Over the last year Riderflow.com has seen a steady growth in visitors as well as review submissions from component manufacturers. As the site has grown, our existing demo bike has become somewhat outdated making it difficult to review some of the new components on the market.

So it’s time for a new bike but we decided to do things differently. Our demo rig will act as both a review tool as well as podium to the best components submitted. As we review components, the best performing products stay on the bike, at least until another out-performs them. The idea is that every 3 months we will publish a “Best-On-Bike” article to showcase reviewed components recently added, still holding their place or have been booted off.

This also gives us the opportunity to update everyone on how those components are performing over the time they have been on the rig.

As with all things the best place to start is the beginning, in our case a frame.

Our requirements were pretty simple, Full suspension frame, slack geometry, longer travel suspension/forks (160mm), takes 27.5” wheels and if possible something unique. There was really only one choice for us……Starling.

After reviewing the Starling Swoop earlier in the year we fell head over heels for the bike and the brand. You can’t get any more unique than a bespoke bike, well turns out you can. Joe McEwan, Starling Cycles founder, kindly resprayed and donated the original frame used to kick start Startling bikes. This frame ticks all boxes for us and being given it is much appreciated and we feel very privileged considering its background.

So where is Starling now?

starling cyclesJoe is still running Starling Cycles out of his shed but much has changed with the business, bikes and the brand. Starling Bikes has quickly gone from a just a guy building bikes to an actual brand. Joe has clearly invested a good chunk of time and money into the brand identity focusing on the bespoke aspect of his unique frames, and rightly so.

starling cyclesThere is a growing demand in the industry, especially in the UK and USA, for bespoke mountain bikes. Bespoke hardtail builders are relatively easy to find, and not to be snuffed at btw, but there are few that focus on full suspension designs. Going bespoke not only means that you have a 1 of a kind bike but it also means that its built around your unique riding style and body type/size.

starling cycles

When picking up the frame Joe I asked him some pretty frank questions about the business and where its going. Like us he just wants to turn his passion into his career. As a brand, Starling has been growing in popularity featuring in pretty much every publication you can think of in the UK with outstanding feedback and reviews. It’s getting to the point where we think it’s going to take off for Starling alongside the growing trend.

starling cycles

Read our review of the Starling Swoop, and you’ll understand why we love this bike some much: Startling | Born and bred in the shed

Back to the demo rig

Well here she is. Looking forward to watching how this bike evolves.

As mentioned, this rig will serve as both tool and podium. So what’s on the bike now.

  • Ergon GE1 Grips: I am yet to find a more comfortable pair of grips.
  • FUNN Black Magic Flat Pedals: light weight, look great, keep your feet planted and are affordable. It’s a no brainer really.
  • Fabric Scoop Saddle: Comfortable, light weight and looks great.
  • FUNN Solo Narrow Wide Chainring: Light, durable and at the right price point.
  • 6th Element Carbon Wheels: To be reviewed! So far so good, these light weight 40mm wide rims are beasts on the trail.
  • FUNN Solo Cranks: To added and reviewed! Look good and don’t cost the earth. Looking forward to giving these a good test.