Meriwether Cycles Bikepacker Goes to Paint

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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.

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12 thoughts on “Meriwether Cycles Bikepacker Goes to Paint

  1. How exciting!

    I agree with thoughts re utility of Surly dropouts versus their awkwardness… A little frustrating at times, though yes, this is mitigated in part by going tubeless.

    I’m sure you’ve written about it somewhere, but what kind of bottom bracket height did you go for, compared to the Krampus?

    I’m glad you kept your options open re B+. It’s always nice to be surprised.

    Enjoy Vegas. Graze on the Cliff Bar nibbles for me…

    • 60mm BB drop, same as the Krampus and many other 29er hardtails, although Ogre/KM/Fargo is 70mm, my Raleigh was 55m. I thought about 55mm for a bit more pedal clearance in the rough, but the 60mm drop on the Krampus has been good. Looking forward to some 27.5+ at some point, although not a priority. Specialized has some nice 27.5×3.0″ tires available for $55-60, in both Control and the heavier Grid casings. Both Ground Control and Purgatory tires are currently available. I saw those cheap 29+ tires from Amazon on Jamie’s ECR in Silver City last week, they seem very nice.

  2. Looks great! Beautiful craftsmanship.

    I appreciate reading your thoughts on the design of this frame. I’ve been chatting with Whit for a while now about a frame for myself. A lot of ideas have been spinning around in my head and the odd thing is, I feel like many of them are coming to fruition in your design. It’s fun to watch. That is going to be a great platform for exploring. Enjoy.

  3. Sliders vs rockers. I’m torn between brake mounts on chain stay with the latter and the greater real world control with the former. Whatever you do – get some Ti bolts (deeper and won’t round out) from the get go. I’m inspired by your handle and have an aftermarket plan in mind for my ‘one bike to rule them all’. Efficiency and clarity of design, requirement and aesthetic marks you indelibly 🙂

    • I like swinging dropouts (rockers) better, I think, but the sliders locate the brake housing coming from the seat stay, which will shed and drain moisture. I was afraid that with a BB7 the rockers would capture moisture and muck up the cable as there would have been a low spot. The straighter routing is also better for braking power. I’ve enjoyed using the Salsa Alternator dropouts.

      Whit said that since the sliders have the big tensioning bolts up front, they ultimately cannot slip (although creaking may be possible). I’ll look into some Ti bolts when I get the chance. More than likely, I’ll leave the dropouts all the way forward almost all the time.

  4. It’s a shame you never got to ride the kramp with 3’s on 50’s. I think that would change your mind about the way it feels on tight single track. The traction and squish are a game changer

    • I’m not in search of more squish from my tires, which I find to be a distraction at times (I remember the feeling of adding and subtracting air multiple times daily on a fatbike). I find that 2.4″ is a bullseye for what I do, especially when using a durable casing and a suspension fork. As far as traction, I think much of that comes from the tread pattern, not only from the size of the tire. Knards are almost wholly useless, and at the time when I first tried 3″ tires, that was the only option. Tubeless rims also were not available at the time, and for all the climbing we do a 50mm Rabbit Hole and a 3.0″ Knard equal a lot of weight, not much traction, and a solid chance of punctures and sidewall cuts. The Krampus is a big bike no matter which tire size, but I felt like it was a boat with 3.0″ tires.

  5. Hello, just curious about your thoughts on using dropbars vs flat bars. Looks like you guys are mostly on flat bars. Is that because of function, pertaining to bikepacking (handlebar bags), comfort, performance, all of the above? Trying to decide if I should go with a drop bar specific bikepacker for my next bike (i.e. Fargo). Thanks.

    • Paul, Drop bars are for riding fast on pavement and dirt roads, upright bars are for everything from paved road to dirt roads, rough jeep tracks, and technical trails. If you aspire to ride singletrack and/or rough dirt roads, I’d recommend a flat bar of some sort. Exclusively paved and dirt roads roads? A drop bar would be appropriate, but is by no means better if you’d rather ride upright. Sometimes an upright bar allows a more comfortable perch, greater security, and a more touristic vantage.

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