The DMR’s 4130 chromoly tubing is of markedly different diameters compared to the other two bikes we tested. A massive down tube — reinforced with a tubing gusset to both strengthen the joint and increase the weld contact area — is mated with a much smaller diameter top tube, theoretically allowing DMR to reduce bulk in the slightly less stressed upper frame member, and give a modicum of ride tuning. It also gives a good indication of the sort of abuse the bike is capable of taking, as do the little tabs around the bottom bracket that make up the ISGC chain-guide mount.
At the back, the ethos is similar. Massive dropouts are joined to the front end via big stays, which are crimped to allow a little more mud clearance around large volume tyres. Rather than integrating a mech hanger into the huge steel plate dropouts, a separate aluminium hanger is secured by the bolt-through rear hub.
Manitou’s budget Stance fork holds the front end up but there is no getting away from the fact: it really sucks. The claimed 100mm of travel never materialised, in fact it bottomed out on relatively small hits, at only 77mm, and did so far too frequently. A new spring could be fitted, but this would not get around the lack of any sort of real-world damping or the total lack of external adjustments.
The hoops on the Trailstar are befitting of a much higher-priced machine. Yes, all the parts are from DMR’s stable, but both the Revolver cartridge bearing hubs and DV rims are well regarded. On dry trails the Digger tyres roll well and hook up OK, and where the tightly packed tread is never going to cope with the wet stuff, it fares surprisingly well on deep, loamy tracks, drifting predictably when it does let go.
DMR raids its own store cupboard again, and fits the Trailstar with parts suitable for the abuse likely to be dished out. Rather than fit a front mech, chain retention devices are used to keep the chain on the single ring. Spinning the ring is DMR’s Crisis three-piece chainset.
A solid, if weighty, tubular chromoly crankset that should outlast everything bar the cockroaches. SRAM X7 is used for the single shifter and rear mech, and like those fitted to the Charge, work effectively if a little less precisely than equivalent Shimano pieces.
Once more DMR has raided its own shelves for the finishing kit. The machined aluminium block that forms the Headstock stem holds a Wing bar. With a good deal of upsweep, the bar may not suit everyone, but it is better than the shiny black bent tube on the Charge.
V8 pedals are included in the price and, like the hubs, are respected aftermarket items, so it’s good to see a proper flat pedal included with a complete machine. Both seat and seatpost come from the same stable, and work well enough but do little to inspire.
Let’s get one thing straight: in spite of the name, the Trailstar is not an all-day trail rider’s steed. The bike’s very short, both in wheelbase and cockpit length. This compromises both the climbing ability (in turn not helped by the 35.5lb weight) and high-speed stability. The super-burly frame is also very rigid, absorbing precious little of the trail before it reaches the rider.
However, for a certain type of riding it is bang on the money. If you fancy a machine for hitting up the dirt jumps and four-cross tracks, along with some street riding, then the rock-solid build is well prepared for the abuse it will inevitably receive.
Wheels, frame and finishing kit will survive practically everything barring a nuclear holocaust. But, sadly, the abysmal pogo-stick fork affects the whole ride of the Trailstar, and prevents the bike being ridden as hard as it deserves.
There’s no getting away from the fact, the Trailstar is a hefty machine. Giving away over five pounds to the other bikes, the DMR is never going to fly up the hills. Combine the weight with the geometry and it’s easy to dismiss it, but that’s missing the point somewhat. Granted the fork is abysmal, but if what you’re interested in is the techy jumps and drops, then it’s worth a punt, especially as a fork upgrade will give you a truly capable hardcore machine.
It’s no all-rounder, and the mark reflects that, but if you’re prepared to slog your way to the good spots you’ll definitely have fun when you get there.
MBR RATING: 6/10