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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform