Golden Saddle Rides: 44 Bikes 27.5+ Rigid MTB
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson
As I was planning for this trip to South America I started thinking about what bike would be ideal to tackle a broad range of terrain and would be comfortable over the long haul. I went back and forth through a number of options, but I never quite found a stock option that fit all of my criteria (and fit me). I knew I wanted a rigid steel frame that could fit a plus sized tire, have loads of mounts, thru-axles, ample mud clearances, and a good amount of space for a frame bag. I started to focus in on B+ as the happy medium between 29 and 29+. I also liked the versatility of being able to put on a standard 29er wheelset at some point in the future without it throwing the geometry way out of whack.
With that in mind, John immediately connected with Kristofer Henry at 44 bikes in New Hampshire, who built his hardtail 29er Marauder last year, and we worked out all of the details. Kris is massively knowledgable on building a bike that is going to ride well, so other than my handful of specifics, I left him to dial it in.
Golden Saddle Cyclery handled the build with a pair of tubeless Maxxis IKON+’s on Velocity Dually wheels laced to Industry 9 and SON hubs, a SRAM GX group, and all of the Porcelain Rocket, Jones, Paul, Wolf Tooth, and Thomson bells and whistles.
Much of the setup for me revolves around the front rack/bag setup. After my last two trips, I knew I needed to change it up from a standard dry bag bikepacking setup. I needed somewhere to be able to safely store my camera and computer, and have a way to easily remove it all from the bike to bring with me when I go into a restaurant, shop, or hike. It also still had to be easy to access my camera while I was on the bike. On previous trips, these things were split up and thrown in smaller bags that don’t come off the bike easily. I’d end up with things sitting out-of-sight, and constantly worrying about them, or pulling them out of the bags and flashing them around in front of everyone. Both are bad options.
The F-Stop Kenti seemed to be the closest to what I needed, so I ordered one hoping I could customize it to mount on the rack. As it turned out, the number and placement of straps made this relatively easy and afforded multiple secure mounting positions. I had the straps reinforced (thanks mom!), cut off the bulky waist band to minimize clutter, and added a strap to cinch down the shoulder straps when I wanted to mount it to the bike. While I was a little concerned about the weight and position, it hasn’t been a problem at all thus far. The added benefit of being able to remove the bag and wear it as a backpack to improve handling on more technical descents makes it the best option I’ve tried so far by a long shot.