Watch Out for the Hunter Cycles Bushmaster!

Holy shit. Where do I even begin here? First off, we just saw where Rick Hunter builds his frames in Bonny Doon, just outside of Santa Cruz so we have context. Second off, the name of this bike is one of the deadliest vipers on Earth, the Bushmaster. These snakes are capable of multiple strikes in milliseconds and will deliver a fatal amount of venom without blinking an eye *snakes don’t have eyelids.*

Multiple strikes, multiple gears. No, wait. This is a singlespeed, right? Look again.

Hunter Cycles Bushmaster Tourer

The Bushmaster features a few clever tricks to manually-shift gears. The crankset has a double and each of the wheels are laced to 142mm thru-axle disc hubs. Each hub has a White Industries Dos Eno freewheel. That’s 2×4 potentially. Through using his custom dropouts, there’s even an option for a rear derailleur.

So what is going on here? At the time of this bike’s conception, at least in the conceptual phase, Rick was enthralled with the 26+ platform. He wanted to make a bike that was the cycling world’s equivilent to the Unimog. Nothing made for speed, just overlanding. A machine that forces you to take your time and plan not only your route, but your gearing choice while on tour. Hit a steep pitch? Flip the wheel around.

Hunter Cycles Bushmaster Tourer

Bikepacking bags can increase the versatility on just about any bike and luckily, because Rick is six foot goddamn, he has a lot of cargo capacity in a Porcelain Rocket frame bag.

Ok, so the elephant in the room: chain tension. How does the Bushmaster deal with multiple gears and chain tension?

Hunter Cycles Bushmaster Tourer

Feast your eyes on this contraption. A wingnut and a slider, both designed and machined in-house at Hunter Cycles, pairs with a coupler at the seat stay cluster, allowing for 1º of float in the rear triangle. This allows the user to twist the wingnut to get the correct chain tension and also makes the frame easy to travel with since it can break apart.

Hunter Cycles Bushmaster Tourer

Kind of insane, right? It reminds me of something you’d see on a path racer from the 1950’s.

Look. This bike isn’t going to win the TDR, it’s not meant for aero extensions, or RAAM but it’ll tackle the steep fire roads surrounding Santa Cruz and beyond, all while forcing you to take your time, bathe in the forest and spin it to win it.

Hunter Cycles Bushmaster Tourer

The Hunter Cycles Bushmaster is the most unique bicycle I’ve photographed this year and one that truly embodies that weird niche within a niche of the frame building world I like to call utilitarian art.

These frames (and the cow hide frame bags) were part of a small production run, which opened up two years ago. All frames have been claimed, but if you’d like Rick to make you one, holler at Hunter Cycles.

  • Noel Smith


  • Txroadie

    Very cool! What is the piece below the down tube? Some sort of carrier I assume?

    • Tim Guarente

      It’s the Salsa Anything Cage HD.

      • xeren

        what would you strap to it in that location? I’ve seen the SACHD’s strapped to the other side of the downtube and on forks, but not there!

        • Scott Felter

          A small volume drybag, a larger Nalgene bottle, a growler, a missile launcher…

    • Logan N. Everly

      Looks like Roadmaster’s squirrel catcher.

  • Alex Wichman

    Holy moly this is haute shite! The riser bars are so fitting, and everything else is just wow. And damn, I used to have one of those Dos Eno freewheels on my SS Tricross…never should have sold that bike. Sigh…

  • Tony Clifton

    The dropouts aren’t Syntace – Rick makes those himself. The derailleur hanger bolts on to the two threaded tabs.

  • Ryan

    Other than saying, “I’m speechless,” I’m speechless. Wow.

  • Wow that chain tensioning/break-away mechanism is out of this world. He should patent it…

    • Probably too close to the Ibis Tranny “Slot Machine” mechanism to claim. Do like to naked mechanics of this one better though – looks rad!

      • Interesting, I wasn’t in the loop on that one, a very similar concept indeed. Also, upon further investigation, one of the best quotes I’ve ever read.

        “Riding a singlespeed hardtail is so much more fun than a geared HT. It’s like getting spanked by a dominatrix instead of your mom.” – Tom Morgan, Ibis President

  • Nick Rutter

    Ahhh, I’d been hoping this would turn up here soon! I know its a sledgehammer-to-crack-a-walnut, in terms of why anyone would go down that route to build a bike like that when you could “just buy an old 90’s mtb”, but I love it! Really shows this is a labour of love.
    Probably in the top ten 2015?

  • ball sanchez

    so simple yet so fucking complicated, very cool bike.

  • boomforeal


  • Bike of the year. So creatively engineered, so elegantly simple.

    • barry mcwilliams

      Nah, bike-of-the-year will probably be a custom Belgian step-through wedding bike :)

  • Brett Cronje


  • Masterchief

    “Hit a steep pitch? Flip the wheel around.” or how about “Hit a steep pitch? Make your deraileur change gears in about half a second.”. This is some skilled engineering, and the bike looks fantastic and fun to ride too, but i can’t help thinking it is overcomplicating things alot. It’s like this bikes gearing is a solution to a problem that has been solved and improved for many years.

    • Chris Gonzo

      It sounds to me like your bike has never eaten your derailleur while way out in the middle of nowhere. I’d take a 4 speed any day over a limping improvised singlespeed, pending your chain isn’t destroyed in the process.

      • Masterchief

        I respect the choice of riding single speed MTB with all the pros and cons it offers, what I meant was that the featured bikes solution to the problem of needing different gear rations when rinding MTB, could have been solved a lot easier with a deraileur. So I guess it all comes down to either you want the benefit of riding single speed, but have to do a large scale operation to change gear, or you live with the risc of fucking up your deraileur and have smooth and easy gear changes (and probably bigger ratios as well). You just cant have your cake and eat it too, cheers.

      • Dan

        being worried about your derailleur breaking doesn’t really seem like a good reason to take your wheel off each time you want to change gear though – let’s be honest.

  • I really wish 26+ was a thing, instead of 27.5+. Can we make that happen, please? 27.5+ is too big for us short people, too big for longer-travel bikes, and 26+ would also help alleviate the weight problems at least somewhat.

    • Tim Donahoe

      uhhhh…it does exist. Surly has been making 3″ 26″ tires and the rims for them for a while now.

      • It exists, but the options are extremely limited, and it looks like all of the new plus bikes from major manufacturers are 27.5+ and 29+. Just saying that I wish the Bicycle Industry Gods would have blessed 26+ instead of 27.5+.

        • ChrisDefiance

          LOL. By the time I post comment and hit refresh I see same comment has already been made.

        • Natalie Pitts

          I’m with you. I’m 5’2″ and excited about the plus-size trend, but 29/27.5+ is just bigger than I want to ride. As for 26+, there are some tires out there but (to my knowledge) Surly’s one of the only manufacturers making stock 26+ bikes. Reasons why I bought an Instigator, and I love it.

      • ChrisDefiance

        It exists but its not “a thing”. Surly has been making 2 tires for 26+ for years now but everyone else is really only supporting 27+ and 29+ (aside from super heavy 26×2.5 1200g+ downhill tires). My bet is the savior of 26″ and 26+ is going to be Boost 148/110. I can hear the marketing lines already… “Naturally the lightest of all MTB wheel systems, with more room for more suspension travel. You can even throw a traditional 27.5 wheelset on the same frame for a lighter weight, more sessionable shred sled. This is not your dad’s 26 (Really, you need a whole new bike)”

  • Somebody

    “Utilitarian Art”? Ha. Nice new term. But it used to be called “design”.

  • Matt

    The slight rake to the fork gets me. Reallly fucking nice.

  • I love it, obviously, but it looks like the rear triangle is fully dependent on that little wingnut to not slam forwards. Am I wrong? Or, better question, how am I wrong (because I’m sure I am).

  • mrbiggs

    Like. And I love the eccentricity of the design, er, utilitarian art. But like others, I can’t wrap my head around the wheel-change. I don’t mind a slow ride, but you better have some patient friends with this one. “Hold on guys, we’re at a hill. Let me switch my wheels around and deal with this slider thing and the wing nut. It’ll just be a few minutes. Can you hold my saddle?”

  • rick hunter

    Howdy Folks
    Nice to see people like the bike.. To help clear up a few questions and concerns…
    The bike can be set up with front and rear derailleurs as well and a full range of chainrings ( triple crank ). The singlepseed or dingle speed set-up is a personal choice and I’m sure at some point I’ll put a der on the bike. Versatility was a major focus on this bike. It can be used as a fun daily trail rider, or loaded up with racks and bags for a month long expedition tour. 650b x 2.4″ wheels can also be used instead of the 26+ wheels.. This project is so old that 27.5+ wasn’t even around yet when I started these bikes. I do not regret using 26+ though, the 26 x 3″ tire’s actual diameter is just shy of 28″ so it’s still a big wheel. In my opinion it’s a great wheel size and I truly enjoy the ride of it.. One thing you can’t argue about with 26+ is that it will always be lighter and stronger than B+ or 29+. Lack of tire choice is kinda of a bummer, but news includes VEE Rub making a tire and with a little momentum I’m sure other tire companies could easily come on board. As a builder I see all the different tire sizes as viable in one application or another.. This bike could easily be 27.5+ or 29+ or even 24+.. For 75% of the people in 75% of the situations I think 26+ is awesome and just the right amount of wheel..
    The chain tugger is the 2nd incarnation of a design I was working on in 2007. The Ibis Tranny is a very similar idea, i’m not sure what came first. On my chain tugger the wingnut is actually the head of a long bolt that acts as a turnbuckle screw, where you can dial the wheel back and forth for the chain tension, the whole assemble is clamped tight with the single 12mm bolt ( 8mm allen wrench ). The 12mm bolt would have to come loose and the threads of the turnbuckle assemble would have to blow out for any slipping to occur in the slot. It’s pretty bomber and the best way I’ve come up with for dealing with adjusting chain tension with disc brakes and thru axles. I wanted to make something that was easy and quickly adjustable with a fairly wide range of adjustment. Far less hardware than sliders/swingers and the mass is lowered and centralized in a good spot..

    Hope this helps..

    thanks John for the killer spread !

    Rick Hunter

    • Billy Arlew

      @rick hunter I have so much respect for your work, and this explanation just takes it above and beyond. Your reasoning for 26+ resonates strongly with me, and as far as I can tell, this is one of the only “production” frames designed for these tires. I’ve ridden the 29+ knard a fair amount and despite the positives of increased traction, rolling efficiency, and float, I just couldn’t get over the fact that it wasn’t shreddy. Super hard to throw a tabletop in the air lol! If the industry unanimously decided 27.5″ is the ideal circumference, then why are they making 27.5+ which comes out to 29″?! Seriously!!
      Also I’m glad you clarified about the threaded wingnut and pinch bolt – initially I wondered about slippage and OF COURSE you thought about that and addressed it. I imagine you’re able to apply a fair amount of leverage considering you have the femurs of a pro basketball player. Mad props on all aspects of this machine ++++++++1

  • Unassuming, with all the design in the details. Choice.

  • Robert Rutter

    Wow, nice work. I love it!

  • Pat

    Ok so you can adjust the effective chain stay length with the mechanism under the BB but is there a pivot somewhere I don’t see? Or does the rear triangle just flex when the wing nut is adjusted?

  • kermitonwheels

    That pretty chunky – rad.

  • Lewy

    Bike of the year for sure. What a beast.

  • loving this build so much! Its tipped me over the edge in terms of kitting my Troll out with 26+ :-) what bars are these and whats the rise on em? Looks like a lot of fun

    • Sebastian Burnell

      Yeah, what bars are these?