BUDGET BIKES: Signal Elite
Good: Race-proven durability • Good mix of components for all-round riding
Bad: Expensive compared to competitors • No boost spacing, through-axles or dropper-post routing
Get it now: signalbikes.co.za
The Attakwas Extreme is one of South Africa’s hardest one-day mountain-bike races: 121km between Oudtshoorn and Mossel Bay, with 2 900m of vertical ascent over some gnarly terrain. Most of the guys and girls line up at the start aboard dual-suspension, carbon-fibre marathon race bikes, each of which costs as much as a small car.
Not Oli Munnik, former gear editor of Bicycling and now the man behind Signal, named after Signal Hill in Cape Town. Oli rode a Signal Elite from start to finish without incident, proving just how capable this newcomer is.
Where Cannondale, Titan and Specialized have tried to be as innovative as possible in the category, Signal have stuck to the basics, with a no-nonsense frame and durable, quality components. It’s the kind of bike you can ride and then hang on the wall, knowing that everything will be fine when you take it down to ride again. It’s like the Momsen AL329 in that respect, except that it weighs a bit less and costs a bit more.
Indeed, that’s the only negative that we can pinpoint: the Elite is pricey for what you get. Signal are obviously still finding their feet as a brand, and they don’t have the economies of scale of huge conglomerates such as Specialized and Cannondale; or even Momsen, in the South African context.
Plus, you’re paying for good parts that don’t elbow each other for space in the limelight. Things like bottom brackets, brakes and wheel hubs don’t shift units, but they’re integral to the ride experience and the longevity of the bike. The Elite has decent Shimano parts all over, not no-name product of dubious origin. Rest assured you’ll also get great customer service, and it’s nice to know you’re buying local.
Every time I look at this bike, the black-and-white colour scheme reminds me of a honey badger – a suitable spirit animal for this tenacious 29er. It’s tough as nails, and it won’t let you down.