The 70’s were the automotive paint design heyday, ATMO anyway. Earth tones and bright hues intersected along cars, vans and trucks via a network of chevrons and stripes. While many manufacturers embraced these trends, it was the niche hobby market who took it to the next level. A whole culture emerged with vans donning intricate designs, long before #VanLife, yet it was the off-road culture that has always piqued my interest, most notably the baja bugs and trucks. Jeremy from Stinner Frameworks has always had an affinity for the early 70’s Baja Bug paint designs, ultimately these became the inspiration for this two-wheeled off-road machine.
In preparation for NAHBS, I like to crank up my framebuilder observation scope, resulting in obsessive Instagram stalking of my favorite builders, even if they’re not attending the show. If you were to ask me the number one challenge builders are presented with currently, in terms of construction techniques, my answer would be swift and without hesitation: 27.5+ yokes. Designing a yoke that will clear the tire, maintain optimal chainline and allow the use of a range of ring sizes is not easy. The issue is sometimes you’ve only got millimeters to spare and while machining or casting a yoke would be an easy solution, you sacrifice weight. If you use normal chainstays and crimp to allow clearance, you weaken those points considerably. A few builders have cleverly designed their solutions. My current favorite is Cameron Falconer, who uses plate steel at the drive side and a normal, bent stay on the non-drive side. The asymmetry doesn’t bother me, yet when I see this design by Konga Bicycles, my mouth begins to water. Check out more at the Konga Flickr!
One of the highlights of our time in Bozeman with Adam Sklar was being able to see not one, but two complete bikes come back from powdercoat and be delivered to their new owners. I already posted a gallery of Sam’s powder blue 29er, on which he then rode a good chunk of the Colorado Trail in what I take to be quite inclement conditions.
The other bike to be delivered is one that you probably noticed in yesterday’s gallery from Sklar’s shop. This gleaming white 27.5+ hardtail was commissioned by a customer from Sklar’s home state of Colorado. Elliot is a former downhill and 4x racer with what sounded like a fairly big set of dirt jumps in his front yard.
Photos and words by Morgan Taylor.
I’m not going to get away without laying down some bad puns here. Sorry if that’s not your thing. 27.5+ tires have really blown up this year. Just look at this year’s NAHBS galleries. You couldn’t swing a cat without hitting a 27.5+ hardtail out there.
Last year, in my long term review of the Surly Ice Cream Truck, I casually mentioned that I thought this bike was a good candidate for a 27.5+ conversion. John told me he had a pair of WTB Scraper rims that had yet to be built up and, with a promise to keep my mouth shut for a while, Surly sent me a proto pair of their now-available 27.5 x 3” Dirt Wizards.
The 27.5+ Dirt Wizards both weighed in at a hair under 1225 grams. Heavy by mountain bike standards, light by fat bike standards. Nice thick sidewalls and big, gummy tread blocks. Promising. John surprised me by having Mellow Johnny’s lace the rims to a pair of Industry Nine fat bike hubs and the project was underway.
Chris Akrigg brings some trials-influenced riding to the trails in Yorkshire.
Long-travel hard tails, especially when coupled with a dropper can be super fun. Add in clearances for a 2.4″ tire and suddenly you’ve got a very capable steel frame from a company that knows a thing or two about steel. The Ritchey Timberwolf has piqued my interest and I can’t wait to try one of these bad boys out…
Check out more at Ritchey!
Photos by James Adamson
If you paid attention to the CommUtah ride on social media or read the post earlier today here on the site, you might have noticed James Adamson riding a Breadwinner hardtail that’s unlike anything currently available from the Portland-based brand. Well, I guess technically it’s an evolution of their Bad Otis hardtail, just with a lot more meat.
I can’t say much more about it at the time, but be on the lookout for a lot more from Breadwinner over the next few months… For now, check out more photos below.
The Treeline isn’t exactly a fatbike. Sure it looks like one, but the truth is, it’s a fatbike and it’s an all-season MTB, capable of 26″ wheels and true fat tires or 27.5+ wheels. Ride it in the snow, or ride it on a bikepacking trip. You can run it with drops, or a flat bar, suspended or rigid. There are rackmounts and you can build it with thru-axles or QR skewers.
Seven has developed a veritable do-it-all, plus-sized MTB… Head over to Seven to see more on Treeline.
I’m here in Portland, Oregon attending the Bike and Beer festival at HopWorks Urban Brewery. While I’ll be documenting many of the frames, I’ll also be capturing the general vibes. For now, let’s just check out some bikes!
During the Bike and Beer Festival, I was looking for a fun, steel hardtail in either 29″ or 27.5″ to photograph. Then I came across the Magic Cycle Werks Cadeyrn. The Cadeyrn looks like it’d be a great XC bike, without being too steep on the front, making it squirrely on technical descents. A 27.5 wheel, 120mm travel, fillet brazed, steel hardtail with a 70º head tube angle, a 73º seat tube angle and glistening powdercoat, executed by Spectrum Powder Works. Built from OX Platinum tubing and running around $2,600 for a frame, these production bikes will be open for pre-order soon….
Contact Magic for more info.
Charge delivers a bugga’ of a good time video featuring their new Cooker 27+ MTB. I love all the Australianisms.
I have an idea. I’ve ridden one… More next week!
… and Cotic Bikes agrees!
Long travel, hardtail 27.5 hardtails are by no means new to the world of mountain biking, or NAHBS for that matter. With brands like Chromag, Engin and Breadwinner swearing by this platform, it’s easy to see how their popularity is increasing.
Matter Cycles is a Colorado builder who makes tig welded bikes to get rad on. Collin builds bikes using mostly True Temper tubing, with a few bits of Columbus in the mix. The SlayRide is a 140mm to 150mm travel 27.5 hardtail with internal routing for a dropper, thru-axles and can be built for custom-sizing. I love the yoke, personally.
Head over to Matter Cycles to see their other offerings, if this bike is too rowdy for your taste…
Now, I’ll admit that the Yo Eddy! 29’r had me pretty stoked but I was more drawn to the 27.5″ version. Not that the 29’r doesn’t look like a great bike, it was just missing something… Something signature and iconically Chris Chance.
Segmented forks made the older Yo Eddy! frames in my opinion and after seeing the rigid 27.5 version at NAHBS, I knew what was missing with the 29r. My rigid Indy Fab was modeled after the old Yo Eddy! frames and it’s long been my favorite MTB. It has an iconic look that feels very Somerville.
Personally, if I were to buy a new Yo Eddy! frame, I would spring for the rigid fork option. Just look at that damn bike! It’s a perfect balance of modern components with just the right amount of throwback style. The build kit rounds out functionality nicely with XTR, a dropper post, brand spankin’ new WTB carbon rims, White Industries hubs and those nice n plump WTB 2.25″ Trail Boss tires.
While the 29r could tackle my local trails with ease, this rigid would make things a lot more interesting. Then, when your wrists and back start hurting, throw a Rock Shox on it and jam on.
Like the big brother of this frame, this one’s a prototype. Custom drawn stays are on the way and the geometry might take a bit of tweaking. Hopefully, me and Mr Yo Eddy! can spend some quality trail time together soon. Keep up to date on all things at Fat Chance Bicycles.
Sometimes, it’s the unexpected that delivers the most fun. Wheel size, when it comes to mountain biking, is a polarizing topic. People will swear allegiance to the 29r platform, without a blink of an eye and admittedly, I’m one that errs on that side. Being tall with long legs, I’ve kind of sworn off 27.5 hardtails.
They’ve either felt too squirrely for me to coerce or not big enough to roll out of hairbrained situations I often find myself in. If my riding ability were to be described in a word, it certainly wouldn’t be “finesse.” I need something that offers a larger diameter to correct little nuances in my riding habits. 29rs seem to deliver that.
Like a bucking bronco, those small wheels ain’t for this limestone cowboy. Or so I thought.
As previously stated in the Highball 29r post, Santa Cruz put a lot of work into developing their new 27.5 wheelsize option. While the general look and feel of the 27.5 version is almost identical to the 29r, all it takes is a few moments on this bike, particularly while descending, to tell that it is indeed, a different beast from its larger-wheeled sibling.
Ok, maybe it’s not all that different, but there are a noticeable points.
For one, the headset. While it’s a small detail, the bottom cup is a standard, press-in on the 29r and integrated on the 27.5. Because of the smaller wheel size, the chainstays could be shortened, thus the wheelbase loses some length, as well as steepening the seat tube angle to a 72.5º. But what I noticed, almost immediately, was the slacker head tube angle.
It seems like 69º is the magic number for hardtails (I should add that the Chameleon is also a very fun bike with a 67.3º head tube). It takes them from the category of XC race-specificity and dangles them over the all-rounder, “stunt” zone.
A 69º head tube angle is just right: not too slack to drop it into the AM range, or to make climbing a battle fought with a wandering wheel, nope. It’s just slack enough to make descents a complete blast. Even with the lower stack height (604mm versus 633mm on the 29r) frame, I never felt like I was going to fly off the bike descending. For reference, I rode the XL model.
Whereas I felt a lot of apprehension to fall in love with the Highball 29r, the 27.5 was love at first flight… It just whipped around so well.
The Highball 27.5 has all the technical advancements as the 29r, it’s just in a different realm in terms of handling on descents but we’ve already discussed that. Let’s look at the frame.
With the new layup, the lines are cleaner than ever and without the external routing, you can really focus in on the body language this bike is throwing around. Even sitting still, posing for a photo, it appears to have a meaner stance than its sibling.
Granted, having ridden the rather stealth-like black and red bike with XX1, this blue frame with XTR looks a bit flashy. Although, with a price. Take note: with the ENVE wheel upgrade, suddenly you’re in the $8,799 water… Thankfully, the XT package without ENVE is only $4,299 with the CC-grade carbon.
Another great detail on the Santa Cruz Highball is the new disc caliper design and placement. This new position eliminates the need for a chainstay / seatstay bridge. Although it does make it a slight pain in the ass to adjust on the trail with a compact tool.
Now onto what seems to be the deal breaker for a lot of people, just based on internet chatter and commentary over the 29r. The 27.2 seat post. Since there are so few options for a 27.2 dropper and no cable guides or internal routing for a stealth post, you’re pretty much stuck with a Thomson dropper post and some zip ties, which is what almost everyone did on the media launch.
Personally, I can ride a 100mm hardtail just fine without a dropper, although it does add a certain amount of versatility to the bike, especially if you throw a 120mm fork on the front end.
Before to write off Santa Cruz’s decision to go with a 27.2, attempt to understand their rationale. Ever ride a standard 30.9 post for hours on end during a marathon on a hard tail? Yea, it ain’t comfy. The 27.2 diameter does allow the seat tube to be elegantly reduced, resulting in a lot more compliance, which is a good thing for your butt.
That’s really the only initial concern I felt the need to address.
With a rowdy, confident stance like that, the new and improved Santa Cruz Highball CC 27.5 drew me right in. After an afternoon descending singletrack, I was sold. Maybe XC-oriented 27.5 hardtails aren’t that bad afterall? Or maybe the Highball is just that good.
Photo by Sven Martin
If I were to chose between the two, based on ride quality alone, I’d lean more towards the 27.5, without discrediting the 29r’s confidence-aspiring ride characteristics. The stability and shredability of the 27.5 platform translates so well to the Highball and all I needed was one, 10-mile descent to change my opinion.
The Santa Cruz Highball CC XX1 starts at $6,299 ($500 cheaper than the previous model)
The Santa Cruz Highball CC XTR starts at $6,799
The Santa Cruz Highball CC XT starts at $4,299
The Santa Cruz Highball C S starts at $3,199
The Santa Cruz Highball C R starts at $2,799
The Santa Cruz Highball CC frameset is available in black or blue for $1,899.
One thing to note is the 27.5 Highball has a size small, while the 29r does not. In return, the 29r has an XXL, while the 27.5 does not.
…and for or those seeking a weight comparison…
CC carbon size M matte black w/XX1 kit: 19.61lbs / 8.89 kg
CC carbon size M matte black frame only: 2.58 lbs / 1172 g
Specs and other information can be found at Santa Cruz. You can also compare my notes to the 29r version at Shredding the All New Santa Cruz Highball CC 29r MTB.
The Mojo HD is in its third iteration, aptly dubbed the Mojo HD3, following the Mojo HD/Mojo HDR. The crew at Ibis didn’t take this evolution lightly, either, scrapping the previous geometries for a much more modern one, perfect for today’s Enduro demand.
The geometry got longer, lower and slacker, kicking in with 6″ of rear travel and new, more versatile internal cable routing. Some might even say the Mojo HD3 followed the Ripley with a substantial drop in frame weight and increased pedaling performance.
Bottom line is: the HD3 will dust people going downhill after it outclimbs them.
See more at Ibis and check out full specs and frame details below.
Japan’s Sim Works makes some of the raddest components out there and boy, do they know how to pick a great framebuilder to work with! Rick Hunter has been conspiring with the Japanese company and there are some really dialed products coming in the near future. For now, we have to make due with these great photos of Rick and his Wood Rat 27.5 hardtail.
Check out more at the Sim Works Flickr!