Sometimes, when you want to move forward you need a clean slate: to start again without the anchor of history keeping you stuck in one place, doing one thing. Sometimes you need to rip it up and start again. And that’s what Pace has done.
While some will bemoan the passing of Pace’s unique extruded aluminium and wishbone seatstays of yore, it’s good to see a company do things without feeling it has to because “that’s how we always did it”.
The long travel hardtail frame – especially in steel – still feels like a decidedly British quirk, so it’s good to see a decidedly British company still flying the flag. The RC127 has been a long time in the works, and with all the upheaval of late with wheel sizes and so forth it’s interesting to see where Pace have decided to come back into the game.
As the name implies, the RC127 is designed around 27.5in wheels. For the frame, Pace has gone straight for the top drawer of the tubing cupboard – Reynolds 853 is as good as it gets. Welds are as neat as you’ll find on anything this side of a boutique build and the paint (your choice of blue, yellow or black, and a choice of decal colours) is hardwearing, with a protective coating applied beneath.
Mud clearance is ample, helped by the lack of a chainstay brace. The CNC’d aluminium 142 x 12mm dropouts are bolted to the main frame, and are adjustable, allowing singlespeeders to get their chain tension just so. It’s a neat system, and it proved free of creaks or groans during testing.
ISCG 05 tabs are present and correct, as are mudguard/rack mounts. Full length gear cable routing is sensibly external – tucked neatly under the downtube, the BB is standard threaded and the tapered headtube uses external cups. It’s all very sensible and straightforward – dare we say typically Yorkshire? Our prototype came with a Stealth dropper post hole on the seat tube, but this won’t make production as Pace doesn’t want to drill holes in a steel seat tube, so dropper routing will be external.
The RC127 is available as a frame only or as a full build, seen here with a top spec. RockShox Pike, SRAM X1 groupset, SRAM Guide brakes, Mavic CrossRoc XL wheels clad with Maxxis tyres (Minion 3C front and Crossmark rear, a well-thought-out combo) and a short and wide Race Face cockpit means there’s precious little we’d change. In fact, the only thing we’d add is a dropper post – and Pace offers a RockShox Reverb upgrade for £190.
The RC127 makes an instant impression.
The RC127 makes an instant impression. From the first pedal strokes there’s a definite feeling of a bike that wants to keep accelerating – you’ll be troubling the bottom end of the cassette far more than the top. Some of this is down to the Mavic wheelset and low-profile Maxxis Crossmark rear tyre but there’s a sparkle to the bike that seems rare these days. This has you hunting out climbs to throw yourself at, which at first seems unusual for a bike with a 140mm fork, but it proves the Pace is a true all-rounder.
And once you’ve got to the top of the top and can’t climb any further, the Pace is just as keen to get to the bottom. The lack of a dropper post is a bit of an annoyance, but it’s easily remedied. Pointed downhill, that same acceleration is evident and you do need to remind yourself that there’s no 140mm of rear travel to match the fork. While some bikes with such an imbalance between front and rear can feel overly harsh, the Pace feels smooth – like a velvet-covered claw hammer – smashing its way through rocks with a soft touch.
The geometry is very much of the ‘now’. A long front centre and relaxed head angle make for a ride that’s stable enough for you to ride into trouble with confidence, but without feeling overly neutral or dull. There’s plenty of character here, and the need to accelerate, mated to a desire to get dynamic and to make the most of every corner and lip, makes the Pace a bike that keeps you constantly entertained.
Without restricting themselves to what they’ve done in the past, Pace has been free to look at what it wants to build now – a long travel steel hardtail. While this might not be the most revolutionary idea, especially in what feels like quite a revolutionary time in mountain bike development, it’s very well executed. The Pace pulls at your riding heartstrings with its charm and impresses with its flair. Ultimately it reminds full suspension diehards just how good a hardtail can be, and it reminds hardtail lovers that not all steel frames are created equal.