Keith's Marauder // Back in Black

Up above is Keith’s Marauder in that “team issue” satin black powder coat, aka Black Magic or as I like to say “Back in Black. This one sports Paragon Machine Works’ hooded sliders so he has the option to run this rig as a 1×11 or as a single speed. If in time he’d like to try a dropper, there’s routing for that too thanks to Paragon’s triple stop braze on. As you’ve read before, the Marauder is my take on a classic New England hard tail mountain bike. Low slung, short rear with room for 2.4″ tires, aggressive geometry and a few modern touches to get you down and in the bike. When I say short, this one has adjustability of 16″ to 16.8” chain stay length. Yes. That short. But I’ve outlined the Marauder in other posts, let’s talk more about the spec for this bike as I’ve had some readers ask about what my personal bikes sport in terms of components. And between you and me, I don’t really offer anything that I wouldn’t personally ride myself. So let’s roll our sleeves up on this one and start with the cockpit:

Shimano XT M8000 // Controls

Shimano XT M8000 with their i-Spec II mounting system. This really creates a clean look by simplifying the handlebar setup. Notice I typically set my own levers in board a bit more, about .75-1″ of space between the grip and the collar. I gauge this by use the thumb paddle of the shifter. It sits just inline with the inner edge of the grip. Shimano really hit it out of the part with XT M8000. I’m really impressed. I’d say it’s as good as if not better than XTR M9000. You heard it hear first. The brakes are a masterpiece. Clean, simple, easy to maintain and powerful with loads of modulation. These kind of set the bar for hydraulic brakes IMO. Shifts are clean, easy to set up and this set up will last Keith a LONG time. He’s coming off a 9spd 26″ beater… And he’s picking it up tonight. Shredville is just around the corner.

ODI // Made in USA

I’ve been running ODI’s Yeti “Speed” Grips since I want to say 1996 or 1997? Every bike I’ve own since then to now has these grips. And if the client doesn’t say otherwise? They get these too. Soft, supple with just the right amount of tackiness and softness. No throttle grip thanks to the Lock-on technology and the grip is pretty aggressive so you’re not losing control. AND CHECK THAT OUT: Made in the USA. Bonus points there kids.


Stem? Thomson Elite Mountain. NO COMPARISON. Dot period. Easy of use and set up, made in the USA and Thomson makes a lot of other great parts. This is the stem to own and it comes in a variety of lengths. This one’s a 90mm / 0° rise. That’s what I typically build around. Just the right balance of length when coupled with the geometry. If the bike is on a budget, handlebars are one of those spots we look at to curb some cost. It is another spot to invest in IMO. But a great set up is offered by Salsa and their Rustler bar comes in at a cool 750mm length with a nice pleasing back sweep & rise.

Shimano XT M8000 // Drivetrain

This is actually the first bike to sport a pair of Shimano XRT M8000 cranks. I typically spec Race Face Cinch Turbine’s, but here was another spot we decided to cut some costs on his build kit. These offer plenty of spacing between chainring and chain stay. Wolf tooth’s Dropstop 30t chainring keeps things in place.

Cassette we opted for an 11-42t block. In combo with the 30t chainring, he’s got just the right balance of spin and speed. 30x42t: To my legs, feels like a true granny out on the trail. Check it out. Pretty sweet stuff!

Shimano XT M8000 // Drivetrain

Chain stay length is currently set at about 16.5″. He’s got good clearance all the way around and can change things up if he wishes. I also included the SS insert… should the itch for SS start scratching!

Ardent 2.4

Between him and the ground are a pair of Maxxis 2.4 Ardent up front and their 2.35 Ikon out back. A really great combination with good tread wear as well as sidewall traction. Wheels are a pair of Stan’s Flow EX. A nice balance of meat without being too meaty. We’re taking baby steps here, so we decided not to go too big with the rims. This is a great set of wheels for the cost. 12×142 TA rear with 15mm TA up front. Power transfer and crushing lines with confidence. The Ikon’s roll fast while the Ardent’s hold the terrain with a death grip.

Made in NH… It’s all in the details of course:

Made in NH

That classic side shot. Thomson Elite set back with a WTB Silverado. Thomson sets the bar again for seat posts and the WTB Silverado is a great saddle. Headset wise? Man, you CANNOT go wrong with Cane Creek’s 40 series. This is a great headset for the price and I’ve had one last me season after season after punishing season. I highly recommend Cane Creek when it comes to headsets. The seat post collar was going to be a Salsa Lip Lock but they were out of stock for quite some time from my suppliers, so I supplemented this with a Hope Tech collar. Really nice fit and finish with a slightly large bolt to add a bit more “bite” to keep that saddle height right. The fork I actually had on hand and it’s an older 100mm Fox 32 Fit Float with their stealth black out sticker kit. Occasionally I will have parts on hand that I can offer to clients which are slightly used. Keith took advantage of this and I think he’ll be quite happy with this fork. If you’re looking for a fork, I’d highly recommend Fox’s 34 FIT4 Float. Yes, it’s an investment, but a fork is a good place to invest those hard earned dollars. If a 29er, 120mm is kind of just the right amount of travel. And the 34 chassis may have a slight weight penalty but that increased width over the 32 makes a huge difference in the control department. Pedals? Shimano XT! These will just not quit. SPD’s for the win and Shimano knows pedals. I highly recommend these pedals. If you want to splurge a bit, the XTR’s actually have a slightly different coating on the engagement mechanisms and that makes clicking in and out a bit easier I’ve noted. But the XT’s are workhorses. You’ll have them longer than you remember…

Keith's Marauder // Back in Black

And a parting shot. Till next time, hope everyone’s out there shredding daily…

Keith's Marauder // Back in Black