Readers’ Rides: Michael’s Bender Hardtail 29er


Readers’ Rides: Michael’s Bender Hardtail 29er

While many of the Readers’ Rides we feature here are well-loved machines that exude character from miles of usage and years of iterations, we also receive reader submissions featuring fresh builds. Today, we’re taking a look at one of these from Michael in southern California who recently commissioned a hardtail from Bender Bicycle Co and had it built up by the team at Velo Hangar in Carlsbad. They even had the build process and completed bike documented by talented local photographer/director Embry Rucker. Let’s check it out below!


After realizing I needed a hardtail 29er in the stable, the search began to find a builder that fit the bill. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had several custom bikes made by some of the top builders but recently read a piece about Will of Bender Bicycle Co. His ethos and design characteristics which were showcased in a few different builds definitely checked a lot of the boxes I was looking to achieve. After one conversation with Will, I knew this was exactly who I wanted to build the bike.

I told him that I was looking for, a no-nonsense hardtail with enough travel and tire clearance that would allow for fun days out on the trails. Boy, did he ever deliver.  For the last piece, and probably what draws one in the most, is the paint. I gave him free rein given his background in design and architecture. Upon unboxing the frame and seeing the finished product, I can say he (and painters at Flux Customs) definitely knocked it out of the park!

I’m lucky to have some extremely talented friends so the first stop was getting it to Gordon at Velo Hangar to build this beauty up. Then Embry Rucker worked his magic and got these amazing shots and video. The initial ride report was exactly what I was looking for and I can’t imagine changing anything. I’m looking forward to lots of fun miles on this ripper.

Builder Will Bender had this to say about Michael’s bike: “Since Michael already had most of the parts ready for the bike it was an easy place to start designing from. 29×2.6 wheelset, 150mm Pike Ultimate, Sram AXS Drivetrain, 150mm dropper, and some fancy bits from Paul and 5Dev are all perfect ingredients for a dream hardtail. The design intent behind this bike was to create a hardtail mountain bike that offers a perfect balance between comfort, agility, and control.

Custom bikes are great because they are designed to fit you perfectly – like a bespoke suit, but with more mud and dirt. The bike can be catered to your unique riding style and preferences, striking a balance of stiffness and compliance, giving the bike the ability to eat up rocks, roots, and drops like they’re nothing.”

“And let’s face it – we all want the bike to look good while we’re riding. That’s why Michael’s bike is not only designed for performance but also for visual appeal. I try to design bikes with simple but beautiful lines, and for this one a colorway that will for sure turn heads on the trail. Beyond this, my penultimate goal was to build Michael a bike he will reach for every time he goes for a ride; a bike that will see many many years and miles of single track. “


Frameset: Bender Bicycle Co. – Hardtail
Fork: Rockshox Pike Ultimate, 150mm
Hubs: Industry Nine 1/1
Rims: Enve AM30
Tires: Teravail Honcho, 29×2.6
Drivetrain: Sram XX1 AXS
Crankset: 5Dev
Brakes: Paul Klampers
Bars: Enve M6
Stem: Paul Boxcar
Headset: White Industries
Seatpost: Rockshox Reverb AXS
Saddle: Brooks Cambium

We’d like to thank all of you who submitted Readers Rides builds to be shared here at The Radavist. The response has been incredible and we have so many to share over the next few months. Feel free to submit your bike, listing details, components, and other information. You can also include a portrait of yourself with your bike and your Instagram account! Please, shoot landscape-orientation photos, not portrait. Thanks!