A SOUTH AFRICAN MOUNTAIN BIKE STORY: CHAPTER 2
Offering affordable bikes designed for the South African market, Signal audaciously tasked its Marketing Manager, Oli Munnik, with completing the 2019 Absa Cape Epic on its Elite aluminium hardtail. The mission was a success and it made sense to launch Signal’s first full-suspension bike, the Spectre, in a similar manner. Here are the six non-negotiable features of the new Spectre.
The brains trust at Signal Bikes enjoys significant industry knowledge and bike-racing experience. The team invested in this when it decided that a carbon-fibre full-suspension marathon bike was next on its to create-list. A modern full-suspension bike that’s light, efficient and durable is an ambitious project. The team treated it like they do any sporting objective and immediately established a goal and a plan.
Phillip Erasmus is the Product Director at Rush Sports, which owns the Signal Bikes brand. No stranger to the demands of South African marathons and stage races, he is the project lead on the Signal Spectre. When it was time to finalise the design of the Spectre, he and his colleagues had six non-negotiable features that the new Spectre needed to fulfil:
“We have used our knowledge gained from years of experience working with the best factories around the world to bring the best product for the SA market. Our goal was ensuring the platform is best suited to the South African mountain biker and marathon racer. Using modern frame geometry and suspension technology, we opted for a flex-stay platform which is simple and efficient and also allows two bottles to fit inside the main frame,” said Erasmus, who took his time to ensure the Spectre’s six non-negotiable features were each confidently ticked off.
Here are those features:
1. MUST BE DURABLE/DEPENDABLE
Work with key suppliers who have years of experience working with and producing frames for some of the world’s leading bicycle brands.
2. MUST BE APPROPRIATE FOR SOUTH AFRICAN RACES
Select a frame geometry that suits the style of riding (and rider) that South Africa has. This means a marathon-focused bike with efficient, shorter travel suspension (between 100 and 120mm) and a balanced rider position to inspire confidence and provide comfort on both the longest days at Epic as well as the short bursts at your favourite trails park.
3. MUST HAVE THE RIGHT KIND OF SUSPENSION PERFORMANCE
Look holistically at the entire package and take advantage of modern-day technologies in suspension dampers (forks and shocks) as well as 1X drivetrains to select a suspension layout that balances efficiency AND traction AND control. The rider must feel composed when things get rough and technical without being bogged down on the smoother sections of trail.
4. IT MUST BE PRACTICAL TO SERVICE
Stay clear of proprietary parts and niche ‘standards’ so that replacement parts and service items are readily available. This includes avoiding pesky bottom bracket and headset configurations that may save weight but compromise in durability and performance down the line. This gives a bike that is simple and cost effective to maintain for both the consumer as well as the mechanic.
5. IT MUST LOOK GREAT!
Recognise that part of the enjoyment in purchasing, owning and riding a bicycle is being attracted to its aesthetic. Simple, organic shapes, flowing lines, symmetry and proportion, though conveniently adding to the structural strength of the bike, are also important for adding to its overall look and aesthetic.
6. IT MUST OFFER GOOD VALUE
Stay clear of unnecessary trends and expenses that don’t add performance and FELT BENEFITS to the rider. If something does not fit within this criteria, it must be heavily investigated and, where possible, eliminated. In doing so, we aim to achieve a package focused on actual performance without unnecessary, marketing-driven hype.
“The Spectre gives a great look into the future of Signal Bikes. We are focussed on development and expanding into new segments with Signal, while constantly improving the current offering. Taking on the Cape Epic and putting our bikes through their paces on the toughest stage shows our commitment to this project. We look forward to seeing the pairing of Oli and Rogan take this race on, and we will be following closely,” said Sam Bull, CEO of Rush Sports.
Oli and Rogan’s roles in the story of the Signal Spectre, were introduced in Chapter 1 A SOUTH AFRICAN MOUNTAIN BIKE STORY: INTRODUCING TEAM SIGNAL RACING. They have their race weapons dialled and have taken them for a ritual taper ride on the slopes surrounding Signal Hill, Cape Town, the namesake of the authentically South African bike brand. Their contention for a prominent finish at the 2023 Absa Cape Epic will create the content for the next few chapters of the Signal Spectre story.
Follow Signal Racing’s progress @signalbikes on Instagram and Facebook. Oli’s at @OliMunnik and Rogan is at @RoganSmart.
SIGNAL SPECTRE GALLERY
Photos by Simon Pocock