Drop bar 29ers – Gryphon or Swift?

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This is the very first prototype Swift I was riding ten summers ago. I’d read all of Shiggy’s articles and zealous postings on MTBR about the joys of drop bars. I was enthused about what Matt Chester was doing with his proto-monstercross drop bar fixies. In fact I’d already been riding the newly released On-One Midge bar on my very first 29er, a Gary Fisher Rig with a custom Solitude fork of my spec. I was an early convert to the modern wave of drop bars for off-road use.  So when I designed the Swift I wanted something I could happily ride with a drop bar. However I always had the thought in the back of my mind as to whether the Swift could be commercially viable – and I knew a dedicated drop bar, rigid, singlespeed 29er might be a touch too niche to launch a brand on. So the Swift was conceived with the idea of being able to use a flat bar as well a drop.

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The first two prototype Singulars, one Swift with drop bars and no gears, one with flat bars and a triple!

 

In 2007 Singular was born, with the first batch of production Swifts arriving in January. Even at that point the idea of a drop bar specific frame was still percolating away and just 6 months later I had the first prototype Gryphon arrive, by late 2008 we had production frames here. This had a taller head tube, non-suspension corrected fork, shorter top tube and a slacker head angle with more fork rake when compared to a Swift.

Gryphon 1

Gryphon number one – that frame and many of the components are still going strong today.

Fast forward eight years to the re-structuring of the company with the involvement of a new partner and a much needed rationalisation of the product line. Remarkably, the Swift had changed little over this period and people still thought it rode as well as the day it was launched all that time ago. However with the presence of the Gryphon in the range people had forgotten that the Swift was quite drop friendly as well. With the intent of staying in business firmly in mind and given the relative similarity of the two frames the decision was reached to make a few tweaks to the new batch of Swift frames to further improve their drop-bar friendliness and to drop my beloved Gryphon from the range. The new Swift also got the rack mounts of the Gryphon, plus mudguard mounts, an extra bottle cage mount under the down tube, and the option of a fork with triple cage mounts for the dedicated bikepackers. Fundamentally, the new Swift is everything the old Gryphon was and more.

To give a clear comparison, the picture below overlays an extra large 2015 Gryphon with a large 2016 Swift. While the Swift is slightly longer and lower at the front end, judicious choice of stem can yield a riding position identical to that of the Gryphon. The caveat being that in order to keep the reach within a workable range the next size down in Swift is required if you are sure you want a drop bar dedicated machine. ‘What about those of us who needed a medium Gryphon?’ I hear you cry – well, good news, the new Swift is also available in a size S which has very similar reach to a M Gryphon.

 

Swift Gryphon comparison

Large ’16 Swift over an XL ’15 Gryphon

And this is how a new Swift with drop bars looks.

15 Swift with drops

I think they are even the same cranks as the first picture above…

Just because we can, here are a few more old pictures of Swifts with drop bars – in case I haven’t convinced you yet 🙂

Gryphon is dead – long live the Swift (with drop bars)!

The very first Singular customer Jase Billet getting some air-time on his drop bar Swift

 

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Mk1 geared Swift being tested at BikeRadar

 

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The incomparable Jacquie Phelan – doyenne of the drop bar – on a Swift at SSWC07 (pic thanks to Trina Ritchie)

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 14th, 2016 at 1:14 pm and is filed under Blog, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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