Sonder Transmitter Carbon | Review
Alpkit's latest Sonder Transmitter Carbon mountain bike is lighter, lower, slacker and all round faster, funner and better than the original aluminium version.
'Sonder's latest Transmitter Carbon is a thoroughly modern trail weapon with the secret power of giant, terrain-flattening 650b+ tyres backed up by super-stable trail manners and a great parts spec'
Outdoors Magic: Masses of grip and roll over from the fat tyres, super stable, reliable steering, solid fork, dependable gears, light for what it is, climbs anything if you can keep turning the pedals. Dropper post.
Outdoors Tragic: Fork can get a little choppy at max speed, more bludgeon than razor in feel.
Outdoors Grabbit? Oh yes! Faster, more stable, more fun and greener than the original, the combination of a lighter carbon frame and fat, super-grippy, 650b+ tyres plus a great spec for the price make this a cracking trail bike. The ultra stable steering and dropper post have your back like a good mate when things seem just about to kick off in a crowded pub, but most of all this thing is serious fun and makes you question whether you really need full suspension.
Lightweight carbon fibre frame / Rockshox Yari fork at 120mm / SRAM NX1 groupset 1 x 11 drivetrain / internal cable routing / bottle cage mounts / Reverb Stealth dropper post / SRAM Guide hydraulic disc brakes / Love Mud 740mm Aspect Riser bars / Love Mud Rumpus 650b+ boost MTB wheel set / WTB 2.8' Ranger tyres / choice of raw carbon or two painted finishes
Full Review Below
Sonder Transmitter Carbon | Performance
We liked the original Sonder Transmitter so much that we actually bought the prototype frame from them and built up our own trail-eating, oversized-tyre, hardtail monster. We were perfectly happy with it too, but then Sonder launched the new carbon fibre version alongside the original alloy bike, which is still available.
What's the difference? Visually they look pretty similar, even down to the leaf-type, bladed top tube, but there are some significant changes. The new frame is appeciably lighter, around 2lb or so we reckon, but at the same time, stiffer and stronger.
It still has super stable steering to look after you on the fast and steep stuff, but it's slightly longer, which makes it feel more planted again. Finally the seat-tube is subtly lower, which means you can use a dropper post with more, erm, drop.
But even if that's mostly gibberish to you, all your really need to know is that it's better in several appreciable ways. It still has the original's huge, oversized 'plus' tyres and if you buy one of Alpkit's standard builds - this is the NX Yari spec at £1749 - comes festooned with Sonder's own Love Mud parts including super wide 740mm handlebars, wide-rimmed wheels, headset and stem.
You also get top brand quality where it matters, like the 120mm Rockshox Yari fork, a RockShox Reverb stealth seatpost that goes up and down at the press of a button next to the rear brake lever and a slick 1x11 SRAM gear set-up - a single ring at the front and an 11-tooth cassette at the back with enough spread to climb even steep things, but still romp away downhill when you're off road at least.
Sonder Transmitter Carbon | The Ride
If you haven't ridden a modern mountain bike, the Transmitter Carbon will blow your socks off and leave them hanging limply at the side of the trail. It might be 'just' a hardtail in an era when the specialist mountain bike mags are adamant that you need suspension front and rear, but the oversized 2.8-inch tyres - 'normal' mountain bike tyres are more like 2.3-inches - means that in a lot of terrain, it can hang with the full sus tough kids.
Get the tyre pressures just right, not too soft and not too hard, and the TC just floats unstoppably over small to medium trail stuff like rocks, cobbles and tree roots. All that rubber also gives it rock boot levels of grip and the end result is a bike that flies down small to medium rough trails.
It rolls downhill so quickly that you really do appreciate how the slack, stable steering - the head-angle is 65˚ if that means anything to you - looks after you. It's a bit like the super reliable mate who has your back when a chip shop scuffle threatens to turn nasty and steps in to calm things down.
The sturdy Rockshox Yari fork helps too, though if you get over enthusiastic on the rough stuff, it can go into foot-stamping, over-faced mode. If you're super aggressive or just particularly stupid, you might want to go for the Pike fork instead.
The final member of the calm it down team is that Reverb dropper post - again from Rockshox - which lets you lower your saddle at the press of a button to help you keep your weight low and stable.
The Transmitter carbon's not just fast downhill though. The reduction in weight, a fast-rolling rear tyre and masses of grip and roll over also mean that it climbs well too. As long as your legs'll turn the pedals, it'll keep on rolling with a lot less resistance than you'd think. And if it rolls too fast, the SRAM brakes work reliably to scrub off speed.
Sonder Transmitter Carbon | Verdict
We loved the original aluminium Transmitter and the Carbon version is more of the same, but even better. Those fat, over-sized tyres might not have the precision of more conventional mountain bike rubber, but their ability to just roll over pretty much anything you're likely to come across on a normal trail makes every ride a giggling, run-away riot.
Fortunately the grown-ups are there too in the shape of super-stable, 'get you out of detention' steering, reliable forks, brakes that work and the confidence-boosting dropper seatpost - you might not know you want one, but trust us, you do.
It all adds up to a brilliant, all-round package that'll bludgeon its way over the trails at close to full suspension speeds and this particular build has everything that most riders will need and more. Do we really have to give it back?