My first taste of full suspension came when I was working as a wrench at a shop in Quakertown PA just after graduating from college and not really having a plan. On mornings off, I’d take out a demo and ride the local trails up on South Mountain in Emmaus. Those bikes were terrible. But at the time, I was young and loving any bicycle I could get my hands on. That was 1998. A degree project when I went back to school confirmed I didn’t have a clue about geometry, handling, let alone suspension kinematics. Fast forward to 2012 when I hung my shingle out starting 44 Bikes, I became solely focused on honing geometry and understanding fit. But deep down, I wanted to build a full suspension bike but I knew I wasn’t ready. Which brings us to the here and now. Things began to click after building hundreds of bikes and dozens of prototypes where I finally felt like I had a grip on geometry and handling. I wanted a new challenge. So in the Spring of 2019, I started acquainting myself with a platform I had largely ignored.
Ryan Wilson kicks off a series we’re launching during the pandemic, a shout out to our favorite small businesses in the cycling industry. Here are some of Ryan’s personal favorite products!
Small businesses are the foundation of the outdoor industry and many have been seriously impacted by the pandemic over the last couple of months. While money is understandably tight for a significant portion of people, if you do have the means and are dreaming up your next bike trip or local ride, I wanted to offer up a few suggestions for gear that I believe is worthy of investing in from some of my favorite small businesses in the industry.
The Marauder from 44 Bikes is one hell of a versatile bike, available in steel and titanium, it blurs the line between shreddy MTB and bikepacking bike, sub out to a suspension fork and rip your local trails, or ride it rigid and pack on a few extra pounds of fun. Kris actually made all of the bags in-house, including the panniers, frame bag, and the stem sacks. It’s pretty rad to see a frame builder tackle some sewing in addition to wielding a torch. Running a Lupine Lights Pika in lieu of a dynamo allows Kris to run the same wheelset in shred mode as a full touring mode. He even made the rack and fork in house.
Kris built the bike with a mix of Shimano XTR 9100 and XT 8100 brakes, Industry Nine Wheels, a Fox Transfer dropper post and a Wolf Tooth Remote. This bikepacking bike swears to shred, that for sure!
44 Bikes is now offering titanium as an option for their frames. You can now order a Huntsman or a Marauder from Kris out of ti and build custom rides per your spec. 44 just recently relaunched their website and published a new catalog. With a wait time of 4-6 months, if you order now, you can have a new ride for the summer. head over to 44 Bikes for more information!
2017 Philly Bike Expo: 44 Bikes Titanium Marauder SSMTB
Photos by Jarrod Bunk, words by John Watson
Last year, we saw Kris from 44 Bikes‘ first super-boosted Ti Marauder SSMTB from our Philly Bike Expo coverage. This year, Kris brought a new Marauder to display, with some geometry tweaks, different components, and a slightly longer and slacker stance. The big difference this year is he used a super boost hub with a standard 73mm T47 bottom bracket mated with a custom 170mm i9 fatbike hub, built with a standard axle, wheras last year, he used a wider q-factor with a DH BB. Kris machined the bits needed to make this happen and the whole package results in a stiffer rear wheel.
Traditionally, single speed mountain bikes are heralded for their simplicity, yet this one has a lot going on!
Two Years In… Packing for a Long-Term Bike Tour
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson
Packing for a trip that spans multiple years can be a bit daunting. Especially when you’ll be passing through just about every zone of climate you can possibly imagine, from the humidity and heat of the Peruvian jungle to the bitter cold of winter in the mountains of Patagonia… Dragging the bike up rugged 16,000ft hiking trails, across remote dirt roads, or even the occasional stretch of asphalt. Walking the fine line between having an excessive amount of stuff or too little is a tricky balance.
My setup has been gradually refined since I first started this trip two years ago, and while it’s far from a “minimal” or “ultralight” setup you might take on a trip that spans a few weeks or less, I think I’ve struck a reasonable balance between having everything I need to live and work on the bike in the long-term, while still being a rig that is fun to ride no matter how rough the terrain gets.
As time has gone on, I’ve found that the overall weight doesn’t really matter as much as how everything is packed. It’s when bags are bouncing around loosely or swaying back and forth where the size and weight really becomes a burden. When everything is tight and dialed, it’s just another bike. “How much does it weigh?” is a question I’ve been asked hundreds of times along the way and to be honest, I don’t have a clue. Ignorance is bliss, I guess.
There are some things on here that would be overkill for many people (large camera, computer, etc), and some things that would be a bit too minimal for others (clothes, sleeping bag, etc), but this is what works for me at the moment…
Kris Henry at 44 Bikes recently completed this beautiful Marauder build, with a dual usage; touring bike and full-on trail attack mode. This 27.5+ platform is quickly adaptable for when that itch for wanderlust strikes. You can see the entire build process, from the cutting of tubes, to welding, and the final product over at the 44 Bikes Flickr.
Kris Henry from 44 Bikes knows how to craft a beautiful, functional tig-welded machine that will live by the brand’s mantra of “Swear to Shred.” This Huntsman road bike features clearances for WTB Nano tires, Shimano flat mount brakes, the powerhouse group that is Ultegra, and a geometry tuned for road riding of all substrates. With a paint job by Jordan Low of Hot Tubes Paint, it’s got plenty of pop!
44 Bikes knows what’s up.
Continuing our documentation of these high desert Pack Mules, is my 44 Bikes rigid mtb tourer, decked out in desert bikepacking mode, with a few key adjustments to its normal build we’ve seen before.
This bike proved itself on our 100 mile Prospector’s Tour of Death Valley but initially, I was worried. Worried for a few reasons, but mostly because of the tire size. While riding in the desert is not new to me, doing it fully loaded, for four days, in Death Valley is. Everything in my mind told me to track down a fat bike for the route. After driving it last month, I was aware of every change in ground substrate; the Eureka Valley presented sand and loose tuff. Steel Pass was gravely, with corners suddenly sinking into inches of loose rocks and the climbs out of Saline Valley are washboarded, rocky and can take a toll on your hands.
Photos by Jarrod Bunk
135mm, 142mm, boost and now “super” boost. What gives with all these rear hub standards? I just wanna shreddd! Well, Kris from 44 Bikes knows a thing or two about shredding and frame design, so he tackled explaining superboost in his latest blog post:
“Earlier in the year, I put together a post just after completing the next iteration of the Marauder in a titanium prototype. You can read that post here. What is special about this bike is I used the pre-existing 157mm TA standard paired with an 83mm shell width. This is technically an existing DH standard which Pivot tweaked by adjusting the flange spacing of the non-drive side to move it outboard a bit more to stiffen up the rear wheel build and subsequently re-marketing it as “Superboost”. Which I think took some by surprise as a “new” standard. It’s quite the contrary. And when paired with that 83mm shell width (another existing standard) you get perfect chain line and a critical area of the bicycle is literally opened up to so many opportunities as tires gain more volume and width. ”
Keep reading at 44 Bikes!
2017 Philly Bike Expo: 44 Bikes Titanium Marauder SSMTB
Photos by Jarrod Bunk, words by John Watson
We saw earlier this week the announcement of 44 Bikes offering titanium as a new frame material for their catalog. This extends to their Marauder hardtail mountain bike frames. The Marauder can come in various configurations, including superboosted, plus, slack and rowdy builds such as this. To up the ante even more, Kris from 44 Bikes added some anodized bits from Wolf Tooth Components give the build some pop. Titanium is a great material for a mountain bike frame and this bike is sure to make its new owner very happy.
44 Bikes doesn’t have a traditional “road” frame in their catalog. Instead, the Huntsman is their drop bar offering. A disc bike, designed for your specific riding style, the Huntsman comes in various custom configurations, including a new material: titanium. 44 Bikes just built up this beautiful Ti Huntsman for the Philly Bike Expo. Check out more photos below and if you’re interested in one, holler at 44 Bikes.
If you want to know what makes a framebuilder, particuarly one of my personal favorites, tick, then listen to Diane Jenks of the Outspoken Cyclist’s latest interview with Kris from 44 Bikes. Check it out at Outspoken Cyclist!
“This is a 100k to benefit local conservation efforts in the Piscataquog Watershed and surrounding area. All proceeds benefit the Piscataguog Land Conservancy and this year, funds will be going directly to preserve additional land preservation in my home town of Lyndeborough along Cold Brook to add to an existing trail network. It’s a good ride along scenic dirt roads here in my neck of the woods.”
Thanks for your patience. All orders have shipped as of today. You should have received a shipping confirmation email, keep in mind, the USPS tracking system kinda sucks, so by the time shipping information is on the site, you’ll probably already have your jersey.
Enjoy the weekend!
It’s spring and that means for builders like Kris at 44 Bikes, their clients are eagerly awaiting their new shred sleds to take on their newly-dried out trails. His latest build from the 44 queue is this 27.5+ Marauder hardtail, with a rather impressive powdercoat job and build kit. View more from this bike’s life thus far at the 44 Bikes Flickr.
Custom bikes are often the result of a person’s opinions formed by their lifelong experiences. Oftentimes, a custom bicycle does its best to address many problems or functions, resulting in a Swiss Army Knife of vehicles, aka jack of all trades, master of none. Personally, I’ve always tried to work with a builder to design a bike specific to one job, rather than fit in a slew of other functions. Over the years, I’ve relied on scalpels, versus cluttered, do-it-all devices to take on whatever kind of riding I’m interested in and while I’ve got a few mountain bikes, none of them were ideal for the kind of bikepacking or off-road touring I enjoy.