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DREAM BUILDS

Owen Foster's Mix-Wheeled Commencal Clash "Warpig"

Words A.J. Barlas
Photos A.J. Barlas
Date Apr 20, 2021
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Presented By
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If the name Owen Foster sounds familiar, it may be thanks to his forever bike build Sheena – a full custom-built Chromag Surface – and his old 4Runner, Zombie. The 4Runner has since moved on but Sheena is still happily serving Owen a regular dose of adrenaline through the winter months. Sheena isn’t the only bike in Owen’s stable, though, and his other bikes are equally interesting.

Owen builds a new dual suspension trail bike fairly regularly and often wraps them in RideWrap to protect the finish ,but not with this polished silver beast. His last bike, and the first full custom mix-wheel build he had completed, looked brand new when he said goodbye, thanks in part to the protection his wrap provided. It was moved along in favour of this long-legged, mix-wheeled party animal that Owen affectionately named, “Warpig.” It’s built around the Commencal Clash, but this isn’t like other Clash models typically seen on the trails.

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Polished raw metal. Because of the finish, Owen opted not to wrap the Warpig. It's the first bike in a few that he's not wrapped and he's looking forward to the finish showing its age as time goes.

A.J.: What drew you to the Commencal Clash?

Owen: It ticked the boxes I had. I wanted a long travel sled that takes big brakes, isn't precious, is available as a frame and is/was actually available. Once I saw the high polished option I immediately had the whole build in my mind. Alu, yellow, ti, black stanchions… the whole thing. I was migrating a mullet wheelset over from a 27.5 2020 Sight to what I knew I needed was a steep STA aggressive 27.5 frame.

You first went to a mix-wheel with a custom Norco Sight prior to the Commencal. What benefits of the mixed wheels are you finding suit your riding style?

With mixed wheels, I find less tire buzz, better quick trajectory changes at low speeds on grade, easier to speed-wheel, easier to get in the air all while feeling at home with what is in front of me. It's worth noting that all these things are also the case with 27.5 front and back except the last bit. There is much ado about mullet in the starved-for-a-new-thing bike media/consumer but really it's just a 27.5 bike with the wheel I'm used to in front. Not trendy or drastic, just tuned for what I like. I understand why it's becoming a big thing, it's smart. Just like 6'4" riders deserve 510mm reach and 210mm droppers, medium folks like myself can really get all the goods in one bike this way.

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Party in the back…

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Business in the front?

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Owen built the wheels with We Are One Union rims (stickers removed) laced to I9 Hydra hubs.

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The Industry Nine Hydra rear hub and yellow accents may confuse some of the local summertime nastys…


There is much ado about mullet in the starved-for-a-new-thing bike media/consumer but really it's just a 27.5 bike with the wheel I'm used to in front. – Owen Foster

What changes to the geometry were made going to the mix wheel setup?

So this frame is meant to have a 37mm offset 180mm 27.5 fork. So with my 44mm offset 170mm 29 fork, my loose calcs have it slacker in HTA/STA by 0.4 (63.6 HTA / 76.8 STA estimated). The trail, front-centre and wheelbase measurements get stretched out a bit. To correct a slightly floppy parking lot feel I pulled some spacers from under the stem – short at 35mm – and adjusted the bar roll for the new 63-and-change HA. BB height is up I suppose, but when sagging into 170mm of Swedish genius squish it's hardly something I can discern mid-corner.

Did you run full 29 front and rear prior to moving to mixed wheels?

I had ridden only 29 bikes for about four years prior to the Sight and now this. I tried a couple of straight 27.5 bikes and I knew after one lap with a 27.5 in front of me that I wanted the usual 29 out front that I was used to at that point. Like trying flats after years of clips... (it) just doesn't click right away. Something about the peripheral size of it and the way I felt rolling into, not over roots. I was just used to it 29 in front. But out back, that which you can't see is easier to play with.

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Owen adjusted the specs to suit the larger front wheel. The Commencal Clash is a 27.5-wheeled, 170mm rear, 180mm front bike but Owen is running it at 170mm front and rear.

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Owen chose the Fox 36 to save some weight and isn't convinced he needs the larger diameter forks now spec'd on the 2021 models.

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OneUp 20mm bars and the 35mm stem take care of steering duties. Owen runs his bar roll "as per the stem indicator, because I trust Heynen" (OneUp engineer).

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A dash of oil slick from his EDC to pull together with the drivetrain.

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Owen's tried many seats and found his happy place with the SQlabs 612 saddle.

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A 180mm OneUp Dropper v2 holds the seat in place. It's a 30.9 post shimmed to 34.9 with a Cane Creek shim.

The Clash is a considerably more aggressive bike than your last mix wheel. What moved you into 170mm territory (up from 150mm)?

Mainly Satan… and the annual Disneyland hike a bike to frighten-fest. Being underbiked is not, in fact, fun all the time.

You’ve been testing heaps with inserts vs heavier tires and last year were running a DH rear tire. Is the move to an EXO with Cushcore XC insert a winter setup* or more testing? What have you found?

I refuse to jynx my rear EXO in January AJ, I won't do it! Haha.

The current setup is due to HR2 being a stellar wet season option and CushCore XC comes both strongly recommended and as the last in a line of many disappointing inserts... might as well try it out. I figure the casing will hold up to the slower, wetter winter coupled with the lower pressure (~20psi) I'll run with the insert. DH casing Dissector MaxxGrip and no insert at ~25psi was great in dryer climes and I'll try that again for sure.

*The Warpig was shot during the winter months.

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I'm used to seeing Owen's double boinger bikes clad with DH rubber and was surprised to see an EXO and learn he'd given another insert a try.

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Up front Owen has gone with an Assegai in a slightly heavier EXO+ carcass to make up for the lack of insert.

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Working at OneUp, of course Owen has used the Axle F…

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...and Axle R axles to prevent him from riding the wheels off the bike.

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I don't think Owen's afraid of the pain cave – one of his first rides on the Warpig was an early morning solo mission up to the Ride Don't Slide area on Whistler – but it's got some burly protection for those shuttle days.


Being underbiked is not, in fact, fun all the time. – Owen Foster

You seem to advocate for metal bikes (over carbon). Having owned many bikes, and spending time with all frame materials, what about metal gets your tick of approval?

These last couple of years, the alternative materials of porcelain and titanium and how they integrate from my bank account into my mouth have driven up the appeal of the frames that are $2k less expensive than the rest.

I gravitate to a bike first for the box-ticking, second for the styling. If a bike looks really good to me AND it's alloy, that is great. The industrial design of this bike seems tied to its material. I'm sure many people could argue that this bike could be achieved with composites or other metals, I just don't think so. Maybe this is a product of designing the bike from start to finish in this material, not as an afterthought? How many top tier bikes are being conceived of as a layup first and foremost, leaving a welded offering with a lot to be desired? I certainly found a fair few ugly box-tickers in my searches.

That said, I'll 100% have another carbon bike. Not advocate of anything other than function over fashion.

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Owen opted for the Öhlins TTX22m rear shock for bump eating duties.

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"170mm of Swedish genius squish." Owen sounds happy with the performance of the TTX22m on the Clash.

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Owen's happy with the 411-lb spring supporting his 175 pound mass.

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The rocker on the Clash has a flip-chip that changes the character of the suspension. "Sensitive" or "Dynamic" are the options. Owen didn't find the dynamic setting to give him what he wanted but has been happy with the bike set to sensitive.

This is a heavy hitter, yet you’ve stuck with the Fox 36. Did you consider the larger 38?

Could do. Believe it or not, I am trying to keep the weight down. It does pedal like a dream, to be honest. Really surprising at this hefty weigh in. Stretching the 36 has been great so far. TBH I think you could equip an actual pogo stick with Grip2 and absolutely shred that bad boy. The tech is just so damn good.

Shimano brakes but SRAM drivetrain. Tell us about that.

Codes gave me sore hands due to the squeeze factor they required, Saints don't. Sram does 12-speed better. Play to the strengths.

Tell us about the ti cranks. Why ti versus something else?

Strictly durability. Writing off carbon and alloy arms due to simply riding like a goon? No more. Definitely a huge one-time spend but these cranks will outlast all other components I own, though WR1 wheels seem to never die either. They look darn nice as well. The dentist might have my carbon money but I've got his cranks! Haha.

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Warpig runs a mix of Shimano, SRAM and Cane Creek for all the stop and go duties.

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Front and rear, Owen's Commencal Clash is running downhill brake power.

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Shimano Saints with 203mm Ice-Tech rotors at each end.

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A SRAM XO1 Eagle shifter and derailleur take care of gear shifting duties.

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And he opts for the Gucci SRAM XX1 rainbow cassette.

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Transferring Owen's power to the wheels is taken care of with the uber-Gucci Cane Creek eeWings titanium cranks.

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A parts bin find. Leftover from Richie Rude's 2017 build, this custom yellow OneUp Bash Guide takes care of Owen's colour theme needs and protects his 30-tooth OneUp Switch chainring from damage.

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Owen often rides clipped in but when running flats, he puts on a pair of OneUp Alloy Pedals.


The dentist might have my carbon money but I've got his cranks! Haha. – Owen Foster

Best thing about the bike?

Riding it.

Worst thing about the bike?

No bottle bosses I guess. Not too fussed, to be honest. Maybe I'll hit you up for 75 ways to strap things to my bike, haha (A.J.–ROFLMAO. Yes, let’s chat!)

What plans (if any) are there for it in the future?

Finless brake pads to get even quieter maybe, also I just strapped on a MudHugger FRX fender to the fork for winter mucking, not much else. It's my dream ride!

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The Warpig disguising its mixed feelings.

"Warpig" Specs

Brand/Model Notes
Frame: 2021 Commencal Clash (Polished) Size Medium. 170mm rear wheel travel
Shock: Öhlins TTX22m 411lb spring, rebound "3 clicks from full clockwise"
Fork: 2021 Fox 36 Performance 65psi w/ 2 tokens. LSR 9, HSR 4, HSC 3, LSC 10
Brakes: Shimano Saint 203mm rotors front and rear
Wheels: We Are One Union rims laced to IndustryNine Hydra hubs 29-inch front, 27.5-inch rear wheel
Tires: Maxxis Assegai 29 x 2.5 front, Maxxis High Roller II 27.5 x 2.4 rear EXO+ front tire, EXO rear tire w/ CushCore XC insert. 22psi/1.5bar front and 25psi/1.7bar rear
Drivetrain: SRAM X01 Eagle shifter and derailleur w/ XX1 Rainbox cassette and chain & OneUp Switch chainring 30t chainring
Cranks: Cane Creek eeWings 170mm length
Chainguide: OneUp Bash Guide Richie Rude's leftover v1 guide from 2017. "Because matching matters."
Bar & Stem: OneUp Stem and Carbon Handlebar 35mm stem length and 20mm rise bar cut to 760mm
Grips: OneUp Grips Black
Pedals: OneUp Alloy Pedal Black. Owen often rides clipped to Shimano XT pedals too
Seatpost: OneUp Dropper v2 180mm dropper with 30.9 diameter. A Cane Creek shim brings it to 34.9
Saddle: SQlabs 612 N/A
Extras: OneUp E.D.C. in steerer tube w/ v2 E.D.C. tool Oilslick finish
Weight: N/A 35lbs
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Owen Foster "taking the Retallack shuttle very seriously." – Photo by Pete Wojnar

Warpig Owner, Owen Foster

  • Height: 5'9"
  • Weight: 175lbs
  • Inseam: 30" "(I'm a) die-hard metric system fan for all other things I swear"
  • Occupation: OneUp Warehouse & Customer Service Manager
  • Riding Style: Friends would say ‘unnecessary' probably. I like big objectives fairly often but generally just like being on my bike, a lot.

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Comments

lev
+2 AJ Barlas Pete Roggeman
Lev  - April 20, 2021, 3:54 a.m.

Really nice bike.  Lots of well thought out kit on it.

Reply

FLATCH
+4 MuscogeeMasher AJ Barlas Pete Roggeman Dan
flatch  - April 20, 2021, 4:32 a.m.

Beautiful rig, really like the raw look. Could do without the oil slick, that’s just me.

Reply

MuscogeeMasher
+1 Pete Roggeman
MuscogeeMasher  - April 20, 2021, 6:44 a.m.

Love the look.  I just got a raw banshee and it made me consider eewings for about 2 seconds.  However, I’m more seriously considering how much trouble it’d be to strip the anodizing off my sram gx cranks without compromising them. From what I’ve seen of the new gx, I think I’d just need to scrub hard with soapy water and a dishrag.  But, I’ve got the older ones.  Any ideas, warnings, or stories?

Reply

AJ_Barlas
+1 MuscogeeMasher
AJ Barlas  - April 20, 2021, 7:16 a.m.

Have not done it but have looked into it many times for smaller parts (suspension dials etc.). There’s heaps of info online for ways to do it, many of which involve soaking in chemicals. It doesn’t seem to be a problem but perhaps someone with first-hand experience can offer their thoughts?

Reply

mammal
+9 AJ Barlas MuscogeeMasher flatch tmoore Cr4w Pete Roggeman shapethings Sanesh Iyer Velocipedestrian
Mammal  - April 20, 2021, 7:08 a.m.

I'm a big fan of his well-reasoned choices, and very well described. The thought processes behind these builds are the best part of these articles (not necessarily the bling).

Reply

AJ_Barlas
0
AJ Barlas  - April 20, 2021, 7:12 a.m.

Fully. Owen’s bikes are always well considered and interesting.

Reply

TomM
0
TomM  - April 20, 2021, 7:22 a.m.

Nice bike!  I love nekkid aluminum frames and swedish boingers.

FWIW the fork compression settings seem to be off.  HSC only has 8 clicks available, LSC has 16.  (I'm only mentioning this because I have the same fork and I like to see what settings work for other folks.)

Reply

OwenFoster
+2 AJ Barlas Pete Roggeman
OwenFoster  - April 20, 2021, 9:05 a.m.

That would be my error.   (Sorry A.J) 

Upon re-check I'm at;

HSC 3 out

LSC 10 out

Not as 'open' on the HSC circuit, as is usually seen, I think due to the double tokens.  

All this said, I'm open to fiddling with the knobs... a little hesitant when I'm liking the ride, which I very much am.

Reply

AJ_Barlas
0
AJ Barlas  - April 20, 2021, 10:07 a.m.

Thanks Owen. The article has been updated with these. :)

Reply

TomM
0
TomM  - April 20, 2021, 10:31 a.m.

Thanks for the clarification Owen.

I'm sure you know what you're doing but you're running about 20psi under what Fox recommends for your weight.  I found their psi recommendation worked well for me, but I don't ride where you do.  You could try a little more pressure and a little less damping if you felt like mucking with. 

Again nice bike!

Reply

OwenFoster
0
OwenFoster  - April 22, 2021, 9:53 a.m.

I'll take the shake-up!  Thanks for the nudge.

(starts tinkering with knobs on the bike he finds nothing the matter with) 

Cheers!

Reply

Suns_PSD
+2 Pete Roggeman OwenFoster
Sun Hester  - April 20, 2021, 8:19 a.m.

This one is sweet!

Reply

Ceecee
0
Ceecee  - April 20, 2021, 9:55 a.m.

Owen's frame isn't Ridewrapped and was once in stock. Owen seems to advocate for metal bikes, but he likes things that look cool and work, such as dental implants. Based on the copious photographic evidence, Owen does not ride OneUp metal pedals. Unlike his axles, Owen is not solid.

Reply

OwenFoster
0
OwenFoster  - April 20, 2021, 10:06 a.m.

fully fluid FF

Reply

xy9ine
+3 AJ Barlas Pete Roggeman OwenFoster
Perry Schebel  - April 20, 2021, 2:02 p.m.

as a fan of raw commencals, and utilitarian builds (function over flash) i like this.

Reply

DadStillRides
+1 LWK OwenFoster Neil Carnegie
DadStillRides  - April 20, 2021, 8:26 p.m.

Beautiful bike! Love the mix and match variety with the components.

One thing I'm curious about is the rear suspension. Seems like with all the advanced designs available, a fairly standard linkage driven single pivot would be the least favorable option, yet people love commencals and marins (and some konas) that have them. Is the shock that good at making up for some of the less than desirable single pivot attributes? Is it because it's bordering high pivot territory? or am I missing something else entirely?

Reply

xy9ine
+6 Velocipedestrian Neil Carnegie Karl Fitzpatrick AJ Barlas LWK OwenFoster
Perry Schebel  - April 20, 2021, 9:47 p.m.

i don't believe a well executed sp is any less effective (in any meaningful / measurable way) than any other suspension platform. it's minutiae (and lots of marketing wank).

Reply

OwenFoster
+3 MTBohana DadStillRides AJ Barlas
OwenFoster  - April 22, 2021, 9:52 a.m.

I'm with Perry on this, big time.  

It's probably worth noting that I'm not ever racing a clock.  I would suspect any weaknesses of this suspension platform would be realized mostly in the racing world... where this bike simply doesn't belong.  Feels terrific on bigger compressions, climbs really really well ** (no qualifier) and is comfortable on the long days.  All IMO of course. 

It does seem that the buzz is mostly surrounding the Meta 29 over this bike.    The Meta is a raceable bike, big wheels... a real Enduro box ticker.

The Clash is essentially the Furious with a seat mast depth and angle that affords a pedal height saddle. 

I have dreams of putting on a XO1DH drivetrain, a 34t Switch ring, a 190mm Fox49, DH casings F/B and a solid short post for the next trip Retallack.    Those adjustments actually make sense on this bike... it leans in deep to the DH bike side over the Trail bike side, despite **

I'll be sure to get AJ to shoot it if so, I think it would be quite striking... also it would be a Furious.

All that is to say, I've not noticed even for a second that I'm missing the 'pedalling prowess' of a DW link or the 'bottomless feel' of a VPP

Glad you like the look of my bike.  It's super fun and I love it.

Cheers!

Reply

MTBohana
+1 OwenFoster
MTBohana  - April 22, 2021, 2:34 a.m.

Sick bike Owen. I had a 2018 Meta AM. Almost bought the 2021 Clash, but ended up getting the 2021 Meta AM in Gun Metal. Gotta love Commencal. They build dope bikes.

Reply

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