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An Ode to Unique Design

Beauty's In The Eye Of The Bike Owner

Words Andrew Major
Photos Dave Smith - unless noted
Date Dec 28, 2017

A part of me misses the primordial days of janky suspension experimentalism. - Perry Schebel

Experimentalism

Are there any really bad bikes being made? I certainly can't think of any. We are long removed from the wild west of pen-and-napkin suspension design. But this consistency comes with homogeneity and I sincerely miss the days when bikes could be surprising beyond the new year's colourway. When did 'custom' become matching your fork decals to those on your ENVE wheels? Why does there seem to be so much less variation in bikes on my local trails than in the past?

Marin's Wolf Ridge, shown in the header image above, elicits reactions that range from excitement about fresh ideas to nausea induced by the unique appearance of their 6" carbon bike. 


Back in 1999... Most bikes on the market were flimsy, rickety and were seemingly engineered by prepubescent children in art class. - Wayne Parsons

It isn't a new story. The 'unique profiles of bikes like EWR's OWB, Schwinn's 4-Banger, Norco's VPS, Balfa's BB7, Knolly's V-Tach*, and any of the USA-Made hydroformed frames from Foes, Ventana, Guerrilla Gravity or Lenz etc. always split opinions from coolest bike ever to I just puked in my mouth.

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"The 2002 [BB7] model was sweet and much ahead of its time. Long, low, and slack. It was the accumulation of what Balfa’s designers had set out to do from the start: make a true Canadian-made, World Cup level race steed." - Photo/Quote: Wayne Parsons

Bikes that offer everything to someone are usually more interesting** than those that shoot for something for everyone. As much as I attempt to rationalize bike buying decisions on weight, geometry, suspension performance, value and etc. I pine for something different. Unique. I can't look at a stock bike without thinking of drastic ways I'd make it my own. 

Beauty Lenz Sport Milk Money NSMB AndrewM

A custom 100mm travel Lenz Milk Money with a 66° HTA, 120mm fork with 29+ wheel up front, 27+ wheel out back, a 74° STA and a long reach would be right up my alley. The BB pivot point screams OG Cove G-Spot. Definitely not something for everyone. I'd paint it purple. 

The Bleeding Edge

In the days of aluminum, and to a much lesser extent steel*** full suspension dominance, I knew a number of seekers who scoured the globe to find idiosyncratic bikes that radiated esoteric deep-nerd. 

I'm not claiming that such bikes no longer exist. In fact when I see semi-production machines like the Mojo-Nicolai Geometron collaboration, Pole's Evolink or BTR's Belter I'd argue that they are more easily available than in the past. Hell it's just money, right?

Beauty Geometron NSMB AndrewM

Mojo & Nicolai's Geometron collaboration tests the limits of extended wheelbase, the opposite of the current trend to make the rear centers of bikes as short as possible. Reach, and slack head tube angles are also pushed to extremes in this semi-production package. 

The difference between these bikes and the glorified past is I've never seen one in person. And it's not like there aren't plenty of crazy 10k carbon wonder steeds galloping around the local trails. 

I often hear riders talk about longer reaches, steeper seat tube angles, slacker head tube angles and various other geometry tweaks. But they end up spending the same amount of coin on a carbon superbike as a similarly spec'd full custom aluminum bike would ring in at.

Beauty Pole Evolink NSMB AndrewM

Pole's Evolink probably gets the crown for being the most-production issue bleeding edge geo bike on the market. 

Maybe it's the allure of the magical, once mythical, fully capable sub-30 pound freeride bike? Maybe it's the big-player marketing that has relegated any material that isn't carbon to bargain status? Maybe its simply that bikes are so expensive that all but the most eccentric are banking on a sure thing rather than taking a risk on unproven geometry.

Beauty BTR Belter NSMB AndrewM

BTR's Belter hardtail has a static 61.5° HTA. 61.5°. It's designed around a 160mm fork so put another way, with 25% sag that's around a 63° HTA. At full bottom out the bike is still slacker up front than the static HTA of a lot of full suspension trail bikes. 

Materials vs. Customization

Despite the proliferation of mass-produced frames, there are ways of creating something distinct and special. Options are available for custom and semi-custom frames if you do some research but it's going to cost a premium. That premium is going to be paid for a steel or aluminum frame and that shiny metal is going to come in around the price of a carbon frame, with a weight penalty I can measure in pounds. 

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It doesn't get any more deep custom than designing a bike from the ground up with the person who'll be building it for you. DaamBuilt is the newest local steel option but there are tonnes of great builders out there. Photo: Dave Smith

The economics at play for large concerns in the bike business are sobering. Recouping the production costs of carbon frames can be a long process so mass appeal is essential. Taking risks with steel (see the Caminade below) or aluminum, without the need for expensive molds, is vastly more palatable. 

Large companies with high-powered engineering departments could be doing cool limited run aluminum projects, in between sizes, DH slack trail bikes, single speeds and, long wheelbase experiments. Instead their aluminum models are positioned as lower end mirrors of their higher-end carbon bikes,

Thankfully there are opportunities to customize off the shelf bikes for local riding conditions. Angle-adjusting headsets, offset shock hardware, coil shocks to maximize descending performance on small bikes, air shocks with remote lock-outs to maximize climbing performance on big bikes, over-forking, under-forking, mix-matching wheel sizes, over-shocking or under-shocking bikes by swapping close sizes of metric and standard shocks... the possibilities to change, improve, or F-Up rigs are legion. 

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Trek's 29+ Stache bikes are unique - with a love it or hate it appearance. I think it's an interesting production bike from a large and generally conservative company. It will be interesting to see how the geometry of this model evolves over time though I imagine it will happen slowly due to there being a carbon version of the bike. 

Exceptions To The Rule?

There's one in every crowd. Zerode's carbon Enduro bike, the Taniwha, certainly won't be mistaken for anything else on the market. Zerode isn't taking any risks when it comes to geometry with a 65° HTA and 445mm reach on a size large frame. I mention it because they are certainly not playing it safe making a 12-speed internally geared 160mm travel machine.  

Zerode Taniwha Enduro NSMB AndrewM

Zerode's Taniwha has safe geometry numbers for a 160mm Enduro bike but the total package screams out their slogan: "Riding Outside The Box". 

The organic looking bicycle touts a lower unsprung weight by removing a massive 1x cassette from the wheel and a stronger rear wheel without going Boost, again because room isn't required for 11 or 12 cogs. At the same time the gear range equivalent of their Pinion gear box is roughly the equivalent of a 10-60t cassette. 

The trade off over a traditional drivetrain including a chain guide is claimed at around 800 grams. Zerode puts that up against instant shifting, shifting without pedaling, reduced unsprung weight and improved chain life thanks to the always perfect chainline. 

Given they've been shipping since the middle of December and they're carbon I'm really surprised I haven't bumped into one on the trails yet.  

Reader's Rides Revisited


In 2000 I found myself riding [a BB7] of my own. The rearward axle path, due to the high single pivot placement, meant that the bike just wanted to go faster over small bumps. Plus, with the good pedaling nature of the idler pulley, you could put down power through the rough. Not a lot of bikes in this era could do that so well. - Wayne Parsons

Whether Perry polishing his Brooklyn TMX, Wayne waxing on about his Balfa BB7, Ken trying to build the lightest DH capable Demo-7 or any number of interesting bikes I used to see on the trail the impetus for this piece is certainly a hunger for variation. There's the obviousness of custom paint and exotic components and then another deeper level like folks flipping the links on their Giant Faith's to drop the BBs and slack out the angles making them more aggressive than most DH bikes of the era. 

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The days of regularly seeing massive weight-no-worry bikes like Perry's TMX being pedaled to the trails may be behind us, but does everything seem just a little too cookie-cutter these days?

Don't take it the wrong way. I love that you love your bike. But if I saw three other ones like it on Saturday and the only difference is a fresh carbon handlebar and a couple hundred dollars in almost colour matched anodizing it just doesn't interest me much.

I'd love to see a regular return of the NSMB 'Reader's Rides' column and at the same time I fear that it would just be a steady stream of consensus-cool belly button bikes. 

Doesn't anyone ride interesting sh*t anymore?

*Looking at you Engineerds

**I didn't say "better".

***RIP Balfa, BMW, Appalache, Xprezo and etc. 

Comments

zigak
+6 trumpstinyhands Cam McRae Brad Sedola Andrew Major Pete Roggeman Cr4w
ZigaK  - May 5, 2017, 12:26 a.m.

I feel the same. The other day I saw a guy in plain clothes riding an old scruffy steel pinarello, metallic green, chromed drivetrain, flat bar, cosmic carbone high profile rim in the front. I felt warm inside. So much bike geekery going on. And I susspect the guy didn't even know anything about it. He just used it for a commute.

On the other hand if I see a guy on a modernest latest tech bike with colour matched clothing (why is bike clothing stuck in the 80's?) - well it certainly does nothing for me in the feels deparment. (I'm not versed enough in english to describe it as I would like)

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zigak
0
ZigaK  - May 24, 2017, 12:06 a.m.

Saw him again today. We talked a little, he's an ex road racer, uses this bike for commuting. The bike is a Colnago, but as he painted it, he couldn't get colnago decals, so he put  Pinarello on (heresy, i know :)) The bike is from the 83'-84' era. The tires are tubulars, so if he gets a puncture, he just rides home with a flat. Doesn't care one bit.

colnago

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 25, 2017, 11:39 p.m.

That's awesome!

Reminds me of a guy I met once with a very poorly placed Apollo head badge and frame decals on (old decals still partially visible) Ti De Rosa. Original owner thinking it was a theft deterrent.

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Mic
+1 Pete Roggeman
Mic  - May 5, 2017, 5:59 a.m.

I grew up with Ned Overend and the crazy individuals that came a few years later, I still remember reading my very first Bike Magazine in Vancouver with Missy Giove as a guest editor. 

Back then the energy was different, heck even ten years ago the energy was different, there was more creativity and experimentalism, just think of the Froriders, or the Flowriders. 

The industry was somehow still figuring things out. It was a niche sport, now it has become fully mainstream, with the industry being big business. Not that it was smaller in the past, though. 

Still, in my opinion the "punk-rock" attitude and freshness seems to have disappeared. But then again, there are hundreds if not thousands of builders out there who create trails, bikes and accessories that are a unique and artfully crafted antithesis to the big names and biking-culture mainstream. 

In the end it is like every other part of a culture that was once considered sub-culture. 

It all depends on who we, the riders - and ultimately, the consumers - want to be. What trails and what bikes we want to ride. How we want to ride. How we want to share it. What we want to pass on to the next generation.

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AndrewMajor
+2 Endur-Bro Metacomet
Andrew Major  - May 5, 2017, 8:32 a.m.

On the flip side there are a lot of really capable, interesting, choices for mountain bikes that aren't significantly more expensive than mainstream options. I wonder if it won't be a bit like craft beer where folks start to realize they can find something that better suits them for reasonable additional outlay in cash and in our case probably being aluminum or steel not carbon?

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craw
0
Cr4w  - May 5, 2017, 10:50 a.m.

Back in the day the boutique brands were your only option if you wanted something really special. The handbuilt frames then the specialty suspension bikes from Turner, AMP, Psyclewerks, Intense, etc. But then the big brands really stepped up their game offering amazing bikes, arguably better reliability, but eventually reaching the same insane pricepoints. But we have lots of amazing smaller builders making really purpose-built rigs. It's really cool.

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DanL
0
stinky_dan  - Dec. 30, 2017, 9:27 a.m.

The same thing happened for motorbikes. If you wanted something unique or ahead of the curve there were some great builders like Spondon in the U.K. (or even Bimota to an extent). Then the major players caught up and the bar for a production performance bike was raised across all manufacturers.

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xy9ine
+2 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman
Perry Schebel  - May 5, 2017, 6:58 a.m.

a man after my heart, Andrew. as the sport evolves, we seem to be converging upon an optimized "sameness" of design. bikes are certainly much better, just less interesting in their homogeneity. for whatever reason, i tend to gravitate towards bikes with emphasis on personality - sometimes to the detriment of outright performance. a bit of character that adds spice to the riding experience.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 5, 2017, 8:35 a.m.

Or vice versa --- given your stable over the years I think most people are chasing you when it comes to bikes with character. 

"Optimized sameness" is a great way of putting it.

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cory-booker
+3 Chantal Cam McRae Brad Sedola
Cory Booker  - May 5, 2017, 7:16 a.m.

Looking for something "different" and "unique", you say? Go fat! Not just mid-fat, but 4" plus. 

(Oh hell. I've been on one for like three weeks weeks and now I'm an evangelist. I swore I wouldn't do this.)

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AndrewMajor
+1 JT
Andrew Major  - May 5, 2017, 8:38 a.m.

To each their own... I love hardtails. I love Plus hardtails. I'd own a snow bike if I lived pretty much anywhere else in Canada but I've ridden enough of them to say "no thanks" for most the local riding conditions. 

It's interesting that most of the tech is/was driven by a huge company (QBP: Surly + Salsa + Etc) but Fat Biking still has a certain counter culture feel to it?

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brad-sedola
0
Brad Sedola  - May 5, 2017, 8:46 a.m.

I started riding a Rocky Mountain Blizzard -50 last April and have yet to get back on any other bike I own. Perhaps I'm just making up for my dwindling skills as I get older, but I sure have a lot of fun on it. And that is why I ride.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 5, 2017, 9 a.m.

I should have presented that comment in a lot different light. Ride whatever works for you - appearance, performance, price point, etc - in your local terrain. I spend a lot of time on a rigid hardtail with mixed wheel sizes and I know a lot of people that would choose a Fat Bike over that. 

If a Blizzard-50 works for you it's awesome. If no one else on your trails is riding a Fat Bike it's even awesomer.

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skooks
0
Skooks  - May 6, 2017, 11:01 a.m.

Yeah, that's exactly how I feel about my Knolly Warden. It feels like the perfect bike for me and I can't imagine a different bike being any more fun. I appreciate all of the interesting and unique bikes in this thread (and I have been around long enough to remember most of them) but I wouldn't trade my bike for any of them.

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Chantal
+1 Andrew Major
Chantal  - May 5, 2017, 11:46 a.m.

Ha, I literally had one of the funniest rides ever on a fat bike this winter and one of the worst rides ever...I won't buy one, but I can see myself renting one for the few times when conditions are just right here in the sea to sky ( no new snow, crappy skiing, cold and boilerplate)...laps in wonderland and the trash trails in brackedale were magic on a lighty snowy day...

Reply

Bilkamonga
+4 Andrew Major Cam McRae Raymond Epstein Pete Roggeman
Bilkamonga  - May 5, 2017, 7:34 a.m.

Well ... things here in Brazil couldn't be more difficult for the mountain bike crew in the late 80's, early 90's. I subscribed MBAction at the time, just to keep up with the news. I agree, there was a lot more fascination back there. Things was much more intense (right Jeff?). More experimental. I remember a Frenchman who showed up here at an event with a green and gold Vario. Man, that's crazy. It was the kind of bike that made me think about how to get one. Nowadays, I lost this kind of feeling. Everything is so... so-so! Maturity? Could be. But I miss the vibration, the attitude, the nonconformity of that era. As @Mic said, I miss the PUNK-ROCK  attitude!!!

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 5, 2017, 4:14 p.m.

There's a lot of manufacturing in Brazil? I'm surprised there aren't some really interesting aluminum and steel full suspension bikes being made there?

I know Dorel has a factory (Caloi) but what about small builders?

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Bilkamonga
0
Bilkamonga  - May 9, 2017, 2:19 p.m.

There weren't good bikes around from Brazilian builders Andrew. And even today, Caloi has a focus on the budget market. By that time, if you want to do serious mtb you need to import one on your own or by from the few distributors we had. In any case, 60% import fee over the price plus an 18% tax over the final value (bike price + 60% + freight)!! It's still this way today, but now the big players have distributors and the economy of scale make things much cheaper.

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craw
+2 Metacomet Cam McRae
Cr4w  - May 5, 2017, 8:53 a.m.

I was the gee-whiz guy for years and years. I had so much exotica. For sure it was exciting and interesting but damn if bikes from that era didn't come with a lot of headaches. Until the freeride era of the Knolly V-Tach. Finally bikes were tough enough to survive and still be cool, at nearly 50lbs. 

For all that many bikes seem very similar we're in a golden age. Bikes are tougher and work better in more situations than ever before. They're also more expensive than ever. I remember back in the day thinking what I really wanted was a BB7 that could do everything. And now I'm on an Evil, which is kind of exactly that.

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AndrewMajor
+3 Cr4w Brad Sedola Endur-Bro
Andrew Major  - May 5, 2017, 10:30 a.m.

I guess the questions is:

Now that bikes are designed around 1x drivetrains (making the kinematics a lot easier) and there are a host of proven suspension designs would you consider a proven platform that is also exotica and similar in price point to an Evil but not carbon?

Guerrilla Gravity, Nicolai, BTR, etc, etc, etc?

BTR Pinner

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xy9ine
+2 pedalhound Metacomet
Perry Schebel  - May 5, 2017, 11:59 a.m.

i pine for the pinner. though lack of wb mount may be a deal breaker.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 5, 2017, 2:18 p.m.

Hard to believe there isn't room for a little bottle in the front triangle? Cam and I were chatting today actually and wondering why more companies don't throw bosses in just for accessory mounts (pump etc). Even if a bottle doesn't fit might be able to sell someone on a bike if everything other than their water can hang on it? Either way the Pinner is probably the FS bike I most lust for at the moment. 

I'd love to try a Belter. 61.5 HTA?! Having spent a lot of time on a (static) <67 HTA hardtail, every hardtail I've ridden recently with suspension is comparatively too steep with sag and deeper into the travel is meh. To the point I'm running a lot of HSC and LSC and giving up some comfort (and traction) to keep the fork riding high. Is 61.5 too slack with a 160mm fork? I'd love to know!

Their Ranger with a set of sliders could easily be my next S.Spd other than the $-vs-unknowns factor.

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fartymarty
0
fartymarty  - Dec. 29, 2017, 12:43 a.m.

Top of my list are Starling Murmur or Geometron G16 in 29.

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/singletrackworld.com/2017/03/spotted-swarf-cycles-prototype/amp/ is a bit nice but would want custom geo.

Or a custom steel 29HT with a Pinion.

Too many choices and no plastic on the list as I could never justify a Robotbike or Unno.

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bruce-mackay
0
Bruce Mackay  - May 6, 2017, 11:47 a.m.

THIS!  Over an evil.  Maybe next bike 4 me.  Pining over Banshee Rune in Raw, currently.  Supposed to be this year, but older house happens.   Probly not the  "perfect bike" (that would be the Spitfire, but want / need stronger frame). I like Alu', I know it's strengths & weaknesses.  For the cash I can build to suit vs carbon compromise of "it's  all light b/c it's carbon, Brawndo is what's you need" and then end up changing a bunch of parts to suit.  So totally agree with gist of this.  Love Perry's  comment further down (dig for it). that  Rune would Bling out!

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jt
+1 Andrew Major
JT  - May 5, 2017, 8:54 a.m.

Fun article! Look at skateboards, skis, snowboards, and BMX bikes. In early years, there were a shite tonne of different designs and profiles. Eventually, aesthetics of design begins to succumb to its necessary function and you do end up at a point where the design envelopes of different brands overlap due to the functional necessity imposed on them. The design needs to work well rather than simply look unique. (Naild's design and high pivot bikes not withstanding). The whole 'looks like a Session' spiel isn't an accident, it's an evolutionary convergence of design. Or to think of it in another way, there are a lot of cat species in the world. Large, small, lean, stocky, mousers, and large game hunters. But when you see a picture of one, you know it's a cat. Experimentation can breed outliers, but the outliers only last if they perform well.

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TerryP
0
TerryP  - May 5, 2017, 4:18 p.m.

Reading your comment, I can't help but think of all the weirdly shaped snowboards that have popped up in the past two seasons.  Their appearances stand out at the shop, but all they add to proven snowboard design is more material in certain places and/or less material in other places.  Do they ride better?  Of course not.  Do they look unique?  Yes.

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Endur-Bro
+1 Andrew Major
Endur-Bro  - May 5, 2017, 10:43 a.m.

The Zerode is a nice bike.  I like that it's spec'ed with a chain and sprocket compared to the Gates Belts on the Nicolai frames.  I can't stomach the frame+pinion cost though.  I don't believe I care much about carbon these days either.  It's now cookie-cutter and everywhere.  Used to be exclusive, now it's found on $4000 CDN FS completes and $3500 CDN frame sets everywhere. 

My plan is to make 2017 weird on bikes again.  Or slightly less mainstream, whatever...

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AndrewMajor
+1 Brad Sedola
Andrew Major  - May 5, 2017, 4:17 p.m.

It's all about weird-what-works... happy bike building!

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Chantal
+1 Andrew Major
Chantal  - May 5, 2017, 11:41 a.m.

Love the article and the bike geek in me wants to see more of this....the bike consumer in me, however has to be realistic ...I have been down the road of buying that cool, unique custom made bike....but alas like any other bike geek the love fades a new flame moves into your life...and nowadays with the price of bikes def moving faster then my salarie raises I can't really by something just to give it a try..I will want o know that I will like the ride before I spend 3k on a frame and then another 3 k for a built....I have been intrigued by the Pole bikes for awhile now....alas since I will likely never have a chance to ride them, it will always be a bit of an online love affair...while I keep riding bikes I can take out on a first date  before committing to it moving in

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TerryP
0
TerryP  - May 5, 2017, 4:15 p.m.

Indeed.  Bikes are expensive.  I can afford a fairly nice bike, but I can't afford to gamble on a 'unique' design that doesn't work.  If someone else has the bankroll to gamble on lesser designs, have at it.  I'll stick to designs that I have more confidence will work.

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qduffy
0
qduffy  - May 5, 2017, 12:54 p.m.

Definitely an interesting article, but as others have noted, bikes have more or less evolved out of the crazy zone and into something approaching a modern species. Much like Modern Humans superseded Neanderthal when and where they were in competition, my modern, carbon Mojo HD3 has supplanted the AMPs and GT RTSs and Rocky's of my past because it's better evolved to handle the conditions in which I (and probably we) now ride. My GT RTS of the late 90s didn't survive three rides on the shore. 

Think of all those old bikes in evolutionary terms; some of those unique classics have no doubt contributed their DNA to the collective awesomeness that are modern bikes, much like modern humans carry vital Neanderthal contributions in our genetic code, while other experimentations were dead ends that fell victim to Darwin's age old adage, "survival of the fittest". Lament them if you will, but declaiming a lack of uniqueness is gosh-darned unscientific!

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andy-eunson
0
Andy Eunson  - May 5, 2017, 2:12 p.m.

Back in the day when there were steel road bikes or other steel road bikes, manufacturers had few ways to differentiate their bike from another. Hetchins had curly stays, others had fancy lugs or different seat stay clusters. Sometimes that's all these funky suspension designs are is a way to differentiate one bike from another. But it is hard to tell the gimmick from the innovation at times. You want your bike designer to think and design outside the box and test and test and test with prototypes on lots of terrain. I have the impression that this Polygon/Marin bike represents that. I am less impressed by bikes that have these super steep seat angles. And there seems to be a lot of follow the leader with that too. I think that steep SA thing is so that those that pay too much attention to wheelbase can select the shortest wheel base they can. Kind of like a weight weenie will weigh ten of the same saddles and buy the one that is two grams lighter. Seems so weird, people want the short wheelbase for agility and the slackest head angle for stability. Make up your mind folks. Then because the chainstays are too short you need to crank that seat tube way forward so your butt isn't perched over the back end. I don't get it.

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fartymarty
0
fartymarty  - Dec. 29, 2017, 1:37 a.m.

Pole has a 77SA and 455mm CS.  The Geometron is not far off on the ST but has longer CS.  It is only the mainstream push short CS.

Those who understand geometry and handling have a balances F / R balance across all sizes.

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brad-sedola
+1 Endur-Bro
Brad Sedola  - May 5, 2017, 2:44 p.m.

Biggest hard on I've had over a bike in over the last few years is (forgive me for being fat focused) is the Reeb TyREEBdonkadonk.TyREEBdonkadonkSo much bike geekery going on with it. Pinion, Lauf, Gates, titanium, etc. Of course the way out of touch price of it makes it all that much more lust-worthy. To me anyway.

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zigak
+1 Brad Sedola
ZigaK  - May 6, 2017, 11:56 p.m.

the ultimate geekbike for me:

gearbox + christini awd + linkage fork + on the fly adjustable geometry

the technology exists, somebody just needs to put it together

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brad-sedola
0
Brad Sedola  - May 8, 2017, 8:15 a.m.

So funny, I still have a Christini Venture AWD from around 2003. Not many remember that bike. 2.3 inch tires just dont seem right anymore. Runs great still.

Looks like Steve is ramping up bike production again with 29"/+/fat. Sadly no suspension.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 30, 2017, 3 p.m.

Man I remember seeing those online. Does the AWD actually help with climbs?

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LoamtoHome
+1 pedalhound
Jerry Willows  - May 5, 2017, 3:05 p.m.

I really like what Starling and Pole Bikes are doing...  just makes sense.

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AndrewMajor
+1 pedalhound
Andrew Major  - May 5, 2017, 4:23 p.m.

Ack, totally forgot about Starling. Simple machines and every bike is a full custom so every opportunity exists to mule fantasy geometry. Very cool.

Plus, they make a full suspension single speed - so I can see why you like them! #jerrywillowshatesmybike // #jerrywillowslovesmybike

Starling FS S.Spd

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xy9ine
+1 Andrew Major
Perry Schebel  - May 5, 2017, 4:45 p.m.

yep, the pole looks interesting, and i like the elegant simplicity of the starling. geometry trumps fancy pants suspension platform. i like the aesthetics of this Italian steed - you can't polish carbon!

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 5, 2017, 4:50 p.m.

Holy Sh*t... that is all the right kinds of awesome. 

"You can't polish carbon" would have been a great alternative title...

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Endur-Bro
0
Endur-Bro  - May 5, 2017, 6:02 p.m.

DH Frame Game Proper! 👌🏽

Nicolai Effi

Super Co DH

Zerode G2

The SuperCo needs some internal gearing to push things over the top

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mthomaslee
0
Matt Lee  - May 5, 2017, 9:07 p.m.

Is SuperCo still making bikes? Their 24" Satellite was definitely an object of lust for 17-year-old me.

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xy9ine
0
Perry Schebel  - May 6, 2017, 10:30 p.m.

the Superco Silencer is near the top of my all time favorite dh designs list. it's too bad doc never made a go of these. stoked to have had an opportunity to ride this bike.

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slimshady76
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Luix  - Dec. 28, 2017, 3:17 a.m.

Haven't you guys seen Peregrine Bikes? The guy converted from a regular drivetrain to a Pinion gearbox and couldn't be happier about it:

http://www.peregrineindustry.com/

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goose8
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goose8  - Dec. 28, 2017, 4:42 a.m.

I got the chance to throw a leg over the DaamBuilt that was pictured in this piece and it's an amazing ride. I've also ridden Lenz bikes in the past and they're solid too- I'd love something along the lines of a Fatillac someday. A local outfit called Solace cycles is designing ti hardtails with pinion drivetrains- they're really fun to ride too. Nice to have good options, so long as we take the time to look around before buying the same thing that everyone else does.

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - Dec. 28, 2017, 8:39 a.m.

I haven't talked to Peter but from following him online I have to say I love the willingness, maybe even interest, maybe even passion to fully involve customers in the design process - whether it be geometry, paint or design details. 

Walt @ Waltworks told me (paraphrasing) that he doesn't like building bikes that already exist - why not just buy the stock bike if you can buy what you want? That attitude definitely means more work (never making the same thing twice) but it also means building some really cool stuff like slack 29+ and Fat full suspension bikes.  

I hope that as the Daam reputation builds Peter gets challenged to build his own take on bikes like the BMW high pivot DH bikes or BTR Belters. We need more crazy one offs.

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goose8
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goose8  - Dec. 28, 2017, 10:28 a.m.

Exactly! I started corresponding with Peter after reading the nsmb writeup and he was great to bounce ideas off of. He was just as psyched as I was to build the frame I envisioned, but unfortunately a couple of factors kept it from becoming a reality. In the meantime we realized that we live relatively close to one another, so we've been riding together. 

Walt does amazing work and offers a student discount- I corresponded with him briefly too. There are a lot of great options for people who want to walk a path less traveled, but it seems like I see lots of the same sorts of bikes on the trails. Glad to see there is interest in branching out!

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - Dec. 28, 2017, 8:39 a.m.

I haven't talked to Peter but from following him online I have to say I love the willingness, maybe even interest, maybe even passion to fully involve customers in the design process - whether it be geometry, paint or design details. 

Walt @ Waltworks told me (paraphrasing) that he doesn't like building bikes that already exist - why not just buy the stock bike if you can buy what you want? That attitude definitely means more work (never making the same thing twice) but it also means building some really cool stuff like slack 29+ and Fat full suspension bikes.  

I hope that as the Daam reputation builds Peter gets challenged to build his own take on bikes like the BMW high pivot DH bikes or BTR Belters. We need more crazy one offs.

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morgan-heater
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Morgan Heater  - Dec. 28, 2017, 10:39 a.m.

I understand the allure of tech geakery, and unique gear, but I have to admit to really appreciate riding a bike that works really well and is easy to maintain. If I had more time, space, and money, I could see indulging in quirky bikes, but it doesn't make sense for the dad/job/house lifestyle. 

Also, don't forget another local steel custom FS builder: https://nsmb.com/articles/lichen-bikes/

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - Dec. 28, 2017, 10:49 a.m.

Thanks for the reminder on Lichen! Had totally forgotten about the brand.

I think it’s easy to get a bike that works well and is reliable / easy to maintain but with custom geo that maybe works better for you. Obviously not for the price of a $1500 Hawk Hill but easily within the budget of a lot of carbon super sleds. The difference is it will definitely be heavier. 

It also takes more time than just being axle to order something up. 

I bought a custom Waltworks hardtail this year to replace my current single speed. Nothing remotely like it on the market geo wise (for better or worse). Can’t wait to build it/ride it some time in January/February.

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morgan-heater
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Morgan Heater  - Dec. 28, 2017, 1:48 p.m.

Another way one can ride something relatively unique is by refusing to upgrade a la:

https://nsmb.com/articles/if-it-isnt-carbon-are-you-still-mountain-biker/

In less than a decade, you'll be riding something that will raise eyebrows wherever you go. :-)

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goose8
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goose8  - Dec. 29, 2017, 4:03 a.m.

Amen to easy maintenance and working well. I'm in the same boat in terms of family and work commitments. I got a new hardtail this fall and it's been such a nice change from the maintenance and creaks of my old bike.

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - Dec. 30, 2017, 2:56 p.m.

Why stop at a hardtail? Single speed that beauty and then throw on a rigid fork. Other than eating good bottom brackets on a too-regular basis you can’t beat the dependability!

I half joking re. you should ride a rigid fork. I never joke about single speeds. I’m not normally an evangelist but you sound like a prime candidate to convert. #1fg | #ssod

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hankthespacecowboy
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hankthespacecowboy  - Dec. 30, 2017, 8:33 a.m.

The focus on weird & unusual bikes has been my favorite aspect of NSMB. I picked up a little freak show of my own a few years ago, but was disappointed to find that it was far too small for me. Anyone looking for a Sinister Splinter MX as a winter project bike? 

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - Dec. 30, 2017, 2:52 p.m.

That’s a cool rare bike (that apparently works awesome with a coil shock). The challenge is they aren’t really dropper post friendly. No big deal to add a stealth exit hole but the seat tubes are very tall for a given top tube length.

What size is yours?

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