David’s Curtlo Expedition Rig

Coming up with names for all these bikes can be daunting at times. I try to ask myself a few questions, ranging from, “what was the owner’s motivation for commissioning the bike?” “is there already a nomenclature established?” and most importantly, “what are people in the comments going to say?” In a few cases, the names are the by-product of a joint “safety meeting” or a string of texts like with Benedict’s 2020 S-Works Fuse Ultra Baja Buggie. Over the past few months, there have been a lot of 27.5+ hardtails, moonlighting as bikepacking rigs on the site and simply labeling David’s Curtlo as another isn’t 100% honest.

You see, it isn’t just a 27.5+ hardtail. David contacted Curtlo while he was living in Seattle to build a bikepacking mountain bike. He wanted extra braze-ons, clearance for 3″ tires and a geometry that can accommodate an extra 30lbs of gear on his bike. It wasn’t until getting down to brass tactics that Curtlo engineered the frame to take a beating while loaded, and keep on ticking. Kinda like how you can be really drunk and fall, only to get up the next morning unscathed.

Curtlo added gussets, used resilient tubing and ensured the geometry would be perfect for David, who as you might have guessed, isn’t the tallest human being. There’s even a hidden internal dropper post sheath in the bottom bracket. Packing all this into a frame, while still having the ability to fit water bottles for normal shred sessions was important for David. Making the bike work for its intended usage and more was mandatory for Curtlo, who used this opportunity to design his first 27.5+ bike.

David’s componentry choices with Hadley Hubs and a NSB chainring were a breath of fresh air with all the King and Wolf Tooth I photograph and the bike’s color and stance showed that Curtlo makes rockin’ mountain bikes.

  • JP Coates

    Begging for Skinwalls

    • singlespeedscott


  • Patrick Murphy

    That headtube junction with fillet brazed gussets is gorgeous! Love the dichotomy of welds and FB areas.

    I remember Hadley hubs were major bike candy back in the early 2000s, like a more obscure slightly cheaper Chris King or something – cool to see some on a fresh build!

  • boomforeal

    i imagine i’m in the minority, but i love the rack and fender braze-on’s, keeping open the possibility that the frame could be kept in comission as a commuter or something down the road should it be replaced by some new hotness

    any insight into the reason behind the spacer + neg-rise stem combo?

    • PGH_small_adventures

      I agree. The more options, the better.

    • Nealipo

      Personally, I would flip the stem. But whatevs

      • rocketman

        flip the stem = ape hangers

    • Doug Curtiss

      Hi guys. As the builder, I figured I’d chime in here. The bar position and head tube length dictated what happened with the stem angle. The design was specific do David’s riding position. Also, there needed to be enough head tube length to accommodate the down and top tube intersection and to ensure enough straight portion of steerer tube to work with the headset, etc… It was a fun build, but then again….they all are. Cheers, Doug

      • boomforeal

        oh wow. so the bars actually end up lower than if you slammed a straight stem? cool

      • Chris Kyle

        Doug, what’s the stack and reach on this? Just curious…it looks my size.

        • Doug Curtiss

          Hey Chris, The Stack is 22.86” (58.1cm) and the Reach is 15.25” (38.74cm).

  • PGH_small_adventures

    I’ve always wanted to try a bike with this type of geometry, where you are sitting more in the frame than over it.

  • Nealipo

    #19 is a great photo

  • Talabardio

    So great to see Doug Curtiss get some publicity. His fine work is also bizarrely inexpensive.

    • David Kessler

      I’ll second that! If I had to go down to N = 1, my Curtlo CX is the one I’d hang on to.

  • I’m not getting tired of bikes like this. So versatile and rad. Is this one boosty boost or 142?

  • Vegilasagna

    Nice looking bike, but that head tube length to fork length ratio, combined with what is essentially two half tubes joined by a fillet with some voids in it makes me a little concerned about the likelihood of the turny end staying attached to the pedally part of the frame if Dave gets a little too aggro.

  • David Lazerwitz

    Awesome photos and write-up! It’s a super fun ride and Doug is great to work with.

  • rocketman

    super nice rig.. Doug always does a great job for a good price

  • Reminds me of a Surly Instigator!

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