First Impression: Coconino Signature Model Frame

By Karl Rosengarth

To celebrate his 10th year in business, Steve Garro of Coconino Cycles popped the Champagne cork and sent Dirt Rag his Signature Model frame to test.

OK, so that’s not exactly how this 650b hardtail ended up at DRHQ, but the part about Garro fabricating mountain bikes for 10 years is true. Not to mention the fact that he has been building 650b mountain bikes since Kirk Pacenti got tweeners rolling in the dirt back in 2007 (with the introduction of the Pacenti 650b Neo-Moto tire). All that experience made Coconino an easy choice when Dirt Rag was looking for a handmade 650b frame to review.

When ordering the test bike, I used Coconino’s standard ordering process, which involved a web form where I entered various bodily measurements and answered a series of questions related to my current bike set-up, riding style and my ideas for the bike.

Garro translated my personal data into a 120mm-travel hardtail with a 69-degree head tube angle (at 30 percent sag), 72.5-degree seat tube angle, 22.6-inch top tube length, 16.7-inch chainstays, 44.3-inch wheelbase and a 1.7-inch BB drop (which worked out to 12.6-inch BB height with the WTB Bee Line tires I’ve been running.)

Buttery fillet-brazed joints tie the tubes together and contribute to a sleek and smooth aesthetic. The external seat tube collar—which adds strength and support in this high-stress area—is nicely executed. The Coconino signature segmented seat stays are beefier up top for durability and crash protection, and thinner at the tips for a hint of compliance.

Paragon Machine Works supplies the dropouts, bottom bracket, head tube, and cable guides (top-notch stuff, Danny). The cable guides are closed loop, which results in a very smooth and clean look (no unsightly cable ties or clips required). However, it means that you’ll have to remove your rear hydro line and bleed your brakes, if you decide to swap the caliper or lever. The cherry on this sundae is the hand-poured bronze head badge.

Goodies include a Chris King BB, headset and hubs—which Garro laced up to WTB Frequency i23 Team rims. I took advantage of the wheel’s tubeless rim strip to test out a pair of new WTB Bee Line tubeless ready tires (look for my tire review in an upcoming issue of Dirt Rag). Shimano XT 2×10 drivetrain and brakes—check and check. Up front a 120mm-travel 2014 Fox Factory 32 Float (FIT CTD w/Trail Adjust) provides Kashima plushness and 15mm through-axle security. Thomson kicked down the seatpost/stem. Answer came through with a set of ProTaper 720AM bars with serious old-guy rise.

With the provided component suite, the test bike weighed in at 27.2 lbs. (without pedals) and rang the register at $5,500. The base price of Coconino’s Signature Model frame starts at $1,975 with standard paint. A sweet-looking Spectrum Powderworks finish, complete with a hint of gold metal flake, bumped the price of the test fame up to $2,275. The Signature Model frame is offered in either a curved top tube (tested) or straight top tube version.

I’ve quickly settled into a comfortable groove with this bike. I dig the upright, athletically balanced rider position. Steering response feels neutral, which is meant as a compliment. Directional changes come naturally, via subtle weight shifts, and I don’t have to consciously think about steering. When conditions demand fast action, a quick snap of the bars flicks the bike around obstructions.

The Coconino delivers that lively resilience that I’ve come to expect from nicer steel frames. It doesn’t ride like a jackhammer when pointed into the chop. Under hard cornering strain, any lateral frame flex is barely noticeable. I’ve ridden steel bikes that wind up and feel flimsy under lateral strain—but the Coconino is not among them. Her ride feel is crisp, but not harsh.

That’s all for the taste test. I’m saving the rest of the ride flavor for the upcoming print review. Be sure to subscribe or renew today [] and make sure you get Dirt Rag delivered to your door.



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