This year I decided to ride even more and get back to winter mountain biking. In this part of the woods that means lots of sticky mud at the bottom and snow and ice near the top of the mountain. I will describe and discuss why did I choose certain parts for the build. Please note this is middle of the road budget build and price was a factor in selecting the components. Also events of the 2020 did cause issues with bicycle manufacture and supply chain.
The carbon frame was out of the question in order to keep the price down, also I didn’t want to worry about impact damage while crashing in extra slippery winter conditions. I was open to both aluminium (aluminum) and steel frames. I wanted frame with modern progressive geometry which would be efficient enough for climbing while inspiring confidence for “storming” downhill.
Selected: BC original Podsol 29″
The “BC original Podsol 29” is Bike Components (German webshop) in-house brand, which translates to high quality without paying brand tax.
- Light aluminium hardtail. That is, light for a such robust trail hardtail designed for 120 – 140mm travel fork.
- Modern geometry, slack and long (65° headtube angle, 442mm reach, 620mm effective top tube length for medium size frame).
- Relatively low bottom bracket: 55mm drop, but not extra low – so it can still be pedaled on technical uphills without too many pedal strikes.
- Nice smooth welds.
- Threaded bottom bracket.
- Headset is not integrated: top is internal, bottom is external.
- Beautiful black anodized frame with minimal branding and clean lines.
- External cable routing.
- Price: 473,00€
- Little bit clumsy cable routing at the point where cable from top of the downtube go to the bottom of the chainstays.
- Chainstays are little bit wider then it is necessary, so at the beginning I experienced occasionally heel rub while pedaling.
Modern steel hardtail made from high-end legendary 853 Reynolds tubes. Geometry is spot on! But a little bit pricier at 750,00€. From aesthetic point of view – I didn’t like huge number of screws (mounting options) on the top of downtube and how seatstays connect to seattube via whishbone. Call me superficial if you want … 🙁
Absolutely gorgeous progressive steel hardtail. Especially in the teal colour, imho. Frame price is also acceptable at 649,00€ with very smart and functional complete bike options starting from 2.099,00€. At the end I was put off by the extra low bottom bracket: 80mm drop which translates to the 293mm BB height. This bike would be more suited for some other rider who put more emphasize on descending and his/hers local trails don’t have too much technical uphills. But, I had previous business with stifmtb before and I can wholeheartedly recommend them.
Santa Cruz Chameleon Alloy
Being longtime Santa Cruz fanboy, the Chameleon was the first option to consider. But unfortunately, high price and outdated geometry (67.3 headtube angle, …) did put me off. 🙁
I consider the choice of fork equally important as the frame. The fork can really define you ride experience and inspire more confidence on the downhill.
Selected: RockShox Pike Select, 130mm
- Low weight (1837g) for the price and travel
- Charger RC is still excellent damper
- Black color and understated decals will match perfectly with stealth black frame
- Price: 622,00€
- Compared to RockShox, Fox forks usually offer similar performance for higher price. For example Fox Fork 34 Performance with Grip damper is 300,00€ more.
- RockShox Pike Ultimate: about 200,00€ more, but with more advanced damper (Charger 2.1 RC2). Truth be told – I wasn’t sure that I would feel the difference compared to the Charger RC. Also I am not a suspension tinkerer so I don’t think I would take advantage of extra adjustability options.
- RockShox Gold 35: very good budget fork, but I do prefer Charger damper instead of Motion Control. Also it is 400g heavier.
With affordable price on the mind, high-end brands like DT Swiss (my long time favorite) were out of the question. But I still wanted light, strong wheel-set from reputable source and rear hub with decent number of engagement points. 😀
Selected: Fun Works N-Light One Amride 30 Wheelset 29er
- Action Sports is reputable bicycle shop specialized in wheel building. They have decades of experience building reliable wheels! Fun Works is their in-house brand.
- Light: 1750g
- 48 engagement points which is not super high, but it is not low either
- 30mm internal width rims
- Online wheel builder web application
- Torque caps for RockShox forks as a free option
- Price: 399,00€ + 35,00€ for tubeless kit and Shimano 12 speed micro spline freehub
HUNT Trail Wide MTB Wheelset
It was a close call. Similar price (479,00€) and weight as Action Sports. Lots of good reviews and higher engagement rear hub (120 points!). But Action Sports decades long tradition won me over.
That one was easy. In the past I was very happy with Thomson dropper and Bike Yoke Revive on my current full suspension bike. But with budget in the mind – there was really only one choice: Brand-X Ascend Dropper Seatpost, 155,00€. Just read all those glowing reviews: www.chainreactioncycles.com/brand-x-ascend-dropper-seatpost-125mm-150mm-/rp-prod149024
And for now – I can confirm – it is working flawlessy.
Seatpost dropper lever
Brand-X Ascend Dropper Seatpost comes with perfectly functional under the bar lever, but I wanted I-Spec EV lever for a clean and minimalist looking cockpit. Shimano remote lever SL-MT500 (I-Spec EV) is functional, not expensive and looks nice. Price: 20,48€.
Being impressed by the new 1×12 speed Shimano stuff – especially when shifting under load – I decided to go for Shimano again. Also I wanted this bike to have similar “look&feel” as my other bike with full XT drivetrain.
Initially I wanted 12 speed Deore components (cassette, rear derailleur, cranks) and XT shifter in order to save money but still experience smooth multi shifting provided by the XT. But, unfortunately, because of issues caused by the 2020 events – I couldn’t find desired Deore components in stock. At the end I “settled” for complete SLX drivetrain. Looks nice, works perfectly.
Both XT and SLX shifters allow to change multiple gears at once with one longer press, moving the chain from smaller cogs to the larger cogs. And this is really important feature on the mountain bike with 1×12 speed system, because when terrain suddenly become steeper – you do want to shift to lower gear as fast as possible.
The only difference is that SLX shifter is not supporting multiple gears change from larger cogs to smaller cogs – but this is a feature I don’t really need and rarely use on my other bike.
Initially I wanted Deore or SLX brakes but because of the 2020 issues – I only managed to find XT brakes in stock. As expected – it is working flawlessly.
As part of my effort to get best bang for the buck I went with Levelnine distributed by the Bike Components. Light, good price, with subtitle stealth decals.
- Stem: Levelnine Team AM Stealth 35, 35mm length with 6deg rise. Price: 42,01€.
- Handlebar: Levelnine Team Stealth 35, 10 mm rise, 9 deg backsweep, 5 deg upsweep, 800mm length (which I cut to 760mm). Price: 42,01€.
Being very pleased with Cane Creek 110 for many years, I went for Cane Creek 40 to save some money. Didn’t really look at other options.
Selle San Marco GND Supercomfort Open-Fit Dynamic Saddle. Price: 78,00€. I have this saddle on my other bike and I wanted the same on this one. For more info about saddles check: Choosing the right mountain bike saddle.
Again, the choice was dictated by my other bike. Heavily discounted pedals from my favorite LBS: Crossmax SL PRO MTB pedals (TIME Atac compatible). Price: 85,00€. Compared to other clipless system TIME Atac allows for horizontal feet movement besides the heel rotation. For more info about pedals, check: Choosing the right mountain bike pedal.
I wanted ERGON Grips GA2, but I forgot to order them, and didn’t want to pay extra shipping just for them – so I bought some random Specialized grips from near by LBS.
The cheapest stem mount I could find – while still being delivered from EU (didn’t want to wait for delivery from China): LifeLine Top Cap Garmin Mount. Price 9,51€. No complaints.
Front – Maxxis Tire Minion DHF 29 x 2,50 WT 3C MaxxGrip TR EXO. Didn’t use Maxxis for long time – but this tire just blows my mind on every ride. It holds on to wet roots, rocks, mud and snow like there is no tomorrow. Amazing confidence inspiring tire. Little bit slow and loud on the road – but who cares! Price: 53,34€.
Back – Continental Mountain King Protection (Black Chili) 29 x 2,30. It was actually my front tire on the other bike – but it really didn’t work well as front tire. It was sketchy and unpredictable – so it was “downgraded” to rear tire. It works fine on the back.
Stans No Tubes The Solution Tyre Sealant. Price: 17,15€.
Had more then enough from my previous build. No complaints.
Live long and ride!