If you're seeking a nimble hybrid suited to city slicking alone, you'd better look elsewhere. But if you're after a machine you can take to the streets, whilst also cheerfully exploring the local trails, fields and forests with great abandon, then look no further.
Handlebars wide for commuting
Flex out the saddle
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The Pinnacle Lithium 4 is a women's hybrid bike. However, its capabilities go far beyond what that title would denote to most cyclists.
After one ride to the shops, I was smiling like a child that's eaten too many yellow skittles - but it was a mixed terrain road, gravel and forest track outing which really ignited my appreciation for this simple but competent machine.
- Buy now: Pinnacle Lithium 4 women's hybrid bike at Evans Cycles for £575 (opens in new tab)
- Buy now: Pinnacle Lithium 4 men's hybrid bike at Evans Cycles for £575 (opens in new tab)
At the heart of the Lithium is an aluminium chassis, with a double butted top and down tube plus a Hi-Ten steel fork. Double butting means that the tubes use two different degrees of thickness, allowing the creators to drop weight where possible, without negatively impacting stiffness.
Pinnacle, the in-house brand at Evans Cycles, offers the bike with men's or women's spec - the female version comes in smaller sizes, with a women's saddle and 640mm bars as opposed to the 680mm's specced on the men's models.
My first few riders were simple errands normally assigned to a hybrid - slinging a backpack on to collect ingredients for dinner, riding to the gym, and other essential life missions.
In these instances, the bike bombed along merrily, handling felt secure and the Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc brakes stopped me quickly when I asked them to.
I could roll up and over curbs on the 40c Continental Contact Speed tyres without a second thought and rutted roads were flattened out to near Spanish tarmac consistency. I barely noticed minor potholes or lumps that would send my jersey pockets flying on a road bike.
However, with its wide, sweeping handlebars and beefy tyres, I had the immediate sensation of being aboard a mountain bike, as opposed to a nimble city slicker. Though not ideal for sidling through narrow gaps in traffic, I could immediately see the worth of this high riding quality on lumpier terrain.
Evans Cycles says that the Lithium is as at home on the trails, ridden like a rigid 29er mountain bike, as it is on the road - and my first impressions certainly backed that claim. So I waited until a dry and dusty day before fitting clipless pedals and hitting the trails.
Exploring the territory I usually save for cyclocross excursions, the Lithium was more than capable with the specced tyres run at a low pressure. Not only that, there's space for up to 2.2" mountain bike tyres, so plenty of capacity to fit knobblies that would cater for wet days in the mud, too.
The alloy frame and steel fork create an overall package that isn't exactly lightweight when compared with road bikes we usually test - coming in at 12.5kg for a size medium with pedals fitted.
However, the triple chainset (44-32-22) and 11-32 cassette negated the extra heft whilst riding, so it was only really when carrying the bike up the steps to home that the weight was an issue.
Perhaps if I'd wanted to go for a QOM I might have felt disgruntled by those extra kilos, but for a non-competitive joyful spin, it was no bother.
Shifting comes from a largely Shimano Alivio groupset, which was sharp enough for my needs, though admittedly in traditional 'roadie on a trail' fashion, I wasn't going anywhere particularly quickly.
Coupled with the high volume tyres, this ample gearing made tracks that are sometimes a bit testing on a CX bike seem easy, leaving me grinning and greedy for more of the rocky, gravely stuff.
Flitting between lines, dipping into mini gravel ravines, thundering over roots and even slamming on the brakes for some squirrel induced wheel skid all felt natural.
When on the tarmac, I noticed a little flex when getting out the saddle, but this was only really on the steep slopes required to get out of Caterham Valley, many of which hit 20 per cent at times and aren't likely to be on the average commuter route.
The steel fork did feel more clatterey than the carbon I'm used to on my 'cross bike - I was more aware than usual when I hit hard rocks, despite the wide tyres. However, this is a bike that's built to be price conscious and that is reflected in this choice.
There were moments where I did find myself longing for the squish of a little front suspension as per a standard hardtail mountain bike, but in reality this would either heavily add to the weight or cost. Plus, it could well remove a little bit of the childlike fun which comes from taking a bike somewhere conventional wisdom would suggest you shouldn't.
Notably, I wasn't able to bunny hop the Lithium like I could a lighter 'cross bike. The wider volume tyres should make the movement easier, but the weight just meant I couldn't pick up the momentum in the air.
The Lithium has mounts for panniers and luggage, so its road and off-road capabilities, comfortable geometry and bombproof alloy/steel make-up mean it could make a pretty nifty touring bike for someone who wants to go multi-day exploring.
At £575, the Lithium is competitively priced, offering a full Shimano groupset where big brand competitors provide a more haggled together mix.
Opting for quality Continental tyres in the original build spec again demonstrates that Pinnacle's designers know which components matter the most, and won't be tempted to scrimp there.
For a beginner to cycling, this price tag will seem like a big outlay, and you can be rest assured you'll get a reliable bike you can use to explore many different styles of riding.
For long term riders, this is likely to represent a relatively small spend - from which you'll find you get a lot of bike, with the potential to reignite your love of the paths less explored.
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Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is a traditional journalist by trade, having begun her career working for a local newspaper, where highlights included interviewing a very irate Freddie Star (and an even more irate theatre owner), as well as 'the one about the stolen chickens'.
Previous to joining the Cycling Weekly team, Michelle was Editor at Total Women's Cycling. She joined CW as an 'SEO Analyst', but couldn't keep her nose out of journalism and in the spreadsheets, eventually taking on the role of Tech Editor before her latest appointment as Digital Editor.
Michelle is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 1904rt.
Michelle is on maternity leave from July 8 2022, until April 2023.
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