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Pune based Starkenn Bikes started coming out with their own brand bicycles in late 2015 and they straight away go into the premium brand segment with other Indian competitors such as Montra and Firefox. This Starkenn MTB did look like an over-all package on paper. We took this bicycle out and put it to good use to see if the Neo 5700D is the perfect trail bicycle.
The mechanically formed aluminium tubes make up the bulk of the Neo 5700D's frame. The variable wall thicknesses on the top tube reduces weight without sacrificing strength where it's needed. An all-up weight is pretty respectable for a hardtail in this price bracket, so we reckon Starkenn has got the balance about right.
Despite its less-aggressive frame, the Starkenn Neo 5700D's top and down tubes aren't overtly oversized or complex in profile. The tapered head tube and the surprising 100mm front suspension fork stanchions help keep the performance steady and exciting on moderate level trails.
The Starkenn Neo 5700D looks neat in design. Covered in full white with a little black and red secondary colours. The brand name, logo and model name are perfectly placed in the tubes. The Neo 5700D isn't the flashy kind but sometimes a plain and simple paint job does stand out, especially when it is in a glossy white colour. The additional side stand attached to the seat stay and chain stay does look a little out of place on an MTB like this, but we could consider this one as purpose beats aesthetics.
At this price, it is a difficult task for manufacturers to find room in the budget for a good quality transmission. While most finishing kits these days are clearly being chosen to meet the price, Starkenn has gone one step further on the gearing. The Neo 5700D sticks with an eight-speed Altus/Acera combination at the front and rear derailleurs. Having two different Shimano hierarchies is actually a good way to bridge the gap between cost and quality when it comes to the gearing. This gearing is operated by the Shimano EF51 8 speed shifters. It's not just the shifter, but a combination of factors, including cable, routing of the cables, setup etc, which determine if a shifter will feel good and the Neo 5700D is perfect in all these aspects.
The Tektro AL mechanical disc brakes on the Starkenn Neo 5700D comes with 160mm rotors at each end with some serious bite. You can pilot the Neo 5700D into corners at frankly unwise speeds and never run out of braking grunt. The Shimano V-brake levers are basic and curve out more than usual, making it tough to reach out to it when standing and riding on rougher trail patches.
The Promax handlebar on the Neo5700D is a riser which is not a negative but an MTB specific flat handlebar would have made the trail riding experience more balanced. The length of this handler is perfect with good quality grips.
The slight but noticeable increase in traction and buzz-soaking that comes with Neo 5700D's Kenda K-905 26x2.125'' tires is welcome on short blast rides and extended days out on the trails. We did not particularly get along with these wheelset and double walled rims during our test period, mainly because we doubt that the semi-slick-middle tread will be sketchy under damp braking. However, they are well worth keeping for drier times. The ride quality of the Neo 5700D is aggressive enough for the fast and flatter trails but at the end of the day this hardtail does make you the feel bumps during noticeable jumps on the trail.
If you are looking for the most fun possible from a trail hardtail then the Starkenn Neo 5700D 2015 has to be on your shortlist. It's not that light but it is still responsive enough to ride all day and tough enough to handle flatter trails. Starkenn has surely made a good entry to the Indian market with the Neo 5700DÈs performance and price. We would like to thank Just Buy Cycles, Chennai for providing us with this bicycle for the review.