Todd, from Black Cat Bicycles, has long been a favorite framebuilder of mine. A while back I did an Inside/Out Shop Visit with him in his home shop out of Aptos, California, and showcased a few of his bikes. I’ve also reviewed one of his Thunder Monkey hardtails. Something about his fillet-brazed and hand-carved lugged creations always resonated with me, even though I am usually attracted to tig-welded, more utilitarian “off-road” bikes. Truth be told: I’ve long wanted a Black Cat but wasn’t sure what to ask Todd to build for me.
Then it happened. As I was catching up with him at the 2022 Chris King Guest House event, I couldn’t stop drooling over the Swami 29er he had on display, so much so that I put a deposit down for one shortly after. So why buy a rigid mountain bike? I actually love riding rigid bikes on the same trails I ride my hardtails and full suspension bikes on. While I don’t take the same lines on my rigid bikes, I’m still relatively fast, or plenty fast enough, when descending a bike sans suspension.
For me, it’s all about being connected and honing skills. At this point, both reasons are tropes in bike reviews like this, right? Yet there’s something addicting to riding rigid bikes, and the Swami 29er has proven to be an incredible ally on our trails here in the Southern Rockies. Let’s check it out in detail below.