When you think about what a downhill bike does, go downhill in bike parks, then a singlespeed makes sense. Starling Cycles tackled the DH SS problem with a truly unique suspension design… out of steel! See the full reveal at Starling and check out the video for Brett Wheeler from Wheelers MTB Holiday Portugal shredding this almost silent trail killer.
When the Ramble Ride popped onto the horizon in my late summer travel and photo shoot plans, the guys at Moots offered up one of their prized models, the Baxter, for me to ride. Out of all their bikes in what I would consider a stout lineup, the Baxter is one that always stood out to me as the most versatile. The beauty about this bike platform is the Baxter is what you want it to be, although it’s designed to essentially be a drop bar 29’r. How you build it is up to you and there are options like with a suspension fork, or with a rigid fork, with or without a dropper post, and everything in between. Di2 or cable, double crankset or 1x, and now with the updated boosted rear spacing, compatibility with your “other” mountain bike wheelsets. The guys at Moots are great at constructing these frames, it’s just up to you to make them roll…
I’ve long admired the work of Rick Hunter, yet have never been able to get ahold of one in my size. Especially since he has closed his order queue. My thoughts were, one day a frame would pop up in my size and I’d have to swoop on it. That’s what happened, in a nutshell, when I drove up to Chico, California to hang out with Paul Component Engineering for a few days. The trip coincided with the recent Paul Camp, a media gathering at the Paul shop, featuring eleven bikes, built by select framebuilders, all around a joint theme: a monster cross or mountain bike. Oh, and the bikes had to use the same color scheme: red, white and blue. As a group, these bikes were marvelous and I had a blast both riding and photographing them, especially this very frame…
As an integral part of Curve Cycling, Jesse Carlsson has taken on various endurance races on their titanium machines, including Trans America and the Australian self-supported Race to the Rock. The latter called for something a bit more rugged than his TransAm Curve Cycling Belgie setup. While climbing wasn’t much of an issue in Race to the Rock, deteriorated roads, potential flash rainstorms and endless miles of washboarded roads meant he needed a bit more rubber under his bike. Luckily, Curve had just the rig for this race… The GMX is a rigid 29’r with drop bars and a proprietary suspension-corrected fork. You can see how Jesse set his up for Race to the Rock at Curve’s blog.
In its current form, the bike has been stripped of the many accessories and components needed for a multi-day, self-supported endurance race. Jesse loaned it to our troupe for the week, where it landed under Scott, my riding mate here in Tassie. It suited our needs just fine, as equipped. Well, perhaps minus that massive front chainring. Scott found himself hurting on many of our climbs as they teetered past 18%!
Some of my favorite details on the GMX include the yoke and the seat tube cluster. Others interested might also be turned on by the pricing: $2,999 for a frame or $3,790 for the frame and Curve carbon fork, in various sizes. I’m not sure how the USD conversion alters the pricing, but it’s worth the query if you’re keen on this design. Personally, I can say that I’m intrigued!
Rigid 29’r frames make excellent bikepacking rigs, especially when they have braze ons for racks and clearance for 2.4″ tires. Brother Cycles recently teased their newest offering: the Big Bro rigid 29’r. Marketed as a bike suitable for the Tour Divide, the Big Bro has potential to be much more. Head over to Brother Cycles to see more information.
Adam Sklar has been building bikes for five years now. Among his first customers was Sam, a good friend from high school. Sam had Adam build him a single speed 29er, but Sklar #4 has since been through many iterations over the years. Recently, Sam was feeling like his original Sklar, while abundant with character and nostalgia, was ready to give way to a new Sklar. Adam’s style has certainly developed over his time building bikes, and Sam wanted to honor his friend’s success by commissioning another frame.
One of my personal favorite 29’rs just got a facelift and a new, lower, slacker brother. The Ripley is back and better than ever. With new cable routing, a threaded BB, bigger tire clearance, stiffer eccentric cores and many other improvements, the new Ripley is sure to deliver one hell of a fun time on the trails. For those wanting an even rowdier option, the new Ripley LS gets lower and slacker (from a 69.2° to a 67.5° head tube angle in the large) to excel at downhill blasting.
Head over to Ibis to check out more information on the Ripley, and to your local dealer to check one out!
Before we begin let me give you a little background about who I am and how I found myself writing this review. I grew up in Bishop, CA. I raced mountain bikes there as a kid. Then I stopped, the reason is a tired story, and one that you have most likely heard before, it has to do with hormones, cars, beers, and girls. When I moved to Santa Barbara, CA to attend college and I started working at a shop called Velo Pro. This is where I started riding downhill bikes. Then I stopped, did some rock climbing, school, babe chasing, etc. A decade ago I moved to Portland, OR and once again I found myself at a shop, working at the Fat Tire Farm and riding downhill bikes. This is where it gets interesting. First came seat droppers and with it a yearn to explore more trails. I started riding trail bikes, then picked up riding road bikes and cross bikes. For the past three years I worked for Chris King, and my job gave me the chance to ride a wide variety of bikes. Through mutual friends and shared adventures John and I became friends and I have been lucky to post a couple rides and adventurers all the while sharing with him some of my favorite MTB videos and articles from around the web. It turned out that John needed a bike reviewed, so here I am. Lets get started.
Todd from Black Cat Bicycles knows a thing or two about mountain bikes. Living in Santa Cruz provides a more than ideal testing ground for everything related to dirt. Over the years, he’s dialed in the geometry on his hardtails and recently, this process culminated in what he’s dubbed the Thunder Monkey.
A few months back, Todd emailed me asking if I wanted to review a production bike he was making. His description was right up my alley “slack and low 29r with a tight rear end.” Some time passed and this incredible frame showed up at Mellow Johnny’s to be built up with various SRAM and RockShox products.
Since then, I’ve been putting this bike through the hell that is Central Texas limestone. How does a bike designed to conquer Santa Cruz bide in Texas? Damn well. Check out more below.
Niner now offers their Ros 9+ as a frame and fork, allowing you to build yours as you see fit. There’s been a lot of buzz around this frame and after spending a lot of time around one in Los Angeles over the past few weeks, I gotta say that I’m impressed. It looks great and comes from a company like Niner that knows a thing or two about making highly shredable 29rs…
Check out specs for the Ros 9+ frameset at Niner Bikes.
As an introductory pre-order offer, Twin Six has some great pricing on their Standard 29 Ti hardtail frames. For $1700, you get a T6 Standard 3.25 titanium tubing, QR (135) or thru-axle (142) compatible, wishbone stays and other details. Check out more information at Twin Six!
Ritchey Master P-29er
Words and photos by Kyle Kelley
Have you ever seen a bike that makes you wanna say uhhhh! Uhhhh! Na na na na! Na na na na!!!
Well… that’s kind of what this Ritchey P-29er did for me. So I took a picture and put it up on Instagram to see if I could get a nice call and response going. Next thing I knew I had 1,000 people on Instagram screaming “uhhhh! Uhhhh! Na na na na!!!” so of course I decided it’d be best to take more photos of this amazing bike to share them here.
Graham, the colonel of this muthaf<3kin' tank is definitely pulling rank! XTR everything. He's even rocking XTR Safety Wire on those disk brakes. Thomson this and Thomson that, Ritchey where many lack. But the wheels, I'm in love with the wheels! White Industries hubs tied to the Blunt SS (full polish) and some 2.40 gumwall Ardents! I don't think anything could make this build any better. From the nips to the grips, it's dialed. The only thing Graham says he'll be changing down the road will be a wider Ritchey Classic Handlebar - this one was cut down to look and feel more classic. Time to get faded(Red,white, and blue foo), pass me the dojah and say uhhhh! Uhhhh! Na na na na! Na na na na!!! ____ Follow Kyle on Instagram
When South African, World Cup champion Burry Stander suffered a tragic death on a training ride in 2013, Specialized lost not only one of their riders, but one of their family members. To honor his death, they released an S-Works Epic 29r under their Specialized Projects line.
Based on their FACT World Cup geometry, this flashy frame is covered in a sparkly orange paint, adorned with African art and features a graphic inspired by the South African flag and Stander’s unique personality. The resulting product makes for an orange blur that glows in the late-afternoon sun (and is rather hard to photograph).
As far as tech is concerned, this S-Works Epic frame features a FOX/Specialized remote Mini-Brain with AUTOSAG, pushing 95mm of travel and a Rock Shox Sid Brain. Built with Sram XO1 and rolling on Roval Control SL 29 with Maxxis Ardent gumwalls set up tubeless, this thing is ready for blast off.
While I’m sure it’d take a while to truly grasp what this frame represents, Jonathan has taken quite a liking to it. All I can say is damn, look at those chain stays!
Phil runs the finishing department at Indy Fab, where recently, he was able to design, build and design the paint for his newest bike. This steel Deluxe MTB, built around a Paragon Machine Works chainstay yoke. This allows builders to have clearance for a 3″ 29er tire, along with ensuring chainrings and cranks will fit the stays, using a 68mm wide bottom bracket shell.
This Deluxe is rolling on Industry Nine hubs, Stans Hugo rims with the new Bontrager Chucacabra tires. Drivetrain is Sram X01 1×11 groupset with gripshifts and the bike is very stoppy thanks to the Avid BB7s mechanical disc brakes. Those 3″ tires fit just fine in the Bontrager carbon 29r fork, and Phil painted the Bontrager seatpost to match, along with the stem.
The color is PPG’s liquid crystal Candy Apple Red, with black on white decals. See more below!
The history of the Humu within the Kona lineup dates back to 1992, mountain bikes were a lot different back then, which might explain its early design. Double top tube, moto-inspired handlebars and the body language of a beach cruiser, moreso than a MTB.
These days, simpler can still be better and just as fun, which is why the modern Humu comes with Kona’s original P2 fork, but gets modern upgrades like sliding dropouts, disc brakes and 29 inch wheels. Now let’s see some footage of it shredding dirt!
Check it out at Kona.
It’s hard sometimes to visualize a bike’s potential from just a frame photo, which is probably why Thomas built up one of those 29’r framesets as a complete for a photo shoot. I still think this is one of the nicer 29’r production frames I’ve seen on the market and at that price, who can complain? Lovely. See more at the Horse Cycles Flickr and pricing at Horse Cycles.
I’ve ridden my share of 29’rs and up until recently, I was sold that the Tallboy and Tallboy LTC had the market cornered as far as geometry is concerned. Now, let me say that I’m an enthusiastic reviewer and that can be a double edged sword at times. I’d also note that I don’t particularly like doing reviews, not because they’re not fun, but I couldn’t really care for technical adverbage.
That said, I can tell naunces in geometry and component groups quite well and when something’s good, it’s good. Also, believe me, when it’s bad, it’s bad.
Luckily for me – yay new review bike – I’ve been in absolute love with the new S-Works Stumpjumper FSR EVO 29 – which has been replaced by the standard FSR 29 – and who wouldn’t be? This is a 29’r fans dream bike. Once you strip away the plush, crispness of XX1, the tunability and stability of the Rock Shox PIKE and the Fox Float rear shock, you’re left with one crucial element: geometry…
I wish more of my weeks ended like this… and yes, I have to shoot that bike. I’ve just been waiting for the right time.
Tools of the trade:
Leica M7 / Zeiss 28mm