Review: Sage Bicycles Powerline Trail 29er

Race or ride all day with Sage's versatile Powerline hardtail

29er Cross Country Pro Reviews
The Sage Powerline is classic cool in a world of matte carbon hardtails.

The Sage Powerline is classic cool in a world of matte carbon hardtails.

Sage Bicycles takes a turn for the rowdy with its new Powerline hardtail, a ride that is unique as the brand itself. A bike that’s suited for flat-out racing and bushwacking the #downcountry. This versatile ride is sure to convert the carbon crowd to the supple ride of titanium. 


Sage Powerline Highlights

  • Outstanding craftsmanship and attention to detail
  • Dropper Post Ready with internal routing
  • 1x-specific build with clearance for a 34-tooth front chainring
  • Progressive trail geometry built around a 130mm Fox 34 fork. 
  • Shimano XT-12 speed build with Enve M6 cockpit.
  • Fox Factory Transfer 170mm dropper 
  • Industry 9 Trail 270 wheels with Hydra hubs provide insane engagement
  • Price: $3,100 for the frame and $7,950 build as tested 
  • Made in the USA
  • Weight: 23.2 lbs
  • Available now

Smooth welds and a stunning raw titanium finish are only part of the Powerline story.


The Sage Powerline Frame

The heart of the Powerline is its Made in the USA titanium frame. All the signs of quality and craftsmanship are at the forefront of this titanium beauty. Every weld and junction is bare to inspect. Sage takes pride in its manufacturing process, “Brewed in Oregon” decals are as large as the Powerline name on the inner chainstay. 

Oversized bearing and a CaneCreek Hellbender headset make a sturdy front end.

After riding so many carbon frames bikes, it’s inspiring to see what shapes and aesthetics the right frame builders can create. What stuck out immediately is the subtle shaping of the seat and down tube, smooth lines of round tubes fading to oval. The bottom bracket junction is a combination of soft and sharp lines to maximize stiffness and eat up trail chatter. These sculpted stays allow the Powerline to accept a 29er tire up to 2.5 inches – Much larger than the 2.25-inch Maxxis Recons outfitted on our test build.

The Powerlines sculpted stays allow it to accept a 29er tire up to 2.5 inches!

The Powerline features internal routing for a dropper post and contact points for nearly continuous rear shift cable housing, utilizing a patented system known as the Cable Clip System (CCS). Titanium is all about the details and craft, small nuances like “Sage” on the outer chainstay eluded me until I had the bike in the stand for a post-ride clean. The welds are clean, and attention to detail is what you would expect from a Ti fabrication expert like Sage. The Powerline runs a boost standard, threaded bottom bracket and Sage claims will fit a 29er tire up to 2.5 inches.

Titanium is all about the details and craft, small nuances like “Sage” on the outer chainstay eluded me until I had the bike in the stand for a post-ride clean.


Ride all day Geometry 

Sages Powerline is built around a 130mm fork and the ethos that it should be race friendly and all-day comfortable. The design team at Sage achieves this with a 67.5° head tube angle accompanied by a 73.75° effective seat tube angle. A 67.5° head tube angle gives the bicycle excellent stability, even at high speeds, without sacrificing pedaling efficiency. This combo keeps the Powerline in the trail category, but only slightly, as XC bikes keep slacking the head tube, with 68° slowly becoming the norm. The 430mm chainstays give the Powerline the feel of a confident trail bike in the thick of it. The 63.2cm stack and 43.6cm reach on our medium test bike present a comfortable, more upright ride than the XC bikes I’m usually piloting.

Shimano XT brakes are a perfect compliment to the rocket-fast descending this bike can dish out.


Sage Powerline build

The Fox Factory 34 fork is smooth over the rocks and we never need to use the lockout.

The Fox Factory 34 fork is smooth over the rocks and we never need to use the lockout.

The Sage Powerline comes as one would expect: a frame to build stand-alone or with mid and high-end options to craft a custom bike for the buyer. These high end builds accompany the Powerline very well and does not overshadow the character of the bike. Sage offers many build options, but our test ride came with the following: 

Sage Powerline Build Specs

  • Fork: Fox 34 Factory Series fork (130mm)
  • Seatpost: Fox Transfer Factory Series dropper post (170mm) 
  • Wheelset: Industry 9 Trail 270 wheels 
  • Shifting: Shimano 12-speed XT drivetrain
  • Brakes: Shimano XT hydraulic disc brakes 
  • Cockpit: Enve M6 carbon bars and stem

Ride Impressions

The Fox Transfer 170mm seatpost is a great addition to the playful nature of the Powerline.

The set-up of the Powerline was straight and to the point; set the saddle height, check the fork air pressure, and off to the trails. The bike arrived with everything dialed ready to roll along with some volume tokens and the tires topped off with sealant – a nice touch for a boutique bike offering. Even the saddle was quick to my liking, as I’m a short-nosed saddle fan, and the Sage Beccus was a fast friend. For my first ride, I decided to take the Powerline on the road to the trails as a dial-in, tweaking the fit on the way. I found myself contently peddling along with nothing to change. The stack and reach allow for a comfortable riding position, and Enve M6 50mm stem and 780mm bar are just enough to get the rider in the attack position. The cockpit is not my “slam that stem” usual XC racer setup but you couldn’t ask for more. The Enve M6 bar and stem combo complement the look of the bare titanium, and the performance is what you would expect for the price. 

The smooth and rigid line of the bottom bracket junction is one of my favorite visuals of the Powerline

As I approached the climb to the trails, I expected a slow accent, but climbing comes easily to the Powerline. The frame is responsive to pedaling input and never noodling like some ti-bikes I’ve ridden. It feels snappy, and that sensation is more notable on the singletrack. The impression of a titanium frame is unforgettable, like listening to a great album on vinyl. You can feel the trail and feedback, but there’s a rounding out of the chatter, and you’re left with a lively feeling. Extraordinary frames ride this way and the Powerline feels like one of them. 

Braced by beautiful welds and equipped for the correct amount of stopping power needed.

Weaving in and out of the Pennsylvania singletrack, the Powerline was more than capable of handling the terrain. On buff, twisty trails, I felt faster than on my go-to race rig. Diving in and out of the pines was a breeze.

The Enve 780mm M6 bars were wide for me at the start but I loved them in the end.

Climbing on a hardtail is one thing, descending is another and usually where any bike’s weaknesses are found. The Powerline can hold is own with short-travel trail bikes. I was even able to set some KOMs on my local trails. The bike’s geometry and the overall feel are very balanced. Pair that with the 170mm Fox Transfer dropper, and you’re able to push it, hard. Plus, the Sage Beccus saddle is narrow enough to not hang up on shorts and easy to get out of the way when getting loose. I definitely felt more capable on this bike as the review progressed, and bombing downhills on a hardtail can be very fun, not to mention improving your handling skills. 

Maxxis Recon EXO casing is the right mix of grip and rips for the trails but the sidewall was less than happy in the rocks.

The ride of the bike is very comfortable. I attribute this to the specific tube shaping and the compliant nature of the seat- and chainstays. Though the top-notch build helps to make this possible. Shimano’s new XT 12-speed groupset is perfectly paired with the Powerline efficiency. It offers enough gearing for hammering the fire road climbs and the full range in gearing is fantastic for long-distance exploration. The Shimano XT brake is a classic, and the XT M8100 is everything and more than its predecessor. These brakes have excellent modulation with an exceptional lever feel—sturdier than past models from an added brace on the handlebar. I’m usually a silicone grip guy, but on the Powerline Ergon’s GA2 Fat grip offers just enough cushion. The sensation is that you feel comfortable but not too much to dull the hum of the titanium goodness. 

I found myself content with the stock Sage seat—great shape and dense padding.

The Sage Powerline is a snappy ride, partly because of the Industry 9 Hydra hub equipped wheels that accompany it. The engagement is so sudden and natural. The Industry 9 Trail wheels come with a 27mm inner width that cradles the tires, giving the right amount of footprint and compliance on the trail. Suitable for taking big hits on rocks, these wheels also keep a spin on the road—definitely an all arounder mountain wheel. 

A very cool replaceable derailleur hanger but not single speed friendly.

My only gripe is in advocating for my dedicated single speed friends. Often, a frame with this much versatility would have a singlespeed-friendly rear end. I do think that there is a large crowd that would enjoy a ride of this quality on a single-speed. I’m hoping that future frames will accommodate it. 


Final verdict 

Sages Powerline is a versatile, enjoyable ride, and the craftsmanship and quality are notable from the first pedal stroke. The Powerline is a very balanced bike, the frame material only adds to the unique ride and mystique. I can easily see this bike as a favorite for those who love XXC and NUE-style endurance racing. The $3,100 price for the frame alone and $7,950 for the test build puts this bike in a specific category. If you are a purest that loves the feel of a handmade frame, the Powerline should be on your shortlist. Rarely does a bike come along that can descend, climb, and explore all day on the trails like this. 

Check out Sagetitanium.com for more info



About the author: Jordan Villella

Jordan comes from the steep streets of Pittsburgh PA, where he learned to dodge cars and rip single track. He has been involved in nearly every aspect of the cycling industry: from turning wrenches, store design, clothing production and bike park creation. Jordan spends his free time racing cross country and cyclocross around North America, though he has been know to enduro every now and then. His love of cycling is only second to his love of his family and punk rock.


Related Articles


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*
*


THE SITE

ABOUT MTBR

VISIT US AT

© Copyright 2020 VerticalScope Inc. All rights reserved.