The first thing that struck me when I saw the bike in the flesh was just how much the round tubes resemble the elegant simplicity of a steel bike. Cable routing is external all the way through with hoses and cables guided under the downtube. A low top tube means that the standover height is good and there is space for one full size water bottle inside the front triangle. Titan employs a welding technique around the head tube called Smooth Welding. It is an advanced welding technique that produces a smoother, more visually appealing finish. It certainly shows on the front end of the bike which blends seamlessly into the various tubes.
On paper, the Silverback Sprada appears to be the Sonic's closest rival. Take a look at the geometry numbers and the Sonic sits somewhere in the middle of the contemporary cross-country bikes (e.g. Pyga Stage, Scott Spark RC, Cannondale Scalpel Si) and more traditional race bikes (e.g. Specialized Epic, Silverback Sesta and Momsen VIPA). While compared to the mighty Anthem X 29er, the Sonic is slacker (70° vs 71.5°) and the chainstays are slightly shorter (455mm vs 462mm).
[spec_list][spec_list_row='Frame']XC/Marathon Full Alloy Race Frame with RDS[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Fork']Rockshox Recon Silver Solo Air with Poplock[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Rear Suspension']Rockshox Monarch RL Air[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Crankset']Shimano XT 36-26T[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Stem']TRC DIRECTECH PRO[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Seatpost']31.6mm TRC PRO[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Handlebar']TRC DIRECTECH PRO flat bar 720mm[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Front Derailleur']Shimano SLX[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Rear Derailleur']Shimano XT[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Brakes']Shimano SLX[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Shifters']Shimano SLX[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Saddle']TRC TRIMTECH[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Hubs']TRC ROTECH[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Rims']Stans ZTR Rapid 32H[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Tyres']Titan TR 29″ X 2.10″ 60tpi Tubeless Ready[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Sizes']17″ / 19″ / 21″[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Actual Weight']13.68kg excl. pedals and bottle mount[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row='Estimated Retail Price']R29 999.00[/spec_list_row][/spec_list]
The Sonic Pro is the top of the range model with a RockShox Recon Silver fork, Monarch RL shock, and a mix of Shimano XT and SLX drivetrain. The rims are Stan's ZTR Rapid while the remainder of the build comes from Titan's own TRC range.
There are a few features I would have liked to have seen on the Sonic. The first is routing for a dropper seatpost. A year or two ago you could have said that I am mad wanting a dropper post on a 100 mm bike, but it has become commonplace for just about all mountain bikes to have dropper routing as standard. Even if, at worst, it is external only. Secondly, it would have been nice to see a better fork on the top of the range model. I am not sure what impact that would have had on the selling price, but with an eye on keeping prices reasonable, it might have been a stretch. Having said that, the fork's performance was not bad
I would have also rather seen the lockout operating the shock instead of the fork. On a dual suspension bike, I would much rather be able to stiffen up the pedalling platform through the shock than the fork. That said, the shock is mounted within convenient reach just below the top tube. If I bought a Sonic, and considering my preference to generally leave the fork open, I would probably remove the remote completely to neaten up the cockpit and to have one less part that can go wrong.
The final tweak for me would be to upsize the frame to increase the reach and then run a shorter stem with wider handlebars. All these changes are very personal with most being an easy fix down the line.
On the Trail
I set the fork's sag to 25% and the shock somewhere between 20% and 25% and headed off on my first ride. Riding the Sonic was refreshing as there seems to be no pretense or expectations. Just a mountain bike doing its job by taking the rider into the mountains. On a boutique bike, if the ride is anything short of life changing one feels a bit done in. With the Sonic, there is not that expectation going in.
On long climbs, the rear suspension benefits from the three-position lockout. I found the middle setting most useful as it offers pedalling platform with some movement left for traction.
Hit the single track and the Sonic shows that it is not shy on the fun stuff. 100 mm of travel can only do so much but the Sonic uses its travel in a predictive and controlled manner giving the rider confidence when it matters most. It's not a hard-hitting trail blazer, but at the same time it is also not a twitchy live-wire ride that wants to throw you over the bars.
The tubeless ready Titan 2.10″ tyres are worth mentioning. The 60tpi compound offers good traction with predictable grip when leaned over. These tyres help to add to the confidence inspiring ride, allowing the rider to focus on the best line choice.
Titan has delivered on their quest to provide a value for money offering that is still a good ride on the trails. The Titan Sonic shows that you do not need a high-end expensive bike to get out and ride, and have fun doing so. There is no reason why you won't be able to tackle your local trails or your favourite stage race on the Sonic Pro.
- Just gets on with it
- Offers weekend warriors on a budget an option into the dual suspension market
- Comes standard with (grippy) tubeless tyres
- On the short size in terms of reach
- It needs platform dampening on long climbs
- Longer reach with a shorter stem would have put the cherry on the cake