One of our most popular bikes is the Hammerhead 130x, a.k.a. Switchback Unveil 9 (the difference is in the decals only - the bikes are identical... it's a long story). We've noticed there aren't many reviews of these awesome high-end bang-for-your-buck trail bikes, so we thought we'd get in touch with some of our old customers to get a handful of reviews after months of riding. Here's what they say:
Menno bought a frame off us and fitted the running gear from his old 29er:
"After two years on my old 29er I decided I wanted to upgrade to a more trail orientated bike, rather than buying a whole new bike I came across the Switchback frame for a very good price, since the conversion I could not be happier with the upgrade, the bike handles the trails so much better, especially cornering and the general ride on the roots and rocks. And for a bike with 130mm rear travel I climbs well too."
"The Hammerhead is a blast! Most fun I've had on two wheels for a while! It's definitely pushed my level of riding up a notch or two, I suspect that I haven't become more skilled but the bike is just so plush and forgiving it just begs to be let go and ridden harder and faster! The bike is definitely more capable than the pilot... It seems if you can just psyche up and let go of the brake, pop your weight back over the back wheel the bike will probably see you right! I've ridden tracks in the last few months that previously put the fear of of god in me and now feel somewhat pedestrian... I've been regularly doing 30-40km trail rides on it and it's no slouch on the climbs either, even with a 2.5" Minion on the front! Awesome all round trail weapon."
Glen bought a full XT build with Pike and Zee brakeset:
"Really happy with my 130x – value for money including the impressive Pike is very hard to beat. Descends like a burly, plush monster truck while still handling the tight & technical without issue. Climbs decently and doesn’t weigh too much (my build is around 14kg). Impressively stiff frame and looks great in Matte Black with the all black Pike."
Glen also noted cable-rub on the seattube. It's good to know these things - new customers, please take note!
Marcus bought a frameset off us and fitted an XT drivetrain:
I purchased a Hammerhead 130x from Bike Otago in late 2014 and the team themselves couldn't have been better to deal with. The frame is nicely finished, with clean looking welds and sensible cable routing. The headtube and BB appeared to have been prepped well and both headset and the BB were inserted without a hitch. I built up the frame with a full XT 2x10 build and a Pike fork (150mm) and Hope/Stans Flow EX wheelset. I've been riding MTB for more than 20 years and have been through plenty of US-made and Taiwanese frames from every builder from GT and Specialized to Ventana and Intense. After a year of two of trying a couple of budget 29er frames as my "second bike" to my Santa Cruz Solo C, I picked up the Hammerhead 130x and haven't looked back. This bike straight up rips. I run a short stem (60mm) and wide-ish bars (750mm) and this bike climbs and descends as well as (and in some aspects better than) the Solo with a similar build. Suspension design appears to be sorted - I run my RP23 shock fully open about 95% of the time and don't suffer from excessive suspension movement (way less than my old Specialized Enduro (same FSR design) and on a par with my DW 5-Spot. Weight is good considering the frame material and size (I'm a large). Nice stiff rear end that corners like a champ - so well that i can feel my wheels flex when my fat ass really plows through a corner, and I might need to think about some stiffer hoops. The one thing I wasn't expecting this frame to do is jump well, based on my previous 29er experiences, but it flies and lands nicely. More than capable of running proper width tyres too - I'm running 2.35 High Roller IIs and there is plenty of clearance. I'd have no qualms about taking the Hammerhead on my annual Rotovegas pilgrimage. Git sum!
The bike is still going great and in my opinion has to be one of the best value for money bikes around. It is the first bike I have purchased that I have been totally happy with the build straight out of the box, haven’t needed or wanted to change anything. Right down to the tyres, grips and seat it is all good quality stuff that works. My local favourite track is through native bush with lots of tree roots, ruts and the odd rock as well, this bike and 29er wheels are perfect for this sort of track. Jumps are not really my thing but the bike seems more than happy.
"I have had my Unveil 7 prototype for around 7 months now and I have been very happy with the bike since. I took up mountain biking around two years ago after moving to NZ and this is my first full sus bike. Previous to this I had been riding a hard tail aluminium 29er. The bike is speced with a Rockshox pike up front, a monarch debonair plus shock, SRAM X7 drive terrain/brakes and Stans ZTR flow ex rims with Maxxis Ardent tyres. I had been looking into to buying a full suspension bike for a while and this ticked all the components spec I wanted at a price I could actually afford! If I had gone with a similar bike from another brand I would have at least spend another $1500 to $2000 dollars. I had no real reservations buying a bike from an unknown brand, the component spec sheet impressed me and the frame looked well built and strong. I did some research into the company and they seemed genuine.
The bike required virtually no set up (didn't even check the shock or fork air pressure until I had the bike for four months) and was ready to ride straight out of the box. Obviously not a great comparison but the difference between riding this and my hard tail has been huge, the bike is very confidence inspiring on steep technical tracks, it handles rock gardens with great composure and still climbs well. I ride a lot of varied trails on this bike from smooth xc trails to some national down hill tracks.
The bike climbs really well, displaying little or no bob when seated, I usually leave the shock and fork fully open when climbing and only really use the lock out when I am stand up pedalling. The shock intially goes quite far into it travel (just over 40%) but then firms up nicely providing good support and traction on more technical climbs. Descending on the Unveil 7 I have been very impressed, my confidence and skills have greatly increased since getting the bike and it has opened a whole new network of trails for me. It has been able handle everything I have thrown at it, although I'm not sure if I am a skillful enough rider to fully exploit the the bike or give an accurate review of its abilities but I have found that it corners well, has great traction, goes good over the jumps and is quite chuck-able. I have had it down all the downhill tracks in Victoria park Christchurch, all around the port hills and even down some scree slopes in Craigieburn!
Other than that the only negative I have noticed is that the cables rub when you compress the rear suspension but that is more of a prototype issue and would be sorted with alternative routing. The size I have is a medium and the cockpit is a little compact, I find this suit my style of riding but others may want to be careful with size choice. I have had to replace some of the bearings but was more through riding a lot during winter and poor washing technique than a fault with the bike, the bearings were easy to replace and available from a local engineering shop. Overall I am very happy with the bike, I ride with a good group of friends who ride a lot more expensive machine than mine( wheels that cost more than my whole bike etc) and bar some components the Unveil 7 is on a par with there bikes."