Just in: Sabbath Silk Route

A load hauling touring bike that stands out from the crowd by using a feature-laden titanium frame

by Steve Worland   August 13, 2013  

The Silk Route is a relatively new model for British company Sabbath, and initial visual impressions are that the frame is nicely designed and better finished than some of Sabbath's output from their earlier years: they've been trading since 2006. We'll pass further comment after we've spent some time riding it, but first thoughts are that this could be a good starting point for riders who like the idea of owning a utility rather than race-focused titanium frame.

Many riders will probably still baulk at spending over £2,000 on a Shimano LX/105 level bike with a clumpy looking trouser guard equipped chainset. On the other hand, if you're attracted to the notion of basing your new bike build on a titanium frame you'd be relatively hard pressed to build a rack and mudguard equipped touring bike with decent wheels and a Brooks saddle at this price... and you can remove that trouser guard if you don't like it.

Sabbath sell only titanium-framed bikes. All use the highly regarded 3Al/2.5V (3% aluminium and 2.5% vanadium in the titanium alloy) drawn tubes, butted on the racier models, plain gauge on the Silk Route.

There are six models in the range covering racing, touring, everyday or sportive usage. Sabbath says the Silk Route is designed mainly for touring, but its long wheelbase, a 3.65lb (1.65kg) claimed frame weight (54cm), sporty rather than race-bred geometry and good tyre clearance would certainly allow it to moonlight for frequent trips off road if the idea of a tough all-rounder appeals.

Every Sabbath frame and fork can be built with different component parts and custom finishing options so the details on our test bike are not set in stone. Its 'bright brush' bare titanium finish with subtle sandblasted graphics is practical, and undoubtedly part of the appeal of Ti in that it'll buff up like new year after year.

The tube shapes of the Silk Route include curvy rear stays for extra heel clearance, a biaxially ovalised top tube for lateral rigidity plus big weld contact areas at the seat tube and head tube, and an oversized ovalised down tube. All the tube profiles are apparently designed to improve stiffness and stability when hauling loads, and the long chainstays ensure that panniers stay clear of your heels.

Sabbath say it's built to take up to 35kg (77lb) of luggage: the test bike rack is limited to 25kg (55lb). There's enough room for 38mm tyres and mudguards and the three sets of bottle cage bosses and threaded rack mounts are welded rather than riveted. In keeping with the traditional touring bike approach, there's even a pump peg on the head tube for a frame-sized pump. 

Our test bike weighs in at 12.6kg (28lb) without pedals. Surly's chromoly steel touring fork (with low and high rack mounts) is fitted and there is masses of bar/stem height adjustability.

The finishing components at £2,199 include a Shimano LX crankset, 105 3 x 10 gear mechs and shifters, LX hubs laced to Mavic 319 rims (36 spokes), Continental Touring Plus 32mm tyres, a Brooks B17 saddle, Pro seat post, stem and compact handlebar, Tortec rack, SKS mudguards and LX cantilever brakes. Full test to follow on road.cc soon.

From: www.sabbathbicycles.co

13 user comments

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Who fitted that front fender? Nerd

posted by Hasis [36 posts]
13th August 2013 - 14:55

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I like the LX crankset, but yes, those mudguards are a bit off.

R.e. the 25kg limit on the rack - I believe that limit has to be stamped into all racks destined for the EU market - even if the manufacturers know full well that it can handle more. It's probably to deter carrying a passenger on there.

Also that rack looks like the dirt-cheap Tortec Tour, a sensible choice for my £300 Carrera, but a bit odd on a £2000 Ti bike?

Oh - and the front QR is pointing forwards! Please fix it before you ride it.

(Saw a roadie / wannabe on London's south bank at the weekend, riding around with the front QR open - should I have stopped him?)

PJ McNally's picture

posted by PJ McNally [586 posts]
13th August 2013 - 15:30

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Love a bit of British Ti. Beats plastic every time.

Silly me. You're probably right....

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posted by MercuryOne [1058 posts]
13th August 2013 - 16:45

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Boring, heavy, ugly.

posted by drmatthewhardy [305 posts]
13th August 2013 - 22:36

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But enough about you; what did you think about the bike?

Gerard the Kiwi

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posted by GerardR [84 posts]
14th August 2013 - 4:57

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Odd they didn't extend the head tube a bit more, surely front-end flex is an issue on the bike once loaded with front panniers?

posted by fuzzywuzzy [59 posts]
14th August 2013 - 7:35

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MercuryOne wrote:
Love a bit of British Ti. Beats plastic every time.

Except the frame is build in China, most likely Xiamen

Make mine an Italian with Campagnolo on the side

posted by monty dog [363 posts]
14th August 2013 - 8:01

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PJ McNally wrote:

(Saw a roadie / wannabe on London's south bank at the weekend, riding around with the front QR open - should I have stopped him?)

I think you should, unless you like to see people risking life threatening impacts. We all started out once, some of us had a guiding hand and some of us just started riding a bike because we loved it and learned our (sometimes hard) lessons by trial and error.....

Exercising my rights by taking them cycling

posted by pedalingparamedic [86 posts]
14th August 2013 - 11:00

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It's an old model Topeak RX - certainly not cheap.

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posted by Tovarishch [49 posts]
14th August 2013 - 11:54

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pedalingparamedic wrote:

I think you should, unless you like to see people risking life threatening impacts.

Yes,I agree. Unfortunately he was past before I could say anything.

Tovarishch wrote:
It's an old model Topeak RX - certainly not cheap.

Really? Looks VERY similar to my £14 rack - http://www.jejamescycles.co.uk/tortec-tour-pannier-rack-rear-id16199.html

PJ McNally's picture

posted by PJ McNally [586 posts]
14th August 2013 - 12:22

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They appear to have made a beautiful frame look as f-ugly as possible. What's with all those spacers?!

posted by Pauldmorgan [174 posts]
14th August 2013 - 18:02

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GerardR - LOL. You know it takes one to know one Thinking

posted by drmatthewhardy [305 posts]
14th August 2013 - 19:50

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Why the steel fork? And why no discs?

Fail for a bike that looks destined for touring and reliability.

posted by jacknorell [345 posts]
15th August 2013 - 0:02

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