Paul’s sea foam green 29 plus bike is his 2nd Meriwether, the first being a fatbike some years ago. He lives in a relatively far away land, in the great white north, a place that I visited for the 24 hours of light bike event 20 years ago before building bikes. It’s a place i’d love to return and see at a bigger scale than just riding the same lap for a day…another one for the list. I still kick myself for visiting so many cool spots in my racing years and usually riding just the race course. Note to any racers out there reading (…crickets) ride more than the race loop, please. A lot more.
Paul used to build bikes which feels like a compliment right there. He’s also a big human being at 6′ 6″, 230lbs and typically breaks bike frames no matter what the material they’re made of, so being asked to build a bike for him is a challenge and confers a big bit of trust in my skills. Speaking of which, he cracked a driveside chainstay on the fatbike I built him and still wanted me to build him a new frame! (I rebuilt the rear triangle of his fatbike with thicker wall tubing at no cost.) He’s also a Rush fan so he must be a cool guy.
This new frame was built to have a geometry matching what he wants it to ride like. It’d be built it around a rigid front fork – the ENVE Mountain Boost – and be swappable to a 120mm suspension fork without much change to the geometry. Describing what he wanted he used adjectives like quick for steering instead of stable or slack. He does long rides in the Yukon and the steep seat angles of today don’t mix well with that in my opinion, especially for such a long legged person. Slacker STA’s put more weight on your butt and less on your hands while pedaling, your hands and wrists get more pressure on steeper STA’d bikes keeping all else equal.
It’s hard these days to design a bike with geometry that will last through temporary trends. There’s no right geometry for a mountain bike, there’s just what’s right for the customer. Nobody knows what will happen next in geometry and where the industry will take us but i tend to think of trends on a pendulum. We had super short chainstays for several years but now they’re relatively long (but about the same they were 10 years ago). Head angles were steep, got slacker, then more slacker, and now are downhill bike slack zone even for (don’t make me say it) “Downcountry” bikes….damn i hate that name. Bikes can be designed for any style of riding and any style of person, there’s an option for everyone in the custom world. But where road bikes have had stayed pretty similar in geometry that just can’t be said for mountain bikes. Pretty cool that steel mountain bike hardtails are the first to evolve, the first to get built to try a new idea, usually in the custom world, but maybe that’s my impression or bias. Gravel bikes fall in the middle but still are pretty conservative overall in straying from typical cyclocross bike geometry from 20 years ago. I digress again…
Parts being pretty hard to come by last year I supplied Paul with the frame, ENVE Mountain fork as well as a Fox 34 140 suspension fork, a King headset and BB. He had or sourced the rest including White Industries cranks and a bomber 29×3″ wheelset with tires by lacemine29. I like to put big bikes like this into perspective since it’s not obvious from the photos. The photo he sent of it fully built up looks very ‘normal’ and proportional…the way it should be! The head tube used on this bike is 200mm long, and the steerer on the fox fork is uncut allowing use of just one 5mm spacer with an inset 7 King headset. The downtube is 44mm diameter and the top tube is 35mm – usually used as a downtube. There’s a lug-like sleeve brazed onto the seat tube where the top tube joins, mostly for strength since the seat tube is thinner walled there than at the top where the seatstays and brace join in. Strength first, looks good, weight later. I used a Paragon Machine Works yoke for tire clearance and strength, it pairs with 22mm chainstays back to hooded Syntace dropouts. The head tube is long so we went with the lower standover top tube angle and a brace also used as a handle when there’s a full frame bag. He’s not using a dropper post yet but it’s got internal routing in the downtube for if and when that happens. Enjoy it PC!
Thanks for reading.