SAGE FLOW MOTION REVIEW – AN AGGRESSIVE TITANIUM HARDTAIL BUILT TO SHRED

A SAGE USE OF TITANIUM

SAGE FLOW MOTION REVIEW – AN AGGRESSIVE TITANIUM HARDTAIL BUILT TO SHRED

It’s like déjà vu, like we’ve tested this bike before! That’s because we have, but it’s been a few years, and technology has advanced just a little bit, as has the design of the Flow Motion. Sage designed this titanium machine to be an all-mountain hardtail capable of tackling the rough stuff with the tenacity of its full-suspension counterparts. This updated version that we tested here is a true nod to the industry’s innovations, even over the last few years from the 12-speed Bluetooth drivetrain to the frame itself. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the timeless enjoyment of riding a simple hardtail that’s really not that simple anymore.

A 64-degree head angle and 150mm of fork travel heighten the bike’s descending capabilities but don’t dampen its agility on the climbs.

FRAME

Like with all Sage Titanium bikes, the Flow Motion’s frame is designed and hand-built in the USA out of USA-made straight-gauge titanium tubing. Their main goal is quality, so people like us can feel comfortable sending it no matter what the trail puts in our way. It’s complete with internal routing for a dropper post and rear brake with external mounts for running an analog drivetrain if you decide against using SRAM AXS. One big update Sage has made to their Flow Motion frame is that it’s designed around a 29-inch rear wheel, which was a 27.5-inch frame when we last tested this bike.

Sage takes pride in their work and makes sure to let people know this bike was made by them.

Sage also updated their geometry just a bit by changing the head tube angle to 64 degrees instead of the 65.5-degree head tube angle we saw previously. They’ve also made the bike a lot longer on the size large, with a reach of 491mm and a wheelbase of 1,251mm over the previous numbers of 460mm and 1195mm.

Internally routed cables and hoses plus SRAM’s wireless AXS drivetrain make for an exceptionally clean overall look.

COMPONENTS

Sage offers the Flow Motion as a frame, a frameset with fork and headset, or a complete bike. The exact version of the bike we’re testing is not available as a build option on their website. Their build menu has very similar and comparable options featuring a number of different component brands.

The Flow Motion we tested came with a SRAM XX1 AXS Eagle drivetrain and SRAM G2 Ultimate brakes with carbon levers and chrome calipers and master cylinders with some titanium hardware sprinkled in. Sage went with FSA for almost every other component on the bike, including the headset, Gradient carbon wheels, carbon bars and stem, and carbon SLK cranks at 170mm in length. A 150mm Fox Factory Transfer dropper post, a Sage-branded saddle, and Lizard Skin Machine lock-on grips fill out the cockpit. For tires, we had a Maxxis Minion DHF 29×2.6-inch with EXO up front and a Maxxis Aggressor 29×2.3-inch with DD casing in the rear.

Our tested Flow Motion came with SRAM G2 Ultimate brakes with carbon levers and chrome calipers and master cylinders.

SUSPENSION

Sage builds this bike with a 150mm-travel Fox Factory 36 fork. This fork features a GRIP 2 damper, Kashima-coated stanchions, bleed valves for the outer legs and a 44mm offset.

It’s hard to beat the instant power transfer a hardtail gives us. It takes us back to mountain biking’s humble beginnings.

CLIMBING

We feel we can always expect a hardtail to climb well, even if it’s a raked-out beast. One place we’ve always found interesting is the way different materials feel on a hardtail. We’ve ridden our fair share of bikes, and we keep coming back to titanium because it’s just awesome. We love the vibration-damping effect that saves our hands on long, chattery descents and the fact that it’s lightweight.

The Sage Flow Motion is a titanium wonder. The 150mm of fork travel and a slack 64-degree head tube angle don’t seem to dampen the climbing performance. It’s hard to beat the instant power transfer a hardtail gives us. Though it has aggressive downhill-enhancing geometry, the weight of this bike is relatively low. At 27 pounds, the Flow Motion felt light for a bike of this caliber, which encouraged us to pedal it for longer periods whenever we rode it. To put this weight in perspective, the awesomely similar Kona Honzo ESD we reviewed in the January 2022 issue weighed 32.5 pounds. The rear-wheel grip is incredible on the Flow Motion and the rider position for climbing is good. We found ourselves not shying away from the steepest climbs and enjoying the challenge of climbing things we’d normally only enjoy on an e-bike.

ON THE RIDER: Leatt MTB Trail 3.0 V22 helmet ($140); Leatt MTB All Mtn 2.0 jersey ($50), Leatt MTB Enduro 3.0 shorts ($100), Leatt MTB 2.0 X-Flow gloves ($40), Leatt AirFlex Hybrid knee guards ($120), Leatt MTB V22 socks ($20); Viral Rogue Glasses ($90) Ride Concepts Hellion Clip Shoes ($150)

DESCENDING

Sage built the Flow Motion to perform well in the descents. They made it long and slack to be as stable as possible for all mountain use, but those who preferred a nimble ride felt they could have sized down. Our size large, with a reach of 491mm, proved to almost be too long for some of our sub-6-foot riders who normally have no issue riding most size-large bikes. This was mainly an issue when navigating low-speed technical trails with tight corners. Our taller riders and those who spent more time on high-speed or steep, natural-terrain trails loved the reach and stability it provided. A key advantage Sage has over mass-production bikes is offering custom geometry options like reach so they can dial it in for anyone’s preferences.

High-speed performance, even under smaller riders, was exceptional. We took the Flow Motion to a bike park just to see how it would perform and were happy with the results. For a hardtail, the Flow Motion tracks the ground quite well, allowing us to let off the brakes confidently. Normally, on hardtails, bike park trails are horrible and cause our hands and arms to seize up after a long, stuttering descent, but the vibration-absorbent titanium frame and Fox 36 fork did well to keep the arm pump at bay. We even had the confidence to ride some of the larger jumps and are happy to report the bike did exceptionally well in the air.

WHAT DID WE LOVE?

We loved the titanium frame. It’s light, strong and vibration absorbent with the perfect amount of flex to bring together a bike that is both beautiful and well-performing.

WHAT DID WE HATE?

We felt the 150mm-travel dropper post was not enough drop for this bike in a size large. This is a non-issue, really, because you can spec a dropper post of up to 175mm when you order the bike.

BOTTOM LINE

We were quite impressed with the updated Sage Flow Motion. The world of all-mountain hardtails hasn’t been explored by many brands, and even fewer make them in Ti. Sage has done well to combine both together to build an excellent machine ready for a weekend mountain getaway or a quick spin after work. We always rave about the technology being presented in full-modern, full-suspension mountain bikes, but sometimes it’s nice to slow down a bit and swing our legs over a simple hardtail, even if it’s not that simple and doesn’t slow us down that much.

SAGE FLOW MOTION

www.sagetitanium.com

CATEGORY: All-MTN hardtail

WHEEL SIZE: 29″

SUSPENSION: 150mm (front)

Price: $11,454 (as tested), $5,000 (frame only)

Weight: 27 pounds (without pedals)

Sizes: S, M, L (tested), XL

 

GEOMETRY SIZE LARGE

Head tube angle: 64°

Effective seat tube angle: 77.6°

Reach: 491mm (19.3”)

Bottom bracket height: 317mm (12.5”)

Chainstay length: 432mm (17.0”)

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