“Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.”
– Henry Ford
As mountain bikers, deep down we all have the urge to build up a custom bike but it’s pretty rare that we get to act on it. A few months back we decided to slowly piece together a “Dream Bike” and run a feature that was an “editor’s choice” type piece in the form of a complete downhill bike. It’s taken a while to get everything together, but this is what we came up with…We tested the Rocky Mountain Maiden this Spring and we were really quite fond of it. The frame has a lot to offer : a stiff but well tuned carbon layup, massive hardware, loads of adjustability, clean lines…the list goes on. The bike we tested was a size large and unfortunately we felt a bit cramped on it. Other than that and some minor quips with the stock spec, we fell in love with the frame itself and wanted to see how a size XL frame only option would treat us.
From the beginning, we were pretty resolute about what we wanted to put on the bike from the get-go. It really just came down to lead times, getting the right bits in the right sizes and then actually building it up. Our goal with this bike wasn’t simply just to build up some cheese whiz, nerd bike that’s as light as possible – that crap is for the birds. We wanted to build up a bike that was lightweight butt utilitarian and still fun to ride. No ti bolts in scary places and no vaporware! Anyhow, we spotlight each part that we hand selected as you scroll down through the story.
We’ve been big fans of the Boxxer for some time now. Other brands on the market have stepped up and made great offerings and kept competition healthy, but the Boxxer just feels like home. It’s the lightest fork on the market, the adjustments and tuning options are quick, logical and effective. It’s also low maintenance and easy to service. Because it’s so popular, finding necessities like seals and the right oil is easy as well.RockShox Vivid Air R2C
It’s been some time since we’ve had a Vivid Air on one of our bikes but we always did like them. We love that both the coil and air versions of the Vivid R2C offer beginning and ending stroke rebound. It was a feature that we initially assumed would be unnecessary but after a few rides we truly realized its value.
Part of the reason we selected the air sprung version of the Vivid was that the Maiden felt a bit linear (to us anyway) and we wanted to build some ending stroke support into the rear suspension. What better way to do so than with an air shock?
Wheels & Tires
e.thirteen LG1 Race Carbon wheelset
These wheels first caught our eye when we bumped into Aaron Gwin in the early spring at an old riding spot of ours. He genuinely was stoked on them. A few months later we came to hear that he was on the exact same pair and that they’d made it through the first 3 World Cup rounds. We were impressed and wanted the LG1R to be our first foray into carbon wheels in the downhill world.
We’re generally quite OK with the more muted feel of an aluminum rim but we’ve been getting more and more curious about carbon fiber as layup techniques continue to improve. There are a few other factors that really sparked interest with us; first off the wheels have an integrated 9-21 tooth, 7 speed cassette. Why is this special? Because the LG1r’s largest 21 tooth aluminum gear is the driver body. That allows e.13 to build the hub with a broader shell resulting in a rear wheel that has virtually no dish, making it far stronger due to its more ideal bracing angle. Tall hub flanges also mean shorter spokes and a stiffer feel on the trail.The hookless rims are rather thick and should hold up better to rock strikes compared to a similar hooked rim; they’re also less apt to burp air when set up tubeless. At 27mm wide internally, they aren’t fatties but they do come in a bit wider than some of the current popular aluminum offerings. Lastly, we really dig the valves. It sounds gimmicky, but they are high flow presta tubeless valves. This means they’re less apt to get gummed up with fluid so they actually make inflating a tubeless tire with a floor pump much easier. At 1885 grams they exactly freakishly light but that inspires a bit more confidence in switching to our first carbon DH wheels. With a retail price of $1698 complete including a rear cassette and valves, these wheels are actually reasonably priced. e.13 also have a solid crash replacement policy should anything go wrong.
Schwalbe Magic Mary
Over the last few years, the Magic Mary has won us over as being the most versatile DH tire on the market. On first inspection, it almost looks like a spiked tire, and you’d think it would just be best suited to wet or loamy terrain given its tall knobs. After a few rides we realized it’s actually one of the best tires we’ve ever used on hardpack. Perhaps it’s the intermediate knobs, or the two longitudinal sipes on each sideknob…We’re no tire experts but we do know that it’s the best DH tire that we’ve ever ridden. Wet, dry or anything in between; with Magic Mary we don’t really change tires according to conditions anymore.
We’ve been running the foldable Super Gravity casing in the TrailStar compound. At 1100 grams for a 27.5″ tire, it’s on the lighter end of the spectrum for DH but we’ve had no issues with them in the past 2 years. The TrailStar compound is soft and slow but surprisingly durable. One side note is that we decided to slap a Rock Razor on out back to see how it does. Our first few rides on this bike will be in a bike park, and it’s summer so why not? It has the same side knobs as the Magic Mary, but features micro knobs across the center, alternating 3 and 4 wide. We’ll keep you posted on how it goes.
Avid Code/SRAM Guide Combo
Over the years we’ve come to put Guide brakes on a pedestal due to their excellent consistency and lever feel. With that said, for full on downhill riding we wanted a bit more power so we went all out and mixed/matched the calipers from an Avid Code R brakeset with SRAM Guide RSC lever bodies. As for rotors, we’ve always loved the extra bit of raw power we seem to get from the G2 Cleansweep rotors. Although they aren’t as light as the new Centerlines, they seem to resist glazing over and shore up more power than anything else we’ve seem from SRAM. Last but not least, black titanium rotor bolts.
Renthal Fatbar Carbon 35 & Integra 35
Since it first hit the market, the Renthal Fatbar has been our go to. The rise and sweep is just right and we’re not alone – it’s one of, if not the most popular handlebar in downhill. Once Renthal released the Fatbar Carbon it went on our mid travel bike right away for testing.Just recently, the UK brand introduced 35mm offerings. The new Fatbar Carbon 35 now comes in at a full 800mm width so we had to bolt one up. As for the stem, the Integra II direct mount is perfect. A nice radius along the insides of the clamping surfaces reduce stress risers, while a 6 bolt design lightens and simplifies the stem nicely. The zero gap lower clamp interface even further reduces stress risers at the bar, and our 31.8 version has never made a peep. Available in all combinations of 45mm & 50mm lengths, with 0mm & 10mm rises, we chose the 45mm X 0mm for our Maiden.
Sensus Prototype Swayze Lite Single Clamp
While lurking around and bumming a beer from Cam Zink at the YT tent this year at Sea Donkey, we noticed this rad new grip on his bike. The new Swayze Lite is Sensus’ first single clamp grip and it features a tighter weave than the original and wildly popular Swayze.These are still in a prototype phase, but we had no qualms about harassing Cam until he finally caved in and mailed us a pair. They truly feel incredible and we can’t wait until they hit production. Apparently Cam plans to update the endcap or something. To be honest, we should’ve been paying closer attention when he was filling us in. Stay tuned…
Chromag Overture Saddle & NQR Clamp
For the longest time, a budget version of the WTB Silverado was just our go-to, disposable DH saddle since a seat was always just something that ended up getting thrashed on a DH bike. Recently we did some riding on a bike with the Overture and it felt amazing. After all, when a company as cool as Chromag let’s Brandon Semenuk design his own signature saddle, you know it will be good.
Not pictured, we also snatched up a Chromag NQR seatpost clamp simply because it looks clean as a whistle.
Thomson Elite Seatpost
If you pay much attention to mountain bikes this seatpost likely needs no introduction. The perfect balance between strength and weight, the Elite seatpost uses an elliptical extrusion to minimize unnecessary material while keeping the strength high. A proven two bolt clamp keeps your saddle on tight, and the cradle for the clamp is extruded right from the post itself. No two-piece glued together garbage.Thomson started out engineering products that are far more complex than a piece of metal that holds a seat onto a bicycle so naturally when they entered the 2 wheel market they slayed it and their first product became a legend. You can read up more on their non-bike related processes and abilities here.
SRAM XO1DH 7-Speed Drivetrain
When SRAM launched the XO1DH group it truly was a game changer. It was the first 7-speed specific DH group, answering the prayers of downhillers worldwide. What took so long? Well, doing it right doesn’t happen overnight…The super short cage combined with a powerful clutch in the derailleur minimizes chainslap, and in most cases eliminates the need for chain retention, although we still do at least recommend a bashguard to protect your assets. The XO1 DH carbon crankset has withstood antics like this and survived so we definitely trust it for our occasional shuttles and lift laps. Last but not least, the X-Sync chainring is the original and best narrow/wide on the market, we love the new direct mount version – no chainring bolts to worry about.
e.13 LG1 Race Carbon Chainguide
Former owner of Evil Bikes/suspension kinematics brainchild Dave Weagle didn’t invent the chainguide, but he did perfect it when he was co-owner of e.thirteen components. He has since sold e.thirteen and now designs the best suspension systems in the world then licenses them to boutique frame manufacturers.It seems like ages since we first rode one of Dave’s original crude creations in the east coast rockz, and chainguides have come along way since. E.thirteen/the Hive are now based in Petaluma, California and have a huge array of MTB products. The LG1 Race is their super primo offering – a compression molded carbon fiber backplate is light and strong, and the modular assembly allows for varying sizes of skidplates and the potential to run any combination of upper and lower guides, or no guides at all. The aforementioned guides have soft rubber co-molded inside them to silence any contact with the chain. Lastly, the new guides feature a tool free clasp that opens the top guide quickly and easily…genius.
DMR Vault Mg Superlight
The DMR Vault is our favorite flat pedal, hands down. We love the pin placement, the concave shape and nicely angles on the pedal body so it doesn’t hang up on obstacles. We tested the Vault Mag some time ago and have ridden the Brendog signature pedals as well, but since we’re building a dream bike – why not go all out?The Vault [Mg] Superlight is as over the top as it gets. A magnesium body, titanium spindle and aluminum pins bring the weight down to a scant 290 grams for a pair. There may be lighter pedals out there, but we doubt we’d want to ride them.
That’s it! We’ll be running some individual tests on a number of the parts on our Maiden but they will take at least a few months to complete. Thanks for checking out this feature and stay tuned for more news on this project. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave them in the discussion section at the bottom of the page, we’ll definitely get back to you.
Huge thanks to the following for helping us get this project off the ground :