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Huntsman Out the Door

There was a few weeks worth of wait for one last component to arrive (ENVE CX Disc Taper Fork). That arrived early last week along with 3 others for current builds so I was finally able to finish up Paul’s Huntsman and get it shot in the “studio”. This one’s a pretty sweet little build sporting Sram Force 22, Avid BB7 Road cable actuated disc brakes, Thomson Post, Bars and Collar, Cane Creek 110 Headset, ENVE CX fork, and Stan’s new Grail wheel set rounds out the build. Thanks to all at Stan’s for FINALLY updating those wheel graphics. Much simpler and cleaner so for those wanting a little bit of graphic on the wheels, these sport some nice decals now in my opinion. Paul however wanted them gone, so post shoot… Off they came! Bike is built up with Continental X-Kings which are a nice full 35mm tire, but there is however room for 40’s too. Here’s some shots to keep you all warm at night:

Money Shot

I know some like that classic “side shot” but for me, this is the one (although the one above is quickly becoming a favorite too). It’s the view from the rear quarter of the bike. Why is this my favorite? It’s gives the bike a stance and adds a layer of aggressiveness that my eye just likes. You also get to see more of the bike too, the details, the curves, positive and negative shapes and is a bit more visually dynamic. I just dig this view. Maybe it’s the hot rodder in me coming out? Don’t know – but I like it!

Paul's Huntsman

Let’s get in close…

Let's Get in Close



Paul's Huntsman

And one last one where I left it a bit more raw. Lets you see where the bike is in the shop as I take shots. I normally crop/erase all that stuff out that you see. But this shot reveals a bit of the process of shoot the bikes. Enjoy.

In the "Studio"

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So it’s been raining a lot for the past 2 weeks here in the so called “Great White North”. We’ll get 1-2 inches of fresh powder to only have it warm up, then turn to rain and sleet. Not exactly fun conditions to be outside riding in. But that’s New England for you. We call them “New England Samplers” here at 44HQ. Those ones when one minute it’s sunny, next the temp DROPS and it gets overcast, then it starts snowing… Heavily, only to somehow warm back up again to change over to sleet, freezing rain and everything in between and/or beyond. So we’ve been getting a lot that lately. But I know it’s only a matter of time before things get good. The other day (friday) things got good. All day Thursday and into the evening it was snowing gently. Just a coating over everything as the ground was wet and tacky but things weren’t sticking till the sun went down.

Lynn inherited a new to her 2004 Subaru Legacy Wagon. I’ve been driving it as she’s needed my car which has snow tires (yes, 2 wheel drive with snow tires is still better than AWD without snow tires when it gets icy…). I keep a stash of food in my car at all times just in case I either run out of forget to bring on a ride. Well, the new car doesn’t have that stash and I forgot to bring any along. This will come into play later on in the story… Woke up to sunshine on friday. I worked the morning and decided to call it quits early to head out on Lucky No. 40 to catch up on 2 weeks of no riding. Yes. Yes… AND yes. Here’s how things started:

Today was slightly EPIC

We headed out at the trailhead which connects across a field joined by the above which traverses a handful of rock walls. Immediately it became apparent that Greenfield had more snow than Lyndeborough and that today’s ride was going to be memorable. Snow enveloped the whole forest and was layered on everything. Just beautiful. And we had the whole damn place to ourselves. I decided to take a chance and do a different part of a loop I typically do which takes me through a few different sections of trail. There is a 150′ snowmobile bridge which has recently had it’s decking taken off to be repaired in the spring. That was our destination to keep the ride reasonable. The bridge is flanked on one side by a massive beaver dam. This has a small spillway that you can leap across. I was hoping to be able to make that leap and cut the ride to reasonable. That also comes into play later on..

So the above turns into a giant downhill which does a series of LONG switchbacks down the side of a hill. This is dotted with massive hemlocks, rocks and more rock walls to cross.

This way... Into the Shred.

Cross 3 rock walls, a bridge and road and you’re back into the thick of it. The conditions actually turned much deeper here with a hard crust beneath the 1-2 inches of powder. So going was slow and arduous but still balls of fun! Well we (My pup Kaya and I) got to the bridge that is out and started out traverse of the beaver dam. Get to the spill way and with all that rain we have been getting the water is well over knee deep now AND the spill way has widened enough that a missed jump would mean waist deep water. It’s getting darker out (storm is brewing), I’m getting tired and now hunger is starting to take grip. Remember, we’re out in the cold working our ass off to pedal through thick snow but also working to keep warm. That means lots of calories a burning. The best part is I’m only 10 feet from the other side of the bridge’s end… Kaya would also have to swim across this section. So I decide it’s not worth the risk and we have to take the long way around. I think I stood there for a good 5 minutes. But that means more sweet riding ahead. So off we go.

5" of FAT

This next section involves some climbing. More calories burned. More epic scenery of NH woods. But hunger is really starting to set in. Blood sugar starts to drop… The scenery starts to get a little blurry and I’m feeling a wee bit woozy. But gotta keep on moving forward. This one keeps the spirits high when the going gets tough. She’s a good buddy:

This one...

I have to focus now and keep moving forward reminding myself that I’ve got a warm fire at home, I’ve got vittles waiting, a roof over my head and hey, I’m not being shot at either. Things could be worse than being hungry on a bike ride when things are getting cold and dark. We reach a road that we can ride down avoiding a kind of long stretch of climbing UP in snow covered trail which turns out to be a wonderful decision a few minute later. I taught Kaya a trick so if I tell her “walk with me” she will pull up beside me and run right beside me while I ride. So we’re flying in formation wing tip to wing tip down the road till we reach the next trail head cut. No cars to deal with either which is good in my woozy state. Somehow I’m holding off a bonk. More climbing… Now walking. The legs are out of juice. Kaya’s waiting for me at the tops of hills “Hey, what the heck’s the hold up Pop?” She keeps me smiling. The woods is definitely getting darker and fuzzier and hunger is really getting intense to the point of feeling nauseous. I try and imagine what I’m going to devour when I get home… “There’s a stick of pepperoni with my name on it. I’m going to destroy that thing. Oh and some strawberry greek yogurt. That’s going down too. Banana first. Then Peanut butter and toasties..” Keep moving forward, cross a bridge that is atop a rushing stream into more climbing. We finally crest the hill and complete the loop and head back over the field sticking to the low point to keep out of the wind. I look up and realize that yes, weather is coming in. Lesson learned. No matter how long or how short ALWAYS bring food in the winter. I damn near fucked up on this one. Good thing is though that if weather was coming in, there were plenty of spots along the way I could have stopped at a house and knocked on a door for help. But still, lesson learned. We get out of the trail, back to the car and pile in with the heat cranked up. Didn’t get cold which was a good thing – the layering and setup were good. Food… not so good. Give kaya lot of puppy treats. One in hand as she’s eating one and I pull rank: Down the hatch. Yes I was that hungry I’m eating my dogs treats. I give her a few more just to be fair.

So although the ride was super fun, and I’m beat down this morning but ready for more, I’m not going to forget to bring food ever again. Lesson learned and I know it. You burn more calories in the winter as you are working to ride but working to stay warm. Hungry bites me hard when it does. I’m not huge, but I’m not small either around 6’1″ 185lbs. I need fuel. We all need fuel. So take it from me: Never head out into the great white north or anywhere for that matter without the right setup #1, but also be prepared for anything and bring food / snacks to keep the spirits high, the legs moving and the eyes less fuzzy.

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Huntsman Ready for Paint

Just finished up a Huntsman this past week which is headed down to Circle A for some Jay Nutini paint action. What’s special about this one? Well, dedicated 1×11. ENVE CX Disc Taper fork painted to match. Chris King Sour Apple Headset, bottom bracket, and hubs with bands/details painted to match. Sram Force CX1 drivetrain. Just the essentials on this one. Oh, and room for 40mm tires. That’s a good finish. With the dedicated 1x setup, we also opted for internal cable routing of the rear brake via the top tube for a nice clean look. This one should be hot to trot. Here’s some pics to keep you warm at night from 44HQ:

Pieces Parts



Jenkin's Huntsman Tacked


Jenkins Huntsman

Let's do some of that Old Time TIG Welding...


Welding that Head Tube

Head Tube Welds



And finished ready to be packed up and off to Jay for paint!

Jenkin's Huntsman

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Snow. Finally.

In early September, I started a new fat bike prototype which had been scheduled into the list the previous season. After riding a full season on last years fat bike prototype, I had a few things I wanted to tweak. By the beginning of October, the bike was assembled and then the wait began. The wait for snow. A year in the planning. That takes patience of which I have a healthy amount. Well, I left for Thanksgiving a day early as all hell was going to break loose up here. Apparently it was the 3rd largest power outage in the state of New Hampshire’s history? We lost power for about 4 days. I returned to “lights out” from my trip down to PA to visit my family. However, when the sun rose, I woke up to this:


Nothing like waking up to a literal winter wonderland. That’s what I just love about New Hampshire: Winter happens. It’s not some “sort” of winter. It’s winter. It snows and it’s just magical (I can’t stand that word, but it really paints a visual picture very well – it is really magical). Snow was draped over all the Hemlocks and stacked high and deep. That meant lots of snow shoveling… So we dug out:

Getting Dug Out

And then it was time to GET OUT. Finally. Lucky No. 40, the one built in September and decked with all the best trimmings and slathered with all my new geometry tweaks was ready to hit the trail. Hit it we did (and a little blurry possibly from a good mix of excitement and shaky hands plugging along in fresh powder).

It was worth losing power for 4 days...

First couple pedal strokes I noted that this beast goes. Stays planted and holds her line. Previous versions all have become gradually “more” planted. Basically, my under or over steering needs have been diminished and the bike moves in a straight line more readily instead of wandering so much. On a fully groomed trail, one that is packed and prepped, this never has been a problem. All the bikes have handled just fine there. It’s when you get into conditions like the above (and below) where the trail is narrow, it’s been walked on or skied on OR hasn’t been prepped at all or very little to speak of that the bikes would start to either wander or take a bunch of effort to keep on track. The previous version was a huge improvement in this case. This version even more so. A slightly slacker head angle, longer chain stays (and wheelbase) as well as a lower bottom bracket height all came into play to keep things moving forward.

Oh yeah. That’s all I have to say about this next picture…

This Way...

Thick woods. Thick snow. I’m out riding my bike in both of those. Sram’s XX1 system is killer. That big dinner plate out back that Sram’s 11 speed offers is just amazing. I run a 28t ring up front and it keeps things moving just nicely. I have a lot of range just to keep moving forward and it shifts like smooth butter. I treated myself to a set of I9 / HED Big Deal Rims for my 40th birthday. I9’s engagement is second to none and it’s there when you need it. One thing with fat bikes in conditions like these from a dead stop is you kind of need to hop on the bike, balance for a split second and then stomp on the pedals to get forward momentum. That near instant engagement gets the wheels turning quickly and when the snows piled high and deep, this can make starting on an incline a lot easier. I found myself not having to walk a few paces up the trail from a dead stop as before as often. Although the jury isn’t fully in with their decision, I still have a full season of fat biking ahead of me, but the first ride out I was very happy with all the changes and thought that went into those changes. Build. Ride. Repeat. That’s something I thump on a lot here at 44HQ, but it makes the bikes better. No matter what you do, you gotta roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty, and actually work with the end product in your hands. That’s how you produce only the best product you can through constant testing and refinement. I’m stoked winter is here. Even more stoked to get out tomorrow after I finish up a few jobs around the house. Till then, get out there kids. Find fun and ride your bike.

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29″ Rohloff Build on Deck

So next up is a 29er equipped with a Rolloff 500/14 internally geared hub. This one is headed to paint too. NOT powder. I’ll just leave it at that regarding paint. Bike will be a mix of components including ENVE Mtn. Fork, Jones Loop Bars, Thomson bits here and there, Wheels will be laced by Mike Curiak of Lacemine29, and Race Face will handle the crank turning bits. There will even be some anodization involved too. Not just black. Good grief Charlie Brown! This one’s finished and down in Providence, RI to get the loving paint touch by Jay Nutini. He showed me the paint choices and I did not complain. We worked with the client on the color scheme and Jay’s got the colors all lined up with his personal touch added to the mix. Put your trust in your painter. I do. Getting things done at 44HQ:

Pieces Parts


Internal Routing

Usual Suspects

Back in the Saddle

Bottom Bracket Welds

Bottom bracket assembly finished, everything gets loaded into the jig post clean/prep and it’s that time we’ve all been waiting for (me especially): Some of that Old Time TIG Welding…

Let's Weld Some Bike!


Feel the Post Flow


Stereotypical wheel check. An important step for the subconscious.

Wheel Check

And those seat stays in place:


Rich's Rohloff 29er

Time to weld some bike frame

Here’s a pro tip. Or so called “pro tip” perhaps. So I used to cut my weld wire in half. It comes in 36″ lengths and that end can get to swinging and swaying. A distraction in other words. One day, I decided not to cut one in half and as I was welding, I suddenly found myself tucking the end of the filler under my arm. That stopped it from flailing about and gave me a bit more control (and less waste too). 44 Tuck brought to you by Patagonia. No not really – I just wear mine like a sweater and it never seems to come off me. Anyhoo, here’s the tuck:


Let's do some welding...

Mid weld process shot. Love this shot for some reason. Bringing it all together!

Connect the dots...

And some Weld XXX:


Head Tube Weldery

Head Tube Weldery

Big Tube Connected to the Other Big Tubes

And some of the finishing touches: Curved Seat Stay Bridges (kind of one of my favorite parts). Hand fitted because it keeps things interesting.

Seat Stay Bridge

And finished. More once this one comes back from paint. Till then, keep pedaling.

Time for Paint...


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Greg’s Huntsman : Finished and off to Powder

Another Huntsman on deck. There’s a bunch on the list… This one’s not going to be black! It’s actually going to be RAL2009 which is a very close match to “Hemi” Orange. Will decide on the decal color (possibly white to match the ENVE logo on the fork). But this one’s a frame, fork, headset and collar deal. ENVE CX Disk Fork. Thomson Collar. Cane Creek 110 headset. Should build up to a nice tight little build. Mostly will see time on some dirt and mixed road conditions. Room for 40’s but will most likely live with 35’s to start. Internal routing and ISO mount in the rear keeps the disc brake lines and routing nice and clean if the bike should need hefting when the going gets too tough. Here’s all the pieces parts.

Pieces Parts

You will note when I take pictures like this one, often there are a few parts missing. Most times the seat stays. Why is that? Well, I make them AFTER the frame has been tacked and is out of the jig. Personally, I find this allows me to get the bends just in the right spot. Sure I could go off a drawing, but it takes some of the spirit out of it for me. So that’s why you often don’t see the seat stays in pics like the above.


This one also got an internally routed rear brake cable. So that means getting things tight. No gaps kids. That’s very important to make this a sound structure. Below is the finished seat stays all prepped to be welded. Dropouts tacked to the seat stays to keep everything in phase:


And all held together in the BB-Subassebmly jig to be tacked (and tacked in the third pic):

Sub-Assemblies All Day Long

Back in the Saddle


And stitching the whole thing together:

And so it begins...

Top Tube Tack

Let's Get in Close...

Huntsman all Tacked

Last but not least, the stays are formed, mitered and tacked in place:

Let's tack some seat stays...

Huntsman all tacked

Now comes my favorite part, and of course that is the step that takes the least amount of time. So it goes. But this is what you wait for!

Let's weld some bike...

Welding that Head Tube


Sometimes, when it is cool out, I declare it’s a “Cowboy Day”. Maybe it’s the outlaw in me… but that’s what’s going on with the handkerchief in the weld shots. Keeps the chill of the neck and I’ve found I stay nice and comfortable when the temps outside are cool but not cool enough to turn on the heat in the shop. Little trick I picked up along the way. Plus you get to act like a cowboy. Nothing wrong with that partners.

And a little post brazing weld porn…

Bottom Bracket Junction

Head Tube Welds... and some flux.

ISO Ain't Dead Yo

Parting shot. Got the word JUST before I left for Thanksgiving that the powder for this bike had arrived, then we lost power and of course this bike is still here. Most likely for the best as it’s in safe hands and not kicking around at powder for too long. This will go over to powder first thing this week and should be done by weeks end.

Little bit of finishing left...

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Paul’s Huntsman : Back From Powder

So it’s been a while. Last I spoke of this bike it was just getting all tacked together. It’s been to powder and back already but I have been waiting on a large back order of ENVE CX Forks for the next couple builds and this one and subsequently the one after it I built are all waiting on those deliveries. Here’s how she looked just before heading off to powder:

Paul's Huntsman Ready to be Finished

ISO Tab welding needed to be finished up so before the above shot which shows all the braze on’s just finished being brazed, I was machining, fitting and welding the brace and ISO mount in place. I use Paragon Machine Works parts throughout. I’ll eventually finish up a long term project of 44 Bikes specific dropouts and it may or may not include some sort of system to cover all the bases with axle standards. But until that’s done, we’ll be using PMW’s Hi/Lo Brake Caliper Mount (Part No. BK2005). This is their 3/16″ ISO brake caliper mount. Originally, I just fit both ends to the stays and then had to weld one heck of a lot of area in between. Looking at this, I got the impression that was just overkill. All that weld and not a heck of a lot of function or necessity. So I have a small tool which I use to orient the BK2005 in my mill and machine away all that excess material. So now, I only truly weld the ends and it creates a nice structural form that becomes the ISO mount. It gets a curved reinforcement bridge. Here’s the tool in action:

ISO Mount Modification

And all the parts cleaned, prepped, tacked and welded in place:

TIG Tuesday!

Because of the curves of the seat stays, some times (depending on the size of the frame too) I will blend or rather “lead” in the very tip of the ISO mount. You can see how I’ve added a subtle radius to the face of the ISO mount so part of it is not hanging off the edge of the stay. I find this gives everything a nice visual flow.

And of course all nice and shiny. More on this one once I get the fork/s from ENVE and am able to build it up and take some studio shots. Till then, enjoy.



Paul's Huntsman off to powder

Paul's Huntsman off to powder