Great geometry and sizing
Polish brand Dartmoor build bikes attitude; we try and tame their Dartmoor Hornet hardtail. 160mm fork and Plus tyre compatibility.
Dartmoor Hornet need to know
- Hardcore hardtail that can handle up to 180mm travel suspension fork and 2.8in tyres
- 27.5in wheels and alloy frame with modern touches and superlative stand over height
- Custom builds available from importer Slam69, like this DVO Diamond fork spec
The first thing to know about Dartmoor is that it’s a bike brand from Poland, not a National Park in Devon (not in this case, anyway). Founded in 2005, Dartmoor makes a range of gravity bikes, from street and dirt jump bikes to downhill full suspension builds.
The Hornet here is the brand’s hardcore hardtail, a 27.5in bike you can buy in two spec levels from Dartmoor or as a frame only, which importers Slam69 will build up just how you want it. This explains the hefty pricetag of this custom build Hornet, which has been decked out in some high tech components that far outprice the frame itself, at £260. That makes the frame something of a bargain when you compare it to the competition, even the great value Nukeproof Scout is £350 for the bare bones.
With 160mm travel up front the Hornet represents a hardtail segment that most UK brands have moved away from, preferring instead to limit travel to 130mm, meaning the Hornet fills a useful niche. Indeed, the bike can handle anything up to 180mm travel and triple crown forks if that takes your fancy, Slam69 says. And if that’s too much travel, Dartmoor makes the Primal for 130-160mm forks. The Hornet’s frame is a great looking piece of workmanship, the red paintjob pops and the alloy tubing swoops and plunges to please the eye. There’s no internal cable routing but there are some modern touches we like — there’s nowhere to mount a front derailleur and the standover height is just incredible thanks to Dartmoor’s street or dirt heritage.
The Hornet is perhaps an appropriate name for the bike because there’s a hell of a sting in its tail though. Those chunky chainstays and seatstays don’t budge an inch leading to a harsh ride that you feel coming up through the feet, you can’t help but suffer every rock or solid section of trail coming up to meet you like a sledgehammer. The plush DVO Diamond fork on the front feels comfortable and controlled, its Off The Top feature letting you dial in plushness to the front of its stroke but this can’t make up for the rear’s solid feel. Dartmoor says the bike can accept 2.8in tyres, something that might prove a salve to the Hornet’s sting and calm things down at the back.
Dartmoor’s Hornet has good geometry, the steep seat angle means it’s good to pedal uphill and the slack head angle should lend it all the confidence you need. The sizing is good too, although an XL for riders above 6ft would be ideal, and we love the sheer variety of build options Slam69 offers. If Dartmoor could just build in a lot more vertical compliance to the back end it could complete the package.