Readers’ Rides: Thomas’ Elephant Hardtail MTB


Readers’ Rides: Thomas’ Elephant Hardtail MTB

A lot of people have heard of Spokane’s Elephant Bikes thanks to their National Forest Explorer touring bikes and today we have Thomas from Spokane who has documented the process of getting a custom hardtail from Elephant. Read on below!

My name is Thomas, I live in Spokane, WA and I love hardtails.

I love hardtails for probably the same reasons most people love hardtails. Nostalgia from my youth, simplicity and timeless good looks. The concept of this bike had been on my mind in some form or another for close to a decade and only recently came to fruition.

Elephant Bikes likely needs no introduction but consists of Glen Copus and John Speare and is headquartered right here in Spokane, WA. I’ve always wanted a custom frame and the idea of being able to go on a ride with the person that made it for me has always seemed like a worthwhile investment. I have a hard time selling any bike I’ve spent a decent amount of time on and I went into this knowing I would likely be riding this bike for the rest of my life, so it had to be versatile.

My desires in the frame were pretty simple: a 66 degree head angle, top tube braze ons, clearance for 29 x 2.6” tires and a slightly lower standover for my short ass legs. The rest was up to Glen.

The National Forest Explorer is likely the most iconic of the bikes Elephant makes. One of the stock colorways for that bike is Forest Service Green RAL 6021 and I’ve always loved it, so I wanted my frame to have a little fist bump to the NFE. I heard this caused some confusion for Glen and John as Elephant had never used this color on a mountain bike before. I’m still waiting for the first photo of this bike leaning against a Forest Service truck somewhere.

I’ve always wanted a frame with hourglass seat stays and while I don’t think I mentioned that to Glen, they made their way onto the bike anyhow. I also love the curved seatstay bridge.

My buddy Caveman has a few Elephant frames and he built one of his up with wheels from Seek MTB, also built by hand in Spokane and I liked the idea of making the bike even more local. Josh at Seek has decades of wheelbuilding experience and knows how I like to ride, so I took his recommendations on this wheelset. If you haven’t tried carbon wheels, I HIGHLY recommend you check it out.

The rest of the components came together pretty easily, despite the parts shortage. GX Eagle with a cable, SLX brakes, 130mm Pike Select. Conservative perhaps, but trustworthy. I’ve had the Chromag stem for over 10 years and it’s been mounted on every mountain bike I’ve had since.

A few years ago I was teaching myself how to sew and eventually started making bags under the moniker “OSB Handmade Originals”. I don’t really do commissions anymore but I get them out every once in a while and I built a direct mount toptube bag for this bike. So, I suppose you can add a Spokane bag to match the frame and wheelset.

Lastly, I couldn’t have built my dream bike without the homies at The Bike Hub. I’ve been in the bike industry long enough to know that the people are what make a shop successful. Working for a shop that genuinely, 100% cares about their employees and their wellbeing both on the bike and off is something that cannot be taken for granted.

I’ve gotten nothing but love from these people. While I always suggest you support your local bike shop as much as possible, if you would like to support an online retailer that has real brick and mortar shops filled with stoked humans just like you, check us out at

I couldn’t be happier with how this project turned out and I’m looking forward to all the places this bike will take me. Thanks for taking a peek!

Build Spec:
Frame: Elephant custom. Tubing is mostly Columbus Zona.
Fork: 130mm Rock Shox Pike Select
Rims: Seek T30i (Not on the website yet, Josh says.)
Hubs: Bontrager Rapid Drive 108
Spokes: Sapim butted somethings.
Nipples: …black ones?
Tires: Changes probably more often than it should.
Drivetrain: SRAM GX Eagle 52t with a cable.
Cranks: Truvativ Descendant
Brakes: Shimano SLX M7100
Handlebar: Salsa Salt Flat at 780mm
Stem: Chromag Ranger
Dropper: Bontrager Line
Saddle: Chromag Mood DT
Grips: PNW Loam currently. Also changes probably more often than it
GPS: Wahoo Elemnt Roam
Pedals: Alternates between Chromag Contact flats and Shimano XT M8020

Thanks to:
Seek MTB: @seekmtb
The Bike Hub: @thebikehubspo

We’d like to thank all of you who have submitted Readers Rides builds to be shared over here. 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!