Reportage

Chunder and Chamisa on the Chumba Sendero 29er Hardtail

Over the past few years, I’ve found myself only riding 150mm travel hardtails and full suspensions with slackened front ends and steep seat tubes. In my mind, why would you want anything else? Then I moved to Santa Fe, where we have even bigger backcountry loops, steep climbs, and long, rocky descents. Yet, we also have sweeping, undulating XC trails. Suddenly, all those 150mm bikes are a little too much for a lot of the trails here, most of which are in my neighborhood. Then Chumba came to the rescue, sending along their Sendero 130mm 29er hardtail for me to review and I fell in love with XC bikes once again.

Read on for how this beauty of a bike handles our chunder and Chamisa-lined trails here in Santa Fe…

Made in Austin, TX

Chumba should need no introduction here on the Radavist. When they first re-launched the brand back in 2014, we featured their bikes, and over the years have had many galleries up showcasing their work, including last year’s Shop Visit. They make precision-welded steel and titanium road and mountain frames in-house. Mark and Vince recently bought out their investors and have taken this brand to new heights in a short amount of time. The Sendero is a direct result of their creative freedoms and motivation to design, build,  and RIDE capable and beautiful bikes.

Sendero

The Sendero is one of three mountain models Chumba offers and one of their two steel offerings. While their Stella Titanium fits a 29 x 3″ tire, the Sendero fits a 2.8″, making it the steel frame with the most clearance in their catalog. For the purposes of this build, I ran a simple 2.5″ tire, since most of my mountain bikes are in the plus range and I wanted to feel just how snappy and responsive this bike was without the added drag from the extra rotational mass of a heavy-duty, plus-sized tire.

This frame can be built around a 120mm or 130mm fork and can take 27.5×2.8″ tires as well as 29er wheels. The geometry is progressive without being geo-nouveau. A 67.6º head angle, 73.6º seat angle, a 454mm reach, and 45mm of BB drop are the takeaway numbers on this size large build I reviewed. On paper, it feels worlds apart from a 65º head angle and 77º seat angle of my other bikes yet that’s the beauty of the Sendero.

The geometry of the 130mm travel Sendero

An XC Frame for All Mountain Riders

When Vince and I discussed reviewing this bike, we talked about what trails it would be best suited for. Vince has ridden a lot in Santa Fe and knows our singletrack quite well. Initially, we discussed riding the more XC-friendly networks like Dale Ball, Galisteo Basin, and La Tierra but I wanted to see how the Sendero would tackle our bigger “all-mountain” rides. For that, I rode Atalaya, Chamisa, Sidewinder, and Windsor. I’ll admit, getting into some areas felt a little dicey, especially coming down Atalaya but the bike handled surprisingly well on even the steeper terrain. For those of you who aren’t familiar with these trails, stick with me here…

Where the Sendero really felt alive was on our fast-n-flowy stuff. Trails with a lot of up, down, up, down, and tight corners. This bike really crushes it when your weight is far forward and you use your upper body to move it where you want to go. I’m so used to longer-travel bikes having a mind of their own, telling you where they want to go as you hang on off the rear. That said, it was really easy to get in over my head on this bike.

The climbs were as lively as the descents and putting in a big, backcountry day on the Sendero felt like a much easier undertaking because of the bike’s equal weight distribution and geometry. Suddenly big hike a bikes didn’t end up killing my bike like when I’d push the Murmur up a tailings field.

Of course, this build kit didn’t hurt either!

Built Like a Dream

Cane Creek Helm (air), Hope brakes, White Industries, SRAM Eagle, Industry Nine wheels. Am I that predictable? Vince wanted to spec this review bike as close to how I’d build my own bikes. His thought in doing so was there would be less “getting used to” the components and more subjective reviewing of the frame itself. He was right. Not having to familiarize myself with new components allowed me to set and forget the fork’s PSI, get my tire pressure just right, and really enjoy the lively ride the Sendero has to offer.

Coming from the Helm Coil, the Helm Air feels worlds different. I’m between spring sizes on the Helm Coil and if you recall from my Starling Murmur post, it took a bit to get comfortable on the coil springs. I ended up going for the larger spring rate of the two choices and in doing so, lost some of the supple control I was really enjoying being slightly under-supported. With an air shock, there is less fuss.  It’s a ‘set and forget’ kind of ride and while it isn’t as nuanced of a riding experience, there are some merits to the no-nonsense setup of air.

Frame Details

Had I known I would really embrace single-speed MTBing upon moving to Santa Fe, I might have requested a different build kit. Especially since this frame uses Paragon Machine Works sliders, arguably the best in the biz. These sliders are so easy to use and it would make this a completely different review. Part of me wishes I stripped it down and tried it as a singlespeed but then I might not have sent it back. Hah!

The tire clearance is dead centered on the White Industries chainring. Look at that. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at this very view on a bike and wished there was less clearance between the ring and the stay and more at the tire. For what it’s worth, this is with the slider completely slammed forward. The PMW sliders offer +/- 2cm in chainstay adjustment.

Say you wanted to ride a 2.8″ tire. You’d just slam it to the back and the tire would fit. None of this is new technology but you’d be surprised how beneficial it is when you mount up a 2.6″ tire that balloons out to 2.8″, right before you’re about to hit the road on a trip. The custom bent seattube really brings the whole chainstay adjustment realm together in a cohesive package. Those 420mm stays look so well proportioned on this 29er frame. For a plus-sized tire, the stays elongate to 440mm.

That gentle kink on the downtube is a throwback to when mountain bike fork crowns would hit the downtube. Back then, builders began kinking the downtube to avoid this contact in the event of a wreck. It’s a nice touch and gives the Sendero old school vibes with new school details. Chumba utilizes a machined headtube and oversized, double-butted tubing to create adequate strength without the use of an external gusset.

Frame Specs:

-Fork Travel: Optimized for 120mm – 130mm travel. Rigid/100mm/110mm/120mm/130mm capable.
-Suggested Stem Lengths: 120mm travel 40 – 70mm, 130mm travel 35 – 65mm
-Headset S.H.I.S.: ZS44 Upper/ EC44 Lower for Tapered or Straight Forks
-Hub Spacing: 148×12 Boost
-PMW Sliding Dropout Options: Geared, single speed or Rohloff, thru axle or quick release
-Max Tire Clearances:
29 x 2.4” (in all dropout positions)
29 x 2.6” (mid dropout and rearward)
29 x 2.8″ tires (in dropout rear position on 148×12)
27plus x 2.8″ (in all dropout positions)
27plus x 3.0” (in dropout rear position on 148×12)
-Bottom Bracket: 73 English Threaded BSA
-Chainring/Chain-line: 1x 34T oval on Boost chain-line (51/52mm)
-Seat Post: Post 31.6mm / Clamp 35mm
-Internal Covert Dropper Routing Included: External under down tube and then going into a internal port at the non-drive side of the seat tube
-Cable Routing: Standard cable routing goes under the down tube via PMW bolt on cable guides and then onto the chain-stays. Top tube cable routing for shorter brake housing or external droppers can be added for $50
-H20 Capacity: 3 bottles on Sizes XL, L, and M

Take-Away

The Chumba Sendero is an XC bike with all-mountain tendencies. It’s light feeling enough to be a solid XC race machine but has a geometry coded to deliver a delightfully playful riding experience on even the most rugged backcountry trails. These frames are made in Austin, Texas, from oversized tubing, and come in a variety of custom color options, all for $1,650.00. Just look at how good this forest service green/avocado color looks in the forest!

Head to Chumba Cycles for more information and if you have any questions, drop them in the comments!