The Singular Cycles frame and fork have been flogged in various conditions from ice and snow to dust and rocks and everything in between. Now it is time for a final look at this U.K. bred drop bar specific hard tail 29″er.
The Singular Gryphon is a rigid specific, drop bar specific frame that probably seems like the answer to an unasked question to most folks. Certainly, the appeal of such a design may be limited, but that said, more folks should be looking this way for their “general purpose” 29″er needs. If you need a “utility” off roader, or if you just like having a simple, reliable hard tail/single speeder in your stable, the Gryphon delivers and is a fun bike to boot. Let’s take a closer look at the off road performance of the Gryphon.
The first thing I noticed was how “in” the bike I felt off road. The Gryphon is lower in the front than many 29″ers due to the non-suspension corrected length of the fork. Throw the eccentric bottom bracket to the lowest setting and you really feel “between the wheels”, so to speak. This enhances cornering feel in a positive way and encouraged me to rail corners at higher speeds than I might on other bikes. In fact, I over shot a couple of corners due to the high speed I was trying to enter the corner in at. Fun? You bet! The downside to all of this is that if you have rocks, ruts, or a really “U” shaped trail, you may incur a pedal strike or two. Not a deal killer for me, but in some areas of the country, the low-ish bottom bracket may be a hindrance.
The bike is a pretty good climber too, what with the shorter chain stays, (Just shy of 17 3/4s”), and drop bars, which give a better amount of leverage. I ran the bike as a single speed throughout the test, and the shorter chain stay measurement kept the rear wheel glued to the trail better than some longer stayed single speeds I have tried. The frame doesn’t yeild laterally much at all either, which makes for a solid feel while climbing.
One of the interesting things about the Gryphon is how you don’t get a lot of jarring from the front end that you might expect to get due to the short fork blades. The Gryphon seems to have some magic going on with the fork, but is it really the fork? I don’t think so. My observation has been that the front triangle on this bike is really working in conjunction with the fork to take some of the bite out of trail chatter. Make no mistake: This is a rigid forked bike and it will let you know as much if you bang into a root or a small rock, but it does have a remarkable smoothness that some other non-suspension corrected forks/bikes do not have at all.
Conclusions: The Singular Gryphon is an “odd duck” in the mountain bike world. Only Salsa Cycle’s Fargo is anything like it. (And they are similar in more ways than you might think!) A drop barred, rigid specific bike with 29″er wheels. The thing is, it is a great general purpose mountain bike, has the versatility to be run single speed or geared, and is a very capable single track machine. It has classic appeal with the panel and cream colored paint. So, if you like that sort of thing, the Singular will peg your looks meter.
The Gryphon would slot into most rider’s stables as the bike you grab for a quick spin to the store, the local single track XC loop, or for an adventure including mixed terrain- pavement, gravel, and dirt. The frame rides with a smoothness that belies its short, rigid fork blades and has a geometry that puts the rider “in between” the wheels for a more stable feel. It turns quickly, but not overly so, and should please most riders in tight, buff single track. On the right race courses it can even be a top performer.
The downsides? Well, you better like a rigid, drop bar specific bike! Beyond that, the Gryphon is a straight up, purposeful mountain bike with no extra braze ons beyond those for cable routing and water bottles. It might be difficult to overlook the lack of fender mounts or rack mounts for some folks, but here again, the look is cleaner for those riders looking for that sort of simplicity. The lower bottom bracket may be an issue for some, and the Phil Wood eccentric bottom bracket may be a deal killer. (But it shouldn’t be, I’ve had zero issues with the EBB) Of course, drop bars may not be your cup of tea, but if that is the case, you probably are not reading this.
For a decent price, (U.S. $590.00 frame and fork), you get a refined ride feel, spot on geometry for drop bars, and a purposeful, straight ahead mountain bike frame that can be run geared or single speed. It has great, classic looks, and makes no apologies for being a dedicated rigid design. The Singular Gryphon isn’t for everybody, but it is the sort of bike that will strike a chord with some riders for its peculiarities. The good news is that it rides really nicely and handles smartly. It isn’t just an exercise in being different for “different’s” sake. In this instance, “different” is a heck of a lot of fun!
That’s a wrap on this fine frame and fork. Look for a follow up in the months to come and a comparison with the Salsa Cycles Fargo.
Note: The reviewed frame and fork is being provided to Twenty Nine Inches at no charge for review. We are not being paid or bribed for this review. We will give our honest opinion or thoughts through out.