New Walt Day (3).JPG
EDITORIAL

Personal Rides: Andrew's Custom Waltworks V2

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date May 11, 2020

I guess mostly I want to say I wear regular clothes, mostly listen to a mixture of opera and children's music instead of punk rock, and have no facial hair or tattoos, so I'm obviously faking it." - Walt @ Waltworks

Writer's Rides

This is not a review. I could probably spend half an article testifying to the litany of biases I have when it comes to this sexy assembly of Cosmic-Lilac powder-coated steel but I'll leave it off with a few of the biggies. First off, I paid for my Waltworks. Second, the bike's geometry is fully custom for me and, at a minimum, fairly unique so add a big dose of confirmation bias on top of the hit to my bank account. Third, I completely love this bike. Fourth, Walt is one of my favourite people I've never met and this is the fourth project he's done for me. I could go on.

My Waltworks V2 is longer, slacker, and meaner than the first one and, without any caveats, it's the most wicked bike I've ever owned. This purple-powdered collection of steel tubes has completely cured me of newbicycleitis. When I'm looking at bikes these days it's decade-old used bikes for fun rebuild projects or best-on-a-budget options, like the Growler 20, to write about for NSMB. I have to say that it's beyond cool to get something custom made that you wouldn't change a thing about. Well, I mean, maybe a couple of tiny things.

New Walt Day.JPG

Waltworks V2 was always meant to be a rigid bike. Here the beast sits with a static 64° head tube angle and a 480mm Reach. Adjusted for my gearing the stays sit around 460mm for a total 1255mm wheelbase. I'd call it size medium-large.

Walt V2 120mm (15).JPG

But, the V2 geometry is corrected around a sagged 100mm fork. After riding that setup a while I've settled on a 120mm fork for local trails I like. The static wheelbase in this photos is 1275mm.

I'll dig deeper into the evolution of this bike then you'd ever want to go, however, for now I'll say that it was born out of scaring myself on my favourite local trails on the rigid plus bikes I owned before it. My Walt V2 is intended to be my ultimate North Shore rigid trail bike and it is just that. The wheelbase is long and my weight balance is dialed to make the best use of all the suspension I was born with. The frame & fork are stiff enough to hammer my one gear up No Quarter out of the saddle and to resist braking forces with an 8" rotor but still relatively comfortable as hardtails, and indeed fully rigid, bikes go.

Like any hardtail, it is also highly adaptable. I regularly ride to the trails, spun out as I am in my gear that is always too hard or way too easy, and I have a set of wheels with true semi-knob XC rubber mounted up in the event I want to get my single speed North Shore gravel-XC riding on although I'll admit that 99.9% of the time I'm happily turning over 1354-gram Tough Casing WTB Vigilante tires with 334-gram CushCore Plus inserts. Bike weight is in your head.

Waltworks V2 AndrewM (13).JPG

An homage to my favourite trail builder for life. Upper & Lower Vic's were my introduction to the type of trails that have defined mountain biking for me for over twenty years and at 80 years old and still riding trails, Vic is my ever-moving goal post.

Waltworks V2 AndrewM.JPG

I've loved stickers-with-meaning since I was a grom. That's my friend Dumpster Bear on the top tube and gnar-preserver extraordinaire Andy looking badass on the down tube. Artwork by Kelsie (you rock Kelsie!).

It's funny that folks often assume that single speeding is about weight savings. The places I could cut weight on this machine are endless, starting with ditching the fender bridge on the rigid fork to go with butted legs or choosing a short-travel XC fork instead of my sweet & stiff lowered Helm. Tires, ditch the inserts, go to an aluminum chainring, carbon bars, and I could go on.

So to answer the question, no. No, I have absolutely no idea how much my bike weighs and don't care at all to find out. Let's say that it's competitive for rigid or short travel hardtails with 2-ply Plus DH tires, inserts, and parts otherwise chosen for durability.

New Walt 1 (2).JPG

Team Pangor has long been one of my favourite break-in rides for a new bike. Especially in the rain. That or Pipeline, one of my favourite Fromme trails. Hard enough that I have to be on but with enough familiarity and variety to test my fit and settings.

I use my Walt as a test mule for NSMB, generally testing hubs, cranks, dropper posts, or other items that need a thorough long term beating. Single speeding has been proven to destroy everything and it's particularly hard on bottom brackets, rear hubs, and crown-steerer-units. The bike serves as a great complement to my much more 'normal' Marin Alpine Trail which has gears and front and rear squishy bits.

I mention the juxtaposition as V2's influence on bike tests is very apparent to me particularly in how unbalanced I think a lot of bikes are in order to keep the chainstays short. I can only imagine how out of balance that would feel if I was tall and had to jump from the medium-large* bikes I ride to an XL or XXL with the same rear centre.

*Usually tagged as large by manufacturers

Waltworks V2 AndrewM (4).JPG

Always up for an adventure. The water bottles are both on the down tube to future proof against future dropper post developments.

Waltworks V2 AndrewM (5).JPG

I've been running a 120mm fork up front exclusively, instead of a rigid, since 'rona hit. Combined with my 2.8" rubber it provides a larger margin of error for my riding.

Whether I mount the rigid fork or run suspension, I know my Walt is really cool because folks tell me that all the time. Well, specifically they tell me things like "sweet Chromag," "that's the best colour of Chromag I've seen!" and "how did you get a Doctahawk with stays that long." I've even had another rider tell me how cool it is that my Chromag doesn't have Chromag decals because "I must be all about the ride, not the brand." I sh*t you not, when I pointed out the Waltworks decal on the downtube he told me he wasn't familiar with that model of Chromag but assured me my bike was "f-ing cool anyways." Maybe my 31mm Ranger stem doesn't help‽

Waltworks

My "Chromag" may be cool, but Walt Wehner is decidedly not. He has no tattoos, no style, kids, makes plainly functional bicycles, and has plenty of bold opinions about mountain bicycles he's happy to share. He's basically like me except he has a useful skill. Walt's welding is exemplary.

For how obviously impressive his manufacturing quality is, his bikes don't feature superfluous tubes or bonus-bending and he openly states if you can buy what you want off the shelf then why not just buy it? He plays LEGO and rides bikes with his kids, teaches one-on-one frame building classes, and he's been quietly producing custom bikes for twenty years. In his own words:

"I guess mostly I want to say I wear regular clothes, mostly listen to a mixture of opera and children's music instead of punk rock, and have no facial hair or tattoos, so I'm obviously faking it."

In those twenty years, Walt has made around 1000 frames, over 1000 rigid forks, and "numerous weird objects that weren't quite 'bikes'" which may include my V2 and almost certainly references this Penny Farthing with disc brakes and suspension.

Waltworks V2 AndrewM (1).JPG

There's no superfluous tube bending on V2. My chainstays allow the combined use of Paragon's excellent swinger dropouts and 29'er friendly brake rotors.

Waltworks V2 AndrewM (3).JPG

I'm running a 180mm rotor with a four-piston Formula Cura4 brake or a 203mm rotor with a two-piston Magura MT Trail.

Why Waltworks in Park City, Utah when there are a plethora of brilliant builders geographically closer, many of whom don't carry the cantankerous currency contrast and duty? I was looking to get a custom rigid fork made for my project Kona Explosif rigid single speed plus mullet bike. A couple of my friends who ride single speeds, Adam and Scott, both had Walts and were beyond impressed with the ride, quality, and ordering experience and a quick online search made it obvious he had built hundreds of them so I figured, why not?

The quality of the whole experience was so good that when I was ready to move from the Explosif to a custom dual-29" take on the same bike, with the industry standard longer & slacker treatment thrown into the mix, it was an easy choice to work with Walt and when he translated my napkin drawings into exactly what I wanted on the trail there was no reason to look back. After V1 we added my 5' tall wife's 27+ "Magic Bike" to the mix and then V2 became a thing.

Waltworks V2 AndrewM (8).JPG

Walt's made over a thousand forks. Usually, they have butted legs but I took the weight penalty of straight gauge tubing so I could have my little fender arch welded on there.

Waltworks V2 AndrewM (9).JPG

I love little details from the quality of the welds to the interface of the tapered steerer tube, and of course the fender-arch in action. I'm using a Muddhugger fender.

I know there are plenty of great builders in Canada, I follow a bunch of them on social media, but a custom bike is a huge investment in money but beyond that, it's a personal risk because they're your ideas for how a bike should ride. It's your bike and aside from the manufacturing itself whether it's awesome or not is up to you. Although, great builders certainly work with you to make sure what you want is really what you want.

I get asked regularly "what kind of tubing" my frame uses. Sometimes the questioner means the brand, and sometimes they mean the blend, and sometimes they mean the individual wall thicknesses. The truth is, I have no idea on all accounts. I'm not a frame builder. I'm a rider with a very good idea of what I want on the trail who needed someone to translate that for me onto paper and then into a physical bike frame. Once Walt had a draft of my crazy ideas I put my trust into his 20 years of experience to make sure my bike would ride the best it could and hold up to janky North Shore trails. As someone who was turned off custom bikes in the past because of bad experiences, I'll say that trust and compatibility of ideas are at least as important as pretty welds in getting the bike you want to hammer.

As much as I love checking out prime examples from the history of mountain biking - from the beautiful to the weird to the horrific to the hilarious - I'm not into collecting showpieces and if I own a bike it's meant to be ridden often. My goal is to ride V2 until it breaks.

Waltworks V2 AndrewM (12).JPG

I wanted two water bottles, Walt suggested leaving the seat tube clean of bosses to future proof against dropper post evolution, and so I have two bottles on the down tube. As a few individuals have quipped: "all the bottles and none of the gears."

But, I think it's fair to say that my V2 is a head-turner. Walt will help you with anything when it comes to designing your dream bike but he won't pick the colour for you. He won't even help you choose between two options. Lost flipping through shades, trying to pick the best likeness to Toyota-Tan, or deciding which red are you? Just order 'Waltworks Purple!'

Personally, and I'm only half joking, I think Walt should adopt this colour as his signature shade. And yes, as people keep asking me, I will let you in on the secret and it won't bother me at all if we have matching Walts. You're looking for Prismatic Powder PMB-2237 aka Cosmic Lilac.

Waltworks V2 AndrewM (2).JPG

Single speeders take note: the bolts are upgraded to more beastly units with deep 6mm hex interfaces. The stock shallow-head 5mm that Paragon uses are frankly meh.

Waltworks Drivetrain NSMB AndrewM (2).JPG

Dropper cable exit to clamp-on down tube braze-ons with clamps. FYI, the best bolt-on guides are Knolly's which are available for either two or three cables. Thanks to Jeff for the pro tip.

V0 v. V1 v. V2

The geometry of my Waltworks V2 is based entirely on my experiences with V1. That is to say, my experiences vomited into text for Walt to interpret and then tweaked via conversation and finally adjusted to being suspension-corrected where V1 was rigid specific.

The geometry of V1 is based on the bike I'll call V0. It's a titanium Kona Explosif that I bought years back to experiment with mulleting bikes and slack, short travel hardtails. The idea is simple: take a 27"-wheeled hardtail frame optimized around a 140mm fork and slap a 100mm 29er fork with a 29" wheel on instead. With my Suntour Auron RC2 I was running just north of a 67° head tube angle (HTA) at sag.

When real Plus tires became available, that is to say, tires with enough sidewall support to run low enough pressures for aggressive riding, I decided to try riding rigid again. It's a passion I'd given up as I rode less and less on XC trails. Walt built me my first fork, which was an exact match to the sagged 100mm Lefty I was running at the time, and off I went.

Mavic Rim Investigation AndrewM

My Explosif wore a number of different 100mm 29er suspension forks but my favourite configuration consisted of a 29+ tire and my Waltworks fork.

I love mullet bikes and I think they're especially perfect for full suspension Shore rigs. The 27" rear tire offers more clearance for knobby rubber and your ass crack, it's much easier to spin up steep climbs, the wheel is arguably more durable and tire clearance is not an issue at all if you want to go mid-fat. There's even enough weight saved through the system to absorb a CushCore insert. At the same time, the 29" hoop rolls over everything better, and thanks to the rear squish its smaller sibling will generally tow any line. If you haven't tried a mullet setup I'd highly recommend you give it a go.

But, maybe not on a hardtail or rigid bike you want to ride down janky Shore-To-Sky lines. I loved how the Explosif accelerated and turned over uphill, even if it didn't roll over terrain as well as dual-29" hardtails I'd owned in the past, but on manky, malevolent, and moist downhills I knew I wanted to return to the big hoop in the back. Additionally, I was running my chainstays full long, a 60mm stem, and felt that HTA could be a bit slacker with no detriments.

Enter my Waltworks V1 with a dirty fade from Toxik Harald. It has a 66° HTA, static, with 430-450mm chainstays and a 460mm Reach. The seat tube angle (STA) is 73.5°. Rear clearance is healthy with a 29 x 2.6" knobby at any rear centre length but I also ended up running V1 as long as possible through experimenting with my setup.

Velocity Dually NSMB AndrewM (5).JPG

I've ridden V1 down Ned's more times than any single bike I've had access to in the last decade. Cush Core 29+ inserts are amazing.

Giro Quarter MIPS NSMB AndrewM (3).JPG

I actually didn't own V1 for long before I started dreaming of V2, the ultimate rigid Shore-XC bike. But it took a while to know exactly what I needed to change.

It didn't take much time on V1 to know that there would eventually be a V2. The beauty of hardtails is, of course, they're very adaptable to different purposes so I knew V1 would make a fantastic Gravel or XC-bike depending on whose definition you're using. I have a 2.6" SE2 / XR2 tire combination on some carbon rims that I'm excited about.

First off, V2 was going to be slacker still with a 64° static HTA. It was going to have longer reach. Actually, it was going to have the longest reach I could comfortably ride with a 31mm long stem which ended up being 480mm. The chainstays needed to start where V1 ended which is at 450mm giving me approximately 450-470mm through the swingers range. Bottom bracket drop remained the same at 65mm. I pulled the trigger when I was 100% certain what I wanted and kept happily riding V1 in the meantime.

Rigid

None meaner. It's not intended as braggadocio, I simply have never come across a longer, slacker, meaner rigid bike than my V2. To a lot of folks that probably sounds stupid because at some point tires, brakes, and geometry and going to boost the capability of a bike to where the suspension is essential. Right?

I don't think V2 would have ever happened without the magic combination of CushCore 29+ and WTB's 2-Ply 2.8" Tough Casing Vigilante tires. When it comes to pounding down rough trails fully rigid it's not that V2 is comfortable by any means, although the long wheelbase certainly helps, it is capable as all. Traction is substantial and confidence is king. This thing is a truly capable mountain bicycle, even without shocks.

There's indeed an argument to be made that the bike is too good for my own good. Where V1, combined with my moderate skills, needs to be pushed into the hardest terrain that I wanted to ride, V2 carries me with more speed and confidence and it has resulted in a couple of wear-and-tear injuries that I suspect would not have happened on my other rigid bikes.

Waltworks V2 Rigid AndrewM (4).JPG

I wish I had some shots to share of me riding Digger, Bookwus, Boundary, Pipeline, Upper & Lower Crippler, etc. In the future! This bike, in its rigid guise, makes me look so capable despite its lack of suspension.

In either configuration, I'm running a 30t oval chainring mated to a 22t cog. Adjusted for my gearing that puts the chainstay length around 460mm, which means a 1255mm wheelbase in the rigid format. The HTA is static at 64° and the Reach is 480mm. Standing weight balance with a 31mm stem and 760mm bar is perfect. When seated, the bike has a long XCesque fit thanks to the sagged 73.5° STA. For reference, I'm 5'9" and like to joke I have T-Rex's ape index.

On the subject of sizing, I call this bike a medium-large. As a thought experiment, if I was making a production run of V2s then each size larger would gain 20mm of Reach, 1° of STA, and 10mm of chainstay length and vice-versa for smaller bikes, although the next size down would be a mullet and the small and XS sizes would be 27+. For reference that puts an XL at 520mm Reach, 75.5° STA, and 470-490mm stays. That STA probably sounds slack by 'modern' terms but remember that with sag a hardtail's STA actually gets steeper. Put another way, on even the steepest climbs it's never slacker than the static geo.

Waltworks V2 Rigid AndrewM (1).JPG

While V2 is suspension corrected it was always intended to be a rigid bike. Fit is perfect as shown.

Waltworks V2 Rigid AndrewM (2).JPG

This bike really is made enjoyable by Plus-sized CushCore and the 2.8" 2-Ply rubber from WTB.

There are a couple of skinnies I can't hit anymore without a little rear-wheel hop and I certainly have to set up better for few weird corners but in general, I can carry more speed and lay the bike over more with V2 and all the extra wheelbase is absolutely worth the above efforts for the additional comfort and control when trails turn steep and rugged downhill.

When I account for rubber, V2 is no slower on the climbs than V1 and I actually find that some tight switchback corners are easier now as I can lean the bike harder at slow speeds thanks to weight balance and stability. I haven't cleaned as much of the Warden's climb on Fromme (that could also be my COVID-conditioning), but otherwise I'm not feeling the longer wheelbase is a penalty anywhere going uphill.

Suspension

I've been struggling to manage a couple of minor upper body injuries vs. my desire to spend a lot of time on V2 and the end result was mounting a suspension fork. My Cane Creek Helm air to be exact, although I also plan to try it with my Durolux dropped to 120mm combined with a bigger negative spring.

Originally I had set the fork at 100mm as intended but it occurred to me, thanks to a comment by Ken Perras from Rocky, that, especially on a hardtail, that I'm through the 25% sag point on my geometry chart a heck of a lot descending the local trails I enjoy. Even running my Helm with <20% sag, where I love it, and lots of damper support, the Stack height that is perfect on my rigid setup started feeling quite low as my bars moved down through my fork travel.

Waltworks V2 AndrewM (11).JPG

This is from my first ride on the Helm. It's set to 100mm travel and the bar is a bit low but the difference in speed, control, and confidence vs. rigid matches what you'd expect.

Lonely Fromme Sunday (1).JPG

With the Helm bumped up to 120mm the 29+ Walt is so capable I don't know if I'll own a full suspension bike going forward. Flipping back between my suspension fork and rigid this could happily be my whole off-road quiver.

The fix ended up being bumping up my fork another 20mm, and easy and free operation on the Helm, where I've been running it since. That pushes the wheelbase out to 1275mm and the sagged HTA is around 63.5°. I also bumped up my handlebar with an additional 10mm in spacers under the stem.

It's bizarre where I'm not actually any faster downhill compared to the rigid versus the trails where it's no contest that the 120mm travel makes me come alive. It's certainly more comfortable all around and the traction goes from good with the sticky Plus tire to silly once the suspension fork is mounted. The main negative of running a suspension fork, even more than the added maintenance or weight, is cosmetics. I think V2 looks significantly better rigid, but we mountain bikers don't get hung up on appearance‽

Cane Creek Helm Teardown AndrewM (6).JPG

The Helm travel adjust requires removing the lowers to clip on/off these anodized aluminum travel spacers. It's easy to do with zero oil loss if you think it through.

Helm Volume Adjust NSMB AndrewM.JPG

I've played with a bunch of air volume positions. Just let the air out first; otherwise, it's straight forward. Loosen the wingnut, position the spacer, and tighten the wingnut.

I love riding a rigid bike, but I've decided to stick with the suspension fork exclusively for now just thanks to the extra margin of error it gives on the trail. It's been easy to bracket in settings I like and in general, having ridden hardtails for a long time, there wasn't a learning curve to combining a suspension fork with the longest, slackest, example I've ridden.

The one curious factor has been fit. It's been such a revelation I'm going to write an addendum to this piece at some point, but the short version is that this bike shares the best 'XC' fit I've had with my past machines like my Kona Unit or Niner One-9 run with 90mm or 100mm stems while being more capable than any hardtail I've ridden. It's not rocket surgery, of course, I'm combining the stability of a long wheelbase and slack head angle with a truly stretched-out XC fit where my saddle-to-bar length with a 31mm stem is quite close to my past positions with a 90mm.

I fully admit I arrived here by accident, optimizing my rigid setup, but I love it. I may move my bar higher for more aggressive trails when I'm confident hitting them again; however, for my regular routes right now it's ideal.

Waltworks V2 AndrewM (1).JPG

I plan to write about my pack-less setup in the future. The Wolf Tooth EnCase tool led to me stashing my less used items into the B-Rad bag behind my bottle. If I bring my fanny pack it's for my camera, maybe some food, and spare clothes.

I know that's a lot to take in but I love my bike and the process I took to get here. It's bizarrely the first time in all the years I've been riding where I'm not thinking about what my next bike will be. Yes, it's weird. If I missed any details you're curious about or you have questions about the custom process in general, or Walt specifically, please hit me up in the comments.

If you think riding rigid single speeds on the North Shore is stupid that's okay too but I hear it all the time so you really are welcome to go ahead and keep it to yourself. Especially if your frame of reference is your 90's mountain bike with crappy 26 x 2.1" tires, a 150mm stem, and a HTA that gravel-roadies would call steep.

Cheers!

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Comments

GiveitsomeWelly
+4 ManInSteel Cr4w Andrew Major Pete Roggeman
Karl Fitzpatrick  - May 11, 2020, 2:21 a.m.

First of all, thanks so much for finally sharing this amazing build. It's a sight to behold for sure.

I'm currently window shopping for either a new hardtail or jumping the shark to full suspension. 

Regarding your wife's Magic Bike, I'm stoked to hear someone else acknowledge the short legged among us vs oppressively long seat tubes. 

Every geo chart I look at has me on a size small (reach = 430mm MAX) if I have any hope of running a dropper longer than 125mm. 

Woe is me. #FWP. #cantaffordcustom.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 Pete Roggeman Karl Fitzpatrick
Andrew Major  - May 11, 2020, 7:51 a.m.

Stand over, a full size water bottle, a real dropper post, and fairly standard hardtail looks (although the massive down tube literally ties it all together). Mix in modern geo and there’s the ‘magic bike’ but the thing is there’s nothing actually crazy about that rig (no sliders, HTA, 140mm travel, 27+).

For an FS bike check out Knolly’s clearouts maybe? I wrote about the Cavan@Knolly dropper guarantee here. Their frames tend to hold up really well if you are playing the used market.

For a hardtail, Rocky’s Growler has no sliders, but the geo is as modern as they get (including STL), they have budget options, and the ride quality is good.

(P.S. I know my write up turned into a book so thanks for reading)

Reply

Jotegir
+1 Pete Roggeman
Lu Kz  - May 12, 2020, 7:59 a.m.

I was going to recommend the growler too! That Growler 40 is a stupid-good bike, to the point that if you're willing to maintain the front fork I don't think people should shell out for the 50. Get some touch points instead and have at it.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 ManInSteel
Andrew Major  - May 12, 2020, 8:29 a.m.

Brakes! The non-ServoWave 4-piston Shimano brakes have the potential to be brilliant. 

With the 40 I’d be budgeting for a set of Magura MT Trail Sport brakes, and a crankset in short order. I agree otherwise.

Reply

Jotegir
+1 Andrew Major
Lu Kz  - May 14, 2020, 9:06 a.m.

You're right that the brakes and cranks do leave something to be desired, but neither of those things you mentioned would push me to get a 50 (which only has a ONE better brake). Pulling a page out of your book, last year or so I sold a giant man with a previous generation growler running the same or similar enough brakes a set of SLX RT76 rotors and E01S pads. The idea was that they'd be a solid upgrade, and he'd need the better rotors if he wanted to upgrade the brakes in the future anyway (because we both know its a cardinal sin to pair RT-66's with high end brakes). He was pretty happy and never ended up upgrading the whole brake line (and for perspective - he also owned a sweet Transition with some high end stoppers too). I'd go there first here as well.

You're right about grenading the crank/bb of the 40 though. Might happen even faster down on the coast where you are. I think it probably would last up here for at least a decent amount of time unless the rider was super heavy/aggressive off the bat.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Lu Kz
Andrew Major  - May 14, 2020, 9:46 a.m.

Let me put it this way, with significantly better cranksets I’m hoping for 2021 there’s a 12-spd Deore Growler 50 and a 11-spd Deore Growler 40 and a 10-spd Deore (w/clutch) Growler 20 so we can have a real min-maxing debate! 

I’m anticipating some really interesting Deore builds next year with good brakes, tires, and suspension. A product manager who isn’t lazy or handcuffed could do amazing things here.

UFO
+1 Andrew Major
UFO  - May 12, 2020, 9:28 a.m.

It's solid value indeed, though I'm not a fan of SX anything (understanding that compromises have to be made of course to hit price points). 2021 with the new Deore group should yield some very interesting conversations.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+4 Lu Kz Cr4w Velocipedestrian Pete Roggeman
Andrew Major  - May 12, 2020, 10:28 a.m.

I’m hoping Shimano continues to offer piecemeal drivetrains v. the crate-motor setup that SRAM uses. As nice as the Deore cranks look I’d like to see RF Cinch showing up for the adjustable chainlines and it’s nice for product managers to have some flexibility to bring clutches down to lower price points.

I think Deore 12spd looks brilliant but I also think a smart PM will be able to min-max the 11-spd 11-51t option combined with the 4-Piston non-ServoWave brakes to blow some minds. I’ll trade the MicroSpline and better shifting under load of the 12spd for better tires or lower price.

If there’s any product managers reading this, for the love of bicycles upgrade the rotors on any Deore bikes!!! No more Resin Only BS!

Reply

Jotegir
+1 Andrew Major
Lu Kz  - May 14, 2020, 8:56 a.m.

I agree, I'd rather run 10 speed deore even with the much smaller range myself and there's certainly another few things I'd change about the bike. However, I don't think the things I'd change would run up to the 700 CAD difference and I'd probably be happier with the few swaps on the 40 myself.  TBH I wouldn't be overly happy with the NX/GX mix the 50 comes with either.

I know it's not really the target market so it might not be fair, but I think you wouldn't have too much trouble finding someone willing to trade their brand new or like new deore or SRAM 11 speed (which I also prefer to most eagle) setup for your brand new SX eagle, and with the help of youtube I think almost anyone could make that change over if they had the time.

Reply

UFO
+1 Lu Kz
UFO  - May 14, 2020, 12:06 p.m.

10 speed M6000 Deore can already go 11-46 very comfortably (Sunrace 11-46 10sp cassette), so going to 11 or 12 sp 10-51 isn't a significant range upgrade in my mind.

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 14, 2020, 12:27 p.m.

UFO, we’re on the same page. I ride Shimano 10spd w/ 11-46t Sunrace cassettes quite happily and certainly don’t need a 10t cog never mind the one-tooth-more-than-SRAM big cog. But, in terms of market penetration (seeing Deore on bikes) that 51t is huge I think.

giffmann
+2 Pete Roggeman Andrew Major
Gifford Holmquist  - May 11, 2020, 4:49 a.m.

Love Walt and his bikes!  I've owned 2 of them so far, one of which was recently "handed down" to one of my sons.  Currently I'm in the process of resurrecting the old hard tail.  Really glad to see his work get featured here on NSMB!!

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 11, 2020, 9:36 a.m.

Cheers Gifford, certainly stoked to share my experience.

Reply

fartymarty
+8 Michael ManInSteel twk Andy Eunson Cr4w Vik Banerjee Andrew Major Pete Roggeman
fartymarty  - May 11, 2020, 4:53 a.m.

Wow, that is one stunning bike.

Proves again that geo >>> travel.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 11, 2020, 7:55 a.m.

Thanks Marty!

100% agreed. If I was in the market for an FS bike it would be 120mm Fr / 100mm Rr with a 65.5-66 HTA and 440-450mm rear center.

Reply

fartymarty
+1 Andrew Major
fartymarty  - May 11, 2020, 10:03 a.m.

It's good to finally see some full sized photos of it.  When (if) my OG Krampus dies I would love something like the V2.

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UFO
+2 Pete Roggeman Andrew Major
UFO  - May 11, 2020, 10:09 p.m.

2013 has a bike for you: Giant's Trance X 29er but it would need a HA slackening headset. I kid, mostly. Really enjoy your work as always Andrew. 

This year will be my first back on one of those short travel slack trail bikes taking over for my various steel 29ers the last few years. Too bad about Covid timing like with many things, I've been unable to get the speeds up to give the new ride a fair shakedown. 

I've found myself hardtail curious again, and just filed a nice looking tax return...

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AndrewMajor
+1 Pete Roggeman
Andrew Major  - May 12, 2020, 8:32 a.m.

Ha! Can you put an Angleset in an Angleset in an Angleset?! Didn’t think so... good call though, Giant did miss the short stay trend!

What are you riding this year?

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UFO
+1 Andrew Major
UFO  - May 12, 2020, 9:43 a.m.

With Perry's forward ESTA seatpost, I'm sure anything is possible!

I'm on a Giant Trance Advanced 29 as the main bike this year, with the hope of moving to the new Tallboy once some decently priced pre-owned examples hit the used market.

I think I'm possibly in the market for a cheap aluminum hardtail 29 frame too, something like the Growler would suit great if it was available frame only at a value price. Right now looking at the Ragley Big Al which is pretty darn close.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Greg Bly
Andrew Major  - May 12, 2020, 10:30 a.m.

It’s really too bad the Growler isn’t available frame only. It would be such a perfect parts mule for me.

I have mentioned it to everyone I know who works at Rocky, twice.

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geraldooka
+1 Andrew Major
Michael  - May 12, 2020, 6:35 p.m.

RC is the new FC!! I jest ;) 

Nice rig. Walt has always been on my list for a new custom bike. I totally get the feeling around having a custom rig made for you; a lot of the success falls on ones crazy ideas. Having had a custom frame built up by Eric of Myth Cycles last year I can say I really do love having those little details I craved but could never find in the stock market and yes I think there are things I would do a little differently next time if that ever happens again... Its tough to get it perfect on the first try.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Michael
Andrew Major  - May 12, 2020, 7:11 p.m.

I always say wheelbase is the new head angle. 

The reason I'm wrong is that short rear centers feel awesome in the parking lot. Any bike, any application.

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geraldooka
+2 hardtailparty Andrew Major
Michael  - May 12, 2020, 7:13 p.m.

I'll also put my hand up as someone who can appreciate a so called unbalanced bike. I'm fortunate to have sliders that can let me have my cake and... But I just love riding my hardtail in full short rear mode I can pop that wheel up and hop off rocks like I was on a BMX!

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AndrewMajor
+4 hardtailparty angus_m Tremeer023 Michael
Andrew Major  - May 12, 2020, 7:32 p.m.

Every hardtail should come with rockers, sliders, or etc. Companies make it so hard for hardtail riders to realize their true destinies as single speeders.

Vikb
+1 Andrew Major
Vik Banerjee  - May 11, 2020, 7:10 a.m.

Thanks for the article. I never get tired of looking at that bike. After a lot of years of riding FS bikes mainly [aside from bikepacking] I got a custom hardtail last year with "modern" geo and it's blown me away with how capable and fun it is. My brain is already thinking about another more shreddy hardtail, but my wallet is saying no! ;-)

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AndrewMajor
+1 Vik Banerjee
Andrew Major  - May 11, 2020, 8:01 a.m.

Thanks Vic! And thanks for reading, I know it turned into a book.

That’s exactly what happened to me. The good news (for my finances) is I took this to it’s logical conclusion in every dimension so I really have nothing to change (other than a bit more stack height running the suspension setup - but there’s lots of ways around that).

Love your Daam!

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geraldooka
0
Michael  - May 12, 2020, 6:36 p.m.

He's gone full hard!! ;)

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Etacata
+2 Pete Roggeman Andrew Major
Etacata  - May 11, 2020, 7:34 a.m.

Great article! Thanks for sharing. Its like old school meets modern with the geo you had Walt do. I built a 29+ ride out of a salsa beargrease frame and really like how those wheels eat up terrain.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 11, 2020, 8:05 a.m.

Thanks! It’s crazy how capable Plus bikes are, even with an outdated geo package - like the Stache I tested. 

What do you run for tires? That’s the big one for me. Dialling in pressures v. Rim strikes v. Sidewall support v. Inserts.

I took the easy way out with CushCore and DH rubber but I know folks making it work with dual XR2s.

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fartymarty
+2 Velocipedestrian twk
fartymarty  - May 11, 2020, 10:09 a.m.

It's like if mountain bikes evolved without suspension.  This would be the pinnacle of mtb design.

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bicycle_batman
+2 Pete Roggeman Andrew Major
bicycle_batman  - May 11, 2020, 7:59 a.m.

Riding my rigid loaded ECR through some rough-ish sections were some of my favourite moments while bikepacking. Ignoring my back issues (not good, bad), I found myself of late flirting with the idea of getting a Surface Ti with the new ENVE fork (490 AC, steepening about 1-1.5 degrees) for MILD riding. Now thinking if a 510-516 AC steel fork by Walt could be be possible. Thanks for the article Andrew.

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AndrewMajor
+2 bicycle_batman Pete Roggeman
Andrew Major  - May 11, 2020, 8:15 a.m.

I didn’t get into in my piece, but the reason I ordered my first fork from Walt is that I had a previous suspension-corrected rigid fork snap rolling through a steep 90* turn on Pipeline. It was scary af and it was a looooooong walk home with my bike over my shoulder and my front wheel in my other hand.

Walt had made hundreds of them but also is the quality of person who will politely, but clearly, tell you if something won’t work or is otherwise not optimum so I had infinite confidence that my rigid fork was Shore worthy.

I haven’t ridden the ENVE but I have had a few carbon forks and for what it’s worth, if there’s any negative to steel it’s only weight. Make sure it get enough room for a 29+ setup! Makes rigid fun.

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TucsonMike
0
TucsonMike  - May 11, 2020, 11:31 a.m.

How does 29+ work on super rocky trails? I’m down in Arizona and it’s super rocky with square edges and pointy things everywhere. Was thinking a 29+ rigid or hard tail would be super fun for chill exploration type rides. 

My DHR EXO 2.6 on the back of my Bronson felt amazing for its first ride until I got a huge pinch flat on it on a relatively chill rock garden. My first  flat in 4 years or riding 4-5 times per week on 2.3-2.5 exo tires and had me a bit soured on going bigger for desert riding.

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AndrewMajor
+4 Vik Banerjee Psyops Pete Roggeman TucsonMike
Andrew Major  - May 11, 2020, 12:23 p.m.

In terms of truly jagged rocks v. EXO sidewalls the guys at Chromag, with their Arcturian, may be a better reference as the rocks on the Shore are generally more round/smooth but they run Maxxis and have a lot more jagged stuff in the Whistler valley.

That said, I’m fully committed to running real casings (DD, WTB Tough, Super Grav) in general and with CushCore specifically on this bike so it’s not something I’d personally be concerned with as I’m not cheating on tire casings.

I’m not saying 26+|27+|29+ is better for every application but on hardtails ridden aggressively I’m not going back. It makes a huge difference to my descending comfort and prowess.

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bicycle_batman
+1 Andrew Major
bicycle_batman  - May 12, 2020, 4:35 a.m.

Thanks for the feedback Andrew. I do appreciate it. A man who managed to snap a rigid fork will always have my unwavering attention. I hope you framed the fork somewhere in your house. Have you written about this somewhere?

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 12, 2020, 8:35 a.m.

I kept it a while - legs specifically to use as cheater-bars, but I’m not much of a collector so it’s long been recycled. Kept the memory though! Can still see the look on my buddy Aaron’s face.

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AndrewMajor
+1 bicycle_batman
Andrew Major  - May 11, 2020, 1:14 p.m.

Also, regarding your back, what are you running for a saddle?

SQLab Active saddles with the elastomers pulled out have rescued a fair few folks from having to ditch hardtails (or riding)

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bicycle_batman
+2 Pete Roggeman Andrew Major
bicycle_batman  - May 12, 2020, 4:50 a.m.

Just got delivery of the sqlabs 610 active saddle today. The nsmb article was very helpful. Just wish they’d have a shorter length, like the koda, for short riders.

Thanks again Andrew. Have a great day.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 12, 2020, 8:36 a.m.

Agree on length. I hope it’s a great saddle for you; do let me know.

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andrewbikeguide
+1 Andrew Major
AndrewR  - May 13, 2020, 1:28 p.m.

New 612 R is shorter is 22mm shorter

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bicycle_batman
0
bicycle_batman  - May 11, 2020, 8:03 a.m.

This comment has been removed.

blaklabl
+2 Pete Roggeman Andrew Major
blaklabl  - May 11, 2020, 8:48 a.m.

Andrew, gonna veer off the path a bit re: your packless setup:  I am also now a huge fan of the Encase system based off of your review, and am now actively looking for ways to get the rest of my stuff out of the pack and onto the bike.  What are you doing for a pump?  Or are you using CO2's in your WT B-Rad bag?

And by the way, this was a fantastic article!  What a gorgeous bike.  I finally found the bike to cure my newbicycleitis this year as well; not custom (but I'm fairly average) but a dreamy ti plus hardtail by Why Cycles.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Pete Roggeman
Andrew Major  - May 11, 2020, 8:55 a.m.

Thank you! The Why Cycles frames look great. 

I’m not a CO2 person; there’s a pump in my Wolf Tooth B-Rad bag. It’s an SKS Airboy XL. It’s a simple pump that can do Presta or Schrader. It doesn’t move as much air as other, larger, trail pumps I’ve used but the trade off is it fits in my bag so zero worries about the elements. By size it’s the best mini pump I’ve tried.

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Ddean
+3 Pete Roggeman Mammal Andrew Major
Ddean  - May 11, 2020, 9:08 a.m.

Beautiful bike!

I feel that 29r, especially in plus, is a game changer for hardtails. There is no perfect bike for any one ride as, especially on the Shore, segments of the ride vary so much between eachother. But my forward geo Naked 29+ can get as rowdy and is as capable in sketchy stuff as my Slayer, and Id suggest even more so in steep stuff. I do not miss the rear suspension most of the time with 29+ and cushcore in the rear. Having the big tires with inserts opens up a lot of new possibilities.

Bikes are tools and no one tool is perfect for all situations. But hardtails are also art!

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 11, 2020, 9:39 a.m.

What stem length/bar width do you run on the forward-geo Naked? I know Sam was experimenting with custom bar/stems to go effectively shorter and even a backwards 31mm stem at one time.

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Ddean
+1 Andrew Major
Ddean  - May 11, 2020, 7:17 p.m.

It has a 32mm stem. Works super well with the long front center and 64deg unsagged HA on the terrain I ride which tends to be techy janky stuff. 

There’s something about being able to run plus tires at 13psi that brings a smile to every ride. Rough stuff too. These monster hard tails take no prisoners. 

Find a builder you relate to and order up a hardtail in modern geo. Amazing.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 12, 2020, 8:37 a.m.

You’re running CushCore?

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Ddean
+1 Andrew Major
Ddean  - May 12, 2020, 10:21 p.m.

This comment has been removed.

AndrewMajor
+1 Ddean
Andrew Major  - May 14, 2020, 1:04 a.m.

Have you tried it up front too? Love it rigid always and even with my fork it’s amazing when trails are greasy. 

Out back it isn’t even a discussion for me.

morgan-heater
+6 goose8 ManInSteel Velocipedestrian Pete Roggeman fartymarty Andrew Major
Morgan Heater  - May 11, 2020, 9:31 a.m.

Fastest snail! Ha!

I love my hardtail, and I love my yuge squishy enduro bike. I don't really get all the inbetweener mildly squishy bikes. i.e. if you don't want much travel, why not ride a hardtail? If you do want suspension, why not ride a big bouncy bike?

None of these shades of grey for me.

I think your warning to people not to tease you at the end is funny. I think on the fully rigid trail slayer you kind of have to own it and revel in your complete lack of sense. We are all playing silly games on silly toys in the woods, after all.

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AndrewMajor
+5 goose8 ManInSteel Pete Roggeman Cr4w Morgan Heater
Andrew Major  - May 11, 2020, 9:52 a.m.

Man, the number of times someone has tried to tell me my bike must be awful because they had a rigid Bridgestone, Ritchey, Kona in the 80s/90s... ugh. 

Don’t read too much into my comment though! I get teased about my rigid bike all the time by friends and complete strangers and that’s all in great fun! Absolutely, adults playing at being kids in the forest. It’s the fountain of youth.

Lots of folks own and love the Process 111 and similar bikes. Element with 2* Angleset looks very fun! 

I know quite a few, generally older, folks that love hardtails but can’t ride them anymore (backs climbing or legs descending).

There’s weirdos like me who keep inventing new ways of (failing at) single speeding suspension bikes that get ridden uphill (SS park bike is a no brainer).

Anyways, plenty of reasons to ride short travel FS bikes but the hardtail always wins for me for the simplicity, maintenance, and single-speed-ability.

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Bushpilot
+2 Pete Roggeman Andrew Major
Bushpilot  - May 11, 2020, 10:05 a.m.

"...hammer my one gear up No Quarter out of the saddle".  My body aches and I feel like barfing just reading that.

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AndrewMajor
+4 ManInSteel Pete Roggeman joeyrotundo Bushpilot
Andrew Major  - May 11, 2020, 10:13 a.m.

For the record, in my current condition that involves plenty of rest stops as well as track standing before some of the bigger ‘moves.’

But yeah, it doesn’t get easier the suffering is just over mercifully sooner when I’m in better shape.

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gdharries
+2 Pete Roggeman Andrew Major
Geof Harries  - May 11, 2020, 10:26 a.m.

First of all, thanks for your advice and help in regards to my bike. I've enjoyed starting over again in a new direction.

Second, I have some questions:

  1. What is this semi-knob XC rubber you speak of?

  2. How does that 64 degree head angle and long wheelbase behave going up and around short, steep climbs and switchbacks? This is where I feel I'd prefer more agility, but maybe your bike is magical in all directions.

  3. Have you had any sudden impacts where even a big 29+ tire and slack head angle can't prevent you from going over the bars or getting injured/slammed due to the rigid fork? For me, I like having that extra 140mm of safety net from a suspension fork in types of scenarios.

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AndrewMajor
+2 ManInSteel Geof Harries
Andrew Major  - May 11, 2020, 10:41 a.m.

Cheers!

Tires I’m referring to are XR2/SE2. I realize they are way more knobby they are more XC than gravel but so is most North Shore gravel riding maybe?!

The answer to the wheelbase question climbing usually is ‘single speed.’ I’m out of the saddle so can lean the bike over significantly more that when seated which really helps around tight switchbacks. There’s only one corner on R&R I can think of that was easier on my V1 but I can still semi-regularly make it on V2. 

Steep climbs the traction is awesome in part thanks to the long stays. Again, SS I straightline some tech climbs that I’m much more finessed up on my FS/geared bike. I guess I’d caution anyone from trying to apply my geo experiences wholesale to a multi-speed bike.

I haven’t felt close to endoing V2 with either setup. It’s long and slack. However, I have overshot a number of sections  running rigid as V2 is a surprising amount faster than V1 and fully bottoming my ‘suspension’ missing a roll and landing to flat instead is what caused an elbow issue I’ve been managing. The CushCore Plus insert certainly makes a big difference but at the end of the day it’s not a suspension fork.

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gdharries
+1 joeyrotundo
Geof Harries  - May 11, 2020, 11:09 a.m.

Haha, yep I hear ya. Short neighbourhood trail rides that used to be easy with gears now completely destroy me on a singlespeed. So. Much. Standing. And Pushing (both on the bars and up hill on foot).

I also took advice from other articles you've written and am running my chainstays as long as possible with the sliding drop-out. That extra length makes a big difference in traction, despite being such a seemingly small change.

That's wild about the tire inserts and long/slack geometry acting as a method of suspension, however simple. Far too many people over-bike. Same with automobiles. And life in general. Me included.

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JustJ
+2 Pete Roggeman Andrew Major
JustJ  - May 11, 2020, 12:10 p.m.

Loved reading this because it reminded me of all the is good about my Waltworks Ultimate Warrior and how V1 evolved into V2 for me too.  I can totally appreciate what you say about not needing a FS bike when you ride one of these things. The 29plus tyres and the custom geometry, really make them the perfect all rounder.  I’ve ridden literally everything on mine and never felt under or over biked. :)

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 12, 2020, 8:40 a.m.

The right 29+ tires! I get why so many people say “I tried Plus, and didn’t like it.” The early light-as-possible rubber didn’t work with the concept at all. I hope more people give it a shot; especially on hardtails.

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geraldooka
0
Michael  - May 12, 2020, 6:49 p.m.

I think it depends... I truly love the 120TPI Knards; one of the original 29+ tires made. They're not terribly tough but I've ridden them on street, gravel and gnarly tech singletrack (Hartland) on the island and more here. No issues, love those bloody tires. On the other hand I recently gave away the DHF/DHR 29x3.0 set I had because honestly it was like riding though mud hauling those things around. Incredible traction but I'm a 150lb recreational cyclist and I'm not heading out to punish myself on the climbs. Both tough casing versions and light casing may well meet ones needs or one may be a better fit it really depends. Also I don't want manufacturers to stop making light versions! :)

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 12, 2020, 7:17 p.m.

I find with light casing tires I either have to run so much air pressure that I'm riding basketballs (i.e. what's the point v. just running smaller rubber) or I'd have to massively increase my rim budget. I may just be a hack though!

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geraldooka
+1 Andrew Major
Michael  - May 12, 2020, 7:22 p.m.

Or a glutten for punishment :) I suspect your riding goals and mine are quite different outside of what we would each define as "fun". I have had a lot of fun riding my rigid Krampus on the rough stuff but I just have no interest in busting a gut pushing it single speed especially with what I consider to be mindbogglingly heavy tire/insert combinations you dig. Though I can appreciate the idea and I really love simple machines like your Walt V2. I'm just never going to be fit enough to enjoy that SS experience. Running as light a wheel and tire set I can get away with has been one of the best things I've ever done from a strictly gear acquisition point of view to my cycling life.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Michael
Andrew Major  - May 12, 2020, 7:35 p.m.

You have a Krampus with GEARS?!!?! Sorry, I just assumed that you were enlightened. 

(Hahahahaha, just teasing. Mostly)

My bike definitely feels more weighted/dead going uphill compared to ditching the inserts and running lighter tires but on the clock it's not a huge difference over a big climb and headed back down I love it - definitely comes down to terrain and strokes for folks!

ciudadolosllamas
+1 Andrew Major
ciudadolosllamas  - May 19, 2020, 9:23 p.m.

Ever tried the Vee Bulldozer 29+ ?  thats  a good riding tire on the front.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 19, 2020, 11:22 p.m.

I've ridden the 2.6 Flow Snap Tackee and it was an okay tire. That's my only experience with Vee's performance rubber. 

The 29" version of the Bulldozer 29+ uses their MPC (Multi-Purpose Compound) which is a non-starter for me. If it came in Tackee or even better if the Flow Snap came in a 2.8" or 3" size that would be interesting.

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WhiteMike
0
Michael Kauk  - May 11, 2020, 3:20 p.m.

This looks a lot like my little Surly Krampus featured on Fat-Bikes.com some time ago. Which is a good thing. Just here to say I had a lilac powdered plus bike with purple ano parts before you (yes, I’m a child) and also SWEET BIKE. Had a few Walts myself and took his framebuilding class a while back. 

Now to get back to twerk!

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Pnwpedal
+3 ManInSteel Andrew Major Velocipedestrian
Pnwpedal  - May 11, 2020, 11:54 p.m.

I've always been intrigued by this bike and I'm glad you told the story. And what a great story it is, I enjoyed the entire thing.

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Shortyesquire
+1 Andrew Major
Andrew Collins  - May 12, 2020, 1:21 a.m.

My lungs, wrists, knees and ankles ache looking at that bike, but I love the story.

Did you ever consider getting a Ti bike for some extra compliance? 

How are the I9 Hydras holding up? Do you notice the difference going back to the P321s or CKs?

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 12, 2020, 8:46 a.m.

I’ve ridden steel bikes that were mega stiff, aluminum bikes with surprising give, and both Ti that danced and Ti that was wooden. My Ti Explosif is one the stiffest hardtails I’ve ridden. My Walt’s have a very balanced ride (likely thanks to the long stays) as much as I can qualify the frame v. 2.8” rubber with CushCore.

I’m very intrigued by stainless steel, but for a few reasons don’t foresee myself owning another Ti bike. 

Strokes for folks though!

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Kenny
+1 Andrew Major
Kenny  - May 12, 2020, 7:52 p.m.

I really think design supercedes material 99% of the time. I switched to the carbon chameleon from two previous chromags and the difference in ride quality is astounding. In theory I want from "steel is real" to "rattle your teeth out", but the opposite is true, it is waaay smoother than my aforementioned steel machines (granted they were a rootdown and a stylus which are touted as stiffer variants than say, the surface, but still).

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 12, 2020, 8:51 a.m.

The Hydras have certainly surprised. They’re simple to work on, very quiet, and all but instant. The way the pawls load in squads I think makes them SS friendly where originally the idea of a single pawl engaging and then more joining it had me scratching my head.

The .52 v. 5 of the King is notable. 5* works great fir me but takes a half hour to switch my brain over.

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DogVet
+3 Vik Banerjee ManInSteel Andrew Major
Hugo Williamson  - May 12, 2020, 2:25 a.m.

Great write up of a unique bike!!

Must say having built up a Cotic Solaris Max on the basis of some of your previous musings Andrew, 29 er hardtails are most excellent.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 12, 2020, 8:54 a.m.

Cheers, those Cotics are beauties but for their lack of sliders!

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boomforeal
+4 Morgan Taylor Nouseforaname ManInSteel Andrew Major
boomforeal  - May 12, 2020, 7:44 a.m.

feels like i've been waiting 4 years for this article; it did not disappoint

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 12, 2020, 8:53 a.m.

Ha! 

Cheers Omar. It ended up (almost) Morgan long but I couldn’t cut anymore!

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morgman
+1 Andrew Major
Morgan Taylor  - May 15, 2020, 11:26 p.m.

Come on now. Omar consistently wrote the longest reviews when I was doing the editing here. Perry still takes the prize for most wordy words. But yes, my most recent work does surpass even Omar's wordiness. Hah!

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ManInSteel
+1 Andrew Major
ManInSteel  - May 12, 2020, 9:53 a.m.

I'm one of the readers waiting for this article.  Thank you for the write-up, Andrew.  

If you don't mind, I will select 12 photos from this post to make a calendar for my office....to replace the S.I. Swimsuit calendar.

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Vikb
+1 Andrew Major
Vik Banerjee  - May 12, 2020, 1:24 p.m.

Sweet Chromag! I've never seen a Doctahawk in that colour! ;-)

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AndrewMajor
+1 Vik Banerjee
Andrew Major  - May 12, 2020, 7:18 p.m.

HAHAHAHA. Thanks Vik!

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Kenny
+1 Pete Roggeman
Kenny  - May 12, 2020, 1:30 p.m.

Fantastic read. Thanks dude. 

Love some hardtail nerdery. I sold my rootdown and bought a chameleon carbon. 

After a bit of fiddling, I am on 27.5x2.8 in the back, 29x2.6 in the front, 140 fork, 29er dropouts. About 2 degrees slacker than a "standard" bike as SC would build it. Just slack enough to not really ever feel sketchy on the shore. The smaller rear wheel I feel helps because I have more room to move around. It is a real "eureka" setup for me, the mullet setup for initially just for a laugh but it's amazing. 

In theory the seat tube is super slack but I just don't really notice it on a hardtail (my full suspension bike has a 76 degree STA and I would not want it slacker). If I am super lazy on a steep grind the front will get light but generally the bike prefers the stand-and-hammer approach in those situations. 

If it took an angleset I'd probably try a 29x2.6 in the rear but as it is the mullet makes sense because it helps the head angle and the BB height is also totally fine still. 

I do need to try cush core in the back and stretching the stays out per your article, I'd say its only significant weakness is climbing traction on technical climbs in the wet, otherwise it is insane. Probably because somehow I accidentally got the fit right and the mullet helps (I have a long body and short legs). It feels like an extension of my body. My Ripmo AF plows basically anything but it's not the same, I am along for the ride.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Andy Eunson
Andrew Major  - May 12, 2020, 7:41 p.m.

Thanks Kenny!

Be honest, did you buy the Carbon Chameleon because of the catchy jingle?! I didn't have a wheel but when I tested the CC I tried geared, single speed, over-forking the bike, and the one thing I was desperate to try was a mullet setup. Just to get the little bit slacker HTA and some bigger rubber out back. 

I understand why on carbon frames drop-in bearings result in a better headtube as measured by strength v. weight; however, being able to mount an angleset or reach adjust headset is a deal-breaker for me now. Why lock myself in? 

Watch the climbing traction increase as you lengthen the stays!

And yes, you NEED to try CushCure at least on the rear. It's crazy the difference it makes on a hardtail (with no penalties besides weight - hahaha)

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Kenny
+1 Andrew Major
Kenny  - May 14, 2020, 9:25 a.m.

Yeah cush core rear will happen for sure. 

The jingle didn't hurt! I mean its certainly a terrible candidate from a min/max perspective but I knew that going in, I thinned the herd and sold a couple bikes so the cash was there so I just went with it. My theory was if the geo proved not workable for full-on shore riding, a light carbon frame could be repurposed as even more gravel/road oriented. Also one of the bikes I sold was a carbon Bronson I had a lot of fond memories of, so the carbon chameleon is kinda it's reincarnation. Keep balance in the universe, or something. Lol.

I think it's slack enough for pretty rowdy terrain now but yeah sure with it was zs44/56. It would be another card to play. Will know better once covid eases some more. For now severed d is about as rowdy as I get (it handles severed with aplomb though).

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a.funks
+1 Andrew Major
a.funks  - May 13, 2020, 2:51 a.m.

I love this bike and the story behind it! Andrew, do you know what your “effective stem length” is? (That’s my term for the forwards offset between the steerer centre and grips centre, measured perpendicular to the head angle).

Am now thinking about singlespeeding my 150mm hardtail!

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - May 13, 2020, 9:35 a.m.

My easy-out answer is “it depends.” When I’m running a 16* 780mm bar my hands are actually a bit behind the steering axis (negative effective stem length).

I’ve been rotating through a series of bars cut to 760mm (8, 10, 12, 16 back) playing around with wrist angles as bars get narrower (because I’m a nerd).

.

My curious answer is, is there an easy way to measure that? Would be a nice addition to quantifying backsweep.

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a.funks
+1 Andrew Major
a.funks  - May 13, 2020, 11:05 a.m.

I lay a metre rule’s front edge across the dead centre of both grips and then measure the distance from that edge to the centre of the top cap bolt with a tape measure. It’s a bit of a fiddle but I got curious after noticing that riding mates running ~35mm stems tended to have their bar rise more vertical or forwards whilst mine is more in line with my head angle - so although I run a 50mm stem on both bikes the effective stem length was about the same as with these shorter stems. 

I tried a 35mm stem and found it too nervy as the effective stem length was about zero. I’m on 40mm rise 770mm wide Renthals (well they’re 760 but the grips add 10mm), which have a bit less backsweep than the norm (7 deg IIRC).

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - May 14, 2020, 1:06 a.m.

Interesting. I’ll give this a look and see what I come up with. Thanks for the food for thought!

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a.funks
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a.funks  - May 13, 2020, 11:05 a.m.

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DogVet
+3 Velocipedestrian Vik Banerjee Andrew Major
Hugo Williamson  - May 13, 2020, 4:32 a.m.

In the era of super sophisticated FS bikes, with leverage curves, anti Rise and anti squat being argued on every bike site, Andrew posts a writeup of his Waltworks V2 fully rigid funky single speed, and gets as many replies on NSMB as I have seen in a long time!!

The hardtail is dead, long live the hardtail !!

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AndrewMajor
+3 LWK Velocipedestrian Vik Banerjee
Andrew Major  - May 13, 2020, 9:42 a.m.

I mean, half of them are mine! Hahahahaha. I generally enjoy the comments on articles I write and this has been no exception.

In general, I think most bikes have gotten pretty boring. I mean, they’re mostly awesome, but if you aren’t in the market it’s all a bit ‘meh’ and maybe even a bit depressing when you look at what you’re paying for a GX rig with DT 370 hubs. I may be projecting! 

So, even people who will never try single speeding, a rigid fork, and maybe even never own another hardtail maybe are interested in V2 because it’s not more of same? That’s my hypothesis anyways...

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Shortyesquire
+1 Andrew Major
Andrew Collins  - May 13, 2020, 4:13 p.m.

You're bike reminds me of being a kid watching Aliens. Horrifying (won't somebody think of his knees!) yet genius at the same time.

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - May 14, 2020, 1:10 a.m.

I chuckled!

For the record, I gear my bike for my local terrain and the big rubber I run. I’m standing (or squatting) on most climbs not sitting trying to turn the gear and I find my knees are happier than riding my dual FS bike seated.

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angus_m
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angus_m  - May 13, 2020, 7:51 a.m.

I've been thinking along the same lines as you, so much so that I made new inserts to stretch the rear end of my Kona Wozo to test FC/RC ratio as I toy with geom for another custom.

Two questions:

1.  Do you have thoughts you would share on reach vs stack ratio?  I'm listening to multiple opinions, but I'm curious for yours as well.

2.  I live in the midwest, so I'm optimizing around my local trails, which are a little more tight/twisty, more rolling.  Quick hit thoughts on angles for that environment?  Again, I've got my own ideas, but I liked your theoretical approach to the problem that I'm keen to add your voice to the mix.

Thanks!

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - May 14, 2020, 1:23 a.m.

I really enjoyed the Wozo we tested but I could only imagine how fun that bike would be longer and slacker. And with different tires. Now that the trendiness of FatBikes has passed its intriguing to see some of the projects out there.

1) Many people have tried to come up with one magic number (or a ratio relationship) for R&S and I haven’t seen anything so prescribe to. I would bump up my stack slightly (less HS spacers) if I knew how much riding with a suspension fork I’d do on this bike. 

I still think ETT is very important for seated riding. And Reach is imperative if the bike is being partnered with a short offset fork because that limits good stem length to 30-50mm.

2) Rigid I match an FS bike for the same category of riding; with a hardtail I go two degrees slacker. Most places Walt V1 was perfect (66* static). V2 is optimized more for local riding.

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LWK
+1 Andrew Major
LWK  - May 14, 2020, 11:55 a.m.

another geo related question for you - I didnt see anything in the comments above.  I noticed you kept the rather "normal" STA of 73.5.  I understand steep STA in the context of FS bikes where the rear sags and the steeper angle accounts for that.  I dont understand why you'd want a steep STA on a HT?  I observe that pretty much all the new Chromags have something like 77 (or steeper).  Road bikes also seem to have ~73* STA.  I know a road bike isnt a MTB but if seated pedaling power is the priority it seems like that is about where the STA should end up?  curious your thoughts.

cool bike and write up!

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AndrewMajor
+1 LWK
Andrew Major  - May 14, 2020, 12:41 p.m.

I don’t get 77* STAs on hardtails - sagged or unsagged - unless we’re talking about a really tall rider. The bikes don’t squat on climbs like FS bikes.

My theoretical size run gets steeper STAs each larger size and slacker each smaller size to maintain a relative position (along with the stays respective growing/shrinking). Size specific geo!

My general thinking (as of this month - stay fluid!) on a rough rule is that for the same application a hardtail should have sagged geo that’s 2 slacker in the HTA and 2 slacker in the STA compared to an FS bike.

Specific to this bike, it’s a single speed so anywhere that a really steep STA makes sense crawling up climbs I have to stand anyways. I chose a pedaling position that good when I can pedal seated.

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a.funks
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a.funks  - May 15, 2020, 3:17 p.m.

I agree about the seat angles, you just don’t need such steep angles when there’s no rear suspension to sag further under the extra rearward load of seated pedalling up a steep incline.

The other thing I’ve found about seat angles is that longer chainstays let you have a seat angle that climbs without pulling wheelies but still pedals nicely on the flat (my full-sus has 455mm chainstays and I think the seat angle is just under 74 deg but the long rear still lets it climb. The motor helps too but that isn’t always on!) I’m not sure you need to steepen seat angles on bigger frames when you could lengthen the chainstays and have better balance downhill too.

Why are you thinking that a hardtail should be 2 deg slacker HA at sag? Is your thinking that when you’re loading up both beyond the sag point the full-sus gets slacker because most run the shock softer than the fork, whilst hardtails only ever steepen?

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LWK
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LWK  - May 14, 2020, 11:55 a.m.

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angus_m
+1 Andrew Major
angus_m  - May 14, 2020, 7:47 p.m.

Thanks for the discussion!

We have an active winter scene here in Minnesota with most of the local trail systems grooming in the snowy months.  I've got a 27.5 x 4.5 wheelset and a rigid fork for the snow and a 29x3 set for summer duty, usually with a Mastadon.  Single speed mostly but I do cheat with gears now and again.  The Wozo has been a mostly great year round steed.

Cheers!

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - May 14, 2020, 11:26 p.m.

Have you ridden any Fatbikes with a narrower Q-Factor? Curious about the Pivot v. Rocky v. Otso. I haven't ridden many fat bikes but now that they aren't the second coming I find myself more and more curious.

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angus_m
+1 Andrew Major
angus_m  - May 15, 2020, 7:19 a.m.

I have test ridden the Otso several times (Wolftooth / Otso are here in town, so many local shops have them).  I like the narrow Q, it is immediately noticeable, and it is an improvement, but not a deal maker/ breaker by itself for me. A couple of points here though: I'm leggy, so I might be more tolerant to that dimension since the effective outward hip angle change will be less.  Also, I find that a standard cross country ski trackset feels a little narrow, so my feet might naturally like to be a bit further apart. Third, I think since I ride flats I sneak towards the inside of my pedals which cuts the difference down (often I hear a squeak as the soles of my shoes rub on the crankarm as it goes by). I think the Q difference from Wozo to the Otso is nominally about 10mm per side depending on the exact cranks used. 

In summary, I've gotten used to the narrowish-for-a-fatbike Q factor of the cranks originally designed around a 170 OLD, but I have put my leg over a Surly ICT and a Rocky Mountain Blizzard and they feel uncomfortably wide down there with the 190 OLD spindle length cranks.  When I pull the trigger on the Wozo replacement, I'll try to fit the narrow Q if I can do it, but I won't give up my ideal tire and chainring sizes, and won't make the chainstay messy or really thin to get there.  The Wozo has a surprising amount of lateral flex with the plate style yoke on both sides.

With the Otso specifically, they call the geom aggressive XC, and the ETT and reach are too short for what I want (even on the XL the reach is 465).

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AndrewMajor
+1 angus_m
Andrew Major  - May 15, 2020, 9:24 a.m.

Interesting. I run Mallet DH pedals or Eggbeaters with the longer DH axles so I’m not chasing a crazy narrow Q-Factor. 

Agree on the Wozo ride. I would have upsized the frame, overforked it, and installed the -2 Angleset. Really would have enjoyed more aggressive rubber riding the Shore with no snow. Maybe too much trying to make it what it isn’t?!

a.funks
+1 Andrew Major
a.funks  - May 13, 2020, 3:32 p.m.

“The hardtail is dead, long live the hardtail !!“

I’ve mostly been riding my Levo for the last year but following lockdown I decided that the trusty hardtail was a safer bet because it’s slower downhill (but still feels fast)! 

It’s not as interesting as Andrew’s custom steel singlespeed beast, but there is a story behind it - having met a small bike brand who get Ti frames made in Taiwan, they’d offered to help me do a batch of steel hardtails with that same factory. But just as I was deep in the nitty gritty of chainstay design (that is the worst bit when you’re trying to avoid heavily crimped tubes or machined yokes yet want lots of mud clearance for big tyres) the UK brand Bird launched a new version of their Zero hardtail and I realised that with a shorter fork and angleset it would be within fractions of a degree and a few millimetres of my design, but in alloy. The only big difference was 10mm shorter chainstays.

So I bought one to test the geometry concept, then decided that starting a bike business was going to be too much of a distraction from my audio business and here I am now with this same bike, over four years on, and on its fourth iteration of geometry.

In an ideal world I’d add 15-20mm to the chainstays, raise the BB 5-10mm and maybe slacken the seat tube by a degree but as I can’t easily or cheaply test that idea then I’m happy to stick with this bike for even longer!

Further rambling here:

https://singletrackworld.com/forum/topic/bird-zero-am-review-warning-bicycle-content/

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altron2020
+2 angus_m Andrew Major
altron2020  - May 15, 2020, 5:24 a.m.

This bike so cool! This article has had me buzzing for the last few days since I read it! So much of what I read here seems to click with me. I have eyed up the Krampus in the past, but the conservative geometry has kept me from committing. I demoed a Krampus with a 120 fork and it was amazingly capable... like "full squish" capable, but it did feel pretty steep in the front end. 

I read one of your comments regarding caution with applying this rigid geo to a multi geared bike. I myself am not of the single speed persuasion, and likely wont be anytime soon. However, the ride experience of a rigid 29 plus seems like its up my alley. Can you elaborate on that concept? Do you think it would be a bad idea? I live in Vermont and I ride a fair bit of technical steepish trails. There are lots of steep punchy spots in the climbs and I tend to stand and hammer through some of them. 

Also, there don't seem to be many... or any factory built frames similar to your build. Operating on a budget, I've considered a Marino Bikes custom built frame with a Surly Krampus fork, and sometimes a 120 Pike.  Any thoughts on that? I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I'm not riding trails quite as gnarly as yours. I currently have a 2019 Chromag Rootdown, which is incredibly fun, but I think that frame makes a poor candidate for rigid as it has a wicked steep ST angle and a 160mm fork.

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AndrewMajor
+1 angus_m
Andrew Major  - May 15, 2020, 9:36 a.m.

Cheers!

If I lived most places V2 wouldn’t exist as my V1 Walt (the Pink/Purple fade) was perfect except for the most-most aggressive trails trying to ride with my friends on their 6” bikes (rigid or Helmed up) It’s an Enduro-Single-Speed for lack of a better term. In a sit-and-spin capacity the V2 would handle fairly bus-like and I think it would be frustrating on technical climbs without the rider dynamic/out of the saddle. That said, I’ve never tried it geared and don’t intend too.

Back to V1. I love that bike though in hindsight it would be suspension corrected. If my bikes were eaten by dinosaurs tomorrow and I needed to get rolling ASAP on a budget there’s only one platform for me: Kona Unit.

Size up, run it long, install a -2 works angle set. Boom! 66 HTA static, plenty of wheelbase, the frames ride really nicely. Upgrade the brakes to Magura Trail Sport and then start saving for a good rear hub and watching clear out deals on the right 120mm fork. Could easily get the fork swap down under 5-mins including adjusting the bar sweep!

Actually have half an article for my blog penned on the subject (dream budget unit - the upgrades) so I think I’ll finish that tomorrow.

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - May 15, 2020, 9:46 a.m.

Just to cover my ass here, my understanding is with the stays run long I can clear a 2.8” Vigilante on the back of the Unit but I haven’t tried it myself. Can always go 27x3 but as I noted I love mullets but not on hardtails.

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altron2020
+1 Andrew Major
altron2020  - May 15, 2020, 11:32 a.m.

Thanks for the feedback. I really appreciate how open you are to discuss your experiences with this bike and answer some zany questions. I just scoped out the geometry on the 2020 Unit. Its pretty dang close to what I was imagining for a bike like this. Your bike might be a bit more extreme than I would appreciate. I'm currently sitting on most of the parts needed to complete a build like this, minus the works headset, 2.8ish tires, cushcore... I'm looking into finding a '20 unit frame right now.

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - May 15, 2020, 3:55 p.m.

Cheers! I really enjoy how the garden of comments can flesh-out the skeleton of an article (on topic or otherwise). 

If the current Unit had existed when I ordered my V1 I probably would have picked up a Unit and an angleset. I don't mind spending for custom (and Walt's work is AWESOME) when it's something I can't buy off the shelf but I think the Unit does the deed. V2 is another story but I don't imagine it's something you'll ever see for sale in a shop. 

Let me know how the build goes! I follow the comments here or you can always hit me on Instagram.

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altron2020
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altron2020  - May 16, 2020, 3:13 a.m.

I checked with a Kona dealing shop that I used to work at, it looks like they are sold out of Unit frame sets. Based on my understanding of Kona and the some of the current supply chain shortfalls, I'm not sure the '20 Unit is viable option. I will continue to look. In the meantime my Chromag rootdown is still a very good time. Although since reading your article I have been a bit more judgmental of some of its geometrical quirks.

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - May 25, 2020, 5:48 p.m.

If you're keen, my understanding that bikes in the Unit price point have basically evaporated this year and 2021 inventory will be available sooner than usual for bikes like the Unit that aren't waiting for the latest-greatest components.

Probably worth following up with the local shop. Especially if you want a frame/fork set. 

Cheers!

TooSteep
+1 Andrew Major
Ian St.Martin  - May 27, 2020, 12:38 p.m.

Why the Unit and not the Growler 40? They are identically priced, but the Growler comes with front suspension, has a 64 HTA instead of 68,  and has better tires - stock 29x2.6 Vigilantes.

As the internet's #1 proponent of ultra-slack hardtails, I am surprised the Growler doesn't top your list based on the 4* improvement in HTA alone.  Aluminum vs steel that important? Ability to put 29x2.8" tires in the back (although I don't know if this is proven) the dealbreaker?

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - May 27, 2020, 1:29 p.m.

I love the Growler platform and I’ll point out I mentioned it and linked to my review of the latest Growler 20 in the second paragraph of this article. Totally agree (see review) that Rocky did a brilliant job with OE tire spec on the 20 & 40.

Re. Unit (or Unit X) they’re great rigid/shorter platforms (66 static with -2 Angleset + Rigid and another 1.5-2* slacker static with a 120mm fork). More aggressive geo than a Honzo and much more rigid-compatible.

With the Growler it would need a really long (custom) rigid fork to work with the geo.

Also, in the spirit of all hardtail riders being future single speeders I like bikes with sliding dropouts.

-

(Also not sure if you were teasing, but I don’t think I’m the internet’s #1 advocate for ultra slack hardtails am I?! Maybe top 100!)

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hardtailparty
+1 Andrew Major
hardtailparty  - May 27, 2020, 1:39 p.m.

> Also, in the spirit of all hardtail riders being future single speeders I like bikes with sliding dropouts.

Love it! Keep the great work coming Andrew, I love your philosophy and resonate with it well.

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - May 28, 2020, 6:35 a.m.

Hahahaha. I get teased all the time for my “have you tried single speeding?” attitude — there’s a reason my wife’s Walt doesn’t have sliders — but I know enough people stubborn (stupid?) enough to have tried it and truly fallen in love that I keep at it. 

With sliders you’re always just a cog and some spacers away!

AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - May 27, 2020, 1:35 p.m.

If you’re interest (killing time in the days of C-19 or etc) here is a complimentary article I wrote about min-maxing my Dream Unit

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hardtailparty
+1 Andrew Major
hardtailparty  - May 24, 2020, 12:59 a.m.

Andrew, you are a mad scientist and I love your work. This thing looks like an absolute riot. I wish the shore was closer to me, because I'd love to ride with you one day. Keep up the crazy experiments, I can't get enough.

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - May 25, 2020, 5:40 p.m.

Thank you! 

...that's all I've got. Really appreciate the props! Hope you make it us here at some point - just make sure to come in the rainy season so you can get the real greasy Shore experience.

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Reaper
+1 Andrew Major
Reaper  - May 25, 2020, 5:06 p.m.

Damn good read that was. Got me thinking even reevaluating my theories on custom build frame geometry. One question though about the Mudhugger guard on the rigid fork. Apart from the ties on the fork legs, did you have it connected to the forks arch and if so how?

P.S. Keep up the good work.

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - May 25, 2020, 5:46 p.m.

Thank you!

Yes, the whole reason for that arch is to mount the fender close to the tire and it has a braze-on. It was actually a notable weight penalty as I had to ditch the butter legs of my V1 for Walt to make it happen. But... well... had to have it:

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