Pinnacle are the in house brand of UK cycle shop chain Evans Cycles and they’ve always done a good job of delivering some of the best budget mountain bikes. The Kapur might be dated in terms of wheel size and reach dimensions, but complete Shimano stop and go equipment means it’s not half bad for half a grand.
Design and geometry
The alloy frame gets a sloped top tube for extra straddling room and the gear cables and rear brake hose are kept tidy with bolted clips under the top tube. There’s mostly internal cable routing for a dropper post if you want to upgrade too. In the meantime, the quick release lever for the rigid post gets a brass bushing that makes manually dropping and raising the seat for steep sections much easier. You also get water bottle bolts on the down tube and bolting points for a rear mudguard if it’s being used for commuting. There’s no upper mounts for a rack though so that rules out some cargo/kiddie carrying options and the front fork is totally fixture free.
Reach is also very short at 445mm for the ‘Unisex Large’ size I tested with a relatively tall head tube creating an upright ride position even with a flat rather than riser bar. The 68-degree head angle adds some stability to the steering though and you get a choice of five sizes from XS to XL which is rare on budget bikes.
Components and build
While a lot of budget bikes are still based around 100mm travel forks, the Kapur is based around a 120mm coil-sprung Suntour fork. The short 50mm stem and 760mm wide bar are up to date in terms of leverage and responsiveness when matched to the head angle and you get quality lock-on grips too. The short cockpit reach compounds the short frame reach though so it’s definitely a compact ride compared to it’s height.
Evans list the transmission as Shimano Altus when the most important rear derailleur and shifter elements are actually lower grade Acera which is a sly trick. An almost full Shimano transmission setup (the chain is KMC) is still a big bonus at this price though, even if it uses a double chainset with non replaceable chainrings. Evans has also added stickers on the cranks showing the correct rotation direction for fitting the pedals which is a really neat touch I’ve never seen before. The brakes are Shimano and hydraulically rather than cable operated too, which can’t be taken for granted at this price.
The hubs are Shimano as well which should be a smoothness and reliability bonus although I needed to get the spanners out and adjust the initially graunchy bearings before testing. The 27.5in wheel size is firmly in the rear view mirror of most brands as they congregate around the second coming of bigger 29er rims. Despite being listed as 2.25in wide, the WTB tires are actually only 51mm (2in) too.
Ride, handling and performance
The positive side of those thin tyres with a closely packed tread and hard rubber compound is that the Pinnacle rolls really easily on the road. The smaller 27.5in wheels also pick up speed slightly quicker out of corners or anywhere else you’re accelerating suddenly. The small volume tires and smaller circumference wheels mean there’s not much cushioning when you start riding across roots, rocks or down steps or off drops though. Upgrading to a set of tires that are actually 2.3in wide would add comfort and control easily though and should just squeeze into the frame.
After some nasty initial jolting I realized that the rebound adjuster on the Suntour forks needed to be run almost fully open to let the fork move smoothly. It’s still a bit sticky off the top at first and I never got more than 105mm of travel out of it even when I deliberately slammed drops. It’s enough movement to make those slams a lot less painful though and helps keep the Kapur more controllable and more comfortable on other lumpy, jarring terrain, such as rocks, roots, steps or kerbs. The fact there is some rebound control stops it bouncing back madly after ever impact too, which is a common problem on cheap forks.
The mixed Shimano transmission gives solid, positive shifts and the 36/22 tooth front chainrings give a usefully broad range of gearing for both fast road work or winching slowly up a steep off road climb. You will have to think ahead to select the right combination of front ring and rear cogs more than you would with a single chainring and wide cassette combination but I've not seen that kind of set up at this price for a long time.
As long as you do a thorough ‘bedding in’ initial setup (sprinting and braking repeatedly to heat the brake pads and rotors up so they ‘grip’ better) the Shimano stoppers are OK too. They’d be even better with a larger 180mm rotor on the front to increase power by 20 percent, but that’s a relatively cheap and simple upgrade and they’re already far more communicative and consistent than the single sided cable disc brakes you’d get on bikes from Trek, Specialized etc. at this price. The fact hydraulic brakes automatically self-adjust for pad wear also makes them safer particularly in abrasive UK conditions.
The well shaped cockpit does a good job of coping with the slippery tires on more challenging trails too. The Kapur would definitely be more confident with the slacker head angle and extra 15-25mm of reach that we’d expect on a contemporary large sized frame. The tall seat tube means there’s no easy way to upsize either.
The Kapur 2 might not be the Pinnacle of progressive performance but it'll certainly get you off to a great start. The mostly Shimano transmission and hydraulic brakes will keep working well for a lot longer than most bikes at this price. A fork that sort of works outweighs the short ride position and 27.5 rather than 29er wheels. The firm ride from the undersized tires is easily solved with bigger rubber too.
Just make sure you (or the Evans shop you get it from) bed the brakes in properly, open up the fork rebound and check the bearing smoothness of the wheels from new to get the most out of it though.
- Surface: Road, gravel, mud, trail center grit and rock, off piste natural randomness
- Trails: Local woodland trails, bridleways, blue and red trail center sections and a fair amount of road getting between them.
- Weather: 5-10 degrees C, dry to damp
Tech specs: Pinnacle Kapur 2
- Discipline: Entry level MTB/gravel
- Price: £500
- Head angle: 68 degrees
- Frame material: 6061 alloy
- Fork: SR Suntour XCM Coil 120mm travel
- Sizes: XS, M, L (tested), XL
- Weight: 15:36kg
- Wheel size: 27.5in
- Chainset: Shimano MT210, 36/22T with bottom bracket
- Gears: Shimano Acera 9 speed rear mech and shifters with Shimano Altus front mech, HG200 11-34T cassette and KMC chain
- Brakes: Shimano MT201 hydraulic discs with 160mm rotors
- Wheels: Shimano TX505 Centrelock disc hubs with alloy double wall rims
- Tires: WTB Trail Boss 27.5 x 2.25in tires
- Bar and stem: 760mm bar and 50mm stem
- Saddle: WTB Volt