The Shand Stoater Rohloff is a British-made steel all-rounder. Built up with a Rohloff Speedhub and a Gates Carbon drive system, our review bike is priced £3,595, although you can go with a standard derailleur and chain setup if you prefer.
Here are five things you need to know about the bike.
1. The versatility
The best thing about the Shand Stoater Rohloff is its versatility. I've ridden it everywhere over the past few weeks. If you want one bike that can turn its hand to pretty much anything, this could be the bike for you. Okay, you might not want to take the Stoater road racing, but it'll make a good fist of most other stuff.
Shand say: "Designed for the pure enjoyment of go-anywhere riding, the Stoater is all about drop bar, two wheel adventure. Refined enough to be your main road bike but rugged enough for off road trails and singletrack, it could be the only bike you ever need."
The Stoater actually has a pretty short head tube –a diddy 135mm on the large model we have in for review, with a 575mm top tube. Don't let that fool you, though. The bike is fitted with a superb Chris King NoThreadset with external cups that add height to the front end, along with a riser stem that pushes the handlebar up further.
For maximum versatility you'd perhaps want to use the Stoater with a bunch of different stems, swapping them over according to the riding you're doing: a long and low stem for faster road rides, for example, a high rise stem if you're all-day touring, and so on.
You might want to take a similar approach to the tyres. Our review bike came with Continental Cyclocross Speed 700 x 35C tyres on the Stans IronCross rims, and they're great if you want to mix things up and hit the bridleways, trails and towpaths.
They're not the fastest option if you want to get from A to B on the road, though, so you might want to have some skinnier rubber ready and waiting for times when you want to be more efficient across the tarmac.
The Stoater has about 55mm of space between the stays at the tyre point so 45mm tyres will fit fine with decent mud clearance. There's no reason why you couldn't race cyclocross on this bike if you wanted.
The other natural role for the Stoater is, of course, touring, adventure riding, bikepacking or whatever else you'd like to call it when you load up the bike and head off for days and nights in the back of beyond.
The Stoater comes with rack and mudguard eyelets front and rear, along with three sets of bottle cage mounts. Go for a complete bike and you'll get TRP Spyre disc brakes that provide enough stopping power to control a fully laden bike without any worries; Shand now offer the hydraulic TRP Hylex as a £150 upgrade.
The Spyre brakes are an excellent choice, offering superb power and modulation in all weathers. They're a cable-actuated (rather than hydraulic) dual-piston design, and they're simple to adjust; you just turn a barrel adjuster.
I was glad of all that power in steep situations, and you'll certainly appreciate it if you're carrying heavy loads. The modulation is equally welcome to avoid locking up on damp roads. These brakes do lose out in comparison to many hydraulic options out there, but they're the best cable-operated disc brakes out there right now.
There you go, then. On road, off-road, cyclocross, touring: the Stoater has a lot of talents that should keep you busy for a while. If variety is the spice of life, it's a bit of a vindaloo.
2. It's well thought-out and well-executed
Shand build the Stoater from Reynolds 853 – seamless, air-hardened, heat-treated steel that's strong and resistant to damage – TIG welded in-house in Livingston, West Lothian (our review model was actually filet brazed but the Stoaters are now all TIG welded).
Shand haven't simply taken a Reynolds tubeset and used it across the Stoater range. Rather, they spec tubing sizes and wall thicknesses specifically for each frame size, the idea being that all the bikes will perform the same. So, the XL frame has tubes with thicker walls than an XS bike, while the XS gets a smaller diameter down tube.
Our review bike has a Rohloff Speedhub and a Gates Carbon drive system (more on each of those in a mo) so it needs a means of tensioning the belt.
Previously, Shand offered two different versions of the Stoater: a derailleur model and a singlespeed/Rohloff model. Now they have updated the design so that it can run either, and it's simple for you to swap drivetrains yourself. They have done this by using a bottom bracket shell that can accept either a standard PressFit 30 bottom bracket or a PressFit 30 eccentric bottom bracket, and Paragon dropouts with interchangeable inserts.
It's smart stuff that means that if, for example, you go for a Rohloff build but don't get on with it for any reason, you can simply change the dropout inserts and swap to a derailleur system without needing a completely new bike.
The Stoater comes with a sloping top tube and you get S-bend stays that offer plenty of heel and tyre clearance (see above for tyre clearance). The disc brake mount (assuming you spec disc brakes; you don't have to) is positioned within the rear triangle, leaving space for rack and mudguard eyelets. The fork gets mudguard eyelets too, along with mounts for a low-rider rack.
Little features like the binder slot at the top of the seat tube being positioned facing forwards rather than backwards to avoid it getting filled with gunk show that this is a bike that has been well thought-out and the execution is equally impressive. We'd be massively surprised if it wasn't still going strong after many, many years of use and abuse.
3. The Rohloff Speedhub
The Rohloff Speedhub has many fans who'd use nothing else and there's no doubting that the design is a work of engineering excellence.
If you're not familiar with the Rohloff Speedhub, it's an internal hub gear system. If you want to know how it works, get yourself along to the Roholff website because it takes a bit of explaining. http://www.rohloff.de/en/products/speedhub/
The basic facts are that a Speedhub offers you 14 equally spaced gears via a twistgrip shifter, and the gear range is large –the highest gear is 526% the size of the lowest gear (for comparison, a derailleur system using 50/34-tooth chainrings and an 11-28 cassette has a gear range of 374%).
It's super-easy to find the right gear because everything is sequential – you never have to shift chainrings – and with most of the working parts sealed away from the elements inside the hub, durability is good and little maintenance is required.
Shand offer the Rohloff beltdrive system with three different levels of gearing. Our review bike came fitted with the 'low' gearing, meaning that it has a 50-tooth chainring (it's not really a chainring because there's no chain, but let's go with it anyway) at the front and a 20-tooth sprocket at the back. That gives development metres (the distance you travel forward with one crank revolution) of 1.5 metres to 7.9 metres.
A derailleur system using a 30-tooth inner chainring and a 32-tooth large sprocket would give you 2 development metres per crank revolution.
Put another way, if you were to pedal in the lowest gear of the Rohloff system at 90rpm, you'd do about 5mph.
You're not going to win the Tour de France at that speed, but that's not the point. The point is that you can get a heavily laden bike up very steep hills – not quickly, admittedly, but you will get there. I found myself seeking out steeper and steeper gravel tracks in the Cotswolds to challenge this tiny gear and I was on such ridiculous gradients by the end that the main problem wasn't the size of the gear, it was keeping the front wheel planted firmly on the ground.
At the other end of the scale, the biggest gear is a fairly similar size to a 52-tooth chainring matched up to a 14-tooth sprocket – big but not massive.
If you want larger gearing, Shand can set you up with a 55-tooth at the front and a 20-tooth at the rear. That will give you development metres of 1.7 – 8.7. Or, if you want to go bigger still, they can give you a 19-tooth at the rear for development metres of 1.8 – 9.2.
For comparison, a compact chainset (with 50 and 34-tooth chainrings) and an 11-28-tooth cassette offers a development metres range of 2.6-9.8.
I think that's plenty about gear sizes!
I must say that I find that the Rohloff gears can feel very different from one another, not just in their size – which is what you'd expect, obviously – but in terms of efficiency.
Plus, you can only change gear on the handlebar top, not from the hood or the drop, so there's a lot of hand shifting involved unless you go for the flat bar version (contact Shand for details of that).
Still, there are pros and cons to every system, and it could very well be that a Rohloff Speedhub is right for you. If not, no matter. Shand do the Stoater in a Shimano 105 build with derailleur gears and Shimano XT/Velocity A23 wheels for £2,745. You can also buy the frame and fork for £1,395.
4. The Gates Carbon drive system
The other unusual feature of our review bike is that it uses a Gates CDX beltdrive system. What's that? Essentially, instead of a chain you get a carbon-fibre belt that runs on a dedicated chainset and sprocket.
It makes for a smooth, quiet system, it's lightweight, and the belt should last for ages. Plus, the belt won't corrode and you don't need to bother with chain lube. If you want more on Gates, head over to their website.
I can't say I have any strong feelings for or against a Gates system. It works. The belt never comes off. That's all I care about, really. I don't find myself doing a whole lot to keep a standard chain running smoothly other than a regular clean and re-lube, but the lack of maintenance would be a definite plus if you head off on a multi-day adventure in the wilderness.
If you don't fancy the Gates beltdrive, the Stoater Rohloff is available with a standard chain system. It's £3,595 with beltdrive, £3,545 without, so there's really not much in it in terms of price.
5. Stuff that might make you think twice
I've already mentioned that a Rohloff hub might or might not be for you and the same goes for the Gates Carbon drive system. In both cases, you can simply opt for a different build, so no worries on either score.
The Stoater's 11.42kg (25.12lb) weight might be an issue if you're intending to use it mostly as a road or cyclocross bike, in which case it looks hefty compared to the opposition. Treat it as a tourer or adventure bike, though, and that weight is more on the money.
I guess the other potential issue is the flipside to the Stoater's versatility. If you're a Jack-of-all-trades you're generally a master of none. So, for example, the Stoater is never going to be as fast across the tarmac as a full-on road bike, as nimble through the mud as a lightweight cyclocross race bike, or as flickable through the singletrack as a mountain bike, although it'll handle all those situations well and be a whole lot cheaper than a stable of different bikes.
If you want a single go-anywhere bike with an eye for adventure, though, this could be the one for you.
If you want a single go-anywhere bike with an eye for adventure, this could be the bike for you
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Shand Stoater
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
It's Reynolds 853 – seamless, air-hardened, heat-treated steel – TIG welded. Our review model was actually filet brazed but the Stoaters are now all TIG welded.
Frame TIG welded Reynolds 853. S-Bend stays for tyre and heel clearance. Sloping top tube. Front facing binder slot. Derailleur, singlespeed, Rohloff Speedhub, 142x12 and belt-drive compatible.
Fork Straight blades, lowrider rack mounts , mudguard eyes.
Headtube/headset 1-1/8in standard. Chris King headset installed on complete bike.
Tyres Continental Cyclocross Speed 700 x 35C
Wheels Rohloff/Hope Pro2 Evo/Velocity A23
Bars Salsa Cowbell
Brakes TRP Spyre
Chain Gates CentreTrack belt
Crank Middleburn RS8
Bottom Bracket Eccentric PF30 BB
Cassette Gates Beltdrive sprocket
Seat Clamp Salsa Liplock
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Designed for the pure enjoyment of go-anywhere riding, the Stoater is all about drop bar, two wheel adventure. Refined enough to be your main road bike but rugged enough for off road trails and singletrack, it could be the only bike you ever need.
The Stoater is ideal for longer rides, fully loaded touring or a spot of bike packing. Disc mounts provide the stopping power and the chainstay mounted rear disc brake allows space for rack and mudguard eyelets.
If you're thinking about straying further off the beaten track the generous tyre clearance (up to 55mm) lets you fit some narrow 29er mountain bike tyres. If you're feeling a little competitive, fit a narrower knobby tyre and rock the local cyclocross race.
Our modular dropouts and cable guides future proof the frame allowing you to run an internal gear hub or singlespeed at some point in the future.
Rohloff Speedhub bike with disc brakes and Gates Carbon Belt drive
The Stoater Rohloff is designed around the Rohloff Speedhub, aiming to provide reliability and maintenance-free riding, perfect for long rides, touring or regular commuting. Disc brakes provide the stopping power (hydraulic brake options are available) and the chainstay mounted rear disc brake allows for rack and mudguards eyelets. Clearance for tyres up to 55mm is also possible.
Gates Carbon Belt Drive
The Stoater Rohloff comes as standard with a Gates Carbon Belt Drive system instead of a traditional chain, belt tension is adjusted using our innovative PF30 EBB solution. Rear dropouts can be changed to enable use of single speed or traditional derailleur drivetrains making this a truly versatile bicycle for every adventure.
Overall rating for frame and fork
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes, it felt comfortable and stable in all situations.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
A little but not so much that it was a problem.
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Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes.
Would you consider buying the bike? If I were after a Jack-of-all-trades, yes.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yep.
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Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?
The price might seem high for a Reynolds 853 bike. A Genesis Equilibrium 853 frameset is £749.99 while the Stoater frame and fork is £1,395.
You need to consider, though, that you're getting a made-in-Britain frame that's suitable for a whole lot of different types of riding. Plus, if you go for a complete bike you get some high quality components like the Rohloff system, Hope front hub, Chris King headset, TRP Spyre brakes. They're not cheap.
Whether you should buy this bike is largely going to come down to whether you're going to make the most of its versatility. If you are, you're effectively getting several bikes in one and the value starts to sky rocket.
Age: 43 Height: 190cm Weight: 75kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,
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