Rick Hunter Longtail Fatbike, for Scott Felter

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Rick Hunter is the genius behind this custom concoction, as well as the camouflaged Super Scrambler featured a few weeks ago.

It’s hard to call a longtail fatbike ‘understated’, especially with the accoutrements of stark white framebags, but many attendees at NAHBS simple walked past thinking this was another funky show bike to explore the limits of tire size, wheelbase and custom luggage.  In fact, this bike is an exercise in real world problem solving.  Scott Felter, best known by his super-stitching Porcelain Rocket alter-ego, will embark upon an epic cross-continental desert adventure this summer.  Joined by Tom Walwyn, they intend to ride Australia’s Canning Stock Route, a 1150mi abandoned stock route through the arid outback, made possible by several remnant wells along the historic cattle route.  The route is classically epic, first traversed by 4WD motor vehicle in 1968; in 2005, Jakub Postrzygacz was the first to travel the route by bicycle, self-supported on his first-generation purple Surly Pugsley with custom fat-tire Extrawheel trailer.  In adventure cycling circles, Jacob’s crossing was the equivalent of a first-ascent.  One other rider has completed the route since, also with a trailer.  Tom Walwyn has recently received a custom Twenty2 titanium fatbike, and is expecting a custom trailer.  Between Rick Hunter‘s metal wizardry, and his own stitching solutions, Scott plans to ride the route without a trailer, carrying food for the month-long crossing and water for several days at a time, all on two wheels.

Notable features include a custom longtail assembly with a stout removable rear rack; custom chainstay yoke and fork crown to accommodate a maximum 100mm rim and 4.8″ tire (shown with 82mm Rolling Darryl and 4.7″ Big Fat Larry tires); and custom framebags installed directly to the frame via threaded braze-ons and standard M5 bolts.  Rick has detailed the frame with stunning curves at the back end, and a squared-off bluntness at the front, a juxtaposition not unlike his own style.  The bike manages an immense luggage capacity by way of Scott’s integrated systems, including two capacious panniers– each more than double the size of the standard Ortlieb Backroller– and several frambags which make the most of underutilized space within the frame.  A front rack may be added for additional capacity.  Arkel attachments were used to complete the panniers.

A few words from Scott Felter:

The idea was to have space for about 150L of capacity on the bike.  So the rear panniers are about 40L each, and there will be 20L panniers on the front + the framebags and the rack-top bag (whatever that ends up looking like).  The rear panniers will likely be full of food.  The framebags and front panniers will be kit storage.  There are bladder sleeves in the sides of the rear panniers, in order to keep the weight close to the rack and low-ish.  There is a 4-day stretch on the route without access to water.  So, at 10L a day, that’s 40L of water to carry.

The challenges are basically the terrain, which is sandy.  So, sometimes hardpacked, but more than likely soft in most places.  Hence the fatbike.  There are no resupply spots on route, so we will mostly be eating dehydrated food.  There are, if I’m not mistaken, 50-ish wells along the route, so that is the water source.  Some of the wells are no longer flowing, and some have been tainted by animals falling into them and dying.

We are going in winter, so the temps will be in the mid-80′s during the day and about freezing at night.  We are planning to share a tent, and only carry a tarp in case of precipitation, which is unlikely.  For me, the landscape is a bit daunting, mentally.  While I’ve lived in the desert of NM, this is a whole different sort of world.  Like being on Mars.  I’m looking forward to it, for sure.

This bike did not go entirely unnoticed by the bicycling community.  Below, Rick is interviewed by Josh Patterson of BikeRadar.com.WPBlog001 293

Custom fork crown.

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And a matching custom chainstay yoke.

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Custom panel-loading framebag.

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Big Fat Larry tires on 82mm Rolling Darryls.  Rims without cutouts were selected for durability.

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170mm Fatback hubs front and rear allow wheels to be swapped in the event of a freehub failure.  These hubs are manufactured by Hadley.

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Seriously, no shortage of attention, although the casual attendees still don’t know what to make of these monster bikes.  Cass Gilbert photographs the Hunter.

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Receiving a bike at NAHBS is a real honor.

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Getting your feet wet a few moments later is a privilege.

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Scott’s first ride aboard the fattie in five inches of fresh snow.  This is much more than a show bike, and much more than a snow bike.

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More features from NAHBS coming soon!

Rick Hunter Camouflage Dirt Tourer, AKA the Super Scrambler

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Standing at a distance of about six feet, I placidly gaze at the features of this bike, as in a museum.  Steve Potts approaches, now two of us standing shoulder to shoulder in appreciation.  Nothing to say in particular, although I stumble through a few words about the paint and drop bars and how this is probably my favorite bike at the show– “if I could take one bike home with me, this would be it”.  He kindly nods.  Pausing for a final moment to look, he walks away.  The bike receives the Steve Potts seal of approval, and that’s saying a lot.

Rick Hunter has been building bikes in Santa Cruz, CA for 20 years.  His featured dirt tourer at last year’s show was highly praised, complete with custom canvas framebags from Randi Jo Fabrications.  This year, he brought a showstopping custom longtail fatbike, built for Scott Felter of Porcelain Rocket.  But this drop bar 29er is the bike that stole my heart.  

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Vintage WTB Dirt Drop bars, Dura-Ace levers and Shimano XT shifters.  The bars are finished with a layer of Grab-On foam in the drops, wrapped in cotton tape.  This is still a really good way to mount shifters.  

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Custom Cunningham in-line barrel adjusters.

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Destined for Monkey Wrench Cycles in Lincoln, NE.

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Custom 6-speed cassette on a Chris King singlespeed hub, yielding a dishless rear wheel and a wide range of gears.

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Rick crafts beautiful and functional fork crowns and chainstay yokes.

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The build is completed with a NOS Avocet Touring saddle and Deore XT seatpost.

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Scott Felter says “Rick Hunter is a genius”.  I couldn’t agree more.  His bikes are highly functional, featuring a utilitarian aesthetic that is in itself, artistic.  He finds creative solutions to the specific needs of his customers, manufacturing custom racks, fork crowns and chainstay joinery.  While this bike is styled like an old Cunningham drop-bar mountain bike, painted like a Ritchey, it is designed and specced like a bike that is actually meant to ride.   

More images of the Super Scrambler and other bikes from Hunter Cycles on Rick’s photostream.

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