Builder’s Camp in Bozeman: Falconer Slacker 150mm Travel 29er Hardtail

Each year at NAHBS, a selection of builders at the show lament on how we should actually ride bikes together more, not just talk about them once a year at the show. I get it. Sitting in a convention center, under that horrible lighting, discussing how a bike rides is worlds apart from actually riding out on the trails. This year, Adam Sklar took the initiative to plan a weekend and then some of fun times in Bozeman and sent out an open invite to numerous builders. His idea was to expose people to the culture here, the town’s local builders, eats, drinks, and shops, in an event playfully dubbed the “Builder’s Camp.” Squid, Breadwinner, Retrotec, Falconer, Horse, Alliance, and Strong, along with a few other locals, all prepared for 5 days of non-stop riding and relaxing in this beautiful mountain town.

Falconer Slacker 150mm Travel 29er Hardtail

The work of Cameron Falconer is for the shredders. The people who put function before fashion, or thrashin’ before fashion. Either way, Cam’s work is thoughtful, exact and to the point. Like a succinct text message, a Falconer gets to the point. The beauty about Cam’s personal bikes is they represent a moment in time, or a perspective on how Cam believes a hardtail steel mountain bike should ride, or rather, could ride. Granted, a lot of this experimentation might be a bit much for the average rider to consume. Take for instance a 150mm travel 29er hardtail. It’d take me some convincing to believe that platform was the right bike for me. Hell, that’s a LOT of bike to be delivered in a hardtail, yet it doesn’t hold Cam back at all.

With an effective top tube of 660mm, a 65º head angle, a bb drop of 70mm, chainstay length of 440mm, a seat tube angle of 72.5º, geometry aficionados might nod their heads in approval. These numbers just make sense. For tubing, Cam uses Vari Wall, Columbus, and a Paragon head tube. To top it off, Cam powder coated it to match his 4Runner in a Canfield blue.

This bike is stout, but secure in its shred-pedigree and watching Cam shred it in Bozeman brought me joy. I’ll be seeing this bike in Downieville this weekend, where it’ll be right at home there as it was in Montana.
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Follow Falconer on Instagram and follow along with the #BuildersCamp hashtag.

  • Matt Meko

    The chainstay shot satisfies something deep inside me

  • Sam Scavo

    perfection.

  • nothingfuture

    Real talk: steel hardtails with short stays and long forks are the *jam*.
    This has always been true (and will always remain true).

  • AdamBike99

    Droolin’ not Foolin’…

  • boomforeal

    close

    the seat tube angle is too slack. the thrashed flight gives it away; this is an older roadie trying his hand at modern geometry but just not able to commit to all the newfangled, trendy numbers. i’ve seen a few hardtail designers wrestle with this over time: they just can’t imagine a steep seat tube helping their bikes climb better; and then they try it, and they’re like “ohhhhh…”

    gotta tip your hat to that ultra low bb though. (i can’t believe i’m saying this) it might be too low for steep descents or technical terrain, but i bet it tastes like french vanilla ice-cream when you’re waist-deep in long, bermed right-hander

    • see current chromag rootdown for reference. lit.

      • boomforeal

        yup, chromag is a great example. they started with a 71* sta, then went to a 73* sta, and have ended up at a 75* sta… and their bikes have never ridden better

        • geopedler

          Okay, now I gotta jump in… I own one of the said 73° sta Chromag Rootdown’s and I absolutely love it (other than the short, by today’s standards TT). Last summer I purchased one of the new Chromag Rootdown BAs with the 75° sta and a longer TT. For me, my style, and my needs, the 73° sta bike is far better. It climbs like a goat and descends like a hot knife through butter. What the 73° bike does NOT do that the 75° did, is constantly bang me in the back or but with the saddle when standing up etc. It is also important to note that steepening the sta while also slackening the hta has a negative effect on overall TT length (reach) and may or may not achieve a truly more stretched out cockpit (if that is your goal).

          One size does not fit all needs. There are a lot of us out there (maybe from road backgrounds) that appreciate the slacker rowdy front ends that need or prefer the relaxed sta to go with our longer femurs and or particular riding style.

          Disclosure: I am currently hunting for a 72-73° sta / 67ish° hta steel frame with a 650-660mm TT such that I can achieve what I love about my current Rootdown but with a longer cockpit and short 35-40mm stem.

          • boomforeal

            can i ask: where do you ride?

            also, do you run a dropper post? if so i can’t see how the saddle on your BA is constantly banging you in the back or but (sic)… unless you mean when you are standing and pedalling. which would be interesting, as a steeper STA is meant to obviate the need for (most of) that by allowing more power transfer (which is what you’re trying to get by standing) and traction (because your ass is in the saddle and so more of your weight is over the back wheel) from a seated pedalling position

            steepening the STA will increase the reach unless you decrease the TT length or extend the HT length. that’s doesn’t mean a more stretched out cockpit: it means a more stable ride. for a more stretched out cockpit, you’d need to extend the TT

            your suggestion that riders with road backgrounds appreciate a relaxed STA is something i referenced in my original post. coming from a mtb background, it’s something i suspect, but can’t actually experience. i prefer a pretty slack STA on my road bike… but a very steep STA on my mtb. i believe they are very different rides; that the slack STA is a hold over from road-centric design; and that a steep sta is optimal (aggressive) mtb design

          • geopedler

            Live and ride mostly in So Cal. but have ridden my Chromag all over the west including days in the parks at Mammoth, Snow Summit etc… I have super steep ups as well as long grinders, and fast techy downs all around me.

            Yes, indeed I do have a dropper (150mm) as a dropper is one of the keys to making this style of bike really perform. However, as it turns out, I am not in the practice of dropping my saddle prior to standing for a climb, but rather when descending. Yes, I understand the rationale in the steeper STA to promote and enhance seated climbing, but many of us have been standing up for years when needed and prefer it. Again, its simply different strokes for different folks. Trust me, I wanted the latest Chromag geo to work for me, but it simply didn’t.

            What Cam and other small builders (many featured here on the Radavist) are doing, that is: building “custom” bikes for individual customer’s needs with custom angles and options should be praised not criticized. At the same time, if YOU prefer to ride a bike with the angles more of the mainstream manufactures are producing, good on you, you’ve got more selection and will likely be just as happy on your bike as we are on ours.

          • boomforeal

            on your last statement, i agree to a point. you’re getting a LOT of great things out of a custom build. it seems to me what you are often not getting, though, is much r&d/perspective. over the past 10 years we’ve seen everyone in the mtb industry pretty much come to a consensus around progressive, modern geometry. pretty much every production bike has a slack-ish hta; a low-ish bb; a long-ish, dropped tt; short-ish cs’s; and a steep-ish sta. the holdouts seem to be the smaller, custom builders — though they’re all moving that way (see: the above example), for the most part they seem a few years behind. i get it: they’re often one man shops, and don’t have big r&d budgets; there’s a good reason they’re not on the bleeding edge. i think that anyone (me, you, whoever) who is going custom should be aware of this: that unless they themselves are pushing progression into their frame’s design, there’s a good chance what they’ll be getting is a few years out of date. i think the consumer-cult of personality that’s sprung up around custom/small builders — and again, there’s a lot of good reason for it — kind of ignores this fact

          • You need to climb down from your BC high horse and talk to some of these builders if you think R&D doesn’t go into each bike they produce. In fact, this bike is exactly that: R&D… Cam is always tinkering with numbers. Perhaps – once again, I can’t believe I have to KEEP saying this – you could use some R&D on how to converse with humans without looking like a HUGE ASS.

          • getting that balance between reach/STA/HTA is so crucial. other than the saddle in the back thing, how does the rootdown ba ride?

          • geopedler

            The BA was great, really no complaints other than the steep STA and the relationship that it had with the TT length/HA and my physiology. I rode the bike in a myriad of terrain for about a month before deciding I was better on the older geo (sold it to a friend who loves it). The Rootdowns (all versions) are exceedingly capable bikes that can handle just about anything they are thrown at.

            A really important consideration for that frame (Rootdown BA 2016 or newer) is that it needs a 160mm fork in order to achieve the angles as advertised. Anything shorter and everything gets steeper, and the BB, which is already pretty low, gets even lower (pedal strikes on everything).

            I want to be really clear that I am very happy with both versions of the Chromag Rootdown, it is just that one geo style worked considerably better for me and my style. Neither are wrong and both are fantastic bikes!

    • rick hunter

      Such a Roadie, old too, he’s almost 40 ! Come on man, internet geometry armchair quarterbacking is ridiculous. I’m glad there’s some real experts out there who know what everybody else needs in a custom frame. Maybe throw all your perfect numbers in a petri dish and grow a bike, or better yet 3D print it.

      • boomforeal

        is internet geometry armchair arguing any better? that’s just like, my opinion, man

        • Tony Clifton

          If by “armchair” you mean a TIG welder and frame jig, and by “internet geometry” you mean a guy who has designed and built hundreds of custom mountain bikes with his own hands over the past 25 years, for hundreds of people who actually ride them a lot, then yeah, it’s better.

          • Logan Groves

            Touché. I haven’t welded my own frame, so I damn sure am not going to critique a veteran builders personal geometry choices.

        • rick hunter

          I’m not arguing about geometry, I’m calling you out on your lame generalizations and labeling of someone I’ve known for 25 years. Cam is one of the most thoughtful and analytical people I know, he’s been racing MTB and CX at a pro level his whole life, he builds an incredible bicycle frame. Those parts of your opinion / comment couldn’t be anymore ignorant.

        • I think it’s the presentation (tact) that brings about critique.

    • Andy B

      Gotta remember that seat tube is bent and offset forward of the BB and not measured like the days of yore. The 72.5 number might (then again, might not) be misrepresenting the effective angle, which would be steeper.

      • boomforeal

        yeah, “effective seat tube angle” is a bummer, and more or less meaningless. generally it is measured to the top of the seat tube, and so is slacker than actual (only exception i know of is trek, who go the opposite way), but there’s no standard

      • earle.b

        72.5 actual or effective? Measured to the top of the saddle or measured to the horizontal line with the top of the headtube?

    • Cameron Falconer

      First off I would like to thank John Watson for the photos and the good times in Bozeman. I would also like to thank Adam Sklar for the planning and execution of a killer event. Boomforeal called me an “old roadie” based on my choice of saddle, this is an interesting thing as I am 38, have hairy legs and have competed in maybe ten road races in my life, most of them hillclimbs. I do love the Flite, it has worked for me since 1993. Calling people names and making assumptions on the internet is not high on the list of noble human endeavor in my opinion. The following isn’t meant as a defense of my geometry, it is purely informational and aimed at the few nerds out there who may be interested. The idea that someone, anyone can determine how a bike rides based solely on a few pictures and the seat angle and BB drop (these are the dimensions Mr. Boom has chosen to focus on) is interesting. I have worked in the bike industry since 1997 and one of the things that has kept me obsessed with these vehicles is how the little things and things I don’t fully grasp and may never grasp add up to make a bike more than the sum of its lengths and angles. The funny thing here is that I make custom bikes, I make what I like for myself, I make what my customers want for them, if Mr. Boom or anyone else wanted a 76 degree seat angle on a MTB I would gladly do it as long as they understood the trade offs involved. I live in Quincy, CA in the northern Sierra Nevada mountains, the riding here is a variety pack of good stuff. Super fast, flowy (Mt. Hough), Super fast, rocky (Downieville) and crazy rocky, technical climbing and descending (Lakes Basin). If I lived somewhere with more straight up, straight down riding I would be more inclined to try a steeper seat angle on my personal bike. I spend a lot of time climbing Jeep roads so I prefer to sit a bit further back and when I am grovelling my brains out trying to ride up rocks in the Basin I scoot forward. I have long femurs relative to inseam and this position works for me. My seating position isn’t static or stuck in the past, I have moved forward in the last couple years and I have found a sweet spot for my use, it may change again. Is the BB too low for technical terrain? I don’t know. It is low enough that I do hit pedals climbing but it sure works downhill, even in some truly bonkers stuff (Google Jamison Creek Trail). Mr. Boom is correct in saying I am a one man show with a limited R&D budget, the bike pictured is my R&D for the year, I make myself a bike a year and they are all different, some more successful than others.

      Ok, on to sarcasm and attempted humor…

      PRESS RELEASE
      After much in depth consultation with his geometry consultant Wade Beauchamp of Vulture Cycles Cameron Falconer is proud to announce Reach Around Geometry. Moving forward all Falconer Cycles will feature VultureXFalconer Reach Around Geometry. What is it? The Reach Around Number, or RAN is determined by measuring the distance between the center line of the saddle and the BB center then dividing it by the quotient of head tube length and conventional reach. We will be producing a measuring tool, The Reach Analysis Normalized Average Measurerer or R-ANAL so all riders regardless of bike choice have access to this critical measurement which immediately makes obsolete all other geometry systems. We look forward to improving the ride experience of all users, thank you.

    • Cam you started a comment war on the Radavist! Wow so proud of you. <3
      Please ramble on everyone!! This guy deserves it.

  • California Travis

    THE REAL DEAL. Love my Falconer hardtail, it’s taken me through so many miles in the Sierras over the last 2 years without a single hiccup or complaint. It’s a total Swiss Army knife and the bike I grab when I’m not sure which bike to grab. The seat tube angle on my bike is super steep because these frames are custom and that’s what I needed.

    • Ted Barbeau

      Travis, is your Falconer the one with the Mt. Tam head badge? If so, where on earth did you find that thing?!? I’ve been lusting after that, especially since I recently left the Bay Area.

      • California Travis

        Mine and Brad Handel’s Falconers have Tam headbadges. If you ride up to the top of Tam they have them for sale in the Ranger Station/Gift Shop. Great way to christen a new frame. My last Falconer had a Big Basin headtube badge.

        • Theodor Rzad

          Now I know where I’m riding this weekend!

  • Ted Barbeau

    I mentioned this in a previous post but I met Cam at Tamarancho a couple years back. Great dude; helped me dial the fit of my bike a bit right on the trail.

    I love that he’s testing out new geometry on his personal rig–I really think the longer & slacker trend is on point. That bad boy looks ripe for some chewy singletrack. (And as a fellow 4Runner’er, I dig the color!)

    • Theodor Rzad

      Cameron and I had a number conversations about fit and geometry while I was in his build cue. I had my own ideas going in just from years of riding different setups and general nerdiness but I always came away with new knowledge and perspective. Cameron goes deep with geo and fit. When getting fitted at his shop, he zeroed in a what he saw was working in my self-fit and still made suggestions that I pretty quickly felt improvement from. As a side note RE seat tube angle: Cameron’s tweak for me was to get my feet quite a bit farther forward on the pedals (~10mm), effectively steepening my SA…in short, he really knows how to position someone on the bike for their desired riding style. My Falconer fits/feels great on 30 minutes commutes, 30 mile Headland fireroad blasts and centuries alike. https://www.pedalroom.com/bike/falconer-650b-nor-cal-roadie-35923

  • Fergus Liam

    Cam’s probably the most under-sung heroes of the bike industry. Great to see him get some attention for his bikes.

    • Crmsnghst

      Think I saw you at San Rafael the other night. Im pretty sure I saw you double take on my falconer shirt. As someone who’s known and worked with Cam a bunch over the years I fully agree with your sentiment that he is the man and deserves all the praise that comes along with it.

      • Fergus Liam

        Oh nice! I’m always stoked to see people repping the RJ x Falconer shirts. Good combo of a couple of good dudes.

  • rjrabe

    One of the most nicest dudes out there. Even for a roadie.

  • I love this bike. The beauty in Cam’s bikes is the geometry and unrelenting utility. I wish I was brave enough for single bend seat stays. Dude can ride the hell out of a bike too.

  • Peter10000

    I’m totally into it; I like the idea of it being “a moment In time”.

  • Justin Scoltock

    Despite the “expert” opinion on the incorrect geometry I would be more than happy to shred this rig. Plus it looks damn good! It has very similar geo to my current/modern hardtail with a few tweaks that would be a blast to try out. I don’t think enough credit is given to small builders everywhere and the amount of R&D they do day in and day out without large budgets/staff/technology (and luckily without corporate committee).

  • Cameron Falconer

    I wrote a reply to this thread a few days ago but the computer robots
    flagged it as spam. It then disappeared into the ether and is as lost as
    Jimmy Hoffa.
    One more time.
    Mr Boom, I wonder, do you treat
    people you meet in person in the same fashion as people who’s work you
    see online? The internet troll-judging people based on saddle choice
    thing is not real flattering to your intelligence nor is it high on the
    list of noble human endeavor. Please note that this is a custom bike for
    me, the seat angle reflects what I want at this time, who knows, five
    years from now I may be on a 75 degree seat angle bike, although I doubt
    it as I have never fit well on bikes that steep. Roadie? I have hairy
    legs and out of some 250 plus bike races I have done in my life fewer
    than ten were road events. I like the Flite saddle, it has worked for me
    for 25 years. I make what I want for myself, I make what my customers
    want for them. There is no free lunch in geometry in my opinion and this
    bike is the best thing I could come up with at the moment. I make
    myself a bike a year, some more successful than others. Your hangup/axe
    to grind on seat angle is interesting, bikes are more than a sum of
    lengths and angles, I don’t expect to ever fully understand all the
    reasons why they do what they do. As to whether the BB height works in
    rocky terrain Google Jamison Creek Trail or look through my IG feed
    @coffeeandeggs for videos of a small dark haired woman slaying some
    bonkers granite steps, this is where I love to ride. All I can say is it
    works for my uses and I do my best to make bikes for my customers that
    work for them. Hiding behind a user name and a private profile makes you
    look like a troll to me, maybe you can engage in a more respectful
    fashion with the other members of this community in the future. There is
    an asymmetry here, my name is on this post, you choose to hide your
    identity and make public judgements based on nothing more than a saddle
    choice, again, do you treat people like this in real life? To be clear I
    have no problem with criticism or questions and I have been entertained
    by your assumptions of who I am, I just find these sorts of exchanges
    to be unproductive. if you ever want to engage in a reasonable exchange
    of ideas you can find me via my website or my IG profile. Thanks to all
    who have commented here and particularly to Rick Hunter for being a huge
    influence and having my back in this exchange