The Line T3-27 hardtail reinforces Calibre's reputation for designing bikes that are both well-spec'ed and an absolute blast to ride.
The Line T3-27 marks a welcome return for the Calibre brand to one of its most successful old stomping grounds. With its sloping top tube, progressive trail geometry and large volume 27.5in tyres, there’s been clear inspiration from the Whyte 909 trail bike. Which is no bad thing, given that Whyte has been at the forefront of trail hardtail design for over a decade now.
Calibre’s 6061 alloy frame looks sharp and contemporary from its collar to its cuffs. There’s a tapered head tube, slender top tube, square section down tube and forged dropouts clamping a bolt-through rear axle.
Mounts for both a water bottle cage and a tool strap adorn the frame, while the cables are all routed cleanly along the underside of the down tube. This keeps them rattle-free and easily accessible for maintenance.
There are four frame sizes available and, given that our medium test bike compares favourably with the large frames of its rivals, it has the most progressive sizing.
The RockShox Recon Silver RL fork has a dial atop the right leg that gives you some control over the compression damping. Turn it clockwise and each click makes the fork firmer, until it completely locks out. But there are only a couple of settings where you can actually feel a difference, so it’s more of an on-off switch than a variable adjuster. The Recon also needs to be overinflated to stop it falling through its full 140mm of travel. We went up to 115psi for our 78kg bodyweight, which helped keep the geometry stable but didn’t seem to sacrifice much in the way of small bump sensitivity.
Calibre has got its priorities right on the Line T3-27 by fitting an excellent KS Rage-i dropper post. It has 125mm of drop accessed by a durable alloy remote lever under the handlebar. Retracted, it lets you fully exploit the low top tube to hustle the bike around corners and down technical descents. And once extended it complements the steep seat angle to give a climbing position that makes it easy to balance steering control at the front with traction at the rear wheel.
We’re also fans of the service-friendly threaded bottom bracket and strong two-piece SRAM cranks. SRAM also provides the Level T brakes and NX rear mech and shifter, but Calibre has made savings by fitting a KMC chain and SunRace cassette. The main compromise being that you don’t have as low a gear for climbing as the On One Scandal and Voodoo Bizango Pro.
With that dropper post and the most modern sizing and geometry, the Calibre was always odds on favourite to shine brightest in the dirt. But what was truly blinding was just how much more comfort and control it boasted compared to its rivals.
And it’s the chunky 2.6in Maxxis Rekon tyres that make all the difference. With a broad footprint, they offer plenty of grip in the dry, and break away predictably in loose gravel, but the real ace up their sleeve is the large volume of air inside. Running 20psi front and rear, there’s a level of suspension that the others can’t compete with, which isolates the rider from trail feedback. Your feet don’t get bounced off the pedals and your knuckles don’t go white from gripping the bars like your life depended on it.
Such impressive comfort and control gave us the confidence to release the brakes and carry more speed on the descents. But the Line T3 also led the way on the climbs – as long as they weren’t velvet-smooth – as there was more traction and a floaty ride that didn’t interrupt our pedal stroke. It was only on the road where extra drag made the Calibre feel a touch more sluggish than its rivals.
With a low front end, it’s easy to weight the fork for grip, but the relatively high BB does tilt your body forward over the bars, which feels a little unbalanced. Raising the stem and adding air to the fork helped recline us slightly, but the Calibre would benefit from a higher rise bar – and ideally a slightly lower BB.
The Calibre Line T3-27 is not yet in stock at Go Outdoors, Blacks, or Millets, but click on the link below to sign up for an email notification when it arrives.
Listed retail price for the T3-27 is £1200. However, if you sign up and buy a Go Outdoors membership card for just £5, the bike’s price drops to a great value £999.
Calibre has knocked it out of the park with the Line T3-27. It’s got all the big decisions right, with progressive geometry, a quality dropper post, and large volume tyres that let you ride further and faster with greater control. There are certain situations where the Voodoo Bizango Pro would be our first choice, namely cross-country races or big rides with lots of fire road sections, but the Calibre is a more versatile package you can really shred straight from the box to the trail. As a performance mountain bike at an entry-level price, Calibre has hit the bullseye.