Constructed entirely of carbon fibre, including the links, the bike looks sculptured rather than molded. Cables are neatly routed externally as Silverback feels this is an advantage on stage races where ease of maintenance is a high priority. Their XGuide cable management system, as on their other bikes keeps, everything in place. Di2 compatibility future-proofs your purchase by making it upgrade ready.
The Sesta Frame
The suspension runs on a combination of bearings and bushes. Bearings where there is a great degree of movement and reliability is expected and bushes where there is very little movement to reduce maintenance requirements. An added benefit of the bushes is that they add lateral stiffness.
With a head angle of 70.5°, seat tube angle of 73.5° and top tube length of 628mm, the Sesta's geometry is comfortably contemporary. Standover height is excellent in all sizes with the top tube and seat tube connecting low down.
- Full carbon frame and linkages
- Replaceable Alloy hanger
- Di2 ready
- XGuide Cable management System
- 90mm rear wheel travel
- 142x12mm Thru Axle
- Removable Front Derailleur mount
- Burst Technology suspension design
- Freeze Strut that adds stiffness and strength to the rear triangle when braking and also directs air to the rear rotor to keep it cooler and avoid brake fade
Silverback use what they call Advanced Riding Dynamics (ARD) when equipping a bicycle. They have identified the frame, fork and wheels as key elements to enhance ride quality and will ensure that for the given price and intended use any bike in their line-up will sport the best wheels, frame and fork possible. Reviewing the Silverback Sprada 2 last year left me convinced that their approach works and on the Sesta Pro the philosophy continues.
Fork: A RockShox SID RL has been picked to do duty up front and it is a good choice that matches the rear suspension and overall feel of the bike very well. It is stiff and compliant with a enough of a progressive stroke to avoid harsh bottom outs and diving through the travel.
Shock: The Fox Float DPS complements the SID and thanks to its custom tune was easy to setup and fine tune to our liking. There is no remote lock out on offer on any of the models - a sign of Silverback's confidence in their suspension design.
Drivetrain: A 1x11 drivetrain comprising of Shimano XT powered by a Race Face Turbine Cinch crankset running a 32T chainring. If I could have my way I would prefer one of SRAM'S 1x11 offerings because, as things currently stand, they offer a wider range. With the 32T chainring I was spinning out from around 35km/h leaving me to coast it out.
Brakes: Stopping power is exactly what you would expect from Shimano's XT brakes with a 180mm rotor in front and 160mm rotor at the rear. Performance was great, and more importantly, consistent through the heat range with good modulation and feel.
Wheels: ZTR Crests need very little introduction having been the XC wheelset of choice for many years. Some upgrades have recently been announced with the rims going lighter and wider. Although a popular choice potential buyers will either need to check they fall inside the ZTR Crest's 87kg weight limit of the wheels, or ask their LBS to upgrade to Arch EX Rims or, what would be my choice, American Classic Wide Lightning.
Tyres: The ZTR Crest wheels came wrapped in 2.10 Schwalbe Racing Ralph LiteSkin tyres. Offering a 90g saving over their Snakeskin, Tubeless ready counterparts, these will be the first item on the list to replace. No question. Their paper-thin sidewalls caused the tyres to roll on their carcass with the only partial solution was to increase tyre pressure which lead to a loss in grip and traction and a unnecessarily hard ride. With the overall weight of the bike as competitive as it is I see no need to run these tyres with the compromise and risk of sidewall cuts and punctures. We swapped them out for a set of 2.25 Onza Canis and it transformed the ride. I could drop the pressure to an acceptable low for the rims which increased confidence and fun on the trail no end.
Saddle: The saddle features CRN-Ti rails with light foam padding and was immediately comfortable. The colour bits that match the frame are a neat touch, further showcasing the attention to detail on this bike.
The finishing kit all comes from Silverback's own Sector range. At 700mm the handlebar is on the narrow side by today's standards and I felt the 90mm stem was a little too long for me. I'd say 720mm should be the minimum width on the Large, but have to admit that the 90mm stem will mostly do for most of the riders who fit a Large.
On the Trail
Riding the Sesta at first with the factory tyres was a bit like riding a completely different bike. Although all the signs and promise of a great bike was there, the overall experience was seriously hampered by the LiteSkin Racing Ralphs. Once we had the Onza Canis tyres on the bike was transformed. A bit like fitting proper all terrain tyres on a Jeep after trying to tackle the unknown with highway biased tyres fitted.
I found the Sesta Pro to be an excellent climber with a refined suspension design. I was happy to ride it in the full open mode most of the time (I'd say 80%) with the rest of the time spent in Trail mode. With the shock in full open mode there was little to no sign of suspension bob and every pedal stroke translated into forward motion. This is further enhanced by the stiff frame that shows no sign of flex no matter how hard I stomped away.
The 90mm of travel on offer felt like more when descending and negotiating rocky, rooty terrain. The early stroke is sufficiently plush with good mid-stroke support leading into gradual ramp towards the end of the stroke to avoid bottom out. The combination of suspension design and shock tune is definitely works well on the Sesta.
On single track the Silverback Sesta felt more like a trail 29er than a pure XC or Marathon bike. I'm sure it will be a good one-bike for those looking to challenge KOM's and having fun doing it.
Initial impressions of the Silverback Sesta had me excited. From the get go it is a fun bike to ride. The 100mm SID upfront feels a bit more like 120mm thanks to the more slightly relaxed geometry (by XC / marathon bike standards).
My first proper outing on the Silverback Sesta was the two day Cell C Arabella challenge. The routes provided perfect test conditions with 40-50km each day on a mix of rocky and sandy terrain, loads of climbing and tight singletrack. Out of the blocks I noticed the want for some more gears with legs spinning furiously on fast descents, but to be fair the early tar downhill at 40km/h+ was the only time I really noticed it.
Thanks to the light build and stiff frame the Sesta really enjoys climbing. On longer smoother drags I locked out the front and rear for maximum efficiency, but for most purposes I had both front and rear set to trail / pedal modes. In trail mode the rear suspension design performs very well with minimal pedal bob and keeping contact with the trail when needed.
Heading downhill the handling is smooth and precise while, like the front, the rear suspension appears to offer a bit more travel than it says on the box. The descents had me smiling until some eroded rocky patches and lack of line choices led to the stock Schwalbe rear tyre giving up its air. After fighting with subsequent snakebite punctures and over an hour stranded I made to call to opt for a more capable tyre for day two.
With some beefier Onza Canis 2.25 60tpi I smiled all through day two and despite the added rubber the Sesta still felt good in the climbs. The added grip and confidence they provided were a far better match for a bike which punches above its weight class.
The long wait for the Sesta has been worth it. Silverback have created a polished dual suspension carbon race bike. The geometry and suspension work together to create a bike that begs to be ridden fast. Considering the level of components, the asking price of R61,500 makes the Sesta a worthy consideration for the bargain hunters. Personal preference would see us changing tyres and possibly the range of gearing but that aside, the Sesta is a great cross-country race bike.
- Light but stiff
- Great looking - both the overall profile and paint job
- Excellent pedaling manners
- Offers good value for money
- Combination of bottomless feel and geometry allows the Sesta to exhibit some trail manners and will be happy to play on its way down.
- Tyres will need replacing
- Drivetrain will not suit everyone, but the frame can accommodate both 1x and 2x drivetrains
- You will have to check whether your weight fall within the 87kg limit of the wheels
- FrameSB Advanced Dynamics Carbon 29” Suspension, Tapered 1-1/8” – 1.5” Headtube, Press-Fit BB Shell, Full Carbon Rear Triangle, Carbon linkages, 142 x 12mm Thru Axle Integrated Dropouts, Replaceable Alloy hanger, XGuide Cable management System
- ForkRock Shox SID RL, 100mm Travel, Solo Air, Tapered Alloy Steerer, Remote OneLoc Sprint, QR15mm Dropout, Diffusion Black
- Rear shockFox Float DPS, 3 Position Adjustments, 90mm travel, 165mm x 38mm, Stainless Steel 10mm hardware
- RimsStan's Crest 29”, Alloy 32H, Stan’s Yellow Rimtape and Valves, Black, Custom Decal colours
- HubsStan's 3.30, 100 x 15mm front and 142 x 12mm rear Axles, 6-Bolt, Disc hubs, Black
- TyresSchwalbe Racing Ralph EVO, 29" x 2.1", Tubeless Ready, Folding
- StemSector Radius, 3D Forged 6061 Alloy, S/M: 80mm; L: 90mm, 7° x ∮31.8mm, Stainless Steel hardware, Black
- HandlebarSector Plane, Double Butted 6061 Alloy, W: 700mm; Back Sweep: 9° x ∮31.8mm, Matte Marble, Black
- SeatpostSector Level, CNC 6061 Alloy shaft, ∮31.6mm x 400mm, Black bolts
- SaddleSector Performance, CRN-Ti Rails
- BrakesetShimano XT BL/BR-M8000, Open Hydraulic System, Metal Pads, Levers Rotors Front: 180mm; Rear: 160mm, 6-Bolt, Black
- ShiftersShimano XT SL-M8000, 1x11 Trigger, Black
- Rear derailleurShimano XT Shadow Tech Plus RD-M8000, Long Cage, 11 Speed
- CassetteShimano XT CS-M8000, 11 Speed, 11-42T, Silver
- CranksetRaceface Turbine Cinch Crankset 32T, L:175mm, All Sizes, Black
- Bottom bracketRaceface BB92
- Actual weight11.61kg (Includes Shimano XT Trail pedals, Steel Bottle Cage, Garmin Quarter Turn Mount, Onza Canis 2.25 TL tires)
- Retail priceR61 500 (Sesta Team R76 999)