Jan 2017 update – I’ve now ridden and reviewed the 2 new models:
Aeris One20 review here
Aeris One45 review here
I’ve been riding my Bird Aeris since July 2015. It’s been a hell of a journey riding this bike, with both my confidence and riding ability developing more than I could ever have imagined.
Bird Cycleworks was born in April 2013 when three passionate cyclists wanted to make better bikes. Currently, they have three full suspension Aeris models; my original model, a newly designed Aeris 145 that will replace my model (due for a March 2017 release), as well as a shorter travel Aeris One20, plus three variations of their Zero hardtail; a few remaining original MK1 models, the slightly shorter travel TR designed around 130mm forks, and the all mountain slayer, the AM, which is designed for 150mm forks.
My bike is a 2015 version of their outstanding longer travel full suspension offering, the Aeris (unsurprisingly, in stealth black, although they offer some truly beautiful coloured options). When selecting my components, I wanted the bike to be capable of tackling any terrain and decided on a solid build within my budget, at the expense of a few grams. Pricing was roughly in the middle of the options available online (The build I’m reviewing was £2325), which I personally feel is outstanding value for money, considering the spec list.
I opted for 160mm RockShox Pike RCT3 up front (Oct 16 update – the Pikes are gone and have been replaced by 2017 RockShox Lyriks in the 160mm option, still with stealth decals), giving me a super slack 65.2 degree head angle. Bird offer 140, 150 and 160mm fork options from RockShox and X-Fusion, so you get a huge choice. Keeping the mud from my eyes is a Mudhugger FR, as seen being raced by Loic Bruni and many other world class riders. The front forks are complimented by a RockShox Monarch RT3 Debonair rear shock, easily changeable from 140mm to 150mm by adjusting one bolt on the rear shock mount. Again, Bird offer a massive range of rear squish choices, from RockShox, X-Fusion and Cane Creek, truly allowing you to customise however you want.
The wheels are DT Swiss E1700 spline 2, which are #totallyenduro. Lightweight yet durable, these enduro specific wheels have been solid since day one, and they’re still running true as the day they were built, despite some shady line choices through rock gardens and technical rooty sections over the months! The no-tool ratchet system on the rear makes for easy maintenance too, which is great for the less experienced bike fettlers.
My tyre setup is currently a Maxxis Shorty 2.3″ up front, paired with a Maxxis Minion SS 2.3″ out back, to give me a super grippy front, fast rolling rear combination. I’ve also had Minion DHF/DHR and Ardents on over the past year, and all have proved as capable as the bike for the terrain I’ve ridden. Bird build their bikes tubeless rather than tubeless ready too, so there’s no fussing around with tubes, you can run lower pressures out of the box and get on with a no hassle ride.
Gearing on my Aeris consists of SRAM GX 1×11, with Raceface Aeffect cranks and their 32t narrowide chainring. The GX kit is a healthy mix of quality and affordability, so replacing your drivetrain isn’t a scary thought as it may be when running XX or X1, but you do get a weight penalty from the GX over the higher spec versions. Considering the sturdy build choice, my bike weighs in at a respectable 31lbs/14kg. You can easily go sub 30 with a lighter build and a fatter wallet.
Keeping my feet in place are a set of Brendog signature DMR Vaults, in a colour complimenting matt black (are you sensing the theme here yet?). I was running Shimano Saints up until recently, when the right pedal decided to part ways with the spindle down a pretty quick descent. The vaults are great; the huge platform and immense grip ensures you stay glued to the bike, especially with the moto pins put in to ensure ‘controlled chaos’ as Brendog puts it. Honestly, it’s almost like being clipped in again when running them with my Five Ten Freeriders.
Elsewhere, I’m running an 800mm RaceFace Atlas 35 bar with an Easton Haven 35mm stem, DMR Deathgrips and Shimano SLX brakes with 203/180mm RT76 rotors. All in all, it’s a super sturdy setup which begs you to get loose into turns and berms and stops on a penny.
As a perch for my posterior, a 150mm RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper post coupled with a mega comfy Charge Scoop for all day riding comfort. The 150mm Reverb allows me to drop things ultra-low for when the descents get wild!
To put it simply, the ride… is sublime. Friends who have ridden it describe it as ‘the hog’, ‘a sofa’ and ‘an absolute monster’. All of these are compliments I think! The Aeris climbs as well as my old cross country bike, but descends with the power of a freight train. Put the right rider on the bike and it will tackle anything. Just check out the Bird Factory rider results over the last year. Chris Doney, Tomas Kupstys, Charles Griffith, Joel and Traharn Chidley and Tom Cosgrove to name a few, have all had consistent podium finishes across a number of top level Enduro races recently. Here’s a little edit from Wilsondoesfilms of Chris Doney on board the Aeris. Super talented rider + awesome film maker = neat little video:
I’ve given the bike hell at my local trails, races and beyond over the past year and I feel so confident that this bike will slay the trails in its ever faithful, smooth, planted style for years to come; Drifting loamy trails and roosting hard packed berms are simply a joy on the Aeris. In fact, every pedal stroke, every moment spent on the bike is capable of creating a smile. Believe in the bike and it’ll guide you through the most challenging terrain you can throw at it.
The long top tube (640mm on my Large) and overall wheelbase (1207mm) paired with a short, wide cockpit makes the bike feel planted on any terrain, under any circumstance. The geometry of the bike really does invite you to push the limits of your riding capabilities, encouraging you to test how aggressive you can be into a tight berm or a loamy section of singletrack. Put in the effort and I guarantee you’ll improve your skills on an Aeris.
I personally love the more industrial look to the bike, too. Don’t get me wrong, the smooth curves of a Santa Cruz Nomad are stunning, but the Aeris looks like it’s built to take a hammering, allowing you to forego the ‘what if I scratch it?!’ concerns, to really let you focus on pinning your favourite routes and destroying any Strava PR’s you may have had on other bikes.
If you want to read about super technical data, suspension kinematics and the like, you can do so here. It’s way over my head though… all I know is that this bike works, and works exceedingly well.
I’ve been lucky enough to own and ride a lot of bikes as an amateur rider, and the Aeris has grown my abilities and confidence so much more than any other bike I’ve slung a leg over, and inspires, motivates and begs me to push that little harder. With the rides, events and venues I’ll be doing in 2016 and beyond, I may actually stand a chance of becoming as capable as the bike I have the pleasure of owning.
If you’re interested, you can demo any of the Bird fleet for a small fee (that you get back if you buy) at local trails to Hampshire, and the Bird guys regularly head to bike parks and trail centres across the country, so I’m sure they could sort something out if you’re further afield. Be warned though; if you demo, you’ll want to buy.. not just for the incredible bike, but for the after service, which is some of the best I’ve ever experienced as a consumer.
An all-round trail slayer, as happy climbing as descending. Whatever you can throw at this bike, it will handle. Confidence inspiring and planted, it’s a must on your list if you’re in the market for a new steed.
Prices start from just £1495 for the Aeris and as low as £895 for the Zero hardtail range.
Keep up to date by following the Stealth Riders Instagram page!
PS – I mentioned the Aeris One20 above.. here’s a shot of a gorgeously raw pre-production model I had a quick go on and was VERY impressed by. Stay tuned for a full review soon!