My new Meriwether Cycles chubbyniner, made for 29×2.4″ tires on 35-40mm rims with room for mud. The frame also clears a 27.5×3.0″ tire and a double crank. It goes to paint this week. Keep up with Meriwether Cycles on Flickr and Instagram.
That’s my bike, built by hand by a guy in California, the result of years of thinking about bikes while riding, several weeks of detailed conversations, and just over a week of cutting, bending, and welding.
Thanks to Whit Johnson of Meriwether Cycles for putting the pieces together in the last few weeks. Things happen fast since we first talked about this project just over a month ago. I’m flying to Vegas on the 14th. If the bike doesn’t arrive in Anchorage before that, I’ll receive it in the mail in Vegas and install my pile of parts in the backyard of a rented house. Come visit with me and Lael at the Revelate Designs booth at Interbike! Also, check out the new “Dial Your Ride” feature on the Revelate website. We’re excited to have been Revelate ambassadors over the past year of riding, and are featured alongside some of the greatest people in bikepacking on the new site.
Eric and Whit are inspiring people who share a lot of the same qualities. They listen, they consider every suggestion thoroughly and seriously, and they rise to design challenges with new, creative solutions.
How is this bike different than my Surly Krampus? Well, it isn’t all that different. I’ve enjoyed the Krampus and would recommend it to anyone looking for a hardtail 29er with room for big tires and mud and gears, a featured design element in the new Meriwether as well. The Krampus is simple, steel, and solid. It will hold you parts and gear for a year and never complain. I never rode it with 29+ tires, and for now, don’t have much interest in anything without a suspension fork. The new bike is based upon my time on a Surly Krampus, a Raleigh XXIX, a Salsa Mukluk, a Surly ECR, as well as a detailed study of a handful of other bikes on the market.
A 120mm Rock Shox Pike in the mail this week for the new bike.
But sometimes the Krampus feels like a big bike, like a pig on tight singletrack or when climbing. The top tube is long and low, great for descending, but not the position I seek for all day pedaling efforts. And on steep technical climbs, the long top tube and long chainstays mean my body weight is forward of center and rear traction is a challenge, which requires some pedaling acrobatics to keep the front end grounded and the rear end hooked up with the dirt.
I have always disliked the Surly rear-facing dropouts in use, although I appreciate their utility on paper. They give you a way to singlespeed you bike in the backcountry, tension a chain on an IGH, or adjust chainstay length for different wheel and tire sizes. In actuality, I only ever rode with the wheel in the forward position, and with tubeless tires I did not find reason to remove the wheel more than a few times in a year. But on my Pugsley I ran the wheel rearward in the dropouts and constantly battled brake rub and a mushy BB7, also the fault of the Pugsley’s famed offset. Reinstalling the rear wheel requires some finesse. Give it to Lael and we’ll be sitting around all day until the rotor is bent and the QR skewer is lost in the dirt. It is not the easiest task for a first-timer, although it is not as bad as Manitou’s 15mm HexLock system.
However, I wanted to retain some time-tested features, including a threaded BSA bottom bracket. The replaceable Paragon sliding dropout plates allow me to build the bike with a 12×142 thru-axle, or with a 10x135mm QR. If and when this bike travels outside a certain radius of civilization for an extended period of time, I may choose to revert to QR wheels front and rear (with a rigid fork, or perhaps an older QR Reba). In a worst case scenario, you can slip almost any QR or bolt-on wheel into a standard dropout. Thru-axles would leave you waiting for parts. Is this a major concern? Not really, but a considered part of the design. The rear dropout interface is vertically oriented, enabling simple rear wheel removal and installation.
Paint is RAL 3014. Look that one up.
I’ll be riding this thing in two weeks. Come see it at Revelate booth 21186 in Vegas.