Cycling review: Pipedream Skookum 29er Titanium

'Built for muddy trails, perfect for tackling potholes'

A A A

Price: £2,699 (£989 frame only)
Available sizes: 16, 18, 20
Frame:
Aerospace grade titanium tubing
Gearing: Single-speed Gate Carbon belt drive
Weight (kg): 11.3

There are probably other contenders, but for my money Marylebone High Street is the worst road for cyclists in London. It's certainly one of the most polluted, but it's the potholes that cause me most grief. The scarred and battered road surface is slap-bang in the middle of my cycle commute and its asphalt lacerations cause me pain and punctures all year round.

But the past few weeks I've been cruising down it with ease. That's because instead of my carbon-fibre racer, I've been riding a new Pipedream Skookum 29er Titanium. The oddly named trail bike has giant handlebars, an upright cycling position, just one speed and a powerful suspension set-up. Together, this doesn't suggest an ideal commuter bike and its natural habitat is a rugged mountain trail but NW1's roughest patch has been a breeze this week.

I did test the Skookum off-road on some tougher routes, but it's in town where I've made a discovery. City cyclists should forget about speed, we should be getting our exercise in comfort on one of these. Let me explain; this weekend I'm tackling the London to Brighton Night Ride for the British Heart Foundation. It kicks off late at night from Clapham Common and races the sun to the beach.

Of course, I'll take my road bike but I don't always have time to fit in a long training ride during the week. And this off-road beast offers the ideal alternative commuter bike for some last-minute training. It uses thick off-road wheels and a single-speed belt drive, which means it's a bugger to get up any real speed on the road, as opposed to a rocky path in the Highlands where it excels. In short, each time you pull away from lights, it's like pumping out a spinning class's worth of energy.

There's another bonus, too. It uses a belt drive made from tough plastic instead of a normal chain, which means it never needs oiling. The belt drive is silent but, because the bike is fitted with one of those hubs that clicks away when you free wheel, the silent commuter effect is diminished. That said, it's useful to let people know you are coming. It's not a new technology – it uses the same basic principle that your car's cam belt relies on – but it is becoming popular.

In all seriousness, this is a bike that's designed to hammer down muddy paths and it doesn't come cheap. My test build was close to £3,000 including that nifty belt drive and it's ultra-light titanium frame but also a shock-absorbing suspension and a dropper seat post, which fully extends during climbs for proper leg extension and lets you drop it down for descent so you can lower your centre of gravity.

My bum has enjoyed the break, but if the price is putting you off Pipedream also offers a steel-framed version called the Skookum 29er R853 at a much more affordable £395. The Skookum 29er Titanium couldn't be more different from my normal ride then, but all I need to really love it is an extreme mountain bike trail just off the Marylebone High Street.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea