Super Stoke 2019: Spencer’s Black Mountain Cycles MCD

There were a lot of practical and well thought out bikes at this year’s Super Stoke Weekend and if time had allowed – short days and long ride agendas always make it hard – I would have shot them all. My methodology was to try to capture some of the themes present in the stable of steeds. With Gideon’s bike, I was able to shoot a 333 Fab. One of four present at the ride. With Spencer’s bike, it was about a similar approach to frame design but from an overseas production perspective. Black Mountain Cycles is a shop in Point Reyes Station, California. Mike Valey who owns the shop designs bikes for the brand after he spent years designing bikes for other companies in the industry. He and Sean from Soulcraft worked on this frame, dubbed the MCD, or Monster Cross Disc, with specially-designed dropouts for the thru-axles. While this bike is a departure from the traditional monster cross ideologies (700x45mm ish wheels with wide dirt drops,) it gets the point across and thrives off the ambiguity of mainstream monster cross definitions.

Spencer built his MCD (frameset MSRP of $695) up with a mix of staple brands and put the money where it’s most important, a good saddle, a dynamo, Yanco bags, a Porcelain Rocket half framebag and comfy, wide bars. Admittedly, I was attracted to his bike because the color is what I was hoping my Crust would look like, and the proportions were spot on. Spencer always had a knack for building up sweet rides and this one really resonated with me as an affordable frameset option for those looking to build something similar in usage. If you have an MCD, let’s see it in the comments!

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54 responses to “Super Stoke 2019: Spencer’s Black Mountain Cycles MCD”

  1. Nate-o says:

    That color is really excellent! I have an older black cherry rim brake Black Mountain monster cross and I love it. Super commuter/town bike for me, mostly. Fatter Clements are nice for rough Tucson streets. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e0bdb3144ec72c9eb467660f37e1055fa34c594517978f889568ece9f0ddad2e.jpg

  2. Steven Braun says:

    My rim brake Monstercross. 40mm tires work well on Tucson’s crappy roads. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/16f4c076efeea1c8dcbde76e8837b0eac40f0805d5c830e4356356bfa879f883.jpg

  3. Matt Smith says:

    Mike designs some great frames, here’s my Road+ that he built up last month https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ca3a3161aeb8e29ab59323eb9c47109fbc4a0f446be7673636f6642036f6135a.jpg

  4. Benny Watson says:

    Mike Varley has to be one of the nicest people in the bicycle business, and he designs great handling and great looking bikes. After making the mistake of selling my 2012 Monster Cross, I was happy to see the MCD come out. Here’s mine taking a quick break between middle Georgia dirt roads.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7c582f540c04f8f34e16015b82d68cffab698508773199dfca050516ea21840a.jpg

  5. Terry Dean says:

    is there no lock nut on the rear rotor? i’ve not had the pleasure of messing with center lock rotors yet, so maybe i’m mistaking

  6. m burdge says:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/95a5cc399721bba317d79a7323cc239d6dce327d67175a9bbf10b69c3f5eeca6.jpg
    Here is my MCD, taking a break from the trails. Not in the photo are the VBC cranks, 8 speed-era XTR r der, and the Turbo saddle I swapped out the Unicanitor for. It has TB14 rims on 105 hubs. A great bike.

    • Mike Varley says:

      The Suntour bar-cons are a super nice touch!

      • m burdge says:

        Thanks. They were on my wife’s bike on our cycling honeymoon in Nova scotia eighteen years ago. They are fully compatible with the NOS SunTour ARX front derailleur I’d been saving for a special build.

  7. Brian Richard Walbergh says:

    If these (and their Road Plus) aren’t the best production steel frames of this type, I don’t know what are. How are you going to get a better thought out frame for $700?

  8. Benny Watson says:

    How much chainstay clearance is Spencer getting with those 650BX2.1″ tires? That’s a little wider than the 50mm Mike recommends.

  9. Bluejaystr says:

    This is exactly the bike I was hoping to see a gallery of! Thanks so much, John!

  10. Johnny Rhubarb says:

    cool that this is turning into a Black Mountain Cycles gallery, I’ll contribute to the rim brake monstercross section; just finished this build half an hour ago and now I read this article! please excuse the crappy pic

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/53f7a96d83ca9aded22ef76a2cab97ecf57da4a0a63a0610fa4a8ff19a899d74.jpg

  11. Snowblind says:

    I use mine more like a touring bike than an offroad, but it does off-road quite well. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e56cbb87bb8bd271a87194887a1788de1acb3440a53b4e4c793c4432126e9181.jpg

  12. Dobry says:

    Great methodology and awesome shots!

    What a world we live in that someone can say “mainstream monster cross”! 10 years ago, that was an oxymoron and now here we are. That made me so happy to see.

  13. Sattelfest says:

    Great customized stock bike user gallery. Owning an AWOL myself (I know not the same thing) I wonder how the AWOL has been turn and twisted by it’s buyers….

  14. Marcellus | Bombtrack says:

    Great build, I love the upside down Chris King headset. The MCD is such a cool frame, well done.

  15. Neil Hubert says:

    I’ve got the rim brake version – love this thing. Drove up to Pt. Reyes from LA to pick it up, well worth the trip to check out Mike’s shop & the town.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ca409504d4ddc2c6c0b8117a7c7eeb0a84bb8bb03fc3aa65e6cd05cf3f2e6843.jpg

  16. Peter K says:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0782e484628a004a128b7138f62f4d42e34157afa08ef5232a5ba04e94d88ccf.jpg

    I can’t say enough good things about Mike and the MCD. He went out of his way to do a rush build for me during a hectic time for the shop. The fit, ride, and value of my MCD have been incredible.

  17. Stanion says:

    Here’s a Road+ that I just rode in the Low Gap ride, and it was great at handling the broken pavement and dirt.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/eb4dcc8b540dfbba1d846b1f0300697a44a77abc7e7ae57d94de62ebd1998f13.jpg

  18. Max says:

    Don’t mean to derail this thread, but what about this is built “with a mix of budget parts?” The seatpost collar? Maybe the rims and tires? It all looks really nice and high end to me! Thomson, CK, SLX, S&P, Force, SimWorks, Supernova, Brooks – I mean come on!

    • John Watson says:

      Poor wording choice on my part. Sorry to disappoint. I guess I was looking at it this way: Not a White/King/Onyx rear hub, instead SLX. Not carbon rims, instead WTB KOM, instead of SON, S/P, and some of the parts came off of other builds IIRC. “Budget” as in not the high end choices we often see here on the site. xo

  19. jordan_vondy says:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/99448c8e10561ddd68e248dad8aee58dd12f40e117e50840df3f7600ae89998b.jpg My Monstercross V1. Possibly my favorite bike I’ve ever ridden.

  20. Pete Knight says:

    Handsome bike. Handsome man.

  21. Peter Chesworth says:

    Time to bestow the highest honour.

    Proper bike.

  22. C.Silver says:

    Comments on the tires? Always good to see options outside of the usual 650b suspects (Byways, GraveKings, etc.)

  23. Masterchief says:

    Wow this is really good, and judging by the comments, it seems people love their bmc’s. Is there a reason for choosing a non replaceable deariler hanger? I’ve always wondered why you would risk ruining your frame because of such a small thing, that has an available solution solution.

  24. rickpat says:

    Great bike butbthe headset is upsidedown

    • Bart says:

      Apparently this is a thing if you acquire the headset used to show you are not the original owner. John Watson himself told me that :)

      • People definitely do it with new headsets too. I don’t think there’s (necessarily) a secret meaning. You can do it, so people do …