Raymond’s Australia-Bound Moustache Cycles Bike Packing Rig

Raymond wanted a bike. One that wasn’t available from any of the touring brands. He wanted a 29+ tourer with rack mounts and provisions for extra water carrying capacity. Sure, there were the Salsa and Surly offerings but they weren’t quite what he wanted. That prompted Raymond to contact Rich at Moustache Cycles, his local builder in Flagstaff, Arizona to build his dream tourer.

Moustache Cycles is located at the base of Mt. Elden in Flagstaff and is capable of designing and fabricating some truly unique bicycles. What Rich built Raymond is a very interesting rig. Complete with a custom bullmoose bar, a truss-supported rack and a plate chainstay yoke. For bags, he contacted local maker Rogue Panda. Raymond and this bike are heading to Australia today to tour with the boys from Crust Bikes and as you can tell, he’s stoked!

You boys be safe down there. Watch out for the drop bears and hoop snakes.

  • Wicked! I thought that was a truss fork at first. Neat way to attach a front rack, it looks like it provides a little suspension for the panniers.

    Reminds me of my bike a little!

    • barbara ann

      but what about the panniers on single track!??!

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  • Brian Richard Walbergh

    That fork/rack, is nuts, kinda hard not to love this bike, 9 speeds and all.

  • boomforeal

    what a rad bike!

    john, as a lapsed architect: does the truss configuration provide any practical benefits as implemented here?

    • Keith Lee

      Speaking as an structural engineer – I’d say there’s not much of a strength benefit, more a show of craftsmanship and aesthetic originality. For most racks that are triangulated down to the dropout (as apposed to say, a rando front rack or a surly 24-pack rack), the major strength support and stiffness comes from the bottom two struts (in a V shape). Note that the load is centered between the Vs, they act as slight inclined pillars holding up all the weight. The intent for the third attachment point on all racks (whether it be a fork crown tang/bolt, or a headset spacer truss system you see here) is to secure the load against rotation — no matter how strong your V truss is, without a third attachment point, bumpy roads will swing the rack (and your load) forward due to rotation at the bolting attachment at the dropout.

      It’s very possible (and maybe the intent) that having the third attachment as a headset spacer instead of fork crown mount allows for more flex in the rack, meaning it can support either a larger load or bigger bumps. IE many fork crown tangs end up snapping because the third point attachment is in a location that’s too stiff – causing a big bump to exceed the capacity of the material. Having the attachment at the spacer gives the steel more potential to flex more and absorb bumps before breaking – also the same reason we like our steel bikes.

      • boomforeal

        interesting – thanks!

        if the role of the third attachment point is to keep the rack from rotating forward under load, does it make sense that its its not perfectly flush (and how could it be), the clamp on the steer tube might be pushing forward and down on the headset bearing cap, causing the gap seen between it and the top cup in pic #10?

        • Keith Lee

          Rotating forward is the most catastrophic case, but the third point is essentially to stop -any- rotation, forward or back. On a bumpy road, momentum/vibrations might be swinging the rack forward and back over and over again.

          Now that you mention it, it’s possible there would be some durability issues at the headset interface. The steer tube clamp, when providing that rotational support, would almost always be acting perpendicular to the axis of the steerer, so there wouldn’t be much of a ‘downwards’ force on the bearing cap. The issue I see is kind of multi-dimensional:

          1. If the rack wasn’t designed to sit perfectly flush on the bearing cap after it’s been attached at the fork end, any attempt to preload the headset stack would result in a stress and opposing force from the rack itself against the preload bolt. If there’s a bit of a gap between the rack collar and the bearing cap, you’d essentially have to tighten the preload bolt enough to flex the rack collar down enough to contact the bearing cap, THEN tighten it some more to get the desired preload. You would effectively have a spring (in the form of a flexed rack) acting against your headset preload at all times. Depending on how stiff the rack is, how big the gap between the rack collar and bearing cap, and how bumpy the roads are, it’s possible you’d be tightening your top bolt every few km’s.

          2. Even if flexing the rack to touch the bearing cap works out OK, there’d be an uneven distribution of force along the bearing cap itself. Since you’d be flexing the rack towards the bike as you bring the collar down, there would be more force towards the back of the bearing cap then at the front.

          All of these are just speculations, of course. I am sure a competent and more experienced builder than I would have thought things through and made sure everything worked find. Even if those issues DID exist, I couldn’t tell you if they’d be noticeable annoyances in real life.

          • black cat bicycles

            there could also be a concentricity issue with the upper and lower headtube bores. the paragon headtubes (which this looks like it is) are undersized, and require a descent amount of material to be removed once welded. if there is a reasonable amount of distortion (it’s brazed, so there is), it can be tricky to get right when you are using a headtube reamer that cues off the other (potentially even more distorted) side of the headtube, as they almost all do with a cone on the opposing side of the reamer, and even more difficult to measure accurately without some really expensive tools.

            with the rack on, these are different ways to get to the same set of symptoms: headset bearing cap not sitting flush, headset coming loose, and prematurely roached bearings. if the bearing cap is a bit crooked when the rack is off the spacer stack, it’s probably the headtube. the floating race within the bearing cap might be able to absorb the misalignment, so it could all be a bunch of speculation and conjecture that is meaningless for it’s everyday use.

            sweet bike and sounds like a sweet adventure. that front rack is boss.

  • Jonathan McCurdy

    Flagstaff represent! Those panniers are looking fresh, I might have to get a pair when Nick restocks them.

  • Harry Major

    This bike makes me so happy. I talked to Moustache about exactly that kind of truss-fork/rack thing about a year back. Way out of my budget at the time, but all kinds of awesome. So smart and beautiful. This might be my favorite bikes in ages. So so awesome. Congrats Raymond, I am completely pumped for you! Safe travels!

  • Benjamin Peacock

    Raymond’s shirt is awesome!

  • Alex Hillis

    Jones Plus would be my choice for a 29+ dirt tourer. Couldn’t do a front rack, but could probably do a rear rack if you had a mount on the seatpost clamp. Bikepacker.com also gave it a pretty glowing review last year. http://www.bikepacking.com/bikes/jones-plus-review/

    Full disclosure, I absolutely love my Jones 29er and will shill their products at every chance :)

  • Johnny Vanderwell

    This bike is rad! Friction shifters are perfect for rando! Plus is the future, here now. I have 29+, but i think 27.5+ might be shreddier. Get those tires rolling, and they motor! I had a 120mm fork, and swapped it out for a rigid, I hardly notice, and im thinking of getting rid of the bluto.

    • colavitos_ghost

      Don’t take this personally, but it’s kind of insane how meaningless the word “rando” has become in the parlance of today’s cycling culture.

      • Justin Hughes


      • Johnny Vanderwell

        I find it insane that you thought that comment was worth typing.

        • colavitos_ghost

          Sorry but you were the one who typed a bad comment :( I do apologize for my lack of restraint.

      • Who wants to type randonneuring every time? ;-)

      • joshhh

        I think the point @colavitos_ghost:disqus is getting at here is that “rando,” and thereby “randonneuring” refers to a specific type of cycling event, but the term is used in a very, very broad way so often these days, including here, that makes only slightly more relevant than calling this a “crit” bike. This bike is more “porteur” than randonneur, if we want to use some cool French terms :D

        Maybe just calling it a super amazing “dirt touring” bike is more approriate? It’s just a bit odd to militantly use incorrect terms in a geeky forum such as this, where these terms actually have real definitions. This is, by definition, not a “rando” bike.

        Unless, of course, this bike is being used for PBP or some other timed 1200k event that I’m not aware of :P

        • Johnny Vanderwell

          Let me reword that post, to be PC, highly accurate, and void of all stoke.

          What a neat bike. I like the choice of friction shifters, their dependability will be great for all types of bicycle adventures, both on and off road. I have a bike that shares some similarities with this bike. I really like my bike, it has 29×3.0 tires. I am curious if 27.5×2.8 tires would be even more fun to ride off road. In my opinion the bike is very efficient on the trail, and quite fun. I had a suspension fork, I recently changed for a fork without suspension. The off road ride quality is not severely hindered by the lack of a suspension fork, I am considering selling said fork.

          But seriously, if you want to buy a 120 mm bluto fork, lemme know.

          • joshhh

            I don’t know why you feel like you need to bring in the low-blow “PC” comment, but whatever.

            You used a term that is just logically inconsistent with what you were talking about, and someone politely pointed out how commonly others do the same thing, and how it’s sort of odd. That’s it!

            Can I put the Bluto on a crit bike? How about a BMX? Terms don’t seem to matter, so maybe?!

            If I called this bike a “fat bike,” someone here would almost certainly tell me that its tires are less than 3.8″ so it isn’t truly a fat bike, and I would actually agree with them…but “rando” as a term is somehow a complete free-for-all.

      • boomforeal

        so it’s like the roadie version of enduro?

        • colavitos_ghost

          Totes. Ha!

  • That Fork/Rack, wow.

  • Draw Imagine

    Love it! The relax geo, 8 speed, curved rear triangle, truss style rack, moose bars, brazed. Mmmmm….

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  • John Downing

    Hickey represent!

  • Justin Hughes

    As awesome as it looks, I’m skeptical of the long term reliability of the rack/headset interface. The rack collar is not flush with the headset top in the photo and this is not going to improve with touring use.

    • It’s just as flush as a stem would be and these kinds of rack / fork designs have long existed in the form of truss forks.

      • boomforeal

        can you point out any examples john? a google image search of “truss fork rack” only comes up with designs by this builder

        • What I’m saying is this truss rack is inspired by truss forks.

          • boomforeal

            that might be what you are saying, but its not what you said

          • happycatbasket

            “… have long existed in the form of truss forks.” That is indeed what he said.

          • boomforeal

            now that he’s edited his comment, that’s what he’s saying

            but john’s original, pre-edit comment, which i responded to, claimed that this kind of rack/fork design was well established and had been around for a while – which i don’t think is accurate

          • happycatbasket

            welp then, please disregard that snark. (:

          • boomforeal
    • boomforeal

      interesting. it’s hard to tell exactly how the rack collar works because the top tube bag’s strap is in the way. a close look at pic #10 shows that there’s a decent gap between the headset’s upper race/bearing cap and the upper cup on the back end. truss forks like jeff jones’ have collars above and bellow the headset and pinch bolts, special headsets, and detailed installation instructions; if this one’s collar is simply that, could be that weight on the rack would torque it forward, as the image suggests it has, loading the front of the bearing cap and causing problems


      • Raymond Walker

        jeesh… you dang internet bike detectives! ;-)
        Yeah photos were taken when the bike was built up for a day before flying out to AUS. I had just put the front rack back on & the headset upper wasn’t on straight resulting in the gap which was already corrected for when reassembled. No pinching, erryting on straight, etc.

  • Nate-o

    As previously noted: HICKEY!!!

  • Peter Chesworth

    Proper bike. Used. The truss fork acts as a decalleur. Happy travels up here in Oz. Will be nice to have some Crusts here too.

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  • ap

    What’s that rear derailleur ? Kinda looks like a de-ano’d XTR 952 ?

    • Raymond Walker


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  • kamaz

    love it! great design and ideas! parts mix-match etc. just brilliant and inspiring! thanks

  • Richard May

    …9 months later…I wanted to comment here as the maker when this was posted, but my technology would have none of it.

    I had a chance to revisit this bike recently and provide it with some upgrades, and to figure out what was causing that headset interface issue. Anyway I did a little write up on the rebuild if anyone’s interested. You’ll find it here:


    Thanks for the kind words and keen eyes!

  • Troy Marino

    Moustache Cycles now has a website: http://moustachecycles.com