Today we’re bringing you a great feature from Mike from Big Wheel Building who recently took delivery of a Meriwether Cycles 60mm rear travel soft tail 29er, dubbed the Miser. This is a very unique bike and we’ve got a wonderful piece from Mike, so let’s get to it!
The new 2023 Fox Float rear shock is not any flashier than its predecessor. In fact, it’s less flashy. Fox abandoned the blue lever’s not-too-hard, not-too-soft “Middle” setting, leaving riders the simple, classic choice between “Open” and “Firm.” Travis Engel loved the idea, and could gush all day about its implications for the future of trail bikes, and how it relates to their past. Now, he’s finally ridden the new Float so he could make sure of it. And he’s talked to some folks at Fox so he could make sense of it.
In today’s installment of our ongoing opinion column, The Dust-Up, we bring you Travis Engel’s thesis on why full-suspension bikes offer the most inviting, user-friendly experience to people trying mountain bikes for the first time, and why the commonly held “hardtail-first” doctrine is flawed and outdated. Please read in full before commenting, but please comment.
Back in late 2018, I took delivery of a quirky steel full-suspension bike to review from a small framebuilding operation in the UK called Starling Cycles. Over the course of a few months, I rode the shit out of it in Los Angeles, where I was living at the time, and couldn’t get enough of it. As someone who lives metal bikes and loves riding trails, I hadn’t fully migrated to a full suspension chassis because I didn’t like the way the widely-available carbon models rode. The Murmur changed that for me. I reviewed the Murmur in April 2019 and immediately bought a V2 Murmur.
Now living in Santa Fe, with arguably more technical terrain, I haven’t been able to put down the Starling Cycles Murmur; taking it high into the Sangre Mountains and beyond, this steel full-suspension bike really changed my perspective on the potential ride quality of full-suspension mountain bikes. Late last year, Joe from Starling reached out, saying he had a V3 frame for me to test out, and once again, I’ve been reaching for it nonstop.
Let’s look at my thoughts on the small changes the V3 underwent, leading to large improvements, and a broader perspective on steel full-suspension bikes below…
SCOR has been a bit of an enigma ever since they emerged in 2021 as a more aggressive offshoot of BMC. So far, they make just one bike in two travel configurations, plus an e-MTB and a couple of kids’ hardtails. It’s a short lineup, even for a brand this new and niche. But there’s something about the clean, understated design and techy VPP-style linkage that makes it seem like SCOR must be destined for greater things. So, Travis Engel brought in the trail-focused 4060 ST to find out whether its beauty is only skin-deep.
Curiosity. It’s a great trait to have as a cycling journalist. An inquisitive nature is what first prompted me to throw a leg around subculture-spawned bikes, like steel full-suspension 29ers and titanium hardtails, years ago. Sometimes, you have to pedal something for an extended period to whet that appetite for the occasional oddity that arises. If you’re lucky, those experiences challenge your preconceptions, too.
Working in bike media, it’s pretty easy to get cynical about all the marketing hype and the constant push for model years by the bigger brands, particularly regarding ever-changing drivetrain technologies, incremental gains, and complex suspension designs. I still value riding a rigid 29er as much as riding a vintage 26″ wheeled steel chariot through compromising terrain: the almighty underbiking ride keeps you honest, allows for honing your skillset, and can be damn fun.
Yet, on the flip side, I am attracted to high-tech, modern carbon bikes in small doses. Hence the allure of this Yeti SB135.
Before testing out the SB135, it had been a while since I’d ridden a carbon full suspension as, in the intervening years, I’ve been enjoying sampling the steel offerings out there from smaller, bespoke builders. Yet, the appeal of the high-tech is palpable—lighter, faster, smoother-shifting sounds fun, right? Mix in Yeti’s 27.5″ platform for the SB135, and my curiosity was piqued. The last 27.5″ wheeled bike I reviewed was the Santa Cruz 5010 and the previous 27.5″ wheeled bike I’d ridden was the Transition Scout that was loaned to me for a Moab trip. It was on that very trip I realized that while I admired the 27.5″ wheel platform, it wasn’t necessarily for me nor for the terrain I enjoy riding.
Yet, the SB135 was just strange enough, foreign enough, new-and-techy enough to have me put my steel sled with cable-actuated shifting aside for a few weeks and spend some time riding Yeti Turq and SRAM T-Type shifting…
Remember when gravity-focused short-travel 29ers were edgy? When a brand would give one to their most decorated downhiller, and it would break YouTube? Now, this subcategory has become a staple. Every brand has one. But not Canyon. They have three. And the black sheep among them is the Spectral 125. Find out why Travis Engel still doesn’t want to send his test bike back in this detailed review below…
Coming off of the REEB SST and having ridden the piss out of my Starling Murmur 29er over the past three years, when Chromag announced its new full-suspension bike, the Darco 29er, my interest was piqued. It’s no secret to readers here that I love how steel full-suspension bikes ride, and it’s been great seeing small brands put in the PR&D on these niche bikes. After some pleading, the fine folks at Chromag shipped me out a stock build of the Darco in size XL, for me to womp around on down in Phoenix while I escaped the ice-capades of Northern New Mexico for a week. Was it love at first flight? Find out below…
While steel full-suspension bikes are nothing new, there has been a resurgence in recent years with many small framebuilders making trail-ready, competent bikes that leave their genetic predecessors in the proverbial dust. When I first rode a Starling Murmur in 2019, I wasn’t prepared for how engaged I felt with the trail or the flex and movement the Murmur provided. If you like the feel of steel hardtails or gravel bikes, chances are you’ll vibe more with a steel full-suspension than a carbon model.
These bikes are incredibly niche (though you can find them being made in workshops worldwide), and they still feel like a product from a cottage industry, not an engineered machine. It wasn’t until I spent some time with the REEB Cycles SST that I felt like steel full suspension bikes had finally leaped into the next stage of their evolutionary process. Let’s take a look at the SST below.
After the apocalypse, I’m pretty sure society could learn to rebuild if we just get the Youtube servers back online. When I needed to install a new starter in my Tacoma, Youtube was there. When I needed to safely remove some stitches after knee surgery, Youtube was there. And when I couldn’t wait the six weeks or spend the $200 to have a custom frame bag made, Youtube was there.
It’s that time of year again! The Chris King Open House returned to Portland this past weekend and, with it, a showcase of seventeen custom bikes. Let’s check them out in detail below!
We’ve heard John sing the praises of his Starling Murmur over the past three years, and with good reason! Starling really has pushed the zeitgeist of carbon full suspension mountain bikes with their steel bikes, and to commemorate the launch of Starling Murmur Stainless pre-orders, the brand teamed up with Hope and Bristol Bicycle Restorations to cook up something special. Let’s check the press release from Starling out below!
We’re huge fans of steel full suspension mountain bikes and it seems like framebuilders all over are embracing these simple, yet extremely capable bikes. Coming at us from Alberta, here’s Chris’ Kruch Custom Bicycles steel full suspension. Let’s check it out below.
We were catching our breath after the short climb from Warner Lake up to the top of Hazzard County. Burro Pass was a riot–we yipped and hollered the entire way down. After a quick sip of our drinks and admiring the view, we got back on the pedals and began the broad, fast winding trail down the open scrub of this famous section of The Whole Enchilada. Popping and jibbing, sliding, and tucking, we were fully in ‘the flow’…until…THWACK! I slowed down and found a spot to pull off and investigate the source of the racket. My wheels were true, the tires firm, fork and shock yet sprung, when the problem revealed itself: I had impacted a loose chunk of sandstone that penetrated the downtube on my carbon frame…
When I first saw the Scott Spark 910 previewed I had to do a double-take. A full-suspension bike with the suspension INSIDE the frame?! I’m sure some vintage mountain bike enthusiast will point out that someone did this in 1994, but this was my first time seeing a rear suspension integrated into a bike frame. I was doubly intrigued as I had been eagerly looking to try out the latest crop of short travel 29ers (read “downcountry”) that are so en vogue right now.
If you’ve been following along with my previous reviews, you’ll know that I’m not a huge internal cable/hose routing fan, and that still rings true. I feel that most internal routing is half-assed and enters and exits the frame multiple times unnecessarily. Now, what Scott has cooked up here is well done and I’m impressed by them going all-in on internal routing. I had many plans to tinker endlessly with this bike but, as I soon found out, this bike feels like it is meant to be a holistic package. Being ever-tempted by such a striking frame design, travel range, and the possibility to mount a frame bag easily on a full-suspension frame I had to take it for a spin.
When you think of steel full suspension bikes, you probably think of all the kooky and weird designs that came out in the late 90s that were awkward… to say the least. Yet there is a new wave of modern steel full suspension mountain bikes gaining hold, including the Starling Murmur. In the latest Beautiful Builds video, John showcases his personal Murmur, why he likes it, and what made him want a steel full suspension…
Our Radar Roundup compiles products and videos from the ‘net in an easy-to-digest format. Read on below for today’s findings…
Today we’ve got another bike that was displayed at the French constructeur event, Concours de Machine. Built by Jolie Rouge Cycles, this all-mountain steel full suspension is outrigged with bags, racks, and more. As someone who owns a steel full suspension, it’s amazing to see the ante upped in this manner but that’s just the half of the weirdness that’s about to unfold for you so read on below for the builder of this bike, Julien Fritsch’s words and photos!