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2014 Hampshire 100 X SWEEP REPORT

"Race" mode

So this year I didn’t race the local event, The Hampshire 100. I figured (and wanted) to give back to such a great event so I volunteered Saturday to help out with registration. I had a few bikes on hand too, but it was more about answering questions, helping riders find their way and in one case: convincing someone NOT to duck out of the short track mtn. bike race because there were no other women signed up (and she did really well too against the men!). I also volunteered to lead out a group of riders saturday night to let them stretch their legs and I could show them some singletrack along with a little of the race course. That turned out to be pretty darn fun as many of the riders had some questions about the course and I actually could answer them. Mostly what the course was like and what New England tech was like. I even wound up giving a few some pointers for riding in tech as well as some golden rules for riding bridges.

I also caught wind that one of the most dedicated trail builders in Greenfield was going to be the only one sweeping the 100 mile course all by himself. Granted, it’s the last 40 miles, but I had been wanting to do a longer ride this past summer but haven’t found 5-6 hours to do it. This seemed like a great opportunity and Larry was stoked to have me along. I talked Franky my brother in law into joining us. He didn’t really need much convincing. So Sunday we showed up at Oak Park around 3ish waiting for the last 100 miler to come through to do their last leg (yes, if you race the 100 mile course of the Hampshire 100, you MUST cross the finish line and then go out for an additional 40 miles… Only slightly demoralizing). So when that last rider went through, we waited about 10 minutes and then we were off. Given that it was about 4pm, my body was fully awake and this is typically when I’m going for a ride anyways. None of this 7am ride stuff to do a race B.S. The first stretch is a long set of dirt roads mixed with a little bit of pavement before you head back into singletrack behind Crotched Mountain (which was sweet btw – Larry did an amazing job in those 3 sections – smiles all the way).

Given that we weren’t in any rush and we had to stop at all the remaining checkpoints, I decided that I’d try out some different strategies for my own personal reference. The biggest 3 being pace, food and hydration. I’ve been having trouble with cramping on some longer rides in the past all of a sudden. So I decided after an earlier ride this past spring (about 30 miles averaging 10mph) I’d use that same average pace as a gauge. So off we went just clicking along at 10mph. The other thing was food. Last time I was on a “schedule”. So every hour, I’d make sure I ate something. Sometimes this works, sometimes it does not. So I said “the hell with that”. I’m going to eat when I’m hungry and drink when I’m thirsty. I had two 20oz water bottles (Thank you Swallow Bicycle Works!): one with water, and one with a calorie powder added to it by Osmo, a little bit of food (2 Honey Stinger waffles, 4 Hammer Raspberry gels and 1 pack of Margarita gel chews). But the course is well supported so I didn’t haul a lot with me. Only the bare minimum (I’m supposed to get about 350 calories / hr, but in reality it’s more like 150 calories – this time I was not going to be “scientific”). Also I did not carry a hydration pack. That was at least 5-10 lbs OFF of my back. 2 bottles on the bike, the pump lived on the seat tube, and I have been using a tool roll with only the essentials: tube, 1 x tire lever, Park patch kit, Extra hanger, a small Soma multi tool, tire boot, 2 zip ties (small ones), an extra master link and inside the tube I rolled a small park chain tool. That’s it. I had my 44 Bikes Wind vest in my back pocket along with my food, and I decided to carry my light/battery (Dinotte) in my pocket as well and only put it on the helmet when it was too dark – so that got the weight off my head the whole ride. Also had my 44 Bikes “Skull Cap”. I find wearing a cap is enough to take the edge off of a cool night ride. Tool roll below (full set up above):

How I Roll..

Also was the only one with a GPS and mostly so we could have an idea of where we were on the course according to the mile count – the 100 mile course shares some of the route of the 100k course. AND one section we did not want to enter the 100k course… That would have thrown us WAY off track and turned it into an epic.

Garmin... I had to stick to some rules.

I was going to change out my normal tires for something a little more svelte, but I decided not to (I would have run either Schwalbe Racing Ralph’s or Continental’s X-Kings). I decided to go with the normal Hans Dampf/Nobby Nic and choose tried and true over fast and un-tested. Rolling resistance be damned! Not to mention, the course was reportedly a little more burly in spots this year and definitely was a mud fest. In the end, I was glad I didn’t change my tires actually – but I’d still like to give something smaller a go with lower profile nobs.

Somewhere around mile 80 of the course we caught up with a rider who had had enough. We chatted for about 10 minutes and one of the volunteers said “if you liked that hill behind you (which was a mother fucker btw), you’re going to love this one”. Holy crap was HE not kidding. There’s a series of 3 LONG hills on dirt roads. Real bitch of climbs. I can’t imagine being 80+ miles into this race, knowing that last 12 mile stretch of the course is seriously good singletrack and have those 3 bastards staring me in the face. But we made it, no one walked, Larry did all 3 out of the saddle on his SS, and I didn’t explode at the top of the hill. Somehow Franky seemed slightly unfazed by all this. The course was fun and we were having a really good time stopping at the check points, chatting and going along our way. Kind of nice to have the pressure off, but still be on the course. Not to mention we were the good guys out there telling all the volunteers “we’re it, thank you for your help, you can go home to beer”. There was another checkpoint with a bag of doritos in there somewhere.. damn those hit the spot. I topped off the bottles here actually. But along the way, I only ate and drank when I was hungry and thirsty. So far so good!

There’s a shitty climb in Francestown. I “think” it’s named Bullard Hill? I’ll check on that… But it’s just all rocks and it’s washed out. This was declared a walker. Our only one of the day. But after this it got dark. Quick. On went the lights and I was reminded just how COOL riding at night is. Literally and figuratively. Love that light bubble you dance within. This led us into the last 12 mile stretch and what’s fun about this stretch is much of the single and double track in this stretch is trails I ride during the winter on my fat bike. View from up on top:

Time to put on the lights

We got a call from the race director Randi right about this time too-so a nice break to chat, find out what’s what and continue on. Apparently check point 7 had packed it in but there were still a bunch of riders out and runners as well. We had only run into 1 rider so far and apparently, only about 10 minutes behind the last rider. But due to the stopping and talking with volunteers and checking in, we never caught them – which was fine I suppose. But around this point, with about 10 miles to go, and feeling good 30 miles in, I decided to have some fun and see how the legs felt.

Sweeping the 2014 Hampshire 100 Course

Keep in mind I AM NOT AN ENDURANCE ATHLETE. I must stress that. I just really like riding and longer rides are appealing, but I’ve been battling cramps for no reason, and I think it’s more just base miles and proper prep to warm up my body. So with caution to the wind, I opened up and started shredding. The whole previous 30 miles were pulling back and holding back. Just putting one foot in front of the other one, just kind of going along. No rush. But it’s dark. I have my light on. I can smell the tech. We’ve been through the worst of the slimy mud holes. Sweet singletrack in Greenfield awaits! Boy did it deliver on the fun factor. Knowing the trails through this section like the back of my hand really helped too. And the added layer of darkness with my Dinotte light on really had a huge stoke factor going on. The second wind was in full effect.

Pretty much everyone had gone home except for the race directors and immediate crew helping out with the race. The kitchen also was still open, so the thought of Chicken and Pasta (a heap of it I might add) really brightened the sole 35 miles in. We cruised back into Oak Park to a few slap backs and fist bumps. Totally stoked and ready for more! But all in all, I felt great, my back did not hurt, no cramping, I felt fresh in the last leg of the ride and the course was swept without incident. We had good times, had lots of laughs and Larry rode the whole thing on his Singlespeed. Really happy with the new set up as well – just enough and the eat when hungry, drink when thirsty thing worked very well. I didn’t feel bloated or, I dare say, tired? I had a hard time falling asleep later but that’s what happens when you ride from 4pm to 9pm. Head was still ON. And the kitchen gave us extra chicken and pasta… and I had my desert before I ate my dinner and then went back for seconds.

9pm.  2014 Hampshire 100 is officially clean...

But I would like to thank everyone involved with the Hampshire 100 for continually putting on such a great, well planned and supported endurance event. It’s a tough course. But it’s a great time. Thank you all. I look forward to next year helping and I hope to help Larry sweep the 100 mile course again!

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44 Bikes MTN. SS XXX : My Ride

44 Bikes MTN SS XXX : My Ride

Originally, the 3rd installment of my “Why I build” series was going to be on my own personal fat bike. I’ve decided to shelve that one for a bit as I have some special updates for the 2015 Winter Season in order, which I think will be best addressed with the current build and compare it with the newer prototype. In contrast, many have sounded the alarm that they’re looking forward to my write up on my own personal singlespeed, so I decided the 3rd installment will be on my own personal singlespeed. So without any further delay, let’s roll up our sleeves and get right down to it…

As you can see from the picture above, we’re looking at a completely different beast than what is in some ways my “signature” look. This is more of a traditional diamond set up. I’ve layered on some modern twists and tuned the geometry, component spec and set up for my local terrain and with this build: my typical ride duration. Most days as I’ve mentioned previously, I have an hour or two to spare at the end of the day and most weekends, riding isn’t necessarily an afterthought, but sometimes gets pushed back in time for later in the day as we’ve been working on house repairs these past few years (which is never ending…). So with an hour or so to spare most rides, the itch for a fast, flickable, fun ride is in order. I’ve built up my singlespeed to reflect that ethos. A radius seat tube gets that rear tire packed beneath the rider, deeply curved seat stays offer plenty of tire and heel clearance. Custom formed chainstays add lateral stiffness so the power transfer goes from pedal to rear wheel quickly. The added heel clearance also is a benefit when the stays are run super short (this one has adjustment from 16-16.8″). Drastically sloping top tube gives you plenty of clearance.

EDIT: There are 2 big reasons for this more traditional diamond build setup as a singlespeed apart from the purity of form/function. First being that I get a lot of inquiries about traditional diamond mountain bike frames. My “signature” frame appearance which balances form and function isn’t always for everyone and some just crave that traditional look. Clients want to know how I would handle that kind of build and having one like this in the stable, allows me to speak directly to not only a traditional diamond frame but also to the idea of a dedicated build (in this case a singlespeed). I also can speak to some of those touches that I transfer to a diamond frame (sloping top tube, radius seat tube, deeply curved/formed seat and chainstays…). The second reason, and more of a functional one, is the higher connection point between seat tube and top tube. This fully supports the seat post and allows me to fine tune just how much top tube clearance is balanced with power transfer while seated in the saddle. Too much seat post extension, and you start to bob a bit. Too little, and yes it’s stiff, but you lose some of that clearance and passive suspension. So given the clients inseam amongst other measurements, I can fine tune that small detail of top tube clearance and balance out passive seat post suspension with stiffness while seated cranking.

It started life as a fully rigid setup with a Whisky No. 7 tapered disk fork up front. This was a non-TA style fork. It was rigid at the end of the day, but offered some vibration soaking treatment up front as carbon lend itself to. The biggest factor for me was actually getting used to THAT light of a front end. For NAHBS, I was offered the newer Whisky No. 9 Tapered Disk TA fork. Axle to crown was about the same, so on it went for the show. First ride out I came to an almost immediate conclusion: That fork is STIFF. So much so I was beat up for a few days afterwards. I really had to check speed in tech and I was getting thrashed – literally thrashed… even with adjusting tire pressure to no avail. The barrage of tech here is constant. There really is no let up – even if it’s small stuff. It’s just constantly roots, rocks, obstacles. So after a few rides, I had enough. There really is a level of stiffness that just is not worth it. I opted to run a Fox 100mm 32 Float. What. A. Difference. The lockout works well. The fork is plush and the trail adjustments really fine tune the ride. Sure it’s a bit heavier, but my hands, back and shoulders were happy again. The two forks Whisky offers are really night and day in terms of the degree of stiffness. The No. 9 felt too stiff to me, where the No. 7 although not a TA fork, still offered some resiliency while keeping with stiffness where you want and need it. IMO: They should really offer the No. 7 with a TA option. The internal cable routing on the No. 9 is novel, but I felt it was not necessary and a hassle if you switch between suspension and a rigid setup with hydraulic brakes. I had to cut the line 2 times and use 2 new olives and barbs to install and then remove the fork. A simpler solution would be a much better idea for that fork.

44 Bikes MTN SS XXX : My Ride

Front end sports ENVE Mtn. Risers, XTR Trail Brakes, Cane Creek 40 Series headset (cheap, light, affordable – all 3 in one reliable option) and a Thomson Elite Mtn. Stem. If you look closely in the side shots of the bike, you’ll take note the Thomson stem is a touch longer than my other builds which are all 90mm’s. This one is 100mm in length. Why that extra 10mm? Well, I noticed in long sustained climbs on my singlespeed, my lower back was getting sore. So out of curiosity, I threw on a longer stem to see if that helped give me a little more room to relax and spread out on long, out of the saddle climbs. No more pain. Go figure. Both this bike and my geared mtn. bike are the same in terms of cockpit and top tube length with a 90mm stem. That little extra spread gave me what I needed to spread out and relax on long climbs. The top cap is an older Cane Creek top cap. Why? Simple: That was the first head set upgrade I ever made and that is that headset’s top cap. Little piece of fun history on there for me to look at when I’m in the pain cave. Grips are of course Yeti Lock-on style speed grips. The bars are uncut at a whopping 740mm in width. Especially on a singlespeed, that extra leverage to rock the bike back and forth up the short, punchy climbs is a must. Tight tree’s be damned. End caps are MASH road bar caps. Light. Small. Simple single expansion bolt design. Protects the end of the bars if the bike gets laid down.

44 Bikes MTN SS XXX : My Ride

Seat stays sit at 16″ slammed. They’re currently in the 16.5″ range (adjustment via Paragon Machine Works hooded sliders goes to 16.8″). I was running a 32t chainring in combo with an 18t cog for a long time, and the chainstays sat around 16.25″. I wanted to try a 19t cog, and deployed Endless’s offerings in a black 19t cog. This changed the overall length of the chain a touch, so hence the stays were dialed out a tad more. The big difference here is the pickup of the bike with obstacles. It’s quick, but not like what it was when sitting at 16.25″. A slight tradeoff, but the flip side is the 19t cog allows me to spin a bit more and not have to grind as much up some of our short steeps. A 29er with 16″ stays hopped over an obstacle, you would be surprised just how fast that rear wheel follows you over the object. 16-16.25″ chainstays are incredible for quickness and agility in the 29″ wheel size (and that is with room for a 2.5″ tire btw). The immense trade off in those two cases is long term comfort. 2-3 hours in and you’re wondering what is going on. You get beat up and it catches up with you. 16.5-16.75″ is kind of a sweet spot (more so 16.5″) for long term comfort and maneuverability. That’s just what I have found. Also: I opted for the titanium combination bolts that Paragon offers. If you do get a custom SS with these style dropouts, pay the extra cash for these bolts. The sockets are deep, accept a 6mm drive and you can really get them tight. A little grease on the threads and they come off easily.

Cranks and chainrings are e13. I have a set of Race Face Turbine Cinch cranks on the way for my 29″ geared mountain bike actually. Those cranks are what I have been hoping and wishing for a long time. Elimination of the spider, a true guideless single ring setup in a 3 piece crank. YES: 3 piece cranks. The way cranks should be made. None of this spindle tied to one crank arm bull shit. Seriously. This is what made square taper so good: Spindle length options. The spindle length options for the cinch cranks appear to be rear end specific for now, but perhaps they will offer different spindle lengths in the future. This would really aid in the ability to gain some tire clearance and give you a bit more breathing room with crank, chainring and chainstay clearances. Q-Factor on a mountain bike, for the general public rider is a bit meaningless. We’re not really squeaking out that last bit of performance, and we need our drivetrains to work well. A few extra millimeters would go a long way, and the ability to dial in chainline with movement of the spindle from left to right etc. would be huge. So that’s my one last wish: make different spindle lengths again. But I’m really looking forward to these new Cinch Turbine cranks. For those who want a spider for a double or triple, they’ve got you covered. It’s really brilliant and simple. AND it uses a common tool to put it all together. I was struck dumb by that one gem…

44 Bikes MTN SS XXX : My Ride

Water bottles fit fine. Big water bottles too. And that is something that I really wanted on this diamond frame too. I’ve got mine as low and tight as they can go. This centralizes the mass of the bike when loaded up, and without a hydration pack, I’ve been using a seat mounted tool roll (home made – I have a Singer industrial sewing machine and use it often). It’s filled full of just the essentials. Any food I carry is in jersey pockets. Pump is mounted on the seat tube beneath the bottle cages (King Cage of course!). I love these striped bottles from Team Dream btw. They’re the Specialized Purist bottles. Nozzle is a tad large in feel at first, but I noted in colder weather, they don’t freeze up actually. The contents of the bottle will begin to freeze before the nozzle does. Little inside “From the North” reportage to all you cold weather ballers. Pump sits on the seat post to get it up and out of the way of the spray from the front tire.

Tires are my personal favorites: Schwalbe Hans Dampf up front in a full 2.4″ tire and their 2.3″ Nobby Nic out back. I realized when replacing one of these Nobby Nics lately that it appears Schwalbe tightened up the tread pattern a bit. I did notice a little dead spot in them on some terrain types, and the tighter nob spacing is kind of a great treatment from the older profile. The loamy soil we have here needs a little more soft compound and these two tires have the deep lugs to bit in, but the softer compound to deal with the loam and exposed rocks we have nicely. The larger volume tires also let me rail corners and pop obstacles easily. I love laying into turns with these tires. There is no guessing. They hold their line. Sure they are a slower rolling tire, but I’m not really caring about that as much as I am about the traction and confidence they inspire. They are setup tubeless and are the snakeskin variety for added protection. Wheels they roll on are Stan’s ARCH EX, and Industry 9′s SS rear hub and 15mm TA front. These are their older classic hubs. The engagement is second to none. The build up is light and durable. I9′s customer support and good cheer are top notch (Ted is THE MAN). And they’re all made in their Asheville, NC production facility. That’s a good thing. Quality. The quick engagement puts power into the pedals instantly and the lack of back pedaling in tech to set the pedals up right isn’t something you need until you have it. They it’s a game changer and you realize what compromises in performance you were taking with your other hubs which have something like 12 degree’s of engagement? Basically a huge dead spot between ON and OFF.

44 Bikes MTN SS XXX : My Ride00

You’ll also note that on all my mountain bikes (fat bike included) I run a 160mm rotor out back and a 180mm rotor up front. The difference being I tend to use a little more front brake for control and that added width gives it to me – sorry moto guys, I run my rear brake on the left… I’m not a skidder nor a rooster. I’m not a burly rider either. Or a clydesdale as they call it. I’m more of a finesse style rider. I like to pick my lines apart and the goal is to be smooth, link lines with flow and have commitment with line choice even if it’s the wrong one (if/when I go down, the last thing I’m letting go of is my bars – must be that BMX background…). I love that aspect of riding when everything is clicking, everything is focus and you’re kind of lost in that zone of just acting/reacting to the trail at hand. Those different rotor sizes gives me the control I’m looking for and Shimano’s XTR Trail brakes provides that stopping power and modulation. These really are some of the best brakes on the market. Out of the box, it’s kind of no questions asked.

Enve set back post with a touch more extension offers up that passive suspension. A single wedge style bolt makes adjustments and leveling of the saddle a piece of cake. Saddle is a Selle Italia SLR Ti. If you are going to invest in a saddle, no matter what the profile, there’s two things to consider other than the actual fit. Buy a natural, leather saddle. Buy a saddle with Titanium rails. Both of these factors make the saddle more pricey, but the Ti rails from my experience do not bend (or are hard to bend). The steel ones I’ve had in the past all have bent. Sometimes on the first ride. The synthetic saddles I have had heat up and cause hot spots. The natural fiber saddles dissipate heat and help to prevent hot spots. On long rides, these two factors other than fit are very important. And a huge tip: ANY SADDLE can be made to feel 110% better by placing your bike on level ground, putting a flat object from tip to tail across the saddle and with a level on top of the saddle… LEVEL the saddle. Seat post binder is a Salsa. Light and not too harsh on the pocket book. Nice thing is it uses a bolt and barrel. If either strip… they can be replaced as they are common parts at a hardware store. TIP: Add a little grease to the bolt head and threads before installation on any binder. And be sure to not OVER tighten the pinch bolt. If you tighten it so tight and you hear the bolt creaking, do yourself a favor and get a torque wrench (Park makes a nice small one). Follow the manufacturers torque specs always.

Geometry wise, head tube is sitting at 70* (sagged), seat tube is 73*, bottom bracket is in the 12.25″ height, and chainstays have adjustment from 16-16.8″ thanks to Paragon’s hooded sliders. Internal cable routing to keep that top tube clean. This IS a dedicated singlespeed. No routing for a rear derailleur. HOWEVER, if Shimano does come out with a true “wireless” Di2 mountain setup (and by wireless, I mean no wires from shifter to derailleur), this would be one slick bike to rule them all. Dedicated singlespeed in one instance. Change out the dropout with Paragon’s modular system, and add a derailleur, shifter and new chain along with a different rear wheel with appropriate cassette and you’ve now got 2 bikes. One can wish on that aspect I suppose.

But that’s it in a nutshell. Why this one’s built the way it is. Flat black with gloss decals to give it that low key, hot rod appeal. Traditional diamond frame because well, there’s nothing like a diamond frame with a few modern twists. Simple. Elegant and functional. Sloping top tube gives you plenty of clearance and that added seat post extension softens the ride a touch more. 44mm tapered steerer to keep things on track, larger O.D. tubes (1.375″ O.D. TT / 1.5″ O.D. DT) helps to stiffen the package up front to keep things tracking in combination with that 44mm tapered / 15mm TA Fox 32mm Float with trail adjust. Build rounds out in the 19 lb range with a little change to spare.

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David’s Huntsman Signed, Sealed and Delivered

Huntsman : 2x11 w/ 40mm Tires

It’s always nice to finish up a build, finalize all the details with the client and then watch as Fedex picks up the big box of goods. Some may thing this is a tough thing to watch. I have to admit it gets me excited. The reason for this excitement is I basically put myself in my clients shoes at that moment and realize that after all the weeks and months of waiting and watching the build come together, this is the special moment when YOU KNOW the bike is on it’s way. I’m excited for them because I recall that first build being finished, and the sheer amount of joy it was to build it up, and take it on it’s maiden voyage. That’s some good stuff – worthy of memories, tall tails and stuff you grab that grandson of yours by the collar and state “I remember when…”. I always leave a little note inside for each client so when they get that big box, and start opening, they’re greeted with a fun note: “Time to get STOKED”.

It’s also really fun to get that email when the bike arrives. Sometimes I get a few in a row – be it questions or just reiterating stoke level’s at 11. David’s got his set up in “Attack” mode to start and had a set of Clement 40mm’s on hand for the tire swap. He’s headed to Colorado and is going to put this sucker to the test. Look out Colorado… Can’t wait to see the pictures and hear about the adventures! Again, I’ll let the pictures do the talking on this one too. For those interested, here’s the entire build set. Enjoy.

Huntsman : COMMUTE

Huntsman : ATTACK

Huntsman : Let's get in close

Huntsman = Versatility

David's Huntsman

Two parting shots to showcase that versatility that the Huntsman is associated with. Keep in mind this is the same bike. Two sets of different tires for different conditions/modes, two different forks for those same two different applications. Commute. Attack. Bike still is well balanced both in Form AND Function.

David's Huntsman : Attack Mode

Huntsman : Commuter Mode

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Ron’s Huntsman Signed, Sealed and Delivered

There's room for 40's back there...

Got word from Ron that he received his Huntsman from the sounds of it, he’s mighty pleased. He even mentioned he was currently mapping out the long way to work routes. This is the kind of stuff I like to hear – literally rearranging your schedule and beaten path to get in more shred! I’m pleased with the way this one turned out. Force 22, Thomson throughout, bobbed Honjo Fenders and matching rack all powdered in that satin black… Heck yeah. This one is what the Huntsman is all about: Commuter by day. Wolf by night. Or weekend. You choose. For those interested, here is the entire build set. I’ll let the pictures do the talking…

Ron's Huntsman with Fenders

Ron's Matching Rack

Bobbed Fenders and Slicks

The Huntsman

Two parting head shots. These have become one of my favorite’s to shoot. Enjoy.

Ron's Huntsman : Commuter Mode

Ron's Huntsman : Seek and Destroy Mode

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44 Bikes Poster Series : AVAILABLE NOW

You guys asked for it… I’m delivering. After much debate over which posters to formalize, I settled on 3 which I believe make a great set. Order one, two or all three and save on shipping. These are hand printed by the good folks at Brainstorm in Dover, NH. Printed on thick 100lb 18×24 sheet made by the French Paper Co. That’s 100% Made in the USA. I wouldn’t have it any other way kids. Signed. Numbered. Archival. Worthy of a frame. Or not. Fit for any fine shop wall or festoon your man cave. Limited edition of 50. GET TO IT.

I'm Painting My Bike Black...

I Promise...

Bury Me High Up on the Mountain

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44 Bikes MTN Bike XXX : My Ride

44 MTN Bike : My Ride

Last week I took the reader on a detailed journey about my personal Huntsman build. This was an account of not only the “what” behind a build, but more importantly the WHY behind the choices I made from geometry, to set up and component selection. Seems this was well received so I’ve decided to do a second installment. This one is about my personal mountain bike (pictured above). Before I take you through the entire build piece by piece, let’s first talk about terrain and setting. This is the foundation from which I build literally from the ground up. This is also the discussion I have with each and every client. Here goes…

Terrain. This is the stuff bikes are built on and from. The terrain I ride completely shapes not only the way my mountain bikes ride, but it also shapes the way the bikes look. New England is known for it’s rocky, root strewn singletrack. Switchbacks can be tight. Climbs can be punchy. The tech is some of the best. New Hampshire, known as the Granite State, is no exception. The trails in my neck of the woods are a literal mine field of obstructions. A majority of the state was clear cut in it’s previous life (and is still heavily managed – that’s a slick word for “logging the heck out of the conservation areas”). Sheep farms were prominent in and around the towns I reside. This means there is a giant maze of rock walls strewn throughout the thick woods I call home here in Lyndeborough, NH as well as large patches of new, thick growth. On any given loop, I’d say I have to cross at least 10 walls. Many trails go up and over these walls. Some even traverse them. The fresh growth can often loom over the trail. Rock gardens abound. Roots are at your every step. Trails are ever in flux and changing. Some trails open up to the forests vastness, while others create a density that has you hoping your bars will fit! The soil is loamy as we have many hemlocks mixed in with the hardwoods of our deciduous forests. We do have stretches of buffed out singletrack, but I won’t mix words here: if you ride in New England, you’re riding tech and you will ride it constantly. Me? I love me some hardtail. I love feeling the trail, I love having to check my speed, time my pedal strokes, finesse the bike, get up “in the stirrups”, pick my line piece by piece as it comes at me. I love stomping on the pedals and finding obstacles to bunny hop. Body english abounds. What is really humbling is that any stretch of trail you have mastered and totally dialed can bite you in the ass and force you to put a foot down. The challenge of consistent, smooth flow of line choice is something that I find relaxing. Get into that zone and it clears the head. All this means the bike needs to be tight. It needs to be an extension of the rider and not something “between” you and the terrain. You react, the bike follows. Point it at a line and it holds to THAT line. Stand-over is paramount. Components need to be bomber and they need to work. And you can’t fuss over something getting scratched. The trail breaths on your components here and they’re getting thrashed.

Editor’s Note: I’ve left the bike dirty for the shoot. I do frequently clean my bikes to keep them running smoothly and nothing really makes a bike perform better than when it’s actually clean (especially the drivetrain), but I wanted the reader to see the bike in it’s natural state: Ridden.

44 MTN : Core of the Bike

Let’s start with what I call the “core” of the bike. This is the bottom bracket. With all the tech, you need clearances. Between you and the bike and the bike and the ground. Low slung top tubes give you that extra bit of room should you have to put a foot down. Up and over obstacles often have you over the front of the bike, then WAY off the back of the bike. You need room to move. This is where this seat tube extension comes into play. That’s an extra 3.5″ of clearance. Bottom bracket height is tricky. Too high and you’re up and over the bike. Too low and you’re striking your pedals, or REALLY having to time your pedal strokes. I’ve found there’s a small window that balances performance, handling and quickness along with “just enough” clearance. That’s somewhere between 12″-12.375″. That’s a sagged number with tire pressure taken into account too.. This also lowers the riders center of gravity. Lowering the riders center of gravity (which on a male, is slightly higher than that of a female) helps to ground the bike and quicken steering. You’re “IN” the bike and balanced between the wheels – “centered”. Water bottles are as close to this center point as possible to help centralize the mass of the bike. You’ll also note that I’ve given a radius to the seat tube. This helps to pack the rear wheel (in this case a 29″ wheel) under the rider. Now we’ve all heard about that Great Chainstay Debate. My own opinion is it is important, but it is only one factor in combination with a bunch of other key aspects of a bike that dictates it’s handling characteristics.

For example (and this is with regards to a 29er), if you like short, fast quick rides that are playful, 16-16.25″ chainstays are where it’s at. If you want an all day kind of bike but still has that fast, quick, playful feel, 16.5″ is where it’s at. If you’re into the endurance thing, 16.75-17″ is really where you want to be. 16″ will beat the living heck out of you coming into the 2-3 hour mark. 16.5″, IMO on a 29er, seems to be that perfect balance of comfort and quickness over a long period of time in the saddle. My own pictured here sport 16.5″ chainstays. How do I know this? Well, I built a 29″ prototype with Paragon Machine Work’s hooded sliders that could handle a 2.5″ wide tire at 16-16.8″ of adjustment. Then over the course of a summer, rode it in every condition possible beginning at 16″, and in .25″ increments repeated rides for weeks all the way through it’s adjustable range. What I found, or what I could discern from all this feedback if everything else on the bike were the same, is that certain lengths have certain attributes which are agreeable in some conditions, but perhaps not the best in others. This also played out in the length of rides I was taking and what I was feeling as my body was tiring through the length of the ride (short or long in length). So when a client comes to me and wants X, Y and Z, I know what ingredients to begin with when we start the recipe of how the bike will ride and handle.

44 MTN : 1x10 Guideless

With the core of the bike explained, let’s talk about drivetrain. For my rides and my terrain, 1×10 or 1×11 just makes sense. The endless toil of keeping a front derailleur working is gone. Honestly, I have no bones to pick with front derailleurs, but for me, I was finding myself constantly tending to them. Sticks would get in them, they’d be pulled out of alignment, muck would gunk them up… They’re just fussy. And I do like to fuss with my bikes, but I also like to set things up and then ride the bike too. 1x setups simplify and lighten the overall drivetrain (and bike!). That’s one less thing to maintain too. Way back when, I ran pretty much only Shimano, but after trying some Sram kit, I really liked the snappiness and “push-push” click of their shifters. At the time, Shimano was a “push-pull” setup – which has since changed. Shimano and Sram provide great kit IMO. I also used to be a Race Face Crank ONLY guy. That changed with X-Type… But recently they have delivered the Cinch cranks and now have come out with the Turbine crank in their Cinch Platform. This effectively ELIMINATES the spider. This is something i’ve been waiting a LONG time for. To give you some perspective: I took my front derailleur off in 1995 and there has not been one on a single mountain bike I have owned or built for myself since then. So I know a little something about 1x setups. Cranks, spiders, chainrings and chainring bolts tend to get dusty when the middle of the summer is dry, and that creates a few places where creaks can develop. A complete tear down, cleaning and light greasing of all mating parts needs to be performed. Eliminating the spider, you eliminate 4 chainring bolts. That’s 4 less spots to creak. That’s 4 less parts to break. That’s 4 less bolts to check. That’s a more than 8 interfaces to lightly grease. Now between crank and chainring, you have ONE splined interface. Combine that with the “thick-thin” chainring concept which grabs and holds the chain, and you’ve got one smooth, relatively easy component to maintain. Finally they got that one right! But that wasn’t present when I purchased my e13 cranks. These sport a 30mm spindle and I’m using RWC’s Enduro bottom bracket hop up. These cranks are light, stiff and relatively trouble free. Wolftooth Cycling Components 32t Dropstop chainring keeps my chain ON. I have not dropped a chain once and that ring is going on it’s 3rd season. The kitchen sink has been thrown at this system. Hands down: It works.

44 MTN : Clearances

Cassette is a 10spd 12-36t cogset. 9 speed always felt a little clunky. When I first went and upgraded to 10spd, it feels like the cog transitions are “just so”. They finally got that right. I look down and I always seem to have a few gears left in the quiver. Most new chains use a “quick link” or Sram calls it their “Power Link”. These go together with an audible “snap”. You used to be able to remove them by hand. If you have one of these chains, be sure to get yourself a Park MLP-1.2 Master Link tool. If you need to remove the chain, no problem with that set of pliers. I own one. It gets used and my life is a heck of a lot easier because of it. You’ll note that 10 and 11 speed chains sport the same inner diameter. What changed was the outer plate’s thickness. So Wolftooth’s chainrings work on both 10 and 11 speed setups (and 9spd too!). Rear derailleur is a Sram X9 Type 2. This complete’s the circle that is a guideless setup. The return spring is quite stronger, like Shimano’s “clutch” style rear derailleurs. This helps to reduce chainslap, and keeps the chain running ON the chain too. That style rear derailleur in combination with a thick thin chainring (available down to a 26t chainring I believe) is what you need to go guideless and 1x. Only run one of the two and you’re only running half of the system needed.

Next up: Hubs. According To My Opinion, Industry 9 makes THE VERY BEST hubs on the market today. Combine that quality of craftsmanship with really great customer support, and a pawl system that delivers 3 degree’s of engagement and you’ve got a hub set that is meant for New England tech. There is no lag in engagement. If you are in tech, and need to back pedal to get the pedals “set”, you don’t want a pause before engagement happens at slow speed. First ride out on these hubs I was actually messing up lines because I was not used to the quick engagement (that’s something I quickly remedied). Basically, I was not intuitively ready for the bike to engage when I thought it would – I was too used to accounting for that pause in engagement. Pause and lag no more. I stomp on the pedals or get my pedals set, and my drivetrain is poised to make a move. It’s literally “champing at the bit” to go. It’s ready when you are. These are laced to a set of 32 hole, DE-STICKERED, Stan’s ARCH EX rims. Light. Strong. Tubeless compatible.

Take a look at those chainstays too. That swaged middle section adds lateral stiffness. Combined with ample tire clearance and you’ve got a room for 2.5″ tires, 16.5″ chainstays in a stiff, resilient package. The low slung top tube gets a little flair as the seat stays meet those Paragon Wright Drop out’s in a gentle curve. Seat stays are bent in two planes for tire, heel and added mud clearance. Added radius at the dropout keeps the stays running in that consistent line from head tube to dropout. Triangulated. You’ll also note there’s some seat post extension too. This really helps to add some passive suspension into the mix on longer rides. Seat tube length is “just long enough” in this case.

44 MTN : My Ride

Tire choice is Schwalbe’s Hans Dampf 2.4 up front with their Nobby Nic 2.3 out back. IMO: this is the perfect combination of size and volume front and rear in a tire. A little wider up front keeps the bike hooked up and tracking through hard carves into turns while a 2.3 out back is aggressive but still narrow enough to be fast. The nobs on both of these tires are aggressive. They really bite into those loamy trails. The compound grabs slippery rocks and roots. In a tubeless setup, you’re running slightly lower pressures too so you can dial in the feel of the bike as well as the traction. You can really dial in a bikes performance with a slight change in tire pressure.

44 MTN Bike : My Ride

For the fork I’ve chosen Fox’s 32mm Talas 29″, 120mm FIT CTD with Trail Adjust fork. Honestly, this is a great fork but if I had to do it all over again, I’d easily choose the Float 120 version over the Talas. At it’s low setting, 90mm is pretty much useless and for our steep punchy climbs, 90mm actually feels like it slows the bike down in climbs. On a 29er at my height, I’d say a sweet spot for suspension travel is somewhere around 100-120mm of travel. Not too much, not too little. Note this is a 44mm tapered 15mm thru axle fork. You’ll also note if you pull out your dial calipers that my top tube is 1.375″ O.D. and my down tube is 1.50″ O.D. These are big, True Temper OX Plat tubes. Light enough, stiff enough and strong enough, packaged into a resilient ride (and made in the USA). Add all those those elements together (fork steerer, thru axle, top and down tube diameters) and you’ve got a front end that is tracking at speed through tech and hard turns. The Float forks (IMO) have more usable adjustment for lockout, trail and descent modes along with more control in firmness. The Float platform is a little more dialed, but at the time of purchase, the Float only was available in a 100mm fork. Hence the 120 Talas. But… we can always upgrade right?

44 MTN Bike : My Set Up

Up above is my business end of the bike. The cockpit. ENVE’s Mountain Riser bars are wide at 740mm in length. This I like and I’ve kept them uncut. Matches my wide shoulders and I feel I can really muscle the bike through turns as well as a bit of added leverage when rocking the bike back and forth up and through climbs. Carbon is also an ideal candidate for handlebars and seat posts. Light, stiff but has a knack for reducing “chatter”. I was having problems after about an hour with my wrists and palms with aluminum bars. Swapped for a set of carbon bars: pain was gone and has not returned. Stem is a 90mm Thomson Elite. (Made in the USA). Brakes are XTR Trail’s with a 180mm rotor up front and a 160mm rotor out back. These are pretty much the best brakes on the market (my own humble opinion). They’re light. They are easy to maintain and do not require to be bled when shortening and initially installing them. Out of the box the just work effortlessly with a lot of power and incredible modulation. Grips? My personal favorites are ODI Lock-on YETI Speed Grips. Soft and grippy. I love these grips. And there’s no throttle grip (Next time you have a set of ODI’s in hand, read the fine print on them… “Made in the USA”). Bar ends are actually a set of MASH road bar end caps. Very low profile, work with an expanding wedge design and are very light. They protect the ends of my bars should I happen to lay the bike down (which happens). Seat post is an ENVE 27.2mm set back. The head uses a single wedge style adjustment. Leveling the saddle is a snap. Saddle of course again is Selle Italia’s SLR Ti. It fits. It’s light. My butt seems to be happy. One thing to note though: Get a leather saddle. Those natural fibers prevent hot spots on long rides. “Pleather” seems to heat up easily and retain heat and if a hot spot starts on a long ride… forget about it. It’s hidden but I’m also using a Problem Solvers i-Spec adapter so there is only one clamp between shifter and lever. That cleans up the cockpit a bit.

And there is NO DROPPER. I have nothing against dropper posts. But when I’m riding, a line is not “officially” cleaned unless it’s JRA. What do I mean by this “Just riding along” scenario? This means I’m clipped in. My seat post is NOT lowered. AND I have not taken the time to scope the line. That’s a key component for my own personal rule of cleaning a line. No scoping. Pausing is acceptable as you approach the obstacle, but you gotta be clipped in and you gotta have that post up. It’s the cycling equivalent to a climbers “on-sight”. This just adds a layer of fun and challenge to my ride. It also allows me to be intuitive, make decisions on the fly and “react” to the trail without any preconceived notions. I’m leaning on my experience. There’s also an element of letting it all hang out too which I like. But just know that running a dropper isn’t a bad thing nor does it mean you’re not leaning on experience. Much respect to all the riders out there powering down HUGE lines with them. This is just one of those nonsensical personal rules of thumb each of us have. That’s just one of my own I try and adhere to…

44 MTN Bike : My Ride

Internal cable routing keeps that top tube nice and clean. Picking the bike up to shoulder it is a pleasure. Last season I switched to water bottles and I have to say, this was a return of something old. I loved when Hydration packs first hit the market, and I still will use one on longer rides. But for the average length ride I can get out for (say 1-2 hours, maybe 10-15 miles, but most nights after work it’s in the 5-7 mile sprint) riding with a bottle is just simple. It also really takes the weight off the back. I’ve gone to using a saddle roll too (this one I made myself from some leftover ACU ripstop material). I have my spare tube should a puncture occur that sealant won’t seal, I have my extra derailleur hanger, a mult-tool, tire boot and patch kit along with one tire lever and dollar bill for emergencies of all kinds. Pump is carried on the bike, food is in my jersey pockets. Light. Simple. Happy back too. King Cage because there’s no other cage that’s better. Cane Creek 110 headset. Light. Simple and it works. Crank Brothers Candy’s. Again – light and simple. (But I have been considering switching back over to Shimano… we’ll see – that’s a lot of pedals to replace across 4 bikes at once). Bike’s powdered in a satin black powder coat. Durable. “Hot rod” appeal. Gloss black decals keeps this one low profile. Not too much color overall – just little hints and splashes here and there of blue on the top caps, and pedals. Lean and mean. Head tube angle sits at about 70.5* (25% sagged number) and seat tube angle is at 73* for a little extra clearance. My rider compartment is long enough but perhaps more compact – I like to be slightly more upright on my mountain bike: poised, centered and “IN” the bike. And those are the key elements with a frame: Rider compartment (handlebars to saddle measurement), head tube angle, bottom bracket height, chainstay length and seat tube angle. In that order I believe. You take particular note that I have not mentioned a thing about front center, trail OR wheelbase. These, I believe, are resultant figures based on the short list above. You are never static on a mountain bike. You’re constantly in motion as is the bicycle. Those numbers are constantly in motion as well. Head tube angle is too – but this sets up how the bike will begin to handle: Steeper numbers make for a quicker, and sometimes “touchy” ride. Slacker numbers make for a slower, more stable handling ride. The longer the wheelbase, the slower the turning but again, more stability (I’ll get into this one a touch more when I detail my Fat Bike). But for a “Cross Country” or trail setup, I’ve found putting more emphasis on the parts I’ve mentioned above dials in the feel for the rider more accurately and greatly impacts how that bike rides.

That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. Hopefully this is a good break down of what it is I’m building in a mountain bike, and WHY I’m building the bikes the way I am. Really an extension of the techy singletrack we have here in my backyard and the component choice (which can be in flux sometimes) is based on that style and type of terrain. So again: How will your mountain bike be built? What components best match your style of riding and terrain? Give me a shout and I’ll be happy to discuss the proposition! One thing I can guarantee though and that it will be Made to Shred.

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44 Bikes Huntsman XXX : My Ride

Huntsman XXX : My Ride

Over the course of any given week, I get a lot of inquiries about custom bicycles. One of the build’s that typically gets a lot of attention is the Huntsman. Many come to me because the stock offerings just don’t quite fit what it is they’re looking for, sometimes figuratively and other times literally. No matter what it is they are looking for, one thing rings true: Riders want versatility. They want to run fenders when it rains, they might want the option of running something as large as a 40mm tire, like the 40mm WTB Nano for example. They want disk brakes. They want 2×11, maybe 1x something. They want to run it hard on gravel during the weekends, and get their commute on over the course of the week so that means custom racks. They want their components hand picked. I listen to the what the client wants, then I recommend and build them what they need. Above all, the builds are purpose built. Everything has purpose and reason. Anything in excess, gets cut or removed. To illustrate this purpose built nature, I thought I’d showcase my own personal Huntsman build and take the reader through step by step what it is I wanted, and what it is that needed to fit that purpose.

Huntsman XXX : My Ride

Editor’s Note: My terrain is Southern New Hampshire. With all of the well maintained dirt roads at my finger tips, a skinny tired road bike just does not make sense. A wonderful thing about dirt roads is they are less traveled here in NH. I MIGHT pass 1 car on my whole ride, most times nothing but the breeze and the occasional Baird Owl. So there is really no reason to even get on pavement unless it’s a connection between two dirt roads. The climbs can be short or long. Most are short, steep and really punchy. The kinds where you look up and do not see the top and know you’re in for it. There’s also a lot of 6th class roads or unmaintained roads (that means they don’t get plowed in the winter). 6th class is French for “used to be a road, but now it doesn’t get used so much…”. (not really, but that’s the gist). That’s where a large volume tire comes into play – not only does it just plain make sense for the rough stuff, if this were a race: I’m pedaling when others are braking with 32mm tires. I also ride by time and not necessarily by miles. 1-2 hours is all I have most days. Some weekends I might be able to get out for a longer 30-40 mile ride but that doesn’t happen too often. Most days during the week this is the scenario: I have a place I want to get with my work, I work till I hit that goal, and then look at the clock and realize I have 1-2 hours of good daylight left. Maybe only 30… With a dog who can’t see so well when the light begins to go away, I know some times it’s going to be a sprint and she has to stay home (she only can come along on mountain bike rides). The Huntsman gets pulled out and off I go. And I’ve been most likely riding like this for the past 15 years. Maybe that’s fortunate, but maybe that’s a bit unfortunate… “so it goes”. There are times of the year when the roads get rutted up (aka mud season…) and let me tell you those ruts can get deep. So deep you bottom out your pedals on the road surface if you find yourself in one of them. Basically I need something that gets me out there, is quick, has a little lower gearing for the short punchy climbs, is easy to maintain in the winter, and the geo is optimized for fast rides that is easily handled and at home when the going gets tough.

So let’s start with the picture above: My personal Huntsman. All of my bikes, with the exception of my fat bike, share the same front and rear axle width specification: 100mm front / 135mm rear. The reason for this is shared wheelsets in the event something happens to one wheel, it can easily be swapped out temporarily while I take some time with the repair. This one’s powder coated with a two stage powder for durability. (Not to mention the color is just stunning in all kinds of light).

Huntsman XXX : My Ride

Disk brakes are employed because they allow for a lighter / stronger rim and in turn a lighter/stronger wheel. These are tubeless compatible Industry 9 Ultralite Trail 24′s. You’ll note that is a 29″ mountain bike wheelset. Yes, a mountain bike wheelset on a “road” bike. Not only did I want the ability to run these on a race setup, but I also wanted the 3 degree’s of engagement (as opposed to I9′s road and CX wheelsets which sport only 3 of the 6 pawls to deliver 6 degree’s of engagement). The reason for this, be it on the road or on dirt… when I stomp on the pedals and “get after it”, I don’t want any lag between the gears engaging. These are relatively light and stiff, mated up with a wider inner rim width, those 40mm WTB Nano’s are a full width tire. I’m pedaling through the rough stuff when others are having to check their speed. The wider inner rim width spreads the tires casing, and the side walls are a tad more vertical, adding to that stability and “sure footedness” feel in the rough.

Huntsman XXX : My Ride

My drivetrain is a Force CX1 (1×11) but you’ll take note it is technically a 1×10. I9′s mountain wheelsets have the option to run an XD Driver for 11 speed mountain but are technically a 10 speed cassette, and their Road/CX hubs have a longer cassette body to make room for 11 speed road. So this wheelset won’t take all 11 speeds of the Force 22 cassette. I’ve removed one of the cogs and spaced out the cassette just a hair and adjusted the limit screws accordingly to make it all work. So this is a slightly modified 11/28t cassette with a Wolftooth 40t Dropstop chainring mated to Sram’s Force 22 Cranks (I’ve drilled out the hidden riveted chainring bolt on the spider to remove both stock chainrings – why Sram made that a fixed/riveted chainring bolt is beyond me). This is a perfect setup for the short, punchy climbs we have right from the shop doors. I’d say about 90% of my rides are by myself, and a good majority of them hover between 15-20 miles at a pop. Most times I have limited time, so a fast, fun ride is in order. This drivetrain is just a refinement of the type of riding I do, for my terrain. The added stability of those big tires makes hitting 6th class roads no problem and I can go most places someone on a set of 28′s or even 32′s would be hating. Or flatting. You’ll also note I’ve sealed off the entrance points with heat shrink tubing. This is done at all the cable stop/start points. This really keeps out any moisture and keeps those cables running smooth year round. Purpose built from the ground up.

Huntsman XXX : My Ride

This is the business end. The cockpit. You’ll note that I’ve not modified the left hand shifter. I want the option of being able to run a front derailleur if needed. I’ve left that intact. The top tube sports two bottle mounts to accept machined aluminum cable stops – you’ll note just below the seat stay/seat tube junction, there is a braze-on for the front derailleur. Two set screws are removed, the cable stops are attached and a front derailleur can be run with a little time to set it up. I’ve chosen ENVE Carbon Bars and ENVE’s CX Disk fork. Two places that carbon really shines (the 3rd being the seat post). Carbon has an uncanny knack for soaking up road chatter and a great place to start is the handlebars and in the fork. Two key contact points. The fork is tapered too – light and stiff. No brake chatter or fork flutter here. You rail into a turn, you’re holding your line. Those wider tires add that “sure footedness” to the equation. Cane Creek 40 Series head set. Light. Simple. It works.

Stem, Seatpost and collar are Thomson. Made in the USA, and some of the best. The seat post head uses two separate bolts for fore/aft adjustments. Setting the saddle up level is a snap. Fit and finish are second to none and Thomson offers great customer service. Brakes are Avid BB7 Road. These are a mechanical actuated disk brake (160mm Front and Rear rotors). Light, simple to set up and easy to maintain. In comparison to hydraulic disk brakes, they lack the modulation, but as they say “brake just slow you down”. These work “good enough”. They also allow for independent pad adjustment – that is key for any mechanical disk brake.

Huntsman XXX : My Ride

Geometry wise, I was looking for a fast, stable ride with room for 40mm tires, internal brake/derailleur lines to keep the top tube clean for shouldering/picking it up in techy sections, deeply formed and curved seat and chainstays for added heel and mud clearance and large diameter tubes to keep the bike stiff with the added resilience that steel is known for. That basically boils down to a 70.5 Degree head tube angle (sit up hands free in rough gravel, you’re not getting thrown for one thing…), 73 degree seat tube for a little extra tire clearance, 2.75″ of bottom bracket drop gets the bottom bracket low enough so you’re carving in turns and stable in the rough, but high enough so it’s not a pedal striker coming OUT of the turns, 16.5″ chainstays to deliver a quick handling ride but there’s plenty of room for a 40mm tire with something extra to spare. This delivers a fast, fun, stable ride. Extra slope to the top tube gives you a little extra room should you need to put a foot down. Paragon Machine Works Wright dropouts WITH A REPLACEABLE HANGER. Bend or snap it off, no problem. Your investment is easily fixed. (How builders build steel road bikes with non-replaceable hangers is beyond me.) Purpose Built. Nothing left to chance. Selle Italia saddle. Not the most padded saddle, but the shape fits me “just so”. Cinelli Gel Cork handlebar wrap, wrapped from bottom to top, nice and TIGHT and finished with black electricians tape. Salsa Flip OFf’s because they work. There’s bottle cages and then there’s King Cage. Chain Lube? NFS (NIX FRIX SHUN). Did I stutter? Hell no. That’s the best lube on the market. Hands down. Nothing left to chance.

Build comes in at 20lbs even (Although I question my scale sometimes – it feels more like 19 lbs but what do I know from the lift test). But I will say this: Too little weight, and the bike beneath you will start to get thrown around in the rough stuff. A little extra weight actually helps to ground the bike a bit more. Paragon Machine Works 44mm Head Tube, Dropouts, Braze-ons, Post Mount Disk Brake mount and bottom bracket. All made in the USA. Henry James / True Temper tubing front triangle (USA) with 4130 seamless aircraft tubing so I can get all the bends and forming exactly where I want (also USA sourced).

That’s it in a nutshell and it’s as best an outline of who, what, why I can put together. This is a purpose built “road” bike based on the majority of riding I do. Each component has been hand picked for the purpose and every angle, measurement and decision is based on the mantra of “Ride, Build, Repeat”. Hopefully this is a little insight into what one iteration of the Huntsman can be. Give me a shout and I’d be happy to put together a purpose built Huntsman just for you. Made to Shred. That’s Guaranteed.