Craig’s dirtdrop 29er

Craig was looking for a bike to ride around the dirt roads and trails of Nevada City, CA. He has an Ibis Hakkalugi that he was using but he was looking for something that could fit bigger tires and rode more like a mountain bike, and had more features of a MTB like a dropper post and short travel suspension fork. He first checked out what Moots had to offer and gravitated towards their Baxter. You Bet! Bicycle in Nevada City suggested he contact me for a local custom option and the rest is history. Thanks Jay and Kurt!

A challenge for of the design was that Craig descends on the *tops* of the drop bars rather than in the drops or hoods. Luckily Shimano offers their Interrupter “cross-levers” that pair with their hydraulic flat mount GRX brifters. Pretty wild that Shimano released such a unique option rather than SRAM for once. The 55cm Ritchey Venturemax XL bars went well with this bike, they’re lots wider and more room on the tops for the levers as well as being shaped on top for hand comfort on long rides. They also have shallow drop and flare, i know these will be a popular option among the dirtdrop crowd.

There’s a lot of cool parts to this bike build that you can see in the photos, from the Cane Creek Titanium eeWings with the 2x Praxis chainrings (48/32) and the Shimano 11-46 cassette allowing a massive range of gearing on the ups and downs. Nobl carbon rims laced to a Project 321 rear hub for smooth and silent purring and engagement, and a red SON dymamo hub on front for power and light through the Sinewave Beacon light. The 100mm Fox Stepcast fork (with lockout!) and internally routed Transfer dropper put the MTB in this bike’s behavior. The geometry we developed is slacker than the Hakkalugi but steeper than something like a Salsa Cutthroat so it will be a quick handling bike with the 29×2.25″ tires.

Shimano GRX comes stock with flat-mount calipers but to fit on any suspension fork the front brake will need to be swapped with a post-mount caliper, an XTR in this case. GRX really is a gravel group that tries to dip its toe into MTB but requires you or your shop to know the ins and outs of the full Shimano catalog and compatibility chart, so it was a learning experience for me and the shop that built up the bike.

Some things i liked about the GRX: chainline is 2.5mm wider which is now called gravel+ or “wide” from SRAM with their cranksets. It’s really just the same as what the “old” MTB chainline was before Boost took over. This makes a lot of sense since wider tires are being used on gravel bikes and “they” never increased the chainline on cross bikes when the rear axle standard changed from 130 to 135×10 / 142×12. It’s about time!

Happy Trails to Craig and his new Frankenstein bike!

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