MDE Carve NSMB Daniele Villa.jpg
EDITORIAL | PART 4

Min-Max: Daniele's 2013 MDE Carve

Words Andrew Major
Photos Daniele Villa
Date Apr 28, 2022
Reading time

The bike was mine even before he decided to sell it" - Daniele Villa

Resurrection.

MDE bikes has been making frames in the Piedmont region of Italy since 2001. Messaging back and forth with Daniele, it's come from being a bike company that I'd heard of to being one that I love, and I don't think I've ever seen one of their creations in person. Daniele's frame was born in November, 2012. Like many companies at the time, MDE produced bikes in all three wheel sizes that year and this is one of their last generation of 26"-wheeled full suspension bikes.

What's perhaps most interesting about this frame, and MDE in the context of this min-max series is that in addition to a date of birth, it also has a date of death. Last summer Daniele discovered a crack forming in the frame where the top tube and down tube meet. In most circumstances this would mean a date with the recycling bin, but this is where MDE is rad. They'll repair, heat treat, repaint, re-decal, and then extend a further 1-year warranty to their frames as part of their Revitalize program. My mind started wandering to the potential on a global scale. Imagine if every time a crash replacement or warranty frame was processed, the company collected it back, put it in one of those empty containers headed back to Taiwan, refurbished it, and then resold it. Not just aluminum frames either; we know carbon repair is an option as well.

Daniele is torn between servicing his current bike and trying something different. So much so that he's parked the MDE for now in favour of some different full suspension projects and a steel hardtail. I'm a sucker for a good story though and this Carve, which Daniele bought used for 850€ in 2018, has thoughtful details like Banshee-style modular dropouts, a linkage system using 8 identical bearings, a threaded bottom bracket, and the always-fashionable external cable routing. .

MDE Carve 6 26 2013.jpg

Daniele's frame is a large and the geometry reflects on a period of rapid change. Check out the contemporary Santa Cruz Nomad 2 if you think a 429mm Reach on a large is short. Maybe it calls for a short fork & angleset combo, which would steep the STA and lower the BB at the same time?

MDE Carve 6 26 2013 2.jpg

Modular dropouts are such a nice value-add in my book. Coupled with a willingness to repair and refinish frames, MDE clearly looks at their bikes as long-term investments. Looking at the current Carve platform, they're staying up-to-date with geometry trends as well. And I'm swooning over the choice to stick with external brake routing.

The Build

That 850€ in 2018 bought a 2013 MDE Carve frame, made in Torino Italy, and workable suspension products. In Daniele's words it was otherwise "built with crap." A mix-matched collection of parts pulled off Daniele's 2011 BMC completed a rideable package. As you peruse the photos you'll probably notice that this machine has evolved over the years that Daniele has owned it. Parts have been replaced as they've worn out and as a person with considerable wrenching knowledge and ability, and access to tools, Daniele has made it a min-max dream machine.

I think my favourite component example is the Formula R0 brake system. I've restored a few sets of fully cooked SRAM Guide brakes that were otherwise, essentially, free, and that's what Daniele has done here with what is undoubtedly the most boutique brake system Formula has ever made. I love the power and feel of my Cura4 brakes, but they're an exercise in engineering restraint and manufacturing simplicity compared to the R0 with its inverted master cylinder design and the oval caliper pistons that were meant to deliver four-piston stopping with the simplicity of a two piston system. Formula is fantastic with their small-parts support and Daniele made the most of it here.

MDE Carve NSMB Daniele Villa (17).JPG

The most recent build includes fresh wheels that Daniele built using a pair of second-hand Chris King RingDrive hubs, which should last forever, mated to second-hand DT EX471 rims and a 180mm Brand-X dropper post.

MDE Carve NSMB Daniele Villa (18).JPG

An earlier build. On upgrading the wheels: "I could feel the stiffness of something different than 9 years old 24 spoked aluminum onion rings from the first ride, and that sound!" The GXP cranks were swapped to shorter-length set of used Race Face Turbines.

A man after my own heart, Daniele has mix-matched various drivetrain compounds through various versions of this bike with mixed results. The current system is solid though with the purple 30t ring driving an 11-speed 11-46t SunRace cassette. The shifter and derailleur are fresh 11-speed X1 units that he picked up used for 80€. Presumably from someone who needed their drivetrain to go to twelve. One nice thing about bikes from this era is designers were taking into account suspension performance with multiple front chainrings. Where some bikes now have a minimum ring size, the MDE should work great with whatever Daniele wants to run. I'd be inclined to run a 28t or even 26t ring to spread the wear over more ratios on local climbs but then I'm not really worried about giving up high gears for the tight local terrain I ride. I'd guess he's spinning out the 30x11t combo some places in the Alps.

Another beautiful upgrade here is the used, Chris King hubs. This is my favourite shade of anodized-pink that King produced. They're in beautiful shape, at least after they were serviced, and these are one of those products that I think presented excellent value if you bought them new with plans to keep them forever - never mind picking them up used for a deep discount. They're laced with Sapim spokes to a used pair of i25 DT EX471 rims. There's probably a call here to at least upsize the front wheel to a 27" rim with an i30 rim, to maximize rollover and front tire options, but it's hard to argue with a bargain set of lightly-used DT rims.

If there is a full resurrection in the MDE's future, Daniele and I both agree that fresh suspension is in order. The fork has been updated with SKF low friction seals and a Float air spring, over the TALAS-V system it has in some photos, but the damper performance is clearly falling short of more current expectations. Where we'd likely differ is that I'd choose a 27" fork for the option to mullet the bike with a proper big tire as well as availability and sell-ability and Daniel is clearly much more true to the 26" origins of the bike.

I don't know if there's an obvious choice here. For big mountain riding a rear shock with more oil volume makes sense and for long descents where it's hot, it's hard to argue with a coil setup. Given Daniele's preference for combining a sweet deal with a full service, I certainly see a de-roached Fox DHX 5.0 coil or Cane Creek Double Barrel Coil shock (or Double Barrel Air rebuilt as a coil) being the business back here. The DHX 5.0 uses a standard schraeder valve for the air backed IFP and seal kits are fairly readily available, so it's conceivable that, with his skillset, Daniele could service that himself.

Unfortunately, Formula and EXT haven't been making forks and shocks long enough that Daniele would be able to pick up a set for a song and it's probably a bit aggressive to purchase such premium systems new for a bike that was fabricated in 2012 but they would go well with the Italian theme. For a used fork, I'd be inclined towards an SR Suntour like my Durolux. It's not light but the chassis reliability is next level, which I think is key with used forks, and Daniele could easily perform the full services on the PCS damper and air system himself. Staying within a single brand for the fork and shock, I think there's also a strong argument - new or used - for the ubiquitous nature of a RockShox Super Deluxe and one of their 35mm forks.

MDE Carve NSMB Daniele Villa (5).jpg

Daniele changed the cockpit to a shorter 50mm Renthal stem with 10mm of rise as well as some 800mm wide, 35mm rise, Kore handlebars. Not in this fork that the fork is using a TALAS-V air system. He never used the travel adjust feature, so with TALAS support fading a Float air spring was swapped in.

MDE Carve NSMB Daniele Villa (12).JPG

In some areas the neon-yellow paint has faded from the sun but the weathering is one of Daniele's favourite things about the bike. Sending it for a refurbish would be a chance to choose a whole new colour though. I'd be happy with a mix of the pallet behind it in this photo.

A suspension upgrade would be worthshile but at this point continuing to service the fork and shock is an option as well. It's one of those hard choices where you almost (almost) hope that your older, unsupported, fork starts creaking to make replacement the only viable option. If Daniele decides to get the frame repaired, it will be interesting to see what route he chooses for his suspension.

I'd be more than happy with a 180mm dropper post, but for my legs on the MDE it would be necessary to go with a OneUp dropper to get there. For older bikes, with shorter reaches, it's extra nice to have ample drop and the increased bike-body separation it brings. Looking at the Brand-X post he's running, he could get at least another 2cm of drop from a OneUp but it would require drilling at least one hole in the frame. The current MDE Carve uses very clean bolt-on external brake routing and if the frame is going for a refit anyways adding the necessary bosses wouldn't break the bank.

Got Angleset?

I put two stipulations on Min-Max submissions. First, they have to have a headtube that can accept a tapered steerer tube. This is because anything 1-1/8" specific that's not a hardtail or dual-crown compatible is on borrowed time. Second, no proprietary, un-supported, suspension products that can't be replaced with a current off-the-shelf damper. I think the DYAD pull-shock was awesome, but Fox & Cannondale have rendered it unsupported with no replacement options. On the other hand, some Specialized Brain shocks and all Trek DRCV shock equipped bikes can be upgraded with regular damper units so they would qualify even if the shock currently equipped is due for a second life as a paperweight.

A bike being angleset compatible is not a necessity, and it may be that in some cases it's not a worthwhile investment. But for most bikes I look at from nearly a decade ago it's one of the first changes I'd make. Daniele's Carve uses a ZS44/EC49 headtube configuration but by going from a zero-stack upper cup to an external upper cup it's possible to slack out the bike -2° using a Works Components EC44/EC49 headset. That's a 95-to-115 CAD purchase depending on where you are in the world (VAT v. no VAT). I don't think, in many cases, that there's a better and faster way to update a bike for a c-note.

MDE Carve NSMB Daniele Villa (23).jpg

I'm a bit thirsty for the MDE in this fisheye. The seat angle looks a little steeper, the head angle looks a little slacker, the top tube looks a little longer, that 2.5" front tire sure looks like a 2.8". I think the 2013 Carve is a great looking bike. Can't argue with a horizontally mounted shock and room for a water bottle.

Uniquely Italian

Formula brakes, the MDE frame, and Daniele all have something in common. They're all into riders using products for a long, long time. Daniele works as a bike mechanic, and he sums up his personal philosophy thusly: "Keep in mind that both for my personal bikes and for my customers I always give advice for getting used bikes/parts whenever it makes sense, which is almost all the time." I recognize that this changes from one locale to another and that the used market has been a bit ridiculous the last two years or so, but I still think it's a lovely turn of phrase and turning of the tables on the norm.

Daniele's also done about as well as you can in terms of purchasing used components with tons of life left - Chris King hubs, Race Face Turbine crank, SRAM X1 shifter/derailleur - and then filling that in with products like SunRace's 11-46t cassette that deliver a lot of performance and longevity for their price. There's no better example than the full rebuild, with all new guts, of the Formula R0 brakes, which would have cost as much as a budget set of brakes (parts & labour) but deliver significantly better stopping and feel for the same outlay of cash.

MDE Carve NSMB Daniele Villa.jpg

Beautiful.

Will Daniele get the frame fixed, or will it join the injured reserve with a place of honour hanging on his wall? The suspense. Clearly he'd still be riding the Carve regularly if it wasn't nearing end of life. Money aside, he should fix it simply because his passion for his MDE cuts clearly through all our correspondence. Even his initial story of falling in love with another man's bicycle: "the bike was mine even before he decided to sell it." And I with the suspension upgrade he's considering, and a -2° angleset, he'd be getting much more joy out of riding it. I'd start with the repair and angleset even and then do the fork and then the shock further down the trail.

My big takeaway is just how neat MDE bikes is from the perspective of product support. They've gone from a brand I barely knew existed to one I can't stop talking about. I mean, it's neat that they've been making a go of making frames their way for over twenty years but even more than the fact they're made in Italy, their support of products deep into the future is really admirable. It would be really neat to see more companies taking on this fix-it-instead-of-replace-it philosophy. If MDE can support aluminum frames in this way, other manufacturer's should be able to as well.


If you have a Min-Max worthy machine and you're interested in sharing it be sure to fire me an e-mail.

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Comments

Jotegir
Lu Kz
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+10 Nick Coulter Lynx . Cr4w mrbrett cornedbeef Timer Pete Roggeman Velocipedestrian silverbansheebike Nologo

The most impressive takeaway here is the revitalize program. That's crazy. I've never seen anything like this. Conventional wisdom is repairing aluminum is a fools game: you'll never replicate the factory conditions to make a strong weld. But what if the factory will replicate its conditions for you? Amazing. And for the price they're asking? Incredible! I could see a situation where you'd be able to pick up a cracked one of these for a case of beer and have a top quality frame (edit: with brand new paint, bearings, and warranty) for several hundred Euro.

I'd love to see some other alloy specialist brands pick up this torch. Actually, I'd love to see more than that pick it up, but Knolly, Banshee, Commencal? Come on guys!

Reply

craw
Cr4w
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+3 Andrew Major kcy4130 Lynx .

Companies that do their own welding could do. I have no doubt Nicolai would do that. They carry small parts going back 25 years and do their welding in-house. Brands that subcontract their aluminum frame production in batches probably wouldn't have a way to do that.

Reply

xy9ine
Perry Schebel
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+9 Lu Kz Andrew Major Lynx . DadStillRides Mammal shenzhe Pete Roggeman kcy4130 Dan

a bunch of years ago nicolai repaired a frame of mine similarly. cracked at the headtube to downtube junction; they re-welded, added a gusset, & re-painted with the color of my choice. all for free - and i was the second owner. impressive.

Reply

Jotegir
Lu Kz
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+2 Andrew Major Cr4w

> Brands that subcontract their aluminum frame production in batches probably wouldn't have a way to do that.

Maybe, maybe not. Who's to say a similarly skilled and equipped Asian manufacturer to MDE couldn't subcontract repair and refurbishing for several brands? My ignorance could be showing here.

Edit: When Chinese companies can somewhat successfully replicate the hightower in to a rideable frame and even have their sights set on the new range, why couldn't Asian companies skilled in alloy bikes perform the above repairs/refurbishing if sufficiently motivated and actually supported by OEMS and brands?

Reply

danithemechanic
danithemechanic
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+9 Andrew Major Lu Kz Lynx . cheapondirt DadStillRides shenzhe Timer Pete Roggeman T0m

Andrew what a surprise you made me today!

Having my all-time favourite bike featured on what i think is one of the most independent bike related publications right now is an award for the philosophy i'm putting in my work everyday.

This article makes me feel that, even if i choose to restore it, my Carve will forever live as the faded neon yellow diamond in the rough i spotted that day outside my workshop!

Reply

Jotegir
Lu Kz
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 Andrew Major

Get the restoration done and then leave the frame chained to your roof for a year. You'd get your faded yellow back.

Reply

danithemechanic
danithemechanic
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+3 Lu Kz Lynx . Andrew Major

I think the previous owner knew best: spray some Chante Claire degreaser and let it sit in the sun...

I can have it done in one evening!

Reply

Lynx
Lynx .
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+2 Andrew Major danithemechanic

Bahahahaha. This is so funny, because I know a guy who did the same thing, blew my mind. Guy had a beautiful Neon yellow Prime, sprayed degreaser on it and left it to sit for who knows how long, absolutely blew all the colour out of the thing in an afternoon. 

People really don't understand just how strong most degreasers are, I pretty much refuse to use it, except in rare occasions and then only on parts I can remove from the bike, like chains, cassettes, chainrings etc,  otherwise, it's just simple dish soap and water, warm -hot preferably if there's grease to remove.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks, 4 days ago
0

I’ve always figured that if dish soap can clean oil off animals it’s probably good enough for my bike. Exceptions for fork lower service / brake service where ISO is the way to go. 

Do have to say, I did very much enjoy using Nice Guy Geoff’s UV cleaner for drivetrain parts.

Reply

Ncoulter
Nick Coulter
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+6 Andrew Major Lu Kz Timer danithemechanic DadStillRides Pete Roggeman

Great article. I am really impressed by the existence of MDE’s Revitalize program. It’s not outrageously expensive, and it could greatly reduce waste from the bicycle industry, if other manufacturers got on board. You definitely just put MDE on my radar.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+4 Lu Kz Cr4w Nick Coulter Pete Roggeman

Yes, it totally caught me off guard. Then I started dreaming about Giant having a program where you ship your frame to Taiwan and they do a similar program and extend your warranty and I think, if MDE can do it Giant could absolutely do it.

I get if you’re selling frames but not actually controlling manufacturing but in Giants case, for example, they control the whole process.

———

I’d also love to see companies (bikes and suspensions) having a program selling reconditioned warrantied products like PNW. 

Santa Cruz for example could warranty a frame, ship it back to China instead of cutting it up, and then repair and repaint and sell it as a such.

Reply

craw
Cr4w
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+4 Lu Kz Lynx . Timer mrbrett

Lol could you imagine SC doing anything that didn't specifically line you up towards buying another new frame with an identical silhouette distinct because of colour.

Reply

SomeBikeGuy
SomeBikeGuy
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 Cr4w

What about Santa Cruz specifically setting you up to buy a new frame with an identical silhouette in a colour that matches your brand new 2023 Toyota Tacoma?

After all, the Tacoma brochure is where they source most of their colours to begin with...

Reply

Lynx
Lynx .
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 Andrew Major

@Andrew, while this would be so great, logistically, it would be a nightmare for companies such as Giant - shipping, logging, tracking and such stuff to China and back to wherever. For a brand that welds their frames, in house, not so. Biggest issue with fixing alu frames is the actual heat treating, not getting them welded and if you don't re-heat treat 7005, you'll definitely have major problems.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+2 BadNudes Nick Coulter

It has to be a manufacturer that has all those processes in house. You can ship an FS frame in a fairly small box. Not saying it wouldn’t require a setup but I think if MDE can do it Giant could absolutely do it, if they wanted to. They have the global logistics in place.

Reply

Timer
Timer
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+5 Andrew Major Nick Coulter Cr4w Lynx . Mammal

I'm fascinated by the dedication to this frame and the level to which it is still being maintained.

Tyre options for 26" are still surprisingly good, especially with Schwalbe. You can get the most recent Magic Mary, Hans Dampf and Big Betty in multiple casings and all high-end compounds. And Maxxis is still selling everything they made in the last years of 26".

But i'm a bit surprisded by the Dual-compound front tyre on this bike. It suggests that Daniele either doesn't ride in the wet, or that he is a wizard when it comes to weight shifts and brake modulation.

Reply

danithemechanic
danithemechanic
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+7 Andrew Major Sandy James Oates Lynx . cheapondirt dave_f silverbansheebike Timer

You don't get a lot of choice if you want a good 26" tire nowadays, and a 2.5WT Dual will always be better than any compound in 2.3 at the front in my book, paired with the Ex471 it really changed the handling of the bike for better.

Then, the whole build comes togheter following the idea of having the most reliable machine with the least expense. Duals just last so much here in Finale, and they're perfectly fine in our dry and dusty conditions.

Reply

Nologo
Nologo
3 weeks, 3 days ago
0

If you are not afraid of mixing things up, Baron front and Big Betty soft rear are an pleasure to ride, especially in wet PNW. Kaiser was ok as rear as well, slightly weaker braking and slower rolling than BB

Reply

danithemechanic
danithemechanic
3 weeks ago
0

Defenitely not afraid! 

For her last setup i got the Baron/Kaiser pair and sice i didn't love the Kaiser too much i'd rather have a Baron/Dhf combo for maximum cornering grip. 

Big Betty it's another nice option to have as a rear as well.

Reply

Jotegir
Lu Kz
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+6 Andrew Major Nick Coulter mnihiser cheapondirt Pete Roggeman Polk

Yes! You really don't see too many people with mountain bikes who maintain them like a car enthusiast! I've blown a few people's minds when they see my haggard 2018 Instinct one day and then the next after I've given it the full clay bar, compound, polish, and wax treatment. I love to see people take care of their shit for long periods of time. Maybe I'll be eligible for the 2027 round of Min Maxing?

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 Lu Kz

It’s crazy for me to think that’s already (almost) a five year old machine?!

Reply

Jotegir
Lu Kz
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+2 Andrew Major Spencer Nelson

Oh, I agree. Unmodified it still feels pretty fresh to me, but mine currently sits at -2 degrees HTA and running full steep Ride-9 for the most "modern" geo, short-stroked by 5mm out back w/ extra bottomless tokens in the rear shock, and kinda feels like a lighter Optic. Had the opportunity to take the new Instinct out for a solid spin on Sunday/Monday and I was like "nah, too dangerous. I like this one too much". I only call it haggard because of ride time.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 Nick Coulter

That’s definitely one way the ‘current bike’ strategy can go. I call it avoidance. But it’s not as powerful as riding the new-new and realizing your (well maintained) bike is just as good. That’s transcendence.

Reply

Jotegir
Lu Kz
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+2 Lynx . Andrew Major

Transcendence is difficult with access to staff pricing.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 Lynx .

If anything riding the new-new and staying with your current rig is an extra level of transcendence in that case?!

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+2 Timer Lynx .

Schwalbe also still has some great 27+ options - including the Magic Mary - that they’re supporting. They just, unfortunately never did a 29x2.8/3” Mary or we could definitely be friends. 

Re. Dual Compound tire. I’ve known lots of riders happy with DC (or MaxxTerra) up front (which really isn’t impressively better) so the preference didn’t catch me off guard. I’d assume he traded a paper-clip for it! I think the coolest thing about this bike is just how many of the parts had a life before Daniele and yet how clean it looks.

Reply

Lynx
Lynx .
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 Andrew Major

Yeah, I've got the 2.6" NN and HD in SpeedGrip, on i35 rims for my Unit and I really do love them, the volume is excellent, if only they offered a 2.8" or 3.0" version for just a tad more volume for us who love our PLUS, but not suspension :-)

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+2 Lynx . T0m

I would love to try a 29x2.8/3 Magic Mary in a Soft compound. Maybe a 29x3 NN out back? Mmm.

Reply

Lynx
Lynx .
3 weeks, 4 days ago
0

Don't have lots of your terrain here Andrew, but we do have some and that's the stuff I really like, especially on the rigid. The Schwalbe SpeedGrip (blue line) compound, really has impressed me with how much grip it offers, yet still rolls really well. I think a mixed SpeedGrip rear/Soft front combo would really be a great all round combo for me, except for those few trails I mentioned when they're wet, so guessing a Soft/Ultra Soft combo would work well for you.

If Schwalbe ever decide to do 29x3" or even 29x2.8" version of the Nobby Nic and Hans Dampf, I'd be all over them, maybe even a Rocket Ron in 29x3.0" for a faster "XC" setup.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks, 4 days ago
0

Unfortunately, I don’t think new 29+ tires are in the cards. Hopefully Surly has the DW back in stock soon because the aggressive 29+ market is on fumes. 

Sadly Vigilante 2.8” is dead again. At least for now. Which sucks. Feel encouraged to write WTB and tell them that.

Lynx
Lynx .
3 weeks, 4 days ago
0

Yeah, I know :-( Think I'll pick up some Bontis, probably an XR2 and XR4 when I reup my tyres for the Unit, as think a straight up XR4 setup would be just a bit too much for the type of all around riding I like to do. Not a fan of the WTB stuff, or at least not the stuff I tried, heavy for what they are compared to the Schwalbe's and Bontis.

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks, 4 days ago
0

The SE2/SE4 were good tires. Worth the extra bit of weight over the papery XR series.

Too bad they’re dead too.

DogVet
Hugo Williamson
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+3 Andrew Major Nick Coulter Pete Roggeman

I first saw an MDE ridden by the guide Adi in Molina de Triori, was a beautifully crafted bike back then(2011)

I believe they offer a custom frame build as well.

Would suggest to all you states side have a trip to Italy and ride Molini and Finale if you get a chance.

Reply

craw
Cr4w
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+2 Andrew Major Lynx .

They do offer a custom geometry program! https://www.mdebikes.com/rider-tuning-geometry/  

Good to know as their geo looks good but their ideas about how tall a rider can fit their XL are a bit optimistic. Nice looking bikes though.

They also sell aluminum plate if that's your thing. https://www.mdebikes.com/product-category/builder-project/raw-material/

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 Cr4w

And their custom program is really reasonable. Bespoke geo for a couple hundred Euros is a great deal.

Reply

craw
Cr4w
3 weeks, 4 days ago
0

Custom ebike to bother everyone, here I come!

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 Cr4w

I think I’m going to start a pool on the date you order your first e-bike. Sell squares for a dollar. NSMBA can have the money, winner gets bragging rights. I’m going with March 3rd, 2025.

Reply

craw
Cr4w
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 Andrew Major

So it's a gofundme to pay for said ebike?

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks, 4 days ago
0

It’s GoFundMe or a home equity loan. No other way to buy bikes these days?!

Lynx
Lynx .
3 weeks, 4 days ago
0

That's really cool to be able to change your ST length, HT length, HTA and Reach for just 200 Euro, but they're missing the one thing I'd really want to change and that's STA, 78+ degrees is just stupid insane unless you live someplace that only has ups and downs.

Reply

RG
RG
3 weeks, 3 days ago
+2 Andrew Major Lynx .

As it is "born in the Alps" it is for ups and downs. 

I have one for one year now, and I am very happy. The steep STA is so much better than the slack one I had on my old bike.

Further, the linkages are all fixed to the seat tube, it would be very comlicated to change the STA.

Reply

Lynx
Lynx .
2 weeks, 6 days ago
0

Hey, I get it and acknowledge their origins, but to/for me, that STA just limits their international audience, although more seem to not mind riding those big pie plates and spinning like hamsters on regular type climbs or flats all because the downs are the biggest/important factor :skep:

I also really understand why they don't offer the option, because of all the other changes they offer, they do not interfere with the actual kinematics of the bike like moving the STA and effective pivot point would do, would require a whole lot more work than just adjusting the jigs, it's require some computer time to re-calculate everything, although I guess they could just do -1, -2, -3 degrees and keep that on hand.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 silverbansheebike

“States side” eh? Here in the Pacific SOUTHwest of Canada… I mean, I guess at least you didn’t say “all you people in the colonies.”

I was a touch embarrassed to ‘know’ who MDE were without knowing who MDE were - it’s a cool outfit. 

After I put this together I actually reached out to Ventana - as they’re doing a similar thing in the USA - to ask about their repair and refinish side of things. But I haven’t heard back, sadly. Would love to talk more about the potential for aluminum repairs, custom aluminum frames. etc.

Reply

DogVet
Hugo Williamson
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+3 Andrew Major T0m danithemechanic

Ooops ok,” across the pond” any better?!!

Either way get a ticket and ride some of Italy’s finest, as well as see it’s incredible scenery in the Alps-Maritime

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 danithemechanic

Hahaha. Cheers. Certainly on my bucket list.

Reply

danithemechanic
danithemechanic
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 Andrew Major

Whenever you want to come, just give me a shout!

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T0m
T0m
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 Andrew Major

Interesting, was checking Ventana’s website out last weekend. I had one in the mid-aughts for a few years when they still sold used frames and it was impressive for the time. They still make incredible alu frames but their geometries have not progressed since about 2013. They will do full custom geo frames for about $3200. Not sure that is a good value when carbon is readily repairable.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks, 4 days ago
0

Depends on if you want a full custom USA-Made frame or not I guess? I mean, on its face that price seems like a bargain to a lot of the carbon frames showing up this year? 

Clearly, they could do to modernize their stock geometries, and then maybe a less expensive semi-custom frame would make it more attainable. 

I've never ridden a Ventana but I've pedaled about on a few custom frames from other brands with their rear ends (it used to be very common to see) and they're a solid linkage-driven single pivot. It would be extra cool, given that they're ground up in-house if they offered some level of custom kinematics as well. 

The one-at-a-time factor of aluminum frames brings degrees of customizability that are only being explored in limited ways right now ('Steel Is Real' etc) but I think there are opportunities there even for larger companies to do custom up-charges as a differentiator. 

Maybe not now when you can sell SX-level bikes like the drivetrains aren't made of overcooked pasta, but in the future when competition is back to being about a bike company selling you a bike v. the competition being about bike companies getting bikes from factories.

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T0m
T0m
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 Andrew Major

I’ll give you that on Ventana custom pricing- I definitely forgot that $3200 US is well under average for a top-line carbon frame today. Ventana’s mod-single pivot suspension is simple and very rigid laterally, noticeably so, and the welds and workmanship are top level. I don’t think they’re far off the sharp end of the market with better stock geometry and some attention to kinematics. This actually has me thinking more about them.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks, 4 days ago
0

Yeah! Like I said, wanted to write something about the possibilities but haven’t heard back.

tashi
tashi
2 weeks, 6 days ago
+2 Andrew Major danithemechanic

Dang, what cool, straightforward bikes and awesome support. 

Think I found my next FS bike.

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Lynx
Lynx .
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 Andrew Major

Definitely another cool story and brand to be aware of, love the refurb idea and program, definitely something that would draw me to a brand over another that didn't have it - his looks in mint condition, though despite that it's cracked, paint has held up really good. One thing, you never mentioned Daniele's height, that I'm curious about. 

Agree with you Andrew on if upgrading the fork, to go with a 650B and have the option of doing 26" or 650B, to keep the geo same if he likes it, just run at lower travel/A2C with the 650B, but still get the advantage of the better roll over of it.

Never really checked into those R0 brakes, so didn't know they had oval pistons, that's pretty neat. Great to see a brand that offers support long after a products "life cycle" has ended, so right now that to me is Hope, Formula and according to you SRAM, except that you need a dealer to get SRAM stuff, can't deal direct, AFAIK.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+2 Lynx . danithemechanic

I purposely didn’t list any rider dimensions and won’t be doing so going forward. I think readers who really care can look at a geometry chart and know which size, if any size, would work for them if they were min-maxing said older rig.

———

My favourite thing about this bike is how polished it looks despite being mostly second hand finds.

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Lynx
Lynx .
3 weeks, 4 days ago
0

OK, that's acceptable. I was curious if it was playing a major role in the owners decision to have or not have the frame repaired if say he was 6ft and bought an XL,  that by todays standard isn't even a size SM.

Agree, the bike looks absolute MINT. That's the thing though, when you know how to service/repair your own stuff vs pay someone to do it, it opens up a whole realm of possibilities. Because a lot of times the cost to pay someone's time to fix/repair/rebuild a product, is almost what something new costs, but when it's your time and you can pick up the part/product for next to nothing and fix/repair it for minimal parts, you can get a lot for your $$. 

Last new parts I think  I've gotten  for any of my bikes is rims and then I just lace them into existing older wheels with narrower rims, reusing the old spokes and nipples if possible, but getting a substantially better wheel because of the newer, wider rim for a fraction of the cost of a new wheel/wheelset AND I know that they're built properly.

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danithemechanic
danithemechanic
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+2 Andrew Major Lynx .

I don't know if Andrew is going to like this, but i'm 177cm tall and i chose the L Carve in purpose for its slightly bigger size than the bike i had before.

Fast forward to today: i've tried longer, slacker, lower but also older, shorter, higher.

I'm into shorter reach, taller stack, taller bb bikes with a low st and not too slack ht.

I can ride a 26" freeride bike with a shorter reach happily but not a size M 560 reach 29" for example.

What takes away from getting an older bike for me is just the seat tube lenght: unfortunately size M tend to have a slightly shorter than preferred reach but the right st instead size L have what i think is my preferred reach (let's say from 380 to 440 i can ride anything) but too much st and that's exactly what is stopping me from restoring the Carve once more.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+2 Lynx . danithemechanic

It doesn’t matter what I like Daniele. That’s sort of the general point, it’s your bike!

It’s too bad more older frames aren’t easily modded by cutting the seat tube shorter and putting in a new slot. That would have opened more used frames up to me too.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks, 4 days ago
0

Yeah, I certainly considered both sides of the sizing coin, especially since it would influence some riders’ decisions with their older rigs, certainly. I prefer a longer Reach (short stem and setback bar) than even is trendy for a short T-Rex like me. But what I prefer and what can work for me are different things and I’m trying to be especially aware of ‘telling’ other people what they prefer or even what can work for them.

There’s a lot of different terrain in the world (and yes, we have a steep and janky North Shore bent but, as this bike demonstrates, readers from everywhere) and add in personal preference and human adaptability and I think it’s for the better - unless if being asked for advice - that we assume folks are riding the size/a size of bike that works best for them.

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Lynx
Lynx .
3 weeks, 4 days ago
0

Thanks for the reply Daniele, this is what I was looking for/interested in.

What's really interesting, is that unlike a lot might have thought, it's not the short Reach or 26" wheels that make him hesitant, but the long seattube and the inability to run a long dropper.

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velocipedestrian
Velocipedestrian
3 weeks, 3 days ago
+3 Lynx . Andrew Major cheapondirt

[Can't reply below, so to you instead]

If the cradle fits, you can get an extra Centimeter cheap.

danithemechanic
danithemechanic
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 Andrew Major

I grew so accustomed to the gometry of the bike i could ride it blindfolded, but all the time, if i had to pick one single change i'd want, was more seat drop.

Now i could experiment with different suspension and wheels, angleset and all, or source some obscure 26" parts that i'd like to try, but the st is a parameter i can't change. 

I have to admit i always tought about modifying it but i never dared asking Mde.

Lynx
Lynx .
3 weeks, 3 days ago
+1 mnihiser

Looking at the pics, I don't see why you couldn't carefully cut it down 3/4"/19mm, this coupled with a newer dropper with less of a collar, could easily gain you 30mm of drop.

Personally, I don't get all the big dropper post thing, once you can fit a 150 drop post, then your saddle is going to be 6" shorter than at full extension, which is almost a full crank length you gain, that coupled with level pedals and you've got a crap tonne of room to move about/down. Also, me personally, I like to have the saddle "within reach" as a guide to where the bike is underneath me.

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks, 3 days ago
+1 Lynx .

Thanks Velocipedestrian, that made my morning.

———

Lynx, it’s amazing how a 150mm dropper post is fine in steep janky terrain until you try something longer. As long as it’s steep I have no problem rear-steering with a 180mm dropper. I’ve settled on 170-180mm on most bikes for what I ride.

Lynx
Lynx .
3 weeks, 3 days ago
+1 Andrew Major

Andrew, I don't doubt you and if I get another post, the Phantom will take up to a 220mm drop, so will probably go for a 180mm that can be dropped up to 25mm since I can, may even get a 200mm with the same option and try different drops and compare, then I guess I'll see how much of a difference it makes - hopefully by that time the knee will be lots better to allow me to be riding the stuff that could use such things :-\

How's the achilles coming Andrew, still on the trainer or have you been granted easy road riding?

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks, 3 days ago
+1 Lynx .

It's coming along, thanks.

Right now it's just the trainer (ugh) but in a little more than a week I should be cleared for some light road riding. WZRD Em has finished the updates on my Walt V1 - looks fantastic - including some finishing that shows the scars of its evolution. Very excited to build that up. 

My leg is super weak, but that means my usual offroad gear on V2 should be fine for around the neighbourhood until I can get V1b built.

Lynx
Lynx .
3 weeks, 3 days ago
+1 Andrew Major

Good to hear, enjoy some "proper" gears until you build back up your strength :-)

Loving that rack, super cool design, muy bueno. Curious why both of the tyres are mounted up reversed?

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
3 weeks, 3 days ago
0

Em's freestyle rack builds are always unique and amazing. I'm so excited. That bike will be 32x11-25t 6spd so not exactly 'proper' hahaha. 

The tires are just to mock up for clearance at Em's shops. No idea why they're backward.

Also going to be on a multi-speed dually for my first few (many?) trail rides. Can't wait to get back on the rigid SS though.

Lynx
Lynx .
3 weeks, 3 days ago
0

I was referring to the FS you'll be initially riding gears wise, although the 6 gears on the V1, over that spread is a lot nicer than just 32x20 or some such :-)

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rotorburn
rotorburn
2 weeks, 6 days ago
0

I had a pair of those R0's back in like 2011/2012 or so. Could never get them working correctly and swore at them up and down. Looking back, I wish I knew enough back then to be able to properly rebuild them myself.

Andrew's suggestions on the MT5's were spot on and worked well for years, and lately I've been running Shimano Saint / quad-piston XTR's, both of which have treated me well with the usual Shimano power and ease of maintenance. My next set will be rebuildable though, the Shimano's aren't so hot in that category.

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silverbansheebike
silverbansheebike
3 weeks, 3 days ago
0

I would say a coil shock would be key, but if you can get one cheap and service it (it sounds like this is no issue!) I'd say it would be hard to argue against a DHX RC4 (did these come in 200x57? I've always wondered about custom travel reductions, given the availability of 8.75x2.75 shocks...). Sure, maybe not the lightest, but easy as anything to service, especially with the schrader valve on the gas side.

I'm surprised with the swap-able dropouts they don't offer anything that would change the geo. It sounds like they might be open to it, selling raw aluminum and whatnot... Could always bring your dropouts and a drawing to a local machine shop!

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danithemechanic
danithemechanic
3 weeks ago
0

They offer different lenght dropouts to accomodate different wheels sizes or play with the wheelbase. Sometimes the changes are not advisable but i know many owners that converted their bikes to the next wheel size thanks to it.

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Lynx
Lynx .
2 weeks, 6 days ago
0

I'm thinking if the geo is good to start with and they take the wheelsize into account so the drop outs keep the BB height for the size wheel they're doing them for, then the bike shouldn't ride all that much different, except for whatever charatcteristics the new wheelsize brings, i.e. better roll over of a bigger wheel.

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