....So here comes another rant! Mr. Walker and I started scheming this ride on an overnight bike trip to the verde hot springs last spring and made his intentions official last June so I have the better part of 6 months in this one....not of actual labor just thought investment and the delays that come with having to pick up a project and set it down between jobs, trips, backorders whatever. Not to mention its a lot of bike with a lot going on in the design and parts integration, so that alone is a lot to wrap your brain around. All in all I think it comes out to just about everything you ever wanted in the '90s (some of it you didn't even know you wanted.
I spent some rides on Mr. Walker's Krampus (he was an early adopter) and walked away unimpressed, feeling that they missed the sweet spot of that ride by forgetting that it is a rigid bike. It felt more like a downhill bike relying on a basketball for suspension. First step...design the front end around its use. Mountain bike first, touring bike second, snow bike.....maybe sometimes. Dedicated rigid...yes. The fork is something I'm quite proud of as its been in the works for going on two years, maybe more. I've been wanting to do a raked unicrown for a while as the straight blade units (Salsa/Surly) have what is to me an unacceptable amount of brake chatter when paired with the necessarily long blades of big wheelers. The curvature of this fork greatly reduces brake chatter as well as provides a little damping if the rack is removed. Building the bender for these blades (the bars are also bent on this bender) took at least three efforts of picking the project back up after giving it the corner box which amounted to the majority of that two years. I don't know if its reached its final stage yet, but it is easily adaptable to new parts or modifications and if you want to see it you can....in person. A standard butted steerer tube didn't seem like enough for this application so I made an externally butted steerer tube using two lengths of .058" tubing. The steerer is straight 1.125" so the first length, with a shorter piece of 1.25" that extends to just above the crown race sleeved on to where the 1.25 blades join at the bottom of the steerer forming the butt. A third piece of 1.375" x .058" is sleeved to this assembly at the same time the legs are brazed to form the crown race seat....So not a tapered steerer per se, but an externally butted one. The rack mounts are made from drilled out seat binders to take an M6 or .25" bolt with a backing nut so if you ever have to replace one, you can find it anywhere. The added girth of the seat binder (5/8" tubing?) allows enough space for the backing nut to sit over the hooded dropout without interfering with the hub or disc rotor (see the picture in the previous post).
All this mates up nicely with a Cane Creek zero stack 110 headset (very nice unit) and a monstrous Paragon head tube to position the bars to seat height with some room for adjustment. Think comfort cruiser. This bike goes slow! The rack uses only the fork drops for bolt on attachment and is otherwise slip fit onto the steerer for the third and very stable attachment point giving the whole package that truss fork look without fixing it in place. The upper stays will serve as more than adequate anchor points for strapping on a dry bag (and your backpack when you get to that extended dirt road section). It'll also fit panniers if so desired. Front loads are great, y'all. They stick your front wheel to the ground in whatever situation you encounter, just keep yer load tight to the rack so you don't get steering lag. I'm not talking about low riders either....they barely have a place on a road bike. While it does not have an official load rating I sat on it when we finished it up and Mr. Walker said he could see it flex. I figure that's a good sign.
The rider position and fit is not overlooked either. The bars are 20 deg sweep 735mm wide and should offer a number of hand positions. Paragon supplies the steerer clamp and the jigging for the pipes changes every time I do one of these things. Moving rearward, the seat positions the rider more rearward than the Surly, though the stays remain about the same length. The bottom bracket drop is about the same as with any regular 29er as low pressure tires only add size to the areas not taking up the load. I used a plate yoke to accomplish the balance of mud and chainring clearance. Yes, that's a granny gear. Why would the bike with the biggest heaviest wheels not have one of these? You got me!?. To make this happen we went back a couple decades and mated an old XTR crank to a Phil Wood BB spindle of appropriate size to allow for the granny ring chain line to not interfere with the tire. The rear wheel is then dished to an offset of about 6.5mm to the drive side to equalize spoke length/tension and compensate for the wider chain line and asymmetric chain stays hold it in place. A direct mount front derailleur minimizes clearance issues with the big tire and will shift a 2x or 3x setup....yes you can run a big ring just fine on this bike.
7 benders were used in the production of this bicycle (two of which I don't even own)
Phil Wood and Cane Creek make very nice products
9 speed is still readily available
Square Taper XTR cranks are still the best cranks ever made
Ice Tech Brakes are the best brakes ever made
WTB Original Trail Grips rock!
Mr. Walker's former favorite mountain bike was a 1992 Stump Jumper
Surly rims do not even approach the best parts ever made list
The obliged happy customer photo!
On a side note I think we should start calling these things what they really are....Monster Trucks. What about a bike like this isn't reminiscent of a monster truck? Just imagine how many regular bikes you could stomp crush on one of these. This one is more of the swamp buggy edition. Taller, skinnier, geared down. I went down to the (supposed) phat (fat?) bike demo that was said to be going on a couple weeks ago just as a nice fresh first layer of snow was falling and you know what I saw....myself and my two friends riding our bikes in the freshly falling snow. I looked around and saw a 26, a 29, and a 24er. It was phat. I guess you have to drive those bikes around in a phat van. Well, when you have a monster truck you have no excuse. I was kind of thinking that doing one in a BigFoot theme would be pretty cool....any takers?