The TMS Twenty "on trial"
Thursday 17 February 2011
by Ben Swales

PNG - 351.8 kb Over the last few weeks I have been putting one of the most talked about 20” bikes of the year through its paces: the TMS Twenty.

I’ll begin by giving you the specification of the bike that I was testing, which was built using top quality parts in order to be able to test a top-of-the-range bike.

The full specification of the test bike:

Frame TMS Twenty (White)
Headset FSA semi-integrated
Stem Try-all 3d
Handlebar Monty
Fork Grasshopper
Front wheel Monty rim/Monty hub/Monty Slick tyre
Front brake Hope mono trial/Ashima Disc
Cranks Trialtech
Pedals Rockman Single Cage
BB FSA
Chain BONZ
Rear wheel TMS rim/TMS hub/Try-all light tyre
Rear brake Hope mono trial/ Try-all 155mm Disc
Bash Grasshopper

This complete Twenty weighed in at 8.5kg, a more than acceptable weight given the complete lack of titanium or carbon in the build.

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GENERAL TEST

PNG - 76.4 kb The test lasted for a few days and took place over several locations so that we could give you as much information as possible. It was put through its paces on street and natural, which we thought was essential for an in-depth test.

It is a very comfortable bike for riding street on. Thanks to the geometry of the frame the bike feels neither long nor short, but has a length that means it is suited to any rider who swings a leg over it. The chainstay length is another area in which the French company have triumphed. This model measured at 350mm and you could tell! As soon as you get on the rear wheel you can tell that it is stable and comfortable and that you could stay there forever (or at least until you’re ready to attack the next obstacle).

JPEG - 724 kb The BB, at +63mm, isn’t the highest. This doesn’t pose a problem for street riding however, it is actually quite a comfortable height that allows for smoother, more flowy riding. Ups to rear wheel are comfortable and it has to be said that the bike, thanks to its versatile geo, makes big moves like this seem easy, you don’t feel like you need to put much effort in to your take-off or landing.The bike manages very well with static ups, thanks largely to the ease and stability with which it holds itself on the rear wheel, allowing you to find the perfect position and moment to launch, without feeling hurried or off balance. The same goes for sidehops. Perhaps the only fault to be found with the Twenty in terms of this kind of move is that it doesn’t lend as much ease as other 20” bikes offer at the moment of take-off, perhaps due to the bottom bracket height. This isn’t to say that they can’t be done – in fact, once I had adapted my technique I managed to land some pretty good ones!

When trying ups to front, the bike gave me a very positive feeling, helping with precise placement of the wheel and the shape of the bike and the subsequent body positions really help the front wheel to stick, even with slick tyres – TMS’s ‘little’ bike has some big benefits!

JPEG - 726 kb The bike gives a good account of itself on the rocks as well and with a few component changes, it would be perfectly suited to natural riding. The natural test took place on some uneven and challenging rocks with plenty of passages that are both technical and large, allowing us to put it properly through its paces so that we could be sure that we were giving you the best information possible We were helped in this part of the test by Jonathan Marcos, a great rider and friend, who helped us get the best out of the bike. After an intense warm-up (it was freezing that day!) we started to attack the rocks. The test was easy and we quickly reached conclusions that Jonathan and I both agreed on; the qualities that we mentioned in the street test transfer to the rocks, meaning that it was comfortable and effective. There was however one thing that could be changed to make this bike perfect for this kind of uneven and unforgiving terrain: the BB height. Although it didn’t bother us in the street test, the slightly lower than normal bottom bracket meant that we caught the edges of our pedals on the rocks on some moves, such as hooks, bridges rolling moves. This detail apart, the bike managed very well on the terrain and we were pretty happy with its performance all day.

In summary, the feel of the bike is great, it’s very comfortable, functions very well when riding street (we couldn’t pick one fault with it) and natural (it could be even better with a slightly higher BB). Overall, this is a very versatile bike that we are sure will prove to be very popular.

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APPEARANCE AND TECHNICAL FEATURES

The first thing that you notice about this bike is its unusual appearance. I must admit, I think that it is one of the nicest looking bikes on the market; the guys at TMS have obviously taken the look of their 20” model very seriously. The spectacular curves of the frame (inherited form it’s bigger brother, the Evo 3) give it a classy, elegant appearance. It really needs to be seen in the flesh to be appreciated properly.

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It has plenty of great little features, like the cut-away headtube or the way the rear triangle has been constructed (giving it extra stiffness). In fact, every feature of the Twenty is worthy of a mention, but there is one that stands out from the rest (and from every other bike on the market): the tensioning system. It is here that TMS have really excelled themselves, with their proprietary “Quick Tensioner Concept” dropouts, borrowed from the 26” model. I’d never tried anything like it, but it is absolutely fantastic. With this new system you can remove the rear wheel without having to take the chain off, as the wheel just drops out of the dropouts. This has the obvious advantage of not having to retension the chain or centre the disc every time the wheel is taken off; the tensioner takes care of all that for you and the wheel remains in exactly the same position as before it was taken off… it’s so handy! It also eliminates noises form the drivetrain and the need to constantly tension the chain. It’s adjustment is millimetric as well, so perfect tension is no longer an unobtainable dream.

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The rear disc mount is another neat little feature that I liked; it can be finely adjusted when you are fitting the brake to ensure that the brake clamps onto the disc perfectly, guaranteeing effective braking.

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As mentioned previously, the only negative thing we could find to say about the geometry is the height of the bottom bracket, but overall the geo is spot on and makes for a comfortable bike that doesn’t feel too long and is very stable on the rear wheel.

The weight is a little higher than other currently frames but you have to bear in mind that TMS have designed a frame that will not break easily, with thicker tubes and reinforcements at critical points. At first glance, this extra weight might put some riders off, but thanks to these extra grammes, the frame will be durable and will not dent or crack as easily as other frames might, without paying too high a weight penalty.

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SUMMARY

JPEG - 747.3 kb TMS have created a very high quality 20" with great looks and geometry. It is a fantastic bike for street riders who dabble in a bit of natural and will put up with pretty much anything you could throw at it in a normal ride without breaking or giving you a fright. The guys at TMS have come up with a bike that is competitive in every way, and that’s quite an achievement!

Before I finish, I’d like to thanks everyone who has made this test possible. Firstly TMS for their cooperation and for lending me the bike, TribalZine.com, for whom it is a pleasure to work – I feel more like a member of the family than a colleague! I’d also like to thank Ribo, my main sponsor, for all of their help.

Photos: Andrés López