The colour bits that match the frame are a neat touch, further showcasing the attention to detail on this bike.

 

The finishing kit all comes from Silverback's own Sector range. At 700mm the handlebar is on the narrow side by today's standards and I felt the 90mm stem was a little too long for me. I'd say 720mm should be the minimum width on the Large, but have to admit that the 90mm stem will mostly do for most of the riders who fit a Large.

 

On the Trail


Riding the Sesta at first with the factory tyres was a bit like riding a completely different bike. Although all the signs and promise of a great bike was there, the overall experience was seriously hampered by the LiteSkin Racing Ralphs. Once we had the Onza Canis tyres on the bike was transformed. A bit like fitting proper all terrain tyres on a Jeep after trying to tackle the unknown with highway biased tyres fitted.

 

Silverback Sesta Pro 15.jpgThe Sesta was fitted with a few other review items during its time with us.

 

I found the Sesta Pro to be an excellent climber with a refined suspension design. I was happy to ride it in the full open mode most of the time (I'd say 80%) with the rest of the time spent in Trail mode. With the shock in full open mode there was little to no sign of suspension bob and every pedal stroke translated into forward motion. This is further enhanced by the stiff frame that shows no sign of flex no matter how hard I stomped away.

 

The 90mm of travel on offer felt like more when descending and negotiating rocky, rooty terrain. The early stroke is sufficiently plush with good mid-stroke support leading into gradual ramp towards the end of the stroke to avoid bottom out. The combination of suspension design and shock tune is definitely works well on the Sesta.

 

On single track the Silverback Sesta felt more like a trail 29er than a pure XC or Marathon bike. I'm sure it will be a good one-bike for those looking to challenge KOM's and having fun doing it.

 

Admin’s opinion


Initial impressions of the Silverback Sesta had me excited. From the get go it is a fun bike to ride. The 100mm SID upfront feels a bit more like 120mm thanks to the more slightly relaxed geometry (by XC / marathon bike standards).

 

My first proper outing on the Silverback Sesta was the two day Cell C Arabella challenge. The routes provided perfect test conditions with 40-50km each day on a mix of rocky and sandy terrain, loads of climbing and tight singletrack. Out of the blocks I noticed the want for some more gears with legs spinning furiously on fast descents, but to be fair the early tar downhill at 40km/h+ was the only time I really noticed it.

 

Silverback Sesta Pro 11.jpg

 

Thanks to the light build and stiff frame the Sesta really enjoys climbing. On longer smoother drags I locked out the front and rear for maximum efficiency, but for most purposes I had both front and rear set to trail / pedal modes. In trail mode the rear suspension design performs very well with minimal pedal bob and keeping contact with the trail when needed.

 

Heading downhill the handling is smooth and precise while, like the front, the rear suspension appears to offer a bit more travel than it says on the box. The descents had me smiling until some eroded rocky patches and lack of line choices led to the stock Schwalbe rear tyre giving up its air. After fighting with subsequent snakebite punctures and over an hour stranded I made to call to opt for a more capable tyre for day two.

 

With some beefier Onza Canis 2.25 60tpi I smiled all through day two and despite the added rubber the Sesta still felt good in the climbs. The added grip and confidence they provided were a far better match for a bike which punches above its weight class.

 

Verdict


The long wait for the Sesta has been worth it. Silverback have created a polished dual suspension carbon race bike. The geometry and suspension work together to create a bike that begs to be ridden fast. Considering the level of components, the asking price of R61,500 makes the Sesta a worthy consideration for the bargain hunters. Personal preference would see us changing tyres and possibly the range of gearing but that aside, the Sesta is a great cross-country race bike.

 

 

Specifications


[spec_list][spec_list_row=Frame]SB Advanced Dynamics Carbon 29” Suspension, Tapered 1-1/8” – 1.5” Headtube, Press-Fit BB Shell, Full Carbon Rear Triangle, Carbon linkages, 142 x 12mm Thru Axle Integrated Dropouts, Replaceable Alloy hanger, XGuide Cable management System[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Fork]Rock Shox SID RL, 100mm Travel, Solo Air, Tapered Alloy Steerer, Remote OneLoc Sprint, QR15mm Dropout, Diffusion Black[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row="Rear shock"]Fox Float DPS, 3 Position Adjustments, 90mm travel, 165mm x 38mm, Stainless Steel 10mm hardware[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Rims]Stan's Crest 29”, Alloy 32H, Stan’s Yellow Rimtape and Valves, Black, Custom Decal colours[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Hubs]Stan's 3.30, 100 x 15mm front and 142 x 12mm rear Axles, 6-Bolt, Disc hubs, Black[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Tyres]Schwalbe Racing Ralph EVO, 29" x 2.1", Tubeless Ready, Folding[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Stem]Sector Radius, 3D Forged 6061 Alloy, S/M: 80mm; L: 90mm, 7° x ∮31.8mm, Stainless Steel hardware, Black[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Handlebar]Sector Plane, Double Butted 6061 Alloy, W: 700mm; Back Sweep: 9° x ∮31.8mm, Matte Marble, Black[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Seatpost]Sector Level, CNC 6061 Alloy shaft, ∮31.6mm x 400mm, Black bolts[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Saddle]Sector Performance, CRN-Ti Rails[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Brakeset]Shimano XT BL/BR-M8000, Open Hydraulic System, Metal Pads, Levers Rotors Front: 180mm; Rear: 160mm, 6-Bolt, Black[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Shifters]Shimano XT SL-M8000, 1x11 Trigger, Black[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row="Rear derailleur"]Shimano XT Shadow Tech Plus RD-M8000, Long Cage, 11 Speed[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Cassette]Shimano XT CS-M8000, 11 Speed, 11-42T, Silver[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Crankset]Raceface Turbine Cinch Crankset 32T, L:175mm, All Sizes, Black[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row="Bottom bracket"]Raceface BB92[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row="Actual weight"]11.61kg (Includes Shimano XT Trail pedals, Steel Bottle Cage, Garmin Quarter Turn Mount, Onza Canis 2.25 TL tires)[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row="Retail price"]R61 500 (Sesta Team R76 999)[/spec_list_row][/spec_list]




65 Comments

Moridin, May 10 2016 02:11

I was planning to get this frame for my son doing XCO racing, until I saw how little clearance there is between the tyre and the chainstay.  It will cause way too much problems in a muddy race.  I am almost surprised by this oversight, seeing as it was designed in Europe.

Ofaniy, May 10 2016 02:19

Love it, think I'll just order mine now

dirtypot, May 10 2016 02:20

Awesome bike!  I'd love one.

 

No mention in the article about the change to a Fox fork? A bright orange one nogal.  And the Chaoyang tyre in the front?

Hairy, May 10 2016 02:21

just a link to a clip of a euro / gbr racer setup of the sesta

 

Nick, May 10 2016 02:22

Awesome bike!  I'd love one.

 

No mention in the article about the change to a Fox fork? A bright orange one nogal.  And the Chaoyang tyre in the front?

 

Read the image caption? It's all we're going to say for now.

Hairy, May 10 2016 02:22

Awesome bike!  I'd love one.

 

No mention in the article about the change to a Fox fork? A bright orange one nogal.  And the Chaoyang tyre in the front?

Iwan alluded to other parts / bits going onto the frame during the testing period in order to give them a test

dirtypot, May 10 2016 02:26

Read the image caption? It's all we're going to say for now.

A minor oversight  :ph34r:

koukie, May 10 2016 03:09

I was planning to get this frame for my son doing XCO racing, until I saw how little clearance there is between the tyre and the chainstay.  It will cause way too much problems in a muddy race.  I am almost surprised by this oversight, seeing as it was designed in Europe.

My brother is riding this frame for about 5 months now and so far he never had any issues with clearance. And he is a person that is pedantic about small things like that. He did complain about the new SID though, he prefers the older FOX that was on his old bike. I wonder if that is the reason for the FOX on the test bike.   

Captain Fastbastard Mayhem, May 10 2016 03:11

Reason for the fox on the test bike was to test the fork as part of the review process for said fork. Was just swapped out as the bike was there. 

Iwan Kemp, May 10 2016 04:57

My brother is riding this frame for about 5 months now and so far he never had any issues with clearance. And he is a person that is pedantic about small things like that. He did complain about the new SID though, he prefers the older FOX that was on his old bike. I wonder if that is the reason for the FOX on the test bike.   

 

Nope, like I said in the review the SID is a great match to the rear suspension and overall feel of the bike. It's been a while since I've enjoyed a 32. Admittedly the pogo / flexy feel of the 32 is less of an issue in shorter travel guise. 

Iwan Kemp, May 10 2016 04:59

I was planning to get this frame for my son doing XCO racing, until I saw how little clearance there is between the tyre and the chainstay.  It will cause way too much problems in a muddy race.  I am almost surprised by this oversight, seeing as it was designed in Europe.

 

I checked the clearance with the 2.25 Canis and it was good. No 100mm XC frame will have super clearance for the worst of conditions. Best I've seen to date (that I can remember now) is the new Scalpel. Ample clearance. 

DJuice, May 10 2016 06:22

The question: how does it compare to the Vipa and Cube Ams 100?

Matchstix, May 10 2016 06:31

Rocky can run a 2.4 conti x-king on the rear of the element.

andrewgowans, May 10 2016 07:01

Nope, like I said in the review the SID is a great match to the rear suspension and overall feel of the bike. It's been a while since I've enjoyed a 32. Admittedly the pogo / flexy feel of the 32 is less of an issue in shorter travel guise. 

 

A Revelation 120 has been a massive improvement over the Fox 32 on my Vipa. Works beautifully with the Fox shock. Suspect it would be great on this frame as well.

Moridin, May 10 2016 08:21

I checked the clearance with the 2.25 Canis and it was good. No 100mm XC frame will have super clearance for the worst of conditions. Best I've seen to date (that I can remember now) is the new Scalpel. Ample clearance. 

 

Yes, but I am fastidious, as always.  :ph34r:

 

Like these pics from the past Junior WC race at Cascades.  Both pics are Sesta's.  2 racers.  Both had to pack up after one lap.  But then, pretty much half the field had to abandon.  :w00t:

 

sesta_mud_1.jpg

 

sesta_mud_2.jpg

Talk Wrench, May 10 2016 09:10

Yes, but I am fastidious, as always.  :ph34r:

 

Like these pics from the past Junior WC race at Cascades.  Both pics are Sesta's.  2 racers.  Both had to pack up after one lap.  But then, pretty much half the field had to abandon.  :w00t:

 

attachicon.gifsesta_mud_1.jpg

 

attachicon.gifsesta_mud_2.jpg

That's the problem with most of the lighties and Saffers in general. They have one pair of favourite tackies for their bikes and don't take mud tyres to races. I have changed tyres minutes before the start at Nationals in the past, people looking at me like they know I am mad, only for them to later wonder how the heck did I manage the mud so well. 

 

Locals have also not learned from the up and coming has-beens with a very bright future behind them. If it is stupid-muddy, then you wipe the whole frame down with silicone spray (dispense onto cloth first) or spray and cook. 

 

Mud tyres are not open tread 2.25" tyres. They are open tread 1.8 or 1.95 max.  My personal favourite is/was the Bontrager Mud-X.

 

Personally, I ride a Sesta. I might not be as fast on a flat or a climb as I used to be but most of the time and especially on the descents I ride it like I stole it and these sleds rock(et). This bike has a sense of poise, balance and unreal tracking on a descent that I have yet to encounter in another competitor.

 

Best handling 29'er I have ridden, and I have ridden many.

Rocket-Boy, May 10 2016 09:15

Rocky can run a 2.4 conti x-king on the rear of the element.

So a 2.2 in normal tyres then...

Rocket-Boy, May 10 2016 09:16

Yes, but I am fastidious, as always.  :ph34r:

 

Like these pics from the past Junior WC race at Cascades.  Both pics are Sesta's.  2 racers.  Both had to pack up after one lap.  But then, pretty much half the field had to abandon.  :w00t:

 

attachicon.gifsesta_mud_1.jpg

 

attachicon.gifsesta_mud_2.jpg

I watched that race, there wasnt anyone with turning wheels and most of the field abandoned after the first lap.

It was mad how riders were ditching their wheels and carrying frames.

Moridin, May 10 2016 09:48

Anyway, I was nitpicking.

 

For affordable XCO dual sussers, there are basically this new Sesta, the Vipa, and what else? My son likes the Canyon Lux, but I told him to forget about that one as they don't ship to SA AFAIK.

 

This is why I am keeping my eye on the Sesta.  He will be racing Juniors next year, and the courses keep on getting more and more technical.  Which is where these machines comes in handy.

DoubleJ, May 11 2016 04:49

Anyway, I was nitpicking.
 
For affordable XCO dual sussers, there are basically this new Sesta, the Vipa, and what else? My son likes the Canyon Lux, but I told him to forget about that one as they don't ship to SA AFAIK.
 
This is why I am keeping my eye on the Sesta.  He will be racing Juniors next year, and the courses keep on getting more and more technical.  Which is where these machines comes in handy.


This one time, when I was very young, my dad almost bought me a pair of rugby boots....almost.

Toxic, May 11 2016 05:12

I just don't like this bike... don't know why...

Iwan Kemp, May 11 2016 06:43

Rocky can run a 2.4 conti x-king on the rear of the element.

 

Those run narrow, don't they?

 

Yes, but I am fastidious, as always.  :ph34r:

 

Like these pics from the past Junior WC race at Cascades.  Both pics are Sesta's.  2 racers.  Both had to pack up after one lap.  But then, pretty much half the field had to abandon.  :w00t:

 

attachicon.gifsesta_mud_1.jpg

 

attachicon.gifsesta_mud_2.jpg

 

A bit unfair using that event as an example. Lesson learned (hopefully) to have some mud tyres in the spares box at all events.

Captain Fastbastard Mayhem, May 11 2016 06:58

Those run narrow, don't they?
.

Now that is an understatement

Matchstix, May 11 2016 07:00

The x-kings a a bit narrow, but can be compared to a 2.3/2.35

Captain Fastbastard Mayhem, May 11 2016 07:23

I'd say it's about the same as the 2.25 canis