Ben from Heath Creek Cycles shares with us his customized Surly Karate Monkey with some details we think the singlespeed readership will really appreciate. You don’t have to go full-custom to have a customized bike! Check out a few quick words from Ben below, along with more photos from Josh Kowalski, who manages Continental Bikes in Duluth, MN…
When I decided I wanted a custom bike there was only one person I really wanted to make it a reality. I’ve worked with Mike DeSalvo before, back when I was living in Portland, painting the first run of Speedvagen cyclocross bikes. I knew since this bike would be a once in a lifetime bike I wanted to go with titanium, and Mike is one of the best in the industry.
It’s a solution for cyclists who have a hardtail designed around a 120-130MM fork. Was it a problem worth tackling? Isn’t it stiff? Why not just get a steel fork? I thought about a lot of this when Ben from Whisky Parts Co was handing off a pre-production sample for me to ride, test and beat on. How’d it fare on some east coast haunts?
Read on to find out.
The newest fork to hit the shelves over at Whisky Parts Co will interest you 29r riders, particularly those who love the ride of a singlespeed rigid or just a rigid bike. The Boost MTB LT fork is 500mm long, clears a 3″ x 29″ or 27.5″ tire, has just the right amount of cargo cages, weighs 680g, uses IS disc mounts, and retails for $549.99. See more specs below and head to your local Whisky dealer for ordering!
Everything Trevor does seems to be dripping in story and lore as he comes from the homeland of mountain biking, Marin. He is the kind of person you just find stumbling out of the woods, shoeless, with the biggest grin on his face. In fact, recently he finally gained the attention of the owner of Black Mountain Cycles, after years of visiting the shop, because Ted King ran into Trevor out on the trails and regaled the shop owner about his encounter with the barefoot forest nymph.
There aren’t a whole lot of options on the market for those seeking a rigid MTB for shredding trail or bikepacking on. So when a brand like Kona, with their expansive dealer network, puts out something like the Unit X, it piques our interest. With a 29 x 2.6″ wheel platform, multiple bottle bosses, including on the fork, a compact geometry for easier mounting, and SRAM Eagle gearing, it seems like a no-brainer for those looking to make their home trails a little more engaging, or for someone trying to tackle singletrack touring. See more information at Kona.
Before we jump into the world of Retrotec Bikes and Curtis Inglis, let’s look at one of Curtis’ personal rigs; this 29+ rigid mountain bike, what I like to call the “Trail Cruiser.” Now, calling this a cruiser has nothing to do with the speed at which Curtis rides trails while on this rig and has everything to do with the history of Retrotec; a company that began modifying actual cruisers into off-road machines.
With all the Fat Chance love and rigid MTB shenanigans as of late, I thought it’d be a good time to share the current status of this bike, which has seen its share of changes since I acquired it in 2013.
For those who haven’t seen it before, the story is simple. Indy Fab wanted to build a modern Yo Eddy! with 29″ wheels, disc brakes and an original Chris Igleheart fork (who worked at Fat City Cycles back in the 80’s). The bike was part of a small run and named the Deluxe Redux. I picked mine up at NAHBS in a firesale and it’s one of those bikes that I’ll forget about for a bit, then start riding it and remember how much I love it.
This latest rendition came after I sent back the Black Cat Thunder Monkey, leaving me with an 1×11 XX1 group and its super wide gear range. Shortly afterwards I picked up a pair of the Industry Nine Velocity Blunt SS wheels and decided they’d be perfect for the Deluxe Redux. Then, I got the bright idea to put Blue Lug’s Nitto Bullmoose bars on it with a new Paul seatpost and a Brooks C15.
The thing about rigids, and hardtails in general is you want a nice, fat tire you can ride at lower pressures to ease some of the rough and rugged terrain you’ll find yourself hammering down. The Maxxis Ikon 2.35″ tires balloon out to a nice 2.5″ on the Blunt SS rims. Perfect for NorCal’s sandy singletrack. I have been very impressed with this tire choice. They’re great if you find yourself riding through a city en route to the trails…
For the past week, I’ve taken it camping and have been steadily shredding it in the Headlands, Sutro, Golden Gate Park and parts of Mt. Tam. With the rocky conditions of Austin, I always forget how much fun fast and flowy trails are. Granted, there are still a few moments where I feel like a 27.2 dropper post would come in handy, but I’m also comfortable dropping way behind the saddle to make room.
I’m not sure what it is about the bike, but since it weighs in at 23.5 lbs on the dot, I don’t have a problem keepin up with dudes on cyclocross bikes and with the bigger tires, I can blast the descents just fine. It’s snappy and with the saddle to bar drop, I don’t feel like I’m always riding upright like I do on my hardtail or full sus.
After last night’s talk with Chris Chance at Mission Workshop and hearing his comment about him being the grand dad of the segmented fork, I can really appreciate the ride quality this homage bike has delivered for the past few years. There are a few products on it that’ll get a review eventually, but if you have any questions, drop them in the comments.
The more I see the work of Cameron Falconer in person, the more I love his bicycles, especially his rigid 29’r model. Designed for everything from trail riding to multi-day bikepacking, these bikes have multiple layers of functional details. From the multiple water bottle braze-ons, to the segmented forks and custom racks, these bikes can be outrigged to take on anything you throw at them.
Gabe‘s bike in particular is a prime example. I first saw it in person when we went on our little camping trip Saturday night. The British Racing Green disappears in the low-laying shrubbery lining the hills outside of San Francisco, perfect for stealth camping and the no-hassle component build is easily serviceable from any number of spare parts bins you might find at shops while on the road during a trip.
While much of the drivetrain is no-nonsense, Gabe splurged a bit on the Thomson parts, the Jones H-bar, Paul thumbies and Spurcycle bell. Maxxis ardents provide ample puncture protection and trail bite while loaded and the Brooks saddle will continue to ripen with age. Yep. This is about as good as it gets in my opinion.
My favorite detail? The size small Revelate frame pack, cleverly hooked on the cable boss and bottle cage and the front derailleur mounting under the seat tube bottle cage…