Handemade Steel Mountain Bikes

650B/27.5″, long-travel hard tails, and the color purple

We are in the process of updating some models, and although you can’t tell it yet from the website, 27.5″ (or 650B if you will) is here, and here to stay.  Our longish-travel hard tail, the Paycheck, will get wheel size of your choice.  To get things rolling both literally an figuratively, we build up this handsome PURPLE 150mm travel, 27.5″ beauty.  She’s gorgeous enough in the shop, but under the sun she sings.

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The perfect opportunity to test it came up recently when Mark, Cat, and Ben invited me to join their adventure – a 4-day, point to point, loop around Mont Blanc.  4 days, 160km, a million meters of vert, 3 countries, and a whole bunch of alpine singletrack.  So good!

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First of all, this bike is frickin amazing.  Climbs, descends, takes just about anything you can throw at it, and looks good doing it.  In typical Bronto fashion…the bike was finished literally the day of the ride.  So every single part, aside from the seat post, was shiny out of the box when we started.  Much is owed to Fietsen Verheyen in Belgium for pulling this off.  But nary an adjustment to be made through 4 days of rain, sun, mist, mud, and cow shit.

This was my first time on the medium-sized wheels.  If you haven’t tried them – do.  They are perfect.  Not as wagon-wheely as 29ers, not as small and slow as 26ers.  I remember at in the hotel parking lot at Nahbs 2010, Kent Eriksen told us that 650B was the business.  Well Kent, you were right!

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As for the ride – the descents were golden.  Of course.  Tight, hiking singletrack, plenty of rock and root and steep to challenge you, and lots of flow for the flow riders.  It was a very good balance.  Staying in the mountain refuges was interesting.  The French ones – hot and everybody was singing.  Not awesome.  The italian ones – awesome food and friendly people.  Swiss – organized, with lots and lots of cheese.  That’s pretty much how I’d sum it up.

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Yeah, to get to those sweet descents we had to do a ton of hike-a-bike.  At the time I was pulling my hair out (2 hours of pushing bike up hill makes David a dull boy), but looking back now it seems it was worth it.  After a particularly grueling push up the Col de Bovine, after a night of food sickness, we caught the last descent into Trient just as the sun was setting through the trees.  Ben was on a mission on fast, steep, flowy trails and I was glued to his wheel.  It was pretty much the perfect moment.  And that’s what this sport is all about.

So in summary – tour of mt blanc – research some more ridable climbs than the standard hiking route.  27.5″ – awesome.   Long travel hard tails – awesome.  Purple – well, you know.  Awesome.