Not a bad bike by any standards, but no class leader.
Often overlooked by image conscious riders, the British-designed and built Olympus is the latest in a line of good-looking mid-range hardtails from Claud Butler. But can it live up to its predecessors?
The Olympus gets its rigid ride from complex profile, hydraformed main tubes. Built-in gussetry up front adds protection from the odd tumble. Square-section rear stays snake their way up to the seat tube and join a forged chainstay bridge at the bottom bracket, giving great mud clearance.
Combining understated looks with a tempting on-paper spec list, the Olympus sets a high bar for itself before the rider has even climbed aboard. Rangy geometry gives plenty of room to get comfy, while name-check components give clean gear shifts and eyeball-popping stopping power. So far, so good.
Head up the first climb and everything works as it should. Wide bars give a powerful stance for muscling up short, steep gnadgery sections, while the widely spaced tyre knobs grip well, wet or dry. The fork’s on the firm side, but patters over minor trails willingly and matches the solid, implacable feel of the rear. It’s no rocket on the climbs, but the Olympus will get you to the top in its own time.
Step on the pedal though, and its character is less beguiling. The rigid frame structure may be great for power delivery, but it demands great tyres and an efficient fork to avoid battering the rider into a pulp at speed in the rough. While the Olympus certainly has the former, it’s debatable whether the budget RockShox J2 is really up to the job on high speed descents.
Shimano’s Deore LX gears and brakes are so good, it’s hard to justify spending more. It’s a pity there wasn’t room in the budget for a better crankset, although the main practical upshot of the budget unit fitted is that it doesn’t shift quite as well under pressure as its more costly counterparts. We have our concerns about the fork, obviously. And our only other niggle concerns the seat post, which on our test bike only just allowed us to set the saddle level.
Minor component quibbles aside, a frame this stiff is crying out for a better fork right away rather than as a future upgrade… but we doubt whether it’s worth spending the money, given the competition.